The Gospel of the Cross

Reflections on Theology of the Cross by Gerharde O. Forde

The Cross means I must die
The Resurrection means I will live again by God’s kindness if I have faith.
The world is either heading toward the cross
Or it has already been crucified
All who are found to be on the side going toward the cross
Will not be resurrected
But all who embrace the cross
Will be resurrected
He who seeks to save his life by ignoring the cross
Will lose his life
But who loses his life for Jesus sake by dying to self
Will find that his life is saved

Why? Because our sinfulness, our pride, insubordination, and rebellion must die.
We must die since our sin means destruction of ourselves and all that is good.
But God made a doorway for the life He wanted to save.
Only those who die in submission and subordination to God will live.
God will make a new creation, but He won’t resurrect the old creation.

If you wish to be saved
Identify yourself as a rebel, a sinner, unworthy of God’s kindness
Lose your life of serving yourself
When you ignored the message of the cross: That you cannot save yourself
Like the child who knows he has done wrong, confesses and accepts punishment
Who thus shows his humility of heart to his parent’s jurisdiction
So submit your life to God, which to the detriment of all, falls short of holiness
And the God who is good, welcomes you to be resurrected into His New Creation

This is the Offensive Gospel.
This is the Narrow Gate.
Narrow as the beams of the cross itself.

Advertisements

The Hedgeman

Madam Grandmother had a house of grey:
Grey roof, grey shutters, grey siding.
All one story; All one level
Surrounded by box hedge plants waist high.

A hedgeman had come and trimmed them recently
But he only chopped the shape just right.
He did not seek to undertake
The dive seeking weeds of thorn and vine:

Young spritely clinging little buggers
Troublesome meddlers in a boxy world
In shadowy subtlety they showed their heads
A long time they had grown in secret.

The hedgeman returned at the grandmother’s request
The bushes needed trimming, but the vines were his quest.
Over two days he set about the purge
Of everything that grew up from secretly seeded earth.

He found himself saying, as the vines scraped his arm:
“My goodness this bush is a pain.”
But then he thought to himself:
I wonder if God looks that way on me?

Extricating and tending the bush planted well.
From the weeds of the seeds of the unworthy sown.
Did the Maker of creation who saw it was good
Did He say, “This is a pain.” When the devil’s seed was sown?

Grace shines like the hot afternoon sun on his back.
Reminding him of the Maker’s glowing face.
Which does not cool when faced by those who turn
Their back on him shady tents to pitch.

O grief, such grief: that crown of thorns
That encircled the Savior’s human brow
To crown the flower with Satan’s weeds
To raise up a sacrifice of earth because of Heaven’s love.

Of course! Twas not for grief He bore
But for the Joy that was set before!
His cross he endured and the seed he planted
In the tomb of the rock to sprout forth with new creation!

Determined by his Father’s love,
Pronounced for the world from the beginning
He did not merely say, “It is good.”
He simply “Saw that it was good.”

Now the hedgeman was ennobled to press
Through the thorns that tore his exposed flesh
For in these thorns a fresh thought was true:
God fell in love with the world to make it new.

Emancipation: the feeling surged as one by one the vines relinquished their hook
They could not withstand the power of man determined to make the bushes good.
Why? Because these bushes were planted first, and then the weeds took root.
The bushes are good, it’s the weeds that have corrupted their look

So even though the weeds are deep entwined
With the plants of the Grandmother’s good intention
Still, deeper is the ability to dig
With a pair of pruning sheers to clip the hidden stems.

Strong is the stock the Sower sowed
When He made the world out of His goodness
The enemy may have added his own ingloriousness
But the Angels can tell what is good by its fruit.

Oscillating between standing and kneeling
The hedgeman cleared away the weeds by probing deeply.
Humility and confidence to seek understanding and apply it:
Getting to the root, and pulling up the shoot.

Familiar with these living plants
Their tender leaves not sown by chance
Were worth releasing from these self-ish pokes
For which the fire the Angel stokes.

Grappling with the plant near the top does no good.
It took a long time to reach the now spoiled-sightly top.
With a firm hand the hedgeman pulls on the vine
So he can pluck the thorns like a bow string and cut the base.

Others yank the plant up by the stem
Hoping that the whole thing will come right out.
Those who are clever know such a risk is not sound
Even if it clears the top, soon the issue will reemerge.

During his struggle, He sees the Creator dealing with him.
Not managing his issues so as to keep God busy
But always asking the questions that get at the heart
Of why man hides and turns his back on Him.

Resting in the tension of the Master’s pull
And wincing at the precise cuts of the wise Healer
Leveling haughty lusts from creeping back out again.
He reminds me of His pleasing and excellent plan

Utilizing the hedgeman to keep the hedges beautiful
The Creator has appointed a manager for His Creation
A Creation He made so beautiful, that it was even good in His own eyes.
The only One who is Good, saw that it was good.

Lo, He did not only say “It was good” when he made the light.
Nor even when he made land, trees, fruit and seed
Nor even when he made stars, and birds and fish and animals
But when He appointed man to rule He saw that it was VERY good.

Ended the task, back stood the hedgeman and smiled
The grey house framed by box-hedged life
The weeds were cast away to rot, to be chewed, and to die
And the Hedgeman sees that the Earth is worth redeeming.

Simplifying the Gospel via Chiasm

Hebrew poetry often uses a device called a chiasm. It’s where the items are structured A B B’ A’ being mirrored around a central point. Example:

His mighty hand has saved us.
We are redeemed by His marvelous power!

A: His mighty hand
B: Salvation
B’ Redemption
A’ His marvelous power

Interpretation: the beginning end and middle are emphasized. God’s salvation is here coupled with the idea of redemption. So God’s Salvation is a saving act. And the way that we are redemptively saved is by the mighty and powerful work of God.


I have a chiasm for the Gospel that I wrote last night after talking with my Grandmother, who I ask for prayer that she would come to understand the Gospel is not about earning salvation, but accepting God’s free gift He gave through Jesus Christ.

This is a simple chiasm of the Gospel.

God made us
We revolted
God loved us
And sent Jesus.
Whoever trusts Him
And repents
By serving Him
Will be saved.

It can also be put in this modified Chiastic form. A B C D C’ B’ A’ = E

And sent Jesus

         God loved us—|-Whoever trusts Him

              We revolted————–|————————-And repents

          God made us———————–|—————————-By Serving Him

Will be saved.


Interpretation:

God made us–God is good and created everything good. We human beings were made in His image and likeness to represent Him in ruling the earth, and to worship Him and love Him. (Genesis 1:1-2:3)

We revolted— But the Evil One tempted us to become our own god, and to serve ourselves, so we have all disobeyed God and sought to rule our own life on this earth, instead of submitting to Him.(Genesis 2:4-4:26)

God loved us— God was loyal to us and made up his mind to redeem all that was redeemable because we are His creatures, and His offspring captive and blinded by the Evil One. (The whole Old Testament)

And sent Jesus–So God sent His only begotten Son, sending Himself, as a human being like us, and he was tempted as we were, but did not fail, and was crucified, and the third day was raised to life. (The Gospels)

Whoever trusts Him— Whoever looks to Jesus to be his substitution and with the whole heart cries out to God for Him to save him, because he accepts the truth that God loves him. (The Gospels and Epistles)

And repents— And he who gives up his rebellion against God, and ceases to be his own ruler, his own god, and instead claims Jesus as his Lord, and decides to submit wholly to Him. (The Gospels and Epistles)

By serving Him–And out of Love for Him, worship’s him, and lives to honor Him by doing the good works which he was originally created to do: to rule as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. (The Gospels and Epistles)

Will be saved— When wrath comes upon the disobedient, this one will be found in right relationship with God, because He knows Him, He has trusted Him, and He has done His Will. (The whole New Testament)


A Goodnight Kiss: a Gospel Story

– – There was a little girl of 5 years old. Her parents took her to church very week. One day in Sunday School, she learned about Jesus blessing the children. That night when she went to bd, she said her prayers the way she always did, and this time she prayed, “Jesus, could you kiss me goodnight?” And she got in bed, and she’d stay up all night waiting for Jesus to kiss her on the cheek, while she listened to her Mommy and Daddy arguing in the other room. The goodnight kiss didn’t come. But she kept asking him every night before she went to bed.
– – Then, one night while her parents were arguing and the little girl was lying in bed awake by her open window, she grabbed her ears and prayed again that same prayer, “Jesus, please kiss me goodnight.” And then as she drifted almost to sleep, she closed her eyes, and felt a breeze blow through the window and brush against her cheek. She sat up, and looked but she didn’t see anyone, but she felt in her heart that she had been kissed goodnight by Jesus.
– – The next morning, the girl skipped into the kitchen where her Mommy and Daddy were eating breakfast, and they noticed that their daughter was more cheery than usual. So her Mommy asked, “Good morning! You look chipper this morning. Did you sleep well last night?” The girl nodded with a grin, “M hm. Jesus kissed me goodnight.” And she skipped off into the next room to play.
– – How do you think the parents reacted when they heard this? They were very sorry that they had been fighting, and had not kissed their daughter goodnight. And every night from that day on, every night both of them came in to tuck in their daughter and kissed her good night.

And that is what the Gospel is all about.