Saved by grace, how do we now live for God? The Cross must have the preeminence. The status of believer is so great because of the Cross. Opinions, reasoning, and subjectivity can color our thoughts. We must bring our self to Him, to the Cross and be transformed inside. (Romans 5)
Speaker(s): Thomas Schaller, Brent Hillenga
Sermon # 12662
Wed 7:00 pm
P. Schaller –
Let’s put up the verse on the screen, 1 Corinthians 14. Good evening everyone. Praise the Lord for assembling tonight.
1 Corinthians 14:26, that’s tonight. So, we have a pastor. We have a pulpit. But then we have, we have
you. We have the Body. Us. The Body. And there’s a time for you to share a psalm, a Bible
verse, a doctrine. And because we’re quite a large crowd, it’s kind of tough to do this. But I
think we should do it.
So, do you have a verse in your heart? Maybe you started the day with a verse or you have
some testimony or story or something that touched your heart or a prayer or an answer to
prayer? So, would you do that now? Would you just share it with your neighbor, a little circle of
people? Lean over and talk to each other for a few minutes.
Okay. Let me call on a couple folks here. Let’s see. Mike Tilton. Do you have one? P. Mike?
What is it? Yeah. Okay. Let’s put it up. Nehemiah 9:17, Beautiful. So, he’s saying the second part of
the verse like defining who God is. This is a recap of the history of Israel by Nehemiah, and they
were disobedient. They hardened their necks. They were rebellious, but God is gracious and
One more. How about P. Ralph. Do you have one? Galatians 2:20, let’s put that one up. You know,
this relates – this particular verse relates to the message, and I want to kind of introduce it to
you tonight. Here’s the big question for you to think about. I am a Christian. Should I pay any
attention or make any effort to grow spiritually? I’m a Christian. I’ve got a lot to do in my life.
I’m living my life. I’m saved, but do I have anything in my heart to motivate me in a spiritual
Unfortunately, a lot of believers say, no. I’m good. I’m good. That’s fine. But we want you to
look at that again and say – and one of the things that happens from God is our life doesn’t go
that well. When our life doesn’t go that well, it’s like God speaking to us.
I have this page just to make reference to. Let me find it which I think is a good recap. “A pastor
after years of training and hard work and becoming established in the ministry, is confronted
with failure in life and service. All of us praying – listen to this – all of his praying, preaching,
visitation, counseling have not brought into being a growing and spiritual congregation.” And
he feels that. I work hard but – and I feel like the emptiness.
“Another leader has been successful. Developed a large Sunday School and also big missionary
budget but then he also feels like I’m not satisfied. What’s missing?” Third. A faithful layman is
given time, talent, treasure to his church serving in various capacities. Ultimately, he becomes
discouraged and even disillusioned to his own lack of growth in Christ.”
Another one: “A Christian wife and mother seeks to establish and maintain a Christ centered
home as well as faithfully carrying out her church duties and activities. Often, husband and
children fail to respond resulting in heartache and sometimes tragedy. Teenage believers revel
in their church activities and off to college and they lose their faith” and they go down a
different path. Sometimes they do and they do for a period of time and sometimes they stay
I think about these little stories and wonder what’s the real answer? I think I know in the
Scripture what God says to us about it. And tonight, I want to say something about it briefly
even though it’s deep and profound.
Turn to Romans with me, please. First thing and this is the book of Romans is our reference. We
have chapter 5. We have the real ground for our salvation. Two men, Adam, the first Adam and
the second Adam and the judgment on Adam. The crucifixion of Christ. We say tonight about
the cross and we talk about the cross and we know about it in some measure. We are saved by
it. The cross.
The first part is our salvation. This is so amazing that we are saved by his grace. It’s a whole
other message but a very important one that you are saved. You are indwelt by the Spirit and
nothing can change that. You are imputed with righteousness and you are saved by God’s
But then, what about my life? I am saved but now how do I live? So, we have this is the second
point. Romans 6 – 8. This is different. This is about the cross as a way of life. This is the cross
regarding our salvation and then this is the cross regarding our new life and what does it mean
that we have the cross? What does it do for us? How does it satisfy us?
When you dedicate your life to something and you’re not so satisfied or happy, where do you
go? What do you do? How do you process that in your heart? You go to the cross. But many
believers don’t know what that means. Like what do you mean go to the cross? Like what is
that? What does it mean, the cross?
To me, I’m so happy I came into a church where not only I heard about salvation but I learned
about myself. How bad I am. There’s two things here. For the spiritual life, there’s two things to
learn. #1. How bad I am. And then the second thing is how great the cross is. How great Christ
is. What Christ did. How easily I can mess up my life by myself, my self-life. How easily I can talk
and think and process my troubles through myself and then how easily with my opinion –
there’s like three things here with the self to mention.
Let’s see. Self is my opinion, my reasoning, and then my subjectivity. This is all like – all of them
could be a message, but just to introduce and to help you understand what I want to say, what
we want to say tonight and think about.
God loves us and saved us and it’s sure. The love is sure. The work is done. The cross finished it.
The status of the believer is so great, it’s unspeakable. It’s beyond us. It’s so amazing who we
are now. This is our starting point that he paid the penalty for our sin, that he justified us. It is
so great that we are seated in heavenly places and so great that our name is in the book of Life
and so great that God calls us sons and daughters and so great that the Holy Spirit lives in us.
And it’s so great that we are called by his name. And so great he will never leave us or forsake
us. It’s so great that he covered our sin. Anything that could be interpreted as sin or known as
sin past, present, or future has all been taken care of.
So ultimately, nothing can separate us from the love of God in regards to our salvation and our
position. We are seated with God. This is like totally important in our – there’s no religion like it
in the world. There’s nothing. Nobody could invent it. C. S. Lewis said one reason he became a
believer is because he said no man could ever invent this. It’s beyond us. It’s grace. It’s God
deciding and loving us and giving us his Son. It is so sure. It is so amazing. Nothing can separate.
It is sure. If you are saved, you are saved. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit and it’s a sure
thing. Okay. Would you turn to your neighbor and just tell them that for a minute?
Okay. Now, turn to Romans 6 with me. Rom. 6, now comes this reality of how you live your life
and the great advice that comes from God. The teaching. The great guidance. The ministry of
the Spirit to you. The ministry of the Holy Spirit to us in this lifetime. And this is what we need
cause we are prone to these three things. We are prone to my opinion. Let’s give an example.
My opinion is that I’m not saved. Like are you sure? How do you know that? I feel that? Okay.
How long have you felt that? All the time I feel that. Okay. On what basis are you – I don’t
know. Just me. It’s how I feel. It’s what I think. Okay.
There’s something God wants you to know. There’s always people like that and they are
believers. God knows if they are or not. If I am a believer, he wants me to know that these
things are written that I might know that I have eternal life. But more than that, he wants me to
live with a different mind. He wants me to leave my subjective life, my self-life, and he wants
me to go to the cross. I leave it there. He wants me to go to the cross with my self.
This could be described. It’s really simple. Here’s my life and I am at the center. This is my self-
life. I go to the cross and I have, I bring my self-life to the cross. I say it’s all about you, God. I’m
changing my mind. I’m asking you to change my mind. I’m asking you to teach me. I want to
know what does it mean for me to live this life because if I live a spiritual life, then no matter
where my life goes, I have a resource and that’s the Holy Spirit. That’s the mind of God. That’s
the life of Christ that comes out of you.
Now, what kind of difficulties did the Apostle Paul face? He was in a lot of trouble as a Pharisee
who became a Christian. He was persecuted. He was eventually in prison and jail and he had
discouragements with churches and who knows what other physical problems and beatings and
alienation and rejection. But when he finishes his life, he says for me to live is Christ and to die
is gain. But I don’t have to die cause I have it now. I have Christ now. What does that mean to
gain Christ in this life?
It means that I must be aware that my self-life usurps itself in the plan of God with my opinion,
with my reasonings and my subjectivity. Now, because of time and this is a heavy subject. I just
want to share it with you and I hope it helps you and gives you something to think about
tonight when you go home. And that is that one of the characteristics of your new life is your
freedom, your joy, your authority, your spiritual life. When the house falls down, that’s okay
because you’re not falling down. I’m saying the Scripture is saying this but why?
Because long before the house fell down, I was learning about the cross and processing it in my
heart and my mind. I was learning love. I was learning to forgive. I was learning not to hold
grudges. I was learning about faith. I had my mouth. I brought it to the cross. My mouth. I didn’t
speak like I used to speak. I brought my mouth to the cross. What did God do? He gave me a
new mouth. I brought my eyes to the cross. What did he do? He gave me new eyes. You know,
but it’s not fair. It’s not fair.
Wait a minute. You’re so filled with yourself. It’s not fair. Talk to Jesus how that cross is not fair.
That’s not fair. Get used to it. It’s not fair. But you go there with your self-life and you say Lord
it hurts and it’s not fair. God says, give it to me. Trust me. He says in a way, leave it here with
me. You’re in jail. You shouldn’t be in jail but give it to me. Go ahead. Give it to me. So, you give
it to him. Holy hands without wrath and doubting and you are Spirit-filled.
Now, you are in prison. This happened to one of our people in Nepal. It was a whole setup that
he would go to prison because he was an active Christian. There was a box on the back of a
motorcycle in Nepal. Inside the box was an endangered species. I don’t know, bird or lizard or
something. Down the road, was a policeman. So, Beam was on the road, the motorcyclist, and
this conspiracy plan to put him in prison had him on the back and picked him up to give him a
ride and hold the box. The police pull him over. He’s got the box. He goes to jail. Five years. He
had five kids at home. He goes to jail.
You know what happened? In the jail, there were three or four Christians that started to clap.
They were clapping. They go, why? We were praying that God would send a pastor to the
prison. I understand like 70 prisoners became Christians and a church was born in the prison.
Well, Beam, that was his name, Beam and he’s pastoring in Nepal today. Well, that’s not fair.
That shouldn’t have happened. Yeah. You got that right, but how did you handle it? My self-life, if you interviewed me, I would give you my opinion about it, the reasoning and my feelings
Subjectivity. I have a definition. One dictionary definition is it is relating to the thinking subject
having it’s source in the mind. Pertaining to or peculiar to an individual subject or mental
operations depending on one’s individuality and idiosyncrasy. In other words, it refers to the
way we hear and perceive others tending to lay stress on one’s own feelings or opinions. Given
to brooding over one’s mental state. Excessively introspective or reflective. I think you get the
gist because we’ve taught that before as well.
The cross. I’m saying this cuz I don’t know why it happened to me but I was so happy I found
this church and a pastor who taught about the cross. That changed my life. I didn’t even know it
changed my life. I just learned not to complain but go to the cross and find God. I learned not
to excuse my flesh. I don’t have any rights. Go to the cross. Jesus didn’t have any rights except
his obedience to the Father. That was what he did and look at where he ended up, in heaven at
the right hand of the Father cuz he obeyed the Father.
Is that a good picture for us? Yes, because we are – especially us, the free people. Americans
who grow up many times in a mindset of entitlement, that you owe this to me. You owe this to
me. Let me just say if we strengthen our self-life, it will mess up our life. But if you can learn to
bring it to the cross – if you fall in love with somebody you shouldn’t fall in love with, that’s
your self-life. You get entangled in something because of money that’s wrong, that’s your self-
You get part of a group of people that you shouldn’t be with, that’s your self-life. You get upset
and angry and ripped off regarding your father or your mother, that’s your self-life. What’s the
Bible say? Honor your father and mother as much as you possibly can. You honor them and God
will give you the mind to forgive for offenses, to love your brother, to love your sister. The cross
So, in our fellowship, we have the cross not only in regards to my salvation but the cross in
regards to everyday living. And so, my self usurps the cross and I get very emotional about it.
Very upset about it. You’re not dead. You’re alive. It says reckon yourself to be crucified with
Christ. Die. Have your self-life – turn from this strong opinionated self that’s easily offended and
very upset to be with Jesus at the cross and watch the Holy Spirit fill you and the Holy Spirit and
just look at life a different way and just be thankful with it.
And then, the cross also means you can’t build a church in your flesh. If you do, you can in one
sense but it will be outward. Let me say that last part. This is a very good point. When your
ministry, our ministry is rooted in our self-life, then it is outward. Do you know what that
means? It means how many baptisms, how many churches, how many prayers, what do you look like, what do you talk like, what’s your impression, how do you get – what’s your system,
your program? It’s your self-life. You’re doing a program. It’s your self-life.
You protect yourself with your self-life. You have hypocrisy with your self-life. All of us are
hypocrites with our self-life. We have a self-life. We have a whole way of presenting – like oh
this ministry is great. It’s not necessarily so great. It depends. What’s it depend on? Is Jesus
there. The Laodicean church said we’re not naked and Jesus said yes you are. We are not blind.
Yes, you are. Outwardly, you’re reinforced we could say maybe money, profile, reputation,
power with people, influence and so on, but Jesus comes and look where he ends up. At the
cross. There’s nothing outward that’s appealing there. There’s nothing outward there about
Jesus at the cross. It’s shameful. It’s loss. It’s failure. But he’s in the will of God. He’s in the will
of God. It’s not failure. He’s in the will of God.
And so what happens is the ministry and people in it end up having inward life with joy and love
and peace just as a way of life. But I thought you had to go – the medical people put you in a
wheelchair? Yeah, I’m in a wheelchair. That’s part of my life. That’s the road I’m on right now.
That’s the chapter of my life. God put me in a wheelchair. I thought that wouldn’t happen.
Yeah, it did. It did. Well, are you disappointed? Well, I don’t like it but this is what I got. And I
got the cross. And through the cross I surrendered and the Spirit is filling me and I have his joy
and his peace and that’s my ministry. That’s my life. I mean that’s my ministry. That’s my life.
What Joni Eareckson Tada did when she broke her neck in the Chesapeake years ago. What a
testimony that is.
Nobody wants any of these bad things but I’m just giving a word to all of us. Do you know
what? You have a great potential to mess up your life. Could I repeat that? Do you know that
you have a great potential to mess up your life and not only that when everything is good, you
are actually maybe living an outward life. An outward Christian life and it’s not satisfying to you.
You go through the motion. And I’m saying and you’re catching it I know.
I think the Holy Spirit is saying it to us that when we have the cross as an orientation no matter
what we go through and this room is filled with a lot of people that know this message in life
and they’ve survived. Not only have they survived, but they have abounded. They might not
even know it. God keeps it from them. They might not see how great they are, but they are
great and they will shine like the stars. And they give life. When you sit with them, there’s
sweetness. There’s quietness. There’s life. They know Jesus. They’re excited about Jesus. Jesus
is in their heart. Jesus is alive to them. They found Jesus. Jesus satisfies them. Jesus is in their
car. Jesus is in their life, in their bedroom. Jesus is in their business dealings. Jesus is in their
relationships. They have found Jesus. Jesus has revealed himself to them.
And by the way, the cross, you can’t package this. It’s not a mechanical exercise. It’s not
something you can figure out in like seven steps to living a – this is something of love and this is
something that we learn about and just don’t gorge yourself on your self-life. Drop it. Leave it.
Be a worshipper. Meditate on these words. Obey him. Obey him. When the Lord leads you to
go to somebody and say to them, please forgive me, then do it. Obey him. Do it. It's the cross.
Please forgive me. I messed up. I am sorry.
Please forgive me. God blesses you and them. And when your house is falling apart then go to the cross and learn through the cross the life. You need life. When we’re living in the cellar, we need life to get up to the first floor. We need
life. When we’re down, we need life. We need God to resurrect me. We need Christ to visit me.
We need Jesus to come into my life and help me and satisfy me and fill me. That will keep me
out of the alcohol place. That will keep me out of adultery. That will keep me out of fear. That
will keep me out of emptiness and hypocrisy, empty suits, empty people who have nothing to
do or nothing to say except complain and whine and cry about how unfair life is.
Well, long before you find out that life is not fair, decide way back here it’s unfair. Decide way
back here, it’s tragic. Life is tragic. It just takes time before it hits you but it will hit you. Life is
tragic. And what I need for the tragedy is the cross.
There is it. Tragedy hanging on the wall over there. That’s what I need in my life now. The cross.
If I can learn that and take up the cross and live before God, trusting him, then he will fill us and
he will give us a ministry in our lives. And of course, again, we’re not happy about anybody’s
demise. But we’re just facing the world we live in. Finish your course with life, joy, and peace.
Finish your life with – I’m not saying I can do it. I can’t. It goes back to this one here. Which
one? This one. I cannot do this. This one. I know how bad I am but I know how great God is. And
when you finish, you just say God did it. God did it.
One guy said that to me one time. How do you do it? How do you do it? How do you do it? I
said, what do you mean? How come you take the garbage cans out to the street and you’re
happy. Do you take Prozac or how do you do that? How do you do that? I go, I don’t know.
We’ve got to have a talk. We’ve got to have a talk. So, he came and we had a talk and shared
Christ with him and later, Jim Hadley led him to the Lord. That was cool. Okay. Amen. Would
you just talk it up for a minute with your neighbor and say, what do you understand about the
cross? I don’t know. I could preach a long time on it. I don’t know. That’s a good subject. Please
think about it. Embrace it. Learn it. And enjoy it. Amen.
Wow. Beautiful. As he was singing, I was thinking about that point about my opinion, my
opinion and my reasoning. So, Jesus is walking on water. The disciples are in the boat. What
happened to Peter in his heart? What happened to Peter? What happened to him? He got an
idea. I could walk on water, too. Where did that come from? Jesus is walking on water. He’s in
the boat. And Peter says, what? Call me.
Now, my subjective self would say, no. I got to hold on. What are you doing? What are you
doing? This is not good. I’m afraid or my opinion is that will never happen and so on. I just say
this to say if you limit your life to yourself, your life will be much smaller. You will not have the
same satisfaction, the same kind of sense of God in your life. Some people are hungry for God.
Second thought I had here. I remember coming to the church and looking for connection. I
wanted to talk. I wanted to listen. I wanted love. I wanted connection. And there were people
that God brought into my life in the church and those people were people that were not just
hanging out talking. And that’s fine. That’s part of life and part of church life, too.
But there are people here amongst us who can help you, encourage you. They can, they love
you. They are people that make a difference. They are ministers of the New Testament. They
are gifts to the Body. We are all Body members but some live with the cross in their life. I would
never even dream of making the differentiation. I just know in church life there are believers
who just want the social life and then there are believers who want the deeper life and they will
pay a price for it. That’s my self-life. I will surrender to God at the cross.
And if our missionaries, if they go abroad and it’s all about themselves, what will happen?
They’ll have a very good time and a very bad time. They will leave because the outward life is –
or they are gone. That’s another story, but I’m just trying to say I don’t need a new wife. I need
a cross. I don’t need a new house. I need a cross. I don’t need another church. I need the cross.
I don’t need a perfect pastor. I just need the cross. I don’t need to run away from anything.
I just need the cross and for God to lead me and become an answer. I don’t need other kids. God
gave me my kids and the kids I got I need to take them and go before God and get God’s mind
so I can help them grow in the faith and be who they’re supposed to be. Isn’t that amazing?
We’re talking about something amazing. The world does not have it. They don’t have anything
like this. They don’t have it. They don’t understand it. They don’t have a message. They don’t
know how to live. They can be – okay. That’s another one. I got to finish. I’m just saying, man, I
am so thankful. I just understand it a little bit and we’ve been tested in it, tried in it in a certain
way but I just love to pass that on.
I’m telling you, when you come into a church where you want connections, spiritual
connection, then just sit and listen in a rap or sit and listen in a fellowship and go your way and
listen online and hear messages and look at the Word and live in faith and see what God will do
for you. It may be a slow burn. It may be a while before you realize it but your life changes. You
have a lot of peace and a lot of joy and a lot of quietness in the presence of God and he’s with
you. Okay. Amen.
Please enjoy these sermon notes from the messages preached at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. These notes are provided to aid in your study and understanding of the Word. Note that these notes do not represent complete, word-for-word transcriptions. Also, they may contain omissions as well as some errors in spelling and structure, etc., as we attempt to provide them as soon as possible. Our hope is that these notes serve as a way to help you search and connect with messages on related subjects and passages. Thank you for your interest in the ministry of Greater Grace.