THE CROSS – THE POWER OF GOD

John Jeffreys at Whitestone Convention

January 2009

 

I would like for you to turn with me to the book of Galatians. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the book of Galatians.

 

Lord, help us! Help us in Your word in this convention—line upon line. We look to Your counsel. We need Your counsel; we must have it. Lord, where we have veered to the left or to the right, give us a mid-course correction. Get us oriented back on being sons and walking under Your hand on a day to day basis; listening for Your voice and then walking by faith in what You speak. Help us, Lord, whenever we veer from that. Please, let a Voice come from behind us when we turn to the left or to the right—“ This is the way, walk ye in it”, that You may have free course by the power of Your Spirit to finish what You have begun. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Let’s turn to the last chapter of the book of Galatians where Paul is summing up the epistle and begin in the 14th verse:

 

Galatians 6:14 ‘But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.’

 

I call that double crucifixion because the cross of Christ crucifies, first of all, the world unto me and secondly, I unto the world. Wouldn’t you call that a double crucifixion? The cross is the central theme for the book of Galatians.

 

Galatians 6:15 ‘For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.’

 

Paul discusses in the book, circumcision versus uncircumcision; walking by the law or walking by no law. There’s always a conflict in the spiritual realm between the legalistic and the carnal. The legalistic, I’ve noticed, are always sniping at the carnal and the carnal back at the legalistic. The problem is both of them are in the same perdicament. Neither one of them will produce a new creature which is why that thing rises up in us against the opposite fold—because it’s the same problem. You wouldn’t think so; you wouldn’t think that the one realm that can look so much better is on the same level as the other one, but God sees them as the same way.

 

And so, circumcision availeth nothing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. If you link back to the verse before, it’s obvious that the only place where I can walk in the new creature is in crucifixion—it’s on the cross. Jesus said that we, as His disciples, should take up our cross— our cross, not His. Take up our cross—every once in a while? No; every day. Everyday. And that is my access to the new creature.

 

Galatians 6:16 ‘And as many as walk according to this rule,’

 

I think that the word “rule”—I didn’t look it up, but I’m pretty sure that it’s the military order under the commander.

 

(continue Galatians 6:16) ‘…peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.’

 

When I get off of the cross, there’s a default setting on my “computer” that puts the burden of getting me right, back on me—no matter which way I swing. Either I try to become very, very much conformed to what I think you want me to be or if I rebel and go the other way and go just the opposite; both ways, I miss it and I’m under the burden both ways. There’s no peace there and there can’t be peace because there’s not a new creature. You’re either in the form or out of the form. There can’t be any peace because peace is a fruit and I can not produce peace. That’s something that’s out of our power. Peace is a work of the Spirit. It can only be done by the Spirit and it can only spring out of a new creature. The only time I can realize a new creature is when I’ve picked up the cross.

 

Someone mentioned that they were asking Brother Buddy a question as to when a person could get “back in”. Well, right now . All I have to do is come back to the cross now . The burden of having to fix myself—to finish myself—is not there because His work is done on the cross. That’s where the adventure starts over again. Adventure may not be an appropriate word, but let’s let that be an appropriate word for right now. You can get out of the adventure of this and then it’s a drudgery. When you’re in the drudgery, all you can keep seeing is the things you still have to do in here (in yourself). And then, couple that with the things you have to do out here (in the world) and everything comes caving in on you because you just “go down on the axles in the mud”. There can’t be any peace and therefore, if there can’t be any peace, there can’t be any joy or righteousness. So therefore, you try harder, and the answer is right beside you all along— the cross !

 

I will read an asounding statement from Brother Buddy Cobb here from a document that came from last October’s IMA (International Ministries Association) meeting. It says, “This program doesn’t call for you to improve.” Do you want me to read that again? “This program doesn’t call for you to improve. It calls for you to die.” Therefore, the cross is a blessed relief from my problem. It’s a blessed relief from my problem. (Brother Buddy Cobb said in the background, “That’s why there’s no sweat in this ministry!” John Jeffreys responded, “Right!”)

 

Paul is calling the Galatians back to the cross because they got off of the cross. They got off of the cross. You can see that in:

 

Galatians 3:1 ‘O foolish Galatians,’

 

Non-thinking it says, you non-thinking Galatians. As soon as I get into my mind, I’m in a realm of non-thinking. I’m out of my right mind. Only in the Spirit am I thinking. Get into my own mind and I am not thinking. All of my opinions are offered from a non-thinking position. Therefore, its says, “Take no thought…”

 

(continue in Galatians 3:1 ‘O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you,’

 

So when I get off of the cross and start a new program, Paul likens that as being bewitched. Who has cast a spell over you? Who has fascinated you? Who has put an evil eye upon you? Who has charmed you? These meanings are used here. Sometimes it doesn’t take anybody else to charm us; we get enough self-confidence to pull that off on our own.

 

(continue in Galatians 3:1-4) ‘O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you (charmed you) that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If it be yet in vain.’

 

Our brethren, the Galatians—those churches that were there in the Galatian area; when they stepped aside from the power—because the power is only in the cross. The cross is the only place of power. The cross is the only place that I can hope to see the performance of God. Get off the cross and I’m under my own performance. If I get off the cross to live in my own life, the performance is mine. God does not share the stage. Sometimes in a movie, you get all the actors (names) scrolling on the screen—so and so and so and so on—and all of a sudden at the end it says, “And special guest appearance—God.” (Laughter) He doesn’t do that. He won’t share the stage. God has many times been backstage, waiting for our performance to end. Fortunately, most movies are only two hours long. A portion of those two hours are the credits, but then we have a habit of just starting another movie, missing the essence—the key—the power—trying a new form. There are form manuals that you can get. Some of them are in the Chrisitan bookstore and others are on bookshelves. They only lead from one form to another.

 

Paul says, ‘Have you suffered so many things in vain, if ye be yet in vain?’

 

In other words, he is concerned for them because as it says back in 2 John in one verse:

 

2 John 8 ‘Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.’

 

So the possibility exists after having run this way for 40 years, we could lose out on the reward simply by trying to put the finishing touches on it. That picture is what has happened to every previous move of God. They started in the Spirit, and then they tried to finish it in the flesh. Our fathers have had to face this down through the generations. Sooner or later—well now is the time—it (the flesh) is going to be overcome. God is going to have a people in this hour who allow Him to finish the work.

 

If we go back to Galatians, chapter 1, the theme of the cross starts right up front. It says in verse 1, ‘Paul, an apostle’, then in verse 2, ‘to all the brethren’, then in:

 

Galatians 1:3-4 ‘Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who’

 

Who, what? Who gave Himself. How did He do that? He died—on the cross.

 

(continue in Galatians 1:4) ‘Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world,’

 

This present evil world—this present evil “cosmos”. The cosmos is the orderly arrangements by which something runs. The church of the Old Testament ran under orderly arrangements. They could only produce a form. It was a form that stood out against all the other forms, but God was not going to be able to bring sons to His right hand by a form. This will come up again in 4:9.

 

Galatians 4:9 ‘ But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.’

 

In Colossians 2:21, it says, ‘Touch not; taste not; handle not;’

 

That’s back to the beggarly elements that didn’t work in the first place. You can see that for me to get off of the power and into the beggarly elements, it really does take up bewitching. It’s a spell that I lay hold of.

 

Galatians 1:6 ‘I marvel that ye are so soon removed’

 

“Removed” is the Greek word there for military desertion. You see, we’re to walk in this “rule”—that’s the military order under the Commander. So, when I get bewitched, I desert the military order under the Commander. I remove from Him.

 

(continue Galatians 1:6) ‘…removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:’

 

So another gospel is not another form. Another gospel is a removal from Him! Therefore, if I want Him, I have to pick up my cross every day and follow Him. Otherwise, I desert to a concept rather than the real gospel.

 

Galatians 1:7 ‘Which is not another (gospel); but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.’

 

The thing is, what operates in the church is everybody is really deep-down insecure enough about their doctrine that they’re compelled to talk somebody else into it. And if they can talk you into it, they’re happy because if you bought into it, then it strengthens something in them.

 

When we get off the cross there can be a propensity to talk you into joining me into whatever new formula I have found. Sometimes you’ll get the evangelism on the IMA (email) every once in awhile to join the “new program”.

 

For example in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, they have lots of canals going through it so when you drive down the street, you go over one little bridge after another without even noticing there are bridges. One of the things that you’ll find there is people will be on those little bridges with their fishing poles over and they’re fishing or their going after crab. I think it was Blue Crab that they pull up and they have a bucket there beside them and when they catch a crab, then they put it in that bucket with no lid on it. You don’t need a lid as long as you have two crabs. You don’t need a lid anymore because anytime a crab tries to crawl out of the bucket, the other crabs reach up and pull it back in. (laughter) So when I’m a crab, all I have to do is find one more crab! (much laughter) I didn’t mean to get off on that.

 

Galatians 1:8 ‘But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.’

 

Let him be, what? Let him be accursed. This thing’s getting serious. We’ll see a lot about the curse in here.

 

Galatians 1:9-10 ‘As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed [under a curse]. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.’

 

So, if I’m here to win your approval, I’ll miss the power of Christ. What will happen will be an external behavior, but not the real power. Like I said, the movie only lasts two hours. After awhile, it just wears out. But, if I am here to have an internal work done, then my focus, as you’ve heard many times in this convention already, is that I’m in this to please God. (I have to be reminded of this—that’s why I came.) When I want to be approved by Him, then there’s life and everything starts to fall into place. You can tackle anything if your focus is right on Him—that you’re here to please Him. You’re here to see His performance rather than your own. ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’

 

Galatians 1:11-15 ‘But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation [lifestyle] in time past in the Jews’ religion [when I moved in the realm of form], how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace.’

 

In other words, when it was time for me to come out of Kindergarten and start walking towards sonship—Paul understands what it means to run in the form; he knew that; he did it above all of his equals.

 

 

 

Then in Galatians 2:1, After fourteen years; fourteen years of obscurity in Paul’s life then in verse 2, ‘I went up by revelation, and communicated’

 

That word “communicated” is not the Greek word “koinonia” there; it’s the word for consultation. He was looking for a witness unto them that were before him. He ran into the Judaizers.

 

Galatians 2:4-5 ‘And that because of false brethren unawares brought in (the Judaizers), who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.’

 

We see the Judaizers rise up here:

 

Galatians 2:11-12 ‘But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.’

 

Why did Peter separate himself? He feared them which were of the circumcision.

 

Galatians 2:13 ‘And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.’

 

The word “dissimulate” here in the Greek is “hupokrinomai” or “hupokrisis” which is the word for hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the English word for the Greek meaning “to speak from under”. Hupo means under. Krinomai means “to answer from under”. Where it got associated was from the Greek plays because they wore a mask over their face in the Greek play and spoke from under the mask. You might have been under a lot of pressure and couldn’t even stand your fellow actors so there was one face under there, but you had the smiling face mask on. I don’t know why I brought that up because it’s something that never happens in community. (laughter)

 

In Romans 12:9 it says, ‘Let love be without dissimulation.’

 

Let love be without speaking from under the mask. If I’m speaking from under the mask, I’m performing love and love is a fruit that can not be replicated; it’s from under the mask. The only possible alternative is the love that is of the Spirit. The only way that is going to happen is “the cross”—daily. It’s as simple as that.

 

Hupokrinomai is when I go into an act. I’m the one doing the performing. The greatest thing that could happen to my resume is “John Jeffreys, actor, retired.” Dead. “John Jeffreys, actor, dead.” Cross out the word “resume” and put “epitaph” there.

 

But I’m not the one performing this; there’s another performer—there’s another performance. When I start acting, I’m in hupokrinomia or I become one of the crabs in the pot—I’m acting with a whole group of you. You can say, “Well the ones who are just trooping along after the order, they’re the ones that are acting. The rest of us are a little smarter than that; we’re not acting.” No! It’s acting on both sides! We’re both a crab in the pot. We may be in different pots. Same crab—different pots. (laughter) Both of it is acting. There is only one reality. That reality is available to me right now! I can get out of the pot—out of the act. That’s where the reality is. There’s no power or reality in my own act. As soon as I get my eyes re-focused on this thing—and I have to get it re-focused—the reality comes back; the meaningfulness comes back.

 

There’s been times which I have been on my knees and God has finally made this real to me—all I can explain is that it’s like a harness or a yoke coming down over me—and I heard the Spirit say to me, “Welcome home, son.” I hadn’t gone anywhere, but I had gotten down from something. I think we’re more hooked to the cross than we are nailed to it. We come off it so easy. It’s like we’re on there with Velcro.

 

So Paul got after Brother Peter because this thing was so automatic in Peter. Think of Peter’s whole background. It was so automatic in Peter that he just went off onto the siding, just like that. He switched through off the main line to the siding. The trouble with siding is that there’s always a bumper at the end—you don’t get very far.

 

Galatians 2:14 ‘But when I saw that they walked not uprightly…’

 

“Uprightly” is the Greek word from which we get “orthodics”. It means to “walk correctly—to walk straight or upright”.

 

I was having some real problems with my right foot and it caused me to stop running and I walked. But then it got so bad that it was affecting my walking. So Dr. Tim Tesi said that he could fix that. Tim became a foot doctor because he had ruined his feet—that’s what started him down that path. I was willing to try anything. I came into Dallas and rented a car and drove all the way to Tim and Mary’s house. They have hardwood floors and the last thing you want to walk on when you have bad feet is hardwood floors. Tim said, “John, you just sit right down here and put your foot up.” I put my foot up and he put on there 3 pieces of tape and said, “Walk down through the living room on that hardwood floor, down through the dining room on the hardwood floor and turn around and come back.” The first thing that I wanted to say was, “Tim, I don’t want…”, but I got up and started walking. No pain. None! Absolutely none! So then he made an orthodic. It’s a plastic orthodic and it’s kind of like shoeing a horse. You put it in the toaster oven and get it good and hot. You have the “horse” sit down and put his foot back up and then he presses it on there and forms it to your foot. When it cools, you put that in your shoe and go out of Tim and Mary’s house a brand new man. Tim said that most knee and back problems are from just not walking correctly. There’s an orthodic that’s not plastic—it’s wood (referring to the cross)—and it doesn’t have hooks on it.

 

Galatians 2:16 ‘Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law…’

 

No matter how good I try to simulate—to simulate the message. I’m not called to simulate it (to imitate behavior by means of a model). I’m called to assimilate it (to become of the same substance)—to come into the reality of it—not make a model of it in me. You do know that I’m preaching to me.

 

It says this—you could write a whole constitution on this:

 

Galatians 2:20 ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live;’

 

Isn’t that phenomenal? That’s the only place where the life of the Spirit is. Being crucified with Christ, I come into the life.

 

Before I continue reading, I’ve noticed that we are not in concert concerning what the life of the Spirit is. I’ve noticed in my travels that we don’t all call the same thing “the life of the Spirit”. I have seen downright soulishness called “life”. I’ve heard people say, “Oh, this is so much life!” I thought, “Oh dear, I’m not sure I want that life.” Because once we’re off the cross, we’re into the realm of concept. In the realm of concept there is a universal law, which causes us to think: “My opinion is just as good as yours and yours is just as good as mine.”

 

Only on the cross is there the real life. There are things that are not the life of the Spirit, that we call life. And there is the life of the Spirit that we also say, “oh no” over, because it’s fire.

 

Galatians 2:20-21 ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I (that’s the relief), but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate (nullify; set aside; reject) the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law (works; my own works) then Christ is dead in vain.

 

Romans 6:6-7 ‘Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.’

 

Romans 6:11 ‘Likewise reckon (it takes a reckoning) ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.’

 

Where we get fooled is that we think that reckoning is a feeling. When everything is just right and all the circumstances are in line and we have this wonderful feeling that I am crucified with Christ. It’s a dead reckoning. It’s a reckoning by faith. By faith—“God, I have no idea what the crucified life is today—for this morning. I could not identify it if my life depended on it.” The crucified life from yesterday does not transfer; there’s nothing left over. It’s not like Alltel or Verizon where the minutes go over and you save them into the next month. It’s just worms. So I have no idea. “But by faith, I believe that if I call on You, and put my faith in You, I can walk in a life that’s other than my own right now .” And He has set me free to do that. If I stay back from doing that, in order to patch up the problem—put a few extra shingles on my structure—I’m never going to launch out and find the reality. I’ve got to identify with the truth. That is not identifying with it so that I can have a stamp of approval on what I’m doing. I have to come to the cross and reckon it to be the truth.

 

Galatians 3:10 ‘For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.’

 

Under the curse—not under pressure or confusion—under the curse. So I can be walking in the Spirit one day and I get off into my own performance, and where am I? I’m under the curse and I’ve just taken two steps. As soon as I am carrying God’s burden—helping Him out—trying to get me finished, I’m under the curse of my own performance. I have never put on a movie yet that wasn’t a “B” (grade) movie—a “B” performance. If you want the really good stuff, you have to go to Him; He’s the only one with the performance; He’s the author and the finisher.

 

As soon as I step off from the cross, I’m under the curse. Now, look at what Paul says about this:

 

Galatians 3:10 ‘For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse:’

 

What’s the position? Under the curse. So, if you’re under the curse, where is the curse? It’s over us. So, as soon as I step out, there’s a curse over me. Then if you come down to verse 13:

 

Galatians 3:13 ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law.’

 

The Greek says, ‘out from under the curse of the law’. So there’s a curse over me. Christ hath redeemed me out from under the curse of the law. How did He do that?

 

(continue in Galatians 3:13) ‘being made a curse for ( over ) us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:’

 

Now, I still have some thinking to do on this, but it appears when Jesus went on the cross (the tree), He became a curse over me so that I can go on the cross (tree), and it’s not a curse, but life. How does that sound? I’m still thinking whether that fits like that.

 

So, the curse was over me and He solved it! He was the solution! He took me out from under the curse by being made a curse over me.

 

Now, in “The Little House” book series (by Laura Ingalls Wilder about American prairie life), if I remember correctly, it was “The Little House on the Prairie” and the prairie fire was coming. It was 30-40 feet of flame in the air just rolling along in the wind. It was going to take the house, the family & everything. Pa Ingall got out there and set fire to the grass around his house. Well, that fire didn’t have time to raise up to 30-40 feet high; it just started burning out (outward) and that black circle of salvation just kept burning out—burning out (farther) and this huge fire that sounded like a freight train came rolling toward their house and as it hit Pa’s circle, the flames went low and just crackled around the sides of the circle and just kept on going pass their house. Then Laura Ingalls—she’s free—she’s saved—went out into this black world and found the family’s mother hen just cooked on the ground. She punches it with her shoe and she heard, “Peep, peep, peep.” Then she kicks the hen over a little more and out from under that baked hen came all these little chicks. That hen took the curse over them. She bore the curse of the fire over them and brought them (her chicks) out from under it.

 

That picture comes to my mind when I’m back here with sweaty garments on; wondering how this thing is ever going to get finished in here (inside me). He did all that to take me out from under the curse. But, when I leave this realm, which requires faith to walk in it, and come back here to my own performance, it says I am immediately stepping back under the curse. So the joy is still there, if you have the “joy mask”.

 

Galatians 5:1-4 ‘Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you (Christ has been rendered of no value to you), whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.’

 

I’ve seen situations when a new program is developed, it creates a fellowship of pride. It creates an exalted circle. Isn’t that funny how that works in us? We are so confident that I can then look down on you. But when I’m into that thing of performance and confidence, I have actually rendered Christ and the power of the cross invalid; it’s invalid and then I’m back under the curse.

 

Then, it talks about the cross in Galatians 5:11 ‘…the offence of the cross (is) ceased.’

 

I think part of the reason the Judaizers did not like the preaching of the cross—it was the offence of the cross—was because on the cross there are no credits! Your name doesn’t go up in lights. There’s no credit in that realm. Getting off the cross is not just an issue of trying to get finished up or perfected. Brother Buddy said yesterday that what gets you off the cross and into your own performance is that you don’t like the way it’s going! You don’t like not being center stage and calling the shots. There’s an offence to the cross! No credits! The movie just ends!

 

Galatians 5:24 ‘And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts,’

 

We didn’t take those different things and nail them to the cross. We get on the cross and they get crucified. The disease is carried around inside of us but there is a blessed relief called the cross.

 

Galatians 6:12 ‘As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised: only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.’

 

Back in Galatians 4:17-18, it says this, ‘They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them. But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.’

 

Now this is what this says in the Amplified Bible, Galatians 4:17, ‘These men [the Judaizing teachers] are zealously trying to dazzle you [paying court to you, making much of you], but their purpose is not honorable or worthy or for any good. What they want to do is to isolate you [from us who oppose them], so that they may win you over to their side and get you to court their favor.’

 

In some of the controversies we’ve gone through in the past, you may have run flat into that one. You all of a sudden get a lot of attention, but the motive is wrong. The motive is not for you; it’s to get you to follow them.

 

They were, therefore, competing with Paul but Paul wasn’t competing. Now with this in mind, let’s go back to:

 

Galatians 6:12 ‘As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised:’

 

“Fair shew in the flesh” means this; to put on an appearance, to make a fair appearance. It presents the contrast between appearance and reality. It means to play a good role. It’s the contrast between appearance and reality.

 

That’s what we’re talking about here this morning. Only the cross is the reality. Only the cross is the power. Only on the cross am I not playing a good role. I may not understand every test that you and I go through, but it’s all to chase us into reality. It’s all to bring us into full dissolution with our own performance so that we cry that we might stay in reality. It’s the beggar that cries and when it says, ‘Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 5:3), the Greek word there for “poor” is “ptocheuo”—the beggar that Jesus became. He went all the way to that position.

 

So, we come to a double crucifixion where the world can not come to us, neither us to the world. There’s a wonderful provision; it’s so simple that our little kids can walk in this and I can too.

 

A few weeks ago, we were down in Texas. By the way, many of you have asked about Sister Nancy and I’ve been telling some of you that we have put Nancy into intensive therapy and everyone’s eyebrows look a little concerned at that point; only because they don’t really know me that well. We compelled Nancy to the whole month of December to hold our new grandson down in Texas. Nathaniel and I went down there for the last 10 days.

 

While in Texas, I remembered when I had lived there for a year and had killed 18 rattlesnakes that year. When I left the ranch in the canyon there in Texas, the final score was 18 to 1. But this one particular snake—I know I’ve told this story before, but I love this story. We had received a phone call from a neighbor that was “overjoyed” to tell us that our cattle had got out and were eating his wheat. You could hear the lever action of his gun cocking over the phone. (laughter) There were about 200 head that had climbed out of the canyon and gotten onto a trail that led out of the canyon and had gotten through the fence. By the time we got up there on our three horses, the cows as soon as they saw us started to stampede into the middle of this neighbor’s wheat. I was on my favorite horse, Wolf, and spurred him. When a horse stops trotting and starting running full out, you’re driving a Cadillac. It was my finest moment. (laughter) If it could have been filmed, I could have been a “double” for one of John Wayne’s movies. There was wheat going by. All you had to do was get up in front of the first cow and she would swing right around. So when it was all over and the dust and the wheat had settled and the herd was pushed back down back to the canyon, I had to go back to repair the fence. I was pulling out the U posts and there was a tangled mess of old barb wire laying there and snapped off wooden, rotted posts. I was walking up with this U post and all of a sudden I heard this rattling. As I looked there were three big rattlers. Two of them went opposite of me, but the “big boy” came right toward me. He was just rattling up a storm. Rattlers are gentlemen; you go by them and they just coil up and rattle and wait for you to go by and they can find a rock, but this guy was no gentleman; he was in route. I later found out that this was the mating season for rattlers and I had inadvertently gotten myself involved. (laughter) This guy was big and he had a head on him like this (measures with his hands). Like that (measures even bigger with his hands) (more laughter).

 

I was pretty tough back then and without any hesitation at all, I took that 8 foot post that was in my hand and took his head off and the body coiled back and there he was just laying there. He still had the same intent; he was still focused on me and he was still thinking of what he was going to do when he got to me; he just couldn’t get there. So I watched that body coiling back there and it was still moving. It moves for 24 hours, you know?

 

Although we’re crucified with Christ, we can still feel emotions. In fact you can even get associated with emotions and identify with them and it’ll pull you right off of the truth. You have to stand, by faith, right where He’s put us.

 

So anyway, that snake was settled. It was done. When I was walking back to get the post pounder out and when I working I could see out of my peripheral vision the snakes mouth opening. His head really was at least as big as my hand and he had his mouth opened. I thought, well, that was just a “knee jerk” motion of sin. So I waited and his mouth went slowly closed. I moved and his mouth went open again. So, I went right up to him and he was opening and closing his mouth. Someone said to me, were you really that close. Uh-huh (yes). I was also a little dumb back then—a little dumber. I figured he couldn’t come any closer, but the poison sacks weren’t in that tail that was wiggling around back there. The poison sacks are up in the head. It was fascinating. It’s little beady eyes were on me and I would just be real still and his mouth would be closed. I’d make any move and his mouth would open as if to say, “Come on, come on.” His heat-seeking infrared pits—that’s why they call them Pit Vipers—he knew where I was there was no question about it. His little tongue was coming out of a little hole at the bottom of his mouth. You could see his dental work. The fangs opened up. It was fascinating. It was so fascinating that I could have said, “Here, let me get my finger in there. Don’t bite, yet; let me get my finger across both fangs.” He would have obliged me with a squirt (of venom). I did get bit once and I know that I don’t want to be bit twice. I don’t ever want to be bit again. The difference between me going under the barbwire and maybe sticking my finger in there was that instead of him coming to me; I had gone to him.

 

Because the cutting the head off of that snake was what Paul was saying in:

 

Galatians 6:14 ‘But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.’

 

All if I have to do is stay in the realm of hearing and obeying. That means that I get up in the morning and say what Brother Sam Fife said. Brother Sam talked about rolling right out of bed on his knees and saying, “God, if you don’t do something with me, I can’t walk one more day in this move of God.” Brother Sam said that! You think God will hear that cry? Yes!

 

Galatians 6:16-17 ‘And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’

 

The marks of the Lord Jesus—that’s the stigma and that’s the Greek word for a “brand”. When you say that somebody is under a stigma, well, that’s the same thing as saying they have been branded.

 

You and I are called not to visit the cross. The cross was not meant to enter into my life on July 23, 1963, back at the beginning (for nothing). I am to bear the marks of the Crucified One. Forgive me where I haven’t. This is what we want—to be crucified with Him—to bear the marks.

 

Now in the ancient days, a slave was branded with his master’s name. Soldiers often branded themselves with their commanders name. Like the elite forces do today. But we’re branded with nailprints. That’s what I’m called to do.

 

Many times you’ll hear this, “He was the godliest man I ever knew.” But sometimes what we’re referring to is Christian character—not crucifixion. I don’t want to go for a display of Christian character. That will not bear the stigma and it will not be in reality. It will be trying to produce something. Sure, it will get a real high off of being the most “godly man ever”, but this isn’t reality! The reality is to bear the marks! It’s not to know about it, preach about it, or memorize it! It’s to find it out for myself! To get sick of the mask! To get sick of the substitue! To get sick of the simulation! And to go for the real thing!

 

God is without respecter of persons and if I apply for the real thing, God will show me the real thing! He wants me to know the real thing and every single one of us the real thing.

 

Paul said, don’t let any of the ones who want to formulate me to the latest program—

 

Galatians 6:17 ‘…let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’

 

You know the cowboys of the old west, they had a saying, “they rode for the brand”. No one could purloin like a cowboy. In my case, I was on a 7,000 acre ranch (in Texas). Often times I was gone all day out there. I could have sat down under the salt cedars, pulled off my boots, hung up my spurs. For cowboys, if they were going to ride for the brand, it wasn’t (only) when the boss was around. They were riding for the brand all the time. Sometimes riding for the brand cost you your life because you got into all kinds of problems out there. But the honest cowboy was the one who rode for the brand.

 

A performance will just perform in your sight if I’m out to please you. God help me to come out of the shadows of the unreal and the unfulfilling. Either trying to be somebody that fits in or being one of the cacophony of the ravens that like to cackle about it on the side—both of them are an act. Both of them are an act. I want the real thing! I want to bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

 

He’s not going to put me on that cross. That’s my own decision. The cross is a cross so why would I want to do this (put myself on the cross)? For the life and for the reality. God help us to walk in it, in Jesus’ name.

   
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