The Cross

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 10
In reply to a communication from “Elo,” London: There is no subject in Scripture which demands more an exercised heart and a worshiping and adoring spirit than that of which you have written. It is not a subject for a cold, heartless, doctrinal analysis, but one for a heart which has had grace given to see something of the deep need of the soul for what Christ passed through on His cross; and who, with a chastened and reverential spirit, would seek to learn the meaning in some measure, if it could not learn it in its depths, of that unparalleled moment, which, once passed through, could not be repeated.
With such a state of soul, much can be, through grace, learned; and I believe the more the soul understands what passed on the cross, the more solid will be the peace which flows from it. With the mere knowledge of, the death and blood-shedding of Christ, forgiveness, shelter from judgment, and redemption in measure, may be, and are known; but there will not be the solid abiding peace with God till the soul understands in some measure (who could fathom its full depths!) the meaning of the cry which issued from the soul of Christ on the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” That (to us) fathomless cry expressed the position, according to its truth, in which His holy soul stood at the time when He was enduring the judgment of God about sin! It was a moment when the whole moral nature of God, truth — majesty — righteousness — holiness, against and concerning sin, burst forth in its fullest power and expression, and discharged itself upon the head of Christ. It was a time when the moral nature of God about sin was so brought out, and exhibited, and vindicated, that He can turn towards a fallen world with the fullest display of love and righteousness, and declare himself a just God, in justifying those who believe, whosoever they be, and whatsoever be the ruin in which their sins have placed them; and do this without the least compromise of His nature in doing so! It was a time when Christ was drinking to the dregs the cup of divine and unmingled wrath — the cup which expressed the divine judgment of God against sin — when Christ was forsaken of God; His soul bearing directly the inflicted wrath of God for sin.
Oh for a worshiping spirit to gaze upon Him at that moment. To behold Him drying up, as it were, the river of death and judgment of God upon sin, that His people might pass over dry-shod. Not one sigh of Christ — — not one sorrow of His holy life, but is of infinite value to us. But it was at this unequaled scene that atonement was made: it ended in His death. Death consummated the work, but the act of death alone must not be dissociated from the previous scene. If so, it would separate it from the bearing of the judgment of God about sin. The death was the witness to this, but the cup of wrath was drained and finished when the death of Christ completed the work.
Simple souls do not distinguish in this, while they rest in peace on the cross — the death — the blood-shedding — the being made sin — the being made a curse. And in all these rightly; without entering into the meaning of that which God alone can fully know. They know that by means of death they are redeemed — that they are justified by blood — by His death they have life — by the shedding of His blood they have remission. His blood it is which makes atonement for the soul. They are reconciled to God by the death of His Son. But to confine atonement merely to the act of death would indeed be to err. It would be to omit the fact of the divine judgment of God about sin, which was borne to the full by Him when forsaken of God. When He cried and was not heard (Psa. 22:22O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. (Psalm 22:2)) This psalm gives us the feelings of His holy soul on the cross at the time when the circumstances narrated in the Gospel took place, in which verse 1 of the Psalm is quoted. If we take verses 7 and 8, and compare them with Mark 15:29-3129And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, 30Save thyself, and come down from the cross. 31Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. (Mark 15:29‑31), nothing can be plainer. It was when He made His soul an offering for sin, when He bore sin judicially before God. Simple souls look on the work as a whole, and rightly so, and with adoring hearts, they rest upon it as undergone for them, without entering fully into its meaning. With such, one would pray that the feeling may indeed be deepened, and a more worshiping spirit flow from what they have gained, daily. But when the question is before the soul, it is well to guard against confining atonement to the bare act which was the climax and accomplishment of the work, and forgetting that to which Scripture attaches such deep and pre-eminent importance.
I would add, in conclusion, that God does not call upon a sinner to believe in anything that Christ did, but to believe in Christ. He knows what He did, and accepts the sinner who believes in Him according to His own knowledge of the value of Christ’s work, and not according to the knowledge the sinner possesses of it; still it deepens and strengthens the believer in the knowledge of God and His grace as the soul comprehends how the judgment on man has been borne by the Son of God — how he ended in Himself that to which the judgment attached; and rising out of the dead, is the One in whom every one believing in Him lives.