Clout. Noun. Informal. “Influence or power”: “The President of the United States has a lot of clout.”
The cross has clout. It has incomparable influence and peerless power. The Holy Spirit used its message to change Saul of Tarsus from Christianity’s greatest persecutor into Paul its greatest preacher. And it’s this green-thumbed message of the cross that the Spirit uses to produce the fruit of godly character.
We saw in our last post that the cross has clout in our position. It’s the foundation of our acceptance by God. Because of it he accepts us even when we do something unacceptable. As that father in Jesus’ story continued loving his prodigal even while he was in the far country, so God continues accepting us even when we dine with swine on the pods of disobedience (Luke 15:16). Because of the cross, nothing separates us from God’s love (Romans 8:28-9).
Will this make you live with drunk driver carelessness? No. Why not? Because the cross has clout in our practice, too. The cross-given assurance that you remain acceptable to God even when you do something unacceptable is the fuel for Christian living.
Four Ways the Cross has Clout
When Paul urges us to offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices “in view of God’s mercy” (Romans 12:1), he’s emphasizing the clout of the cross. Nothing makes you want to sacrifice for God like God’s sacrifice of his Son for you does.
I share with you four ways the cross has clout in our practice:
1.The chief clout of the cross is its ability to make us want to live for God. Jonathan Wainwright once said of General Douglas Macarthur, “I’d follow that man anywhere.” The cross makes you that way toward God. Isaac Watts speaks for every Christian when he sings, “Love so amazing, so divine / demands my soul, my life, my all.” The cross makes you long to live for God more than a politician longs for the White House.
2. The cross has clout because of its ability to induce us to love God. In fact, this is what gives it its ability to make us want to live for God. “This is love for God, that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3). This verse isn’t just telling us that love for God expresses itself in obedience as good manners express themselves in polite words like “please” and “thank you”. It’s telling us that love for God is the source of obedience, the match that lights its fire, the wind in which it soars, the battery on which it runs, the habitat in which it thrives. Love for God is to living for God what water is to a fish. You can no more live for God without loving him than a catfish can live in the sands of the Sahara. And you can no more live for him without loving him than Satan can.
What makes us love God? God’s love for us: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). The amazing truth is the fact that God must love us into loving him. He does that through the cross. The cross is God’s Valentine. It’s God saying to you—to you individually, personally, the DNA that makes you uniquely you—the cross is God saying to you, “I love you!” “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:11).
Embrace this by faith and you’ll find it a Cupid shooting into your heart the arrow of love for God. And the moment you begin loving God you’ll want to live for him.
Marriage is an example of this. I live for my wife. I try to make every day a Christmas for her. I don’t do this because it’s a legal obligation equivalent to paying my mortgage. I do it because I love her. And the green thumb that keeps my love for her flourishing is her love for me. Ditto with the cross. By keeping me aware of how much God loves me, the cross keeps me loving God and wanting to live for him.
3. The cross has clout because it gives us access to all the help we need to live for the Lord in good times and bad. In Acts 3 the Lord heals a paralyzed man through the Apostle Peter. Peter orders the man to stand up. Then he reaches out his hand and helps the man by pulling him up (Acts 3:7). God reaches out his helping hand through the cross. Take the single example of prayer. Through the cross we can “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
4. The cross has clout because it assures us of forgiveness when we fail. The cross is God’s MASH unit, able to doctor us back into battle when Satan’s made us bleed. Because of it we can start fresh again and again and again. “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 9).
By keeping me aware of how much God loves me, the cross keeps me loving God and wanting to live for him. @gfoministries
Make Much of the Blood
Archibald Alexander was the founder and first president of Princeton Seminary. Each year he sent graduates into the challenges of the ministry with the words, “Young men, make much of the blood in your ministries.” Alexander understood the clout of the cross, and how to experience its power.
His words give us wise counsel. The cross has clout. Like nothing else, it can help us live for God. It will do this as we make much of it. Christian, BELIEVE the message of the cross. Believe that it’s God’s assurance that he loves you and will never stop loving you. When you wake in the morning, REMIND YOURSELF that through the cross God accepts you and nothing you do today will make you unacceptable. When you’re tempted, when you face a difficult commandment, when living God’s way is hard, FOCUS on the cross and its assurance that God’s help is only a prayer away. When you fail RUN to the cross for forgiveness and a fresh start.
The cross has clout.
Make much of it and you’ll experience its power in your own life.