The Power and Necessity of the Cross

Title: The Power and Necessity of the Cross

Bible Book: Galatians 2 : 15-21

Author: J. Mike Minnix

Subject: Cross, Necessity of the


The Power and Necessity of the Cross

J. Mike Minnix

Galatians 2:15-21

The late John Bowring was once the governor of Hong Kong and he was dedicated Christian. Many years ago he was aboard a ship in the orient when he came upon an island which had been devastated by a storm. The leaves were stripped from the trees and many of the trees had been uprooted. All the houses along the shore had been destroyed. Then he saw a church upon a hill. It too had been struck by the storm and lay in a pile of ruins, but at the front of the church was a tower still standing. Upon that tower was a spire and on that spire was a Cross. The sun was glistening off the top of that Cross above the ruins. Bowring took his pen and wrote the words ...

"In the Cross of Christ I glory, towering o'er the wrecks of time.

All the light of sacred story, gathers round its head sublime." (Written in 1825)

We are living in a world of ruins. All around us is death and destruction, crime, pornography, abortion, alcoholism, drugs, teenage suicide, teenage pregnancies, broken homes, and other horrors that dot our landscape and our world. People are victims of the storm of sin which has swept across human history, and I am sad to say that the storm of sin has not abated to this day. But there is hope. That hope lies in the Cross of Christ. Rising above the ruins of our day is the old rugged Cross of Jesus. And, as in the days of old, we can say to this broken generation, "Look and live."

In our scripture passage today, Paul is writing in the defense of salvation by grace alone. The churches in Galatia had begun to act as if salvation was brought about through a mixture of works and grace. This troubled Paul greatly, and rightly it should have, for he knew that no such salvation existed. Paul swiftly and dramatically moved to stop this heresy from permeating the Church of our Lord. In the process he wrote many wonderful truths for the edification of the saved and the salvation of the lost. One great matter discussed is found in our text for today. Here Paul explains the necessity of the Cross.

Paul wrote in Galatians 6:14 ...

"God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of Christ."

Paul loved the theme of the Cross because he loved the one who died upon the Cross. Paul knew the necessity of Cross in his own life and that of any person who would desire to be saved or live a godly Christian life.

Paul declares in this passage of Scripture that there are three necessities for the Cross of Christ.


There exists in the Universe a system of laws established by the Creator, which includes laws of physics, mathematics, geometry, and though some deny it, morality. One set of laws which the Creator established are moral laws, but sadly every human being has broken these divine moral laws. If you break the law of gravity, it can be a simple fall like that of a child on the playground, or it can be a gigantic plane full of people crashing to the earth. Those physical laws are accepted everywhere. There are moral laws God has established as well, and many totally disregard them. To break God's moral laws can be more deadly and serious than gravity, for breaking His moral law has eternal rather than physical or temporal results.

Note with me ...

A. The Indictment of the Lawbreaker

The Law of God stands before the world to call every man and woman a sinner, for none of us has kept the Law of God in its entirety. No one can be justified by the Law, for we all have broken the Law of God. God brings an indictment or charge against the whole human race, and since He is the righteous Judge His declarations are true, and there is no appeal to a higher court. We have sinned - it is that simple. More than that, we are by nature sinners. We stand condemned before a holy and righteous God due to our deeds and our nature.

Not only do we see the indictment against us, but also note ...

B. The Impossibility of the Law

When charges are brought, there must be a defense or answer to the charges. What is man's defense for breaking God's laws? There is evidence against the sinner and the Law is the first evidence. We have broken the commandments and statutes of God. Think of like this - you can be stopped by a policeman for running a stop sign and give excuses. You might say that you didn't see the sign, but the officer will remind you that ignorance of the law is no defense. You might say that you hate that stop sign, don't want to stop there, and that you will do as you please. Fine! But you're going to be FINED! You may say that everyone passes through that stop sign without stopping, but the officer will point out that the offenses of others does not negate your offense.

When it comes to God's Law, it is impossible to argue with it. No argument is sufficient as an excuse and no weakness on your part is a means of escape.

Then think of your conscience, for it is another evidence against us. Mark Twain once had Huckleberry Finn say, "Conscience can take up more room than all other parts of a fellow's insides." How true that is. Your own conscience tells you that you are a sinner.

Finally, others who testify to our divine lawbreaking add further evidence against us. One lady asked a little girl what she planned to do when she grew up to be big like her mother. The little girl looked at her mother and said, "When I grow up to be big like my mother, I'm going to go on a diet." Others can see our weaknesses better than we can see them ourselves. And even if they can't see our moral failures, God can and He is the One that matters.

Look at Adam in the Garden of Eden. Adam had God's Word, which he transgressed. He had a conscience, which made him hide among the trees when God came looking for him. He put on fig leaves to hide from Eve. His sin was as apparent to him, just as our sin is apparent to us. He was indicted of sin because he was guilty of sin.

Some years ago farmer was breaking up some great rocks in a field as a preacher walked by on his way to town. When the preacher came back several hours later he said to the man, "That pile of rocks doesn't seem to be diminishing, my friend." The farmer replied, "No preacher, them thar stones is like the Ten Commandments, you can break 'em but you can't ever git rid of 'em."

Some would argue that perhaps a man can do some good deeds and make up for the bad ones - kind of balance out the scales, so to speak. That is actually impossible. Obeying the Law after breaking it is never the means of making up for wrong doing, it only points out the wrong doing. Take for example a speeding motorist. He is stopped for doing 80 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. He tells the policeman, "But you should have seen me yesterday. I never drove over the speed limit a single time. Just let my good driving yesterday make up for my criminal driving today!"  Do you think that would help him with the police officer? I don't think so either! In fact, if he used that argument he might also be arrested for intoxication, because only a drunk would make such an argument. Yet, people do that with God all the time. You will hear people say, "Look, I'm not perfect, but I'm far better than those drug dealers, prostitutes and gang-bangers are." Really? Actually, you are not better at all - not before God you aren't. Sin is sin, and you will not be judged on a curve or scale compared to others.

Thus, you and can see the necessity for the Cross. Without the Cross of Jesus we stand condemned. Only through the Cross can we find forgiveness for our sins and, more than that, forgiveness for our nature. When a criminal dies, the state closes the books and no more charges are ever brought against him. So it is with the sinner who accepts Christ. Christ died and we are identified in his death. Thus the criminal is gone and the books are closed. No more charges can be brought against us, for we as Christians died in Christ and we are now new creatures in Him. Christ did that for all who would accept Him by faith as Lord and Savior.


There is not only a legal necessity for the cross, but there is also a spiritual necessity for the cross. Sin separates us from God, for the Holy God cannot allow sin in His presence. So, our sin is not just a violation of God's code but also brings about a separation from a relationship and fellowship with God. Yet, when a person is saved, He is alive toward God and dead to the world.

Note how the believer is ...

A. Dead to the World

Paul addresses his readers as dead. Isn't that interesting? He says that they are dead. He loves to use this theme. Look at Romans 6:8; Colossians 2:20 and 3:3. Again and again Paul spoke of Christians as being dead. What does that mean? Aren't we more alive than ever before once we have received the Lord as our Savior? Yes, but there is a manner in which we who know the Lord are dead.

There are a lot of preachers who think they know Christians that are dead and some of those preachers claim a number of the dead are members of their churches. That is not the kind of death I'm referring to here.

There is the story of a preacher who had a coffin at the front of the church one Sunday morning. The people filed in wondering who had died. As the preacher rose to present his sermon, he asked the members to file by and see the deceased. The preacher opened the casket and the members began to walk past and look inside. When they did so, they saw a mirror that reflected their own faces. The preacher was saying, in essence, "You are a dead bunch." I doubt if that preacher lasted much longer as pastor of that church.

Another preacher I heard about told his congregation that they were definitely going to be the first people taken up in the rapture at the Lord's return. He said, "I know you will be first because the Bible says the 'dead in Christ will rise first.'"

When Paul speaks of the Christian as being dead, he is not referring to those who act dead in their faithfulness and dedication. Paul was actually saying in the scripture passage we are considering today that every believer is symbolically and actually crucified with Jesus at the cross. When someone is dead, he or she is not able to respond to touch, sound, sight, etc. So, when we accept Christ we become dead to the world. We are not to respond to the godless, worldly sights and sounds. We died with Christ and thus we are dead to the effects of sin. We died with Christ and therefore, we will never be required to die again. Oh yes, the Christian will die one day physically but never spiritually. The believer has been given a new life which he can never lose.

Think of this matter in the following way. If you are born once, you die twice; but, if you are born twice, you die once. I have been born twice. I was born of my mother in the flesh and when I was saved I was born of God through the Holy Spirit. I will die in the flesh, but never in the Spirit. I will never be separated from God. In essence, my death took place in Jesus at the Cross and I am now living a new spiritual life which I the world cannot take from me.

Note also that I am ...

B. Alive to God

But Paul also addresses his readers as alive. He says of himself that he is dead and alive. You have heard it said that a criminal is to be brought back dead or alive. Well, when God saves a sinner, He brings him back DEAD AND ALIVE! Dead to the world but alive toward God. The Christian has a relationship with God through Christ. This is impossible without the Cross of Christ. Only through his sacrifice and shed blood can I possibly know the joy of having a personal relationship with God.

Note how personal this is. Paul uses the personal pronoun "I" or "Me" thirteen times in just four verses (18-21). He also states clearly that Christ loved "me."

If you were told that a man left $5 million dollars to someone, you would hardly pay attention to it. But if you were told that someone left you $5 million dollars, you could hardly remain constrained due to his joy and elation.. Jesus loves YOU! Paul did not say that Christ loves the "world" and died for the "world." He said, "...he loved me and gave himself for me." Yes, John 3:16 speaks of God's love for the world - speaking of His love for all the people in the world - and that Jesus was given so that all might experinece salvation. But Paul, in our passage today, is speaking personally about God's love. God loves ME! No wonder my heart is filled with a joy unspeakable and full of glory.

We are made alive to God by the personal, loving sacrifice of Jesus at the Cross. Without the Cross no one has a relationship with God. Jesus said, "No man comes to the Father, except through me." Everyone who is "in Christ" has an uninterrupted life. When we repent of our personal sin, turn in faith to Jesus Christ for forgiveness, and make a commitment to Him as Lord, we are recepients of God's loving salvation.

Some years ago Sir Michael Costa was directing a large orchestra and choir. The piccolo player listened to the great sounds of the instruments and voices, and he thought to himself that his piccolo was so small and quiet that it would not be necessary for him to play. So he just sat there with the instrument to his lips but he did not play it. Suddenly, the conductor stopped the orchestra, looked at the musicians wildly and asked, "Where is the piccolo?"

Let me tell every Christian in this service today something very important. You may think you do not matter that much because you are just a piccolo player in God's great orchestra. You don't feel like you have a great role to play in the Kingdom of God. Be assured that you matter as much as any other Christian. God loves you personally and knows your name. He died for you just like He did for the great evangelist or pastor. Your part in God's plan is as important as any other, even if the others do sound louder and more impressive, God is listening to the picolo player in the kindgom just as much as he is listening to the trumpet.

Now, let's turn from a theological to a practical look at the cross and consider ...


There is a practical necessity for the cross and for us to live properly the Christian life. Note how this is shown to us.

A. Strength of Self

Now that I am saved, what strength does my flesh possess to obey God? None! I cannot serve God with the flesh. My flesh is weak. I cannot preach, sing, witness, pray, give, or do other things for God in the flesh. Self is weak. Some Christians think, "A little of God and a lot of self." Others think, "Some of God and some of self." But the truly wise Christian learns that it is “all of God and none of self.” Self is always present, seeking to usurp the authority and place of Christ, but we must never allow our selfish nature to usurp our spiritual nature. There is no strength in my flesh as far as pleasing and serving God. The songwriter penned, "The arm of flesh will fail you." Indeed, it will.

B. Strength of the Savior

The Cross means that the risen Savior is dwelling in our lives. We do not have to live in our flesh or our own strength. We are divinely possessed. I serve a risen Savior. I am not committed to a religion - I am committed to the Savior - to Jesus; I am committed to a relationship with Jesus.

  • He died
  • He rose.
  • He lives.

He is my strength from day to day. The songwriter penned ...

"Jesus is all the world to me,
My life, my joy, my all;
He is my strength from day to day,
Without him I would fall:
When I am sad, to him I go,
No other one can cheer me so;
When I am sad, he makes me glad,
He's my friend." (Will L. Thompson, 1904)

He is the same Lord yesterday, today and forever. At the Cross He took our death upon Himself, and in His resurrection He imparts His life to us. We must live in the presence, power and peace of the Lord - it is the only path to victory.


For the Christian a visit to the cross in your heart and mind can help you recommit your life to the Lord who gave Himself for you. In 1930 while a Louisiana farmer was plowing in his field, he struck something in the ground. He thought it was a rock and was going to remove it so as not to injure his mules or tear up his plow. When he reached into the ground he discovered gold and silver coins worth thousands of dollars. He had found a treasure. When questioned by the press as to why he thought he had not found the treasure before this time, he replied, "Well, this time I was digging a little deeper than I ever had before.”

Yes, indeed! How we Christians need to dig a little deeper and realize that the power and riches for godly living are never to be found in self, but are only known as we remain committed deep down in our hearts to Jesus Christ. He indwells and lives in each of us. We must come to learn the value of dying daily to self and allowing the risen, resident Savior to reign in us.

Many years ago the Yangtze River overflowed as never before. The rich people went to their homes, climbed the stairs to the upper levels and thought themselves safe. They were drowned by the hundreds. The poor people did not trust their paper and mud huts, so they fled to the mountains. They lived! You can trust your own works and die, or you can trust what Jesus did at Calvary and be saved. Run to the mountain called Calvary, bow at the feet of Jesus and you will be saved.

And for the Christian, let us renew our commitment to live in the new life Christ has given us so that we might bring Him glory and live life at its best.

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