The Cross: What Is It? and What Has It Done for Us?

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 8
WE would earnestly invite the christian reader to spend a few moments in meditating on the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in its two grand fundamental aspects, namely, as the basis of our worship and our discipleship -our peace and our testimony—our relation to God and our bearing toward the world.
If, as a convicted sinner, I look at the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, I behold in it the everlasting foundation of my peace. I see " sin" judged and condemned in its root; and I see my " sins" borne and put away. I see God to be, in very deed, " for me," and that, moreover, in the very condition in which my convicted conscience tells me I am. The cross presents God as the penitent sinner's Friend. It reveals Him in that most wondrous character as the righteous Justifier of the most ungodly sinner who truly believes in Jesus. Creation could not do this. Providence could not do it. The Law could not do it. Therein I may see God's power, His majesty, His wisdom, His holiness; but what if all these should be ranged against me? Looked at in themselves, abstractedly, they must be so, for I am a sinner; and power, majesty, wisdom, holiness could not put away my sins, or justify God in receiving me.
But, blessed forever be the God of all grace! the precious cross of Christ changes the aspect of things entirely. There I find God Himself dealing with sin in such a way as to glorify Himself infinitely and everlastingly, in view of the whole universe and all created intelligence. There I see the magnificent display and perfect harmony of all the divine attributes. I see love, and such love as captivates and assures my heart, and weans it from every other object. I see wisdom, and such wisdom as baffles devils, astonishes angels, and turns all the wisdom of the world into thorough foolishness. I see power, and such power as bears down all opposition, and sweeps away every hostile influence—the mighty power of God, unto salvation. Wondrous thought! I see holiness, and such holiness as cannot be satisfied with anything less than the eternal banishment of sin from the wide creation of God. I see grace, and such grace as sets the believer in the immediate presence of God—-in the holiest of all, without one spot or stain of sin or guilt—yea, such grace as brings him into the Father's house, the Father's bosom.
Where could I see all these but in the cross? No where else. There God and sin met once. What a meeting! There Christ, the spotless, holy, precious Lamb of God, the eternal Son of the Father, His only begotten and well-beloved Son, the only perfect Man that ever trod this sin-stained earth, was made sin; there God dealt with Him in our stead, poured out upon Him all the billows and waves of His righteous wrath. Sin was judged and condemned; Satan vanquished; God's majesty, truth, holiness and righteousness most gloriously vindicated; and the imperishable foundation laid for the perfect remission of all our sins, and our everlasting felicity and glory in our Father's house and in the kingdom of His dear Son.
How precious, therefore, is the cross, in this aspect of it, as the basis of the believer's peace, the basis of his worship, and of his eternal relationship with God who is there so blessedly and so gloriously revealed!
How precious to God, as furnishing Him with a righteous ground for the full display of all His matchless perfections, and in His most gracious dealings with the sinner! So precious is it to God that, as a recent writer has well remarked, " All that He has said, all that He has done, from the very beginning, indicates that it was ever uppermost in His heart. And no wonder! His dear and well-beloved Son was to hang there, between heaven and earth, the object of all the shame and suffering that men and devils could heap upon Him, because He loved to do His Father's will, and redeem the children of His grace. It will be the grand center of attraction, as the fullest expression of His love, throughout eternity."
But there is another aspect of the cross of our adorable Lord and Savior which demands our most profound consideration, and that is as the foundation of our practical discipleship and testimony. We must never forget that the same cross which connects me with God, has separated me from the world. A dead man is, evidently, done with the world; and hence the believer, having died with Christ, is done with the world, in spirit and principle, though in it, of course, as regards the fact of his condition. He died in Christ; and, having risen with Christ, he is connected with God, in the power of a new life, a new nature. Being thus inseparably linked with Christ, he, of necessity, participates in His acceptance with God, and in His rejection by the world. The two things go together. The former makes him a worshipper and a citizen in heaven; the latter makes him a witness and a stranger on earth. That brings him inside the veil; this puts him outside the camp. The one is as perfect as the other, and each should have its due effect upon the character and conduct. If the cross has come between me and my sins, it has just as really come between me and the world. If it has, forever, canceled all my guilt, and struck the crushing burden from my agonized conscience, it has also snapped every link which bound me to this present evil world. If it has procured me the full and everlasting remission of my sins, it has also secured the thorough condemnation of sin—the judgment of my sinful nature—the utter rejection of my sinful self. If it has brought me into the place of perfect peace with God; it has also called me into the place of warfare with the world, the flesh and the devil.
Now, we should clearly understand, and rightly distinguish between, both the above aspects of the cross of Christ. If we fail in our apprehension of either, there must be a corresponding defect in our character and walk. We should not profess to enjoy the one, while we refuse to enter into the other. If the ear is open to hear Christ's voice within the veil, it should be open also to hear His voice outside the camp. If we enjoy the precious atonement which the cross has accomplished, we should also accept the rejection which it necessarily involves. The former flows out of the part which God had in the cross; the latter, out of the part which man had therein.
All this is involved in the glorious doctrine of the cross. Well therefore might the blessed apostle say, " God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Paul looked upon the world as a crucified thing; and the world, in having crucified Christ, had crucified all who belong to Him. Hence there is a double crucifixion as regards the believer and the world; and if this were more fully entered into, it would prove the utter impossibility of amalgamating the two.
Beloved Christian reader, let us deeply, honestly and prayerfully ponder these things. May we seek a fuller understanding of these two grand aspects of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that our course, as Christians, may be more thoroughly decided, our devotedness to Christ more distinct and unequivocal, while we wait and long for that blissful moment when we shall see Him as He is, and be like Him and with Him forever! God, in His infinite goodness, grant it for Jesus Christ's sake!