IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: THE OLD RUGGED CROSS
Rev. Innocent Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The cross of Christ has gone through a kind of transformation across the ages. Shortly after the death of Christ the idea that one died there to save the world became a laughingstock to the Romans.
To believers the cross is a symbol of our faith. Early on the Church took note of the fact that God made much of the death of his Son.
Does the world understand the meaning of the cross? As I was saying, the cross has gone through a transformation. Once despised, then revered, it can now be said that the cross is taken for granted.
Today I want us to take a new look at the old rugged cross. We must never forget what it stands for and what it means to us. We must never forget the message it declares to sinner and the peace it brings to the saved.
In 1913 George Bennard was struggling with a problem that caused him much suffering
His mind went back again and again to Christ’s anguish on the cross.
This was the heart of the Gospel!
The cross he pictured was no gold-covered icon
It was a rough, splintery thing, stained with gore
As he studied on the verse Philippians 3:10, Bennard got the theme for a hymn that has become a favorite for many.
The Old Rugged Cross!
Bennard, an evangelist in the Methodist Church was “praying for a full understanding of the cross and its plan in Christianity.”
Over a period of time he studied more and more about the cross
He prayed and meditated on the cross of Christ until one day he was able to say
“I saw the Christ of the cross as if I were seeing John 3:16 leave the printed page, take form and act out the meaning of redemption.”
The theme was so great, it needed a song.
In a room in Albion, Michigan, Bennard sat down and wrote a tune.
But the only words that would come were “I’ll cherish the old rugged cross”
He struggled for weeks to set the words to the melody he had written
Bennard was scheduled to preach a series of messages in New York
And as he found himself focusing on the cross, it became increasingly more urgent to him
He sat down in Albion, Michigan again and this time the words came
“I sat down and immediately was able to rewrite the stanzas of the song without so much as one word failing to fall into place.
I called my wife, took out my guitar, and sang the completed song to her. She was thrilled”
On June 7,1913 George Bennard introduced the new hymn in a revival meeting he was conducting in Pokagon, Michigan
The Old Rugged Cross soon became one of the top ten most popular hymns of the 20th century.
Read Philippians 3:7-11
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross.
This cross, the cross of Jesus is the central point of all of history
It is the single event for which all of time was created.
From the very foundation of the world God knew the cross of Christ would be the focal point.
Even as He created man in His own image, perfect without blame, without spot
He knew one day this man would fall
And in doing so, he would need a Savior.
In the days proceeding man’s creation God created time,
Time had never existed before
The Bible teaches is that there is no day and night in heaven
The Son of God always shines in heaven.
So God created the day and night and in doing so created time.
All for the sole purpose of one day sending His Son to this earth in order to die on that cross for you and me.
All life on this earth revolves around that rugged cross.
As Paul in our passage contemplates what that cross represents and how we relate to Christ’s suffering
He discusses a theory that is still very prevalent even today.
The theory that we can earn our way into heaven.
“But what things were gain to me though I counted loss for Christ” he writes.
In other words “All those things that I might count as profit, I now reckon as loss, for Christ’s sake”
What things? His credentials
Paul had the credentials
He says “I was circumcised when I was a week old
I am a Israelite by birth, of the tribe of Benjamin.
A pure blooded Hebrew,
As far as keeping the Jewish Law is concerned I was a Pharisee
And I was so zealous that I persecuted the church.
So far as a man can be righteous by obeying the Law,
I was without fault
But all those things that I might count as profit, I now reckon as loss
Paul says if anyone thinks he can trust in external ceremonies I have even more reason to feel that way.
If anyone can earn their way into heaven its me
But not so
All those things are meaningless
All that counts is the righteousness given to us by the sacrifice of Jesus on that cross.
An old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame
Paul plainly tells us that through the sacrifice of Christ we have become the righteousness of God.
Christ did not just save us, He cleansed us.
Christ did not cleanse us, He converted us.
Christ did not just convert us, He transformed us.
I have been made the righteousness of God in Christ. Amazing, isn’t it? Jesus knew no sin but had my sin imputed to him, just so I who knew no righteousness could have the righteousness of God imputed to me. What a thought! It is a reality for the believer.
Christian, we need to take a new look at the old rugged cross. When we see what He has done for us, it should motivate us to do more for Him. We must not take His grace and love for granted. Let us not waste the grace of God through indifference and apathy.
The songwriter penned the words:
“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross”
This hill was a place of death it was called “place of the skull”
It was just outside the gates of Jerusalem
This hill glorified by the death of Jesus Christ for our sins.
It has never and will never be the same since he died there.
- The reproach of the cross.
The emblem of suffering and shame”
They stripped his garments from his body and left him naked.
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