The Essential Cross of Christ

“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:20

Mankind was separated from God due to his sin (Isa. 59:2). In order for man to be saved after his fall, it was essential for Christ to offer His perfect and sinless blood on the altar of the cross, a reality that had throughout Old Testament history been depicted and foreshadowed in the shedding of the blood of animals (Lev. 16-17; Heb. 10:1-22; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 1:5). The “seed of the woman (Messiah)” had to be a sinless sacrificial offering, hence the virgin birth of the Son of God (Gen. 3:15; Matt. 1:18-23) – “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (God with us).” (Isa. 7:14) All men born after Adam were contaminated with sin and death, and therefore could not possibly bear a sinless child (Rom. 5:12). A divine Father was indispensable.

The sinless “blood of his cross” was the precious and sinless blood of redemption for all mankind (Col. 1:20; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

Of this sacrifice of our LORD Jesus Christ, James A. Fowler writes the following:

“The death of Jesus Christ on a cross is an important truth of the Christian gospel. In fact, it is crucial to the gospel, the crux of the message, if we might employ additional English words derived from the Latin word crux, from which we also derive the English word ‘cross.’

The Greek word which we translate into English as ‘cross’ is stauros. Stauros originally indicated a pointed, vertical stake firmly fixed in the ground. The word was used for ‘fence posts.’ Later the word was used in the Greek language for a wooden stake fixed in the ground and used as an instrument of torture or death. The primary meaning of the word thus became a reference to an execution instrument comprised of wooden timbers and affixed in the ground.” James A. Fowler, The Blood of Christ,

Concerning the sacrificial death and blood of Christ, the spotless Lamb, and what it acquired, Fowler pens also these words:

Propitiation. The shed blood of Jesus in His sacrificial death was the objective satisfaction of God’s death penalty for sin. ‘God displayed Jesus as a propitiation in His blood’ (Romans 3:25).” The Blood of Christ, James A. Fowler

The blessed hymn titled “There is a Fountain,” by William Cowper, attempts to capture the beauty and blessedness of the myriad of glorious benefits purchased by the blood the Savior shed for sinners:

“There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.”

Though we know it to be true – because He told us, exactly how the sinless blood of redemption was imputed to sinful men is a mystery.

“How Jesus transported His precious Blood from Calvary to heaven is not understood by mortal men, but the Scripture shows that He fulfilled the type, and therefore He must have sprinkled His own blood upon the mercy-seat (the throne of God) in heaven.” H. A. Maxwell Whyte, The Power of the Blood. Springdale, Pa.: Whitaker House, pb, 1973, pg. 64

The blood of Christ’s cross is what gives us access to the Father and all of His heavenly treasures, beginning with the gift of eternal life. The New Testament is a “better covenant,” procured by the blood of Jesus, who made possible that “new and living way” of accessing the Father and His divine favor. Because of Christ’s priceless blood and what it obtained for us, born again saints can have complete confidence in approaching the “throne of grace.” (Read Heb. 4:14-16 and rejoice!)

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness (confidence) to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.” Hebrews 10:19-20

It is the blood of Jesus that has procured for us a relationship with God, and granted us the divine grace to walk in what Jesus taught is a “daily” cross we are to “take up” in following Him (Matt. 16:24-25; Lk. 9:23-24). Both “the blood of his cross,” and the daily experiential cross, are vital to the spiritual life. It is the atonement of the cross of Christ that makes possible the grace of God in the life of the rooted and overcoming saint – “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” (Lev. 17:11)

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14

All born after Adam are born spiritually dead and separated from God by sin. We are all hopelessly separated from Him who is “holy, holy, holy,” until He draws us and we choose to respond to His divine influence upon our hearts and repent, placing all our trust in Christ (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8). It is then that we are made new creatures in Christ, regenerated and given grace (divine enablement) to live pleasing to God.

Only the people who begin to realize just how depraved and wicked in heart they are, and how undeserving they are of divine mercy, can begin to appreciate the blood of the Savior. This must be a reality in our hearts and minds, lest we be puffed up unduly. This disciple loves to prayerfully and regularly speak this truth out found in Titus 3:

“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7

It is out of our own depravity and sinfulness that we are rescued by God’s grace and saved into His eternal kingdom (Deut. 6:23-25; Ps. 40:1-3; Eph. 2:1-6; Col. 1:12-14). By this we are then made able to obey His will, pleasing Him in all things (Eph. 2:8-10). Those who have been saved and are presently walking with or abiding in Christ, are being perfected: He is working in them. They are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” (Eph. 2:10) One thing is for sure: His workings in us are what matters first and foremost (Ps. 138:8; 1 Cor. 15:10; Phil. 1:6; 2:12-13). As we are given over to Him, He is working in us “both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:12-13)  When we are truly submitted, His grace-filled workings in us are shown in the works and fruit of our lives (1 Cor. 15:10; Eph. 2:8-10; 3:7; 4:7). Those who are truly His adore Him (Ps. 37:4). They delight in obeying Him whom they love (Ps. 40:8; Jn. 14:15, 21; 1 Jn. 2:3-5). Those who will remain in Christ to the end and be the overcomers who are blessed to dwell with Him forever, will be those who choose to love the LORD their God with all of their hearts, souls, minds, and strength – choose you this day whom ye will serve.” (Josh. 24:15)

As we trust Him fully, daily presenting ourselves living sacrifices to Him, we are made victorious overcomers in all things that glorify the LORD (Rom. 8:37; 12:12). This was all made possible by Christ’s sacrifice, through which God poured out to us His priceless grace that brings us into His kingdom and enables us to walk with Him, pleasing in all things. Listen closely to Titus 2:11-12:

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;”

The books of Romans and Hebrews clearly reveal to us that the law of Moses granted no victory over sin, and this is why the LORD replaced that inferior covenant with this “better covenant” and “so great salvation” purchased for us by Jesus’ very blood (Heb. 2:3; 8:6).

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17

The law of Moses was replaced by the “grace and truth.”

“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:3-4

Now what is “grace?” What does it entail? Grace is defined as the divine influence upon the heart of the believer and the divine enablement in the life of that trusting saint. These definitions seem to be consistent with how the whole of Holy Scripture would qualify grace (in part).

Two Adams – Two Dispositions & Two Destinies

Speaking of the two Adams, the Scripture tells us:

“For since by man (Adam) came death, by man (Jesus) came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” I Corinthians 15:21, 22

All men are born in sin – after their natural progenitor, Adam, the first man. In that inherited state of spiritual death, natural man is separated from God, “alienated from the life of God.” (Eph. 4:18). He has the disposition of depravity and wickedness (Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3). Because of this, the Bible says: “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” (Eccl. 7:20)

Of the two Adams and the natural and spiritual man, the Bible says this:

“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening (life-giving) spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven (second Adam). As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we (the saved) shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” 1 Corinthians 15:45-50

Jesus is the second Adam and “quickening spirit” and “life” who breathes spiritual life into all who repent and believe, as He translates them into His kingdom, causing them to pass from spiritual death to spiritual life (Jn. 1:4; 5:24; 14:6; 1 Cor. 15:45; 1 Jn. 3:14; 5:12).

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24

Any person outside of Jesus Christ is in spiritual death and darkness. God the Father plainly and repeatedly told us that the possibility and surety of pleasing Him was exclusively wrapped up in knowing His Son – the One in whom He is “well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17; 12:18; 17:5; 2 Pet. 1:17, etc.)

“And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17

“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” 1 John 5:12 (Do you have this one memorized yet?)

Of Jesus Christ, the Bible says: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Rom. 4:25)

How did Paul “die daily”? He sentenced himself to death, kept under his body of sin, and was crucified with Christ to the world and the world to him (Gal. 2:20; 6:14). In this God’s grace was overwhelmingly sufficient, granting the victory made possible only by the grace of God provided to us in the blood of Jesus (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

Taking up the cross to follow the Savior who bled is a command, and for good reason, considering that which can be understood from the message of Holy Scripture. The perfection of Christ should become a lived-out reality – manifested – in the lives of all whom He has purchased (2 Cor. 4:10-11). This can only happen by His enabling grace, Holy Spirit, and a continual “bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.” All that are His are not their own, but bought with the price of His blood (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

In the biblical picture, the saved person’s point of initial salvation is only the beginning of his participatory life in the Gospel with our LORD, who bled to buy him back from sin and the wrath to come. His moment of being brought into the kingdom is merely the starting point of his daily, ongoing partaking in the Gospel – the death, burial, and resurrection life of Christ. The genuine disciple of Jesus never outgrows his need for participating with Christ in the Gospel. The “Gospel … is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” (Rom. 1:16) The true disciple follows Christ “daily,” and that includes denying himself so that Jesus can reign in his mortal body (2 Cor. 4:10-11). The person who truly loves the LORD, chooses to obediently delight in daily abstaining from serving self-interests so that he can serve Jesus (Lk. 9:23-24). In daily participation with Christ in His Gospel, the disciple is “raised up” in the power of the Spirit to fully please God (Rom. 8:11).

We must suffer. We must suffer the death of sin and self, and all those who do – only those who do – will be raised up and blessed to be overcomers, who will one day dwell in that New Jerusalem (Rev. 3:5; 21:7).

There is no way to become regenerate outside of the blood of Jesus, which deals with the sinful nature in regeneration (Jn. 1:12-13; 5:24; 2 Cor. 5:17-18; Tit. 3:5-7; 1 Jn. 3:14). Divine “propitiation” creates a new man who is empowered to live powerfully pleasing to God – if he lives by faith in the Spirit (Rom. 3:25; 5:17-21; 6:14; 8:1-14; 2 Cor. 5:17-18; Eph. 4:22-24; 1 Jn. 2:2).

Christ shed His perfect blood on the cross to atone for mankind’s sins, and to redeem and forgive sinners (Col. 1:14). Additionally, His atoning death released divine grace for overcoming victory over all sin, for all who will take seriously His command, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24; Heb. 4:14-16) The cross was an execution instrument the Savior bled upon. When taken up by believers, the cross is an instrument of death to the sinful nature and defiling sins of the body, that the power of God might triumph in magnificent victory in their daily personal lives (Mk. 7:20-23; 2 Cor. 4:10-12, 14; Gal. 2:20; 6:14).

After the fall of man in the Garden of creation, the claims of divine justice were only satisfied by the offering of the spotless Lamb of God (Lev. 16-17; Jn. 1:29). This blessed offering is what allows men the opportunity and privilege to come to God. Heaven’s salvation is wrapped up in one Person – Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Christ stated:

“I am the way … no man cometh to the Father but by me.” John 14:6

PRAYER: Father, thank You kindly for sending Your only begotten Son for me – for all my sins. I am not my own but rather bought with the price of Your blood, Jesus. My life is no longer my own but Yours. I am all yours and You are all mine. This moment I am asking you to multiply Your grace to my life and fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit. I want to know You more and be blessed to be conformed to Your holy image. Amen.

This is a chapter from the book “I Die Daily.”

Capture Points

1.      What was man’s dilemma that Christ came to solve? Genesis 6:5, 12; Isaiah 59:2;  Jeremiah 17:9; and Romans 6:23

2.      Enjoy a triumphal discussion of the sole solution God provided for man’s core problem and dilemma by sending His only begotten Son. Examine the following Scriptures in this dialogue:  Matthew 26:28; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Colossians 1:14, 20; 1 Timothy 1:15; Hebrews 9:22; 1 Peter 1:18-19; and Revelation 1:5 (KJV recommended)

3.      Transcribe 1 John 5:12 onto an index card:  “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (KJV)

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