Friday, May 28, 2010

Bearing The Cross!

"He that doth not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He that loseth his life for My sake shall find it." --Matthew 10:38-39.

We have had some of Paul's great words to the Galatians about the cross and our being crucified with Christ. Let us now turn to the Master Himself to hear what He has to teach us. We shall find that what Paul could teach openly and fully after the crucifixion, was given by the Master in words that could at first hardly be understood, and yet contained the seed of the full truth.

It was in the ordination charge, when Christ sent forth His disciples, that He first used the expression that the disciple must take up his cross and follow Him.

The only meaning the disciples could attach to these words was from what they had often seen, when an evil-doer who had been sentenced to death by the cross was led out bearing his cross to the place of execution. In bearing the cross, he acknowledged the sentence of death that was on him. And Christ would have His disciples understand that their nature was so evil and corrupt that it was only in losing their natural life that they could find the true life. Of Himself it was true that all His life He bore His cross -- the sentence of death that He knew to rest upon Himself on account of our sins. And so He would have each disciple bear his cross -- the sentence of death upon himself and his evil, carnal nature.

The disciples could not at once understand all this. But Christ gave them seed words, which would germinate in their hearts and later on begin to reveal their full meaning. The disciple was not only to carry the sentence of death in himself, but to learn that in following the Master to His cross he would find the power to lose his life and to receive instead of it the life that would come through the cross of Christ.

Christ asks of His disciples that they should forsake all and take up their cross, give up their whole will and life, and follow Him. The call comes to us too to give up the self life with its self-pleasing and self-exaltation, and bear the cross in fellowship with Him -- and so shall we be made partakers of His victory.

(Andrew Murray - Secrets Of The Cross - Sixth Day)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Flesh Crucified!

"They that are in Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof." --Galatians 5:24.

Of the flesh Paul teaches us (Romans 7:18), "In me, that is, IN MY FLESH, DWELLETH NO GOOD THING." And again (Romans 8:7), "The mind of the flesh is ENMITY AGAINST GOD; for it is not subject to the law of God, NEITHER INDEED CAN IT BE." When Adam lost the spirit of God, he became flesh. Flesh is the expression for the evil, corrupt nature that we inherit from Adam. Of this flesh it is written, "Our old man was crucified with Him" (Romans 6:6). And Paul puts it here even more strongly, "They that are in Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh."

When the disciples heard and obeyed the call of Jesus to follow Him, they honestly meant to do so, but as He later on taught them what that would imply, they were far from being ready to yield immediate obedience. And even so those who are Christ's and have accepted Him as the Crucified One little understand what that includes. By that act of surrender they actually have crucified the flesh and consented to regard it as an accursed thing, nailed to the cross of Christ.

Alas, how many there are who have never for a moment thought of such a thing! It may be that the preaching of Christ crucified has been defective. It may be that the truth of our being crucified with Christ has not been taught. They shrink back from the self-denial that it implies, and as a result, where the flesh is allowed in any measure to have its way, the Spirit of Christ cannot exert His power.

Paul taught the Galatians: "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God." And only as the flesh is kept in the place of crucifixion can the Spirit guide us in living faith and fellowship with Christ Jesus.

Blessed Lord, how little I understood when I accepted Thee in faith that I crucified once for all the flesh with its passions and lusts! I beseech Thee humbly, teach me so to believe and so to live in Thee, the Crucified One, that with Paul I may ever glory in the cross on which the world and the flesh are crucified.

(Andrew Murray - Secrets Of The Cross - Fifth Day)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Crucified To The World!

"Far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world." --Galatians 6:14.

What Paul had written in Galatians 2 is here in the end of the epistle confirmed, and expressed still more strongly. He speaks of his only glory being that in Christ he has in very deed been crucified to the world and entirely delivered from its power. When he said "I have been crucified with Christ," it was not only an inner spiritual truth, but an actual, practical experience in relation to the world and its temptations. Christ had spoken about the world hating Him, and His having overcome the world. Paul knows that the world, which nailed Christ to the cross, had in that deed done the same to him. He boasts that he lives as one crucified to the world, and that now the world as an impotent enemy was crucified to him. It was this that made him glory in the cross of Christ. It had wrought out a complete deliverance from the world.

How very different the relation of Christians to the world in our day! They agree that they may not commit the sins that the world allows. But except for that they are good friends with the world, and have liberty to enjoy as much of it as they can, if they only keep from open sin. They do not know that the most dangerous source of sin is the love of the world with its lusts and pleasures.

O Christian, when the world crucified Christ, it crucified you with Him, When Christ overcame the world on the cross, He made you an overcomer too. He calls you now, at whatever cost of self-denial, to regard the world, in its hostility to God and His kingdom, as a crucified enemy over whom the cross can ever keep you conqueror.

What a different relationship to the pleasures and attractions of the world the Christian has who by the Holy Spirit has learned to say: "I have been crucified with Christ; the crucified Christ liveth in me!" Let us pray God fervently that the Holy Spirit, through whom Christ offered Himself on the cross, may reveal to us in power what it means to "glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world had been crucified unto me."

(Andrew Murray - Secrets Of The Cross - Fourth Day)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Crucified With Christ

"I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me." -- Galatians 2:20.

The thought of fellowship with Christ in His bearing the cross has often led to the vain attempt in our own power to follow Him and bear His image. But this is impossible to man until he first learns to know something of what it means to say, "I have been crucified with Christ."

Let us try to understand this. When Adam died, all his descendants died with him and in him. In his sin in Paradise, and in the spiritual death into which he fell, I had a share: I died in him. And the power of that sin and death, in which all his descendants share, works in every child of Adam every day.

Christ came as the second Adam. In His death on the cross all who believe in Him had a share. Each one may say in truth, "I have been crucified with Christ." As the representative of His people, He took them up with Him on the cross, and me too. The life that He gives is the crucified life, in which He entered heaven and was exalted to the throne, standing as a Lamb as it had been slain. The power of His death and life work in me, and as I hold fast the truth that I have been crucified with Him, and that now I myself live no more but Christ liveth in me, I receive power to conquer sin; the life that I have received from Him is a life that has been crucified and made free from the power of sin.

We have here a deep and very precious truth. Most Christians have but little knowledge of it. That knowledge is not gained easily or speedily. It needs a great longing in very deed to be dead to all sin. It needs a strong faith, wrought by the Holy Spirit, that the union with Christ crucified -- the fellowship of His cross -- can day by day become our life. The life that He lives in heaven has its strength and its glory in the fact that it is a crucified life. And the life that He imparts to the believing disciple is even so a crucified life with its victory over sin and its power of access into God's presence.

It is in very deed true that I no longer live, but Christ liveth in me as a Crucified One. As faith realizes and holds fast the fact that the crucified Christ lives in me, life in the fellowship of the cross becomes a possibility and a blessed experience.

(Andrew Murray - Secrets Of The Cross - Third Day)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Fellowship Of The Cross

"Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus." --Philippians 2:5.

Paul here tells us what that mind was in Christ: He emptied Himself; He took the form of a servant; He humbled Himself, even to the death of the cross. It is this mind that was in Christ, the deep humility that gave up His life to the very death, that is to be the spirit that animates us. It is thus that we shall prove and enjoy the blessed fellowship of His cross.

Paul had said (ver.1): "If there is any comfort in Christ," -- the Comforter was come to reveal His real presence in them -- "if any fellowship of the Spirit," -- it was in this power of the Spirit that they were to breathe the Spirit of the crucified Christ and manifest His disposition in the fellowship of the cross in their lives.

As they strove to do this, they would feel the need of a deeper insight into their real oneness with Christ. They would learn to appreciate the truth that they had been crucified with Christ, that their "old man" had been crucified, and that they had died to sin in Christ's death and were living to God in His life. They would learn to know what it meant that the crucified Christ lived in them, and that they had crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. It was because the crucified Jesus lived in them that they could live crucified to the world.

And so they would gradually enter more deeply into the meaning and the power of their high calling to live as those who were dead to sin and the world and self. Each in his own measure would bear about in his life the marks of the cross, with its sentence of death on the flesh, with its hating of the self life and its entire denial of self, with its growing conformity to the crucified Redeemer in His deep humility and entire surrender of His will to the life of God.

It is no easy school and no hurried learning -- this school of the cross. But it will lead to a deeper apprehension and a higher appreciation of the redemption of the cross, through the personal experience of the fellowship of the cross.

(Andrew Murray - Secrets Of The Cross - Second Day)

The Chief Of Excuses

Here's a conversation between the Chief of Excuses (CE) arguing with God about going on a missions trip...

CE: God what about my house, and paying my...
God: Well sell your house. Seek first My kingdom and righteousness and these things will be given to you as well.

CE: But God, what about my Job...
God: Well quite your job, I am your provider.

CE: But my children's education, they...
God: Well home school them.

CE: But how do I know you really want me to go...
God: It is already written, I said 'Go'

CE: But I’m not qualified, how can I...
God: Lean not on your own understanding, trust in me

CE: But God, it might cost me my...
God: Well make the payment!

(I read this on a mates blog and had to re-post it! He is due to arrive in Thailand in about 11 hours with his family to begin work with orphaned children. Please keep them in your prayers... you can follow their journey here:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Redemption Of The Cross

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us." --Galatians 3:13.

Scripture teaches us that there are two points of view from which we may regard Christ's death upon the cross. The one is the REDEMPTION OF THE CROSS: Christ dying for us as our complete deliverance from the curse of sin. The other, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE CROSS: Christ taking us up to die with Him, and making us partakers of the fellowship of His death in our own experience.

In our text we have three great unsearchable thoughts. The law of God has pronounced a curse on all sin and on all that is sinful. Christ took our curse upon Him -- yea, became a curse -- and so destroyed its power, and in that cross we now have the everlasting redemption from sin and all its power. The cross reveals to us man's sin as under the curse, Christ becoming a curse and so overcoming it, and our full and everlasting deliverance from the curse.

In these thoughts the lost and most hopeless sinner finds a sure ground of confidence and of hope. God had indeed in Paradise pronounced a curse upon this earth and all that belongs to it. On Mount Ebal, in connection with giving the law, half of the people of Israel were twelve times over to pronounce a curse on all sin. And there was to be in their midst a continual reminder of it: "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Deuteronomy 21:23, 27:15-20). And yet who could ever have thought that the Son of God Himself would die upon the accursed tree, and become a curse for us? But such is in very deed the gospel of God's love, and the penitent sinner can now rejoice in the confident assurance that the curse is forever put away from all who believe in Christ Jesus.

The preaching of the redemption of the cross is the foundation and center of the salvation the gospel brings us. To those who believe its full truth it is a cause of unceasing thanksgiving. It gives us boldness to rejoice in God. There is nothing which will keep the heart more tender towards God, enabling us to live in His love and to make Him known to those who have never yet found Him. God be praised for the redemption of the cross!

(Andrew Murray - Secrets Of The Cross - First Day)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Have You Received Him?

"Yet to all who received Him . . . He gave the right to become children of God" John 1:12

Some in their understanding, assent to the way of salvation--yet do not consent to it with their will. In judgment they are for Christ--but in affection they are for other things. There is only a part of their soul that is for Christ. Others would have the benefits that are from Christ--but have no love for the person of Christ.

Some would have Christ only as a Savior--but not as a Lord. They desire Him only as a Priest to offer a sacrifice for their sins--but not as a Prophet to instruct them, nor as a King to rule over them. So that it is but part of Christ, that they would receive.

But both of these courses are equally dangerous; for, if we would be saved, we must cleave to Christ with all the faculties of the soul--with will, judgment, affection, etc. And so, again, we must cleave to the whole of Christ--Christ in His natures, person, offices, etc. If, therefore, you would rightly receive Christ, see that your whole soul receives a whole Christ.

(Thomas Sherman, "Aids to the Divine Life--A Series of Practical Christian Contemplations" 1680)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

You Must Look To Christ Alone!

Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation - Luke 2:28-30
Here we see a physical expression of a spiritual truth. As Simeon took up Christ in his arms and gazed upon him, so also must we lay hold of Christ and look to him and him alone for our salvation - as it were - through our eyes of faith.

I remember when I was desperately searching for the answer to the question echoed in Acts 16 by the Jailer at Philippi - What must I do to be saved?

Unlike Simeon, who set his eyes solely upon the Saviour, I thought surely there are a great many things I must do to present myself acceptable to the Lord. I tried to satisfy the laws requirements. I tried to increase in virtue and good character. I tried to present myself acceptable before a just and holy God. I tried, as Charles Finney says, “to build dams of sand across the current of my own corruption”. Just when I thought I’d stopped up one vile stream, the dam wall would burst and greater river of sin would spill forth. I would cry out to God for help - for help to overcome this one sin or another so that I might be saved. And there would be no answer. I was trying to save myself by keeping the righteous requirements of the law of God!

But the law of God can do only one thing. Kill a fallen man! Condemn him to die! And slowly but surely, like a man hanging on the cross with his life draining away, I found myself nailed to the rigid, inflexible law of God slowly dying to self - all hope and confidence in my flesh bleeding out and draining away.

I can’t tall you how many times I went to services where they would have an alter call, and go forward and say the “sinners prayer” as it is commonly called. Unlike Simeon who’s hope and confidence were in the Lord, I put my hope and confidence in going forward, in saying the sinners prayer, in the sincerity of how I prayed, in the plea bargains I would make with God, in the preacher preaching, in my many tears… I looked to so many things to save me - but no one ever told me to look to Christ! I never looked to Christ!

It is vitally important that this point is understood! You must look to Christ and Christ alone for salvation! He is the only one who can save you, and it is only through faith (a complete dependence upon, a complete trust) in Christ that you will be saved!