The Cross the Way to God
“Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)ERV
The Cross speaks of Sin: it was only as admitting to the full, and bearing the evil of sin, as hatred against God, that man could come to God. The Cross speaks of Curse: God’s judgment against sin; as long as man did not accept and approve that judgment as righteous, there could be no thought of his being restored to God’s presence. The Cross speaks of Suffering: it is only as, in suffering, the will of God is accepted, and everything given up to it, that there could be union with God. The Cross speaks of Death: it is only as man is ready to part utterly and entirely with his whole present life, to die to it, that he can enter into, or fully receive unto himself, the life and glory of God. All this Christ did. His whole life was animated by the crucifixion spirit.
His bearing the cross, and entering into God’s Holy Presence, was the opening up of a way in which we too could draw near. His death, the bearing of God’s judgment on sin, was the putting away of sin; He made an end of sin. In bearing the condemnation and the curse and death He bore away the sin; He abolished, broke the power of “him that had the power of death,” (Hebrews 2:14) and set us his prisoners free. The cross, and the blood, and the death of Christ are God’s assurance to the sinner that there is an immediate acquittal to each one who will accept of and entrust himself to this Savior, and an everlasting admission to God’s favor and friendship. All the claims that God’s law had against us; all the power sin and Satan had over us, all are at an end. The death of Jesus was the death of sin and death. The path of the cross is the path Christ has opened for us; in it we have full liberty and power to draw near to God.
The cross is the only way for human nature to come to God. It is the path in which Christ Himself walked; the path which He opened for us; the path in which we too walk; the path in which alone we can lead others.
The Way of the Cross
It was the way in which Jesus as man personally walked His whole life through, that as our Forerunner, He might enter in and appear before God for us. “Having been made perfect [through suffering], he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation.” (Hebrews 5:9)ERV For Jesus Himself the cross was the path to God.
If there were no path for Christ to God but through death, the entire giving up of life, how much more must this be the only path in which the sinner can come to be filled with the life of God. And now that Christ’s death is a finished fact, the death and the life we receive in Him is the power of such absolute surrender working in us, with the blessed indwelling to which it leads. It is this faith which enables a man to say joyfully, “I am crucified with Christ. I glory in the cross, by which I am crucified to the world.” The crucifixion spirit, with its protest against, and separation from the world, its sacrifice of all self-pleasing, and its absolute surrender to God even to the death, marks the whole life and walk. The cross daily borne and gloried in becomes indeed the path to God.
The Way to Bless
In this path we can win and bless others. It was as the Crucified, giving His life for men, that Christ won the power to bless them. It was his full acceptance of the sufferings of Christ on the way to glory, of which Peter speaks in his first epistle, which filled him with boldness to testify for his Lord. It was the intensity of Paul’s desire for perfect conformity to his Lord’s sufferings that gave him his power as an apostle. In the same measure in which the church gives itself to God as a sacrifice for men, will the power of God’s Spirit work through her. It is Christ crucified who saves men; it is Christ crucified, living and breathing in us, who can and will use us for His saving work. And His living and working in us means nothing less than that we, like Him, are ready to give our lives for others. That means to forget ourselves, to sacrifice ourselves, to suffer anything that the lost may be won.
Life Out of Death
At first, when a soul enters into the truth of being crucified with Christ, and bearing about His dying in the body, the chief thought is that of personal sanctification. Death to sin, death to the world, and death to self are regarded as the path of life and blessing to the soul. But these desires cannot lead it in truth to trust in Christ as Him in whom alone the death and the life out of death is known and found, without the contact with Him opening up the secret that all His obedience to the Father, and victory over sin, was not for any personal glorification but for the saving of others around Him. And the believer learns that the path of the cross cannot be trod truly by any who are not willing to work and give their life for others. And that, on the other hand, the only true power to bless others comes when the cross, as death to the world and self, becomes the law of our daily life.
The cross was Christ’s way to God—for Himself and for us. The cross is our way to God—for ourselves and for others: for ourselves that it may be so for others too.
The church is continually speaking of the secret of the power in its ministry of salvation. How little it is understood that its only power over the world, is to be crucified to the world. It is Christ crucified, a stumbling-block and foolishness to men, gloried in by those who can say “I am crucified with Christ”; it is the preaching of the cross thus known and gloried in that is the power of God.