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Cross – Calling – Comforter

There are three things of the greatest importance in Christianity: 1) the Cross; 2) the calling of God: 3) the condition which qualifies believers to enter into divine things.

It is easy to see that man as lost in Adam must be set aside if blessing is to come in from God; but it is not so easy to see that all those faculties which makes man great—wisdom, intelligence, prudence, power, etc.—tend to keep him in darkness and ignorance of God. Man, with all that makes him great as well as all that makes him corrupt, had to be set aside in death, in order to clear the ground for God’s thoughts of blessing to come to pass in Christ. This is the meaning of the Cross.

Man’s mind, when active (i.e. the natural reasoning of the believer—NC), carries him steadily away from God. A man may have a great intellect, but if he trusts it in divine things it will be his ruin. Man’s mind can compass many natural things, but it is always wrong in its conclusions about divine things. When man’s mind begins to work, different schools of opinion arise at once (1Cor 1:12). Man becomes prominent instead of God. It is not so much the truth that attracts people, but the ability with which it is presented. So that if a man can speak well, and unfold things in a clear and masterly style—if he can put things in a pithy and pointed way—people like to hear him. It is not the truth that attracts them, but the man. Nay, it often happens that the less truth a man has the more popular he is.

Paul came to Corinth and preached Christ as the crucified One. If God’s Son had to come into death for man, where is all man’s greatness? It is all seen as being under death as the judgment of God. Man with all the things that are, and which make him great, must be set aside. Death has come upon him in the death of Christ. The preaching of the Cross is the power of God to those who are being saved: it is God’s power for present deliverance from the whole world (earthly—NC) system, and from all the principle which characterize the present age. Paul preached not with wisdom of words, lest the Cross of Christ should be emptied of meaning (1Co 1:17). If he had gone to Corinth in all the maturity and splendor of his natural abilities, and displayed those abilities in connection with his service, he would no doubt have made a great impression. They would have thought him a wonderful man. But he would not thus display himself. To do so would be to empty the Cross of its meaning.

In 1 Corinthians 1:18 we see two classes. To one class the preaching of the Cross is foolishness; to the other class it is the power of God. If men love the present system of things and the principles that are characteristic of this age, they must regard the Word of the Cross as foolishness, because it makes nothing of all the things which to them are of value and importance. But such are perishing. Their life is in a system of things which is utterly doomed. The world, with all its political, educational and social schemes, is under the judgment of God.

Then we are “in Christ Jesus.” Every thought of God in relation to the heavenly blessing of man is established in Christ Jesus. God has called us into that blessing, and that we may learn the whole way He has taken to reveal Himself, and to give effect to His counsels and purposes, He has made Christ Jesus to be unto us wisdom. We see in Him how God has brought to pass His own eternal thoughts in spite of sin, Satan’s power and death. When every possible thing had come in to hinder God’s purpose of blessings, He has shown Himself to be infinitely greater than all the power of evil.

He has triumphed over that power, and has removed every obstacle that seemed to stand in the way of His purpose. Think of all the wisdom that has come out in this! Think of the incarnation, the Cross, the resurrection and ascension. Who can fathom the depths of the divine wisdom which comes out in all this, and which is now set forth for us in Christ Jesus? He is, indeed, the great lesson-book of divine wisdom. Then He is also “made unto us righteousness, holiness and redemption (1Co 1:30). We cannot go into these blessed things in detail now, but they show the completeness of our blessing in Christ Jesus.

In conclusion we might consider a few words on 1 Corinthians 2, where we see that if the believer is to become acquainted with the things of the Spirit of God he must be spiritual. This is the indispensable condition of spiritual growth and intelligence. We apprehend natural things by the natural mind, but the things of the Spirit of God are spiritually discerned. There are four things stated here: 1) that God has revealed things by His Spirit; 2) that those things are known by the Spirit; 3) that they have been communicated in words “which the Holy Spirit teaches” (1Co 2:13); 4) that they are spiritually discerned.

But if we are to discern those blessed things we must be spiritual (1Co 2:14, 15; Col 1:9). Paul was not able to speak of many of God’s things to the Corinthians on account of their carnal condition; they were not spiritual (1Co 3:1), and therefore not competent to enter into those things. It is as though he said to them, “I have wonderful things to say to you—wonderful treasures to unfold—as soon as you are ready for them.” The Spirit has been given to form us in new tastes, and in a new power of apprehension so that we may be able to discern divine things. If we do not grieve Him there can be no doubt He will thus form us for the apprehension of God’s blessed things.

The way which the Spirit takes is by bringing us into moral accord with the Word of the Cross. The religious world is busy today emptying the Cross of all its divine meaning. But the Spirit would give our souls an ever deepening apprehension of the true significance of the Cross, and He would bring us into accord with it, and maintain us in accord with it. A believer who is really in accord with the Cross—that is, self-judged and separate from the world (1Co 11:31, 32)—will be unhindered in his apprehension of the things of the Spirit of God. He will be spiritual. But a man who is not in accord with the Cross is carnal, and will walk accordingly. He will be wanting in any true apprehension of spiritual things.

Everything that God has prepared for us, and freely given to us, is worthy of Himself, and His things are worthy of our hearts’ earnest pursuit, and constant consideration. If we accept salvation by the Cross from man and this world, we shall be enriched in the knowledge of God’s things. But if we want to live in the present system of things we shall most certainly miss the present enjoyment of our true heavenly position, i.e., the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. With such an alternative presented, would any true Christian hesitate for a moment as to the decision of his heart?

- C A Coates (1862-1945)

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