Chapter 14 – The Cross Spirit in Our Lord

We seek sometimes for the operation of the Spirit, with the object of obtaining more power for work, more love in the life, more holiness in the heart, more light on Scripture or on our path. And yet all these gifts are only subordinate to what is the great purpose of God. The Father has bestowed the Spirit on the Son, and the Son has given him to us, with the one great object of revealing and glorifying Christ Jesus himself in us.

The heavenly Christ must become for us a real living personality, always with us and in us. Our life on earth must be every day lived in the unbroken and holy fellowship of our Lord Jesus in heaven. This must be the first and the greatest work of the Holy Spirit in believers, that they should know and experience Christ as the life of their life. God desires that we should become strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith, and that so we may be filled with his love unto all the fullness of God.

This was the secret of the joy of the first disciples. They had received the Lord Jesus, whom they feared they had lost, as the heavenly Christ into their hearts.

And this was their preparation for Pentecost: they were entirely taken up with him. He was literally their all. Their hearts were empty of everything, so that the Spirit might fill them with Christ. In the fullness of the Spirit they had power for a life and service such as the Lord desired. Is this, now, with us, the great object in our desires, in our prayers, in our experience? ‘Me Lord teach us to know that the blessing for which we have so earnestly prayed can be preserved and increased in no other way than through intimate fellowship with Christ in the inner chamber, every day practised and cultivated.

And yet it has seemed to me that there was a still deeper secret of Pentecost to be discovered. The thought came that perhaps our conception of the Lord Jesus in heaven was limited. We think of him in the splendour, the glory of God’s throne. We also think of the unsearchable love which moved him to give himself for us. But we forgot too often that, above all, it is as the crucified one he was known here on earth; and that, above all, it is as the crucified one he has his place on the throne of God. ‘And, lo, in the midst of the throne … stood a Lamb as it had been slain’ (Rev. 5.6).

Yes, it is as the crucified one that he is the object of the Father’s eternal good pleasure and of the worship of the entire creation. And it is, therefore, of the first importance, that we here on earth should know and have experience of him as the crucified one, so that we may make men see what his disposition and ours is, and what the power is that can make them partakers of salvation.

I feel deeply that, as the cross is Christ’s highest glory, and as the Holy Spirit neither has done nor can do anything greater or more glorious than he did when he ‘through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God’ (Heb. 9.14); so it is evident that the Holy Spirit can do nothing greater or more glorious for us than to take us up into the fellowship of that cross, and to work out also in us the same spirit of the cross which was seen in our Lord Jesus. In a word, the question arose whether this was not the real reason why our prayers for the powerful operation of the Holy Spirit could not be answered, because we had sought too little to receive the Spirit, in order that we might know and become like the glorified Christ in the fellowship of his cross.

Have we not here the deepest secret of Pentecost? The Spirit comes to us from the cross, where he strengthened Christ to offer himself to God. He comes from the Father, who looked down with unspeakable good pleasure on the humiliation and obedience and self-sacrifice of Christ, as the highest proof of his surrender to him. He comes from Christ, who through the cross was prepared to receive from the Father the fullness of the Spirit, that he might share it with the world. He comes to reveal Christ to our hearts, as the Lamb slain, in the midst of the throne, so that we on earth may worship him as they do in heaven. He comes, chiefly,- to impart to us the life of the crucified Christ, so that we may be able to say truly, ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not 1, but Christ liveth in me’ (Gal. 2.20).

To understand this secret in any way, we must first meditate on what the meaning and what the worth of the cross is.

The mind that was in the crucified Christ

The cross must necessarily be viewed from two standpoints. First, the work it has accomplished – the pardon and conquest of sin. This is the first message with which the cross comes to the sinner. It proclaims to him free and full deliverance from the power of sin. And then the second, the spirit or disposition which was there manifested. We find this expressed in Philippians 2.8: ‘He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.’ Here we see self-abasement to the lowest place which could be found under the burden of our sin and curse; obedience to the uttermost to all the will of God; self-sacrifice to the death of the cross these three words reveal to us the holy perfection of his person and work. Therefore God hath so greatly exalted him. It was the spirit of the cross which made him the object of his Father’s good pleasure, of the worship of the angels, of the love and confidence of all the redeemed. The self-abasement of Christ, his obedience to the will of God even to death, his self-sacrifice even to the death of the cross – these made him to be ‘the Lamb, as it had been slain, standing in the midst of the throne’.

The spirit of the cross in us

All that Christ was, he was for us and desires to become in us. The spirit of the cross was his blessedness and glory. It should be this even more for us. He desires to manifest his likeness in us and to give us a full share of all that is his. Thus Paul writes the words we have so often quoted: ‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 2.5). Elsewhere he writes: ‘We have the mind of Christ’ (1 Cor. 2.16). The fellowship of the cross is not only a holy duty for us, but an unspeakably blessed privilege, which the Holy Spirit himself will make ours according to the promise: ‘He shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you’ (John 16.15); ‘He shall glorify me’ (John 16.14). The Holy Spirit wrought this disposition in Christ and will also work it in us.

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