Sunday, September 20, 2009


A friend asked recently, in so many words, "Should we not move on from all this emphasis on the Cross....move on to the Throne, where Christ is now?"

Of course, "No!" pops into my mind immediately. Following that, as I began thinking about the ramifications of the question, I posted this blurb: "...the centrality of the Cross. No event in history approaches the magnitude; no event in eternity will overshadow it. Nothing good or worthwhile is possible apart from it."

But, the question deserves more than a one-word answer or a clever blurb. It's difficult first of all because it's impossible to know exactly what a questioner means, what's in their heart, how they define their terms, etc. So misunderstanding and miscommunication are real threats. Nevertheless, I am going to undertake if not to answer, to open up this area for thought and discussion.

The original question included the phrase "...Cross more of a doorway to the throne where we ought to be" We'll start there....Background: we have a race of fallen men, sinners, alienated from God because of their sinful state/nature......and we have God who wills to reconcile some of those fallen men to Himself for His glory. In order to maintain His righteousness, to continue to be the Just God, He must execute His wrath, His justice in response to those sins. He chooses the only way to be both Just and Justifier: the sacrifice of His perfectly holy, sinless Son in the place of those whom He will redeem. That work took place on that cross and is referred to in various terms like "the Cross" "the Blood" and "the Death of Christ"....all connected to this work of sin-bearing, wrath, expiation, atonement.

The questioner's specific reference to the "throne" came from Hebrews 4:16--

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Yes, we may now draw near to this throne of Grace and receive mercy and grace.....but it seems impossible to leave the Cross out of this picture. A couple of random thoughts:

1. Throne. Generally, God's throne is pictured as a place of judgment. Often it is portrayed as a courtroom scene where guilty sinners stand before a Holy God to hear their doom pronounced. In this instance, the throne is a "throne of grace and mercy".....How can that be? Because of the Cross! The required Judgment has been executed upon Christ for those who are His.

2. This throne is not a "dwelling place" for believers, but a place to which we can draw near as necessary. So far as positional standing, Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:6 that believers are presently (right now) seated with Him in heavenly places. Note well the last three words of that phrase: in Christ Jesus. This is spiritual positioning. Believers are "in Christ" so we are wherever He is, spiritually.

Paul (ok then, the "writer of says "draw near to the Throne"....How are we able to do that? What man can stand before the Throne, in the presence of God? Only the man who is "in Christ"...Further along in Hebrews, chapter 10, it is written:

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
.....let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

See? The only means by which we can "draw near the throne" is the Blood of Christ, the Cross. They are inseparable.

Believers are still sinners--saved sinners, to be sure--but sinners. Were we not "in Christ" we could never approach the throne except as we were dragged before God in judgment. Believers are commanded continually to avail themselves of this cleansing stream. Though spiritually seated with Christ, we are physically still walking in this filthy world, in our sin-corrupted flesh, and are wracked by sin.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1)

So, what are believers to do about their sin? If we've left behind the Cross, we're in trouble, because God's provision is:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. .......If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1)

We must visit the Cross regularly, daily. It, the Blood of Christ, is the birthplace of the forgiveness we receive from God. It's not a "one time deal" from we can "move on" to higher or better things. There are no "higher or better things"!

For some, this kind of question may be born out of a low view of the Gospel (not the case with my questioner, but others I have met). There is this notion that the "gospel" is some one-trick pony in which a lost man recites a wrote prayer and presto-chango becomes a child of God. Recently I was engaged in an internet discussion where a man reduced the "gospel" to one verse in his argument that there was so much more of importance in the Bible than the Gospel.

My view is that there is nothing in the Bible but the Gospel. God's word is His revelation to man of His plan and work for redeeming unto Himself a people and glorifying Himself in so doing. The redemption of sinners, their reconciliation to a Holy God is the Gospel. The centerpiece of the Gospel is the Cross. Every other "good thing" which believers have is a product of the Cross. Apart from it, we have nothing. We dare not leave it behind.

I feel that all scripture supports my view on this but am particularly led by a couple of passages from Paul's epistles:

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
(1 Corinthians 2:2)

To this troubled church in Corinth, Paul had only one message and it was born out of that foundational event--the crucifixion of Christ--the Cross.

Earlier he had written to the church in Rome of his desire to come to them and minister to them.....what did he say specifically?--

So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
(Romans 1:15-16)

See that? He wanted to preach to this church, this local assembly of believers.......and his desire was to "preach the Gospel" to them. There is no "moving on" in his heart. The Gospel is the power of God to those who believe!

Really, this is much of what's lacking in today's churches. They have moved on.....and now get sermons on financial practices, sex technique, and electoral politics. But lives are not transformed by that; God is not glorified by that.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
(Ephesians 2:13-16)

No comments: