The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another
A Cosmic Cross: A Cosmic Death
So, from the death of Death, which Paul saw in the Cross, the death of Death has taken place: Christ risen, HE IS ALIVE FOREVERMORE. And Paul saw more: he saw that that Cross was, to use the word we have used before, it was a cosmic Death. That is, it reached out beyond the individual and beyond the race to that whole encompassing realm of evil forces which had brought about this condition, making that judgment necessary. And as He went to the Cross, Jesus said, "Now is the prince of this world (cosmos) cast out." And later the apostle said, "He stripped off principalities and powers ... made a show of them openly ... triumphing over then in His Cross." A cosmic Cross, a cosmic Death, touching the uttermost bounds of the lower heavenlies, destroying him that had the power of death, that is, satan.
Paul came to see all this when he saw by revelation of God His Son revealed "in him," and so, let us come further over into this matter of the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Exaltation of the Lord Jesus. You see,
IF the revelation of Jesus Christ comprehends all those three things that we have said, comprehends the destiny of humanity (one side of humanity's destiny is judgment, out of Christ: the other side of humanity is glory, in Christ) -
IF in the seeing of Jesus Christ in his heart revealed, Paul saw the nature and the dynamic of all true ministry during this whole dispensation -
IF he also saw, began to see, and saw with increasing fullness as he went on, the nature and the vocation of the Church now and in the ages to come -
IF he saw all those three mighty things in the Face of Jesus Christ, in the Person of Jesus Christ - that is, n the presence and revelation of Jesus Christ -
IF he saw all that (and remember, this is the vital thing for this morning), Paul saw that all that human destiny, all that ministry through the centuries, and all that place and vocation of the Church in time and in eternity,
PAUL SAW THAT IT WAS ALL CENTERED IN THE CROSS OF THE LORD JESUS.
Mighty, mighty thing was the Cross to Paul. "May it never be," said he, "that I should boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ ... We preach Christ crucified ... I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified," for all this content is in the Cross of the Lord Jesus. Paul saw that the Cross of Jesus Christ was the climax of humanity. He saw that the Cross of Jesus Christ was the zero hour of the old Adam race, the place at which in the darkness (ah, more than natural darkness) God said: "The door is closed, the door is closed upon a certain kind of humanity. This is zero for that humanity." We take a lifetime to learn that. When the Holy Spirit gets hold of a life, He is always bringing us back to that, that one fact, and putting His finger upon this and that, and something else, and saying to us: "That went out though the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; the Cross has closed the door on that. If you bring that in, you are countering the work of the Cross."
In the letter to the Hebrews, as well as in these Corinthian letters, it is a terrible, terrible thing to go back upon the Cross and crucify afresh the Son of God and stamp upon the Blood of our redemption. Oh, the apostles had a lot to say about that, but that is controversial; however, it is not our subject this morning, but there it is. Brethren, the Cross has said an eternal "No" to the whole kind, type, and way of a certain humanity. The Holy Spirit is trying to teach us that; and if you are sensitive to the Holy Spirit, you know quite well what the Holy Spirit will allow and what He will not, or you ought to.
Oh, young Christians especially, but all of us, how important it is for us to know the Holy Spirit in this way. You go to this one, and to that one, going around asking your questions, "Ought I? May I? Should I? Can I?' No need for that at all; and if anybody begins to tell you "you may? or "you may not," they are doing the wrong thing. You ought to know in your own heart by the Holy Spirit, if you are born of the Spirit, you ought to know by the Spirit making you uncomfortable about certain things. Not whispering in your ear in words and saying: "No, you must not do that," but inside. "I'm not so happy about this as I once was; I don' feel so free to do these things as I once did." You know what I mean; the Holy Spirit is only bringing you back to the Cross and saying again: "zero to that, the end of that, that belongs to the old humanity."
Brethren, I must not start with too much detail, but the Cross of the Lord Jesus is a very practical thing. The Cross is not just an historic thing. The Cross is not just something in the Christian creed. The Cross of the Lord Jesus is a devastating thing, a terrific thing, and it takes us a lifetime to learn how much that is true. However, the fact is here from the beginning: it is the zero hour of the Adamic race. And furthermore,
THE CROSS IS THE REGISTRATION OF THE SUBJECTION OF THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD.
"Now the whole world lieth in the wicked one," says the apostle, "the whole world lieth (is in the lap of) the evil one." By nature, we are in that realm, in that kingdom, but the great and mighty work of the Cross is this transition - "hath transferred" (or transitioned) us out of the authority of darkness "into the kingdom of the Son of His Love." By nature we are within that kingdom of the prince of this world, but at the Cross Jesus said, "Now is the prince of this world cast out." Now what did Christ mean? Not the annihilation of the devil. We know that quite well. Not that he ceased to be a being or to have power, but something better than that. Perhaps you know there is such a thing as victory, and there is something more than victory; there is being a conqueror, and there is being more than conqueror. What do I mean?
Many of you can remember, although in America, perhaps, you did not take much account of it and do not know much about it, but some of us lived through the great Boer Wars in South Africa; and you know how that went on and on, and what devastation and desolation that Boer War saw in South Africa. At last, the British gained the upper hand and captured some of the Boer generals, and among them was General Botha: does that name mean anything to you? He was one of the great generals of the Boer army; and they captured him, and they put him in prison. He was conquered. As Botha watched the British, as he watched their way, their life, and learned the truth about them, he began to change. At last, to make the story short, he became of the Britain's best counselors an allies. The life of General Botha is a wonderful thing - how highly he was honored and respected. Even into the First World War he came as a helper, a great helper on the side of the British. What had happened? Ah, yes, he was conquered - but there was more than conqueror; the enemy was made an ally.
Oh, you say,, "Is satan for us then?" No, he is not for us. I suppose that analogy breaks down here, but what do we find in the New Testament? "I would have you know, brethren, the things which befell me have fallen out for the furtherance ..." And those things which befell were satanic activities, and the Lord has taken hold of satan's work and made them serve His End. That is more than conqueror!
Perhaps we would rather that the Lord would wipe him out, wipe out his resistance altogether; but it is better that the Lord in His All-Authority in heaven and on earth makes the enemy in the long run serve His Purpose. That is more than conqueror. You and I know that he is an unwilling servant, but you have this all the way through your New Testament, such as: "saints in Caesar's household..." etc.
You see, the Cross was the registration of this subjection to Jesus Christ of the prince of this world. The Cross was the sentence of death upon the world itself, (I am keeping to Paul again), the sentence of death upon this world which lies under a curse. Jesus Himself as He came to the Cross knelt in prayer and lifted His heart to His Father in the presence of some of His disciples and said, "They are not of this world, even as I am not of this world. I pray not that Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but keep them from the evil one." The world is banned, the world system, the world spirit, the world influence is banned by the Cross. There is no such hing as a worldly Christian. And if you are worldly, you are contradicting your Christian life. However, here it is, the Cross pronounced the death sentence upon this world.
That is the negative side, but the Cross as Paul saw it in Jesus Christ was the D-Day of a New Creation. "D-Day" - what is that? Deliverance Day! Peter must walk in here and say to us:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath begotten us again into a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God.
The D-Day - a New hope for a New Creation: a creation that breaks into New Life, New hope through the Cross in the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
A NEW CREATION, A NEW LIFE, A NEW HOPE THROUGH THE CROSS IN THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS FROM THE DEAD.
(continued with # 3 "Ministry By The Spirit On The Ground of the Cross")