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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - The Folly and The Power of The Cross - Part 1

Michael Youssef - The Folly and The Power of The Cross - Part 1

Michael Youssef - The Folly and The Power of The Cross - Part 1
Michael Youssef - The Folly and The Power of The Cross - Part 1
TOPICS: Easter, Cross

I think most of you will agree with me that in our lifetime, certainly I know in my lifetime, there has been no time when the cross of Christ has been more abused and misused, have been undermined and ignored, has been rejected and despised; yet, the power of the cross is truly beyond human understanding. I'm going to try to bring three messages on the folly or the foolishness and the power of the cross. I'm not creative to come up with that title. The apostle Paul did. In 1 Corinthians chapter 1, verse 18, the apostle Paul said, "For the message of the cross is folly or foolishness to those who are perishing. But to us who are being saved it is the power of God".

It is the power of God. And so during this short series, I will be talking about the enduring power of the cross. I'm going to show you the cross in the past that's in the Old Testament, the cross in the present that's the New Testament, and the cross in the future. I will begin by explaining the power of the cross for all who have placed their only hope, their only faith, their only trust for salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. You must never, never, never, never, never forget that the cross was not an afterthought in God's mind, that the cross was not a good idea at the time, that the cross did not just happen because the Romans decided to crucify Jesus; why? Because the cross was the plan of God before the foundation of the earth. The cross was in the plan of God before creation. And in order to comprehend this, we're going to need to understand why so many are trivializing the cross.

Here's a formula. I don't do formulas very often in my preaching, but every now and again, because I need you never to forget this, I come up with a little formula. Here's the formula that operates in all societies, in all times, throughout history. It is like this: whenever sin is minimized, the cross is trivialized. Let me repeat this. Whenever sin is minimized, the cross is trivialized. Can you say it with me? Whenever sin is... the cross is trivialized. Beloved, listen to me. Sin and the cross go together. You cannot have one without the other. You cannot understand one without the other. You cannot comprehend the enormity of sin without understanding the awesomeness of the cross. The cross is the only cure to sin, and that is why you will hear them preach something like this: "The power is in the tongue. The power is in the words you utter". "Really? Not in the cross"? "No, the power is in self-affirmation. I am, I am, I am. The power is in self-actualization. The power is in the positive thoughts; and when you have positive thoughts, positive things happen to you".

Trivializing the cross. Why? Because they minimize sin. The natural result of this trivialization of the power of the cross is basically handing the power to whom? To me, to you, you, you, you. It's all about you. It is not. I've got news for you. Now I go back to explaining what I said earlier; namely, that the cross of Christ did not happen in a vacuum. The cross of Christ is the plan of God for salvation before the creation of the world. The cross was God's answer to humanity's sin and rebellion before man ever sinned in the garden of Eden. From the very beginning of creation, God instituted the shedding of blood in the garden of Eden, innocent lamb that had to be slain in order to cover Adam and Eve's sin, but that's not all. God was showing them that this is a foreshadowing, that this is the foreshadowing of the cross of Christ, where the innocent, most innocent Lamb of all is going to hang one day.

From the very beginning of creation, God foreknew what would happen to his creation. God foreknew that Adam and Eve would go their own way, not God's way, and that is why the first act of redemption in the garden of Eden was the substitutionary sacrifice for sin. I know, I know, I know, I know the age-old question: "But why"? God could not minimize the enormity of Adam and Eve's sin. But not only that, God wanted Adam and Eve to know and to teach the subsequent generation that animal sacrifice is the prefiguring of the cross of Christ. God wanted them to teach the subsequent generation to anticipate the sacrifice, the greatest sacrifice of all. He wanted them to know that sin is costly, that sin cannot be taken lightly by God, that sin is a colossal offense to a holy, righteous God.

And that is why, from Abraham to Moses, to the time of Jesus's earthly ministry, animal sacrifice were offered. The innocent blood was shed for a guilty sinner. An innocent blood was shed for man's sin, and that is why, after Christ's cross, no animal sacrifice were allowed. Again, in the old days, the old question: "Why"? Animal sacrifice could never permanently remove sin. Only temporary. It was not a permanent answer. God instituted animal sacrifice for three reasons. First of all, he did it so that they realized how costly when they spend that money to offer that sacrifice, it reminds them that this is only temporary. But that's not all. It also reminded them, as they spend that colossal amount of money, how expensive that sacrifice is, how dreadful sin is to God.

And finally, it would remind them every time they offer a colossal sacrifice that they're worshiping a holy and righteous God who cannot wink at sin. It reminded them also that is a prefiguring, it's a pre-shadowing of the cross of Christ. You and I must see things from God's perspective. Just see it from God's eyes, see it from God's perspective, from God's point of view. His justice must prevail. His justice must prevail. If his justice has to prevail, then sin must be dealt with. Justice says sin and guilt has to be dealt with. That's why always the justice of God and the love of God are two sides of the same coin. The rebellion against God's Word must find permanent answer, and that is why on the cross God himself, the most innocent blood of all, paid for the sin and the guilt and rebellion of every repentant person on the face of the earth.

On the cross, God paid the price so that anyone, anyone, anyone, anywhere would come to him confessing their sin. They'll be set free from the clutches of sin and guilt. Look with me at Genesis 3:21. Genesis 3:21. When God said to Adam and Eve, "Do this and don't do this, do this, don't do that," that's simple, right? Listen, you couldn't be a parent without understanding that. You understand temptation of the kids. The moment you say, "Don't do this," that's what they want to do. That's where we inherited it from, Adam and Eve, right? And that is why when they said, "No, I know that's what God said, but we're going to go this way, we're going to do it our way," God brought a temporary covering of a lamb's skin to cover their sin, to cover their nakedness they'd become aware of after sin.

Now, a question: Did Adam and Eve understood what God is doing? Absolutely, absolutely they did, and that is why they taught it to their boys, Cain and Abel. They taught them the sacrifice, the importance of sacrifice and what God did for them, and they told them to obey God, because that's the prefiguring of the cross. Huh, one obeyed, the other one didn't. And from that time on, all of humanity is divided into two groups: the Abelites and the Cainites. Not the Canaanites, the Cainites from Cain and Abel, those who follow in the tradition of Abel's obedience and those who follow in Cain's tradition of disobedience. People all over the world, all over the world, whenever they hear the message of the cross preached, they are divided into two groups: those who gratefully receive it and those who arrogantly reject it. People the world over respond in only two ways to salvation: embrace it at the cost of their life, and then there are others who arrogantly reject it in the way of Cain.

See, Cain and Abel are the microcosm of all of humanity. The Abelites come to God God's way. The Cainites want to come to God their way, their way, my way. God said there is only one way for anyone to come to his heaven, and that is through the shed blood of his Son, Jesus, on that cross. All of Cain's followers are teaching that you can worship God your way, that you can come to God your way. You don't like this narrowmindedness of one way, you don't like this old-fashioned message of the cross, you don't like this exclusivity of coming to God God's way, oh, God has many ways. The way of Cain. The way of who? The way of who? It is no wonder that in Genesis 4, verses 4 and 5, God said that he looked with favor upon Abel's sacrifice, don't miss this, okay? Don't miss this. But on Cain's offering, did you get the difference? Raise your hand. Did you get the difference?

He looked with favor on Abel's sacrifice. But on Cain's offering, he did not look with favor. And that is why, my beloved friends, in the New Testament, in the epistle to the Hebrews, it speaks of all who come to God through the cross of Christ are Abel-like obedience. Let me read it to you from Hebrews 11. "By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain". Why is it better? We don't know if the fruit of the land might be even more expensive than the animal sacrifice, right? I mean, it may be even worth more money. But that's not the issue. You can't buy your salvation. The issue is that you're coming to God God's way. Worshiping God God's way is the shedding of innocent blood. And this is the way it is from the very beginning. That is why I say to you the cross is past, the cross is present, and the cross is future.

Let me make sure that you understand what I'm trying to say here. The Bible said God made all of humanity, all of humanity of one blood, of one family, and that is why Adam, who lived for 930 years, has taught the subsequent generation the principle of sacrifice as a prefiguring, as a pre-shadowing of the cross of Christ, and he taught this all the way to Lamech. In case you don't know who Lamech is, he was Noah's father. Nine hundred and thirty years. Noah lived for 600 years, and he taught this prefiguring of the cross and the sacrifice to the next generation, all the way to Abraham. As a matter of fact, when he came out of the ark, when he came out of the ark, the first thing he did, offer a sacrifice. And I want you to remember this, that Abraham was 58 years old when Noah died. Did you get that? Fifty-eight. I'm gonna ask all the 58-year-olds to raise your hand... no. But just think about this: he was 58.

So, all these 58 years, growing up, knowing great-great-great-great-great pa Noah, teaching him the prefiguring of the cross. Abraham, in obedience and faith, looked ahead 2,000 years down history, and he saw the day of Christ, and he rejoiced. That's what Jesus said. And when Isaac asked his father, Abraham, "Daddy, where is the sacrifice"? Abraham prophesied a word of prophecy about the cross, and he said, "God is going to provide himself as a sacrifice," and right on schedule, 2,000 years later, not far from Mount Moriah where Abraham offered the ram that God provided, God provided himself in the person of his Son to be the sacrifice, the only sacrifice acceptable to God. Isaac has never forgotten that God provided the ransom for his life. He taught it to his descendants as the prefiguring of the cross of Christ. His son Jacob learned this lesson, and he sacrificed in Shechem and he called it El-Elohe-Israel, "God is the God of Israel" or Jacob.

Even after 400 years of slavery in Egypt, God has to reteach his descendants, the descendants of Israel, the descendants of Jacob, the importance of sacrifice as a prefiguring of the cross of Christ. And so God established Yom Kippur and he established the Day of Atonement. He also established the Passover. And so for 1,400 years, until the Passover found its complete fulfillment, we're going to tell you more about this and what Jesus said about himself and the Passover. He is the fulfillment, the complete and ultimate and final fulfillment of the Passover because he is the only one who can permanently, permanently, permanently, can you say that?

Permanently remove sin and guilt. And that is why the cross of Christ is the only symbol that points us to where we can have our sins removed, the stain of sin, the guilt of sin, the punishment of sin totally removed, and that cross has become the symbol of permanent freedom from sin and guilt. Passover stopped with Jesus's cross. Passover ended with the cross of Christ. Passover is finally fully fulfilled in the cross of Christ. I'll say this as I conclude. The Bible said in Proverbs 13:22 that "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children". And I think we all want to leave something of heirlooms or some legacy to our children and children's children, for sure.

Listen to me. I'm about to finish. There can be no greater legacy or inheritance that we can give our children and grandchildren more important than recognizing the enormity of sin and the awesomeness of the cross of Christ for removing that sin. I know the greatest legacy that I can leave to the next generation, not just my own generation, but the generation in the church of Jesus Christ is how to cling to the old rugged cross. "The old rugged cross despised by the world has wondrous attraction to me, for the dear Lamb of God left his glory above to bear it to dark Calvary. Oh, that old rugged cross. To that old rugged cross I will ever be true, its shame and reproach gladly bear. Then he will call me home someday to my home far away, where his glory forever I'll share". Beloved, it is the prayer of my heart that anyone at the sound of my voice would make this motto, until you face Jesus, to be theirs until you face Jesus face to face.
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