In a previous post we noted that the Old Testament points forward to the cross and the New Testament points back to it. Bible teachers therefore need to understand the centrality of the cross and keep bringing people back to the cross. Help students value the cross as more than a religious icon. Though symbolic with Christianity, the cross is so much more.
To effectively teach about the cross of Jesus, keep these tips in mind:
- You must deal with the sin issue.
In today’s world it is easy to shy away from the topic of sin. But, if people do not understand that we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23) and that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), the cross will hold little significance in their hearts and minds.
Help people understand why sin is an issue by looking at the character of God. He is a holy, righteous, and just God who cannot stand in the presence of sin. But, He is also a loving, compassionate, merciful, and gracious God who wants to be in a relationship with the people He created. Since we are sinners, that would not be possible unless there was an atonement for sin. In the Old Testament they sacrificed animals but had to do that over and over. Jesus died once for all so our sin could be forgiven and we could be made righteous in Him.
- Get beyond the cross itself to the Person who hung on the cross.
The power does not rest on the cross but rather in the Person who died on the cross. If Jesus had not been God Himself come down to earth in the flesh, His death would not have been effective. Only the death of the sinless human being could die in our place to cover our sin and reconcile us to the Father. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. … For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb. 2:14-18)
- Don’t keep Jesus hanging on the cross.
Death and the devil could not hold Jesus in the grave. He rose victoriously. His resurrection shows His authority and power. As such, we must realize that because of cross, we not only have forgiveness of sin but also the ability to live as new creations (2 Cor. 5:17). “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Cor. 15:14)
- Emphasize the necessity of grace.
Jesus died for us because we could not save ourselves. We will continue to fall short of God’s righteousness no matter how hard we try. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God …” (Eph. 2:8-9) That same grace that saved us is what “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:11-12). If we do not live to His glory, it means we have forgotten what He has done for us on the cross (2 Pet. 1:5-9) which is why we need to keep taking people back to the cross.
Bible teachers will not get beyond the “story” of the cross if they don’t have a good personal grasp of its significance, relevance, and power for not only their eternal salvation but also their everyday living. Click on the book images below to go to one of our affiliate stores for helpful books.