Luke 9: 18-24
Colossians 1: 19-20
1 Corinthians 1: 17-18
AMcK I trust that we will be helped together, beloved brethren, in opening up these scriptures. The scripture in Luke’s gospel has been very much on my heart, particularly as to the matter of taking up the cross. It struck me that at this time of year many of our young people are going through significant times of change, perhaps changes of school, going to college, to university, or going out to work, and I have been thinking about this exercise of taking up the cross and how we might help one another, but particularly perhaps help our young people in how we do that. To me, taking up our cross involves taking a path of reproach, and I suggest these scriptures and this subject, not as in any way feeling as if I have come to much myself, but that perhaps in contemplating these aspects of the cross, the cross of Jesus, we might be helped in the exercise of taking up our cross.
The Lord’s words in Luke 9 are interesting: He says “let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Mr Coates has a very interesting article which is called ‘Daily’ (vol 15 p52 - The Believer Established) and I would commend that article to young brethren. Taking up the cross daily is one of the things that Mr Coates speaks of; it is a daily exercise and I would like to think as a result of this time that we will be helped and strengthened in pursuing that exercise for ourselves. The world is very active and it is seeking to disrupt what is for God and to spoil what is for Christ. I wonder whether taking up this exercise daily, a pathway of reproach, would help us to resist the enemy. It is interesting to me that the Lord says this after He has drawn out of His disciples the expression of who He is and the greatness of His Person. It seems important that if we are going to take up this exercise we take it up in the conscious sense of the greatness of Christ. If there is anything of me in it then it will fail.
Philippians refers to “the death of the cross”. Paul, in writing this, could have perhaps ended what he wrote towards the end of verse 8 at, “becoming obedient even unto death”, but he adds “and that the death of the cross”. Maybe we can contemplate together just what that means, the distinctiveness of the death of the cross. That is where our Lord went; that is what He endured: we might see the pathway that He took, the pathway of reproach. That might lead us to having some sense of the Lord’s own sacrifice involved in taking up the cross. Sacrifice is involved in it, beloved brethren.
And then in Colossians we have “the blood of his cross”. I would like to get a greater impression of what the blood means to God. He made peace by it; what a tremendous thing that is: He has “made peace by the blood of his cross”. That seems to me to be the divine view, and if we are going to take up our cross, and if we are going to take this pathway, we do it in the conscious sense of having peace with God, nothing left to be done, everything resolved, and that helps us in taking up our cross.
And then in Corinthians a simple touch: “the word of the cross”: “The word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but to us that are saved it is God’s power”- God’s power. The King James Version has “the preaching of the cross”, and I do know for myself that the preaching every week is power for us; it is God’s power. It is the strength for us to move forward in this exercise of taking up our cross, but in gaining some help about it let us contemplate what it meant for Jesus, let us contemplate the greatness of the death of His cross: “that the death of the cross”. I believe that has great import for us. It was not a death in which there was any honour. Mr Coates comments that if you saw a man with a cross you would know that he had done with the world (vol 15 p62). Well, that is the pathway that our Lord Jesus took, and perhaps we can find some help together in how we move forward ourselves on that path.
NJH I think it is a very wholesome and needed thought to have before our hearts in the time that we are in. There is the public aspect of the cross, is there not?
AMcK Yes, go on.
NJH Well, there is no cross relating to John the baptist or Elias or others, or one of the old prophets as risen, but the cross of Christ is to bring us into life. According to Luke 9 whosoever shall lose his life for Christ's sake shall save his life.
AMcK Yes, it was public: it was not done in a corner. Publicly, we are to find our place there. Paul shows that, as to being crucified with Him: that is an exercise for us, but it is public. It affects our walk then, does it?
NJH They had to go out to see John; he was presented really in a certain sense to Israel in that area, but the cross is a very public matter, before men.
WMP What would you say about the severity of the language here, “suffer … and be rejected … and be killed”? What bearing would that have on your thought?
AMcK Well, I think it would remind us of the reality of what He endured. I feel measured in this but are we not to know what it is to be cast out from the world? He was cast out: He knew what it was to have no place. Now, if we are to follow Him, then we need to prove this: the world would love to have us, it would love to bestow accolades on us, but if we are going to be for Him we have to take that place of reproach.
WMP Elsewhere the Lord Jesus uses the word “hate”: the world hated Him, and we will be hated too as those who are His disciples - so we should not minimise the efforts of the enemy to deter our faith.
AMcK That is my exercise. This is not an easy thing for us to do, and Satan would love to divert the Lord’s people from taking up the cross, but I believe there is great reward in it because it brings us close to Jesus.
RJC It is especially for the disciples here, is it not? It is a great challenge, personally, individually, to take up our cross. It would have a real bearing on us, would it, especially in our testimonial pathway? “He said to them all, If anyone will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily”. Has it a very personal application to ourselves?
AMcK Yes, I am glad you referred to that word “all”, because I was wondering about that. None of them are left out, and this particular instruction is for His own; it is not for the crowds. He has brought out the expression of who He is in the greatness of His Person; Peter has given testimony to that. He speaks of Him as, “The Christ of God”, and immediately having had that manifestation of who He is in His greatness He says now, 'What about you?' - and none of them are left out of that “all”. Can you say some more about that for us, please?
RJC I just thought of the particular bearing of it on the disciples. They had been with Him, but He is going to go on high, not immediately, and He is giving them some instruction as to how to continue in the pathway that He has set on Himself so blessedly.
DJH And it is “taking up his cross”; you have your tests in your life and I have them in mine, and each one of us has, but it is his cross. We are sustained in the life of the One who bore His cross, which was unique to Him?
AMcK Yes; we have different exercises, we have different tests but they are all answered in His cross. You may have to face what the cross means in a way that is different to me, but they are both answered in His, are they not? He went out bearing His cross, a Man who was done with the world. That comment impressed me - He was finished with it. He went out bearing His cross and my cross is answered perfectly in that, is it not?
TJC You referred to John, “he went out, bearing his cross”, chap 19: 17; I think it has been said that it is the only thing in the gospels that is His own. When He came into this world He was placed in another man’s manger, found in another man’s boat, another man’s house, but when it comes to the time of the crucifixion it says, “he went out, bearing his cross”. He could even say to one, “Shew me a denarius”, Luke 20: 24. He had nothing to call His own down here. It is very affecting do you think, the verse that you quote in John that He went out “bearing his cross”? It was His and His alone.
AMcK That is good. None else could take it, none else could go there and I think that is the import of what Paul adds in Philippians “the death of the cross”. It is not a death that would meet with any honour in the world. “Cursed is every one hanged upon a tree”, Gal 3: 13. He took that curse. I like what you say; it is the only thing that is His, “The Son of man has not where he may lay his head”, Luke 9: 58. He had nothing, but it was His cross and only He could take it.
JCG We are to be impressed with the distinctiveness of the Person whose cross it was. That is why you read the first part, was it, because of opinions of others? “But ye, who do ye say that I am?” – this is the test for us, is it? There were various persons round about the cross that bore testimony: “Behold the man!” (John 19: 5), for example, by Pilate, and then the thief on the cross, “this man has done nothing amiss”, Luke 23: 41. Appreciation of Christ is basic to this, is it?
AMcK I think it is fundamental. It struck me just in looking at this verse and reading those words beforehand, that it is so important to look at this from the perspective of the greatness of the Person. There cannot be anything of me in this exercise, can there? To take that path of reproach I have to become as nothing: His greatness must fill all, would you say?
JCG Paul says, “He takes away the first that he may establish the second”, Heb 10: 9. On the cross the first man in flesh was condemned, God “has condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom 8: 3), and we need to come to that so that hatred or other kinds of opposition to one another would disappear. It brings out the feelings that are proper to the new man, do you think?
AMcK Yes: what a transformation - He has taken away the first, it has gone, but the second is established, and established in the greatness of Christ, is it not?
NJH He departed out of the world on the cross. We are left here; taking up our cross is a daily matter here, and we are in keeping with that departure out of the world. The greatness of the Person comes before you in that, does it?
AMcK I think so. He has no place here and so it should be with us. We have to come into contact with the world, and we have to live our lives here, and God would sustain us in that, but we know what it is to become contaminated by the world. We know what this means, but really we are to have no place here: the place that He had was to go out in reproach, and if we are to follow Him then we have to know something of this for ourselves.
NJH Exactly, and it is said that the reproach of the Christ and the power of the Spirit are the means for the testimony going through, FER vol 2 p270.
AMcK Yes, exactly; how could it be sustained otherwise?
TJC Did the eunuch come to this early in his Christian experience? I wondered whether he was so affected by the greatness of the Person that had gone this way that he says, “what hinders my being baptised?”, Acts 8: 36. In principle he really said, 'If that is the way this One has gone, I have to go that way too', and “he went on his way rejoicing”, v 39. Does that fit in with the question about departing out of the world?
AMcK Yes, I think it does. “Behold water”: there was the means really to go through the exercise of death, do you think? That was immediately before him because of what Philip had opened up to him; he was immediately full of what he needed to do to identify himself with his Saviour. “What hinders me” – there was nothing that hindered him: he could go immediately into it, and that is where the rejoicing comes from.
NMcK Attention has been drawn in ministry to the fact that the Lord went out of the world publicly at the cross but He went into heaven privately (JT vol 6 p402), and that is the way we must go. We enjoy our privilege and we enjoy that privately. No one knows anything of that, it is not a public matter, but we must go out of the world publicly; it must be evident; we cannot slide in secret out of the world. It is not being true to Christ to do that, do you think?
AMcK No: I think that is good, and that helps because we have to take the place that He took. We cannot literally take His place: no one could, but we have to identify ourselves with the place that He went and the way that He went, do you think? That is a public position, and I feel very measured by this, but the world should look at me and say, 'Well he does not belong here, he belongs somewhere else; he is done with the world'. That is an exercise, but I think it is involved in taking up our cross, do you think?
NJH Taking up the cross in principle means that I have the sentence of death upon me, is that right? Your life is changed; it is a new life you have got.
AMcK Yes, that is helpful, go on.
NJH I think what you have said already referring to the Christ of God, the greatness of the Person is important; and then you see that if He went out that way, I can take no other route, and you come to the judgment that He went there vicariously on my behalf, and was nailed to the cross for me because I am due that judgment: is that right?
AMcK Yes: to see that He has gone there vicariously is the point. He took that place, but He took that place on my behalf, and so I have to be identified with that, and that means going out of sight.
NJH Yes, and the Christ of God means that He has made it effective. The great value of the Christ: He made everything effective by going that way.
JAB I wonder if there is a moral order in this triple commitment in Luke’s gospel which is reflected in Philippians. We cannot take up the cross, even if we want to try to, unless we do the first thing – deny ourselves, and we cannot follow Him unless we take up the cross. Did you have anything in mind about that because we see in Philippians 2 the model for us in denying ourselves?
AMcK Well, I am glad you refer to that because it was on my mind. I feel measured just thinking about this but the first step in Luke is “deny himself”, then taking up the cross, and then following. There are three things there and you are linking them with the emptying and the humbling?
JAB It is extremely testing to speak of this but we must speak of it because we see the model in the Lord Jesus, in One who denied Himself and before He took up the cross, the night before, He said to the Father “not my will, but thine be done”, Luke 22: 42. Until we do that in our measure with the help of the Holy Spirit we cannot take up the cross, can we?
AMcK No: Mr Darby’s note says, ‘He made Himself of no reputation’ and that seems to chime with the denying. Nothing of me can go through this; would you agree with that? I have to leave all that at the cross?
JAB Some might take up the cross to draw attention to themselves; wearing crosses in a prominent way, almost as a badge of honour. It is not a badge of honour; it is the very opposite, is it not?
AMcK Yes, I agree with that: “cursed is every one hanged upon a tree”. That is what scripture says, and it is perhaps as far as you can get from a badge of honour.
JAB There are Christians today in the Middle East who have been given the choice to convert to Islam or die. We might consider it to be as serious as that. The implications of what you are bringing before us are of a similar significance for us all, are they not? This is real.
AMcK I appreciate what you say: I was thinking about the suffering way. I was talking to somebody about that a few weeks ago, and we do not know too much about the suffering. There are many; you have spoken of those in Iraq and Syria that we read of who are suffering terribly. Now in God’s ordering we have been preserved from that for the time being, but perhaps the suffering for us is self- sacrifice. There is a cost; there is a real cost to this and if we are prepared for that the Lord will honour it, do you think? Philippians brings out the cost to the Lord, the emptying and the becoming obedient even unto death and that the death of the cross.
RJC It is a daily matter too which would bring us into an area of suffering. There is no laxity in it; you are committed to the cross on a daily basis which would affect our lives day by day which is very, very testing, do you think?
AMcK Yes, I agree; that article of Mr Coates is very helpful as to the things that are to occupy us daily. I know what it is to go through a day without being occupied with the death of the cross. We need help as to this and we need to be sustained in it because I think the Lord would bless us and if we consider the death of the cross; I am sure it would help us in our pathway.
JN Would Paul, bearing about the dying of Jesus give us an example of it.
AMcK Yes. He says there, “always”: “Always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus”, 2 Cor 4: 10. What a challenge that is for us: carrying it, showing it, displaying it, I suppose. It should be evident to others do you think, that what is engaging our hearts and engaging our minds, is the dying of Jesus, the fact that He went out from this world, had no place in it; He went out from it, and that is my place too?
ARH Where you started in Philippians it says “let this mind”. I wondered if the matter as to our minds is so important - “let this mind”. The apostle felt that that was what was needed, what was in Christ. It is committal; that is, you are committed to this, the thought of the cross and the sufferings.
AMcK Yes: it is, it is the whole bent of our approach, do you think: “let this mind be in you”? Now there may be things that we are minded to do, but this is so much greater: if we have this mind, the mind that is prepared to go down, the mind that is prepared to be emptied and is prepared to be humbled, then that liberates us into His presence.
ARH The matter of your committal comes into Romans 12 too, the renewing of your mind, as if it is a process that you would go through in view of being here for the Lord.
NJH Taking up the cross includes being identified with the reproach of Christ before men, but the cross presented in the epistles is slightly different. “The word of the cross” should affect the people of God. “Let nothing be in the spirit of strife or vain glory, but, in lowliness of mind, each esteeming the other as more excellent than themselves” (Phil 2: 3); and you might say, what was used to accomplish that was obedience “even unto death, and that the death of the cross”. It seems to be how He was affected: what God has done in the cross, reconciled by the cross. It is amongst God’s people.
AMcK Yes, I was particularly thinking about that in relation to the blood of His cross, as to the divine view, God’s view of it, and what has been done there in the divine hand, and perhaps that comes into this scripture in Philippians as well, does it not? Do you think that is why Paul adds “the death of the cross”? He does not just stop with the word death, but adds, “and that the death of the cross”. It is something that was absolutely for God’s pleasure, was it not?
NJH Yes, that is good.
AMcK And I think we are helped in that in the teaching. We would not say this if others had not said it perhaps, but God delighted in Jesus there.
JCG What you are bringing attention to, is what was borne there. The Lord suffered much in the first hours at the hands of men, reproach and hatred and jibes and such like, but during the hours of darkness it was what He went through Himself in the judgment of sin. We would not enter into that, of course. Does the death of the cross involves both? It was so that we might be free and enter into life; and the dying of Jesus is that we might enter into life. “That the life also of Jesus may be manifested”, 2 Cor 4: 10. It is not that the reproach is an end in itself, but there is a positive line to open it up, do you think, because the Lord speaks about that in Luke 9 “be killed, and the third day be raised up”? That is important for us, and it is not just the cross only. Many persons would give testimony as to the cross but life beyond it is very important, is it not?
AMcK And do you think that this is involved in the following Him?
JCG Yes, it is.
AMcK Because He says “and follow me”. That was what He was saying to His disciples. He had already said that to them. He says again to Peter, at the end, “Follow thou me”, John 21: 22. The following seems to be so important; it would be in the area of that life.
APG It says in John 12, “I, if I be lifted up out of the earth, will draw all to me. But this he said signifying by what death he was about to die”, v 32, 33. That is the death of the cross, is it not? There is the public shame, but then He became attractive, a point of attraction to those in whom God was working.
AMcK Yes, “signifying by what death”: that is interesting, and it is in the light of that that we are drawn to Him - “I … will draw all to me”. We are attracted to Him, would you say, as a result of a deeper impression of what that death was, what that meant to Him, and so how much it might mean to us?
APG These verses in Philippians you read make Him very attractive to us, these downward movements.
AMcK Yes, and what has been said as to the mind, “let this mind be in you” - so we are to allow it in that sense. It does not become an onerous thing, but we are to allow it and that brings us into the area where He went, does it?
RB Is it affecting that He became “obedient unto death”; that was the extent to which His obedience took Him, “and that the death of the cross”? The Lord would have anticipated this as lying at the end of that pathway of committal to the Father’s will. Is that to affect us also along the lines that you are suggesting?
AMcK Yes; say some more about the obedience please.
RB It has been pointed out that the Lord did not become obedient to death, but it was the extent to which His obedience took Him. It took Him to that point and that was something that lay at the end of the pathway of the Lord Jesus, and something that He would have anticipated, but it did not turn Him aside from what lay before Him, and I wondered if in taking up our cross in the light of what we see in the Lord’s committal, it should affect us, do you think?
AMcK Yes, His obedience, as you say, went as far as that. I think the distinction you draw is right that He was not obedient to it, but even unto it. How far His obedience went: it would move us to worship, do you think, if we had a deeper sense of it?
FR This would lead us to an appreciation of the Lord Jesus. There are quite a few scriptures that show that it was men who put Him on the cross, but when you come to Peter’s epistle it says, “who himself bore our sins in his body on the tree”, 1 Pet 2: 24. That is the difference: do you think we have to come to Peter’s account?
AMcK Yes, I think we do: it is a subject for our affections. To come to what that cross meant in our affections and in our hearts brings us onto the ground that He took and would help us to take up our cross, would it not?
FR It is, “follow me”; that would come next. It has been said that you can only follow someone you love more than yourself. That is really what it comes to.
AMcK Yes, it is what it comes to. So I have to become nothing and then He becomes everything to me.
JCG Do you think at the present time, going forth to Him without the camp bears on the cross? Bearing His reproach would be the same thought, involving that there are certain matters that we are to bear; as the Lord says, “rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes”, that is the religious side, is it not? There is much that is against what is of the truth in religious circles, merging with what is of the world, so we have to separate ourselves from that and be clear about persons who are involved in that. Going “forth to him without the camp” (Heb 13: 13) involves suffering of the cross, bearing reproach.
AMcK Yes, and what has been said as to Him being the point of attraction would help us as to going “forth to him”. He would be before us and His love and His person is the drawing power that will take us out of the camp, taking up our cross.
JCG And confessing His name, the Christ of God. It is a question of whether our lips are used in that way and not in other ways.
NJH The cross really forms the company. In a broken day you go forth to Him; that is in the recognition of the Lord’s rights. But in Colossians, reconciliation is based on the cross, it is His blood there; so the company is really formed by the cross and what is effected there.
AMcK I think that is good: maybe we should go on to Colossians. It is the blood, the blood of the cross. It says “having made peace by the blood of his cross”. Reconciliation is there; that is why I read that verse 20 “by him to reconcile all things to itself”. That is things being reconciled to the fulness. But peace is made; so it seems to me that if we are to take up our cross we do it in the conscious sense of peace with God. Peace has been made. Now that gives me restfulness in my heart, and it helps me to know that all things have been reconciled: everything is done, and that takes me forward on this pathway of reproach in the conscious sense that Christ has done it all and that I have peace with God. Does that help us, do you think?
NJH Yes. In the first scripture it is, “The Christ of God”. It is “having made peace by the blood of his cross - by him ...”: it goes back to the Christ of God, whose blood it was, whose place it was on the cross. It has all been effected for God, for the whole universe: what can be reconciled was reconciled then.
JAB Is this the blessedness of the One who did this, reconciling all? By doing it, He reconciled all things to the fulness, He made peace by the blood of His cross. Do you think that would help us to see that we are to be attracted into this? Denying ourselves seems hard, because we do find it so, and then taking up His cross involves reproach, but following Him is the most blessed and sweet experience that the Christian can have, being near to Him: “Come to me ... Take my yoke upon you”, Matt 11: 28-29. We are not pushed into this, are we? We would be attracted into commitment in this way; because if we try to do it as a duty we will not get very far, will we?
AMcK Scripture speaks of Moses who esteemed “the reproach of the Christ greater riches...”, Heb 11: 26. That would attract us. There is a treasure here in relation to following Jesus. It is a pathway of reproach: we are to realise that, and the exercise of denying ourselves is real, but there is a sweetness about being in His company and we are there in the conscious sense of peace with God, all settled; and that helps us on that pathway.
JAB Every believer knows what it is for his sins to be washed away in Christ's blood but, in this passage, making peace by the blood of the cross is more than that, is it? It is something that is wonderful, to touch in our spirits, and that would, do you think, help us to face up to the very real exercises that you are bringing before us?
AMcK Yes, because God is satisfied in it. He is satisfied in the blood that was shed there, He is satisfied in the One who shed it, but the blood satisfies every requirement that God had and so peace is made.
PAG Does it help us then to see that, if the cross helps us in relation to separation in testimony, it also stands at the entrance to the presence of God? In Ephesians it says that He “might reconcile both in one body to God by the cross, having by it slain the enmity” (chap 2: 16), but then just one verse later it says, “For through him we have both access by one Spirit to the Father”; so that the reconciling work of the cross produces a body, a company that can go into the very presence of the Father.
AMcK Yes, and in the conscious sense that everything is reconciled, everything is suited to that presence. It is not that anything else needs to be done or anything needs to be added, but everything is reconciled because of the shedding of that blood and because of what God saw in it. He found His full delight in it, He found His full satisfaction in the shedding of that blood. That is the way in, is it? Mr Darby says, 'The cross is on the road that leads to glory', JND CW vol16 p326). That is your thought, is it?
PAG Very much so, and the cross as we have been taught, meets the requirements of God’s holiness, the blood meets the requirements of His righteousness, but it is the outshining of His love as well.
AMcK Yes, it is.
DCB So the blood of His cross brings in an intensity. These two thoughts of righteousness and holiness being brought together at the cross have met the whole intensity of what was there in suffering. This would attract our affections, there is an enjoyment of the peace because of that.
AMcK I think so. I feel measured in my comprehension and my grasp of this. Would that I had a deeper impression of what the blood means to God! It is something for our affections as you say. It is to lay hold of what that meant to God, and the fact is that peace has been made.
TWL We have been taught that reconciliation is for God’s sake. Would it help us in taking up the cross to see the feelings of God in this towards us? We sometimes think of taking up the cross as being an onerous thing but really, taking up the cross gives liberty with God because you understand what it is to be reconciled to God for His sake. Does that fit in with this?
AMcK It very much does. That is exactly my thought as to this peace. It is something that I can enjoy, and something that I can come into, but it is for God. That blood was for God, and having made that peace there is now a great answer in the souls of those who have laid hold of the preciousness of the blood of Christ and have come into the good of the death of His cross. So the Lord could say in Luke, “follow me” because there is going to be something that answers to Him in this, is there not?
TWL Yes, exactly. I know the setting is different, but where it speaks about the assembly which God has purchased with the blood of His own, I think it is one of the most distinctive references to the blood in the whole of scripture. To think that God has expended that to purchase me. It is a profound thing, and as you think of the feelings of God in relation to yourself, that is what makes you commit yourself to this. Would that be right?
AMcK Yes; I think it is, and a conscious sense of that therefore takes us forward on this pathway of taking up our cross because what it leads us into is what is for God. There is what is for us, but ultimately it is what is for God.
AMB An aspect too of what you are bringing before us is that the blood of the cross sets us right in our relations together. It is not perhaps at the level exactly of what the blood means for God although as that affects us it would take away any enmity. We have had reference to the scripture in Ephesians where the reconciliation involves breaking down of the middle wall of enclosure and slaying the enmity, so that an appreciation among believers of the blood of the cross would make for very good relations together, do you think?
AMcK I am sure you are right, and would that we knew more of it, would that we were able to lay hold of that. If we have the same impression and our hearts and our minds filled with the glory of the blood of the cross then how could there be a difference between us?
AMB It is a testing matter: it maybe goes back to denying ourselves. We have to do that first do we, but then that has got something else in view: it is so that life according to God might come into expression in one and another and that quickly would go on to find expression in what is collective, do you think?
JCG I was going to comment on the thought of what God gave up in relation to the life of Christ. The life really was involved in the blood. We speak about that in relation to the Supper. He gave Himself in relation to His body, but He gave His life as represented in the cup, the shedding of His blood, and God found great delight in that life. Yet the life of flesh and blood was given up that reconciliation and peace might be brought in. We should appreciate that more, should we? It would settle a lot of differences if we appreciated God’s point of view in what He gave up in view of bringing us into life from the blood of the cross, do you think?
AMcK “The blood of his own”: that fills our hearts with what it meant to Him.
JCG It does.
NJH It involves the Father’s love, “purchased with the blood of his own”. It is the Father’s love: it is very profound.
DJH I wondered about the reference our brother has made to the Supper, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”, Luke 22: 20. We are brought into an entirely new order of relationship as a result of it? It is not there stressing the side of the blood of the cross, but I just wondered in relation to what our brother was referring to as to the Supper whether in that sense there is a simple affectionate way of renewal of our appreciation of the blood from week to week.
AMcK I am sure of that and I feel the need of it. I need to be careful what I say, but I would be very, very reluctant to miss the Supper. I need it personally, and I am sure we all do: we need it from week to week. I think what you say as to relationships, and reaffirming those relationships, is so important when we are surrounded by so much else that will attract us and so much that would draw us in. Week by week reaffirmation of those relationships into which we have been brought reminds us of the peace that has been made so that I can go forward on a Monday morning in the conscious sense of that relationship reaffirmed. I think what you say is helpful.
DJH It is not only our relationships together, but more supremely our relationships with God Himself, and that is our experience as we move on in the service of God, is it?
AMcK Exactly, yes.
WMP What our brother says reminds me of ministry given here by Mr Jim Renton, based on the Supper as nourishment for the believer; and it seems to me that in what has been said about the weekly cycle and what is daily you can see how there is a divine provision for us. So we are not left here exactly to our own resources, are we?
AMcK No: far from it; how paltry those resources are. If we try to do any of these things in our own strength or our own ability it will come to nothing. “Let this mind be in you” – we have been reminded of that and that is where it starts, is it not? He is taking that mind on, a mind that is willing to go down and willing to be emptied in relation to everything that is around us and that brings us into the area where we can follow Him.
PAG I am struck by the fact that we think of the Lord’s sacrifice, but the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have all operated sacrificially in order that there might be glory. We have spoken of “the blood of his own”, that is the blood of God’s own Son: “He who, yea, has not spared his own Son”, Rom 8: 32. And then we have thought much of the Lord’s sacrifice, but the Spirit is spoken of in the Acts as being poured out. The service of divine Persons towards us sacrificially should become a real impetus in our soul to provide something in return. We may, as you say, feel it is paltry, but we should give it anyway.
AMcK Yes, and maybe that brings us to “the word of the cross”, because what it says there is that to those of us that are saved it is God’s power. Now, you have spoken of the pouring out of the Spirit: that is real power for us, real power and real strength to take this pathway and to go this way. It says “to them that perish foolishness, but to us that are saved it is God’s power”. That is a real rock for us, do you think, and the outpouring, as you said, of the sacrificial work of divine Persons; that is where the power comes from, is it?
PAG And again, just struck by what you say, “to us that are saved it is God’s power”, not it was God’s power.
AMcK Yes, Exactly.
PAG Of course, it is the basis on which we were saved, the work of Christ on the cross and all that flowed from that, but it is God’s power to us in a present way; so it is present salvation.
AMcK I think so: it is just on my heart, beloved brethren, as to the importance of the gospel, the importance of the preaching. The King James Version has this as “the preaching of the cross”, and how much we need the preaching. We are saved and we give thanks to God for that and probably most if not all of responsible age in this company in this room know the Lord Jesus as their Saviour. What a tremendous thing that is; but we still need the preaching; we need it week by week, and it is a present power to sustain us in our pathway, do you think?
JAB So do we learn things by hearing the word of the cross that we do not learn anywhere else. I have been thinking of the malefactor: Jesus walked out of that city gate carrying His cross and two others were led with Him to Golgotha. One of them learned the word of the cross: he said, “this man has done nothing amiss” and, “Remember me, Lord”, Luke 23: 41. To the other one it was made vain and that is a sobering thing, because what you have been bringing before us in this reading is the word of the cross. We have been hearing about it: the question is what is going to be the response in me to the word of the cross? It would be a terrible thing if it was made vain, if I just went away without actually having taken in anything that we have been speaking about.
AMcK Yes, I appreciate that. This scripture speaks of “them that perish”, and that is a sobering thought: it should be sobering for those of us that are saved that there are those that perish.
JAB I have often thought of the other malefactor: he had the same chance; he listened to Jesus speaking to the women who were there, hearing Him say things to them and he was dismissive of Him; but the other one got it. We are to get what the word of the cross means, and I trust that we all will as a result of our conversation, do you think?
AMcK And what he is drawn to is “this man”: “this man has done nothing amiss”. Thoughts of himself had fallen away. He says, “Remember me, Lord”: he has a desire to just be remembered; he desires for nothing more than that, and the Lord brings him in right into the centre of His thoughts, “To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise”. So he is brought to “this man”, and that seems to me to be so important. It is the Christ of God: the greatness of the Person is what underlies this, and without that we shall not move forward but with it we have what we need to follow Him, do you think?
TWL The note the “word of the cross” is very interesting: it is logos. The word of the cross is a very positive thing because it brings in the intimate mind and feelings of God in relation to the cross. I was thinking in relation to what has been said as to the malefactor; he understood who was there, but he understood the mind of God and the feelings of God in the One that was there. Is that what is particularly attractive about the word of the cross?
AMcK I think it is: you mean that he had the view as to the kingdom, “Remember me, Lord, when thou comest in thy kingdom”.
TWL Yes, and Christ being the perfect expression of the mind and heart of God: that is what he saw, that is what he heard, that is what we hear by the word of the cross. Would that be right?
AMcK Yes, so the exercise is, are we going to lay hold of the word of the cross, are we going to lay hold of this great power that we have that is available to us? It is not something that we can look at, like you can look at a picture on the wall and appreciate it; this is something to be laid hold of and to make our own because it says, “to us that are saved it is God’s power”. Now that is available to us.
TWL Yes, and the importance of it; Mr Darby said, ‘the cross … is the centre of the history of eternity’, Synopsis vol 3 p360. Anything that there will ever be for God, and anything that will ever be for us, is found there. It starts there for God and for us. That is the importance for all of us of what you are bringing out today, is it?
NJH Does the word of the cross involve authority?
AMcK I am sure it does: say some more.
NJH Well, it “is to them that perish foolishness”: they would accept vain repetition but the word of the cross involves the authority of the cross, does it not? It is God’s power to those that are saved. It is towards you; the whole thing is towards you as you take the matter up, the word of the cross.
AMcK Yes, it carries with it its own authority. “It is God’s power”; it is present power; it is present authority and we find strength and we find liberty, do you think, as we submit to it? As we submit to that authority, and as we take it on for ourselves we will be sustained in it.
JCG That would be involved in the preaching, would it? Paul writes, “we preach Christ crucified”, 1 Cor 1: 23. The word of the cross involves everything that has flowed out from the work of the cross, involving, as Peter stood up to preach, remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2: 38. The power is there. The Lord speaks about that in John 7 at the feast, “out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this he said concerning the Spirit” which “was not yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified” v 38-39. But the word of the cross involves the flowing out of all the blessing, do you think, and we come into the benefit of that?
AMcK Yes, everything in that sense originates from the cross, it all comes from that point.
DJH “Us that are saved”: it is very wide? It is not just saved from our sins: it is very wide, “us that are saved”. All depends upon the word of the cross, does it? It sets us free from everything that would hold us here and detain us and hinder us from entering into the present enjoyment of the purpose of God. I was just thinking of the way it puts it here “to us that are saved it is God’s power”, power of God to bring us into all this, which will be eternal blessings.
AMcK Yes, I appreciate what you say. So in the exercise we are taking up, it is practical salvation for us. There is soul salvation, but this is practical salvation: it will sustain us and it will keep us for Him whilst we are here in the world, do you think?
DJH It is what we are saved for rather than what we are saved from, do you think?
AMcK Very good.
4th October 2014