The Altar (The Cross) Governs Everything (continued)
The Cross In Its Place (continued)
Then we have the Letters to the Thessalonians. Here the Cross is the strength for suffering - an inspiration unto the coming of the Lord. There may not be much said about the Cross actually, but the principle of these letters is the principle of the Cross. The people were suffering for Christ's sake. They were suffering the loss of all things, and they had thought that the Lord would have come to deliver them, and the Lord is delaying His coming. So the apostle tells them that their sufferings will issue in the coming of the Lord and glory. The sufferings of suffering with Christ. They are suffering for Christ's sake: it is fellowship in the Cross, but the sufferings issued in the glory. The Lord is coming, and then it will be all right. The Cross has a very real message for suffering believers. And then we just conclude with the Letter to the Hebrews.
In the Letter to the Hebrews, the Cross shows how everything is brought to fullness and to finality. Now all of this relate to the House on its inside. It touches conduct. It touches character. It touches order. It touches ministry. If the Cross is in its place, everything will be effective.
Now I have not just given you some Bible teaching. The Cross is the key to everything. Then what is true on the inside is also true on the outside. It is the Cross which affects the whole range of the Church's influence. The river comes by way of the Cross, that is, the influence that goes out from the sanctuary to the whole land. It is the Cross which gives effectiveness to the ministry to the whole world. So the apostles preached everywhere Christ crucified.
The Cross Is the Defense Against the World
And then we note another thing, the altar was the great defensive against the enemy. If you look in the Book of Ezra in chapter three, at verse three, you have this: "so they set up the altar on its foundation, for they were terrified because of the peoples of the lands ..." Because fear of the peoples of the lands was upon them, they put the altar in its place. The Cross is a great defensive - the Cross defends us from the world. The world is the great enemy of the Church. The spirit of the world has always been the Church's great enemy. satan has always tried to get the world into the Church and so wreck the Church and its ministry, to destroy the influence of the Church in the world. It is a very clever and subtle move of the enemy to destroy the influence of the Church in the world by bringing the world into the Church. For Paul said, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Galatians 6:14).
A truly crucified people are never in danger of the world. It is only when the Cross has not done its work that the world has a place. The world has no place with a crucified man or woman, or a crucified company of believers. The Cross is a great defensive against the world. If you want to keep the world out, put the Cross in its place. If the Cross is truly in its place in fullness, then everything else will come into order. The Cross is the great defensive against the world. The Cross is the great defensive against evil powers. The Cross makes everything safe; it makes everything safe for the Lord.
You see, the Lord wants to commit Himself. He wants to trust Himself to His people, but if the Cross is not there at work, the Lord cannot trust Himself to them. The Lord says, "It is not safe for Me to give Myself there, or I should be involved in their un-crucified condition." The Cross makes everything safe for the Lord, and the Cross makes everything safe for the Church. If the Cross is really at work in all of us, we can trust one another. It is quite safe to trust yourself to a crucified man or woman.
I emphasize that the Cross is not a doctrine to be taught. It is not a subject to be preached. Of course, it will be taught, and it will be preached. But in the first place, it is not a subject to be taught. It is not just a doctrine. The Cross is power, The Cross is an experience. The Cross is an event in our lives. The Cross is a crisis. The Cross is a revolution. The Cross is an earthquake. Everything will be shaken, everything will be overturned. The Cross comes into our life, there will be an earthquake. There was an earthquake. It is something tremendous. The Cross is not just a theory, not just a doctrine: The Cross governs everything. Well, that is our message about the centrality and universality of the Cross.
The Lord grant that we shall all be crucified men and women. The assemblies to which we belong - may they be crucified assemblies. The Lord grant that His whole Church may see and view the meaning of the Cross.
(continued with # 54 - (A River That Could Not Be passed Over: The Fullness of the Spirit)