The General’s Easter Message
A Christ-centered Calvary-conscious Army
by General Shaw Clifton –
LESS than a month has passed since the Lord placed upon me the privileged task of leading his great Army throughout the world. Because of his perfect timing, this Easter message is my first opportunity to reach out in print to every Salvationist in 111 countries. What better theme could there be than the dying and rising of Jesus? There is no greater theme! It is our constant theme!
Time is short and the need is urgent. People are dying in their sins. They are forfeiting their chance of Heaven. Who will tell them of Calvary? Who will speak to them in loving tones about a Savior who offers himself in atoning love for their sins?
Every Salvationist is called to that sacred mission. God raised up the Army. We did not invent ourselves. We are the product of his divine mind. Someone once said that the Army started as an “idea” in the mind of God. His intention was that we would help to build his holy Kingdom of love and forgiveness here on earth. That intention has not changed. As we mark his death on Good Friday, and as on Easter Day we rejoice because of his resurrection from the dead, let us seek from Heaven a renewed understanding of what it means to be a Christ-centered, Calvary-conscious Army.
All we do is for Jesus. All we say is for Jesus. All we plan is for Jesus. All our buildings, our money, our vehicles, our literature, our uniforms, our musical instruments, our computers—they all belong to Jesus. Everything he has given us, he wants us to use in being a Christ-centered, Calvary-conscious Army. All our hopes, centered in Jesus. All our ambitions, surrendered to Jesus. All our reading, entertainment, leisure, thinking, relationships—all under the control of Jesus.
Then as we honor him, his Cross comes more and more into focus. Its deeper, richer, matchless meaning takes hold of us and will not let us go. We find ourselves clinging to that Cross, for hope of salvation lies nowhere else. Our lives become yielded lives, crucified with him.
Salvationists are a people whose living is dominated by Calvary. We are Calvary-conscious. We feel attracted to the Cross. We cannot resist. Jesus is there, wounded, dying, impaled for us, taking our place. All we can do is fall to our knees. We look up, from under his feet (Ephesians 1:22) to see his thorn-crowned head. O sacred head! Wounded for me! Forgive me, Lord, forgive!
Salvationists are a forgiven people. We owe it all to Jesus. We are nothing, entirely nothing of ourselves. We dare not vaunt ourselves. Was there boasting at Calvary? From that sacred hill flows forgiveness. Still there flows the same undying love. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, New International Version). The life of the Army derives from Calvary. It is all because of Jesus.
A Christ-centered, Calvary-conscious Army? It is what he raised us up to be. His life sustains us in being. Our life-blood is his resurrection power. Calvary first, and then the grave that could not hold him. Death defeated! Victory assured, for you, for me!
You are in my prayers this Easter. I am thinking of you all with strong love as your General and brother in Christ as you gather around the Cross, and then marvel afresh at the empty tomb. The Risen Savior is among us! May you know his peace within and his power for compassionate, fruitful service. Hallelujah!