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THE CROSS AND IDENTIFICATION

A.     Introduction:  Most Christians would agree we could use more power in our lives -- power to deal with the      challenges of life more effectively, power to overcome sin, power to become more stable, power to be           successful, etc.
     1.     But, we often overlook the greatest source of power available to man -- the Cross of Christ.
          I Cor 1:17,18
          a.     According to this verse, it is in the preaching of the Cross that believers find the power of God.
          b.     The Cross is an inclusive term.  It refers to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
               I Cor 15:1-4
          c.     Often, Christians are not eager to study the Cross -- the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus --                     because they think such a study is just for new believers, they think they already know all about it,                     or they don't see how it relates to their immediate needs, to the issues they face in everyday life.
     2.     Rom 1:16 tells us that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
          a.     According to I Cor 1:17,18 the preaching of the gospel is the preaching of the Cross -- the death,                     burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  In the preaching of the Cross is the power of God unto salvation.
               1.     Through the preaching of the gospel people get saved.
               2.     But there is more to it than that.  The word salvation (SOTERIA) means deliverance,                                    preservation, safety, healing, wholeness or soundness.
          b.     Through the Cross of Christ, God has met every human need by providing salvation (deliverance,                     preservation, safety, healing, wholeness or soundness) for every part of our being.
     3.     Christians frustrate themselves by asking God, begging God, to do things for them, give them things                which He has already provided through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
          a.     They don't get the desired results because they are asking God to give them what He has already                     provided.  It isn't a question of God giving.  He already has!!
          b.     It's a question of knowing what God has already provided through the Cross and then learning                     how to walk in the reality of it.
          c.     We all want to study the blessings and benefits of Christianity -- healing, victory over sin,                          deliverance, prosperity, etc. -- but those are all products of the Cross.  Often, we study the benefits                     apart from the source of the benefits and we get poor results.
     4.     We are going to take some time to look at what the Cross has provided for us and how to walk in it.                 By doing so, we will experience the power of God in our lives to a greater degree.

B.     As we begin our study we must make sure we are all aware of some fundamental truths about our existence.
     1.     You were created to become a son or a daughter of God. Eph 1:4,5
          a.     God is a Father.  The Bible is the story of God's desire for a family and the lengths to which He                     went to obtain that family.
               1.     God created the earth to be inhabited by His family. Isa 45:18
               2.     God made man like Himself so relationship would be possible. Gen 1:26
               3.     God made man with the capacity to be like Jesus who is the pattern or model for His family.                          Rom 8:29
     2.     God created Adam and Eve, and they were to bring God's family into existence.
          a.     However, the first man, Adam disobeyed God.  As the head of the race, his actions affected the                     entire human because all of us were in Adam when he sinned. Gen 3:6
               1.     Through Adam's disobedience, a fundamental change took place in the earth itself as well as                          in the human race. Gen 3:17,18
               2.     Rom 5:12--When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race.  His sin spread death                               throughout all the world, so everything began to grow old and die, for all sinned. (Living)
               3.     Adam's first son, Cain, killed his brother and lied about it. Gen 4:1-9
               4.     Beings made in the image of God were now displaying the characteristics of Satan. John 8:44;                     I John 3:12
          b.     This fundamental change in the human nature was passed down to the rest of the race as each new                     generation was born to men.
     3.     Talk like this seems to have nothing to do with real life.  But this information reveals the root cause of                all of our problems as individuals and as a race.  This is our root problem -- yours and mine.
          a.     We are born into a fallen race under the control of Satan.
          b.     We are born with a sin nature, and when we reach the age of accountability, we willfully rebel                     against God by sinning. I John 3:10; Eph 2:1-3
          c.     The result of all of this is that death reigns in our lives.  Death is the consequence of sin.
               Rom 6:23  
          d.     Deut 28:15-68 lists some of the many consequences of sin -- poverty, lack, sickness, discontent,                     mental and emotional anguish, family breakup, confusion, loss, humiliation, etc., etc.
     4.     God's plan for a family made in His image (our eternal destiny) seemed thwarted because of Adam's                choice and the resulting fall of the human race.
          a.     Creatures, beings, made for fellowship with God, are now separated from Him by sin.  Fellowship,                relationship, with a holy God is out of the question.
          b.     Creatures, beings, made in God's image to reflect His glory now have a sin nature and demonstrate                the characteristics of Satan.
          c.     And, because God is righteous, He must punish sin.  But, the only punishment which can satisfy                     divine justice is eternal separation from God.
     5.     Man's problem is not just what he does, it's what he is by birth.  Man does what he does, sins, because                of what he is, a sinner.
          a.     God's solution to all of this was and is the Cross -- the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
          b.     Through the Cross of Christ, God has dealt with what man is because of his first birth, what man                     does, and the consequences of both.

C.     Through the Cross of Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection, God has identified us with Christ.  As      Christians we have been identified with Christ.  We must know what that means.
     1.     The word identification is not found in the Bible, but the principle is.  Identification works like this:  I                wasn't there, but what happened there affects me as though I was there.
          a.     I wasn't there in the Garden of Eden with Adam, but what happened there affects me as though I                     was there.
          b.     The Bible teaches the we were crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20), we were buried with Christ
               (Rom 6:4), and we were raised with Christ (Eph 2:5).
          c.     We weren't there, but whatever happened at the Cross affects us as though we were there.
     2.     To identify actually means to make identical so you can consider and treat the same.
          a.     God wanted to treat us as sons, but because of our fallen nature and our sin, He couldn't do it.
          b.     So, at the Cross, God treated Jesus the way we should have been treated.
               1.     At the Cross Jesus became what we were so we could become what He is.
               2.     At the Cross all the consequences of our sin and disobedience went to Jesus so that all the                          blessing that were His could come to us.
     3.     If Jesus became what we were so we could become what He is, what is Jesus?
          a.     Jesus is God become a man.  Two thousand years ago, the Second Person of the Godhead                          incarnated or took on flesh in the womb of Mary so that He could be born into this world as a man.
               1.     Jesus did not cease to be God, rather, He took on a full human nature -- spirit, soul, and body.                      He was and is one person with two natures, human and divine.
               2.     He was and is fully God and fully man.  He is the 200% man.
          b.     While on earth Jesus did not cease to be God, but He did not live as God.  He lived as a man.
               Phil 2:6-8; Matt 4:1; Matt 8:24; Heb 2:9,14
               1.     Jesus lived as a man in union with the Father, living by the life of God in His human spirit.                          John 6:57; 14:9-11
               2.     Jesus is our example of how a man, a human in union with God, living by the life of God in                          His spirit, lives and acts. I John 2:6
               3.     If you are born again, if you are a Christian, that is what you are -- a human being with eternal                          life, the life of God in your spirit. II Cor 5:17; I John 5:11,12
     4.     Jesus became a man so that He could become our substitute or take our place at the Cross.
          a.     Once He took our place He could become identified with us -- all that we were and all that we                     were bound by -- and be treated as us.
          b.     Jesus went to the Cross for us, but He also went to the Cross as us.
          c.     At the Cross He became one with what we were.
               1.     II Cor 5:21--We were in sin so He took our sin on Himself.  The man Jesus was made sin.
               2.     Gal 3:13--We were under a curse so Jesus identified with the fact that we were under a curse.                           He was made a curse for us.
          d.     When Jesus identified with us at the Cross God had to treat Him as us.  The wrath of God against                     our sins was poured out on Him.  When God looked at Jesus on the Cross, He saw us.
     5.     We were lost in sin and its consequences, lost in death, and under a curse.  We were powerless to free                ourselves. Rom 5:6
          a.     What was God's solution?  At the Cross Jesus joined us in our fallen, lost condition so He could                     bring us out.
               1.     Because Jesus was and is God at the same time He is was and is man, the value of His person                          is such that He could satisfy the claims of justice against us.
               2.     Once the price for our sin was paid, because He had no sin of His own, Jesus was able to                               come out of sin, death, and its consequences for us as us.
               3.     When a person believes on Jesus the results of the Cross go into effect for that person.
          b.     Jesus identified with us so we could be identified with Him.
               1.     He identified with our unrighteousness so we could have His righteousness.
               2.     He identified with our death so we could have His life.
               3.     He identified with our sickness, with our lack, so we could have His health and provision.
     6.     At the Cross Jesus became what we were so that we could become what He, the man Jesus, is.  What                does it mean to be like the man Jesus?
          a.     It means to be a literal son of God by birth. John 1:12; I John 5:1
          b.     It means to have the life of God in you to enable you to live as God desires. I John 5:11,12;
               II Pet 1:4; I John 2:6
          c.     It means to be righteous or right with God -- in right standing with God. II Cor 5:21; Rom 5:18,19
          d.     It means to be free from the power of  sin and death in all its forms. Rom 6:8-10
          e.     It means to be conformed to the image of Jesus -- to be like Him in character and power.
               Rom 8:29; I John 3:2

D.     Conclusion:  Remember, God's plan was and is to have a family of sons and daughters with whom He      could have relationship -- sons and daughters the Father can treat like Jesus.
     1.     But, because of our sin and our fallen condition by our first birth, we did not qualify.  God's solution                was the Cross -- the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
     2.     At the Cross Jesus was made identical with us so that we could be made identical with Him, the man                Jesus, the perfect son.
          a.     Jesus was identified with us so that we could be identified with Him and so we could be                               considered or treated the same as Him.
          b.     If you are born again, God sees you as identical to the man Jesus.  When He looks at you He sees                     Jesus.
          c.     The Father sees us as holy and blameless -- like Jesus -- because He sees us identified with Jesus,                     in Jesus, united to Jesus. Col 1:22
          d.     Just as Jesus has perfect confidence and freedom in His Father's presence, we now have the same                     freedom and confidence. Heb 4:16
     3.     At the Cross God treated Jesus the way we should have been treated so He can now treat us the way                Jesus should be treated.
     4.     At the Cross, through identification, an exchange was made.
          a.     Jesus became what we were so that we can be what He is -- holy, righteous sons of God.
          b.     Everything that should have come to us in Adam as members of a fallen race went to Christ at the                     Cross so that all He has and is as a perfect son could come to us.
     5.     What does all of this mean for us today -- the fact that Jesus was identified with us so we can be                     identified with Him -- so that we can be considered and treated the same as He is?
          a.     It means you are completely acceptable to and accepted by the Father.
          b.     It means sin and all the forms of death it brings -- sickness, poverty, depression, fear, shame, etc. --                no longer have the right to dominate you.
               1.     The wages of sin had a right in your life before you were born again because you were born                          into a fallen race (you were in Adam) and you were guilty of sin.
               2.     But, your sin has been punished, paid for.  You are not guilty anymore, and you are not in                          Adam anymore, in a fallen race anymore, you are in Christ.
     6.     All of this must become part of our experience.  How does that happen?
          a.     We must first know what God has done for us through identification and the Cross of Christ.
          b.     Then we must learn to walk in the light of it.
          c.     That is why we are taking time to study the Cross of Christ.