THE CROSS AND THE KINGDOM
Michael F. Blume
© 2009 Rightly Dividing the Word
All agree that the preaching of the cross of Jesus Christ is vitally important to the salvation of the world, for Jesus said none could come to the Father but by Him. Jesus referred to the work he would do in the death, burial and resurrection -- this is called the work of the cross. Whenever the New Testament makes reference to the cross, we are intended to understand it is referring to the salvation work accomplished through Christ's death, burial and resurrection. But there is far more to the cross than God providing a means for us to escape hell and damnation, and to go to Heaven one day. I might even dare to say that the devil, although he certainly despises the work of the cross, may not be as upset or bothered by the preaching of the cross as much as when it is taken to the full level that God intends us to understand it.
Before we say anything else, let's focus on the truth that God was not the least bit defeated by the devil's work in causing Adam and Eve to fall from fellowship with Him in the Garden of Eden. Revelation 13:8 informs us that the lamb of God, whose death would bring salvation to mankind, was slain from the foundation of the world. This, of course, refers to the plan that God had to save man before man fell into sin. God is omniscient and knows the end from the beginning. He foresaw man's disobedience and sin before Adam actually committed it. Satan did not get one over on God.
What was it that God planned for mankind had Adam not fallen into sin? I believe this is what God sought to restore through the work of the cross. It is a Kingdom on the earth that God told Adam to establish. He was to have dominion on the earth. This mandate has not changed since sin has come and man is in need of salvation. And this brings me to our point. The work of the cross is not to solely deliver us from hell. It is to do that plus restore the position God intended for Adam to rule in this world under God. And the preaching of the cross must include this! In other words, the preaching of the cross must include truths that show us what position the work of the cross put us into, and how we are to apply that to our lives in the here and now. Without this emphasis, the whole purpose of God for mankind that was restored through the cross is overlooked.
To know that Jesus died on the cross for our salvation is actually half the truth of the work of the cross. We must understand that we actually are considered to have died with Him that day. Paul told the Romans in the sixth chapter to their church that Christ resurrected to not die again. Death has no more dominion over Him. We are then told to reckon or consider ourselves to be just as freed from death as Jesus is. We are dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God through the work of Jesus having experienced these things. Sin shall no longer have dominion over us (Rom 6:7-14). We are supposed to have dominion now! Unless our preaching of the cross shows believers where they now are and why they can have dominion in the earth, we are not preaching the cross in a practical manner, and are missing the entire Gospel that Jesus emphasized in regards to the Kingdom.
Our understanding of the cross must go beyond information about Jesus having died. We have to see that all believers have died with Him, and have been thereby placed into a position of power and dominion in this earth right now. The Kingdom of God is spiritual and is not natural. It is not comprised of a physical throne in the earth with a physical palace. It is "in you". It was all around the people in Jesus' day when he told them these things, and they could not see it. It was invisible, and it will forever remain invisible. However, the effects of the Kingdom will be seen again and again as we wield our authority in this world. Miracles and signs and wonders are effects of this Kingdom that are visibly seen in the world. There is also the manifestation of the love of God from our lives into the world around us. But the Kingdom, itself, will not be seen.
When I can study the works of the cross and realize where they have placed me in this Kingdom, and understand why I am able to wield authority in Jesus' name, then I am understanding how to function in the Kingdom through the study of the cross. Paul walked us through the understanding of the cross, so to speak, in Romans chapter 6. He explained what happened to us when we were baptized into the death of Jesus Christ. He showed us that this caused a union to occur between us and the Lord. This union goes so far as to allow us to claim that we also died and were buried and resurrected with Jesus when he experienced these things. Just as Jesus resurrected from the dead after He was killed and buried, we need to claim this resurrection for ourselves right now because we were baptized into His death. His death led Him to a resurrection and power. When we are baptized into His death, we can claim the same power and dominion that the achieved through his resurrection. In other words, we resurrected with Him.
When we understand this about ourselves, we can have confidence to actually live like we have dominion and authority.
The preaching of the cross should change our entire way of living in this world. It should affect us to the extent that we operate with power and dominion. It is not just to save us from hell and free us from the devil's clutches. It gives us power to do something about evil in the world right now. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is come to us when we cast out devils by the finger of God. Kingdom life is not waiting for Jesus to take us home one day, although that will certainly occur. It is doing something in this world. And what helps us come to this place of doing something is getting a firm grip on what we can do, and why we can do it, because of the position the cross placed us into.
Let us not neglect to involve the purpose of the Kingdom in our preaching and understanding of the works of the cross. Even Jesus prayed that we not be removed from the world, but that we be kept safe while in the world. Paul also said that it was more expedient that he remain in the world and minister rather than be absent from his mortal body to be present with the Lord.
The escapist mentality that has gripped so many believers is detrimental to the cause of the Kingdom! "Get us out of this world! Rapture, please come!" And all the while, Jesus preached the Kingdom and prayed that we remain in this world to do a work in turning over this system of evil and winning the lost.
Whereas the preaching of the cross is to many an escape from this world to go to Heaven, the cross was meant to place us in a position of power and authority in the Kingdom to do a grand work of God right here and right now.
God wants us to do something in this world for His Kingdom. Let us operate in the Kingdom. Study the cross in a new light -- that of learning what Christ did for our status and position in the Kingdom to accomplish His will. This is all for the sake of getting work done in the world. Instead of twiddling our thumbs waiting for the rapture, and glorying over what Heaven will be like, God would much rather have us focus on our lives right now and His will in this world.
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