The cross – the tree with which God undid the tree of the knowledge of good and evil! The cross undoes the fall. There is no eternal life without the cross. No life of God in the present without the cross and no at-one-ment of God without the cross. The cross expiates our sin, puts our Adamic life to death in Jesus, unites us with God and raises us again in His resurrection to enjoy His life lived vicariously in us and for us. The cross replants us in the life of God.
‘May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world’ Gal 6.14 NIV.
Jeff Turner writes.
“At the centre of Christianity, and, therefore, at the centre of all of history, lies the self-giving act of Jesus’ death. The cruciﬁxion of Christ stands out as the pivot point of human existence. There is no event which is of greater significance to us or to the cosmos than this, in which the eternal dream of God became robed in ﬂesh and actualized in the work of the eternal Son. ”
As certain as this is, the cross is not the end-point of God’s intervention. It is however the end of Adam in us and the start of Jesus as us. As such it is the beginning of the Kingdom of God. His cross opens the door to the resurrection of Jesus and then to the life and presence of Jesus actualised in us by Holy Spirit. The cross, it may be seen, is the path to the incarnation whereby all of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit - takes up residence in our being. In this way Christ has come in our flesh and is as real in our body as He is real in the heavenly courts.
‘He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you’ John 14.17 NIV.
This was a radically new development. Before Pentecost God lived in no one. Sure His Spirit anointed prophets and men and women of God but as yet there had been no Messiah and no Son of Man to become ‘Christ in you’ or ‘Christ our life. ’ This is why even though John the Baptist was a great man of God, all post cross people are greater. They are indwelt by the fullness of the God-head bodily as was Jesus and are one with our Father as Jesus was. We no longer live towards God. It is more correct to say God lives in us and that we live in God – and more. That our being is pervaded by His Spirit.
The cross is the source of life and righteousness in this age in the fullest sense. This is why the thief and father of lies has committed himself to depleting the cross of power and content and replacing it with the pre-cross mode of the old covenant where people either live from the law or from a quasi-law of Christian conformity and ‘try harder’ religiosity. The attempt to anoint the old covenant with the oil of Holy Spirit ends in fade-out and disappointment because the cross has been neutralised by the law, the power of Christ’s life in us has been quenched and the power of His resurrection in us undone.
‘I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! ’ Gal 2.21 NIV.
Many Christians have never lived in the fullness of Christ because what they live in is the attempt to live in the knowledge of good and evil with Jesus’ help. The Kingdom is not a moral life with a boost from Jesus. But it is a life. It is eternal life and in the present life to the full. Our constant right to union with God is our security and safe place in God’s presence and heart. It is our presence with Him and His Spirit in us that transforms us from the inside. But as transformed as we may be to a lesser or greater degree, our acceptance with God comes as a result of His cross which is His grace achieved. His grace applied is His life in you.
‘For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power’ 1 Cor 1.17 NIV.
Through the cross, the incarnation and the Holy Spirit we received the fullness of God and are released from the fall. In Christ we are exalted to God’s right hand and in the Spirit God has come in our flesh. A key indicator of meddling with God’s plan and a reversion to knowledge of good and evil is found in any teaching that implies that this plan is not good enough and in need of some revision, some effort of our own and some re-establishment of an item of law or all of it. This was the nature of the original charge, ‘Hath not God said..? ’ The implication that there was a flaw in what God had declared good. ‘Other gospels’ contain the same insinuation – that life in the Spirit is not good enough and must be assisted by the flesh. But this is bereft of spirit and life. Even with the Holy Spirit such gospels flourish on Sunday but have wilted by Tuesday because they have no root in life.
‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you--they are full of the Spirit and life’ John 6.63 NIV.
Folks can be convinced of the importance of intimacy with Jesus, yet have taken the responsibility of this intimacy onto themselves. The vicarious humanity of Jesus means that His intimacy with Father is our intimacy and that His oneness with Himself is our oneness. Religious people may be annoyed at the thought that not even our sins can separate us from God. This robs them of religious one-upmanship and a sense of entitlement as it does all of us. But all of us belong in God. We are in the presence of the Holy Family by grace and we belong on account of Jesus’ accomplishments – never on account of our own. This is why Christ is our life and why in His spirit and life we are fully alive in Him every day.