This past weekend, many heard gospel centered messages, as churches everywhere featured Easter weekend programs. Yet many times, the real meaning of the cross is misunderstood. This week's memo explores that important question more fully...
The Purchase of the CrossBy Dan Vis
April 05, 2021
Sometimes I think we don't really understood the Gospel very well. I know it took me awhile to begin to feel like I had a handle on it. And I've certainly seen a lot of people with confused ideas over the years.
Actually, I think there's a reason for the confusion: we've somehow missed a major emphasis given to the Gospel in the New Testament.
My JourneyMy own journey started out a bit rocky: Virtually no religious background. A rather sudden conversion. And then a pretty wholehearted immersion into Christianity. It was like being dropped into a sea of opinions and perspectives before I had even been taught how to swim. No wonder I was confused!
On the one hand there was a beautiful and appealing emphasis on Christ as Savior. Full forgiveness and pardon for sin. Salvation through faith alone. Justification entirely as the gift of God. Just believe!
On the other, there was a reasonable and logical emphasis on Christ as Lord. The holiness of God's Law and it's vital importance. Character transformation as our fitness for heaven. The necessity of true sanctification. Just obey!
Both seemed important and right, but they didn't really seem to fit together all that well.
So I launched out on the only thing I knew to do. I began memorizing every verse in the Bible I could find on the Gospel. Deep down, I was hoping something would click--and I'd gain the clarity I so desperately wanted.
And that's exactly what happened.
An Obscure KeyTo be honest, memorizing didn't help much at first. By the time I was up to 50 or 60 "gospel" verses--I knew pretty much every verse you are likely to hear on the topic in a standard gospel presentation. And all it did was enable me to quote a dozen verses articulating either perspective!
I refused to simply accept the tension. I figured I was missing something. That some verse, somewhere, would pull things together. That if I just kept looking I'd find some obscure key that would unlock the mystery.
So I kept right on memorizing...
Eventually I found the verse that turned on the lights for me. And it was indeed a pretty obscure one. In 30 years of ministry, I don't think I've ever heard anyone use this verse in a gospel presentation. But it was the exact verse I needed!
Here it is:
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
What struck me is that this verse gives us the reason Jesus took our sins to the cross.
I had always been taught Jesus died so our sins could be forgiven, and that the whole battle of faith revolved around whether or not I could simply believe that basic truth.
But here I saw a deeper purpose for the cross. Jesus "was made a curse", in my place, so I could receive the "blessing of Abraham", the "promise of the Spirit" through faith.
“Jesus was made a curse for me, so I could receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
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Forgiveness was a fact. I'd already been "redeemed" from "the curse of the law". The real battle of faith, was whether or not I could believe that forgiveness made it possible for me to access and be filled with God's Spirit.
Suddenly, all the pieces I had been wrestling with started coming together. Salvation was full and free, and nothing I did could add to the purchase price. But that salvation was more than simple forgiveness--it provided radical life-changing power through the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
“The Gospel provides radical life-changing power through the infilling of the Holy Spirit.”
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The purchase of the cross, was the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. And it was this astonishing truth, this Gospel, that I needed to grasp by faith.
PentecostIt shouldn't have taken such an obscure verse for me to realize what the Bible writers were saying all along. It was right there, front and center, in Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost. After describing the death (Acts 2:23Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:) and resurrection (Acts 2:32This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.) of Jesus, Peter explains explicitly what the cross authorized Him to do:
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
The apostle's new ability to speak in other languages was proof the sacrifice had been accepted. Evidence the purchase had been confirmed. Pentecost was a ratification of the transaction. Jesus was now authorized to grant us the Spirit.
A few verses later, when asked what they needed to do to be saved, Peter made it clear that same promised Spirit was available to them (and us) as well:
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
Acknowledging their sin, and being baptized as a symbol of the forgiveness Christ offered was not an end in itself. Rather, it was what cleared the way for them to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus purchased the right to give us the Holy Spirit, by His death on the cross. And the reception of that Spirit is what led to such radically transformed lives. This was the message of the early church, and it spread like wildfire through the ancient world.
Perhaps it's a message we need to hear more often today...
To quote the apostle Paul's first question upon arriving in Ephesus, many years later: "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" (Acts 19:2He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.).
CommentsHow important is it to have balanced views of the Gospel? How important was the cross? How important is the Holy Spirit in the process of conversion? Did you glean any fresh insights from this brief study?
|Posted by Dan Vis on 02/18/23 - Coach|
|That's a pretty powerful story Sam, and I got a kick out of your last line. So true isn't it? We need the Holy Spirit. Great post!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 02/14/23 - Coach|
|Thanks Laurie! Glad this was blessing for you. It's a simple, but deep concept, with profound implications. I really love those verses you shared and your thoughts on them. I've never actually memorized Romans 1:5By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:, thought the thought there has impressed me before. The others were all really foundational verses for me too.
I feel a little embarrassed I had to go to Galatians to finally understand this--when it was right there in Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost, so front and center. Just shows how influenced we are by conventional thought, and we really need to stay open and teachable to the Holy Spirit directly. Great post!!!
|Posted by Laurie Wissink on 02/14/23 - Coach|
|Love this article. I would add the following:
Ephesians 2:8-108 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
The last verse, verse 10 tells me that although I have been saved through faith, not works, I have been 'created' or born again in Jesus. I became His workmanship. He gives me the power to walk in good works. Faith in Jesus and obedience through Jesus.
Romans 1:5By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
"Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name."
Through Jesus we receive 'grace' for 'obedience' to the faith. Obedience isn't something we can produce on our own. We have to come to Jesus through faith alone. Then through Jesus we receive power or grace for obedience.
Isaiah 55:10-1110 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
"For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
Just as God's word causes rain to bring nature to life, so His word causes me to grow in the way He has ordained. It is His Word, His power that changes and empowers me.
Ezekiel 36:26-2726 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."
I love the promises in these verses. They are all God's promises of what He will do for us. A new heart, a new spirit, a surgical procedure, and the power, through the Holy Spirit, to walk in His ways.
This article provides fresh insight. That the power for living victorious lives is the Holy Spirit and this power is a promised gift, purchased by Jesus at the cross. Acts 2:33Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. really nailed it down for me. Praise God!!
|Posted by Dan Vis on 01/04/23 - Coach|
|That verse dramatically changed my life Robert. A real turning point. Glad it was helpful for you. :)|
|Posted by Robert Gonzales on 01/03/23|
|Without the Holy Spirit there is no character transformation to be changed into the image of God. What stood out to me in this study is the verse in Galatians. Thank you for sharing that !!|
|Posted by Linda Johnson on 12/08/22|
|Dan this is your testimony, the first half till you want to tweet a thought I read several times, for that was my confusion how it worked so I could believe in my heart I was truly saved. It was the new knowledge of justification and sanctification for me. It was there all the time, but I had never read Paul's letters before. God converted Paul because Paul was a trained theologian and explained the gospel. The 4 gospels give us the story of Jesus in the gospel, and Paul explains it like Ephesians 2:8-108 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.. I had to let the story of the cross sink deep in my soul, and the knowledge that He wiped away all my sins, past, present and future by His precious blood and never more to view for my sins are trampled on, buried deep and as far from me as the east is from the west. Praise God, it is all of Him and none of me is what brought it home for me.|
|Posted by Daniel on 11/23/22|
|For me it is this comment of yours Dan - "I was hoping something would click--and I'd gain the clarity I so desperately wanted". And only the Holy Spirit will bring it.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/21/22 - Coach|
|You're welcome Margaret! God's plans are always simple and powerful. Man makes everything complicated and it rarely works like it is supposed to! :)|
|Posted by Margaret S. Po’oi on 11/21/22|
|Yes! Thank you for this.
Righteousness by Faith.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/17/22 - Coach|
|That's such a powerful sentence there Barbara, about how being "unbalanced could cost our experience and our lives". It's true. The enemy is constantly wanting to blind our eyes to the full glorious truths of gospel (II Corinthians 4:3-43 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.).
I also like this sentence: "Jesus died so that he could send the Holy Spirit to work radically in us to get the message out to the world". I think you put that way better than anything I wrote! Nice...
|Posted by Dan Vis on 11/16/22 - Coach|
|We are indeed dependent on the Holy Spirit to have any hope of becoming all that God wants to make us. Good post Sam!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 05/09/21 - Coach|
|Thanks Valerie! I'm glad this spoke to you. And verses like Ephesians 3:19And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. definitely fit in well with the idea that faith is more than intellectual assent to some historical fact--but literally like connecting a hose to a fire hydrant.
Another verse that comes to mind is Colossians 1:27-2927 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily., which emphasizes that the heart of our message is Christ in you, the hope of glory, that this experience is sufficient to present every perfect in Christ, and that we are to share it mightily, with all the strength God gives us. Powerful, indeed!
|Posted by Valerie Wise Burrell on 05/08/21 - Coach|
I did not read this in April but upon reading it now, it’s truly fresh manna from Heaven. This memo impressed upon me what Paul meant in Ephesians 3:19And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.. The Gospel is having the fullness of God- receiving by faith Christ’s righteousness that I can be filled with “all the fullness of God”. Then I am perfect as God is perfect- complete.
I intend to re-read this memo because it has so much in it. It is short but is filled to the brim with spiritual riches! I always enjoy reading about how the Holy Spirit has guided you in your spiritual journey.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 07/22/19 - Coach|
|I feel the same way every time I contemplate this Lillian. It also shows me how much God LONGS to give us the Holy Spirit. The death of Jesus on the Cross shows the price He is willing to pay to do that. Romans 8:32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?. How could we doubt His willingness to fill us with the Spirit if we ask?|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 05/15/19 - Coach|
|You're very welcome Floride! Anything to get us to think more about the cross, and its importance in our life is a good thing...|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 05/15/19 - Coach|
|Glad this was helpful Karen! I know it was truly life-changing for me. Yes please feel free to share. You can use the social media icons, or the print button at the top of the page for those not online. If you can point them back to FAST for more information that would be great!
I agree Nelia that it really is all about personal application. We need to know personally the power of the Holy Spirit.
Great verses Makani! The conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus is definitely one of the places we see how essential the Holy Spirit is. Another verse that comes to mind is Romans 8:9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.. Your other verses are also spot on. The faith that saves us is the faith that lays hold on the Spirit of God in such a way it leads to real transformation.
Such a simple truth, but so vitally important. I think the enemy has done all he can to obscure this truth, because he knows its incredible potential. Great post!
|Posted by Makani Mwinga on 05/14/19|
|Thank you Pastor Dan for an insightful lesson. What an amazing connection between the death of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit. When I first consciously read John 3:5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God., It became clear to me that unless I am born of the Spirit, I would never enter the kingdom of God and experience that true conversion borne of the Spirit. But how to be born of the Spirit was another challenge, but thanks to Fastmissions for the wonderful lessons on how to be filled with the Spirit.
The part you mentioned that you needed to grasp the gift of the Spirit by "faith", reminds me of I Peter 1:5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. and Romans 9:30-3330 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.......I Peter 1:5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. "who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to revealed in the last time."...........Romans 9:30-3130 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. "What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. "
Indeed, we need to hear more of this beautiful message that Christ purchased the right to give us the Holy Spirit at the cross, and that only the Spirit in us will bring about radical transformation.
|Posted by Nelia on 05/14/19|
|It is so important to understand , internalize the gospel and how personal is the power of the cross for the salvation of each person.|
|Posted by Karen Steiger on 05/14/19|
|I can relate to your experience. This has made more sense than anything I have come across. I plan on sharing this with some friends who have been wondering also! Hope it is ok.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 05/14/19 - Coach|
|So agree with you Lillian: "It's our privilege to receive the power of the Holy Ghost in our lives." And glad you grabbed some verses from this article! Awesome.
That verse in the sermon Peter gave on Pentecost is truly an amazing insight John. I suppose Peter and the other disciples were anticipating this based on Luke 24:49And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high., so when the event happened, they know how to interpret it properly. We've tended to get into such a debate over the theology of the Gospel we miss the real point of the Gospel. But once we grasp that, there's power to transform everything in our life!
Also love the last two sentences in your comment. Great post!
|Posted by John Gilmore on 05/14/19|
|Thank you, Dan, for the reflections, particularly on Acts 2:33Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. as, to me, it goes along with Romans 4:25Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.. These verses strengthen my conviction that even justification is a multi-step process, requiring Christ's sacrifice (incarnation through crucifixion), His resurrection, the acceptance of His death by the Father as sufficient payment for our redemption, the bestowal and work of the Holy Spirit, and our reception of all these gifts. Then He as our High Priest can declare us justified. So much goes on behind the scenes. But God has all the bases covered!|
|Posted by Christine Wigglesworth on 05/13/19|
|Thanks again for an inspirational message Pastor Dan! As I was reading the section on Christ taking our sins to the cross I thought of the hymn " Nailed to the Cross"
I too will be adding Acts 2:38,39Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. . . . For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. to my future list!
|Posted by Ann Lavenburg on 05/13/19|
|Without the cross I would not be a christian. There are several things I do not like in the Bible but I accept that someday I will understand and I am willing to wait until God fully explains it because He was willing to go to the cross. He risked all of heaven and suffered infinite humiliation for me so I know I can trust Him. My conversion is a bit different in that I have been a christian all of my life from the age of 8. BUT I can definitely attest to the leading of the Holy Spirit in the sanctification and education process. I can see as I look back how God has consistently led me and providentially guided my decisions, intervened to help or prevent a bad decision and he is still leading. I gave God permission long ago to do what it took to keep me on track and he has not failed.II Timothy 1:12For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day..|
|Posted by JoAnn Moon on 05/13/19|
|There really are so many verses making this connection. Thank you this affirming devotional. I really believe that being filled with the Holy Spirit is the answer to everything.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 02/04/19 - Coach|
|What a blessing Helen! So glad this could connect with what God has already been teaching you. And I think Luke is indeed a powerful passage for understanding this. In Luke 4:1And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, we see Jesus being "led" by the Spirit. In Luke 4:14And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about., after the test in the intermediate verses, He comes back in the "power" of the Spirit.
I think that is the experience for many of us. God has been leading us, but we've not yet tapped into its power. Understanding the real riches of the Gospel is essential to being able to claim this promise by faith...
And thanks for sharing! That's always so appreciated. :)
|Posted by Helen De Coteau Grant on 02/04/19|
|Hi Dan, last night I was meditating on what was the source of Jesus power whilst he was on earth and as I focused on the first few chapters of Luke I found the answer was that he was filled with the Holy Spirit that’s how he was able to overcome the temptations in the wilderness and live the rest of his life empowered to face the cross. I was so excited to see that he actually showed that we too can overcome and live a victorious life through the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
Now I saw this article about the cross was for the purchase of us to have the privilege of being filled with the Holy Spirit and I am so overjoyed to make this link . The cross has now taken on a deeper meaning and I can’t wait to share this with everyone I know. Thank you so much for this clarity of the word from Galatians .
May God continue to bless you with greater insights as you continue to meditate upon His word. Psalms 119:18Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. is my prayer as I study from day to day.🙏
|Posted by Ann Lavenburg on 01/29/19|
|Recently the Holy Spirit has been impressing me with what a wonderfully logical and organized God we have. Our legal system is a poor representation of Heaven's but it does help me to understand a little of how God operates. He has bound Himself by His rules and will not violate our freedom of choice. BUT!! if there is the minutest wish deep in our sub conscious minds to know or obey him, He is ON IT!!! He will move Heaven and earth to respond to that flicker of longing. Many mission stories support this with accounts of people who encountered angels or had dreams. GOD is good Psalms 107:8,21,31Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! . . . Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! . . . Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!. And now I am constantly praying intercessory prayers as the Spirit brings to mind names because God has LEGAL permission to work in people's lives if someone is praying for them. And I gave him legal permission to work in my life years ago-just in case I ever started to wander away. I have to confess I am very resistant to over organizing my time so I don't do Rocket but I do pray.:)|
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