[House Church Talk] The Cross

bro.oliverpeng bro.oliverpeng at mail.ev1.net
Fri Jan 23 23:52:29 EST 2004


 
Hi, I just registered for the house church talk, but I am not sure how to 
post my comment.  So, here's my first try.  Sorry about the messy 
attempt.  I am trying to reply to Bruce's post on "The Cross."  


A.B. Simpson was so right to point out the wonderful "treasures 
of the hail" (job 38:22-23) as a "haven of rest and inspiration 
of unspeakable power".  The Lord's way is always the way of the 
cross.  His hail is but an agent teaching us to triumph in 
adversity in the mercy and love of Christ.  Job declared in the 
end, "when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold."  So 
echoed Isaiah, "Grain for bread is crushed."  Shall we pass off 
God's way as archaic?  Shall we circumvent the cross?  
Scripturally, genuine spiritual awakening is always preceded by 
repentance.  A broken spirit and contrite heart He has 
desired.  Take the prodigal son.  Take the prostitute who had 
seven demonic spirits cast out of her. 

Perhaps one of the biggest problems facing many students of the 
Word is their inability to understand the two-foldness of the 
Word.  Many precious truths in the bible are impregnated with and 
operating under the principle of two-foldness.  Failure to 
understand the two-foldness of the truth has pitted the 
Calvinists and the Armenians in centuries-old squabbles.  

For instance, John said "He who has the Son has life." And Paul 
said else-where "it is the Spirit that gives life."  On surface, 
this seems to be an oxymoron; if we have the Son we have life 
already, then why would the Spirit give the life that we already 
have?  Herein lies the two-foldness: ESSENTIALLY, we who have the 
Son have life--done deal, no need to struggle for more life.  
But, economically, there is a great need to have more and more 
life imparted into us.  Take the golden lampstand – 
essentially, it is made out of gold.  Gold becomes its essence.  
But ECONOMICALLY, it was beaten into the shape and form of a 
lampstand.  

Essentially, it is gold, economically, it's a lampstand.  Essence 
without economy does not make it very functional, though valuable 
it is.  All Christians have divine life as essence, but not all 
Christians can function and express that life adequately.  Our 
desperate need is to grow and mature and attain the "measure of 
the stature of the fullness of Christ."  It is in this process of 
growing and maturing, our life in the spirit starts to spread 
out, enlarge and invade into our soul life.  This is where the 
Lord's dealing takes place and learning and submission to it 
yields its fruit of the Spirit.  

It is the same with the cross of Christ.  Essentially, the cross 
represents the finished work of Christ.  Done deal.  No need to 
struggle and strive.  We are dead in Him.  We are alive in Him.  
We are complete in Him.  Hallelujah!  What a good news.  
Economically though, we need to let the finished work of Christ 
on the cross subjectively deal with our hidden pride (show me one 
who isn’t plagued by it), our lying tongue, our carnality, 
youthful lust, greed...you name it.  The problem with most 
Christians is that their understanding of the Word is only a 
single-edged sword--long on essence but short on economy.  

Just a casual glance in the Word, and we easily get the sense of 
enlargement.  God called out a single person and made him into a 
family; God took the family and made it into 12 tribes, then the 
12 tribes into a nation.  And God's thought for this nation was 
for it to "become great."  He wanted the nation to spread out and 
enlarge from sea to sea.  The N.T. follows the same principle.  
He started with a single lowly Man from Nazareth and enlarged Him 
into a corporate man, the Church; and eventually, He will 
enlarge the corporate man into a kingdom.  And the "increase of 
His kingdom" is said to be "without end."  May I also submit that 
the increase and the enlargement that the bible speaks about is 
not merely a physical or numerical increase.  It is the increase 
and enlargement of Christ.  Oh, that Christ may fill up, sum up 
and head up all and in all!  

Paul's writings are full of charges to "run the race," "earnestly 
pursue," "press on," "gain Christ," etc....  The Hebrew writer 
three times charged us to "go forward" and "do not shrink 
back."  "If you shrink back," says the Lord, "My soul is not 
pleased with you."  We must ask, if we already have gotten 
all we'll ever need, then why do we need to run the race, pursue, 
press on, gain Christ, come forward and not shrink back?  The 
answer is simple: we have received all the fullness of Christ in 
our spirit essentially.  But we must have our capacity (in our 
soul) enlarged to gain more Christ economically.  

The “ten virgins” may give us some insight.  All ten virgins have 
all the oil (Holy Spirit) they would ever need in their lamps--
the human spirit, for "the spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord" 
(Prov.)  This was given to them.  They did not earn it.  
Likewise, we did not earn the Holy Spirit; we received the Holy 
Spirit when we were saved by grace.  

But the five wise virgins have extra oil in their VESSELS (soul 
life that has been dealt with).  The five foolish ones are told 
to "BUY" the extra oil (for their vessels)!  This is the "gaining 
Christ" that Paul talks about in Phil. 3; it starts to take place 
when our soul life is being dealt with through the subjective 
cross.  The increased measure of Christ in us always comes with a 
price, for the cross is always involved in it.  By the way, the 
price of “oil” is cheap now compared to later when our Bridegroom 
returns.  Those who frown on the teaching of the cross, take 
heed.  Buy now, or they may not be able to afford it.  
Simple "economics."  No pun intended.  

Many Christians have no use for the Lord's dealings.  When 
suffering comes, they ask the Lord to remove it.  When afflicted 
with sickness, they ask for healing.  When strapped financially, 
they ask for prosperity.  When pressed, they ask for escape....  
Not that they, or we, should not seek relief from adversities, 
but their single-minded treatment of all adversities as coming 
from the devil and therefore must be rebuked and stomped leaves 
no room for the Holy Spirit to bring about inward change through 
His chastening.  They are quick to pray for outward changes, but 
no sustaining, transforming and deep inward change takes place.  
Small wonder that the soul power is rampant in the Charismatic 
circle.  The power of the Holy Spirit is greatest only when the 
power of the soul is dealt with and broken!  

The president of my State university recently made a 
comment, “attaching a pair of wings to a caterpillar does not 
make it a butterfly; it is still a caterpillar.”  Butterfly comes 
by transformation only.  There is no instant spirituality.  True 
spirituality must come through much dealings of the cross.  

I have observed as a youngster how silkworms weaved cocoons 
around themselves.  When the process of transformation was 
complete, the moth would chew a hole in the cocoon and begin a 
long and tedious breakout.  Unwilling to see the horrendous 
struggle, I’d take a pair of scissors to cut the hole to help the 
struggling moth.  Alas, it always ended in tragedy!  The moth 
came out deformed and weak.  It was the horrendous struggle that 
made the moth strong and pumped its blood through its wings and 
legs.  My “help” had robbed the poor little creature of its glory 
and doomed it to sickness and early death!  

Some dear brothers frown on any sharing on the cross, dealings, 
and brokenness; but dealings will come regardless whether they 
frown on them or not.  Jesus said, "in the world you WILL have 
tribulations, in Me you may have peace."  These dealings are 
divinely appointed and permitted to mature and perfect us.  He 
chastens those whom He loves, and He scourges every son whom He 
receives.  

It's true that at regeneration we received a perfect and complete 
divine life, and we will not need one ounce more of it.  Paul 
said in Col. that "all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him 
bodily.", and John said "and of His fullness we have all 
received, and grace upon grace."  Since we have all received of 
His fullness, and since we have been made complete in Him, it 
stands to reason that we have no need for anything more, least of 
all dealings and the cross.  The only problem is, these brothers 
who insist on this view fail to realize the need to grow and 
mature.  Just because a baby has all the organs, limbs and 
faculties and life does not assure the baby the full mastery of 
all his organs, limbs and faculties.  He has to grow.  And growth 
is full of perils, stumbling, mistakes and defeat.  The Lord uses 
each peril, stumbling, mistake and defeat to train His children 
for reigning and glory in maturity.  Those who reject dealings 
also neglect growth and maturity, to say nothing of 
reigning and glory.  

The church is the counterpart of Christ--a living body who is 
constituted in character with Christ and conformed to the image 
of Christ.  Just how is the lowly and humble character of the 
Lamb constituted into us?  More often than not, it is HAMMERED 
into us much the same way the golden lampstand in the Holy Place 
is hammered from one lump of gold.  Whether we are yielding to or 
balking at the hammering of the Holy Spirit determines whether we 
are the lampstand, the church.  The sweet fragrance of Christ can 
only come from broken alabaster bottles.  

People who are familiar with T. Austin-Sparks' teaching on the 
cross have commented: "Another focus was the subjective 
experience of the cross of Christ, going beyond forgiveness to 
deliverance from the power of sin and self as described in Romans 
chapter six, and leading on to a walk with others in newness of 
life in a corporate or church fellowship....  It was his emphasis 
on the subjective work of the cross in human lives that 
distinguished TAS' early messages from other 'deeper life' 
ministries of that period.  It supplied people with a positive 
meaning for and inward peace about their sufferings and the 
sometimes painful divine disciplines that they encountered in 
this life."  Another one of his fellow-workers commented: "He 
preached a gospel of full salvation by simple faith in 
Christ's sacrifice, but he further stressed that the one who 
knows the cleansing by the blood of Jesus should also allow the 
same cross to work in the depth of the soul in order to be 
released from self and thus find a less carnal and more spiritual 
walk with God.  TAS himself had gone through a crisis of self-
undoing by his acceptance of the cross' verdict on his old 
nature, and had found it to be the introduction into an 
altogether new enjoyment of Christ's life, an 'open heaven' as he 
would often say."  ("Theodore Austin-Sparks-Reflection on His 
Life and Work" by Angus M. Gunn)  


Carnal-minded Christians view the cross as a curse that brings 
sufferings, poverty and deprivation therefore must be shunned.  
Other Christians view it as great deliverance that saved us from 
death into life, but refuse to acknowledge its subjective power 
to daily release us from self and to produce the character and 
fragrance of Christ in us economically.   True spirituality 
includes both the essential aspect and the economical aspect.  
One cannot stand without the other.  May the Holy Spirit help 
deepen our perception and enlarge our heart for a truly blessed 
walk with the Lord, and may He temper our temperament to produce 
both the essential and the economical unto the testimony of 
Jesus.  

Blessings to all, 

Oliver  
 

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