Author: Ron Graham
—Three Christian keywords
This lesson is about three Christian keywords each starting with C. The words are Christ, Cross, and Covenant.
The idea of this lesson is that our religion, our discipleship and faith, won't be worth anything, unless centered on Christ, connected to his cross, and based exclusively upon his covenant. It's a simple idea, but so very, very important.
1 Christ Centered
Some religions honour Christ, but only as one of several great Lights, only as a great prophet among other great prophets. Jesus Christ is not central to those religions. He is not the one they follow to the exclusion of all others, and he is certainly not their God.
- The writer to the Hebrews says, "Fix your eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." (Hebrews 12:1-2).
- Paul says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
- Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me" (John 14:6).
- John says, "We are in him who is true, in God's Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life" (1John 5:20).
So many statements like these in scripture show that Jesus Christ is the center of everything, and we must center ourselves on him.
An object on a revolving turntable experiences forces trying to hold it in place, and forces trying to throw it off. If the object is placed near the center, the forces keeping it in place are stronger than those trying to dislodge it. If we stay close to Jesus, the forces trying to drag us away from him will be weakest.
A teenage girl might have several boy friends and might "like" each of them. None of them is the center of her life. But when eventually she "falls in love" one man becomes the center of her life. Jesus shouldn't be one of several teachers we like; but the very center of our faith and life, our all-in-all.
2 Cross Connected
Together with the fact that Christ rose from the dead, his death on the cross is the main mast of the gospel, and all else is rigged to that mast. As Christians, we are saved through the cross, and are connected to the cross in faith and life.
- Paul described the gospel as "the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16).
- Paul defines the gospel as "the message of the cross... Christ crucified" (1Corinthians 1:18,23-24).
- "I was determined," he says, "to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1Corinthians 2:2).
- Paul was connected to the cross not only in his preaching, but in his life. "I am crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).
- "Never may I glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14).
This does nor mean, of course, that there is nothing in the gospel other than the cross. When Paul said to the Corinthians, "I was determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1Corinthians 2:2), he did not write to them only about the cross.
He writes about marriage, circumcision, idolarty, his own apostleship, the Lord's Supper, the gift of tongues, other gifts, the resurrection of the dead, caring for the needy, breaking fellowship, and the greatness of love. However when teaching all these things Paul never loses sight of the cross.
Sometimes we sing the song, "Jesus keep me near the cross". May that be true in all our doctrine, worship, and life.
A mother had a little boy who liked to play out in the morning sun. The yard had no fences, and the mother worried that the boy might wander. Nearby there was a church building with a high cross. The shadow of that cross would fall within the yard where the little boy played.
As the morning hours were spent, the shadow moved closer toward the house. The mother instructed her son, "You may play outside, but you must not go beyond the shadow of the cross" and so the little boy, whatever game he played, in whatever corner of the yard, would keep his eye on the shadow of the cross.
3 Covenant Based
Out of the death and resurrection of Christ came a new covenant or testament between God and man. This was the gospel the first Christians preached, the faith they kept, the law they obeyed. This covenant is the constitution of the church or kingdom of Jesus Christ. Our religion and discipleship must be based firmly on this covenant, and on nothing else.
- Jesus became "the Mediator of the new covenant" (Hebrews 8:6, 12:24).
- This covenant was ratified by his blood, "the blood of the everlasting covenant" (Mark 14:24, Hebrews 13:20, cf 1Corinthians 11:25).
- The covenant of Christ is not one of many from which mankind may choose. It is the one and only covenant that God recognises. To reject this covenant is to reject our very Creator. "God, who at various times and in diverse ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, through whom he also made the worlds..." (Hebrews 1:1).
- Jesus is the only mediator of a covenant who has the testimony of God. "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear him" (2Peter 1:16-18, Matthew 17:5).
There is a modern pick-and-choose attitude toward religion whereby bits and pieces of various beliefs and customs, both old and new, are melded to make a designer religion of choice. This is a great folly in view of what we have just seen above.
All earthly creatures, plants, animals, and humans, have their unique genetic codes copied complete into every cell of their bodies (cf 1Corinthians 15:37-39).
To some extent it's possible to manipulate the genetic code by inserting genes from one creature into the DNA of another so as to modify it. Some people regard the genome of a creature as sacred and are horrified at "playing God" with it.
Most people believe in certain orders and constitutions that shouldn't be changed. Surely if anything deserves to be regarded in this way, it's the covenant which Jesus Christ mediated to us from God.