The Altar (The Cross) Governs Everything (continued)
The Cross In Its Place (continued)
The Letter to the Romans is the message of the Cross in its full measure. In that letter to the Romans, you see the great measurement of the Cross. There the Cross comprehends all things. It brings the whole race in Adam to an end, and it begins an entirely new race in Christ risen! It is very impressive that the first of the New Testament Letters should put the Cross there in its full measurement. You all know that the Letter to the Romans was not the first letter written by Paul, but the Holy Spirit has put it first in the arrangement. I think the Holy Spirit had something to do with the arrangement of the books in the New Testament, and in His sovereign arrangement of this book, He has put the altar in its fullness right at the beginning. Well, of course, you have to recall all that you know about the Letter to the Romans to see that.
In the First Letter to the Corinthians, the Cross is applied to the natural and the carnal man inside the Church. The natural and the carnal man has come in where he has no right to be. This unrighteous man has slipped in through the gate, and so the apostle brings Christ crucified over against the natural and the carnal man. The Cross in 1 Corinthians had to do with that man, not outside the Church as in Romans, but inside the Church.
The second Letter to the Corinthians sets the Cross in relation to ministry. That letter shows that that ministry flows out of a broken and humbled vessel. I can only say these things and leave the full explanation of it.
In the Letter to the Galatians, the Cross is brought down upon making Christianity into another legal system, and bringing Christians into bondage. How strong the apostle is in that letter, but see how he uses the Cross. He uses the Cross tremendously against that effort to make Christianity into a legal system, and to bring believers into bondage again.
In the Letter to the Ephesians, the work of the Cross is to put the Church on heavenly ground. The Cross in Ephesians completely cuts the Church off from all earthly ground. It puts the Church outside of time. It puts the Church outside of the world.
In the Letter to the Philippians, the Cross is applied to that which is spoiling the harmony of the Lord's people. There is a painful dislocation inside the Church. There is a spot where things are unhappy, and that is because of personal interest. Some people will not let go their pride. They have been offended, and they are not going to forgive. So the apostle brings the Cross in there over against this discord, and dislocation; and he points out that if only the Cross were in those lives, everything would be put right.
The Letter to the Colossians - this letter shows that the Cross delivers from all false spirituality. The Cross sets aside all that is mere mysticism, and everything that would make Christ less than He is.
(continued with # 53)