THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS

BY 

Pastor C.R.Stam

A Seeming Contradiction

 

I Cor 1:23,24                                                                                                       II Cor 5:16

"... WE PREACH                                                                                            "-------THOUGH WE HAVE

CHRIST  CRUCIFIED... THE                                                                          KNOWN CHRIST AFTER 

POWER OF GOD AND THE                                                                           THE FLESH, YET NOW

WISDOM OF GOD                                                                                           HENCEFORTH KNOW

                                                                                                                          WE HIM NO MORE"

 

      In the above passages, both written by Paul to the Corinthians, we have one of those seeming contradictions of Scripture which, when explained, demonstrate instead the perfect harmony and the sublime beauty of the sacred Word.

      But how shall we explain these apparently contradictory statements? Was not Paul himself recognizing "Christ after the flesh"when he proclaimed "Christ crucified?"

      Shall we say that the "henceforth"of the latter statement indicates that while Paul had been preaching "Christ crucified"at the time his first letter was written, this was now no longer to be so?
      A glance at Paul's letters written still later will prove that this cannot be the case, for to the very end "preaching  of the cross"was his theme. 

      Even from his prison in Rome he was still writing:

     "........We have REDEMPTION THROUGH HIS BLOOD, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace"( Ephesians 1:7)

     "..........And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled "IN THE BODY OF HIS FLESH THROUGH DEATH...." ( Colossians 1:21-22)

      The "henceforth" in II Corinthians 5:16, then, is not to be reckoned from the writing of that word on, but from the raising up of Paul on. Hence, in Paul's epistles we constantly come upon such phrases as "but now" ( Romans 3:21, 16:26), "at this time" (Romans 3:26), "henceforth" ( II Corinthians 5:16), "no longer" (Galatians 3:25), "no more ( Galatians 4:7), etc.

       But this still leaves our problem unsolved, for if with the raising up of Paul Christ was no longer to be known after the flesh, why did Paul preach Christ crucified?

 

Knowing Christ After the Flesh

 

    First, let us determine just what is meant in II Corinthians 5:16 by knowing Christ after the flesh.

           We all know that weh our Lord walked among men in the flesh he was known, or recognized, after the flesh.

     He was certainly known after the flesh by the Judaean shepherds when they found Him as a babe,  "wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger" (Luke 2:12). He was surely known after the flesh when John baptized Him with water ( Matthew 3:13-15). he was known after the flesh as He walked the streets of Palestine and mingled with the people; as whn, in de midst of ta milling crowd, Peter exclaimed to Him: "Thou seest the multitude thronging Theen, and sayest Thou, Who touched Me? " (Mark 5:31). He was known after the flesh as He entered their homes; as when a poor, sinful woman "began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head" ( Luke 7:38) and as later He girded Himself with a towel and washed His apostles feet ( John 13:4-5). He was certainly  known after the flesh as His enemies took Him and bound Him; as they beat and scourged him; as they spat upon Him, crowned Him with thorns and crucified Him. 

         Yes, and He was known aftre the flesh even after His resurrection, for , raised bodily from the dead, He had made it a point to call upon Thomas to feel the spear- and nail-prints ( John 20:27) and bade the apostles behold His hands and His feet, saying "A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have" ( Luke 24:39). 

       Indeed, even after His ascension to heaven His followers still knew Him after the flesh, proclaiming Him as the fruit of David's loins Who was ordained to sit on David's throne ( Acts 2:30-31), and in connection with Whose return to earth, the long-promised "times of refreshing"were to "come from the presence of the Lord"( Acts 3:19-20)

       It is not denied that the twelve knew Christ as more than a mere human being. To be sure, true believers knew Him as "God manifest in the flesh", but they did know Him after teh flesh. And some day, indeed, he weill return physically to the earth to sit on the throne of His father, David.

 

      This is why the Apostle John, in his first epistle, evidently inspired to write especially for those who will live on earth after the Body of Christ has been called away, speaks of Christ, the Word, not only as "That which ws from the beginning, but also as "That which....we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands ahve handled of the Word of life" ( I John 1;1). And this is why he says: "Every spirit that confesseth that jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist...."( I John 4:2-3)

      From the above passages it is evident, to be sure, that John knew Christ as more than a mere human being, and in this he is to be distinguished from the so-called "Modernists"who talk only of the lowly Jesus: and the man of Galilee, but will have nothing of the efficacy of His shed blood or His bodily rerurrection and ascension, and even deny the mighty miracles he wrought while on earth. But these same passages, with others, also make it plain that the followers of Messiah did know Him after the flesh as the One who, according to prophecy, would some day occupy David's throne and reign on earth. From Paul's remark to the Corinthians; "Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, it would appear that he deemed it very possible that ther were some among them who had known Him so. Nor did Paul, the apostle fo the Gentiles, deny that Christ had come in the flesh and would so come again to reign on earth. He simply pointed out that "now henceforth"with the new revelation he had been sent to proclaim, Christ was no longer to be looked upon in this light, but in a much greater light. 

      But this still leaves our original question unanswered: Was not Paul himself knowing, or recognizing, Christ after the flesh when he preached "Christ crucified?

 

       The answer is, No, and this will be clearly seen when once "the preaching of the cross is understood. 

 

THE CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST

The thoughtful and less biased student of the Scriptures must soon obsere that God's revelation of Himself in His Word is progressive. He did not reveal everything at once, but "precept upon precept, line upon line....here a little, and there a little ( Isa. 28:10)

The predictions of Christ's death, from Genesis 3:15 on, are couched in veiled language, and  we are explicitly told in I Peter 1:10-12 that the prophets themselves "searched diligently, but did not find out either "what manner of time" or een "what"the Spirit "did signify, when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." Even Isaiah 53, perhaps the clearest prediction of all, does not actually say that Messiah, or the Son of God, would be crucified. It merely describes someone upon whom "the Lord" would lay "the transgression of my people, so that it was perfectly natural that the Ethiopian  should ask Philip "I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of Himself, or of some other man?" ( Acts 8:34)   

It was the same with the types; especially the tabernacle, its furnishings and its offerings. These, together with certain historical incidents and the lives and experiences of many of the patriarchs, undoubtedly foreshadowed the person and work of Christ, yet it should be carefully noted that not one single case is recorded where those of that day were informed that the person or work of Christ was contemplated. 

It is true, of course, that since the crucifixion is past and has been explained, we can now look back at many significant details in the types, prophecies and history of the Old Testament Scriptures and exclaim: "God had it in mind all the while!" But let us not get ahaead of our subject. 

It must not be supposed that the coming of Christ to earth suddenly made all the Old Testament Scriptures clear. The prophetic statements regarding our Lord's crucifixion found in the Gospel records ( before our Lord's own plain predictions) are couched in the same veiled language as that of the Old Testament. 

This includes John 1:29, which is generally read out of its context, and made to say much more than it actually does say. The preceding verse states: "These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing"( John 1:28). A reference to Matthew 3\;13-15 will reveal  that Christ had come from Galilee to Jordan  "to be baptized of John". In this , of course, He was numbering Himself with the transgressors, for John's baptism was a baptism of repentance, and those who came to it "were baptized of him in Jordan CONFESSING THEIR SINS" ( verse 6). Little wonder, then, that John forbad Him, saying, I hae need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?" and little wonder too, that, Jesus having insisted upon submitting to the rite, John should hae exclaimed: "Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh ( or beareth) away the sin of the world".

But it would be gratuitous to assume that John meant by that inspired statement, or that his hearers saw in it, what we see in it today. Certainly the Lord's own apostles did not, for when, in the shadow of the cross, he began to tell them plainly that He must be delivered to the Gentiles and put to death, they did not have the slightest idea what He could possibly mean: 

"AND THEY UNDERSTOOD NONE OF THESE THINGS: AND THIS SAYING WAS HID FROM THEM, NEITHER KNEW THEY THE THINGS WHICH WERE SPOKEN" ( Luke 18:34). 

This passage is important  in the light of its background, for while it is generally supposed that the Old Testament saints  were saved by  their faith in the death of a coming Christ, the facts are these:

1 Not one fo the types of our Lord's death was said to be such at the time.

2 The prophets searched their own and each others writings to learn "what"the Spirit meant when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow ----and did not find out ( I Peter 1:01-12)

3 The apostles who lied and walked with our Lord when He came to dwell on earth, whom the Lord Himself had chose to proclaim "the gospel of the kingdom, "whom he had gien miraculous powers as a confirmation of their message; these apostles, after laboring with and for the Lord for the greater part of His earthly ministry DID NOT EVEN UNDERSTAND THE PROPHESIED FACT TAT HE WAS TO DIE, much less what was to be accomplished by His death. Indeed, when our Lord began to prepare them for that event: 

"Then peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee" (Matthew 16:22).

The fact is that even for some time after the crucifixion of Christ had become a historical fact, the twelve apostles did not understand  its real significance  as we do----or  should---today. But this is best made clear by bringing out another important fact about the manner in which the death of Christ was contemplated before Paul. 

Christ the Victim

From the first veiled intimation of Calvary in Genesis 3:15 until the raising up of Paul to proclaim "the gospel fo the glory of Christ ( II Corinthians 4:4), R.V. ) our Lord is consistenty portrayed, not as the Victor in death, but as the Victim. 

This is not to say that He is never contemplated as Victor at all, for often He is seen as the Victor over death and is proclaimed as a Victor after His death-----even because of His death----but never is He seen as Victor in His death. Never is His death itself seen as a victory. The types and prophecies of His death which, remember, we now look back upon with fuller knowledge, still contemplate Him as a Victim; a voluntary Victim indeed, but a Victim nevertheless. 

In Genesis 3:15 it is satan crushing His heel. To be sure, He also crushes Satan's head, but it is not stated that He is to crush satan's head by allowing His own heel to be crushed. As far as the passage itself is concerned the crushing of satan's head may well refer to the future final overthrow of satan, in which Christ will be the ultimate Victor. But the actual prediction regarding the Woman's Seed is simply that he was to be the Victim of a bruised or crushed heel, though He would also crush satan's head. And so it is thoughout the Scriptures that follow relating to Christ's death. 

In the Mosaic law the death of Christ was pre-figured by the offering of animals in sacrifice or by the offering of bread or fine flour, wherein the grain had to be crushed and go through the fire. 

The familiar twenty-second Psalm opens  with the anguished cry: "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? " ( verse 1) and the Psalm goes on to describe the deep humiliation and suffering our Savior was to endure  on the cross. This Psalm does, indeed, declare His deliverance through and His exaltation after death, but in the experience itself He is clearly the Victim.

It is the same with the sixty-ninth Psalm, which the inspired poet begins with the cry: "Save Me, O God!" and which goes on to describe our Lord as the Victim of the sins and reproaches of others. 

In the famous fifty-third of Isaiah, He is seen as the Victim again: "despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, " wounded, bruised, and chastised for the transgressions of others. 

"He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a Lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth ( verse 7)

 

Nor is this changed when we come to the gospel records, for there still He is shown as the Victim. Even with all we can now see in John 1:29, we still behold Him as the Lamb, bearing away the sins which others have committed. True, in John 10:17-18 our Lord declares that no man can take His life from Him but that He will lay it down, but mark well that He still proposes to "lay it down"and adds: "This commandment have I received of My Father".  And thus it came to pass. By a word He threw back the soldiers who had come to take Him. he was not compelled to submit Himself to them. He could easily have been the Victor over them. Yet at length he chose to lay down His life and become the Victim of their wickedness and cruelty. 

This is why the eleven, under their great commission, were sent to proclaim "repentance and remission of sins" ( Luke 24:47). Indeed, it is this aspect of Christ's death that God will one day use to melt and break Israel's hardened heart ( Zechariah 12:10-14; 13:6). 

By the time Christ had ascended, the eleven did understand the Old Testament predictions regarding His death and resurrection, but let us not assume that this included an understanding of the greater truths regarding the Cross later revealed to Paul, for it is clear from the addresses of Peter to the people of Israel  at Pentecost and shortly after, that it was his purpose, not to offer them salvation through the cross, but to strike conviction into their hearts for having made the now-exalted Christ the Victim  of their evil deeds, and to call upon them to repent as their only hope of forgiveness. To show that this was the manner in which the corss was still dealt with in the preaching of that day, we quote at length from Peter's messages: 

 

Acts 2:22-23: "Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and knowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain" 

 

Acts 2:36,38: "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. "

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins"

Acts 3:13-15, 19: "The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus, whom ye delivered up, and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 

But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;

And killed the Prince of Life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses"

Repent ye therefore, and be converted....."

 

Acts 4;8-12: "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 

If we this day be examined fo the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole. 

This was the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other Name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved"

 

Acts 5:30-31: The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, Whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 
Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 

In all this Peter offered Christ as Israel's rightful King and only Savior, but it should be clearly noted that he did not once say: Christ died for your sins; trust in His shed blood and be saved" He rather said: Christ died on account of your sins, repent if you would be saved" Thus Christ, at that time, was looked upon as One who had been the Victim, albeit the voluntary Victim, of their evil deeds. 

 

Yes, and even as leate as Acts 8 we still find the crucifixion viewed in this light, for there Philip uses Isaiah 53, which the Ethiopian prince is reading, not to present Christ as the glorified Lord, dispensing grace through the merits of His finished work, but simply to identify Him as the One of whom Isaiah had prophesied; to prove that it had long before been predicted that Messiah would be despised, rejected and slain. There is no evidence that Philip called upon the Ethiopian  to trust the shed blood of Christ for salvation ( though we now know that he was saved through that blood), but rather that he called upon him to acknowledge the lately crucified One as "the Christ the Son of God" ( Matthew 16:16; John 1:49; 11:27; 20: 30-31). Convinced, and believing this with all his heart ( verse 37), the prince was then baptized. 

 

Christ the Victor 

But with the great revelation given to Paul all this is changed. The Pauline epistles do not deny or contradict what the twelve taught with regard to the dath of Christ, for at Calvary Christ was indeed the Victim of man's cruelty and sin. But now it is revealed that he was also the Victor---not merely in His survival through death or His exaltation afterward: not merely, even, in the fact that His death was some day to be used of God to touch and soften Israel's heart, but in His death itself He was the Victor. 

After Israel had refused the Pentecostal call to repentance, and man's sin had risen to its height, God saved Saul the chief of sinners, and sent him forth to proclaim "the gospel of the Grace of God", on the basis of the revelation of Christ as Victor at Calvary. 

To the Hebrews, who had heard Peter's message, and were now placed in a difficult position due to the failure of their nation to repent, the writer of the book of Hebrews, by revelation, gave further light

on the crucifixion: 

Hebrews 1:3 Christ being the brightness of God's glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the Word of His power, WHEN HE HAD BY HIMSELF PURGED OUT SINS, SAT DOWN ON THE RIGHT HAND OF THE MAJESTY ON HIGH."

Here our Lord is seen, not passive but active; not submitting to something, but doing something and, having done it, He sits down because the work is finished. And this purging our sins : by Himself" sets the theme of the Hebrew epistle. He puts away sin by the sacrifice of Himself ( 9:26); He offers one sacrifice for sins for ever ( 10:12), so perfecting for ever those who are sanctified ( 10:14); He endures the cross, despising the shame, in view of the joy its accomplishments will bring ( 12:2); "by His own blood He enters into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us " ( Hebrews 9:12). 

In Phil. 2:5-8 another phase of the victory at Calvary is set forth ---- the moral victory of His sefl-emptying. Though equal with God, we are told, He "made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant"and humbled Himself to die the death of the cross for us. For this, "God also hath highly exalted Him", and we are told: Let this mind be in you" Yes, and the self-humbling that Christ has taught us in the greatest victory we can attain to in the Christian life. 

In Colossians 2:14-15 the apostle deasl with waht is probably the most thrilling aspect of our Lord's victory at Calvary, as he describes His cancellation of the Old Covenant and His triumph over satan and his hosts. We quote Weymouth's superb translation of this passage: 

"The bond, with its reguirements, which was in force against us and was hostile to us, He cancelled and cleared it out of the way, nailing it to His Cross. And the hostile princes and rulers He stripped off from Himself, and boldly displayed them as His conquests, when by the Cross He triumphed over them"

Add to this the triumphant declaration of Hebrews 2:14-15 and it will surely be clear that the Cross is now revealed as our Lord's crowning victory: 

"FORASMUCH THEN AS THE CHILDREN ARE PARTAKERS OF FLESH AND BLOOD, HE ALSO HIMSELF LIKEWISE TOOK PART OF THE SAME; THAT THROUGH DEATH HE MIGHT DESTROY HIM THAT HAD THE POWER OF DEATH, THAT IS THE DEVIL; 

AND DELIVER THEM WHO THROUGH FEAR OF DEATH WERE ALL THEIR LIFETIME SUBJECT TO BONDAGE"

Little wonder the Apostle Paul cries:

"God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Galatians 6:14). 

And mark well: here again it is His Cross----- the instrument He chose to accomplish His purpose. 

 

 THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS

But our Lord's great victory in death was not revealed unti after His ascension to heaven; indeed, its proclamation is always associated with His exaltation there. Hence, Paul was not recognizing "Christ after the flesh" in "the preaching of the cross". 

This fact is strikingly brought out in Hebrews 2:8-9, where the writer, pointing out that we do not yet see all things put under man, adds: 

"But we see Jesus, Who was made a little while lower thatn the angels for the suffering of death, CROWNED WITH GLORY AND HONOR; THAT HE BY THE GRACE OF GOD SHOULD TASTE DEATH FOR EVERY MAN." 

If we fail to see the two aspects of the death of Christ which we have been discussing, this passage will prove a difficult one. It seems to present our Lord dying twice! First he is made lower than the angels for the suffering of death; then He is crowned with glory and honor that by the grace of God He might taste death for every man. Did He then die once on earth and once in heaven?  No, the two aspects of His death are here contemplated. First, He was made for a little while lower than the angels for the suffering of death----that is Christ after the flesh. But later He is crowned with glory and honor that, by the grace of God, His tasting of death might be ( i.e., be recognized to be) for every man. 

Thus, by the grace of God, our exalted Lord now offers all merits of His death to every man. The preaching of the cross, therefore, should lead us further into all that the Cross has accomplished; into all the glories of the mystery. Paul decried the fact that the carnal Corinthians remained babes in Christ; that they were not able to assimilate more of "the wisdom of God"( I Corinthians 1:23-23) all was bound up in this. But in preaching nothing further than "Christ crucified"to the Corinthians ( I Corinthians 2:2), the apostle could only give them the key to the mystery, as it were, but could not open the door to its deeper truths. This relation between "the preaching of the cross"and the deeper truths of the mystery should be clearly seen. Far from being a "prophesied gospel", as some have callet it, "the preaching of the cross" belongs to "the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery".  It is true that the apostle, in his message, began "first of all"with the natural point of contact, indicating that Christ's death for our sins was in accordance with the Scriptures ( I Corinthians 15:3), but this does not minimize the important fact that Paul's message concerning the cross was distinctive. In this same passage eh calls it "the gospel which I prached unto you........which I also received, "i.e., by revelation ( I Corinthians 15:1-3). As we have already pointed out: In the light of this new revelation we now see much more in the types and prophecies of Christ's death thatn was seen by those of former ages. 

We have seen how the crucifixion found no place in the thinking of the twelve as they labored with their Master during His earthly ministry. And when he did begin to prepare them for it, it seemed to them to be the negation of all they had been led to look for; the contradiction to all their hopes and expectations. But with Paul the Cross was the explenation of everything. 

After the resurrection the eleven did recognize the crucifixion as part of the prophesied plan of God. Nevertheless they charged Israel with its guilt and called upon her to repent of it. With Paul it was more than part of the prophesied plan; it lay at the very heart of God's eternal pupose. In it lay "the secret of the gospel"

Return to Pentecost and ask Peter, with all His old Testament background, after having walked and talked with Christ for three years......yes, even after having had his eyes opened to understand that  the Scriptures hade foretold Christ's death----Ask himj why Christ ascended to heaven, and he will tell you it was because they did not want Him down here. Ask him what Christ is now doing in heaven, and he will tell you He is waiting until Israel repents and His enemies are made His footstool ( See Acts 2:34-36; 3:19-23)

But now go on to Paul and ask him why Christ ascended to heaven and, while he will agree with all Peter had said, he will tell you more. He will tell you that when Christ had by Himself purged our sins He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high----because He had finished the work of redemption ( Hebrews 1:3; 10:11-14). It will tell you that Christ ascended to heaven to dispense the riches of His grace through the merits of His death ( Hebrews 2:9), and so to become Head of "the church which is His body", composed of believing Jews and Gentiles reconciled to God by the Cross ( Ephesians 1:19-23, 2:14-16)

In Peter's Pentecostal message the ascension was God's reply to the crucifixion. In Paul's message and in the Hebrew epistle the ascension was the culmination of the crucifixion, as "by His own blood ( Christ) entered in once into the holy place, HAVING OBTAINED ETERNAL REDEMPTION FOR US ( Hebrews 9;12), and was crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man"( Hebrews 2:9)

And so the Cross has been exalted to heaven, as it were, and glorified. To preach it thus is not to know Christ after the flesh as Rome does when she eats Him in a wafer, drinks Him in a cup and displays Him on a crucifix, and as so many Protestants do in their occupation with "the baby Jesus", the lowly Carpenter"and "the Man of Galilee". To preach the Cross as Paul preached it, is to make known the power and glory of His finished work and the riches of His grace as the ascended, exalted Lord ( I Corinthians 1:18,23-24)

It is sometimes supposed that those who stand for Pauline truth do not make much of the Cross. This is ----or should be--- the very opposite of the truth, fotr it was Paul to whom the full revelation of the Cross was given. It is he who says:

"He gave Himself a ransom for all, TO BE TESTIFIED IN DUE TIME,

WHEREUNTO I AM ORDAINED A PREACHER, AND AN APOSTLE, ( I SPEAK THE TRUTH IN CHRIST, AND LIE NOT) A TEACHER OF THE GENTILES IN FAITH AND VERITY" (I Timothy 2:6-7).

It is he who speaks of the Grace that was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

But is Now made manifest By the appearing of Jesus Christ, Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel;

WHEREUNTO I AM APPOINTED A PRACHER, AND AN APOSTLE, AND A TEACHER OF THE GENTILES" ( II Timothy 1:9-11)

It is he who consistently associates the deeper meaning of the cross with his own Godgiven ministry ( See Romans 3: 21-28, Titus 1: 2-3). 

In other writings we have shown how the word grace, in the original, appears in the Gospels and the Acts only 27 times ( much fewer in the English translations), and then seldom in a doctrinal sense, while in the epistles of Paul (less than half the size) it appears 107 times, and almost always in a doctrinal sense. Just so it is with the death of Christ. The types and predictions of it had purposely been veiled. Our Lord did not even begin to tell His apostles about it until near the close of His ministry (Matthew 16:21), and then, as we have seen, they did not understand ( Luke 18:34). Even in early Acts the crucifixion  is spoken of only as a matter of shame to be repented of. But with Paul the blood, the death, the Cross of Christ suddenly become the great theme  of his good news; he constantly speaks of them----not in hidden meanings but in open declaration. We list some of the many, many glorious truths contained in Paul's preaching of the cross"

Christ crucified is the power of god and the wisdom of God ( I Corinthians 1:23-24).

We are to boast in the Cross alone ( Galatians 6:14). 

Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6)

While we were yet sinners Christ died for us ( Romans 5:8)

When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son  ( Romans 5:10)

By the Grace of God He tasted death for every man ( Hebrews 2:9)

We are saved through faith in His blood ( Ephesians 1:7)

We have redemption through His blood ( Ephesians 1:7)

We are justified by His blood  ( Romans 5:9).

We are reconciled in the body of His flesh, through death ( Colossians 1:21-22)

We have peace through the blood of His Cross ( Colossians 1:20)

We are made nigh by the blood of Christ ( Ephesians 2:13) 

We are baptized into His death ( Romans 6:3)

We are made one body by the Cross ( Ephesians 2:16)

The Covenant of the Law was nailed to the Cross ( Colossians 2:14)

Through death He destroyed him that had the power of death ( Hebrews 2;14)

He died that they which live should no longer live unto themselves but unto

Him Who died for them and rose again ( II Corinthians 5:15)

He died that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him ( I Thessalonians 5:10)

We are to show forth the Lord's death till He come ( I Corinthians 11:26)

How shall we close a meditation such as this? As we consider the Cross in the light of the Pauline revelation it becomes the emblem of a thousand victories; the symbol of all our blessed Lord has done for us and is to us. More and more Scriptures crowd the scene! A score of glorious hymns come to mind! We would quote and consider all the Scriptures, and sins all the hymns ----if only there were time and space! 

"Well, the delightful day will come! "----and when it does, depend upon it, our glory will still be "all the cross"; our song, what He has done for us. As we look forward to it we say with Addison

 

Through all eternity to Thee

A grateful song I'll raise,

For, oh , eternity's too short

To utter all thy praise.