We shall, by the Lord's enabling go on with our consideration of the Church, the Cross, and the Spiritual Conflict.
So far we have been occupied with the Cross and the Church; in the first place seeing that the Cross, in the mind and purpose of God, is intended to lead immediately and directly to the Church. Just as the altar at the door of the court of the tabernacle in the wilderness stood right in direct line with the sanctuary, and led to it - the priestly ministry commenced at that altar, and then passed on right into the sanctuary and found its consummation in the Most Holy Place - so the Cross of the Lord Jesus stands there as the very gateway into the House of God, and is intended to lead the people of God straight through into the corporate life in union with Christ. And so also in the temple, the altar is that which leads into the house; and in the rebuilding of the temple by the remnant back from captivity, the first thing was the setting of the altar into its place, and then the laying of the foundation of the Lord's house, and the building of it. So it is in the mind of God always, that the Cross carries with it the House, and leads to it, and any kind of Gospel which ends with the Cross as a thing in itself and does not carry through to a living expression of the House of God, the Church, is a Gospel which has failed of its main purpose in God's mind. Well, we have been emphasizing that considerably, but the reiteration of it may be useful, for the Lord to revive and perhaps make clear in a new way what it is He is seeking.
Then we have gone on to see that when the Church really does come in, it becomes the great practical Gospel or demonstration of the meaning of the Cross, because it embodies and shows forth all that Calvary was intended to mean. God's preaching is not just a preaching in words, the proclaiming of the Gospel is not only the enunciation of truths; it is the practical living expression of that in a people. Otherwise angels could have preached the Gospel; anybody could preach it. The Lord has bound up a revelation of Himself with a people who are the living embodiment of that revelation, and that is the function and nature of the Church.
Well now, we move on a little in regard to the third thing, namely, the conflict. The Cross and the Church being bound together in great Divine meaning explain the conflict. From that very fact conflict results; it just springs up. The Church embodying the meaning of Calvary is the occasion of the conflict, and where there is a real apprehension of the full meaning of the Cross and a practical expression of it in a people, there you have conflict in its most intense and persistent form. In other words, the measure of the living corporate embodiment and expression of the meaning of Calvary is the measure of spiritual warfare. The more there is of the living apprehension of the Cross and the more there is of a living expression of God's thought about the Church, the more there will be of spiritual conflict, the more the antagonism and hatred of the powers of evil will be manifested, expressed, demonstrated.
The Supreme Object of the Cross and the Church
Now in this matter of the conflict, we should begin by reminding ourselves that the Cross and the Church have one supreme object in view. It is always helpful to be able to reduce great things to concrete and direct implications. The Cross is a great thing, a comprehensive thing. The Church too is a great and a comprehensive thing. We could talk about the Cross all our lives, and be moving around to different angles and aspects all the time. Who will ever be able to exhaust the meaning of the Cross of the Lord Jesus? We can talk about the Church in the same way and go on indefinitely covering new ground in relation to the Church. It is always beyond us, there is always more; and yet, when all has been said that ever will be said about the Church and the Cross, the whole thing can be gathered into one quite simple and direct meaning. It focuses upon one thing and one thing only. The Cross in all its fullness of meaning, the Church in all its mighty, Divine significance, have one object in view ultimately, and that object is the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ. Say what you like about the Cross, say what you can about the Cross, it all comes back to that. Its focal point is the Lordship of Jesus Christ in fullness and finality. The Cross in every phase of its meaning and application comes to that eventually.
The question raised all the time by the Cross is, Yes, but how does it work out in the dethronement of every other authority within and without the life of the child of God, and the enthronement of the Lord Jesus in utterness as Lord? That is the question all the time. We are not dealing with things in relation to the Cross. There may be many things incidental, but they are not ends in themselves. There are things in us, all sorts of things in us, and those things have to be met by the Cross, and the Cross has to be applied to them; but never let us think that the business of the Holy Spirit with the Cross is just to deal with these things as though they were the end that the Lord was seeking. No, in dealing with the things, the Lord has an object in view all the time, and it is toward that object that He is dealing with every detail, and that object is the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ.
And so it is with the Church. Oh, how many things there are about the Church which are wonderful and glorious to contemplate; its nature, its function, its vocation, and so on. But none of these things in the mind of God is an end in itself. The Church ultimately exists for one thing only, and that is this sovereign, Headship of the Lord Jesus. Everything that we have to say about one another, about related life, about fellowship, about corporate expression, about functioning, and all the other things to do with the Church, they are only on the way to this other thing, that the Lordship of Christ, His sovereign Headship over all things to the Church, might be in expression. There is one thing central to this universe in God's thought into which everything else is gathered, and that is the Lordship of His Son Whom He made heir of all things, through Whom also He made the ages.
(continued with # 2 - "The Focal Point of all satanic Opposition")