The Cross of Calvary # 5
The Cross and Human Wisdom
"The word of the Cross ... is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise. (1 Corinthians 1:18-19).
Paul, who had himself once been a Pharisee rejecting with bitter antagonism the story of a crucified Messiah, with heaven-lit vision sees deeply into the purpose of the Cross. He beholds it as the master-stroke of Jehovah against one cause of the Fall in Eden.
"The woman saw that the tree ... was to be desired to make one wise."
The desire of knowledge beyond the limit set by the Lord was one of the causes for the Fall, the effect thereof continuing unto this day, for pride of intellect is still a barrier between men and the knowledge of their Creator.
Salvation through the Cross, was a master-stroke of the All-wise Creator against the pride of knowledge in His fallen creatures, for the "word of the Cross" is the power of God to "destroy", or being to naught" the wisdom of the wise." The Cross as the power of God is so wholly beyond the comprehension of the natural man, that he must submit his intellect to his Creator, and accept the message on the word of Jehovah alone.
The "foolishness of God" is "wiser than men", saith the Scripture, and in the day when all men shall know themselves as they are known by their Creator, all that appeared as "foolishness" to carnal reasoning, will be proved to be the highest wisdom of God.
The "word of the Cross" is the energy of God and through it the All-wise Lord is already making "foolish" the "wisdom of the world"; for while the world, "through its wisdom", is failing utterly to know Him, it is "God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the thing preached" to "save them that believe." Through the "thing preached" which is accounted foolishness. God is working the miracle of salvation from the guilt and power of sin, and re-creating a new race after the likeness of Him Who is the First-born of many brethren - the First-born from the dead.
The "weakness of God" manifested in Him Who was "crucified through weakness", is "stronger than men." The weak and suffering Saviour upon His Cross of shame is mighty to save all who believe in Him.
The Cross and True Wisdom
"Howbeit we speak wisdom ... yet a wisdom not of this world ... we speak God's wisdom in a mystery" (1 Corinthians 2:6-8).
The word of the Cross, unto those who are "being saved", is the power of God to bring to nought the pride of knowledge, so that they may be taught God's wisdom. "Things which eyes saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of man."
A wisdom which is a mystery to the natural man, but which is revealed by the Spirit of God unto all those who love God; a wisdom, writes the Apostle, which will be "unto our glory" when the wisdom of this world shall have passed away.
"God's wisdom in a mystery," is the "mystery of God, even Christ, in Whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden". A Messiah crucified, unto the called themselves, both Jews and Greeks, the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
The Two-fold Message of the Cross
"Having made peace through the blood of His Cross ... you ... hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death." (Colossians 1:20-22).
The prophecy of Isaiah tells us that the sufferings and death of the Man of Sorrows were not for Himself, but for those who had gone astray; "an offering for sin" by the express will of the Father, Who was pleased to "bruise Him" and "put Him to grief".
Paul the Apostle takes up the same theme, and writes to the Romans, that God Himself purposed the sacrifice of Christ Jesus to be "a propitiation through faith in His blood", for only thus could He "pass over sin", and show His righteousness to a guilty world.
Jehovah spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all! Yea, it is written that God Himself "was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself", for Father and Son are One.
Heralds sent forth and equipped by God the Holy Spirit, must proclaim the tidings of peace. Commissioned by the Risen Son of God as His ambassadors, they are to plead on "behalf of Christ" with perishing souls, and "as though God were entreating" by them they are to say, "Be ye reconciled to God".
To the Colossians, Paul writes, "Having made peace through the blood of His Cross" you - who were separated from God, and enemies to God, because of your evil doings - "you...now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death."
Having made peace through the blood of His Cross" refers to the propitiatory aspect of the sacrifice of Christ when He trod the winepress alone, and of the people there were none with Him. While the reconciliation of the sinner to God "in the body of His flesh through death",shows us the Saviour and the saved as one. In this latter aspect we see the second Adam as the Representative Man, and how in His death all who are united to Him by faith, suffered the penalty of their sins, and are reconciled to God through Him.
"In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and unreprovable before Him," continued the Apostle.
The Cross is the gateway through which the reconciled soul passes into the new sphere, where it is presented in Christ to the Father "holy", and without blemish, and unreprovable before Him. Those who are thus reconciled die with Christ to their old sins. Their "evil works," which made them alienated, and enemies to God in their mind, are now left behind. They are not "reconciled", to continue in the life they lived before.
The message of "peace through the blood of His Cross", and reconciliation to God in the body of Christ through death, therefore includes deliverance from the power, as well as the guilt of sin.
In still plainer language we have the deliverance from the bondage of sin, together with the remission of past sins, proclaimed by the Apostle Peter. Writing in his first epistle of the sufferings of Christ, he says, "His own self bare out sins in His body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness". The alternative reading given in the margin of the R. V. is still more striking, for it says that Christ "carried up our sins in His body to the tree" - surely not that we might continue under their control, and do them again and again!
The union of the believer with his Saviour in death is thus clearly expressed by the Apostle. Having made peace by the atoning sacrifice of His Cross, the Lord Jesus carried our sins to the tree, so that in Him we have died to them and their power; and now sharing His life from God, we may "live unto righteousness" by the might of the Holy and Righteous One Who dwells within our hearts.
"By whose stripes ye were healed" adds the Apostle quoting the prophecy of Isaiah, and linking the deliverance from the guilt and bondage of sin, to that most sacred foreshadowing of the Cross.
It was the Lamb of God Who had the actual bruising and suffering on our behalf, so that the healing power of His life might be imparted to us, who believe that He has carried our sins to the tree, and in Him have died unto those sins, henceforth to live unto God.
This is the message of Calvary as revealed unto Paul by the Risen Lord, and by the words of Peter confirmed as the Gospel preached by all the apostles in the days of Pentecost, and incalculable loss has come to the Church of God by the severance of these two aspects of the Word of the Cross, in the proclamation of the Gospel of Calvary.
Moreover, deliverance from the power of sin was manifestly not taught by Paul as an advanced experience, for when he wrote to the converts in Rome he seemed to speak of the death with Christ as an elementary stage of experience, ignorance of which surprised him, for their fellowship with Christ's death was the only basis upon which they could realize the newness of life in Him.
(continued with # 6)