The School of Christ International's "Class of the Week"
Class of the Week
The Cross And Life
Lesson 3 from the series, "The Conflict"
Deuteronomy 30:11-20 "For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, to give them."
Hebrews 11:14-15 "For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned."
Revelation 1:18 "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."
Philippians 3:10 "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;"
We deal with the cross in relation to life. It is very important for you and I to know what that relationship is. One thing is a fact, life in a spiritual sense is only to be had as the results of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the ground of His death by His resurrection this eternal life is given to those that believe. In the reception of that life there may be no sense of conflict. There may be no knowledge of this realm where the battle of life goes on. The reason for this is simple. In the matter of the gift of eternal life the Lord Jesus fought this battle in the cross. We receive the free gift by faith upon acceptance of what He did. He fought the fight, He won the battle. That is one aspect of the cross and the issue of life. By the object apprehension of that cross you and I receive eternal life. But there is another side. The cross of the Lord Jesus Christ subjectively brought out results in our having life more abundantly. Christ's own words in John 10:10, "...I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Life more abundant requires that what He did for us shall be made good in us. That is the key.
In His cross He dealt with our sins. On the ground of His having dealt with them, and in our believing in His atoning work for us and for our sins, we receive then as a free gift from God, eternal life. But there is something which has to be made good in us progressively. As we ourselves are dealt with in the power of this cross, the way is made for that life to express itself in an ever deepening fullness. The fact is that self, which is the way of life and its full expression, is a natural life which obstructs the course of this eternal life. It is this natural life that has to be dealt with.
What has been done for us then has to be done in us. As this is done that life becomes more and more a glorious possession. It becomes a growing enjoyment and a fullness of expression through that believer. You and I know a state of disorder exists in this creation with which God is not united. We must see that. We must know that. This disorder is not according to God's mind, it has ceased to express His thought. It is contrary to God's intention, and therefore God is not linked with it. Second, there is a positive association of Satan and death with this state. It is not a passing thing. In confusion, chaos, and disorder there are active elements. There are forces working in it. And those forces are not the forces of life, but are the forces of death. Death is working and Satan is associated with that state of things. First, a judgment must be passed upon that state of being and it must be put away out of God's sight. It must come to a place where in its entirety it is under the divine ban where no part of it can be an acceptance of God. That becomes necessary as a preliminary step to anything God will do after a new order. God has dealt with the creation in the cross of Christ.
Second, an actual and potential destroying of that power of death and Satan must take place in the life. This is where many people go wrong. This is where much of the spurious in the Gospel gets in. It is because they don't connect these words, actual and potential. God did that in actuality in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He destroyed death in him that had the power of death; that is the devil. That word destroyed is translated from a word that means "to bring to naught." Does that mean what some people take it to mean? There are times which speaking of destroyed we think of putting out of existence. The word does not mean that. Bringing to naught means in the intention of God to render it utterly inoperative. So far as Jesus is concerned Satan is inoperative. He cannot touch Jesus personally. Satan knows that. The only way Satan can touch Jesus is through the members of His body. Satan no longer has any power to touch Jesus, with death or any other weapon. Through death He has destroyed him that had the power of death. It is actually done in Christ.
We have used another word though, potential. The potential destroying of Satan was on behalf of you and I, the saints. That is something that is secured and can be entered into by faith and you can know this in a progressive way. So far as you and I are concerned, it is not an actual fact that Satan is destroyed. But this has been secured for us potentially in Christ. In Christ, we see the destruction of death and Satan. It is an accomplished fact in the saints, it is potentially so. It can happen.
Third, it is essential that there should be a living representation of divine order, which is deathless and victorious over Satan, as a pattern which believers can be conformed. That is a necessity and was realized in the Lord Jesus Christ. The pattern is there in Him. God must work to an end, to a pattern, Christ is that for Him. Conformity to Christ means conformity to the divine order represented by Christ. Christ is the sum total of divine order. So often the Lord's people fail to recognize that. First of all we must recognize that He is a person. Before all else, He is a divine person. But He is in Himself the sum total of a divine heavenly order. This is a truth of the word of God. The tabernacle, or temple, of old expressed a whole system of things. They were both types of Christ. Christ is the priest, Christ is the altar, Christ is the sacrifice, Christ is the fine linen, Christ is the gold, Christ is the perfect humanity, Christ is all, Christ is the order of God. He is the pattern of everything.
Let everything be done decently and in order, says the Apostle Paul. When we come into Christ we come into our place in the divine order. That requires you be in a right relationship one to another. It is an absolute necessity. In Christ there is an appointing, a functioning, a relativity about everything. It is a wonderful divine system of which He is. Death and Satan have their occasion when anything that relates to divine order is not obeyed, recognized, or observed. It is easy for death to get a hold on the church when there is disorder among the people of God. If the Corinthian church is an example of a weak testimony, and indeed it surely is, the reason is not hard to find. It was the business of disorder among the believers. So God must have this representation of divine order and to that believers are to be conformed.
Fourth, there is required a vital union with Him as a basic life utterly and continuously in the Holy Spirit. Oh, how we need to hear that again. We've made this blessed Holy Spirit an optional thing among us. A vital union with Him is basic. But what is just as important is to be a full expression of life. There is to be a life altogether in the Holy Ghost, a life in the Holy Spirit is the divine order to that life. It is the answer to everything. That is the first state, a life unto death, under the power of Satan. It's disorder acting energetic, yet God is not in it. It may be even active in a religious way, but God is not in it. The most difficult people to reach and to bring out of death, is religious people, because religion puts them in a false position. God sets up His new order which is utterly under the power of the Holy Spirit. That means that everything shall be submitted to the Holy Spirit.
You and I will recognize if we move, act, reason, or function in any way with our lives not completely submitted unto this blessed Holy Spirit, we are most likely to function outside of God's realm, and we are going to bring death. There may be good intentions, our motives may be right, but there are many religious things done for the Lord which are not done in and by the Holy Spirit. And the end result of all of it is death. The Lord is generous and gracious and because it is a matter of ignorance His patience is long suffering works, He seeks to lead us into better ways. But that does not mean in any sense that He accepts that which is not of the Holy Ghost. At some point it is going to break down and those who are in it will break down and recognize that a great percentage of that work has not counted. What a sad thing.
The cross then is the all inclusive answer. All of that is gathered up in the cross. The cross says that in that order, though it be a religious order that is proceeding for man in it's natural state must be set aside in its entirety. This goes strongly against the ecumenical thinking of our time. In the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, God has said, You in your natural state cannot serve Me. You cannot bear any fruit to My glory. The only thing that can get through to God's end is that which precedes from the Holy Ghost. That is the only thing. That analyzes and dissects everything. Of the things we say, for example, it continually presents the interrogation "was that spoken in the Holy Spirit?" It is it not enough to ask ourselves, "Did I mean well?" No sir. Or, did I intend it for the Lord? That is not enough. But "was it, did it come, from the Holy Ghost? Did I make that decision in the Holy Spirit, or did I make that decision according to my own judgment after weighing the pros and the cons and coming to a decision that it was the best thing to do?" On everything it is a matter of life in the Spirit. Some will say that is a very difficult way.
We are to stop before we speak, and ask ourselves, "Am I of the Holy Spirit?" I do not believe that it is necessary for us to take such a position at the beginning. But we must daily recognize that our lives must be subject to the Holy Spirit and when we are aware there has been something that comes out from ourselves, we must be faithful to God about that thing. I believe that slowly and surely we will come to the place where we live with that certain pause in our hearts, which checks our impulses. A check on merely acting on excitement, a check on our reasoning about things. Our lives must be handed over to His control absolutely. The result will be the Holy Ghost will at all times work back to the cross. The cross stands forever as God's judicial ban upon man by nature. The Holy Spirit will work back to that with you and me.
The cross is the end of the risen life and not only the beginning. That I may know him in the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering. Being made conformable unto his death. Now why did Paul put death at the end of Philippians 3:10 There is no mistake, it is the order of the Holy Ghost. The power of his resurrection presupposes that there has been death, but the very resurrection life leads to that cross. It is the property of life to rule out all that belongs to death. It is the power of resurrection to bring us back to the place where death is constantly overcome. That place is the cross of Christ where all that is natural is put aside, and removed progressively. Paul said, being conformed to his death. Which means to have the ground of death progressively removed. What is it that is the power of our survival when the cross is made more real in our experience? There would be no survival without His resurrection within us. So Paul prays, that I may know him in the power of his resurrection. That means conformity to death without utter destruction.
The Holy Spirit is always working in relation to the cross, in order that the power of His resurrection may be increasingly manifested in you and I. That is the background of the whole question of life. The basis in us for life triumphant is the working of the cross setting aside all that is natural. There is nothing more hated by the enemy than the cross. We must free our minds from all false conceptions of that cross. It is not that death destroys us, but makes the way for a greater fullness of life, His life. The cross rules out that He may come in. It is life that God is after, all the time, in every way, and life more abundantly. This alone is realized by His bringing us again and again back to the cross. The cross is basic to life because it is there that the Lord Jesus conquered death and brought life forth for His saints. The issue then is life. Without that life, calling ourselves a church, is to misrepresent God.