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THE KINGDOM AND THE CROSS

The cross is a subject that has been searched out, dissected, examined with a microscope and marveled at for centuries. The cross represents something that is totally unexpected. Paul said in 1CO 1:18 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. The fact is, the cross is the only hope of those who are perishing! But the cross is not understood by those who are perishing. That is why Paul preached the cross, so they would understand. Another fact is; The cross is not well understood by those who confess the cross. The cross is supposed to be the power of God to those who are being saved. More likely the cross is part of a doctrine of salvation. Then we discover there are some believers who are enemies of the cross of Christ. We wonder how that could be. The cross becomes a stumbling block because of a lack of understanding. The very logic of the cross is a stumbling block to many. Why would a loving Father subject his only begotten Son to such a cruel death? Of course we know what the bible says. COL 1:20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, {I say}, whether things on earth or things in heaven. EPH 2:16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 1PE 2:24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; There is no doubt at all that it is the cross of Jesus Christ at calvary that is essential to our salvation. The cross without the person of The Lord Jesus Christ would accomplish nothing. We are reconciled to God through the blood of the cross. God canceled out our certificate of debt ( our I owe you ) by nailing it to the cross. It is Jesus Christ on His cross that provides salvation to all those who believe. But that still doesn't answer the question " Why the cross?" Why not a sword to the neck or into the side? The same blood would be shed and death would be the result. Many months before Calvary Jesus said LUK 9:23 " And He was saying to {them} all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." LUK 14:27 "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. The cross is a principle in God even before Calvary. Jesus could have died and shed His blood many other ways to redeem fallen humanity. GAL 6:14 But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Paul's boast was in the CROSS OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. In those days the cross was equivalent to the electric chair today. It was something to be ashamed of. DEU 21:22 "And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, DEU 21:23 his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance. HE THAT IS HANGED ON A TREE IS CURSED OF GOD. Logic tells us that is not something to boast in. Jesus presents a paradox when He warns believers that they also must take up their cross, deny themselves, and follow Him. A paradox is something that seemingly is contrary to common sense or to common opinion, yet it is true to fact. It is true but it is difficult to see why it is true. If the blood of His cross has purchased our salvation; if our certificate of debt has been nailed to His cross; if we have been crucified to the world through His cross; if we are to glory in His cross; why should there be any emphasis on our cross? Or to put it in the context of our title, what has our cross got to do with the Kingdom? Or with being His disciple? Didn't His cross provide everything we need to participate in the Kingdom? MAT 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. The prerequisite to the cross is denying yourself. If our motivation in taking up the cross is to promote ourselves, then the cross will not work for us. LUK 14:27 "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. This is one big reason we so many believers and so few disciples. The cross, after 2000 years, is still the only way to God. God's way is THE WAY OF THE CROSS. The cross is the only way to man's salvation and it is the only way to become His disciple. There is the eternal, divine order of things which we call the Kingdom of God. Then disarmingly, standing between us and the Kingdom is OUR CROSS. First it is His cross and then it is our cross. Many have missed the great significance of the centrality of the cross in the eternal purpose of God. It would be good if we could stand back and see the cross from God's perspective, in a panoramic view, from the throne of God. The view from there gives a whole new meaning and revelation of the cross. Whether it is His cross or it is our cross, the cross takes on a different dimension when seen from eternity. We all very much believe in the sovereignty of God. God is sovereign over all His creation. God does what He wants, when He wants. God is sovereign over all His plan and eternal purpose. Man can rebel against God's sovereignty but he can never alter it in the slightest degree. Many scriptures tell us about God's sovereignty over all His creation. God commands the times and the seasons and the borders of every nation etc. The place of God's sovereignty is the throne of God. Say unto the nations " our God reigns". The unfolding of the cross of Christ is the manifestation of the sovereignty of God. God was absolutely sovereign over the cross of calvary. The cross was not something that the Romans or the Jews designed while God was not looking. The cross was no surprise to God. Calvary had been prophesied for centuries. THE CROSS WAS THE PLAN OF GOD. The cross was the will of the Father. Jesus said" Not my will but thine be done." The throne of God, the will of God and the sovereignty of God were in full power the day of the crucifixion. Jesus was crucified in the fore-knowledge of God, in the will of God, under the sovereignty of God and within the purpose of God. God's eternal throne was manifested in the cross. God's judgement was passed at Calvary. JOH 12:31 "Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out. JOH 12:32 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." JOH 5:22 "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, This took place at Calvary and continues today. Judgement was passed at the cross. Even Pilate, probably unwittingly, declared Him to be KING OF THE JEWS. As he hung at Calvary, we might say He was upon the THRONE OF THE CROSS. JOH 12:27 "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for THIS PURPOSE I came to this hour. The divine objective and goal of the incarnation was the cross. COL 2:15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him ( THE CROSS ). It was God's weapon of the cross that God used to defeat Satan and his hosts. When God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them He just spoke His word. When God created man He changed His method and got personally involved. In re-creating man, God also got personally involved with man in the cross of Jesus Christ. Now the cross is the wisdom of God and the power of God when it applies to Jesus Christ. The cross was the single greatest accomplishment of Jesus during His time on earth. Raising the dead, healing the sick or casting out demons all pale in the shadow of the cross. The point I'm making is this; THE SPIRIT OF THE CROSS transcends history and even time itself. To discern the cross we have to begin before man fell, before the earth was and before God said "Let there be light." We have to begin in all eternity past. The CROSS PRINCIPLE existed in God as a very part of His character. It was a principle of the Kingdom of heaven. Satan manifested exactly the opposite of the" cross principle" when pride raised up in him and he attempted to grasp the throne of God and exalt himself in the presence of God. Therefore he was rejected by heaven. He used the same " pride principle" to deceive Adam and Eve to lay aside the " CROSS PRINCIPLE" and rebel against God. They also were rejected by heaven. How then was Jesus Christ going to defeat Satan and provide for the re-creation of man? By the "CROSS PRINCIPLE " of heaven. We could call it the eternal cross. PHI 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, PHI 2:6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, PHI 2:7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, {and} being made in the likeness of men. PHI 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. PHI 2:9 Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, PHI 2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, PHI 2:11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. This is a very clear description of the eternal cross principle of the Kingdom of heaven. Through pride Satan grasped for equality with God. Jesus didn't grasp but laid aside His privileges and divine equality with God and humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on the cross. Therefore God raised Him to the throne. Satan defied the Cross principle of heaven and was cast out. Satan and those with him defeated themselves. Now satan and those with him are defeated again on earth by the same " CROSS PRINCIPLE". The cross triumphed over satan publicly, shamed him openly and exposed him. Now in the light of scripture, we can stand back and view the cross from God's viewpoint, in a panoramic view, and understand why Jesus said " Unless you take up your cross daily and follow me, you can't be my disciple. A disciple is one who is taught. Jesus can't teach us about the Father or about the kingdom which have the cross principle as the basis of their being. If we refuse the cross we can't be His disciple. In eternity there is the "ETERNAL CROSS PRINCIPLE" which is mandatory in order to participate. It is the cross that maintains peace and harmony in Kingdom of God. We can't be living in pride and grasping for a higher position or demanding our own way in the eternal Kingdom. We can't be tramping on everybody to promote ourselves in eternity. God didn't put up with the devil and He won't put up with us. If we insist on these things now Jesus just can't teach us. If God opens our eyes to see the " CROSS PRINCIPLE OF THE THRONE OF GOD "we will fall as dead men and confess our ignorance and independence. If we saw the rainbow around the throne, we would know the New Covenant came by way of the cross. All who aspire to the throne of God and that kingdom of priests will know the personal cross in our lives. That is the pre-requisite for reigning with Him.