Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Southern Cross

When I see a Confederate flag I sometimes think of the Lord Jesus Christ and his twelve disciples, the very founders of our Christian faith. If you will, please take a moment to look at the flag on the  top of this page . You will notice there are thirteen stars in all, but one star is in the very middle of the flag. In Revelation 22:16, Jesus says that he is "the bright and morning star." The center star on the Southern flag should remind us of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the other twelve stars, pointing out in four different directions, should remind us of the fact that Jesus sent his twelve disciples into all the world with the Gospel (Mat. 28:18-20).

Actually, the "X" shaped cross on the Southern flag dates as far back as sixteenth century Scotland, maybe even further. Andrew, the brother of Peter, was one of Jesus’ very first disciples (Mat. 4). It is traditionally believed that, in the first century, Andrew did missionary work in Greece and Asia Minor. Fox’s Book of Martyrs indicates that he was actually martyred in Edessa, Greece, on an "X" shaped cross with two ends in the ground. Some legends hold that his remains were later moved to Scotland. Whether they were or not, we can’t be certain, but it is a well established fact that, as a commemoration of Andrew’s devoted life and his martyrdom, the people of Scotland did use this "X" design on their flag. It became known as St. Andrew’s Cross.

In the 1800's, many people from Scotland migrated to America’s southland. With them came St. Andrew’s Cross, which soon evolved into the Southern Cross. The colors changed, and stars were added, but the cross is still there for all to see.
Now, perhaps this would all be meaningless symbolism, except for the fact that so much preaching was done in the South between 1700 and 1850 that great revivals broke out and hundreds of thousands of sinners (white and black) found Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Such spiritual transformations occurred throughout the South under preachers like George Whitfield and John Wesley that the South became known as "the Bible belt." This is a wonderful part of Southern heritage, and the Southern flag bears witness to it. 

When I see a Confederate flag I am reminded of the origin of that "X" design, and I am reminded of the fact that many of our confederate soldiers were Christian men. Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, chief leaders of the Confederate military, were both Christian men, and they heavily influenced others under their command for the cause of Christ.
Before Jackson died in 1863, he said, "Let us pass over the river and rest under the shade of the trees." I too am a Christian, and I’ll pass over that river one day and rest with General Jackson. When I do, I’ll not be ashamed in his presence because I didn’t desecrate the flag for which he died. I didn’t associate it with hate, bigotry and racism. I wasn’t among the unlearned masses who allowed their minds to be poisoned by the venom of the liberal establishment. By God’s good grace, I learned the truth about the Confederate flag, and I did what I could to teach others.

I am so thankful that I have all eternity to spend with some of the greatest men who have ever lived. It is true that many of our brave men never received the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Even though they were great men in this present world, they never prepared for the next world. Such men are in Hell right now, according to God’s word, and I find it truly sad that I’ll never have the honor of meeting them.
However, there are some great men in Heaven whom I will meet. In addition to meeting my Lord in person and thanking Him for saving me, I’ll also meet the man who fearlessly led the Israelites through the Red Sea. I’ll meet the man who slew a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. As a blood-bought child of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, I’ll one day meet the man who, as a young shepherd boy, had the courage to charge on a heathen giant and lay him flat with one smooth stone. I believe I’ll even meet George Washington, a man who had about as much courage in battle as anyone who ever lived. General Lee will be there, right along with his partner in battle, Stonewall Jackson. These men will be in Heaven, not because I like them, and not because they were great men, but rather because they all had one thing in common: they all enlisted under the greatest Captain of all (Heb. 2:10). They all knew the Lord Jesus Christ as their own personal Saviour. They all under-stood that they were sinners standing in great need of a Saviour. In spite of the fact that they stood tall in the eyes of their fellow men, they all understood that they stood as sinners in the eyes of God, so they took the only cure for sin that God has provided: faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus left his glorious home in Heaven to come to this earth and die for your sins. He shed his blood and died to save you from a burning Hell. Will you show your appreciation by placing your trust in him, or will you dishonor him by ignoring the great sacrifice that he made for you? Just as you believe in remembering those who’ve fought for freedom and died, should you not also show your appreciation to God’s Son for the price he paid for you?

"Why," you may ask, "did Jesus have to die for me?" He died for you because you are a sinner: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23) You were born with a sin nature, just as all men are, so Jesus Christ came to REDEEM you from your fallen sinful condition. Satan is a thief who has led mankind into sin, death, and Hell, but Jesus Christ, the Captain of our Salvation, came to lead men back to Heaven.
Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Jesus said, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) Jesus bled and died so that YOU could have ETERNAL LIFE. He was a good soldier and a good Captain indeed!
But he was far more than that. Please notice these inspired words from Romans 5:6-10: "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." Read it again, please. Friend, Jesus Christ was much more than a good soldier. A good soldier will die for other good men, but Jesus Christ died for his EMEMIES! You, as a sinner in this world, are an enemy of God (James 4:4; Col. 1:21), but Jesus still came and died for you! Jesus is a GREAT soldier! He’s the greatest soldier to ever live.
In fact, God the Father in heaven was so pleased with Jesus Christ that he RAISED him from the dead after three days in the tomb! The word of God says that " . . . Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." (I Cor. 15:3-4)

Great men like Stonewall Jackson, James Ewell Brown (JEB) Stuart and  Albert Sidney Johnston died for their country, but they never walked out on death. Jesus Christ came up from the grave--a victor over death--to offer eternal life to all who believe on him. Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, said, "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." (Rev. 1:18)

Do YOU want to walk out on death one day? Perhaps you admire Generals Lee and Jackson, but do you know their Lord and Saviour? 

I often see Confederate flags, bumper stickers and license plates being displayed by Northerners and Southerners who know the Southern cause is right, and I sincerely appreciate their stand. However, most of these well-meaning people are totally unaware of the fact that if the thousands of Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War could speak to them today, they would have one chief message: DON’T LIVE WITHOUT JESUS CHRIST, AND DON’T DIE WITHOUT HIM. Those who didn’t know Jesus are regretting it right now, and those who did know Him are truly blessed.

  Over  6,000 American soldiers died on September 17, 1862, at the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam). Some went to Heaven, because some had received the Lord Jesus, but most probably slipped into Hell forever.
They say the North won the Civil War. I don’t believe that. Satan won the Civil War by convincing thousands of grown men, on both sides, to die for their country without preparing to meet their Maker.

Jesus is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE (John 14:6). Why not confess that you are a lost sinner and that you need a living Saviour today? Why not show your appreciation to the greatest soldier to ever live by joining his army today? Why not turn your back on the devil and fight the good fight for Jesus Christ?

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." You cannot save yourself. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can wash your sins away: "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." (Rom. 3:24-25) If you could earn your salvation, then Jesus came and died for NOTHING. If God wanted you to "do good" and earn your salvation, then he would have never sent his Son to pay for your sins.

Friend, just as a military victory can establish national freedom for millions of people, Christ’s victory over sin and death can establish SPIRITUAL freedom for you. Because of Jesus, your sins can be washed away and forgiven FOREVER! ". . . Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." (Rev. 1:5)

Why not make Jesus Christ YOUR Captain right now? Romans 10:9-10 says, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Why not bow your head right now and ask the Lord Jesus Christ to come into your heart and wash your sins away? Make Jesus YOUR captain today and become a soldier in the greatest army ever assembled! "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Rom. 10:13)

If you have received Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, God’s will is for you to be scripturally baptized and to become an active member in a Bible believing church. Feel free to contact Living His-Story Ministries for more information.

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