It's been a very long time since I last posted anyting on my blog. One of my goals for this month was to finally get something written and to finally get into a good rythm by posting once a week. My wife has also encouraged me to shorten my posts a little and this I will do but I will likely start a separate blog where I post shorter thoughts and keep this blog for more in depth stuff.
"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 and 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. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to you who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father."
I have posted here before that Christ died not only for our sins to be forgiven, but to bring us to the Father. This section of Ephesians, a book that both my wife and I have been studying at length in the past few weeks, makes this very clear. The cross of Christ is the epitome of the glory of God in that it reveals His love for us and that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." His glory shines forth on the cross as the Son willingly becomes the sacrifice for the sins that you and I have committed, are committing and will commit in the future. Such love has never been displayed in all of creation and it reveals the glory of God for our joy to worhip and thank Him for all eternity. Jesus dead on a cross, a willing and obedient servant of God who laid down His life for His sheep is the most clear display of the glory of God. But as I'm sure you can guess, there is more to the cross of Christ than what I just stated and it becomes clear as we move further along in Paul's discourse on what the cross accomplished.
"For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father." The act of salvation is a trinitarian act and is not accomplished by Jesus alone or to Jesus alone. Jesus died and rose from death to accomplish something - something for us. Notice what Paul says concerning Jesus that through Him we both (being Jews and Gentiles) have access in one Spirit to the Father. Paul is saying that there is something one the other side of the cross that is important and that the most glorious event in all of history is not glorious apart from what it accomplished for us. Jesus' death for sin loses all meaning unless it accomplished more than gain us forgiveness for our sins. What the death of Jesus for our sins indeed accomplished is to open the door for the Spirit to be poured out so that we could have access to the Father. Isn't it curious how easily we forget this? We can become so focused on the cross of Christ itself that we forget what it actually accomplished and the purposes for which God the Father ordained it.
"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he migt bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit..." 1 Peter 3:18
It is true that we are to always point to Jesus and that we are to preach in such a way that the cross of Christ may shine and God's glory may be seen in it. But we must never forget that Jesus never pointed to Himself exclusively but pointed to the Father. Jesus rules and reigns over all creation and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. Through Jesus, we have access to God the Father by the Holy Spirit which was poured out after Jesus laid down His life and took it back up again.
It's a difficult nuance and some people easily mistake talk like this for trying to diminish Jesus. But rest assured, the cross is a doorway to God and is not the end point for believers - it is the beginning of a relationship with God where we can boldly approach His throne and by faith live for His glory and our joy. This does not negate a "cross centered life" or the truth that we will behold the slain lamb in the Kingdom of God. But it does remind us that we can easily sit back while focusing on the cross and forget that the cross is meant to get us something and somewhere.
Praise God for the cross of Christ and praise the Lamb of God Who took away the sins of the world. Praise God for providing us with a way into relationship with God through His Holy Spirit!
Blessings to you all!