WE revel in the riches of God's grace, and in the blessed fact of our exaltation in Christ Jesus. Enthroned with Him, complete in Him, our life hid together with Christ in God, an unparalleled possession is ours. By divine choice and purchase we are lifted to the heavenlies, transferred thereto by the very deliverance of God. The rescue is a great one, and if rightly estimated, a thing most wonderful.
But are we living, in the deepest sense, up to so high and unique a privilege? Are we possessing our position, our celestial Canaan, that "part of the allotment of the saints in light" so graciously accorded us? There is but one way, but to go that way is to know an abundance of spirit life. And it is to know as never before, the measure of our Lord's obedience. We may have comprehended something of its character, but now, as we grip the inner meaning of identification with Christ in death, we apprehend its immense import.
The death of the cross! From the glory He came to the place called Golgotha. With fixed purpose He set His face toward Jerusalem. And "that set face was just the index of a set heart. The disciples did not like to hear, Christ speak about the cross, that cross the foundation of the holiness of God, the one hinge of human destiny. They did not like to think about it, they put it out of their minds, failing to understand it. It was an unpleasant truth even to those who loved Him."
Little did they dream that the Victim would so gloriously be the Victor, that Calvary would so witness the triumph of powerful love over powerless hate. But it was so, and is so! The blood-marked way, so like defeat, was an absolute triumph. He won that we might win. He died that we might die, yet live with Him.
The blood of His cross! "The precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, without spot." And does it not speak for all time, of deliverance, nearness, and cleansing, of perfect peace and overcoming power? Stupendous issues hang thereon. How high its might and marvel ascends, even to realms of an unchronicled and unknown past! And how far forward its penetration to the ages of futurity! And all its power is for us, even now. For is it not the one great insurmountable, inviolable barrier against our foe? It is indeed, and is at once the symbol of his past defeat and bruising yet to be .
The vigorous corn of wheat, except it die, abides alone. Useful it may be, and very good, but the possibilities of its life are small. But if it die it yields much fruit. And death alone could mean such life as He, its Victor, knew. Did He not say, "Because of this came I into this hour?" The hour of death! Yet listen again to our Lord's own account of its glorious outcome. "And I, if I should be exalted out of the earth shall be drawing all to Myself!" Here, indeed, is the much fruit, a rich harvest from the life laid down.
Death, not only for sin but to sin. That is the conformity we need to know. And we prove its power as its principle is perpetually applied. But why should we die, and to what? Questions like these may assail, and even perplex the mind. Yet, if with the apostle Paul we "long to know Christ...to share in His sufferings, and die even as He died," we must be truly identified with Him in the likeness of His death.
Why should we die? That we might know the superabundant life, ascension life, and power with God and men. Our need is new life, and since there is nothing new under the sun, this wonderful life comes streaming down from above, where are our affections, if risen with Him. And to be "found in Him" is to really know life in marvelous newness. Whatever the cost, it is worth while. Christ deemed it so, and could calmly say, "Father, the hour has come!" He knew that glory lay that way. Here, the paths of glory lead but to the grave. But with Him, Who left the august glory that He had in the Father's presence, before the ages, the path of glory led triumphantly from the grave.
And that is why He died, even the death of the cross. And thus dying, He forever displays to a wondering universe His title and right to His place preeminent. Tragic in the world's eyes, as yet, but with vail removed, how triumphant to our vision such a death! In the face of all that it meant, and means, conformity thereto is a priceless distinction for the saints of God. So thought Paul. God's pioneer of the life in the heavenlies, life among the celestials, as he stretched out "in front toward the goal, for the prize of God's calling above in Christ Jesus. And he knew life union with Christ a s the outcome of death with Him. On his own showing they were inseparable.
"Now if we died together with Christ, we believe that we shall live together with Him also, having perceived that Christ, being roused from among the dead, is no longer dying; Death is mastering Him no longer, for He Who died, died to sin once, yet He Who is living is living to God. Thus you also be reckoning yourselves to be dead, indeed, to sin, yet living to God in Christ Jesus our Lord"
Could words be plainer or more emphatic? Death and life. Dead to sin, alive to God. But to what do we die? Not merely to sin in its many recognized forms, but to those subtle, unrecognized forms of the soul life, the self-life which can so passionately persist in its course.
For this to go is a great thing, and only God can ordain and originate the occasion which brings into play the power of Christ's death. Think deeply of all He died to, and apply the thoughts to the practical details of life. God can make every phase of the application real and true.
Thus shall we die to live, and in the power and might of Christ's death, die to many things we once keenly lived for. We may be large-souled, sensitive and self-conscious to a degree. There may be self-pity, self-judgment, self-defense, self-many-things, but to all we are to die. Yet if, as God reveals, we carry out this divine principle, we shall find the emergence to be life indeed, buoyant and triumphant. For by the cross He triumphed!
Impaled there, seeming defeat was real victory. By death He mastered death, and triumphantly ascending, lives evermore, our Life and glorious Head. And the death He died was of such a character that for all time it becomes the very root source of life which is to the glory of God. And where victory lay for Him, it lies for us.
And do we not long for victory? Is it not ours to realize here and now? Victory in real experience. And this can only be known as we enter into all that Calvary means. If Calvary meant death it also was the prelude to life, dominating, abundant life. It was so to Him, our conquering Lord, Who thereby became our exalted Head. And, as members of His body, we are sharers in His victory. But do we know it? Do we stand in Him for it, as God's will for us? The faith of the Son of God stood steadfastly for all God's will, wherein lay Calvary. Shall we not then, like Paul, be living in such faith? It is an inner life indeed, a real victory life, for in so far as we are dead to sin, we are untouched by it.
Let us be willing for God's will, for His revealing of the hidden things of the self life to which we are to die, and we shall truly find that death is the way of conquest. And to the attitude of others as moved and actuated by the enemy, death is again the pathway of victory. You get victory in your spirit, for the death side is so swallowed up by the gloriously positive life side, so in Him, "far above all," that you reach out for it more and more. But the old life must go out, that the new may abound, and increase with the increase of God. And to this end we must be identified with Christ in the likeness of His death. It is the power of this union which so emancipates, and the freedom is marvelously far-reaching.
Shall we not then carry into effect all that Calvary so vitally means? It is a working principle of death and life for all the members of the body of Christ who, like Paul, long to be found in union with Him. It is a death ever and always bound up with life. Think of the Conqueror seated above, the supreme Victor and life-imparting Spirit. And it is life we need, life in the spirit. But we must be severed from earth ties to experience the quickening, triumphant life which dwells and moves in God.
The secret place of the most High is to be our daily abode. It is there, and there alone we triumph over the power of the enemy. Thus, with our viewpoint in the heavenlies, we ride above the earth clouds of merely human attitudes and outlooks. Moreover, there are celestials keenly intent upon this character of our testimony. For is it not through us as members of the body of Christ that God's manifold wisdom is displayed? Let us not relegate all this power and opportunity to the future. There is an insisted now for the warm and close regard of the saints of God.
Calvary stands for this, and so much so in its deepest beaming, that we can never say "Farewell" to its vivifying power as productive of life. And God will show us the things we should die to, that we should lay down, and count loss. And He, in His own way and time, will bring to our consciousness, the blessedness of it. The dignity, too, and potency, is above measure.
Is it a battle? The battle is the Lord's, and in the strength of His might, you win through. Are Satan and his hosts of darkness against Christ's own? He is a defeated foe, and his hosts with him. And God will crush Satan under your feet shortly. All this, and infinitely more, is graphed by Golgotha.