The Cross of Calvary # 23
The Depth of the Cross, continued
The margin of the R.V. gives the word "soul" for life, in every passage we have referred to, and Paul in his letter to the Corinthians throws light upon this, when he writes, "The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit." "The first man is of the earth, earthy. The second Man is the Lord from heaven."
The life we are called to renounce, or hate, is that life which we receive from the first Adam. We may call it the soulish life, to distinguish it from the heavenly life, which is given to us in union with the Lord from heaven. In another place the Lord describes it as a man's "own life", therefore he loves it, for it is part of himself. We also love the soulish life because it works in the realm of the senses, or consciousness, and has more affinity with the things of earth. The emotional sensuous life is largely mingled with the true life from God in the early days of the child of God, hence the changing moods and "up and down" experiences of many, even when not convicted of definite disobedience, or of yielding to any known sin; but to live in the Spirit; walk in the Spirit; and depend alone upon Him Who is a life-giving Spirit, brings us into a realm of changeless peace, infinity beyond the pleasant emotions of the senses, and the changing joys of earth.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit to wield the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and divide within us all that is soulish, from all that is true spirit. As the Word dwells in us richly, and the dividing takes place, it is for us to hate the soul-life revealed and "lose" it, by yielding it to the Cross.
If we would follow the Lamb, and have His life manifested through us, so that we truly walk in His steps in the midst of men, we must know the "depth" of the Cross, and if we would enter into all the benefits of His death, we must on our part deny, or renounce, or hate, all our "own" to take of His.
How far and how deep the renouncing goes determines how far and deep we know the power of His resurrection. We renounce our sins that we may die with Christ to the world; we renounce "I myself" and thereby give way to Christ Himself to reign within, and in like manner we renounce the soulish life, whence springs all the activities of the life on earth, and "always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus," learn to draw upon the life of Jesus, that it may be manifested in our mortal flesh,and through us quicken souls around.
The Cross and Ties of Earth
"He that loveth father or mother ... son or daughter, more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that doth not take his cross and follow after Me, is not worthy of Me. He that findeth his life shall lose it" (Matthew 10:37, 38, 39).
Here we have a glimpse into one of the many aspects of what taking the Cross involves, and what renouncing the soul-life means.
The soulish life may be bound up in strong earth ties, lawful ties, yet held so tenaciously that they need the death of the Cross, and the deep working of the Holy Spirit to bring them to their right place "in the Lord". The keenest sword-work God has to do is the separating of soul and spirit in the relationships of earth, for the path of following the Lamb is scarcely possible without a point, some time or other, where the claims of the crucified One clash with ties of love. Then it is that "a man's foes" are "they of his own household", and loved hands are the ones that nail us to the Cross. Then it is that the Master whispers, "He that loveth" loved ones "more than Me, is not worthy of Me", and the obedient heart, with many tears, consents to follow the Lord, laying at His feet that wherein its life was bound; and losing all for His dear sake, find all given back transfigured by the joy of heaven.
Was it no suffering to the Lord Himself, when His kinsmen said He was beside Himself, and when they did not understand the necessity laid upon Him to fulfill His heavenly Father's will? He could do nought but obey the heavenly vision, although it meant a path contrary to the hopes of His friends.
Thus, oh thus, must it be with every follower of the Lamb. But also with every step - if assuredly and only, in obedience to God - will it be as with the Pattern; for the day did come when His brethren believed on Him, and His word was fulfilled in His own case, "He that loseth ...findeth".
The Cross and Confession of Christ
"Take up his Cross ...whosoever shall lose his life (soul) for My sake,and the gospel's, shall save it." (Mark 8:34, 35).
The context of these words indicates that the soul-life may be strongly centered in a love of popularity and fear of men, which would make the believer ashamed of Christ and of His words, in a time when the sinful generation around oppose Him, and the truth He spake from the Father.
"Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me, and of My words... the Son of Man also shall be ashamed of him, when He cometh in the glory of His Father" said the Lord in connection with His call to the Cross as recorded by Mark, when He spoke of losing the life for His sake and the gospel; and nought but taking the Cross of Christ, renouncing "I myself", and the soulish life of earth, can so sever us from the world, that we are not ashamed to be outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
The Lord knew beforehand the "offence of the Cross", and the offence of the message of the Cross, for the gospel as revealed to Paul is the "Word of the Cross". To preach the Christ as a pattern Man is no Cross, for His sermon on the Mount is admitted by the natural man to be unsurpassed by the words of any teacher ever known on earth. The arch-deceiver of men will even encourage men to copy the life described by the sermon on the Mount, if they will but leave out the Cross, and the Christ, as the enabling power; yea, even more, the devil can give the power to outwardly, and seemingly, obey the laws of the kingdom, if thereby he can delude the soul into accepting a gospel that omits the Atoning Cross of Jesus Christ.
To preach a gospel of the Christ and His Cross, with peace alone through the blood of the Cross, and a Cross that speaks of separation from the world, and claims an absolute entire surrender to the Man of Calvary, will mean in truth a losing, or renouncing, of the soul-life, for in preaching such a gospel as this, the soulish life with its love of the glory of men, is lost for the sake of the Christ and His gospel.
The Cross Daily
"Let him deny himself and take up his cross daily ... for whosoever would save his life (soul) shall lose it" (Luke 9:23, 24).
Just as the Apostle Paul said "always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus",so the Lord said, "Daily!"
We have seen in the writings of Paul that there is a union with Christ's death which admits us into a new sphere of life, whence we look back upon the Cross as a gulf fixed between us and the past; and we have seen also a continuous conformity to the death of Christ, which is a necessary condition for the ever increasing manifestation of the power of the resurrection reality.
In harmony with this after-revealed gospel to Paul, the Lord Christ bids His followers take the Cross daily. Daily we must definitely account that we are crucified with Christ, and arm ourselves with the mind of the crucified Jesus - becoming obedient unto death. Daily must there be the deliberate losing of the soulish life, that we may exchange it for the life of the Lord Himself. Daily we must be willing to be led into fuller conformity to His death, not making for ourselves a cross, but quickly yielding to the "Cross in the way."
Daily! Daily! Daily! the Lord calls to the Cross, if His children are truly to be His crucified messengers to a needy world.
The Cross and Its Claims
"If any man cometh unto Me, and hateth not his own father ... mother... wife... children... brethren... sisters, yea, and his own life, also he cannot be My disciple ... Whosoever doth not bear his own cross ... cannot be My disciple ... Whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26, 27, 33).
Unconditional surrender is the keynote of this entire passage, for the absolute claim of God, as Creator and Redeemer, upon all that we are, and have, is graphically put forth by the Creator-Redeemer Himself.
Every word is significant and unqualified. Father, mother, wife, children, brethren and sisters, must each and all be yielded to the Redeemer, henceforth to be held in the Lord, and for the Lord alone; and not only so, but the Redeemer claims the very life of the one He redeems, for the believer owes his life unto his Lord - he is not his own.
Neither may he leave the Cross to the Christ, and think that he can escape it. He must bear his own cross - i.e., the Cross of Jesus as it affects his own life - and follow the Lord in His path of the Cross all the way. Moreover, the taking of the Cross will without doubt lead him into places where he will learn that he has no resources in himself, and he will be compelled to "renounce all that he hath" as of no avail to meet the forces brought against him by the terrible foe.
"Renounces all that he hath," seems to be the summing up of the claims of the Cross, where the Christ purchased His redeemed with His own precious blood, but let us not forget that the believer "renounces" all only to be given "a hundredfold, now in this time", and "in the age to come eternal life".
In brief, we deny - or renounce - ourselves, or else deny the Lord who bought us, but if we have had the Cross of Jesus unveiled to us in the power of the Spirit, our "our own Cross" will be lost sight of in His, and we shall joyfully reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us by and by.
The call to the Cross is imperative; the claims of the Cross are unqualified; the glory of the Cross unspeakable. Shall we not heed the call?
(continued with # 24)