Pinecrest Bible Training Center

John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone.

Beginning in 2008 the vision and bible school that God so graciously gave Wade Taylor beginning in 1968 came to an abrupt end, falling into the ground and dying.-

We now wait for God to raise up and bring forth His seed of promise in another, that the vision fail not.

Summer 1991

Embracing the Cross as we Look for His Appearing
Peter Newman

"Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds" Titus 2:13-14.

World events have caused many Christians to review Bible prophecies concerning the end times and the return of our Lord Jesus. One such prophecy was given by Jesus Himself: "And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then shall the end come" Matt 24:14. Never before in history has the Gospel experienced the open door hat it has today. As a result, the Body of Christ is devoting more of its efforts to complete the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20).

I praise the Lord for the multiplication of the Gospel, and pray for a harvest of souls among the nations. However, if we truly desire to fulfill the Great Commission and prepare the way for our Lord's return, we must proclaim His Gospel according to the Scriptures. Otherwise, our harvest will not produce lasting fruit, and much of our labor will have been in vain.

What is the Gospel? It is simply, but powerfully, "The Word of the Cross." "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the Cross of Christ should not be made void. For the Word of the Cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" 1 Cor 1:17,18.

In the cross of Christ is reconciliation. "For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself having made peace through the blood of His cross" Col1:19-20a. This message of reconciliation is being widely preached during our generation. "Namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" II Cor 5:19-20. However, if we re-read Matthew 28:19-20,we see that our Lord's charge to us is not only to baptize new believers, but to make disciples who will follow all His commands. It is this part of the Gospel of the Kingdom that we have neglected.

Instead of serious discipleship, the message which is popular among many Christians today is "How to get saved and achieve success." This reduces the Gospel to no more than a self-improvement seminar, or a winning souls sweepstake. This is not the Gospel of Jesus. "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" Luke 9:23. Receiving the Gospel is not just a one-time event, after which we go on living as we were, or as though something positive was added to our lives, like sugar on top of cereal.

"And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me" Matt 10:38. The cross represents not only reconciliation, but separation; not only life but death as well. The Gospel of the Kingdom is not only "Be reconciled to God," but also "Die to self." The two go hand in hand. "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple" Luke 14:27. The cross is not just Christ crucified, but ourselves as well. Once saved, we cannot say that Jesus is our Lord and that we are His disciples unless we are daily dying to self.

The "mind of Christ" is the cross. Jesus said, "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it" Matt 7:14. When the Gospel is proclaimed without death to self, the gate is made so wide that anyone can seemingly be "saved" without true repentance and a real change within taking place. The Gospel, without a call to true discipleship, presents "the way" as being so broad that all of humanity can trample it underfoot and still claim to be Christian.

The Gospel without the cross is void of power. This is not the Gospel that Paul preached. "Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have CRUCIFIED the flesh with its passions and desires" Gal 5:24. True Christians are those who are dying to self. To be "led of the Spirit" is to go to the cross daily. "For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are PUTTING TO DEATH the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God these are the sons of God" Romans8:13-14.

What does it mean to take up your cross and die to self? "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" II Cor 7:1. God desires for us to be separated from the world, not only in outward behavior but in the inner man as well. Most Christians are concerned with forsaking outward manifestations of sin, but few realize how the Lord desires to separate our spirit from soulish attitudes and natural strengths (Heb 4:12). The goal of the Gospel is to produce within us a far deeper change than just replacing our sinner's lifestyle for a religious one; or substituting our career goals for ministry goals.

Jesus said, "For whoever wishes to save his LIFE shall lose it; and whoever loses his LIFE for My sake and the Gospel's shall save it" Mark 8:35. "He who loves his LIFE loses it; and he who hates his LIFE in this world shall keep it to life eternal" John 12:25. The Greek word for "life" here is "psuche" which means "soul-life" and from which we get "psyche" or "soul," and "psychology," the study of soulish or human attitudes and attributes. The Gospel is a sentence of death to our self-life, so that we will not trust in ourselves but in God (II Cor 1:9). If we desire to follow Christ, we must die to all confidence in our human strengths and abilities.

This is the exact opposite of what the world teaches and admires. The world puts great stock in developing the power of one's soulish personality, even calling such individuals "charismatic." Unfortunately, this type of "charisma" is not from God. The display of self-confidence which the world so admires in business, military, and government affairs is not transferable into the Kingdom of God. What the world values is not what is esteemed by God. If you re-read Isaiah 53:1-3, you will see that Jesus did not possess any charisma of this world. Rather, the power of God was revealed through Jesus forsaking His own strength (Phil 2:5-8). Jesus made Himself totally dependent upon His Father. By this, the Son of God demonstrated that God helps those who are helpless in themselves.

Tragically, many Christians today are acting as though "God helps those whohelp themselves." This is contrary to both Jesus' example and the Word of God. Most of us realized that we were helpless when Christ saved us. "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" Rom 5:6. What we forget is that we will always be helpless without Him. Having begun in the Holy Spirit, we then use our natural strengths and talents to do God's will. Even the early Church had to be warned of this danger. "You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" Gal 3:1-3.

The Galatians were deceived by the lie of humanism that enticed the Church to rely on its human abilities and religious methods. This is the same lie that is seeking to deceive the Church today. The natural man can spend a lot of energy working for God and even see some results. Unfortunately, the work is soul-powered rather than Spirit-led, and the overall result is man-centered rather than Christ-centered Christianity. Relying on our own abilities and talents to serve God is natural and glorifies man. Going to the cross and dying to self is unnatural and glorifies God. How rare it is to find the Holy Spirit replaying the Book of Acts in the Church today.

We seek to fulfill ourselves, and our ministries, instead of denying ourselves. To take up our cross means not just to resist external sin, but to die to ourselves. "Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh" II Cor 4:10-11.

It is one thing to say that we want to see Christ glorified in our lives; it is another to pay the price of daily dying to self to experience it. We need not look very far to see the results of a Pentecost without the "cost" in it. This is why so much of the Church is concerned with self-improvement techniques. Many ministries have adopted Madison Avenue marketing strategies and Hollywood stage mannerisms. These are fruits of a Gospel without the cross. Sadly, those who have been seduced by this spirit of the world have become enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil 3:18-19).

As the Body of Christ, we need to deeply repent of this sin and change the focus from our abilities, to God's sovereignty. Jesus said, "Apart from Me you can do nothing" John 15:5c. Unless this revelation becomes a reality in our lives, we can do nothing to impart His life. Even Jesus, the Son of God, could do nothing on His own (John 5:19; 8:28). As there can be no salvation without the cross, there can be no spiritual fruit, without dying to self. Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; for if it dies, it bears much fruit" John 12:24.

One of the Lord's greatest revelations to the Apostle Paul is found in II Cor12:9-10. "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I would rather boast about my weakness, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

Paul had great abilities and training. God was able to greatly use him, not because of these, but because of his weakness. "And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power" I Cor 2:3-4. May the Lord deliver us also from relying on our talents, the power of our personality, and the strength of our organizational abilities. Instead, may we esteem to die daily (I Cor 15:31) and boast only of the work of the cross in our lives. "But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" Gal 6:14.

When are we going to come to the end of ourselves and depend only on the Lord for His direction and life? Perhaps only persecution can restore the simplicity and purity of the Gospel and bring about that kind of dependency and fruitfulness in the Holy Spirit. However, the Body of Christ need not wait for persecution, suffering, and death to experience purity in the Spirit and fullness in Christ. Instead, there is a suffering in the flesh and a death here for the living. It is found in the cross. "Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God" I Peter 4:1-2. Let us go to the cross daily and die to the lusts of the world and the pride, reputation, and approval of man (I John 2:15-17).

"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" Phil 3:10. We cannot know Christ and have His power without going to the cross and sharing in His suffering. "For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps" I Peter 2:21.

The Lord is calling us to be overtaken by His Gospel. "And I do all things for the sake of the Gospel, that I may become a fellow-partaker of it I Cor9:23. If we will respond, He will wean us from our own wisdom and strength and train us to rely solely upon Him. This is God's seminary for those who would enroll in it. The graduates of His "School of the Spirit" will be weak in the flesh, but strong in His power. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God, and not of ourselves" II Cor 4:7.

The cross is the wisdom of God (I Cor 1:17; 2:5). Do we want to know Christ? Do we desire to see His power manifested in lives? We cannot possess it unless we take up our cross (Rom 8:17). The way of the cross is not an end in itself. Only Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Christ and the cross are inseparable.

In these last days, let us exhort one another to follow Jesus' example to endure the cross and its humiliation (Heb 12:2-4). Because the cross is an offense to those who boast in the flesh (Gal 5:11), we can expect to suffer misunderstanding, rejection, and persecution (II Tim 3:12; Gal 6:12). To those called of God, we are the fragrance of Christ's life but to those who are perishing, our lives will have the smell of death (II Cor 2:14-16).

"If the world hates you, you know that is has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecute Me, they will persecute you" John 15:18-20.

The Scriptures promise that these last days will become more difficult. Let us look forward with expectation to our Lord's return, and encourage each other to be people of the cross - unpolluted by the world. "Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.

And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him, purifies himself, just as He is pure"