All scripture references are from the NASV unless otherwise noted.
"Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram" (Ge. 12:6, 7a). In previous articles we spoke of the call of God. Here, we will speak of the revelation of God. "The Lord appeared to Abram." Abraham, in his journey to know God, found himself at Shechem and Moreh. Shechem is a Hebrew word meaning the back of the neck where burdens are born, and this speaks of the cross - the revelation of the cross, as we touched on in our previous study. The revelation of the cross of Jesus wins the human heart and will, and reveals the true import of Jesus' words when He said, "If any man wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me" (Mat. 16:24). Only the revelation of the cross will bring a person to Shechem, the place where we take His yoke upon us; the place where we take up our cross and learn of Him who was "portrayed as crucified before our eyes."
Today's modern false gospel is a crossless hybrid message that has no power to truly convert a person. It's a mush gospel that says, "Whatever you want in life, Jesus died to see that you get it." Since Adam's fall, all of mankind has held his own interests as his supreme goal in life, and God's interests are subordinate to his own. Man is in rebellion to God, who created man for God's own pleasure and purposes. God created man for Himself, and sinful man believes God is there for man. A truly converted person is not a person who now suddenly sees that Jesus is the only true path to fulfilling his highest interests (his happiness and salvation from hell). No, a truly converted person is one who has exchanged his interests for God's interests as his highest goal, and only a true encounter with the cross of Jesus can perform this greatest of all miracles. The modern gospel can convince nearly anyone to "pray the sinners prayer" or get baptized, but it just does not have the power to convince a man to live no longer for himself, but for Christ alone. That takes the revelation of the cross.
Because the western church at large isn't, at this time, seeing the work of the Holy Ghost who came to convince the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, the church has had to develop a new gospel message, if she would have "converts", that is. With this new gospel, you can now have eternal life without losing your own life. In fact, with the new gospel, you can have all the blessings of this life and the life to come, and it won't cost you a thing, for "Jesus paid it all for you." What a sham. That's actually a perversion of the gospel message. You see, when we truly see just a little of the price Jesus paid for our sins and how our own personal sins wounded and humbled him, and if after seeing our hopelessly lost condition in light of these sins, we find grace and forgiveness at the foot of the cross, we gladly surrender our own lives, with all our hopes and dreams to live from that day forward only for our beloved Savior. However, this takes a supernatural work. We must have a revelation of God. That's why a largely powerless church has invented a new gospel. There's just no way that she is going to convince a person that they so deserve hell that there is one and only one way to escape it, but it will require that they be willing to do what scripture says they must be willing to do: They must be willing to lose their family, give up their previous goals for their future, lose their possessions, home, as well as their freedom to live, work, or travel where they want, and to do with their time, money, or talents as they please... in other words, to lose their own lives also, as Jesus said. Let's try preaching that message at our next "seeker friendly service" and see how many converts we get. Hence, the modern false gospel.
Only the revelation of the cross, the supernatural revelation of God, can bring a person to such surrender. The revelation of the cross is the revelation of the love and mercy of God for you as an individual. It is the only thing that can conquer the human heart and will, and bring a person to true and complete surrender to the will of God. It is the only thing powerful enough to convert a self-seeker to a God-seeker. It is the only thing that can make a bondservant or a love slave, and until you have a revelation of the cross, you will neither embrace, nor see as necessary the injunction of Jesus to lose your own life. You will never take up your cross and follow Jesus, for the cross has not been revealed; neither His nor yours.
The revelation of the cross of Christ is the only thing that will bring you to a surrender to the will of God in your life. Until then, you allow God to work in your life only to the extent that it causes you no pain, loss, or death. You in essence say to God, "I love you and will serve you, and you are free to work in my life up to a point, but just don't go there." For those who've seen His cross, the cry of their heart is a true and honest "yes" to God, as they say from an overflowing heart, "I love you and will serve you as you give me grace to do so, and you are free to do with me as pleases you, whether for pain, loss, or death, only your pleasure and purposes matter to me now. Just pull me through my love."
Only the revelation of the cross and the ensuing surrender to God will free God to do the painful and difficult work of making a man or woman of God. To make a vessel fit for noble purposes, the master must take the disciple through many painful processes. He will break and He will bring death. He will "set you up", and bring you to the end of yourself, but only if He has a true "yes" from you to do so. Only the revelation of the cross will allow you to truly say "yes" to God when He brings you to a loss so great, or a death so unexpected that you no longer see any means by which it could possibly benefit you or even be worth it to you personally. Only this love and surrender to God will allow you to face such deep pain and loss solely and completely for His pleasure and purposes, and not your own.
Jesus suffered infinite humiliation and pain for you, and when you see the cross that he bore for you, you will take up your cross knowing that the path that you are now walking will lead you to the fellowship of His sufferings, just as surely as His surrender to the Father's will in Gethsemane led Him to Golgotha.
Abraham came to Shechem, the place where burdens are born, and there he had a revelation of God. Remember in a previous study we saw that Jesus defined eternal life as "knowing God", and we saw that according to Jesus, we can only know Him by revelation. This is one of the revelations of God: the revelation of the cross. This is the narrow gate that leads to life through which so few have traveled. I find it interesting that in the early to mid part of the twentieth century, archeological excavations at Shechem revealed a large wall with only one gateway in the wall, and this wall was erected in the late Bronze Age: the time of Abraham. The revelation of the cross is the one and only gate that leads to the path of life. It is the narrow way that so few find through the wall that seems to hold countless scores of Christians out of the Promised Land. Brethren, I would know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
In the Levitical law, there is the law of the bondservant (Ex. 21:1-6). According to this law, a Hebrew slave was guaranteed his freedom from slavery after six years of service. However, if the slave loved his master, he could willingly surrender himself as a slave for the rest of his life, forever giving up the option of regaining his freedom. This is what a bondservant is. A bondservant is a love slave who has willingly surrendered to his master his life, his possessions, his time, his money, his family, or any thing else that is his. He and all that he possessed now belong exclusively to his master and are under his master's control. He, who was free, chose slavery instead. Why? Because of love.
So many claim to love Jesus, but His thoughts on the matter are so searching. Jesus said, "He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me" (John 14:21a.). He goes on to say that in that same verse, "he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." If we love Him, we will keep his commandments, and if we love Him, He will reveal Himself to us. That's why the revelation of the cross is the doorway to all further revelation of Jesus Christ, because it is what causes us to truly love Jesus.
I was in a large very successful church once, and of the seven or eight hundred people present, eighty-five percent or more raised their hands when asked if they consistently find themselves in rebellion to God. We say we love Him, yet our lives betray us. Only the revelation of the cross can make a love slave. Only the revelation of the love and mercy of God for you as an individual can win the love and affection of your heart to the point that you would chose His way over your own, and until you chose His way, you have not truly been converted. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Is. 53:6 KJV). What is the iniquity that He bore for us on the cross? What is the iniquity in us that so opposes God? Just going our own way.
Today's false gospel allows a man or woman to continue going their own way, seeking their own interests with a "savior" to bless them on their journey and keep them in their death. Oh, how surprised so many will be when they get to the other side and find the door closed. Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven" (Mat. 7:21). Jesus said, "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Mat. 16:25). True conversion is dying to your own will and purposes and coming to life to His kingdom to serve the King's will and purposes. It's an exchange of wills, an exchange of purposes, an exchange of lives: His for yours.
Jesus said that if you would truly be His disciple, you must take up your cross and follow Him. There are so few disciples today because so few have had the revelation of the cross. So few have ever come to Shechem. If you want to be a friend of God and have a true saving faith and to walk in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham, then you must come to Shechem. You must have a revelation of the cross.The True Gospel Series