The Way of the Cross Leads home

Bible Book: Philippians  1 : 21
Subject: Christian Living; Cross; Paul
Series: The Way of the Cross

In this series we have seen the world against the Cross. We have seen Satan trying to keep us from the Cross. We have seen Paul come face to face with the issue of the Cross. We saw Paul at the Cross. Then we have seen Paul under the Cross, or to be more specific, taking his cross upon his shoulder and following Jesus wherever He led him. We have seen Paul taking the message of the Cross to Israel, to Gentiles, and to kings and other officials. We have also seen the price Paul paid for his faithfulness. His philosophy of life was stated very simply, yet very profoundly: "For, to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

We have seen many profound statements about the Cross. Let me share a three more:

The cross is the only ladder high enough to touch Heaven's threshold. (George Dana Boardman)

It may take a crucified church to take a crucified Christ before the eyes of the world. -- W. E. Orchard

I am afraid we modern Christians are long on talk and short on conduct. We use the language of power but our deeds are the deeds of weakness. We settle for words in religion because deeds are too costly. It is easier to pray, "Lord, help me to carry my cross daily" then to pick up the cross and carry it; but since the mere request for help to do something we do not actually intend to do has a certain degree of religious comfort, we are content with repetition of the words. -- A. W. Tozer

Now, in the words of the hymn, The Way of the Cross Leads Home.


A. The Holy Spirit Convicts Lost People of Sin and Convinces Them of Righteousness in Christ.

1) Jesus defines the ministry of the Holy Spirit. "When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in Me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged" (John 16:8-11).

2) We have all sinned. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).

3) Sins brings death. " For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 6:23).

4). You mus believe in your heart. "If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation" (Rom. 10:9-10).

B. The Holy Spirit Sanctifies Believers.

The Holy Spirit never sanctifies lost people. He sanctifies born-again believers in Jesus Christ. I was showing Scotty around our facilities so he could decide whether or not he wanted to undertake the job of custodian. As we walked through the educational unit I explained what the job requirements were. Then I showed him the sanctuary and as we walked through the building he stopped and said, "Rev. Sanders, I would like to ask you a question. Is this a Baptist church or is it sanctified?" I don’t know if I ever convinced him that being a Baptist did not preclude sanctification. In fact, a Baptist who knows the truth, knows that sanctification is essential. It is never optional.

Sanctification has nothing to do with where your hands are when you are singing. Sanctification has nothing to do with what your feet are doing. It has nothing to do with anything you can generate in your heart or your mind. Sanctification takes place in the heart and in the mind, but is the product of neither your heart nor your mind. You cannot produce sanctification. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. That may surprise you, but it shouldn’t. Paul wrote, "Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5). I really like the KJV, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus..." Sanctification is an on going process in which one walks daily in the mind or attitude of Christ Jesus. Upon what are we to have our minds? Paul answers that for us:

Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.

For this reason God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name,so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:7-11).

Paul wrote to the Romans, " For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers" (Rom. 8:29-30).

In these passages, Paul provides a working definition of sanctification: having the mind of Christ Jesus to the point that we are willing to humble ourselves to the point that we assume role of a slave, totally surrendering our will to His will. That is not natural, you say. You are right! That is the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

In Romans 8:29, we find some very interesting. Various schools and denominations may debate the meaning and scope of predestination with regards to Justification, but can anyone dispute the fact that in the mind of God every person who is saved is predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son? That, dear friends, is Sanctification: being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. I am not there yet, but then He is not through with me yet! I am not perfectly sanctified, I am being sancrified.


A. The Great Commission Compels Us to Reach Out to Others With the Gospel.

When I was a Junior in our church, the Green River Baptist Mission, seven miles west of Sledge, Mississippi, I participated in the Junior Memory Drills. For those of you who are too young to remember it, we didn’t have "Children" we had "Juniors!" Well, at least in Sunday School and Training Union we did. Two of the first passages I memorized were John 3:16 and the Great Commission. I know you know it, but let me read it anyway:

Then Jesus came near and said to them, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matt 28:18-20).

When someone give a command it is always a good idea to see whether or not they have the authority to give commands. I am amazed at what politicians and the news media can do with rules, regulations, laws, and commands. I would like to illustrate how man’s commands may become somewhat muddled. I hears someone read this in Jacksonville, Florida in 1978 and I thought you might enjoy it. It is called: OPERATION: HALLEY’S COMET


Tomorrow evening, at approximately 200 hours, Halley’s Comet will be visible in this area, an event which occurs only once every 75 years. Have the men fall out in the battalion area in fatigues and I will explain this rare phenomenon to them. In case of rain we will not be able to see anything, so assemble the men in the theater, and I will show them films of it.


By order of the Colonel, tomorrow at 2000 hours, Halley’s Comet will appear above the battalion area. If it rains, fall the men out in fatigues. Then march to the theater where the rare phenomenon will take place, something which occurs only once every 75 years.


By order of the Colonel in fatigues, at 2000 hours tomorrow evening the phenomenal Halley’s Comet will appear in the theater. In case of rain in the battalion area, the Colonel will give another order, something which occurs once every 75 years.


Tomorrow at 2000 hours, the Colonel will appear in the theater with Halley’s Comet, something which happens once every 75 years. If it rains the Colonel will order the comet into the battalion area.

B. Cross Bearing Is a Command, not an Option.

Jesus tells us that all authority has been given Him by the Father. He has the authority to command us. Paul uses a word in Philippians 2:7 that may surprise you: "He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross."

When I attended my first meeting of the board of trustees for LifeWay Christian Resources in 1999, I discovered that I had been assigned to the Broadman and Holman Committee. The Nominating Committee always tries to assign members to committees based on their interests, gifts, and experience. Since I had more interests than gifts, I was assigned to the committee where I could do the least damage! I learned how carefully assignments are made when I was chairman of the Nominating Committee. When I was first assigned to B&H, I had no idea how or why I was assigned to B & H. I supposed that since I had read a book or two, they assigned me to the division that publishes books and Bibles.

In the first meeting, I was pleased when Dr. Ed Bloom was introduced to us and we had the distinct privilege of asking questions of the General Editor of the Holman Christian Standard Bible. At the time, and for some time to come, we would only have copies of the earliest books the translators had completed. At lunch that day, Dr. Jimmy Draper led Dr. Bloom to the table where I sat with three of four other trustees. One was a man of Cuban descent from Miami who had asked Jimmy a question about the HCSB. He wanted to know why Dr. Bloom and his team of translators had used the word "slave" rather than the more familiar "servant" or "bond-servant."

It dawned on me that by using the world "slave" they had eliminated some major points from a lot of sermons in which the preacher sought to explain what a bond-servant was. A bond-servant, we were told (okay, we preached!) was one who had volunteered his service to another. Dr. Bloom explained that the HCSB is a literal, word for word translation and that it has been carefully read by a lot of people like Calvin Miller who helped smooth out the words without resorting to a paraphrase. Dr. Bloom explained that the word is, literally, slave. Once we believe in Jesus Christ we are born again, not as independent individuals in charge of our own destiny, but as slaves to Jesus Christ. You are not your own, you were bought with a price, and that price was the blood of Christ.

You come to the Cross dead in trespasses and sin, a slave to sin and Satan. You leave with eternal life, a slave to the One who bought you with His blood. You belong to him. Obedience to Him is not an option. He has the authority to command your service.

In this series on the Cross, we have read the verses over and over, but I would like for us to look at them one more time. Jesus said:

The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me (Matt 10:37).

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it (Matt 16:24-25).

Jesus did not save you to make you healthy, wealthy, and wise. If in His sovereignty He chooses to make you either healthy, wealthy, or wise, or any of the above, praise Him and be a good steward of all your gifts and blessings. I talked once with a man who was recognized as a very successful man. He retired early and built a big house on a lot of land. He could live on the benefits of his labor. Neighbors were very impressed. As a matter of fact, a leader in our church told me he was the kind of person we needed in our church. I wondered if she was thinking primarily of his money.

We talked one day after picking up our mail at the post office and this friend made a statement that reflected his attitude toward money. He said, "If you show me a five gallon can of diesel fuel I will tell you what I can do with it. If you show me a certain amount of money I will tell you what I can do with it." The point he was making was that money did not possess him, and he was not impressed with money for the sake of his own personal wealth. Money was a useful tool to be used for the Lord and for the benefit of others.

The Roman cross was an instrument of death. Today, little crosses are even worn by lost people as an acceptable symbol on a gold chain. It may be seen on a sticker on the window of an automobile driven by one who seldom if ever goes to church. A lot of people attend Sunday School and worship services who have never taken up their cross and followed Jesus out into the world. There is a good reason some of them have never taken up their cross. They don’t have one! Someone told me that he would not reveal the name of the person who tried to convince him that his church was the only one to go to in the area. I think I mentioned this man earlier in this series, but I do not know his name. The man said, "First (Church) is definitely the place to go right now. We don’t have a pastor not. We have a different preacher every Sunday. When I have to sit and listen to the same preacher every Sunday I can’t keep my eyes off my _____ ______ watch." Yes, he did use God’s name in vain while trying to "recruit" a new member for his church.

Amanda (not her real name) knew she was lost but was ashamed to make a profession of faith. She had played the piano for her church all through her teen years. She was a church member and everyone thought she was one of the sweetest girls they had ever known. She may well have been that, but she was also a lost church member. She had never been to the Cross. My picture was in the local paper one week, announcing that I was moving to Nederland, Texas to become pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church. The following Sunday, Amanda and her children were in the morning worship service. I was surprised because she had been the pianist for another church for several years at the time. At the end of the service, Amanda asked to speak with me. She said, "When you stood with my family and me by little Timmy’s casket at the funeral home, I knew I was lost but I couldn’t bring myself to ask for help then. I have wanted to be saved for a long time and when I saw your picture in the paper I knew if I did not talk with you I was not going to talk with anyone else." The young lady whom our church thought was a model Christian was not a Christian at all. She had never been to the Cross. She could not take up her cross and follow Jesus.

One of the best friends I had in college and seminary told me about his conversion experience - a few years after he graduated from seminary. I had never known a more moral man. I was floored! So was his church. They asked him to resign after he made a public profession of faith. The Lord, I might add, has used him in a mighty way since his salvation. He went to the Cross, and then he took up his cross and followed Jesus.


A. Jesus Is Preparing a Place for You.

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know" (John 14:1-6, NKJV).

1) He promised to prepare for us a dwelling place. The NKJV follows the KJV, in rendering the Greek word "mansions," whereas the HCSB follows a more literal rendering: "In My Father’s house are many dwelling places." Now here is something I find very interesting. In the beginning, God created the world and in the final act of creation He created man in His own image. He walked and talked with Adam in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day. Then Adam Eve sinned, forming a great gulf between God and man, a gulf no man can span. Sin created a breach no human being has ever been able to cross. At that time, death entered the human experience. Never again would a human being ever be able to enjoy the kind of fellowship Adam and Eve had known in the Garden, at least in this world.

From that time forward, God’s presence has been no less real, but no one could fully appreciate it because of sin. God’s presence was symbolized, but they could not see God and very few people ever heard Him speak. When He delivered Israel from Egypt, He told Moses to pitch a tent for Yahweh among His Chosen People (all two million of them!). They did not see God, but the could see His tent, or tabernacle every day. Later, the temple represented His presence with His people. More specifically, the Ark of the Covenant was a testimony to His presence with His people. After the Ark was destroyed by the Babylonians, God told Jeremiah to tell them not to try to rebuild the Ark. Instead the Jerusalem would be the symbol of God’s presence with His people.

In John 1:14, John tells writes, "The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). The word translated "took up residence" (dwelt in KJV), is the NT equivalent of the OT word tabernacled. While Jesus was on earth he took up residence with His people. That is amazing! What could be better than that? Well, Jesus said it would be better for Him to go back to the Father and send the Holy Spirit to take up residence in the hearts of believers. Today, the Holy Spirit resides in my heart. I cannot see Him, but I know He is there.

It gets even better. Jesus is preparing a dwelling place for me in heaven. Then, I will be with my Lord, the sea of separation in Revelation 4 will be removed (Revelation 21), and I will take up residence with Him. It doesn’t get any better than that!

2) He promises to come for us. I am not going into the various positions with regards to the return of Christ now. Our people are well aware of my position, as are many others. After all Dr. Mike Minnix of the Georgia Baptist Convention has included 50 sermon manuscripts from Revelation on the PastorLife web site for anyone one in the world to read. The point I want to make here is exactly the point Jesus makes here: "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."

3) He will welcome the faithful. He will say, "...Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt 25:34). All who reject Him, all who mock Him, all who have declared war on the Cross, like the judge in California, are going to stand before Him and hear him pronounce the sentence, "Depart from Me for I never knew you." The message Jesus delivered is clear: "And throw this good-for-nothing slave into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt 25:30).

4) He will acknowledge the faithful. Jesus is using a parable, but the parable offers insight into the judgment of our Lord, who will say to the faithful, "Well done, good and faithful slave" (Matt 25:23).

B. The Way of the Cross Leads Home.

1) Heaven is a place of rest for the weary. In the first place, Jesus is our rest today:

For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken later about another day. A Sabbath rest remains, therefore, for God’s people. For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His. Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience" (Heb 4:8-11).

In the second place, there is a rest awaiting each of us when this journey we call life is over. Jesus promised, "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matt 11:28). If you respond to His invitation, "come to Me" now, He will provide rest for eternity. One lady said that she didn’t know if she wanted to go to heaven if all you are going to do is sit around with nothing to do. Some people get the wrong idea from the very beginning of the Bible when God completed His work of Creation. The Bible says, God rested. He also gave us a Day of Rest, the Sabbath Day. I have even known people who would quote that verse to justify their staying home on Sunday instead of going to worship services. They would say, "The Bible says that is my day of rest. I need to rest." They are mistaken. The word means to desist from the week-day activities and set aside the Lord’s Day for God’s glory. Desist from worldly activities: work, hunting and fishing, golf and football, little league, and TV, and devote the Holy Day to a Holy God. Rest in heaven will not be idleness, but joy and fulfillment beyond anything we can imagine here on earth

2) Heaven is a place of peace. Peace is a precious commodity in this world. David, Prayed, " I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety" (Ps. 4:8). But peace in this world is a fragile thing, and it can be an illusive goal, as the Lord said through Jeremiah to Judah: "My people’s brokenness superficially, claiming: Peace, peace, when there is no peace" (Jer 6:14).

Peace is a precious gift, and the one who finds it is blessed indeed. Jesus came to bring peace, but the world does not understand His peace. He is the Prince of Peace, but He declared, "Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt 10:34).

"I came to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already set ablaze! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how it consumes Me until it is finished! Do you think that I came here to give peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!" (Luke 12:49-51).

Yet, Jesus promises peace that passes all understanding to those who trust Him and take up their cross and follow Him.: "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful" (John 14:27). In my commentary on Philippians, UNDEFEATED: Finding Peace in a World Full of Trouble (p. 24), I wrote:

Millions are seeking peace today, but they will never find it anywhere except in the Prince of Peace. Perhaps you have seen the bumper sticker, or read the words on a church sign: NO JESUS, NO PEACE, KNOW JESUS, KNOW PEACE. Let me try to adapt that to this Scripture - there is

No joy without peace,

No peace without grace,

No grace without Jesus.

Believers may know the peace that passes all understanding through the Prince of Peace. However, that pales in comparison to the peace that awaits those who are in Him. The Lord desires peace for His children here and now: "Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love" (2 John 1:3). The peace of heaven will be greatly multiplied, amplified, and glorified. How do I now that? Because the Bible tells me that Jesus is my peace (Eph. 2:14) and He is preparing a dwelling place for me where I will be as He is

C. Only the Way of the Cross Leads Home.

It is especially important that we get this point right. The god of modernism and the New Age movements is diversity. There is no virtue greater to millions of Americans than diversity. We are a diverse people with diverse religions, they say, but we are all going to heaven if we just don’t judge one another. The worst sin is not immorality or dishonesty to these people; it is being judgmental or too narrow. A waitress came to our table to see if Becky and I needed anything and I asked her if she was a Christian. She began telling me she went to a church or two in town, but stopped and said, "But I would never go to a Baptist church." Between kicks to my shin I asked her why she wouldn’t go to a Baptist church. She said, "They are too judgmental." I know a lot of Baptists who are not too judgments. In fact I know some who are not the least bit judgmental. They are not even discerning!

Whether we like it or not, whether we believer it or not, there is still just one way to go be saved, and there is just one way to go to heaven. I have a series of 31 sermon manuscripts on the PastorLife website from Jeremiah and a number of them deal with the same issue. God asked, "Has a people exchanged its god?" The Lord declares Himself a jealous God: "You are to never bow down to another god because the Lord, being jealous by nature, is a jealous God" (Ex 34:14).

The Bible is very clear on this subject. Luke tells us in Acts, "Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 4:8, said of Jesus, "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

I visited Pop Edmonson a number of times before his death. When he died I went to see Mrs. Edmonson, as always, prayerfully seeking the right words to offer comfort and encouragement. She beat me to it. Smiling, she said, "Just before he died he looked up and asked me, ‘Do you see that light?’ He knew the Lord had come for him." I have heard many similar stories.

Now let me tell you another one. The late Frank Burroughs was a long time friend and student in seminary extension classes I taught. He told me about being called to the bedside of a lost man who was dying. Just before the end, the man, with indescribable fear, said, "The devil is coming for me. He is outside right now! He is coming through the gate." After a pause, he said, "He is coming up the walk." There was no effort to mask the terror. Then he said, "He is coming through the door."

Finally, he looked to the foot of his bed and said, "He is here." The man then died with no peace in his heart. There will never be any peace for him. Forever. No peace.

On June 8, 2006, I believe it was, the news all day long was that the number one terrorist in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been killed by when American flyers dropped two laser-guided bombs on his safe-house. On one program, a Catholic priest was asked, "Where is al-Zarqawi now?" To which the priest replied, "We don’t know where anyone is, but...." He then went back to a moral lesson vengeance. I can help the priest out a little here. That evil enemy of God is in hell. The head terrorist is terrified right now and he will never be anything but terrified forever. He has run up against a lot more terrifying character than Osama bin Laden! But you don’t have to be a terrorist, murderer, or insurrectionist to go to hell. All you have to do is nothing. Just look your Creator in the face and say, "I don’t want you." You will have an opportunity to get acquainted with al-Zarqawi and a lot more of his kind.


Jesus invites you to come to the Cross for salvation. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Rom. 10:13). Then, He commands you to take up your cross and follow Him. The Holy Spirit leads you to the Cross. He leads you to take up your cross. He leads you out into the world. Finally, the faithful are finally taken home to glory.

I must needs go home by the way of the cross,

There’s no other way but this;

I shall ne’re get sight of the gates of light,

If the way of the cross I miss.

I must needs go on in the blood sprinkled way,

The path that the Savior trod,

If I ever climb to the heights sublime,

Where the soul is at home with God.

Then I bed farewell to the way of the world,

To dwell in it never more;

For the Lord says, "Come," and I seek my home.

Where he waits at the open door.

The way of the Cross leads home,

The way of the Cross leads home

It is sweet to know as I onward go,

The way of the Cross leads home.