THE CROSS AND THE NEW CREATION (EXCERPT OF A STUDY GUIDE FOR THE BOOK OF GALATIANS)
From: A Study Guide for the Book of Galatians
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The cross is the center, the core of the Kingdom of God. Every member of the Kingdom of God is to view the creation from the cross. The saint does not seek his own will but the will of God. The cross ensures that the will of God is done in the Kingdom of God.
Being crucified with Christ purifies the believer of self-will. The cross of the saint destroys self-will, personal ambition, fleshly enthusiasm, self-centeredness, self-love from his personality.
Living a crucified life means there always is a point of pain in our consciousness. We never can completely relax, settle back and be at ease in Zion.
But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)
In what did Paul boast? In the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The world and worldly Christians do not want to hear about the cross. They cover their eyes. The cross makes no sense. Circumcision is a religious observance people can practice, something they can do to demonstrate their adherence to their religion.
What can one do with the cross? Believe in it. Enter it. Embrace it. Carry it. Boast in it.
Every true minister of the Gospel of Christ serves from his position on the cross.
God always meets man at the cross. The cross is portrayed by the Altar of Burnt Offering, which was located in front of the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
“This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet you to speak with you. (Exodus 29:42)
By faith we assign our whole first personality to die on the cross with Jesus.
knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. (Romans 6:6)
We Christians boast in the cross because the cross is the power of God to salvation.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (I Corinthians 1:17,18)
The cross as a way of salvation is an offense to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.
but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,
but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (I Corinthians 1:23,24)
The cross brings us down to weakness so the power of God may flow from our life to other people.
For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. (II Corinthians 13:4)
The cross is the center, the core of the Kingdom of God. Every member of the Kingdom of God views the creation from the cross. Therefore he does not seek his own will but the will of God.
The cross ensures that the will of God is done in the Kingdom of God. Being crucified purifies the believer of self-will. Living a crucified life means there always is a point of pain in our consciousness. We never can completely relax, settle back and be at ease in Zion.
The personal cross of the believer destroys self-will, personal ambition, fleshly enthusiasm, self-centeredness, self-love. We take up our cross and we do the Father’s will, and the pain removes the personal motivation. We lose the desire to be preeminent in the Kingdom because of the cost to us.
Religious observances cannot add to the effectiveness of the cross. Religious acts, such as circumcision, can only detract from the wisdom and power of the cross of Christ. This is why Paul, in writing to the Galatians, pointed toward the cross.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? (Galatians 3:1)
And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. (Galatians 5:11)
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
Our common position on the cross makes the Jewish believer and the Gentile believer one Body of Christ.
and that He might reconcile them both [Jews and Gentiles] to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. (Ephesians 2:16)
Our death with Christ on the cross frees us from the legal requirements of the Law of Moses.
Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. (Romans 7:4)
Death on the cross is an act of obedience to God our Father.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:8)
The “Christians” who live in the flesh, serving themselves by using the things of Christ to their own advantage, are the enemies of the cross.
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: (Philippians 3:18)
The true saint of God fixes his attention on Jesus, endures the death of the cross, and makes his pilgrimage toward the right hand of God.
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
The saints love the cross. The cross is painful and humiliating and it is despised by the world. It is a sharing in the sufferings of Christ. But the cross is the only path to joy, to peace, to victory over the world, over Satan, and over our flesh and self-will, to fruitfulness and dominion. The cross is the wisdom of God and the power of God. The cross can be seen and felt in the personality and ministry of the man of God.
There is a reproach, a scandal associated with the cross of Christ. The person who gladly bears the shame of the cross is heading straight toward the throne of the Father in Heaven.
The cross is the means, and the only means, of destroying the self-seeking of the human personality. Ministry apart from the cross is self-willed, self-seeking, self-vaunting, self-centered.
The cross is both the wisdom and the power of God Almighty.
The cross is God’s response to the self-centeredness of man. Religious people erect elegant structures in order to “glorify God.” But God is glorified in the cross of Christ. Herod’s Temple was just that—Herod’s Temple. It was not God’s Temple. The same is true with all the striving of men.
Men build tabernacles but God builds the cross.
How wise is God! How superior in every way!
The true saint, as did Paul, beholds the whole world hanging on the cross. The world died with Christ. It is finished.
There are three crosses on Golgotha. God is hanging there. The saved thief is hanging there. The unsaved thief is hanging there.
The true saint is on the cross with Christ and beholds the world from his position of helplessness on the cross. The crucified saint looks constantly to the Lord for the eternal power of the Spirit of God. It is this incorruptible wisdom and power that gives life to the saint and overflows from him so that humanity is released from the chains of Satan.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, (Romans 6:5)
The cross is our protection against deception. The believer who attempts to evade the cross will be deceived by Satan (Matthew 16:23). God Himself will send delusion on him (II Thessalonians 2:11).
There is no way around the cross. Whoever is unwilling to forsake all, and to take up his cross and follow Jesus, is unworthy of the Kingdom of God. He cannot be a disciple.
The cross is a prison from which we cannot escape without breaking God’s laws, for it is God who has locked us up.
The cross is a pinnacle. We are not to jump from it “by faith in God’s Word.” It is a place of waiting, of restrictions, of suffering, of patience.
It is God’s will that we suffer in this confinement, this prison. It is God’s will that our most intense desires are withheld from us. It is God`s will that we are required to keep serving Him in situations that are frustrating us and that keep us praying every moment, day and night.
The believer who forces his way out of God’s prison may gratify his flesh for a season but his end will be grief, disillusionment, anguish, disappointment, loss of fruitfulness, loss of authority, loss of the Kingdom of God.
He who saves his life surely shall lose it.
He who loses his life for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s certainly shall find his life again, and eternal fruitfulness with it. His life will be transformed, having been blended eternally with the life of Christ. His fruit will be equal to that of the obedient Abraham—it shall multiply forever.
The cross is the glory, the boast of the Christian. It brings him down to helplessness. From the cross he arises in Christ renewed, transformed, vindicated totally, ruler over all.
How about you, dear reader? Will you go to the cross? Or will you attempt to serve Christ in your own manner? The cross is the path, the only path to the desires of your heart.
What is the most important accomplishment of the Gospel of Christ? A new creation.
If any person be in Christ there is a new creation. Circumcision performed on the physical body is of no Kingdom consequence whether it is performed or not performed.
The new creation is the Kingdom of God.
When an individual is born again the new creation is begun. Little by little, command upon command, rule upon rule, the human personality is brought into eternal union with God through Christ.
What is brought forth when the new covenant has prepared its perfect work?
Let us use the Apostle Paul for an example. What will come forth from Paul’s life when the Kingdom of God has been brought to fullness in him? Is it only a saved Paul? No. Is it Christ Himself? No. Neither of these is the new creation who is brought forth in Paul. Well then, what or who is the new creation?
The new creation is an eternal union of Paul and Christ. Paul is present and intact in the new creation. Christ is present and intact in the new creation. There is a new creation—the eternal, incorruptible, inseparable blend of Christ and Paul.
How puny, how futile, how inconsequential appear circumcision and the observance of holy days when viewed in the radiant glory of the majesty of the new creation.
The Kingdom of God is the enlargement of God Himself through Christ through people. Would we add circumcision and other religious observances to God?
All religious observances are scaffolding. They are helps to bring us into union with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Kingdom of God begins in us as a tiny seed. If we care for the seed, not choking it out with sin or the cares of the present age, that small seed will grow in us until our spirit, our soul, our mind, our emotions, our bones, our motives, our imaginations, our joys, our hopes, our will, are all part of Christ.
There is a new creation. Is the name of the new creation, Paul? No. Is the name of the new creation, Christ? No. It is a new creation. What will we name the new person?
Christ will give him a new name. He has been formed from the eternal union of a human being and Christ. He is one with Christ as Christ is one with God. He lives by Christ as Christ lives by God the Father (John 6:57).
God became a man. God became flesh and bone and dwelt among us in the Person of Christ. This is an eternal change in the Person of God, for never before has God become a man.
When Christ rose from the dead, a man (although God) rose from the dead and ascended to the highest throne of the universe. God now reveals Himself as the Man, Christ.
Can you imagine the amazement of the elect angels over this new expression of God?
The Kingdom of God came into being when Christ rose from the dead.
Every time a human being is born again it is Christ who is born in him and formed in him. This is a further incarnation, a further revelation of the Lord God of Heaven. God in Christ is seen in the saint who is crucified with Christ. God is eternally enlarging His Being in saints who have become a unique expression of His Person.
Christ died that we may live. Now it is our turn. We must die so that Christ can be enlarged. If we cling to our life Christ cannot be revealed in us.
If we grasp our life and possessions, hold on to people and supposed advantages, not allowing the Holy Spirit to do as He will in us and to us, we will lose our life. In addition Christ will lose an opportunity to appear to the world in a wonderfully unique manner. We must die if He is to live.
When we give ourselves without reservation to God, allowing Christ to fill every element of our personality, consenting to the transformation of all that we are, our personality will become all God meant it to be.
A change in what we fundamentally are is very threatening, very difficult for people. Believers may be willing to gain victory over one sin or another. But when it comes to a change in what we are, we resist the Lord. It seems that each of us has some major aspect of personality, some part of Adam, that characterizes us, that is what we are.
Our Christian life may be occupied to a large extent with a struggle against the symptoms of our particular kind of personality, which may be romantic, or filled with a desire for power or status, or ready to judge other people, or apt to harbor bitterness and revenge, or withdrawn, or flirtatious, or capricious, or violent, or fearful, or grasping and covetous, or requiring luxury, or a manifestation of some other adamic trait.
While we may be willing to deal with various sins and shortcomings, when the Holy Spirit begins to require a change in what we basically are we may refuse to proceed with the work of transformation. God’s army of overcoming sons will include only those who have been willing to allow God to crucify and resurrect their personality as He will.
It is only in Christ that our potential is realized. It is only in Christ that the uniqueness of our personality is developed and clarified. Apart from Christ we are “without form and void.”
When the Spirit of God moves on the “deep” of our being, order appears. There is a separation of our spiritual nature from our soulish nature. “Dry land” appears. “Vegetation” (spiritual life) is produced.
Then the all-powerful Creator begins to form us in His image, to bring us into union with Himself and with one another, and to lead us in the path which results in very great fruitfulness, and dominion over all the works of God’s hands.
Without Christ we remain unformed. As the Life of Christ is formed in us the image of God in us is revealed for all to witness.
What is the Kingdom of God?
The Kingdom of God is the forming of the Life of Christ in a human being. The Kingdom of God consists of human beings in whom Christ has been brought forth. In order for the Kingdom of God to exist there must be two births. There must be the birth from a woman, and then Christ must be born in us.
The Kingdom of God is the union of a human being with God through Christ.
When Jesus appears, those whose life Christ is will appear with Him. The appearance of Christ and those in whom He is formed and abiding is the coming of the Kingdom of God into the earth.
In the present hour the Kingdom of God is at the right hand of the Father. Every person in whom Christ is living is there at the right hand of God—in and with Christ (Colossians 3:1-4).
In the Day of Christ, the Kingdom of God, which is Christ and those in whom Christ is dwelling, will be revealed in the fullness of the power of God for all nations to behold (John 17:21-23).
The world is to repent because the Kingdom of God is at hand and soon will be a visible reality in the earth. When the Kingdom of God comes to the earth all sin will be destroyed.
What does the Apostle Paul confer on those who place the development of the new creation above religious rites?
Peace and mercy.
What name does Paul apply to those in whom the new creation is coming forth?
The Israel of God.
(“The Cross and the New Creation”, 3202-1)