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Archive for February, 2018

The Trial of the Cross

February 28th, 2018

I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. (John 14:30-31 ESV)

Christ uttered these words on the evening of His arrest, hours before He would be crucified. The time of His intimate and private teaching of His disciples was coming to an end. He had, in this setting, introduced them to the coming of the Spirit upon the church, who would teach them all things, and bring to their remembrance what He had previously taught them (John 14:26). He had promised them His peace, and as such it must sustain them and shall sustain them.

But He also spoke of the coming of the evil one, who “has no claim on me,” is how the ESV translates it. “Has nothing in me” is the literal translation that the KJV chose. It means that Christ’s purposes had no common ground with Satan’s. They were not going the same way, nor had similar goals. He had come to destroy the works of the devil, not to make compromises and find a way to work together (1 John 3:8).

It is normal in our relations with other people to seek the common ground. “What interests do we share?” we wisely ask, and we say honestly that politics makes for strange bed fellows. We are to love our fellow human whether he is a believer or not, and many times we may rightly seek common ground with unbelievers. But the politics of heaven, the ultimate questions of eternity and holiness, allow for no such compromise. Christ and Satan are not going the same direction. We read:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

There can be no compromise in our lives with evil. It may appear that we are going the same direction at some times, but we are certainly not.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God…Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. (Col. 3:1-6 ESV)

We often say things that are based partially on truth but are misused or skillfully worded so as to deceive us, things like “love is stronger than hate.” These words sound good and right, and in some senses they are, and we are commanded to love those who hate us, and to forgive those who hurt us. But on a closer examination we can see that these words can also clash with what God teaches. The 1 John passage above, for example, commands us not to love the world system, that is the values and ways of the world. The inspired psalmist wrote, “Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?” (Psalm 139:21). Love of evil does not conquer anything except good.

The continued drama of Christ and the devil is being acted out every day in our midst, around us and sometimes within us. The trial of the cross is renewed each day in some way or another and we must choose, as Christ chose, to honor God and so to follow Christ. The trial of the cross is the compromise with the devil, the compromise with the world, and that is where a Christian must devote his whole soul to the worship and to the honoring of Christ.

Daily Devotions

The Primacy of the Cross

February 27th, 2018

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

So much of the Old Testament is prophetic of the cross. The pomp and ceremony of the Levitical sacrificial system all speaks to the cross. The Ark of the Covenant that rested in the Holy of Holies, which was visited by the high priest only one day a year – Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement – symbolized the presentation of Christ as the crucified Lamb of God for our sins before the throne of God.

Take this passage from Psalm 132:8-10:

Arise, O Lord, and go to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
and let your saints shout for joy.
For the sake of your servant David,
do not turn away the face of your anointed one.

It is not too difficult to see the relevancy of this passage to the Church and to our ministry of teaching and preaching – even to the devotional life of the disciple. Christ is the divinely appointed answer for our sin and when He is exalted to His proper place, and when it is preached that God is Holy and must judge sin, then it is like the Ark being respected and reverentially placed in its proper position. And the priests represent not just those who preach but every Christian – for we are all priests (Rev. 1:6) – that we would be covered by His righteousness. And “for the sake of your servant David” refers to the ministry of Christ, His ministry of intercession for us, for, as the scripture says, “He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Heb. 7:25).

We must let God save us His divinely appointed way – through the cross of Christ and the Christ of the cross. Often we reason ourselves out of the cross itself, into some theory or another of the idea of intercession or the idea of suffering as being sufficient for our sins. Some will even say that we suffer for our sins here through our troubles and sicknesses, so that the payment has been made for our sins by our own lives. Others have concocted elaborate theories of pergatory where we suffer after death for our sins until we are allowed to be released and enter into heaven. But all of this is nonsense and unsubstantiated by the Bible.

It is not through some theory of intercession that we are saved – a theory that we may apply as we wish or upon our own whim. It is through the cross of Christ that we are saved, through His act of intercession and sacrifice and through that alone. When we limit that act, or try to find another way to God, we are rejecting the answer of heaven for our sins.

Have you rested in Christ and in His death for your sins? Have you trusted that in Him and in His cross you are forgiven and in His resurrection you are reconciled to God? This is the Christian profession – through Christ and through Him alone we are saved. This is the profession we must make to God personally, saying to Him: “Lord, I believe. I a sinner can find forgiveness through Christ and through Him alone. I repent and turn to Him in faith.”

The words of Oswald Chambers today spoke to me: “The thing that taxes almightiness is the very thing which we as disciples of Jesus ought to believe He will do.” We often limit what we expect God will do because we fail to believe His promises. The one who receives the great blessings of scripture is the one who believes what the scripture says, that we are loved deeply by God. If we would live in God then we would live in the reality of His love. “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).

Daily Devotions