Glory In The Cross
by Dr. David Brown
Dave Brown is the pastor of Central Baptist Church in Decatur, Illinois.
Take your Bible and turn to Galatians chapter 6, and we’re going to look at a verse in this chapter. You know, we live in a world that has its heroes, its icons, its legends, and its areas of emphasis and exaltations, those things that the world points to as important. That ought not to be what we go after or bow our knee toward or look to in the sense of glorying in. Paul is going to define what is worthy of glory and what it is that he desires to glorify. He is going to say that in one, single verse that we have to look at. That’s the one we want to focus on, verse number 14. Let’s read it together and consider the passage here.
Paul says, in Galatians 6:14, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
What a statement! What an expression! I don’t think Paul said those word in a monotone type of voice. I don’t think he said it even in a casual expression. I think he said it with grit! I think he said it in an adamant way. I think that he said it with an expression on his face that anybody who saw and heard would have said, “That man really means what he just said.” I think he said it with emphasis. I think he said it with heart and soul. I think he said it in a sense that there was no doubt about it. That’s the way this man, the Apostle Paul, feels about this subject. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!”
That’s how he felt about it after having experienced God’s saving grace, and after having come to the revelations of who he was, and the truth of the New Testament, and all that has to do with God in the lives of people in this world, and all that Christ and His cross means to the people of this world and to the world itself. Paul said, “I have to take a back seat with anything that perhaps I once thought I could boast in: A Pharisee of the Pharisees, one who lived according to the law, the strictest of the strict. You know, I was one who was so strong in my positions and a voice in all of that.” Now Paul said, “I count it but dung that I might win him, and know him.” Paul said, “This is what I want to glory in…”
You know, the world does have its icons. We know that. The world has its heroes. Sometimes, I’ll go into somebody’s home and they’ll have pictures or posters of people that they have great admiration or appreciation for. It might even go beyond that in the life of that individual, I don’t know. I would say to anybody in this auditorium that has posters of people who are worldly and live a licentious life style, and you may look up to them because of some aspect of their talent level, whether it’s athleticism, or music, or stardom, whatever it may be, but their life is filthy and ugly, and their life is a mockery of the God Who gave them life. I say you ought to walk in that room and rip it off the wall. I think that young person ought to go into the room and just say, “I’ll be first in line, Mom and Dad, I didn’t realize where I’ve allowed myself to go – not thought it through.”
But go ahead and think it through, what have they done for you? You think it through, where have they taken you for the betterment of your life, really? Nobody has done for me what the Lovely Saviour, the Son of God, has done, certainly in the scope of just His little finger, let alone, His whole Person. Everything that I have is because of Him. Paul said, “That’s where I’m coming from.”
When you think about it, we ask the question, “What is it that we actually have allowed ourselves to glory in?” I ask that of this crowd tonight. What is it? What do you glory in? Is it your person, your own personal self? Your looks? You know, sometimes, God does endow one with what the world would call a beautiful appearance or a handsome appearance. The world does have its ‘criteria’ of what is handsome and what is pretty. I am more and more coming to the conclusion that, what’s handsome and what’s pretty is what’s on the inside, not just what’s seen on the outside. But the world still has its exterior expressions of what it is. Is it your person, yourself, that you glory in?
Is it your talent? Your looks, your physique? Your ability, your skills, whatever it may be? Is it in your position? Now, I don’t know of anybody here that is a CEO, except Dan. I guess I do know one. Bob, you used to be a CEO of the airport. Most of us haven’t gotten to the CEO category yet. In that sense, we don’t have position. But then, maybe you do in your own little circle. That’s something you might glory in.
How about your possessions? There may be some that can jingle a considerable amount in your purse or pocket. You may have been eating at nice restaurants a lot lately and you’ve got a thick wallet. You may have quite a bit of money and possessions that cause you to say, ‘I can take my ease. I don’t have to worry about a thing! I’ve got this much in the account. I can draw on it anytime, if I need to and want to.’ We might tend to glory in that, or trust in that, or treat that with greater importance than we ought to.
It could be popularity. I doubt many of us here are super popular, as the world might call it. But there may be still, in your little circle, some sense of importance, and you kind of glory in that. It could be said that you revel in that, rejoice in that. That makes you feel a bit puffed up. That makes you feel important and significant.
But maybe I’m asking the wrong questions to arrive at the correct answer. Who spoke this world into existence? It certainly wasn’t any of us. What did I do to help God in His architectural design of an incredible universe? What did I do to help Him set the color spectrum in place? What did any of us do that allowed Him to put the brilliance in the animal world, and the plant world, the flower world and creation all around us? Where were we when all that took place, like God said to Job? Who gave me my life? I certainly didn’t do it. My mom and dad really didn’t do it. Who made holy promises to me? Who loved my eternal soul? Who gives me breath and keeps my heart beating?
The Psalmist said, “I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.” Psalm 142. Who received my personal judgment and punishment for sin that should have been mine? Who stood in my place? Who took my whipping? Who stood there at the Justice Seat of Heaven’s Court and said, “I will pay their debt?” Who defeated my enemy?
Who allowed Himself to be bruised for my transgressions? Who was it who bore the stripes from that whip, the cat of nine tails? Who was it that bore my humiliation and disgrace? Who was it that was crucified to pay the debt of my sin? Who came looking for us when we had no interest, whatsoever? Who brought me out of prison, took the chains of bondage from my life and set me free? Who was it whose grace was so perfect, and whose mercy was so pure, that even after He did all of that, He said, ‘Now, I’m going to let you choose who will be your Master.’ He still didn’t force me to bow the knee. That was to be voluntary. That was the way His mercy operated.
Who washed me of my sin stains and removed the debris and contaminants from my life? Who breathed life back into my dead spirit and the miracle of resurrection took place inside me, and someday, will take place in this physical vessel on that Day of Resurrection? Who gives me victory, peace, joy and comfort? Who’s coming back to finish what He started and will accomplish all that He promised, just as He said? It sure wasn’t any of us. These are the right questions.
This is what, I believe, Paul must have been surveying whenever he broke loose with this kind of a statement. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14) What really brought this comment to the forefront was his fellow countrymen who were trying to make converts turn back to the ceremonial law after they had gotten saved by the Grace of the Lord Jesus. Here, in the book of Galatians, those Judaizers who would not listen, who would not come, and who rejected out of hand and even were part of the persecuting crowd, they’re that crowd that gloried in trying to retrieve the Christian back into the law. They were the ones who gloried in the self-glorification of the works they were doing, as appointed by the law and they gloried in themselves. They gloried in making converts of others, in themselves.
Paul said, “I was once among all of that, but now, God forbid that I should do as you’re doing. I once did. But now I glory in Jesus Christ, because of Calvary and what it has done for me.” That’s what Paul said.
Turn to the first chapter of the same book, Galatians. Here he starts off, in a sense, with what he ends with in the sixth chapter. Look what he says in verse number 4. “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever.” (Galatians 1:4-5) Paul said, “There’s no way I’m going to start glorying in anything else. There’s nothing that comes close. There’s nothing worthy to glory in except God, my Saviour and Creator. Only Jesus, the One who was crucified at the Cross. Except God, who delivered me from this present evil world. That One, through whom mercy has been extended. That One, through whom God came, seeking me.” Paul said, “That’s what I’m going to glory in!”
If we, each one, will pause and consider, I know what conclusion we will come to. Jesus is worthy! Worthy is the Lamb that was slain! That’s what stirs the soul. That’s what satisfies the heart. That’s what causes the heart to beat with fervency toward the grace and goodness of God, once we get the question settled; Who is worthy to be worshipped in my heart? Who is worthy to be on the pin-up poster in my heart and my thoughts? Who is worthy to be the One I exalt in my thoughts? Who is the One worthy to be a part of the songs I sing? Who is worthy to be the One that my lips offer praise, and sing to glorify the King of kings? It’s Him.
Once I am able to get it settled in my thoughts, Who it is that is worthy of being glorified, then that’s going to start to set my feet in the path of the straight and narrow, because that’s the path He’s on and I want to be on the same path. That’s the will of God for my life. I melt, I yield, I surrender to that will. That’s what causes me to begin to say, “Lord, I love You because now I’ve recognized how much You first loved me.” In that love I have enrichments and benefits beyond expectation, and beyond any realization. Its limits are beyond where my mind can stretch. Its height, and its breadth and its depth is beyond anybody’s measuring stick. Only Heaven, throughout eternity, will reveal to us the mercy, and grace, and the goodness of our great God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Bible says that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” (II Corinthians 5:19) We give pause, and we survey what we do know of the Bible. We remember what happened on the day we got saved and the reality of His existence really settled in our soul in a personal, experiential fashion. We felt the redeeming work of Grace. We felt the burden of our sin lifted. We felt the joy of the presence of the Almighty. We felt the peace that commanded the ship. At least for a while, we felt the wonders of it all, until we allowed sin and carnality to sneak back into our lives. But those moments in which we had glimpses of glory, glimpses of His life and His revelations in our soul, and we were able to meditate, for a while, upon Him and what He’s done for us, we didn’t wonder who else was worthy of glory in our lives.
Before long, we realize, There’s nobody worthy, nobody but Jesus! God forbid that I should glory in me. God forbid that I should glory in accomplishment. God forbid that I should glory in my talent, that truth of the matter, is from God in the first place. God forbid that I should glory in position, and in anything else that I could think of. God forbid that I should glory in somebody else in this world. God forbid that I should glory in property, home, car, clothes, appearance. God forbid that I should glory in any of these things, because they are nothing! What did they really do to secure for me what nobody else could? Christ did all that. I say to myself, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ!”
Turn back to Galatians chapter 6. I want to show you five things in that chapter resulting from what the Lord Jesus did for us. It all goes on in the context to end out the chapter. He said, in verse number 14, “…by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Do you wonder why it is that you no longer frequent those places where you once used to go? Do you wonder why it is that you don’t use the language you once used if you were saved later in your life? Do you wonder why it is that the world does not have the same kind of appeal that it once did? It’s because something has happened. There’s been a crucifixion. There’s been a whole change of appetites within you, and through Christ the world has been crucified unto you, and you unto the world.
That’s how it’s supposed to work. The great change has come. Not only that, but he goes on to say what we now have: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15) The results of this Cross, now you’re a new creature in Christ Jesus. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17) We have what really counts. We have redemption. We are a new creature in Christ! Nothing else can do that except the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now I’ve got the peace of God. Look what he says. “… as many as walk according to this rule…” (Or, this belief) he says, “…peace be on them…” We’ve got the Peace of God.
Not only that, but he goes on to say that we’ve also got the mercy of God at our disposal. I’ve received His mercy and I get His mercy day by day. Somebody said it out here, “His mercy is everlasting.” I get His mercy day by day and I get His mercy in that eternal context of Salvation.
Then, look what Paul ends it with. In verse number 17 he said, “From henceforth let no man trouble me…” He said, nobody’s going to persuade me away from where I’m at. Nobody’s going to tell me that I’m in the wrong place. Nobody’s going to convince me that I have stepped into an arena that is inaccurate and not correct. He said, “Let no man trouble me. No more.” He said, “...for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” He said, “I’m convinced. I am a purposed Christian, and that’s how I’m going to live the remainder of my life.” So we read such passages like in Philippians 3:14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Christian, how purposed are you? I can tell you how purposed you are. It depends on what kind of treasure you’ve made Him to be in your life. Or, should I say, how much at the forefront? Perhaps if He’s been made a treasure of the past, but has been put back in some kind of a vault, somewhere, and locked down? But if we keep Him as our treasure of our heart, that’s where you’re going to be. That’s where your praise will be, your love, your purpose, and your areas of emphasis. That’s how you’re going to live your life, if Christ is kept out there in the forefront as your treasure and your central focus.
If you glory in the cross, you’re going to give yourself unreservedly and become a purposed Christian. You’re going to be one who knows who you are in Christ and why you have what you’ve got and you are not going to forget. You are not going to let that get dull and become commonplace. You won’t become somebody who allows dust to settle upon the last time that you really got excited about what He’s done for you. You’re going to be somebody who is wearing a path to Him and glorying in the cross of Christ. You’re going to be somebody who really recognizes, fresh and new, repeatedly, what God has done for you.
What is so amazing is that God continues to open up your understanding and grasp of Him as you praise and love Him and unreservedly have a heart for Him. He just keeps opening your spirit more to His Spirit and more of Him becomes your experience. Whenever we begin to glance at the world and often we do, like Lot’s wife, we look back and begin to think there’s something else, and we just allow ourselves to get dull in the Christian Life. It just works that way. You can’t help it.
But once we begin to focus and look up to the Captain of our Faith, the Author and Finisher of it all, He begins to open us up more and more. The end result is, you begin to drink waters from a deeper Source. Or, should I say, from The Source, but in a deeper fashion. It could just be that the dipper gets bigger and bigger, because your capacity is increased. You become a Christian who is excited, and in love, and enriched and you know it. You’re going to be like Paul who said, “….God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…”