The Cross of Christ

I want to state at the outset, that we are not here to reflect abstractly, or academically, or merely intellectually on the cross of Christ. Right at the outset of his letter to the Galatians Paul writes memorable and searing words:

“Even if we, or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed, as we have said before, so now I say again, If anyone preach to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Gal 1:8,9.

Paul was writing to Christian men and women who had come to faith, in large measure, through his Apostolic endeavours. He had seen them brought to Christ through the preaching of the Cross of Christ, but now he has heard news that has caused him great distress; he has heard that false teachers have come among them and are preaching what he calls ‘another gospel’. They were adding works to faith, and Moses to Christ. And, effectively, they were skewing and disfiguring the Gospel of the grace of God that is focussed on the cross of Christ. And Paul wants these Galatians to know that there is an eternal seriousness to this matter, and so he says to them, “If anybody comes to you: be it an Angel from heaven; and preaches to you another gospel; a gospel other than what you heard; a gospel other than what you received and that, by God’s grace, brought you into saving union with Jesus Christ, then let such a person be accursed.”

And Paul wanted them to know, and God wanted His church to know, throughout the ages, that we need to be absolutely clear in our minds and hearts as to the Good News concerning the Cross of Jesus Christ, because what is at stake are destinies. Its not a matter of merely having right notions concerning the Cross of Christ, because a right understanding of the Cross of Christ brings us the salvation of God; and a wrong understanding of the Cross of Christ brings us under the eternal judgment of God. And so we are here tonight, not to deal dispassionately, far less academically, with this glorious subject. We are here, surely above all, asking that we might the better understand the Cross of Christ so that our lives may know the salvation of God that is found in the Cross of Christ.

And so I want to consider with you this evening, those words that you will find towards the end of Galatians 6, where Paul says:

“God forbid, (or, far be it from me) to glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  Gal 6:14

“Our greatest hindrance in the Christian life is not our lack of effort, but our lack of acquaintedness with our privileges.”

John Owen

John Owen, the great English Puritan, wrote in one of his volumes that, “our greatest hindrance in the Christian life is not our lack of effort, but our lack of acquaintedness with our privileges.”

I wonder if that’s something that you can identify with tonight? Our greatest hindrance in the Christian life is, says John Owen, not our lack of effort - not that he was decrying effort - but our greatest hindrance is not our lack of effort, but our lack of acquaintedness with our privileges. And this applies supremely to our acquaintedness with the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Aberrant Teaching

Many of you will know, as I know, that the Evangelical world today is becoming increasedly disfigured by aberrant teaching. And it is tragic to see younger and older Christians being led astray by aberrant teaching. And the reason why so many in our day are being duped and deceived by the aberrant teaching is because they have never sunk their lives, their minds, and their hearts into the Doctrine of the Cross of Christ. I would imagine that all of us her tonight are familiar in some way with the Doctrine of the Cross of Christ; but we can become so familiar with that doctrine, that we become almost blasé in our thinking about it; we speak of it so easily; we sing of it so lightly; but when were we last overwhelmed by the glory of it?

The story is told of Martyn Luther, the great German Reformer, in his study one day, and he sat and he sat and he sat, not moving. And hour passed hour, until his wife, I think, heard him exclaim these words, “God, forsaken of God. Who can fathom it?” He’d been meditating on those unexpoundable words in Matthew 27:46, where our Lord Jesus Christ crying from the cross, said:

“Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani - My God my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

And, as Luther pondered those words, all he could say, as the reality and the truth of them overwhelmed him, all he could say was this: “God, forsaken of God. Who can fathom it?”

Well I want to look with you a little tonight at this doctrine of the Cross of Christ. And to understand these words of the Apostle in Galatians 6, we need, just for a few moments, to understand the context in which we find these great words. Galatians, you may know, was written by Paul to reassert the Biblical doctrine of Justification. He writes in the 16th verse of the second chapter, “We know, that a person is not justified - put into a right relationship with God - accepted of God. We know that a person is not justified by works of law, but through faith in Jesus Christ.” And this is the great pulse beat of Paul’s letter to the Galatians: we are saved by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, in Jesus Christ Alone. We are acceptable to God, not by ‘believing faithfulness’ but by ‘Faith Alone, in Jesus Christ Alone’.

False Teachers

And this great and glorious truth was being subtly redefined by men that Paul calls ‘false teachers’. Now you need to understand what these men were doing. They were not abandoning the Christian faith, so they would say, but what they were doing was this: they were adding to the Apostolic Gospel. They were saying that in addition to faith in Jesus Christ, these Galatians needed to subject themselves to the works of the law. They needed to be circumcised; to keep the dietary regulations, and so on and so forth.

Now these Judaizers, as we would call them, were not Pelagians. That is to say, they were not saying that we are saved by works; they were far more subtle than that. They were Semi-Pelagians. They were saying, “Of course we’re not saved by works. We’re saved by faith, with works. Works complete faith.”

And you see that was the great error that Martin Luther and the Reformers were contending with at the Reformation. The Roman Church in that day, as in this day, was never Pelagian. The Roman Church has never taught that salvation is by works. It is far more subtle than that. It is Semi-Pelagian. It teaches that God accepts us as righteous in his sight through faith in Christ and by the works of the law.

They talked much about grace, just as these false teachers would have talked much about faith, but if you asked them to spell grace, they would spell it: “W”, “O”, “R”, “K”, “S”.

And so Paul confronts these false teachers head-on. He tells them in chapter 3 that they have been bewitched. Who has bewitched you? What spell has been cast upon you, so that you have listened to these aberrant teachers? And Paul’s confrontation comes to this climax, as it seems to me in the 14th verse of the 6th chapter. “Far be it from me to boast”, he says. “God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified, and I to the world.”

The Context

Let me look with you for a few moments at the immediate context in which we find these words of Paul. Because Paul, do you notice, from verse 12 is highlighting a contrast between himself and these false teachers, these Judaizers. He writes in the 12th verse, “It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh, who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the Cross of Christ. They want to avoid the cost of being identified with a crucified Redeemer.”

And it may be that the offence to these false teachers was Deuteronomy 21:22-23. “Cursed is everyone who hangs upon a tree.” And they were embarrassed by a cursed Christ. They didn’t want to be associated with someone that the Word of God said was ‘cursed of God’ - “Cursed is everyone who hangs upon a tree”. Christ was hung upon a tree. And Paul says, they are forcing you to be circumcised, they are collaborating with the old way, in order to avoid the cost of the new way. They do not want to be persecuted for the Cross of Christ.

“But as for me,” says Paul, “God forbid (may it never be) that I should glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Now I want to ask just two questions tonight, of this verse.

The first is this, Why did Paul glory in the Cross of Christ? This word that Paul uses, its almost impossible to translate it effectively in one English term. It means to boast in, to glory in, to rejoice in, to revel in, even to live for: My whole life, he says, is the Cross of Christ. I glory in it! It is my whole horizon. Why does he glory in the Cross of Christ?

And then secondly, What evidence was there to show that he truly gloried in the Cross of Christ?

Well then, the first question tonight:

1.  Why did Paul Glory or Boast in the Cross of Christ?

Now we could answer that in many different ways, but if you turn back to Galatians 3, you find there in the 13th verse the very heart and core of everything that caused Paul to glory in the Cross of Christ. “Christ,” he says, “redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse for us. And there are few verses, I would think, in the whole of the New Testament that more open to us the meaning of Christ’s Cross, and help us to understand why Paul gloried in it. And his language is the language of an obsessive. You see, the Cross was not merely the example of a man dying courageously after being unjustly punished.

When the cruel Roman Church bound at the stake Thomas Bilney in 1528, and when a few years later in 1555, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burned at the stake in Oxford for their fidelity to the Gospel of the Cross of Christ, these men died with less evidenced anguish than our Lord Jesus Christ. They died with less agony and with less crying. There was a fortitude about them. Now, if we’re going to understand the heart of the Cross of Christ, we need to understand this, that there the sinless one became the cursed one in order that the cursed ones might become accepted ones. The glory of the Cross of Christ, as these verses, clearly evidence to us, is that God satisfied himself by substituting His Son. The Cross, in other words, is where the dissidence between God’s love for His own glory, and His love for sinners is resolved.

And I want to pause and highlight three truths that are embedded in these words here in Galatians 3:13, and the first is this:

The Will and Purpose of the Trinity

Christ became a curse for us, endured the righteous wrath of God on human sin for us because of the will and purpose of the Trinity.

In the 4th verse of his opening chapter, Paul writes these words concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, “who gave himself for our sins, to deliver us from the present evil age according to the will of our God and Father”. Now what do I mean by saying that Christ became a curse for us, because of the concerted will and purpose of the Triune God?

Well I mean this: it was the Son of God incarnate who died on the cross. The Father did not die. The Holy Spirit did not die. The One who died was the God-man, Jesus Christ, and yet, we must be extremely careful not to dislocate Christ from the Father and the Spirit, and think that the cross is only about our Lord Jesus Christ. It is absolutely vital that we understand the Cross of Christ within a Trinitarian framework.

Paul tells us in that 4th verse of chapter 1, that the Cross was the will and purpose of the Father, and if we had time we could ransack the Scriptures and discover that in the counsels of eternity the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, together planned the salvation of sinners. They acted in holy harmony: the Father electing; the Son in obedience, offering Himself as a ransom price for sin; and the Holy Spirit appointed and agreeing to be the executer of the Godhead, applying to us the blessing of Christ, and the satisfaction of Christ.

Jesus Christ was on the cross in obedience to His Father’s will, sustained and supported every moment, of every second, of every minute, of every hour, by the upholding enabling of God the Holy Spirit. The writer to the Hebrews puts it memorably in Hebrews 9:14, when speaking of Christ he tells, “who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God” Father, Son and Holy Spirit in holy concert, in holy harmony, effecting together the redemption of the people of God. And in 2 Corinthians 5:19 Paul tells us that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.” The Father and the Spirit were not mere passive adoring bystanders at the Cross of Christ. They were as involved as Christ himself in securing the salvation of sinners. The Cross of Christ is embedded in the sovereign will and purpose of the Triune God.

Now, it is at this point, more than at any other point, I judge, that we find ourselves out of our depth. Remember how in John 14 Jesus says to His disciples, “I and the Father are one.” Now the Greek fathers had a word for this. They called it the perichôrêsis (perichôrêsis), the mutual indwelling of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. It does not mean that the Son is somehow merged with the Father. But it does mean that in some sense there is nothing that the Son does, that the Father and the Spirit, in their own way, do not also do. It was the Son of God who died as the sinner’s substitute. It was the Son of God, and not the Father or the Spirit, who became accursed for us. But he became that curse in obedience to the Father, upheld by the Holy Spirit.

We greatly need to recover in our day a Trinitarian theology that has all but been lost in large sections of the Evangelical church. We either have a practical ‘Binitarianism’, where the Father and the Son are to the fore, or we have at one extreme a preoccupation with the Spirit, or in some there is a ‘Christo-Monotheism’: Christ dislocated from the Father and the Spirit. But we need to see that the whole glory of God is the glory of his Tri-Unity. The great distinctive doctrine that lies at the very heart of the Christian Revelation is the revelation of the God, who is one and yet who is three, and who always acts in holy harmony and in concert.

The Father’s Love

The second thing we can say here is this, that Christ became a curse for us, because of the Father’s love for us. What motivation lay behind the Father in sending His only Son into the world, to die a sin-bearing, curse-enduring, wrath-exhausting death? What was the motivation of God?

Well the Bible’s answer is utterly breathtaking, isn’t it.

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.

This is love, (says the apostle John), not that we loved God,
but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins.

God demonstrates His love toward us, (says Paul to the Romans),
that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

You see, what the New Testament wants us to understand is that the Cross in no sense constrained God’s love, but was itself the evidence of God’s love. In the Cross of Christ we do not see a loving Son procuring the love of a reluctant Father. I think, sometimes, that lingering heresy somehow remains embedded even in Evangelical Christians’ thinking. We somehow allow ourselves to imagine that it is by way of the Cross, that Christ procures for sinners the love of God. My dear friends, it is the very opposite of that. It is the love of God that sent forth Christ to die. The Cross is the evidence of His love.

But, of course, this raises a question, doesn’t it? Why? Why would a holy, offended God ever set His love upon guilty, judgment deserving sinners? Why would He do it?

Well, you know, the only answer the Bible gives to that question is this: Why did He do it? Because it pleased Him so to do.

Here we come to the unfathomableness of the sovereignty of God’s love. He loves sinners, not because we are lovely or deserving - we are not. But because He is rich in mercy. There is an unfathomableness that takes us out of our depth; that leaves us exclaiming with the apostle Paul, “Oh, the depth; Oh, the depths. . . ”

Thomas Goodwin, one of the greatest of the English puritans writes, I think in the 9th volume of his collected writings, on the grace of God, and he writes these words:

“Grace is more than mercy and love. It super-adds to them. It denotes, not simply love, but the love of a sovereign, transcendent Superior. One that may do what He will. That may wholly choose whether He will love or no. Now God, who is an infinite Sovereign, who might have chosen whether ever He would love us or no; for Him to love us, this is Grace.”

Thomas Goodwin

“Grace is more than mercy and love. It super-adds to them. It denotes, not simply love, but the love of a sovereign, transcendent Superior. One that may do what He will. That may wholly choose whether He will love or no. Now God, who is an infinite Sovereign, who might have chosen whether ever He would love us or no; for Him to love us, this is Grace.”

And, of course, the astonishing thing is that it is this God of Grace, who made His own Son a curse for us. This is where we find ourselves utterly lost, and why we can so identify in our hearts, as well as in our minds, with the experience of Martyn Luther. Because when the Bible seeks to explain the reason why Christ ended up on the cross, we discover something quite remarkable. We discover that again, and again, and again, and again, the great emphasis is not on the fact that Judas betrayed Him, though that were true. Or that the Jews hounded Him, though that were true. Or that Pilate sentenced Him, though that was true. The great reason that is set before us again, and again, and again, it that Christ was there, because the Father put Him there. The Jews, Pilate, Herod, Judas, all conspired to crucify the Lord of Glory. But the deepest truth about the cross is the most astonishing truth of the cross; that the Lord Jesus Christ was ultimately delivered up to the cross by the will and the purpose of His Father.

Isn’t this why we find our Lord crying out. The verb that’s used there, kraxas, is almost onomatopoeic, almost shrieking. My God, my God, why have you? You, the Father, whom I beheld from times eternal; who so recently split the heavens and declared, This is my beloved Son. With Him I am well pleased. And here He is, the beloved Son. And He cries, My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me? The Lord Jesus recognises that He is there, because of His Father. Do you remember how the 53rd chapter of Isaiah puts it, so astonishingly, that you would almost think it had been written by a New Testament apostle. We are told there that the servant of God would be stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. That it was the will of the Lord to bruise Him and put Him to grief. He would be cut off, from the land of the living. Covenant language! In the Old Testament, when a covenant was enacted it was ‘cut’. You cut a covenant. And here is Christ the Covenant-making God Himself, being cut off, and being cut off by His Father. Here is the astonishing evidence of the greatness; the inexplicableness; the unfathomableness of the love of God.

Why, Oh God, such love to me? And of course the answer the Bible gives is so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. God found a way to justify the ungodly. He found One who would be righteous; and for love of sinners, God resolved to cut Him off.

Now, we must never, ever, ever, ever, ever allow people to think for one moment, that the Cross of Christ is anything other than the demonstration and the revelation of the love of God.

But there is a third thing I want to highlight, and it is this:

God’s Justice and Righteousness

Christ became a curse for us to reveal God’s justice and righteousness. You say, but Ian, didn’t you say that the Cross is the great revelation of God’s love? Indeed it is - but no less, no less, no less is it the revelation of His righteousness and His justice.

One of the great tragedies in the church today is that we have a tendency to separate the attributes of God. Now, God’s attributes are always to be distinguished, but never to be separated. And no more so than here, because the love that set Christ forth, was a holy love. The very epistle that says, “God is love”, four chapters before says, “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all”. And the moment we separate what God has joined together; that moment we abandon the biblical God, and the biblical Gospel. And that’s why, twice over in Romans 3:25 & 26, Paul tells us that God put forth the Lord Jesus Christ as a propitiation through faith in his blood. God put him forth, he says, to show His righteousness, or his justice, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness, at the present time, so that He might be just, and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Now, what is Paul saying here? Well, he is affirming to us that the Cross of Christ is the demonstration in history, par excellence, of the righteous justice of God. You see, history appeared to suggest, Paul was saying, that God was less than anxious to punish sin; that He was even indifferent to sin. He passed it over; He did not deal with it as summarily as it deserved; and men would conclude, “Well, God must be either indifferent to sin, or Someone who thinks that sin is of little account”. But Paul says, “Never! God’s passing over former sins was because of His divine forbearance, not His moral indifference; but now in the propitiatory offering of Jesus Christ, God has demonstrated conclusively His righteous justice.”

God is just. My friends, God would ‘un-God’ Himself if He did not deal righteously with sin. He would ‘un-God’ Himself, if such a thing could happen. The Cross of Christ is the revelation to us of God’s holy resolve to deal righteously with sin. And I would guess this is a missing note in much that passes for Evangelical Christianity today. And one of our greatest needs, surely, is for us to become reacquainted with the biblical teaching on Sin, and the Wrath of God. And by reacquainted I do not simply mean, that we have more teaching on it, although that is desperately needed; but that by the grace and goodness of God we might feel in our inmost beings the horror of sin.

It never ceases to amaze me how easily I can speak of sin, even in prayer, and be little gripped by the horror of it, by the wickedness of it, by the damnable nature of it. It is as if we are living in an environment where we become all but desensitised to what Paul calls ‘the sinfulness of sin’. And perhaps the greatest difference between ourselves and past generations of Christians is that past generations, with all their weaknesses and foibles, had high views of the glory of God, and therefore deep views of the sinfulness of sin; while we have shallow, user friendly views of God, and therefore shallow and user friendly views of sin. Where do people hear today, in our ‘Alpha’ dominated culture that, to quote Thomas Goodwin again:

“The greatest evil of sin lies in the injury by it done unto the honour and sovereign glory, and the person of God Himself, which is what makes sin so heinous.”

Do you remember the 51st Psalm? David has committed adultery with Bathsheba. He has conspired to murder her husband, Uriah the Hittite. He has brought disgrace to the cause of God. He has brought disgrace to himself and his family. He has brought disgrace to Bathsheba and her family. And when he comes in God’s mercy, in brokenness, to pen the 51st Psalm, he writes in the 4th verse, “Against You, and You only have I sinned, O God, and done that which is evil in Your sight.” And you almost want to stop and say, “But David, you callously despoiled Bathsheba; you wickedly conspired to murder her husband, Uriah; you brought disgrace to your family!” And David would have said, “I know, I know, I know. . . but this I know better - Against You, and You only have I sinned, O God, and done that which is evil in your sight.”

I have little doubt that a renewed understanding of the sinfulness of sin would, perhaps more than anything else, help us to rediscover the glory of the Cross of Jesus Christ. If sin is a light thing, the Cross will be a light thing to you. But once you begin to see, in the mercy of God, the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the Cross takes on a lustre that is all but breathtaking. Is not the surprising and unfathomable wonder of the Cross, that it was the Lord Jehovah himself, and no other, who laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

But there may yet be a question in some of your minds, and it is this: “But how can Christ being made a curse for us be just? How can that be right? Was He not the sinless Son of God?”

Beloved, He was from all eternity, and is to all eternity.

“Well, how then could it be just for Him, the sinless One to be made a curse for us?”

Well, for this simple reason - simple but profound - because our Lord Jesus Christ did not come into the world as a private man. He came into the world as the appointed, ordained, Covenant Head of God’s elect. He came into the world as ‘the last Adam’ and as ‘the second man’, who had come to undo the tragedy of the first Adam. He had come as the shining white knight, who would in our place, and for our sake, as our appointed Covenant Head, make atonement for sin. And God would lay upon Him, as our appointed Head, all our sin. For He had come to bear all our liabilities. This was His ordained calling.

At times you see how Paul develops that in Romans 5, but it is a marvellous thing, because there we see two men, Adam and Christ, and as Thomas Goodwin so quaintly puts it, “and all other men and women hanging onto their girdle-strings.”

You know, tonight, you are either hanging onto Adam, or hanging onto Christ. You are either yet ‘in Adam’ or ‘in Christ’. And God sees, as it were, but two men before Him. Jesus Christ was cursed because He was there in our place, acting as our God-appointed Head.

In my place, condemned He stood,
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah, What a Saviour!

Now, there is much more that we could say, but let me address the second question:

2.  What Evidence was there to show that Paul truly Gloried in the Cross of Christ?

Its one thing to say that you glory in the Cross of Christ, isn’t it? But what would give evidence that you really did glory in the Cross of Christ?

Look at the latter half of verse 14:

“God forbid, that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
  Gal 6:14

Let me simply in a few words highlight these two points:

By Which the World has been Crucified to Me

There was a time when Paul lived for the applause of the world; when its praises and its frowns meant something to him. Maybe you identify with that, tonight? Maybe your life oscillates between the praises and the frowns of this world; looking for its approbation; but no longer, do you see: “By which the world has been crucified, or cancelled, or put to death, to me”

You see, through the Cross, Paul now saw the world for what it was: a seductive suitor out to win him away from his God. And in the death of Christ on the Cross, Paul saw the love and grace of God in all its unspeakable glory. And the world now stood exposed before him. It was as if, literally, his eyes had been opened to see the world for what it was: a painted harlot.

And, you know, painted harlots as it were at a distance can look very attractive. But when you’re up close as it were, you begin to realise that there is a shallowness and an ugliness. The world has been crucified to me, says Paul. Its got nothing to give me. I no longer live for its praises. I no longer hide from its frowns. I see it for what it is: an enemy of God.

Isaac Watts was right, wasn’t he?

When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Paul puts it memorably and in a sense, almost offensively in Philippians 3. He says, “I consider all things but skubala (dung). All this that I once sought after. . . its just a mountain of dung, because I’ve now found in Christ, the very righteousness of God.”

The Cross of Christ gives us a new way of seeing, and what ultimately matters to the Christian is not what mere men think of me, but what my blessed Saviour, who shed His precious blood for me, thinks of me. And one of the marks, surely of the Christian, is that we have begun, by the grace of God, to see this world for what it is. And day, by day, by day, in the kindness of God, we see through and past its so called attractions.

I remember once, coming out of a prayer meeting in Gilcomston South church in Aberdeen, it must have been in the middle years of the 1970’s, the Rev Thomas Swanston was with me. We came out of the prayer meeting where we had been for the past two and a half hours, and Tom looked across at this crowd of people lining up to enter the picture house or dance hall in Union Street.

And Tom looked and he said, “You know Ian, they’re poor fools. . . We’ve been at the place where things really happen.”

And I said, “Yes, you’re right, Tom. . . You’re absolutely right.”

And my parents, after I became a Christian, could cope with me going once on Sunday. They could even, at times, cope with me going twice. But prayer meetings on a Saturday night?

“Surely a young man of your age should be out enjoying yourself.”

I said, “But, there’s nowhere I’d rather go.”

And then, just in a word, not only is the world crucified to Paul, but Paul said “I am crucified to the world.”

And I unto the World

Through the Cross, and through his union with Christ, Paul lives now as a dead person to the world. He was a figure of contempt. The world once highly esteemed him; now he is thought a madman, an apostate, a fool. The world cancelled Paul out as a nothing and a nobody.

If I had to recommend any commentaries on the letter to the Galatians, I unhesitatingly would commend to you John Brown’s commentary. And Brown writes these words:

“Men to whom the world is not crucified, are certainly not believers. And men professing Christianity who are not crucified to the world, men whom the world loves and honours, have cause to stand in doubt of themselves.”

I found those deeply searching words. And I have asked myself, “Ian, does this world hold more attraction for you than it ought to?” The world can be so beguiling. It can appear at times to offer so much. My friends, younger and older, this world’s got nothing to give a believer. . . This world’s got nothing to give a Christian. Because in Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

And are we crucified to the world? Does the world think of us as “Hail fellow, well met”? Or is the world always a little bit ill at ease when we enter a room. . . “Is he going to talk about Jesus, again?”

Not because we are crass or unthinking; but because people are ill at ease in the presence of the supernatural. May God help us to see that the Cross of Christ is all our glory. Its everything. Its the great reality that unites believers in every continent, in every age. It is where God dealt with His Son, so that He might never deal like that with us. May God help us.

This article has been transcribed from a recording of The Cross of Christ - a lecture given by Rev Ian Hamilton, at a public meeting of the Inverness Branch of the Scottish Reformation Society, on Monday, 14 November 2005.

“The Cross of Christ” is also available as an Audio Lecture to Download or Listen Online.

Rev Ian Hamilton is the minister of Cambridge Presbyterian Church, a congregation of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales. Rev Hamilton is a trustee of the Banner of Truth Trust, and previously ministered in Newmilns, Ayrshire. He has previously spoken for the society in 1996 on “Justification”, and in 1991 on “Dimensions of Evil Today”.