The Ultimate Meaning of the Cross (continued)
The Needed Discipline of the Cross
Well, that is a challenge to us. At the outset I said that we, as the Lord's people, have to face a big question and I want to say again - I do not think it is the question merely of our personal salvation. And it is not just the question of our being more zealous soul-winners. With us it should have become a reality long ago that there is a deep and earnest concern in our hearts for the salvation of others. It is not a question merely of our personal holiness. God forbid that we should overlook any necessities in that direction, that we should be closing our eyes to sins and defects in the spiritual life; but even so, there is something greater than that in view. And as for our seeking to know the deeper things of God, what shall we say about that if it is not going to work out somehow in this realm where we are conscious of the activities of spiritual forces, in this realm into which we have to move - some in this country and some in other countries - where the main problem is not flesh and blood but principalities and powers, the dark things of this universe, those awful, sinful, evil forces which are at work? If we do not reach out to that our quest has failed and will leave much to be desired. That is the big issue. What has God revealed as the supreme result of the Cross of Christ? It is that His Son should be in the place of supreme and absolute Sovereign Headship in this universe, which will necessitate the deposing of every other sovereignty and name and authority. And the Word of God says that that is going to be done by that self-same Cross having been wrought in a body of Christians to bring them to the place where through them, because of them, that sovereignty, that headship, has been established.
It is a big matter, and it involves us in something very real in the way of spiritual discipline. You cannot go to college or institute to learn that. You cannot get there by conferences and meetings. You cannot get that along any academic lines. This involves us in a very real transaction with the Lord that that Cross, will all that He means by it, shall really do its work in us; and He has endless ways of doing it. The very nature of the work of the Cross involves this, that its operation will always be along the line that we do not like, that we would never choose. If we could have the Cross adjusted to our situation, it would be a very easy Cross. But no, it will always go against the grain; that is the nature of it. It will always call for that which we would never choose. When the Lord leads us on to consider the way that He has indicated, the way for reaching His end, we shall come up against those things. We shall then see that this whole cosmic battle has its center in us by nature, and it has got to be settled there, at the citadel of the individuals being; and the citadel is the will. Oh, it is one thing to talk about cosmic warfare, about authority over the powers of darkness! Looking out into the battle, anybody who has any experience does not talk lightly about that. They talk very carefully and very prayerfully; for the whole thing, after all, is not outside us, it is in us, it begins in us. It is a matter of your will and my will. The dethronement of satan and of all his mighty kingdom was accomplished by the will of one Man being utterly in subjection to His Father, and so far as He Himself is concerned He has left the enemy completely worsted and cast out. He has left the enemy in being, not annihilated, in order to bring us to the same place as He Himself has come to, and it will be along exactly the same lines - the battle of the will, taken up on countless points, until satan no longer has any place or ground in our will, and he is undone. If the Lord wills, we will follow that out more closely later on.
You see the big question. Oh, it is a big question! For my own part, though I have been convinced about this matter for years I have never been more strongly convinced than I am today that the one need is for a people to rise up in virtue of an in-wrought work of the Cross to meet these evil forces which are against the purpose of God. May the Lord produce such a people in part, though it may be a small part, through these meditations.
(continued with # 7 - (The Spiritual Resources of the Church For Its Heavenly Mission)