The Cross of Calvary # 15
The Life side of the Cross
"One died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all that they which live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him" (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
It has been well said that there are two sides to the Cross, the earthward side, which means the negative deliverance of death; and the heavenward side, which tells of life in union with the living Lord. As the substitution of Christ for sin, and the death with Christ to sin of all who believe in Him, are indivisible, so death and life are not to be divided along the whole course of the Christian life.
"If we have become united with Him by the likeness of His death," writes Paul to the Romans, we shall be also with Him in resurrection. It is, as we have seen, the work of the Holy Spirit to make us really "partakers of a vital union" sharing "the reality of His death";as real a union "as that of a graft with the tree into which it is grafted."
What such a vital union means, can only be known by the working of the Holy Spirit, in response to a faith which rests upon the work of Christ on the Cross of Calvary.
The Holy Spirit will wield the "word of the Cross", which is "living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword", and with it pierce even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, revealing the thoughts and intents of the heart, separating the old from the new life, until the life which is from above has unhindered sway, and the redeemed one truly lives on the life side of the Cross.
But we must remember that there is no "resurrection life" apart from the Risen Lord. We are planted into "His death"; it is with Him that we were crucified, and to Him as the living One we are joined, so that in Him as our sphere we may walk in newness of life. The resurrection life is also a continuous one. Not an experience which we passed through at some crisis long ago, but a Living Christ, Himself to Resurrection, abiding in us, and putting forth His mighty energy through us, so far as we fulfill the conditions which permit Him to do so.
Moreover, life cannot be copied, and no assertion of possessing resurrection life can bring it into being. But no assertion of life is needed when it is present, for it is its own witness by its manifesting power.
Thanks be to God, the life in union with Christ is real life, a dynamic power that is indisputable, bringing the soul into such living relationship with the risen Christ, as to make it know something of the "powers of the age to come," and so to see the things of time from the standpoint of eternity, as to lift it above the attractions, and absorbing interests of things on the earth.
On the resurrection side of the Cross, the Holy Spirit illumines the Cross of Calvary, until Jesus Christ crucified becomes "placarded" before the eyes of the heart, and the soul is ever being taught fresh aspects of His death; for until deliverance from the bondage of sin is known, with the consequent cleansing of the heart and life, the Lord is not given His place on the throne in the heart, and the deeper lessons of Calvary cannot be imparted by the Holy Spirit.
In 2 Corinthians 5:14 and subsequent verses, the Apostle Paul gives us a word picture of the life on the resurrection side of the Cross, and clearly shows the death on Calvary as the basis of the life from God.
The Motive Power of the New Life
"The love of Christ constraineth us"
The word "constraineth", which Paul uses, occurs several times in the New Testament Greek to express a "grip", or constraint, which is overpowering, or irresistible. It is rendered "strait" in Philippians 1:23, and is the word used by the Lord Himself when He speaks of the baptism of suffering before Him, and says He is "straitened" until it is accomplished.
It is a word used in describing the grip of the men that held Jesus, and again of the people "holden" with great fear at the presence of Christ, and of Simon's wife's mother "holden" with a great fever.
These instances, and their connection, give light upon the sense in which the word is used by Paul when speaking of the love of Christ constraining him. It keeps him in a strait, hemmed in to one course from which there is no deviation. He is "held" by this great love; completely mastered by it, so that he is urged and impelled onward, as a torrent into one course, sweeping down everything that comes in its way.
Such was the love of Christ, when He Who was on an equality with God, counted it not a prize to be grasped, but emptied Himself, and humbled Himself to become in the likeness of man, obedient unto death - even the death of the Cross.
And this love is the motive power of the new life in union with the Living Lord. A love shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit, a love which casts aside all self-love and self-interest, and completely holds the soul in its power.
The Basis of the New Life
"One died for all, therefore all died"
As is his wont, Paul clearly shows the death of Christ to be the basis of the new life. In no other passage does he condense the two-fold message of the Cross into such a terse sentence. The Saviour was the substitute for sinners - He "died for all"; and all for whom he died, died with Him - "Therefore all died."
"The love of Christ constrains me," cries Paul, because I have been to Calvary, and in the death of the Man Who died, I have seen my death too. I have died with Him, and in fellowship with Him in His death all selfish barriers have been broken away. The love that led Him to Calvary is the love which has been shed in my heart by the Holy Spirit, and now it constrains me as it constrained Him, and pressed Him onward to the Cross.
The Object of the New Life
"He died for all, that they which live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him Who for their sakes died and rose again" (2 Corinthians 5:15).
They who have "died" with Him, now "Live" in His life; they realize that it was for "their sakes" He died; "for their sakes" He lives; so for His sake they gladly consent no longer to live unto themselves, but unto Him.
They see that they have been crucified with Him, and now He Who died and rose again, fills their whole vision, constraining them to present their bodies as a living sacrifice, "holy" acceptable unto God," which is their glad and "reasonable sacrifice."
(continued with # 16)