Wednesday Night Bible Study
Topic: Make Your Theology Your Reality
Lesson Session 1: Carrying Your Cross
Purpose: To examine our lifestyle in comparison to instructions by the Word of God.
We move into the New Year under the theme of Making Our Theology Our Reality. The term theology means the study of God. Our theme directs us to take what we have learned in our studies about our relationship with God and make it the pattern by which we live our daily lives. Our theology can only be based on what the Word of God has given us about God and our relationship. The church has spent a lot of time in bringing the Word of God to the people of God. The church has committed to studying the Word through its Sunday morning Sunday School, weekday Bible Study, and offering biblical study classes.
The Word of God was never intended to be kept in a classroom as a lesson plan. The purpose of the Word of God is to teach us of the Way and Will of God in order that we might establish the right relationship with God. Throughout time the church has evolved to better meet this purpose by teaching the Word of God with more clarity and depth. As we continue to grow and develop through the Word, we learn the basic right and wrong things to do; the abundance of grace and mercy; and the privileges that righteousness has afforded us. Through the Word, we have learned the importance of loving one another; humbling ourselves under grace and mercy; and recognizing the position that the finish work of Jesus Christ had provided by making us right with God. All this is done that we might live a righteous life as the children of God through Christ Jesus.
It is the Word of God that teaches and establishes our relationship. The Scriptures tell us in Hebrews 4:12–13 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two–edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. A more contemporary way to say this is: The Word of God is alive, active, and powerful. It penetrates through our mortal life, into our immortal soul, and even into our spiritual being; and all our desires and intentions are revealed and nothing is hid from God; and everyone will give an account of themselves before God.
As the Word has the power to judge us; it also gives us the privilege to be a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Although being in a relationship with God sounds pleasant and peaceful, we must also understand that when we are in–line with God, we become out–of–line with the world. Our attraction or attachment with the world will keep our relationship with God from fully developing. It will put us in what is called a “casual” relationship with God. The casual Christian is one that realizes the importance of knowing God, but still holds on to the ways of the world. They will come to church but will not be committed to church; their attendance will be by convenience rather than by obligation; their knowledge of Scripture will be limited as their time has been in attending Bible Study.
Although these examples might apply to some people in the church, this is not a finger–pointing exercise. This is an opportunity for us to examine our Christian lifestyle in comparison to the requirements of God that we might live to the full potential to what the Word of God has afforded us.
Lesson 1: Take Up Your Cross
Background: During the time that the Romans ruled over the Jews, death on the cross was used for slaves that were rebellious, thieves, or political criminals. Persons sentenced to death on the cross carried the upper crossbeam of the cross to the place of execution while people watched. Today we see the cross as a symbol of glory and a sign of salvation. During the time of Christ, death on the cross was done as an embarrassment, humiliation, and used to discourage others by putting them on public display. Death on the cross was painful and it would take a long period of time, even days.
Definition of the Subject: Taking up your cross is living a Christ–like lifestyle no matter what the world may do, say or think about you.
Let’s explain it through the Word: Matt 16:24–27:
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
In a symbolic suggestion, to “carry your cross” would imply physical hardship, publicly disgrace, and a sign of punishment, however, Jesus offers these instructions for those that would follow Him. To the disciples this means following Jesus would cause them to be out–of–line with the religious leaders of the Jews; to us, following Jesus will put us out–of–line with the world. The world will see our relationship with Jesus as something that is embarrassing, disgraceful and punishing. Carrying our cross (living a Christian lifestyle) will demonstrate to the world that we are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When true believers accept Jesus Christ, they become new creatures. They turn away from the ways of world and become completed committed to serving the Lord; and they let the world think of them what it may. This is not to say that we are in conflict with the world, or that we are too holy to live in the world. What we are saying is that we no longer conform to the world nor do we allow the world to control our circumstances.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. Which is to say, if anyone tries to follow Jesus without taking up their cross, they are not fit to be his disciples. Jesus is not accepting half of you while the other half lives according to the world. And if we are ashamed of Him before the world, he said that He be ashamed of in his own glory, and in his Father‘s, and of the holy angels (Luke 9:26).
Therefore our relationship with Jesus Christ is not just displayed in church, but our lifestyle in the world must demonstrate that we are the children of God, joint heir to Jesus Christ; and children of the King.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
For those that will try to live their life by holding to a worldly lifestyle and not fully committed to serving Christ, will lose it all and have nothing in the end. For those that will deny themselves of a worldly lifestyle and follow Jesus, they will find that all that may have been lose will be restored, even unto eternal life.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
What is the benefit if you become the most important person in this world and lose your place in glory? There is nothing in this world that has enough value to pay the price of your sin to restore your soul.
27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
As Jesus spoke to his disciples he had not yet come into glory. He was glorified through the finished work of the cross through his death and resurrection. Jesus is now glorified and I believe the promise of rewarding every person accordance to their works applies to while you are living according to:
John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly
And unto eternity according to: James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him
If He saw you today, will He see you carrying your cross?