Joy Beyond Agony: Embracing the Cross of Christ
Mrs. Jane Roach is on the steering committee of the Alliance's partnered event, the Texas Hill Country Bible Conference. Jane has been active also in Bible Study Fellowship and the Rafiki Foundation (with our much beloved Rosemary Jensen) for years. And our friends at P&R Publishing have just released her first book, Joy Beyond Agony: Embracing the Cross of Christ.
As Jane is such a friend of the Alliance, I wanted to ask her to give us an overview of her work.
RB - Jane, you have ministered much, as a teacher, through BSF, recently through the Texas Hill Country Bible Conference, what motivates you to write a book?
JR - Bookstore shelves are filled with self-improvement and motivational books to make your life better, richer, happier, etc. Rather than another "how to..." Bible study about "me, myself, and I," Joy Beyond Agony: Embracing the Cross of Christ focuses on Jesus Christ and the facts and truths of what he did on the cross. Many sincere Christians and committed servants of Christ have no idea of the agony that Jesus bore on their behalf and that they actually deserved what he experienced in their place. They have celebrated the Resurrection but never studied the cross of Christ. However, without the Cross, there is no Resurrection for Jesus or for his disciples. Although our culture delights in gruesome visual media, the Cross is shunned as brutal and gory or trivialized by wall collections of crosses or jewelry. God's love is heralded, but without understanding the need for the Cross, we miss the enormity of God's love for us.
RB - I can not tell you the number of times I hear from folks about the lack of Christ-centered teaching on this area. There are good resources out there, but for every one there seems to be so many more that are man-centered. So you are coming of a different angle than the traditional 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps'?
JR - Instead of shunning the cross, Joy Beyond Agony looks at it head-on from several different viewpoints through the lens of Hebrews 12:2, "[Jesus] for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." We, for the joy of deeper understanding, look carefully at his Cross and its application to our lives.
RB - In what ways do you do that, I mean what are some of those viewpoints?
* The Promise of the Cross: Isaiah's suffering and triumphant servant removes our guilt by his sacrificial death.
* The Person on the Cross: Jesus of Nazareth, true God and true Man, is the only qualified mediator between our holy God and sinful people.
* The Prayers Leading to the Cross: Jesus' prayers included joyful anticipation of his glory and the glorification of his redeemed as well as agony in Gethsemane as he approached the cup of God's wrath.
* The Pain of the Cross: Because Jesus endured every kind of pain in our place, we are free to worship God and live for his glory without guilt and fear of His wrath.
* The Perfection of the Cross: Comparing Jesus' Cross with the Old Testament Day of Atonement shows the continuity of the biblical narrative and provides a helpful picture of the forgiveness of sin and the removal of guilt.
* The People at the Cross: Four groups of people observed the Cross, but those closest to the Cross experienced intimacy with Jesus and his blessing.
* The Words from the Cross: Jesus' words from the Cross reveal his mind and heart were focused on completing his mission as prophesied and caring for the people he came to save.
* The Power of the Cross: Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection displayed God's power over Satan, sin, and death.
* The Believer's Cross: Jesus' disciples follow his example by denying themselves and taking up their own crosses.
* Transformed by the Cross: Being a living sacrifice makes us more like the Lord Jesus, calling and equipping us to be his ambassadors and ministers of reconciliation while preparing us to spend eternity glorified with him.
RB - OK, not a single 'me, myself or I' in there! Beyond knowing you personally, I can almost hear your years of careful Christian consul provided to those around you coming through just those brief points! How do you turn these words into something constructive?
JR - Factual and thought-provoking application questions encourage the reader to experience the joy of discovering what God says in his Word and what it means before reading the author's explanation. It utilizes beautiful poetry by hymn writers that express the same facts and truths of the lesson.
The joy of discovering deeper meaning in a familiar narrative spurs students at any level of Bible study to commit themselves to further Bible study with joy and gratitude. Jesus promised, "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself" (John 12:32). The cross draws people to Jesus by focusing on the facts of it, the explanation of those facts, and appropriate responses to his death on the cross. Paul wrote, "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Through Bible study we progressively see that the cross is our only hope and our greatest joy. In it, we find both the provision for our sin and the pattern for our lives. We are able to look beyond the moment to our glorification, the end of our long journey home. Jesus is waiting there for us, preparing a place for us to spend eternity with Him!
To learn more and to order today visit http://www.reformedresources.org/books/joy-beyond-agony-embracing-the-cross-of-christ/
Learn more about next months Texas Hill Country Bible Conference at http://www.alliancenet.org/CC_Content_Page/0,,PTID307086_CHID810294,00-tx.html
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