From Plainer Words

The Preaching of the Cross - Part 2

Posted in: 2009
By Tom L. Ballinger
Jul 6, 2009 - 9:24:06 AM

July 1, 2009
Part 2

“Part 1” brought out the fact that the Apostle Paul insisted that the “cross of Christ” provided believers with a means of being freed from the Adamic nature, the old slave master. The “cross of Christ” dealt with all that relates to Adam. (In our study, we will refer to the old nature of the believer as Adam).

The last paper, also, brought out some background regarding the Pentecostal Dispensation. An attempt was made to “set the stage” so the reader could get a “feeling” of what prompted the writing of the Galatian Epistle.

Paul had received information from the Galatian believers that believing-Pharisees, out of Jerusalem, were in the area preaching “another gospel” (Gal. 1:6) which, in reality, was not “another” (Gal. 1:7). This so-called “gospel” was troubling the Galatians. The reason being, the Jews, out of Jerusalem, insisted that the Gentile believers be circumcised and live under the Law of Moses.

The Apostle wrote Galatians before Acts 15 as it was pointed out in the previous Plainer Words. He certified that “the gospel (of the uncircumcision) which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal.1:11-12).

The “gospel of the uncircumcision” (Gal. 2:7), which Paul preached, was a truth which was infinitely more profound than that which the Judaizers preached. Keep in mind that the Judaizers, out of Jerusalem, were saved. They believed that Jesus of Nazareth was, indeed, Israel’s Christ (see Acts 15:5). Those who were still zealous of the Law, sincerely, thought that Gentile converts should be circumcised and live under the Law as did Gentiles, in the past centuries, who embraced Judaism.

But, the Apostle Paul received his message by revelation from Jesus Christ regarding uncircumcision. The Pharisees, out of Jerusalem, did not have knowledge of this revelation. In fact, they questioned Paul’s authority and doubted his apostleship. This is why he started the Galatian letter with, “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead;)” (Gal. 1:1).

With this thought in view, we can, readily, understand that the Jews were dealing with mere externalism. Paul’s gospel went, infinitely, deeper. The Judaizers only insisted on a little cutting of the flesh. This is the circumcision “after the manner of Moses”          (Acts 15:1) that the Judaizers insisted upon. The cutting of the foreskin was sufficient to satisfy the demands of the teachers from Palestine. Paul taught a much deeper truth concerning circumcision. The cutting of the foreskin is, absolutely, of no profit “in Christ” (Gal. 5:2).

This flesh-cutting only dealt with a small part of Adam. Paul taught that the “cross” dealt with all which related to Adam. Ah! There is the big difference. The Judaizers wanted to cut off a little piece of Adam’s proud flesh. Paul preached the principle of the cross which cut off Adam, himself. The Judaizers taught that if the Gentiles would submit to the painful foreskin cutting, they could be “saved;” that is, qualify for the kingdom. The old Adamic nature would tolerate this. But, Adam resisted the principle of the cross for the cross of Christ deals with all of the Adamic nature, not just a portion of his flesh.

Paul preached that “the cross of Christ” was the end of all that relates to the believer's old nature. This provides no place for Adam, for the old nature was crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed, or rendered inoperative (Rom. 6:6).

Before we go further, it would be well to look at several aspects of truth which relate to the “cross of Christ.” We will notice a relationship between “crucify” and “cut off.” It will, also, be noted that there is a relationship between “circumcise” and “cut off.”

Crucify Is To Cut Off

The idea of being crucified, also, has the underlying thought of being “cut off.” In the Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah, we read concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, that “He was wounded . . . He was bruised . . . The chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed . . . All we like sheep have gone astray; . . . and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed,. . . was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a Lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before His shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from the prison and from judgment  . . . for HE WAS CUT OFF OUT OF THE LAND OF THE LIVING” (Verses 2-8).

When Isaiah 53:8 speaks, prophetically, of Christ being “cut off out of the land of the living,” the reference is to His crucifixion. In the 9th Verse, we read, “He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death.” This should show that the “cross of Christ” cut off the Lord Jesus Christ from the land of the living. It was the instrument of death.

Another reference to a cutting off, which has reference to death, is found in Job 14:1-2:

”Man that is born of woman is few of days and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down;”

This cutting down is being “cut off” from the land of the living. Another reference is found in Psalm 37:2 and 90:6. “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” And, “In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down.”

In Job 24, there is a reference to the wicked who are consumed by the grave. “They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn” (V. 24).

Circumcise Is To Cut Off

The rite, or ceremony of circumcision is to “cut off the prepuce or foreskin of males.” The Bible uses this word, interchangeably, with the thought of “cutting off” as in the instance in Deuteronomy 30:6:

“And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.”

The idea is that Israel’s heart shall be “cut off” from serving and worshipping other Gods.

Moses speaks of his lips as “uncircumcised” in Exodus 6:12. Another reference to the heart is found in Leviticus 26:41. There, it says, “. . . if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled. . .”

In Jeremiah, we read of an “uncircumcised ear” (6:10) which is not cut off from the prophecy of the false prophets (5:31). The “uncircumcised ear” fails to hear the warning of God. In Chapter 9:26, Jeremiah said, “all these nations are uncircumcised (i.e., in the flesh), and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.” The thought is while the males of the other nations do not have their foreskins cut off, neither does Israel have her affections cut off from the world of other nations.

Ezekiel 44:7 tells of the fact that the rebellious house of Israel has been quietly polluting the “house of the Lord” by bringing into it the “uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh." Verse 9 says none such should enter the Sanctuary.

Stephen calls his audience, “ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears”  (Acts 7:51). They resisted the Holy Ghost: hence, they were not cut off from the false report.

We trust enough has been said to, now, try to bring all the loose ends together. Keep in mind the fact that the question of circumcision permeates the whole epistle to the Galatians. You will notice that there are 13 references to “circumcised” and “circumcision.”

                                  Circumcised                    Circumcision
                                         2:3                                    2:7
                                         5:2                                    2:8
                                         5:3                                    2:9
                                         6:12                                  2:12
                                         6:13                                  5:6
                                         6:13                                  5:11
                                      ---------                               ---------
Total                                 6                                       7

”Uncircumcision” occurs three times, being found in Galatians 2:7, 5:6, and 6:13.

The Judaizers insisted that believing Gentiles be circumcised “after the manner of Moses” as well as live under the Law. Paul shows that to do so would be like going back to weak and beggarly elements (Gal. 4:9). For these were simply rudiments. They were “weak,” that is, without strength. They were feeble and sick attempts to provide power to live godly. They were “beggarly” attempts; that is, they were extremely indigent, or poor attempts to provide power to live in harmony with their calling. The Apostle Paul spoke of “the power of God” which was the “preaching of the cross.”

In comparison with the principle of the cross, circumcision and the Law were “weak and beggarly elements.” This flesh cutting and law keeping were only “popcorn power” in comparison to “the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). The “preaching of the cross” did not just deal with the foreskin of Adam’s proud flesh, but it dealt with all of Adam. Adam was crucified! All that relates to Adam was circumcised; that is, Adam was completely dealt with. He, himself, was cut off.

This cutting off of Adam provided the “offence of the cross.” This fact which is to say  that, on the cross, God dealt with all that pertained to Adam, was what caused the anger of the Judaizers. This was the root cause of the persecution against Paul. Notice Galatians 5:11:
“And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.”

The next verse shows the relationship between circumcision and cut off. “I would they were even cut off which trouble you.”

Circumcision is a “cutting off, even as indicated in the context. Paul is saying in so many words, “Those who desire to circumcise you, I wish that they were circumcised from you.”

The “offence of the cross” was offensive to the Judaizers. It caused anger. It offended. For you see, even though the Judaizers were saved (Acts 15:5), in their “gospel,” they made a provision for the flesh (i.e., Adam). In Paul’s gospel, the only provision made for Adam was the cross. The cross was an instrument of death. The cross was for dying. It was the terminus for the Adam-life.

The Judaizers desired to “make a fair shew in the flesh” by compelling the Gentile believers to be circumcised. They wanted to avoid suffering “persecution for the cross of Christ” (Gal. 6:12).

The cross to which Paul called men was not popular. Dismiss from your mind the thought that the “offence of the cross” was that “a dead Jew hung there” as one expositor says. The offence goes, infinitely, deeper than that. The “cross of Christ,” to which the Apostle Paul called men, was rugged. It was to be a terminus of selfishness. At the cross, all that related to Adam was put to death. God views it that way. Paul was given insight to see it that way, and he presented this truth in such a manner in the Galatian churches that he could say, “before your very eyes Jesus Christ was evidently set forth, crucified in your very midst” (Gal. 3:1); not an exact quotation but said in plainer words.

The “offence of the cross,” and the persecution that arose from the “preaching of the cross” was due to the fact that no provision was made, at all, for Adam. Paul could say, “I am crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). He reckoned as to the fact that his Adamic-nature was crucified and buried with Christ, and that he was raised from the dead with Christ and; hence, “walking in newness of life.” Therefore, he says, “nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me.” That was the message Paul preached.

© Copyright 2009 by Plainer Words