Pastor D. L. Hartman

There is an old gospel song that goes like this:

I must needs go home by the way of the Cross:
There's no other way but this.
I shall ne'er get sight of the Gates of Light
If the way of the Cross I miss.

"If the way of the Cross I miss" should echo through every heart and soul reading this article. The real question is not the future of this world, but the events that may befall us personally here and now. How can a person find God and know him personally? Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." The way of the cross is a very narrow way, nevertheless, it is the only way if we want to be a Christian. We must do it His way, and not ours.

Why is there a need in the lives of human beings for this narrow way to God? When God created man He placed him in the garden of Eden. The garden was a very beautiful place to live. Adam had only two duties. One was to tend to the business of naming all the animals and taking care of Eden. The second and primary duty of Adam was to have a personal relationship with God his creator.

God also created a wife for Adam whose name was Eve. God gave some special instructions to Adam concerning one tree. "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." All was well until one day Eve met a serpent (the Devil) who tempted her to partake of the fruit of the Tree. Both Eve and then Adam yielded to this temptation. This allowed sin to enter into the perfect creation of God and decimate it. Not only did sin bring destruction to the garden but also to the heart and soul of man and his relationship with God. It is this relationship that God himself seeks to heal.

At the very outset we find God seeking man. "And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?" This has not changed throughout the ages. God, through prevenient grace, is working even in our generation to bring people to His Son, Jesus Christ.

Adam and Eve were driven out of the garden, thus symbolizing the terrible break of relations with God and man. When sin entered into the world through Adam's transgression, it infected all of mankind both spiritually and physically. After the fall, we find Adam's sons in a deadly, tragic conflict revealing the horrible affects of sin. "And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground." It came time to offer up sacrifices to God. Abel did it according to God's desire. He took "the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof." The Bible says that "the Lord had respect unto Able and to his offering." Abel did it God's way, not his way. Cain however, decided to offer up the sacrifice according to his own dictates. Accordingly, "in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord." God did not accept Cain's rebellion. Because of this rejection by God, Cain became very angry. God tried to encourage Cain to do right. Yet Cain was angry. Cain became jealous of Abel. In time, as the two brothers were working in the field, "Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him." The process of sin continued full force in the affairs of men.

This sad state of mankind only became worse until God decided to annihilate the world by water. "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them." Sin totally destroyed our relationship with God. Sin separated us from God and because of this sin, God consumed this world with a flood.

The scriptures tell how God obliterated the world with the flood. Only Noah and his family escaped God's judgement. Though cleansed in a fashion, Noah and his family are left to repopulate the world. The sad story continues as sin was still in force. There is no evading it. One only needs to read the many accounts in the Old Testament to see how sin affected man's relationship with God. Time after time, Israel and Judah, his chosen and elect people, are carried into captivity because of their worship of false gods and disobedience to God. Repeatedly, Israel stoned, imprisoned, and killed the prophets and men of God. Finally, God sent his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, into the world to redeem mankind.

Jesus came into the world just as the prophet declared, "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." His Son came to this world without the heralds of this world. He came for a divine task. He came to seek and save that which was lost - us - fallen humanity. How would Jesus complete this task of salvation? By the way of the Cross.

I must needs go on in the Blood sprinkled way,
The path that the Saviour trod,
If I ever climb to the heights sublime,
Where he waits at the open door.

From the very commencement of his ministry we hear Him say, "Come and see", and "follow me." During His earthly life He sought all to follow Him. It was through the discourse with a man named Nicodemus that he gives the call of salvation to the whole world. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John Wesley had an interesting comment on this verse:

Yea, and this was the very design of God's love in sending Him into the world. Whosoever believeth on him -With that faith which 'worketh by love' and 'hold fast the beginning of his confidence steadfast to the end.' God so loved the world -That is, all men under heaven; even those that despise His love, and will for that cause finally perish. Otherwise, not to believe, would be no sin to them. For what should they believe? Ought they to believe that Christ was given for them? Then He was given for them. He gave his only Son -Truly and seriously. And the Son of God gave Himself (Gal. 1:4), truly and seriously."(1)

Jesus took the path to the Cross seriously. Sin needed to be conquered as surely as it conquered the human race. He gave His life for our sakes to, as Charles Wesley put it in one of his hymns, to "break the power of canceled sin."(2) His primary objective was to restore the relationship between us and Himself hat was broken when Adam ate the forbidden fruit.

The way of the Cross leads us to look at another illustration found in the same book of John, chapter four. "And he must needs go though Samaria." We see a loving Savior searching for the created being that he loved, mankind. He shared with the woman who comes to the well. As they talked theology and religion, it is interesting to note two outcomes of this discussion. One is that the woman realized her emptiness of life and the need for fulfillment, and the second was that she brought others to Christ. "And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world." This woman's heart was touched and she followed Jesus. Not only that but she brought others to Him

The gospel call goes out to the world through many means of media: Radio, TV, Internet, printed material, and predominately by word of mouth and our Christian testimony. The point is simple. Do you know Christ as your Savior? Theology, education, and wealth cannot give you peace. Only Christ can. God worked through the ages to give us His only Son Jesus Christ. It was a labor of love on God's behalf, and all of love on Christ' behalf, that we now can know Him personally. Accept the gift of everlasting life now. Let Jesus come into your heart.

"Then I bid fare-well to the way of the world,
To walk in it never more;
For my Lord says, "Come" and I seek my home
Where He waits at the open door.

Then you to can sing the chorus of this song if you accept Him as your Lord.

The way of the Cross leads home.
The way of the Cross leads home.
It is sweet to know, as I on ward go,
The way of the Cross leads home.

Accept Him now as your Savior. If you don't know how to be saved, please contact us here at IMARC and we will be glad to help. Remember, without Christ in your heart there is no salvation for your eternal soul.

1. Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament (1966: Rpt. London, England, The Epworth Press.)

2. . Charles Wesley. O for a Thousand Tongues! The phrase is found in the fourth stanza. "He breaks the pow'r of canceled sin; He sets the pris-'ner free. His blood can make the foul-est clean; His blood availed for me." In other words Charles Wesley knew that sin no longer has power over the human race, and in particular the Christian. Satan's power is broken. Christ atoned for our sins