WORSHIPING AT THE CROSS IS LIVING IN THE PAST
If you are still worshiping God at the foot of the Cross, you are living in the past. Move beyond the Cross and live in the power of His resurrection. We do this as we enter the fellowship of His suffering.
The Cross was the tool God used to prepare the way of salvation. We must also believe that God raised Jesus from the dead because this is where the power of God enters our lives. We died at the Cross to our old life. We begin our new life in the resurrected power of the Holy Spirit. As we live the resurrected life, we enter the fellowship of Jesus’ suffering. Thus, preparing us for trials and the spiritual battles we will fight.
Christians called according to His purpose will find the Cross a necessary path to maturity. We are opening the way to enter the fellowship of His suffering. Thus, living in the power of His resurrection. Resulting in a true reflection of His Image for all to behold. Remember, the resurrected life always follows the crucified life. When we take an area of our lives to the Cross and put it to death, God resurrects that area in newness for His glory.
Jesus is dead serious about His Word; in fact, He died to keep His Word. He says that we must be born again of the Spirit, enter the fellowship of His suffering, conformed into His image, and live in the power of His resurrection. We’re also told to do good works on earth, lay our treasures up in heaven, and seek the kingdom of God more than anything else. Knowing that the truth will set us free, we will rely on the author and finisher of our faith (Jesus) to teach us the doctrinal truth in everything.
It is through the fellowship of His suffering we grow in faith. And as we look to Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith, all things are possible. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed [surrounded] about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrew 12:1-2).
The power of the resurrection follows the fellowship of His suffering and the Cross. The Cross of Christ proves the length to which God is willing to go in redemption. God will not redeem men except on terms which leave them, men. He will not do away with their power of free choice. God will always honor your free choice, so choose wisely.
Yes, I want to know the power of the resurrection, but if I am to experience that, I have got to, first, experience the fellowship of the suffering, the death on the Cross, the death to my old self, my old nature. “Being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11).
But how can you reach the resurrection of the dead unless you, first, have died? You see, Jesus could not experience the power of the resurrection until after the Cross. The Cross was essential and necessary for Him to experience the power of the resurrection. So, it is valid with us, and now I can experience the power of His resurrection and my transformed life.
THAT I MAY KNOW HIM, AND THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION
Paul’s teaching in Philippians 3:7-14 gives us great insight as to how to live the resurrected life and how to press on in Christ Jesus.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection (Philippians 3:10), we all should want to know Him in the power of His resurrection. And more fully, “the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.” To know HIM is more than merely to read a doctrine about Him. Believers come not only to redemption but to the Redeemer Himself.
That I may know him—in truth and righteousness and the power of His resurrection, being justified through faith in the work of the Cross and raised spiritually with Him. By our identification with Him in this, as in all the acts of His redeeming work for us. The power of the Divine Spirit, which raised Him from literal death, is the same, which raises believers from spiritual death now and shall raise their bodies from literal death hereafter.
Paul moves on to the fellowship of his sufferings (Philippians 3:10). I like power, but I don’t like misery. If Jesus suffered for us, we should suffer for Him. All true believers will enter the fellowship of His sufferings, for this strengthens our faith and produces maturity in our new life. The lessons we learn will prepare us for any trial we might face.
Partaking in the fellowship of His sufferings—becomes our identification with Him. He bore all our sufferings, so we take part in His. It is part of God’s will for our lives to purify and mature us for His glory.
Our flesh always rebels against suffering. We like the power, but we don’t like pain. We don’t even like it when someone we love is suffering through a trial. The disciples found it difficult to handle this truth when Jesus started talking about the suffering that He was to experience. Peter cried out, “Lord, be that far from thee.” And Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, Satan, you offend me…. “(Matthew 16:23-24).
It was the natural cry of man, “Spare yourself from suffering.” But Paul is willing to follow Jesus to the Cross. “I want to know him; I want to know him completely.” Yes, the power of the resurrection, but you can never know the power until you have, first, known the Cross.
Paul’s goal in running and winning his race is threefold:
1. That he might be found in Jesus Christ: Not having his righteousness, the self-righteousness that comes by keeping the law. But the righteousness that is imputed by God because of his faith in Jesus Christ.
2. That he might know Christ, through the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering. Thus, becoming like Him in His death.
3. To apprehend that for which he was apprehended: Paul was aware that God had a purpose for his life, and he wanted to fulfill it. God has a purpose for each of our lives, and our goal should be to carry out that purpose for which we were apprehended.
We must keep our focus on Jesus Christ and His purpose for our lives. Jesus was talking to Peter about how he was to die for Christ, turning toward John, he asked: “But what about him?” Jesus, as much as said, “That’s none of your business, you just stay focused on Me.” Many times, we, like Peter, are saying, “But what about him?” Jesus would urge us to focus upon Him and run our race in faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let Jesus be your life coach. The one who created the universe and holds it together. The one who always was always is, and always will be. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the author, and the finisher of our faith.
Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7).
God has given every man a measure of faith. The faith that we have in our heart is a gift of God. Paul said, “By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourself; it’s a gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8). Our salvation, the faith by which we believe, is God’s gift. In I Corinthians 12, Paul lists faith as one of the gifts of the Spirit.
Scripture portrays the Christian life as a walk. It speaks of walking in the Spirit, walking in the flesh, walking in Light, walking in Darkness, walking in love, and walking in the truth. The Lord made a bold statement about faith, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:21-22).
Many believers have never experienced the power of the risen life. They have stayed away from the fellowship of the suffering and crucified life. I want to hold on to the things of the flesh. I don’t want to see it nailed to the Cross. But you will never know the life of the resurrected Christ until you have experienced the fellowship of the sufferings.
Some believers feel they have reached, or they have achieved their spiritual walk. But Paul, the apostle said, “Look, I don’t consider that I have attained; I don’t look at myself as being perfect, the work of the Lord is not yet complete in me.”
Conforming to the likeness of His death,” namely, by degrading of the bodily self.” Thus, it ensures the believer to be, “accounted worthy to obtain the resurrection from the dead…” (Luke 20:35). And, “The resurrection of the just…” (Luke 14:14). When the Lord apprehended us, He did so with grace and mercy. He said, “I have chosen you and ordained you that you should be my disciple…” (John 15:16) so, we turn to follow Him in faith.
The race we are running, winning the crown of victory, my course completed, and perfection reached. When we are looking up in Jesus’ face, just overwhelmed by His glory and love, we will say, “I finally have apprehended that for which I was apprehended. The Lord intended for me, to be with Him in His kingdom, to share with Him His glory.
Paul knows where the finish line is, how to reach it, and what prize awaits him. Therefore, he has a plan to win, “but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Looking back is sure to end in going back! The story of Lot’s wife tells us what happens when we take our eyes off the prize. God’s Word to us is as it was to Israel, “Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward” (Exodus 14:15). The Bible is our landmark to show us whether we are progressing or backsliding.
Remember, before His resurrection, Jesus first endured the Cross. The resurrected life always follows the crucified life. The power of the resurrection follows the fellowship of the suffering by way of the Cross. And so yes, I want to know the power of the resurrection. But if I am to experience that, I first must experience the fellowship of the suffering, the death on the Cross, the death to my old self, my old nature.
You will never know the life of the resurrected Christ until you have experienced the fellowship of His sufferings. It is all part of following Jesus and being in Christ. As the children of God; we get to be part of the family of pain: “If children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer for Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:17).
Being in Christ is conforming to His death to reach His resurrected life. Christians called according to His purpose will find it a necessary path to maturity, this resurrection life right now, and the ultimate resurrection from the dead. The suffering is worth it, considering the greatness of the goal of transformation from the dead, Eternal Life!
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Knowing our identity “in Christ” and inheriting eternal life should be reward enough. Again, the question is, “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?” Once you are FREE FROM, you are FREE TO BE. Free to become, to do, to achieve, to fulfill GOD’S great purpose in your life, and to walk in obedience. If you are going to reach your potential through freedom in Jesus Christ, you must first recognize your need to be set free.
To be free, you must have a sense of belonging, a sense of worthiness, and a sense of competence found only in Christ. Therefore, our position in Jesus Christ is unchanging, eternal, unalterable, and a work of grace.
The truth about your freedom in Jesus Christ is based on fact, not feeling. You have a relationship with Him, you are His workmanship, and redemption is your eternal possession.
The truth that sets you free arises from your knowledge of your position, personage, and possessions in Christ.
“Then said Jesus unto them, when ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples; indeed, And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:28-32).
Dear Lord, I am grateful that You have made a way for me to move from death to life. Remind me that this is a gift of Your grace, and not a result of anything I have done, or can do. Keep me aware that the “old man” in me will always seek to draw me back to that way of death. I pray these things in the gracious name of Jesus, amen.