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The Cross Is Harmony With What Is

CHAPTER 14

The Cross of Jesus is not merely an idea; it is an experience.

Thought: Those who experience the cross, experience the victory of life.

Word: Col. 1:20: "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."

Conclusion: Those beings reconciled to God through the cross are made in harmony with law.

Man is in a rebellious state. He struggles, fights and squirms so that he might somehow make his lot better. He protects himself and affirms himself so that he might know that he, himself, is something. Man fails to notice that he is the creator of the circumstances that hound or bless him through his life. Man of himself cannot understand that disharmony with law brings those results to him. God has caused a plan to be in operation that might bring man back again into harmony with law as he once was. This plan is the cross.

The life of Jesus was a life that perfectly followed the integrity of God. He walked patiently through each test that might ever come to man in order to draw us into that experience of life. In the great mystery of righteousness the cross literally provided us with the experience of Jesus if we could believe it. That is, all that the life of Jesus had within it was and is offered to us in its complete state. As we believe that this is so for us, God provides us with the life that harmonizes with what is.

There is another function of the cross. Since the law is without mercy and is perfect cause and effect, the one who sins dies at once. This immediate death obviously would leave us without a single second to think about it. The cross has provided us with a probationary period in which to choose alignment or non-alignment. Christ has taken upon Himself the effects of the law which has condemned us to die. To illustrate this principle we might imagine that you have smashed your thumb with a hammer, however, instead of your thumb turning black and blue, it is the thumb of Christ which has turned color and experienced the pain of it. Jesus took our death so that we might discover His life.

The atonement or at-one-ment is designed to destroy our ego-centeredness. Our self-centered relationship to life must be transformed to a God-centered experience. To bring this about, the effects of our sins are measured out to us through the hands of Christ in amounts that would not overwhelm us. We are not given more than we can handle. Through this "process" we are given sufficient understanding to choose the kind of life we desire. When through the intercession of the cross we have overcome every defect of our character, the forces of evil have no more power to operate in our life. They cannot even so much as bring death to us. When those who have decided against the provision of Christ have gone their limit in time, the intercession of Christ ceases for them and they simply receive the perfect effect of their cause which is death.

The transformation that we now look for comes through the process of suffering. Suffering is not evil, it is the process. It is written: "Although he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered...." Heb. 5:8. Suffering through the ages has been viewed as "the evil" rather than the cause of suffering being viewed as evil. There are sufferings caused from character traits that unknowingly to us are evil. There are sufferings that come from known evil choices and there are sufferings that come from temptations of the flesh and though no sin is committed, the suffering comes out of the process of getting clear about God's will as opposed to our human will. In any case, the suffering is designed to perfectly align us with the mind of the divine.

In Scripture we are given examples of sorrow for suffering versus sorrow over cause. Aaron's sons were destroyed for using strange fire, yet Aaron was not permitted public grief. It would have given strength to the lie that the suffering of the two sons or the suffering of the family was unfair and that the results given from God were evil. The anguish of Aaron would not engender public sadness over the willful violation of truth which is indeed the primary "cause" of that fiery trial. In later times Uzza was stricken for touching the ark of God. Few would bemoan the touching of the ark, yet share great grief over the death of Uzza.

We tend to view ourselves as perfect, wanting nothing. Perfect is what we ought to be, but the truth of it is we are still here and not in the New Earth. Those of us who are still here are those who need strengthening in one or more areas of our lives. This strengthening comes out of our being tested by those apparently strange sufferings.

Testing does not tell our heavenly Father anything new, since He knows all things from the beginning, but it does tell us something if we will see ourselves as responsible in it. The testing is not that area of experience where God finds out if we will remain faithful, but where we find out whether or not we will. Our testing and sufferings are related to the spiritual muscle building of our experience. For the believer, the sufferings, hurts, testing, etc., are those things which build the muscles of faith. These testings in the Christian are the very blocks of perfection, and they are born out of our very own particular growth need. In other words, we are the creators of our own particular circumstances.

The sufferings of Jesus were not punishments for evils done, but the very elements of victories won. Jesus needed to learn the testing of the cross so that He might be prepared for the cross, even though He was the perfect man who knew no sin. The Christian who is called perfect as Job was, still needs to learn his final victory or he would not be able to bear it. Jesus played about the carpenter's shop at age five or ten and at that time He was not prepared for the cross. Neither was He expected to be prepared for the cross at that age. As He progressed within His perfection, He was prepared for the cross by the "things" suffered. Suffering is not evil or wrong when we view suffering in this light. We can discover that the evil rests in unbelief because of suffering rather than the suffering itself. Suffering is no more evil than exercise. Exercise may cause soreness but the end of it is strength. If an evil is involved in the suffering, then let us notice that it is the evil and not the suffering that we must deal with.

Our brother Job had three friends that accused him of a certain evil he must be concealing, so he was being punished. This is a perversion of the suffering principle. This comes from a man with an ego problem needing to feel superior to the one suffering. Job was counted perfect and a faithful man. This perfect man had preparations for perfection yet to be accomplished. He shined, in that he was faithful through his sufferings, even though the sufferings were born in his own experience, i.e. "the things which I greatly feared have come upon me." Job 3:25.

The Christian's perfection is not based on whether he can escape suffering, but rather in faithfulness through those sufferings. We resist suffering because we refuse to accept our responsibility in it. Sufferings are not evil. The evil comes as we do not accept responsibility for our sufferings, thereby, giving the blame to our heavenly Father. If we indeed accept our cause and stand faithful through it all, we then experience transformation in that area of life and find we are counted perfect. In this we are partakers with Christ. Christ was the perfect man who still needed learning and preparation. His sufferings, however, were not from sins committed, but rather experiences needed for His process.

With the unspiritual it is not so. The unspiritual see themselves as not responsible. They go about getting agreement from their friends that the other person is at fault. They all nod their heads in knowing piety, supposing for certain that there is some other cause than themselves for it all. This is the evil of it. He sees suffering as an evil perpetrated against him. He sees the perpetrators as evil and he sets about protecting himself from them. The judgments of God become punishment rather than effects. Much of our sufferings arise out of our thinking that we don't deserve it. When the "wicked" receive their effect it turns out to be just "God's will" or "it happens to everyone!" The Bible says, "The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble." Prov. 4:19. Their destruction lies in their unwillingness to see the agreement with their own evil natures as the cause of it all. When the spiritual men receive effects of their causes, they look for their area of need and allow that area to be developed. The believer or Christ follower recognizes the evil of it and does not "agree" or participate in the deception. This is the experience of Jesus after His forty days in the wilderness. He recognized the evil in the temptation. The testing of the Christian moves him into the relationship of harmony with the will of God, thereby, strengthening his resolve in what is true.

There is a great benefit of the spoken word and the testing that arise out of it. "It is written" are the words the Christ often used. When we become immovable from the "it is written," that very act causes the strengthening to be accomplished. When all our senses scream, "It isn't so" and, yet, we remain immovable from God's spoken word, there is virtually nothing which can cause disaster to function. The experience of our senses versus our will in mortal combat is the experience of suffering. The experience of battle over the "fairness" of our test is suffering. We need to get clear that we are not God, but God's sons and daughters. God knows exactly what the problem is and He knows what to do about it. When we can move off needing to tell God what to do to remedy the situation, and instead be trained by those situations, we will then know what it means to have dominion restored to us. As the Christian is strengthened, his particular temptations lose their strength, thereby, preparing the follower for the next growth area of his life.

The last observation we might notice is that the temptation or trial is not what we expect. It seems to always be a surprise. If our testing could be predicted by us, they would not have power to strengthen us. If the end of our sufferings could be predicted to last 4 hours, 37 minutes and 7 seconds, we would simply get through the time period without the process involved. Notice though- the suffering lasts not a second longer than we take to experience transformation in that area.

The kingdom of rebellion sees the suffering as arbitrary. The rebellious see life as luck or lack of it. So we find fortune tellers, card readers, astrologers, etc., all trying to figure it out. Sorry, folks; there is no figuring it out. Testing come to all, but our relationships to those sufferings will be according to our own position in life or death.

Let us view our life as an experience of perfection and surprise within the process of the cross. Let us view it as something we may always be prepared for and, indeed, we are always prepared for whatever may come if that has been our intention. The cross has guaranteed that preparation. "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 1 Cor. 10:13.

Failure and sin come from the outright hatred of what is true or from the belief that we are not prepared for our trial. The truth is, you are prepared. Take the suffering or trial that comes to you, for it will come. Be strengthened by it, learn from it, resolve it and move on to the next great adventure. Job's trials were a marvelous expression of how much he was prepared. He was indeed who God said he was. As was said before, our victory or lack of it, our approbation or lack of it, will not rest in the trials life produces, but in our relationship of integrity through them. Let it be said of us: "Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered." Heb. 5:8.

The cross is designed to give us the provision of God. All things are made available to us through that experience of the Son of God. It is the atonement which breaks the power of the ego in our lives and causes us to live with the divine mind of God if we accept it. It is the intercession necessary for our existence during the time of probation. It is the sponge that has consumed our condemnation, and it is the arbitrator of those experiences of life that come to us for our growth and development. The Christ has come and behold the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Self-Knowledge Resumé

  1. Do I ever give up a project or a goal when it begins to hurt?
  2. When someone gets mad at me, do I think of compromising in some way to make peace?
  3. Is the idea of dying for something I want understood by me?
  4. What is it to die?
  5. What is a cross and how would a cross look in my life?
  6. Do I seek to travel on roads with little pain?
  7. If I see that something I need to do will be embarrassing or cause others to look down on me, do I refrain from doing that thing?
  8. Am I immovably honest, or do I color the truth just a bit to ease the shock of truthful consequences?
  9. Am I willing to confront people directly when I see an injustice being done?
  10. Do I ever seek to create a picture in the minds of others which would give them a more favorable view of me?
  11. Do I ever feel that I would like to prepare my children for the world so that they might be able to take care of themselves?  Do I desire a worldly education for them?
  12. Do I ever care what the world thinks of me and seek to give them the most favorable opinion of me, even if I have to hide some of my convictions from them?

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