Friday, April 10, 2009

From Cross To Crown: Part One

I want to start off this article by giving all praise and honor and thankfulness to God for the Cross. I am forever indebted to Him and grateful beyond description for the laying down of His life on my behalf. I am undeserving of such a sacrifice and He first loved me. Even in my defiance and rejection of Him, He laid down His life and bore my sins in order that I might live. As I grew older and went my own selfish ways, He loved me. He preserved me. His sacrifice purchased me. I am enabled to be made a new creation by Him because of His suffering, His death and His resurrection.

With this being said, it is time for the Body of Christ to move past the cross. I do not mean, in any way, that we are to move past it in the sense of “forget it ever happened”. That would be ridiculous and major error. But I do believe that it is detrimental to the Body of Christ to forever “cling to the ‘ol rugged cross” and never move into the deeper revelations of Jesus, The Christ.

In fact, I believe it is time that we turn it loose!

It is time for balanced Christianity. Jesus did not rise from the dead as the same man that walked the earth. Nor was He some new-and-improved Jesus. He was Jesus, The Christ, the anointed Messiah!

We constantly hear about the cross. The average Gospel message is seemingly always limited to the cross and my sin. But this is only a piece of the entire puzzle! The Cross is the action that needed to take place in order for us to be restored to God. After I embrace the Cross and what truly took place at my salvation, it is time to move into deeper matters. It is time to embrace The Christ and understand what the Cross has enabled me for. The way I see it according to The Word is this – the Cross is the starting point. Embracing what Jesus Christ has done and exchanging my will of flesh for His will of the Spirit is the catalyst to thrust me into new creation status. It is in vain if I stay there at the foot of the cross always weeping over my sinful ways and horrific past that Jesus’ death and resurrection redeemed.

Jesus did not die on the Cross in order for us to put up a tent at the foot of it!

For just one small example of how prevalent this mindset is, here is the title of a fellow blogger’s most recent article, and I quote, “We’re all just jacked-up, dirty, rotten, filthy, nasty sinners”. I say, speak for yourself! I am in Christ. I am a new creation. A King. An approved son. A Priest. An heir. An Ambassador for Christ. A representative of the Kingdom of God. Reborn, renewed and enamored with the things of the Spirit! I'm not ignorant to the fact that I now live in a body of flesh but for the life of me, I just can’t figure out why in the world the Body of Christ is so enamored with their sin and wretchedness all the time. Well, I believe that much of the reason why is because we’re always sitting at the foot of the cross weeping over how “horrible” we are as sinners.

I believe this is error and not what the LORD desires. I believe, if He were writing this, He would say the following. I encourage you take heed to these words.

“Do you not see why I suffered and died? Do you not understand that My resurrection was set in place in order to set you free? Salvation means deliverance, healing, freedom, liberty! Move on! Move up! Get past your sin and failures! Be what my death and resurrection were meant to enable you to be. Be an overcomer! Be a heavenly race that holds their head high and boasts in My name! You’re so worried about being prideful that you never move out of your past and live free. Stand up! Move! Live! Just as I did not stay bound to death and the grave, neither should you. I did not stay on the cross. I did not stay in the tomb. You too, arise! Come forth and live! Proclaim that I am alive!”

In order to explain what I mean a bit more, I thought that it would be fitting to post a small excerpt of some studies and writings that I did several months ago regarding the qualities and characteristics of The Christ.

To get right to the point and boldly state it, He is not "just Jesus" any more, for He is no longer flesh and blood. He is not just a little baby in a manger. He is not just the sacrificial Lamb. He’s not that guy with the beautiful, wavy hair in the old wooden framed picture that is hanging on the wall of your church! (gasp) He is not just the One that overcame death and the grave. Jesus, The Christ in the form of man, was simply part of the plan hidden in the heart of the Father before time began. In His transformation, we should see ourselves. Just as Christ is no longer in the flesh as Jesus, I am no longer merely flesh and bone, but it is Christ who lives in me.

His entire journey is the metaphor: In God before time – came to earth as flesh – died – resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit – a new creation, seated now at the right hand of the Father. Do you see yourself in this beautiful journey? I pray that you do because this is your salvation! Still don’t see it? Let’s read Romans chapter six, verse four: “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” We are now in Christ so that we too might move on, raised from death to life. Jesus did not stay on the cross, nor did He remain in the tomb! Why should we? He came that what? "That we might have life and have it more abundantly!" (John 10:10)

* Part Two of two will be posted tomorrow


Jason said...

Well you've gone and done it again - I'm offended... yet again I feel compelled to address what I've known to be "it". There is no end to the mystery of the Gospel.

mark-main said...

As always thought provoking stuff. Keep pressing on. The things you say desperately need to be heard today.

Ben Goudie said...

Surely, on Good Friday at least, the cross is worth dwelling on, that we might be the gladder for it, and reach Easter jubilant? As a matter of interest, would you disagree (for the same reason, that it suggests a sizable acknowledgement of sin to be put aside) with penitent fasting?

I've been avidly following your blog for a couple of months now, and had rather hoped my first comment would be a more intelligent one than this (for I suspect I'm missing your point somewhat), but isn't this the least appropriate time to make this point?

Joel Spencer said...

Jason: I'd like to say I'm sorry I offended you, but I'm not really. Although I never set out to offend anyone, it is inevitable. It is often in offense that I grow and mature because it forces me to address what I personally cling to. All of us have a choice to make - be offended and reject even the thought of looking into what differs from what I believe to be "it" or at least sit back and seek the LORD about it all. I hope that we all do the latter.

Mark: There is surely no end to the depths we can go. Glad to be going alongside you.

Ben: Thanks for stopping by and welcome! If the Body were not so enamored with the Cross (unhealthily, I believe) and little if anything else further 364 days a year, this would not be an issue. However, it would seem that the average Believer rarely ever moves out from "dwelling upon" the Cross. Sin needs dealt with - I would never attempt to insinuate otherwise. It is what takes place after being born from above that needs addressed (or rather, what does not).

As far as the timing of this article, it seemed as appropriate as ever to make it public during the "Easter" season. I often post things I've written weeks or even months ago whenever I feel prompted to.

Thanks for your input and viewpoints. It will always be welcome here.

NINA said...

Good blog, What better time to address this issue than this. The sole purpose of "the cross" was so that The Christ could fulfill his purpose. It was just a means to an end.In those days everyone was crucified on crosses. The significance of Christ was that he died and rose again. Therefore the power is not in the cross, but in the resurrection. It never ceases to amaze me how people cling to their crosses in the times of need.I know I am gonna catch it for saying this, but the truth is that Jesus was at his weakest when he was on the cross. He was fearful and He doubted God.Just read His last words(which by the way was not 7 contrary to what we are traditionally taught) This was the point where His flesh was most evident though it was a part of the plan. Yes, Jesus went through the beatings and suffering at the cross so that we can live but the prophecy was not fulfilled until He rose with the power.We as believers should recognize and appreciate His suffering, but we should be clinging to His power.It was His resurrection that makes us Victorious and gives us power over the enemy. It is fine for us to celebrate Good Friday and yes we should appreciate His suffering. But it is time for many of us to do as Jesus did and move beyond the cross. Not literally, but spiritually.His death gave us salvation, but we as a people need to learn to move to a higher level than "just" salvation.There is more to "LIFE" than the death on the cross.

Ben Goudie said...

If I might make a reply to NINA, I spent much of this morning generating a (for me) fairly cohesive argument against your point (which was to have posited that the crucifixion and pentecost are where the business all occurred, and the resurrection wasn't, in itself, all that vital to our kingdom lives when compared to them), but a sermon by Martin Luther has just pointed out to me that Romans 4:25 rather backs you up (rather to my surprise).

I now feel faintly confused about the relationship between the two days, but it's Easter Saturday, so I have time to give it due consideration before Easter Day (when, incidentally, and to my delight, pancakes come back into season)

NINA said...

Ben- Good Friday or Jesus being crucified is "what sealed the deal".There was no turning back and it made salvation available to everyone. But when He arose with the power and had obtained the "keys" to death, hell, and the grave is what makes believers able to sustain. It was when he walked in His purpose as the Messiah. It is what truly proved that He is the son of the living God. Without the resurrection it could have been argued that He was no greater than the prophet Elijah. It is like when someone is voted President, that person is not officially recognized as President until the inauguration. They have done what needed to be done to be voted in,(Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead etc.). The candidate is then recognized by all as a potential candidate(art thou the Christ or should I look for another) and then voted in.(Jesus was crucified) All of the necessary steps are complete but they wont gain full power until after inauguration.(Jesus rose from the dead with all power in His hands) The same goes for us, when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior we are saved. But our purpose is not complete. There is a greater purpose for us than just salvation. Destiny is not fulfilled until we walk in that purpose. I believe that this is the point that Joel is making.

Ben Goudie said...

NINA, I now understand you slightly less than before - are you saying the resurrection was just to prove that it could be done, to show that death was and reassure the church that the crucifixion was a great success (not that these things are by any means insignificant), or are you and Joel saying that the resurrection had a spiritual purpose beyond the expository 'I'm popping back to mention that it all worked out'? I'm pretty sure the answer here is 'yes, of course', but I'm curious to enquire.

NINA said...

Ben- no the resurrection is what officially completes Christs mission.The cucifixion was just a means to an end. When Jesus stated "it is finished" that meant that His "earthly" assignment was complete.He was about to graduate to a new level. He would return as King.When you are in school on the last day of class you are done. But there is more to your assignment than completing the course. The course was intended for a greater purpose. If you are going to med school, you are going to be a doctor. Once you finish med school, you are no longer a student, you then graduate to become a doctor.It is not over on the last day of class.You have just completed your requirements. Jesus graduated to King after he completed His course. He was a new being after He arose. The cross was just a means to an end. The final step to Him gaining all power. He did not have all power at first, it was limited by the flesh. This is why when He went to His home town He had limited miracles and He had to pray to the Father all of the time throughout His pre-cross walk. This is why Satan was able to temp Him in the Garden. When He died in the flesh, He was no longer bound by the flesh because it had been put into total submission. He gained victory over death, because it no longer had an effect on Him. He walked totally in the spirit. It was not until the resurrection that He walked in His purpose, because before the resurrection He was in the process of becoming. When He was crucified the process was finished and now because of the resurrection HE IS who He was purposed to be.

Ben Goudie said...

I'd never thought of it quite like that. So, just to clarify: which, out of Good Friday and Easter Sunday, is the most important day in history? It's still the Friday, right, where atonement was made, and everything was sorted out..? My apologies if I'm repeatedly missing a point here.

My understand here is, Jesus was sent, that he might be crucified to atone for our sins (and then resurrected, rather than having been sent to be resurrected in power (being crucified to atone for sins along the way).

Sunday seems to attract all the celebration, with Good Friday being quite reasonably received with a great deal of glumness, but surely, come 3pm on the Friday, the great celebration of our freedom arrived. This was the day that the thief on the cross was in paradise, and this was surely the day that Christ was crowned with glory in Heaven. Isn't Good Friday when it was all acomplished, finished and complete, rather than the Easter morning resurrection being the time to announce 'it is finished'?

Jesus' post-resurrection life in the Bible, as I recall, is detailed quite briefly, and is principally one of encouragement and reassurance that yes, he is indeed the Messiah. God's action in the New Testament seems more to be based in Jesus' pre-crucifixion, mortal life, and through the spirit, on and after Pentecost.

It's quite likely that what I'm asking about here is merely a matter of semantics, but I feel compelled to ask, in case I'm undervaluing the meaning and purpose of the post-resurrection appearances, or misinterpreting the crucifixion.

Would it make any sense if I mentioned that I watched 'Ben-Hur: a Tale of the Christ' last night, in which the crucifixion is the event providing healing, inspiration and faith, and the resurrection is only ambiguously shown. (A magnificent film, and one which plays a key role in my testimony)

NINA said...

Ben-Actually they both had their significance.It took the crucifixion to achieve the resurrection. The bible had no need to talk about the post resurrection days because we ARE in-fact the post resurrection accounts that were not mentioned in the bible. We benefit in our daily lives from the resurrection. When we are sick and then healed, when we ask for things in Christs name and it is done. When He make use of the power over the enemy. We are the "To Be Continued....."The crucifixion is relevant. This is not the point being made. The point is that many people cant get pass "just" salvation. Yes Jesus being crucified was the greatest gift He gave to man, but there was more. There was things that happened in the spiritual realm after the crucifixion that gave Jesus the ultimate power as well as us his followers powers over the enemy. The problem is that people cant spiritually get pass the cross to walk in the fullness of Christ. This happens with relationship and by dieing to the flesh and walking in the spirit. This is what Jesus meant when He said pick up your cross and follow me. His last stop was not the cross and our last stop should not be just salvation. God's people seem to have become complacent and too content with the cross.When we finish school by completing our final exams, should we just be content and say it is finished. There is other steps to take. We have have paperwork to complete and we have to graduate. After graduation, we have to operate in purpose. Had Jesus just finished His assignment at the cross salvation would be available, yes we would have life but not more abundantly. The point is not that the crucifixion is irrelevant, but that we are not accessing the benefits of the resurrection.

Ben Goudie said...

Ah, then I think our difference may indeed be a semantic one - whilst I acknowledge that salvation, like a marriage ceremony, is a beginning not an end, I think I've been regarding the trinity in a more consectutive way. I'll give a very basic breakdown:
Creation to Anno Domini, the Father does stuff. The Jewish era, if you will
33 years at the front end of AD, pre-resurrection the Son does stuff.
From hereon (the Christian era) our terminologies, but probably not meanings, seem to divide. From here I tend to assume that the things God does on Earth, and the things his servants here do for him, are by the Spirit (though in the name of the Christ), while I think you're describing the same things, but still done by the son, the Christ (which leaves me wondering what the spirit does here).

I realise there's much more crossover between which part of the trinity does what and when than I've described in this brief sketch.

I'm curious to know, while we're at it, what effect praying or endeavouring to heal by Jesus' name during the three days between the crucifixion and the resurrection would have had. I can only assume it would have worked (God willing), as much, at least, as it would between the resurrection and Pentecost (two days which, like Christmas and New Year, would make more sense if they occurred simultaneously).

NINA said...

The Holy spirit was sent as a comforter. It was for guidance. The Son was sent for redemption and power comes from Him. This is why we ask things in His name. But the trinity was reunited after Jesus descended or was no more present in the Earth. They became one. Separate, they each had a purpose but each purpose was to collectively achieve a greater purpose. Though they operated separately for a period, they still operated on one accord, under instruction from The Father.However there is no more separation because the purpose has been fulfilled.Though we use terminology like the Holy Spirit spoke to me etc.. the Holy Spirit only speaks what the Father speaks because they are ONE and will in no case operate against themselves because a house divided cannot stand.I agree with you when yu speak about the cross-over. Many get confused at the roles, but I believe it is due to the complete oneness that exists. There is no division between the three, so does it really matter? The trinity is also known as the God-head.This is why many people just refer to the trinity as GOD. God said..., God healed me, God told me... etc. As far as the praying during the three days after resurrection I am not touching that. I would have to read into it. I could only speculate which is a really unwise thing to do when you are speaking about the word of God. You should not add to it, or take away from it. I can only go by the facts and what God reveals to me. I'll see if I can find it. But in my opinion it is simply a case of woulda, coulda, shoulda. The bible is not science so if God does not speak on it I would imagine that it is irrelevant. JOEL IT WOULD BE NICE IF YOU COULD STEP IN HERE. COULD USE A LITTLE HELP. LOL LOL(just kidding)

Ben Goudie said...

I concur with various of your points, but principally with your suggestion that Joel step back into the discussion. I'm afraid I'm not sure from whence you have the notion that the trinity no longer act seperately (I realise they wouldn't act against one another, and are one another, but I'm unaware of any Biblical evidence that they've in some way cast off their solo identities).

See, this sort of thing happens whenever I think I have some grasp of the trinity. I'm still trying to ascertain whether it's just a matter of semantics, or whether I'm actually missing some pretty important points here.

NINA said...

Ben-Let's say that you were married and getting a house built.If you sent your wife with a blueprint and specific instructions to a contracter and she followed them to the letter. Would you say that these were your instructions or her instructions? The contractor might say that they were her instructions or some might argue that they were your instructions.Or some may say that you were both together the ONE giving the instructions. But does it truly matter. You are ONE legally and she is coming in YOUR name. It is one in the same. You are both so much on one accord that either argument would be correct.This is why there is always a never ending discussion about trinity.Who could tell where one ends and the next begins? If you are spiritually one and the only separation was the flesh and since flesh is no longer an issue, then one could argue that they are ONE in spirit. Either way, I believe that we both agree that they operate on one

Ben Goudie said...

He is risen!

And yes, your explanation makes sense of it. Many thanks, and Happy Easter.

Joel Spencer said...

General response to Ben and Nina's ongoing discussion: Just remember to formulate all viewpoints according to The Word when all is said and done. Not these articles, others opinions or even Luther's messages on the matter. Possess your truth.

Arrive at an opinion that is approved within your innermost being via the Holy Spirit. Weigh everything against The Word and if it doesn't agree, throw it out. (Glad to see this is sparking some interest!)

Steven Owen said...

I am glad you pointed me to your blog post on the cross. Most of what you have here is what I have been feeling for a while. You just put it in words.
You make some good points.
Joel you stated:

To get right to the point and boldly state it, He is not "just Jesus" any more, for He is no longer flesh and blood. He is not just a little baby in a manger. He is not just the sacrificial Lamb. He’s not that guy with the beautiful, wavy hair in the old wooden framed picture that is hanging on the wall of your church! (gasp) He is not just the One that overcame death and the grave. Jesus, The Christ in the form of man, was simply part of the plan hidden in the heart of the Father before time began. In His transformation, we should see ourselves. Just as Christ is no longer in the flesh as Jesus, I am no longer merely flesh and bone, but it is Christ who lives in me.

To what you wrote in the above quote all i can say is Amen!
You hit the nail on the head.

We are not our own we are of Christ bought with a price.
I read both pieces you posted and use this comment for both.
Thank you,
Steven O.

Harriet said...

amen amen amen and amen!!!

Joel Spencer said...

Steven: Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! It is time for us to see the depths of our salvation and all that It entails.

Harriet: Amen indeed.

Anonymous said...

“We’re all just jacked-up, dirty, rotten, filthy, nasty sinners”.

I think I understand this statement. This person in fact speaks for the church in his acute guilt stemming from his awareness somewhere within his God made soul, that he, as well as his brothers and sisters, have miserably failed to win the lost. Jesus gave us the great commission Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel."
Two-thousand years have come and gone and they are still crying out as they die from hunger, ignorance and disease, "No man cares for my soul."

Joel Spencer said...

Nichole: You may be right regarding why someone might feel that way. I just hear it in a different context insinuating that we're all just a bunch of lowly sinners barely redeemed by God's grace and that's just not biblical salvation for a true Believer.

My complete identity resides in Christ so to say such a thing would be ridicilous. I was, but I am now not.