Welcome to this weekend's In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley. Today we begin a study of the fundamental messages God sent us through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The encouraging message from the cross starts with the simple truth, God loves you just as you are. Whenever you see a cross on a church steeple, what do you think? Whenever you see a book with a cross on the cover, what do you think? Whenever you walk up to someone and you see a cross around their neck, what do you think? Most people's understanding of the message of the cross is a small fraction of what God intended for us to understand. If you ask the average person, what does the cross mean to you? They would say, the cross means to me that my sins have been forgiven. Well, what else?
Well, you know, what else do you need? Many of his sins are forgiven, that's it. But that's only a very small part of what transpired at the cross. And so I want us to look at the first message of the cross and a very encouraging message, and that's this. The message of the cross is that God loves you and me just the way we are. And if you recall some things that Paul had to say about the cross, look if you will in Galatians chapter six for a moment. He said on one occasion in the sixth chapter and the 14th verse, knowing that he was of the tribe of Benjamin, a tremendous heritage in his background, great position, everything that a man could ever want, a leader among his people. Paul said that he discovered in life that there was only one thing that he'd ever discovered that he could brag about, only one thing he could glory in, only one thing that he could boast of.
And this is what he said. It is verse 14. But God forbid that I should glory in anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. He says, By whom this world has been crucified to me, that is, the world has lost its pull and tug. And secondly, he says, and I unto the world. If you will examine the preaching of the teaching of the Apostle Paul, it was all centered around the cross. Read the book of Galatians, read the book of Philippians, read the book of Ephesians, read the book of Colossians, the cross of Jesus Christ permeates and saturates every single thing Paul had to say, because he was able to grasp the gift of the Holy Spirit, the work that God did at the cross, more than forgiveness, much more than forgiveness, it is there. And I believe the first message that he sent out of the cross is this, that God loves you and me just the way we are. That is, listen carefully now, as you misunderstand, there is absolutely nothing you can do that will ever cause God to love you any more than you are loved already. But man's response to the love of God, if it is the wrong response will deny him and cheat him and deprive him out of all that God's gracious and wonderful love has provided for it. One of the most difficult things the believers have to learn is that God loves them with no exceptions, no buts and no ifs. Now I want you to see, first of all, here a description of the people whom God loves unconditionally.
All through the scripture he tells us, but look in Romans chapter five for a moment. Look, if you will, beginning in verse six. He says, For when you and I were yet without strength, that means we were absolutely and totally helpless.
You say, Well, I've never felt that away. Well, my friends, you cannot forgive yourself of your sins. God must forgive us of our sin. There is a sense in which we must forgive ourselves after we receive the Lord's forgiveness. He says, But when you and I were without strength, that is, we were helpless to do anything whereby we could become acceptable to God.
He said, When you and I were down and counted out, what did he do? In due time, Christ died for the ungodly. He said he loves the helpless when they have been counted out. Secondly, he says his love is expressed toward the ungodly. Now, what does the word ungodly mean? It doesn't mean just one person who refuses or cannot perform godly acts.
But you recall in the Bible, the scripture says that you and I were created in the image of God, but sin at the very beginning destroyed what God intended for man to have and that is the image of God. So this word ungodly here means, listen, that the image of God has been defaced in every single one of us so that we don't radiate God until something happens in our life. He says he loves those who are helpless to help themselves. He loves those who are ungodly. And in verse eight, he says, But God committed his love toward us and that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Now listen, a sinner is one who is rebellious toward God. A sinner is one who has transgressed the law of God. That is, he stepped over the boundary of what God allows. A sinner is one, the scripture says, who has fallen short of the glory of God.
A sinner is one who is living according to the dictates of self, of the flesh. God says he loves the helpless. God says he loves the ungodly. He says he loves the sinner. But if you'll notice in verse 10, for if when we were enemies, listen, while we were enemies, we were reconciled unto God, how by the death of his son, much more being reconciled, we should be saved by his life. Now, what does he mean by an enemy? If somebody says, well, wait a minute, I was saved when I was 12 years of age. I not even thought about being an enemy of God.
But now here's the thing that you and I have to remember. And this is why so many people do not understand the truth of the gospel. When the Bible says the heart of a man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. God looks in the heart of that lad, as well as a 40 year old man. The difference is this, the 12 year old boy has not been thrust into the circumstances has not lived in the situation whereby all of that deceit and desperate wickedness has had the opportunity to express itself, but it is all there. We were born with a bent away from God.
And here's the man who's lived to be 25 or 35 or 60. And all that was there comes out, it comes out in all different forms. So we look around and say, how good people are. God says the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. So when you look at these four descriptions, he says, God has commended God has shed his love abroad in the heart of those who are helpless to save themselves ungodly in their nature, transgressing, breaking, violating the law of God, falling short of the glory of God, rebelling against God enemies of God. But look, if you will turn over to chapter three in the book of Romans and listen, here's how he describes the unbeliever. Verse 10 says, as it is written, there's none righteous, no, not one. There's none that understand it. There's none that seeketh after God.
They're all gone out of the way they are together become unprofitable. There is none that doeth good, no, not one that is within a man's self. He cannot do anything good enough to be saved. Goodness is not within mankind by his innate ability and character. Look in verse 13, their throat is an open Sepulchre. That means it's full of death. With their tongues, they have used deceit and the poison of snakes is under their lips, whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their fetus swept the shed blood destruction and misery in their ways and the way of peace have they not known. Look in Titus, if you will slip on over to first and second Timothy and Titus right before Philemon and Hebrews there. Titus chapter three in verse three. Look at this verse for we ourselves also were sometime foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving that is being bound by enslaved by various kinds of lust and drives and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But after that, the kindness and the love of God, our savior toward man appear. Now all of these verses I give simply to say, when somebody asked, What kind of people is it that God loves?
I just read your description of them. Not any of us want to be like any of that. But the truth is all of us have been. And if you take the Spirit of God out of our lives, any one of us, we would all resort to some form of the same kind of sinfulness and wickedness we just read about. God's viewpoint of the human heart is we are helpless sinners, ungodly enemies of God full of filth, junky stuff spiritually, trash. He says unrighteousness like filthy rags, and all these specific sins living by the desires of the flesh, driven by the drives of the human nature, living by the five senses.
He says, that's the way humanity is. And he says, the message of the cross is that Almighty God looked down in this world and saw all the wickedness and the sin and the vileness of humanity. And God said, I love every single one of them unconditionally and eternally. And you see, somehow until the people of God are able to receive and accept and grasp that Almighty God's love is unconditional, it is unmerited, it is unlimited, until we're able to grasp the fact that He reached down and loved you when there was not any, listen, anything in you that caused, motivated God to reach down and love you, not a thing. God reached down and expressed His love to you and to me, not because of what He saw within us, but because it is His nature to love. And because His love knows no limits and no boundaries and no exceptions and no conditions. Listen, God loves every single human being on the face of this earth, knowing that the vast majority of them will reject Him all the way to the grave.
He still loves them. What do you and I quote, been quoting all of our life? For God so loved the world. But what we believers do, we take that word world and you know what we do?
We lose ourselves in this vast host of sea of humanity and somehow we see ourselves as just one little grain of sand on these beaches. And what am I amidst God's love? And I want to tell you something, my friend, you look in the Bible when God is talking to somebody, He's talking to individuals. He loves you and you and you and you and you and you and you. And I want to tell you something this morning and I want you to hear it clearly because I want to tell you that I'm going to be misunderstood.
God loves every single one of us the way we are and He loves us that way. Listen, if you never improve and I'm going to tell you something else, you're not going to improve. You can't improve.
You know why? Because you can't improve old self. That's why Almighty God sent His only begotten Son. One of the messages of the cross is not only that He loves us, but He delivered us. How did He deliver us? By coming in the Holy Spirit to live within us, to dwell through us because He knew we could never be any better, we would never do any better and you can't improve self. Listen, God loves you just the way you are and He knows you don't have the slightest chance in the world of improving you. And I'm going to prove that real simple.
Just about the time you've got some area improve what happens? He just lets the devil pull the rug out from under you to show you, friend, there's not one single area of your life you can have victory without Jesus Christ. Not a one. And that's the kind of folks He loves. And how has He demonstrated that love to you and to me? He's demonstrated in so many ways.
Look, I want you to look at two words here. Look if you will, first of all, in verse six, for when we were yet without strength in due time, Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will not, He said, for example, hardly for a good man will anybody lay down his life. Yet peradventure for a good man, some would even dare to die. He says, no, look, you're going to find somebody every once in a while who has enough valor and courage, who has enough love to lay down his life for a good man.
But who would lay down his life for his most vicious enemy? He says God, in his son, Jesus Christ, listen, he didn't wait until you improved. He died for your sins and my sins. He says he's died for people who were ungodly while they run God sinners while they were sinners weak while they're weak enemies while they're still enemies.
He's not waiting for us to improve. Jesus Christ died on the cross out of his love for you and me while we were still in the pits. He died for you and me. Listen, God in his love reaching down to mankind, demonstrating how in the way that has never been exceeded the incomparable demonstration of God's unconditional law for you and me was the cross. Anything else God could have done would never have said what the cross has said. Because the truth is that God himself and all of his holiness and all of his righteousness came down in his son Jesus Christ into a world that he knew would persecute him and eventually caused him to experience the worst death a man could ever experience crucifixion. You want me to tell you how much God loves you? God loves you and me enough to have sent his son to the cross knowing that his son who had lived in everlasting and eternal fellowship with him up until that time was going to experience what he had never experienced before what God didn't want any man on earth to ever experience.
He sent him that the world may not have to experience it. He sent him to deliver us from experiencing it. He sent him to the cross to die on the cross. And the thing about the cross that best demonstrates the love of God is not nails in his hand. Listen, the crown of thorns hurt and the nails tore his ligaments and his tendons and his muscle and the bone and the blood and it ached and it pained. And every time he tried to breathe hanging up on that cross it was painful.
And the dryness of his lips, the parching of his tongue, the difficulty of breathing, moment by moment he died. But that wasn't the thing that demonstrated God's love. What demonstrated God's love is that God Almighty turned his back upon his only begotten son and let him taste death for every man. That is the greatest demonstration of God's love.
With all of his omniscience and all of his knowledge, in the wisdom of Almighty God, God said, what can I do that will best demonstrate to my enemies, to the ungoded, to the sinners, to the unrighteous, what can I best do to demonstrate to the world so they'll never forget how much I love them? He sent his only begotten son to die on the cross. You know why Paul says I only have one message and it's the cross? Because everything God has ever done for you and everything that He'll ever do for you and everything that'll ever come your way from God will come through the cross of Jesus Christ in your life. The message of the cross is that God loves you just like you are. He'll take you just like you are. He'll forgive you of every sin in your life. And some of you have been saying, well, I want to be saved and I want to get right with God, but there's some things I have to correct.
I want to tell you something. This is what Jesus said, I'm not come to call the righteous. I've not come to call those who are improving themselves.
You can't improve yourself. Everything you have, everything you are, every single hope you will ever have comes through the cross of Jesus Christ. And He's saying to an unbelieving, doubting, frustrated, hurting, lonely world, God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit loves you just the way you are. And I want to ask you today, have you ever asked the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins based on what He did at the cross? Are you willing to accept the unconditional love of God? I don't care what you've done. Doesn't make a difference where you've been.
Doesn't make a difference how deep down into it you are. I want to tell you that Almighty God loves you and He has a place for you and a plan for your life. And what He's asking of you today is to accept His Son, Jesus Christ, because you see, all that God has comes to the Son. In order for God to be able to give to you and to me all that the Son has, we have to come to the cross acknowledging our sinfulness, our wickedness, our unworthiness, and by faith receiving Jesus Christ. I want to encourage you, my friend, to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and do it right now by faith trusting in Him.
And I want to encourage you who believe this, listen to me carefully. Listen, God knows I wish how to get this into your mind, your heart, and your spirit. You'll never be able to grasp the total message of what God wants you to understand until you are able to sense within your spirit that Almighty, loving, righteous, holy, merciful God loves you today, yesterday, and every day just the way you are. He'll make of you something you cannot make of yourself, but He loves you the way you are.
You'll never be able to merit it. He wants you simply to accept it and to live in it by His grace. Thank you for listening to God Loves You As You Are. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-04 04:47:18 / 2023-03-04 04:54:50 / 8