Aspects of the Cross (from the practical point of view)
There are two aspects of the Cross:
1. Redemptive Work of Christ
2. Fellowship with the Crucified Christ
This fellowship can be :
a) A gift for all the believers “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” [Phil 1:29]
b) A special experience, not necessarily for all [notice that Paul here uses the pronoun ‘I’].” that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, [Phil 3:10]
Types of Sufferings:
1. One’s shortcomings:
“But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.” [1Pet.4:15]
2. Glory of God:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” [1Pet.4:12,13]
3. Suffering for kingdom Purposes:
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God”[2Tim.1:8]
“or this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” [1Pet.2:19]
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”[Rev.21:4]
“Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death”[2Cor.11:23]-à here Paul compares his sufferings with other Apostles.
Purposes of Sufferings:
1. Cleansing, Reshaping:“In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. [Heb.12:4-11]
They have the conviction that God is in control of everything happening in a life fully surrendered to Him. In His Sovereignty He allows what is benefitting and prevents what is hurting.
Even enemy’s attacks are controlled by Him and used as a tool to reshape us. Because of this conviction and understanding, if a problem happens, they do not rush asking God to intervene and revert the attack OR rush and battle in Spirit, but patiently and wisely they explore the situation in such a manner:
i) is there is any defect in my alertness that allowed this attack. If it proved to be true, they repent.
Ii) Then they try to find out what and where the point of attack, i.e. is at what area in the soul the attack is directed. Thus, they can discover the hidden pockets of darkness in their soul and work on it so that the redemptive grace for sanctification is released.
In this way, they were really and deeply transformed into Christ likeness!
This is a great principle that we need to take heed of.
2. Sharing Christ’s death and resurrection: Victorious Life!
“Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.So death is at work in us, but life in you.”[2Cor.4:10-12]
When the Cross-works deeply in our lives then we realize that we are dead with Christ and now having His resurrected life working in us. This life conquered fear and death!
It takes us into the unshaken kingdom!
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe” [Heb.12:28]