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The way of the cross is a way of life, not a way of death; it is a way of living, not a way of dying. We have always known it wrongly. The Resurrection is the center of the Covenant, not the cross. Yet, the way of the cross is more glorious than we have ever known. The way of the cross is all about resurrection; it's all about God revealed through man.
6. The Way of the Cross
Jesus did not crucify Himself, nor do anything to Himself or of Himself from Gethsemane to the Resurrection except stumble and fall and except speak words of kindness and hope where He could, and Jesus ESPECIALLY did not do anything AGAINST Himself. Jesus neither “died to Himself” nor came to the “end of Himself.” Paul said that Jesus “died to sin,” not to Himself. If we walk as He walked, we must walk the way He was led.
There is no death in God, none. Nor can any Scripture be found that would place death in God or in any part of His being and nature save one - “The Lamb slain from before the foundation of the ages.”
But look again at that phrase – it is clearly figurative language, a metaphor, not only of LIFE, but of a rare kind of life found only in the most intimate parts of God's heart, and therefore our heart as well – Resurrection Life – “I am He who lives and WAS dead, but now I am alive forevermore.”
The Resurrection is the center of the Covenant, not the cross. Yet, the way of the cross is more glorious than we have ever known. The way of the cross is all about resurrection; it's all about God revealed through man.
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4
The way of the cross is not a walk in the oldness of death, but in the newness of LIFE!
Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Seek, and you will find . . . Matthew 7:8
It is nice when I come up with an idea in the middle of the night about what a verse means and find the next morning that the Greek words in that verse confirm precisely what I saw by the Spirit. So it is with Matthew 7:14&8. Let me give a paraphrase a bit closer to what I read in Strong’s Greek Dictionary.
Narrow is the gate, the door out, and constrained, pressed in, is the way, the path, the journey, by which one is led to life, and there are few who find it. – Seek, search for, desire, require, demand, and you will find.
“Difficult” is the wrong choice of word to translate the Greek word, thlibó, used to describe the way. Yes, Matthew was one of likely only two New Testament books written in Aramaic, but I suspect that Matthew's gospel was translated into Greek before his death by someone who knew both languages well. The Greek words describe so precisely the way of the cross. The way is NOT difficult; rather, it is pressed in by circumstances that “rub us the wrong way.” The way itself is glorious and filled with life and singing, but it is always pressed in by circumstances and conditions that do not appear favorable to our outward sight.
God is not found in doctrine or exegesis; He is not known by ideas. We can know God only by story; we find Him only in the midst of action verbs, in the midst of our own hearts. Thus we can know this way only by the stories God places before us, first our own, and then the path Jesus walked, the path Adam walked, and the path, most astonishing, that Abraham walked.
I now understand Abraham and why the Spirit of God places Genesis 22 as the climax, the point by which the ring, the lie of self-power, is cast into the fire, the ground of His oath by which God binds Himself to do what He says. I understand Abraham, and I do not know whether to lay my head on the ground in worship or to laugh and laugh in unstoppable joy. I do know, however, that I honor Abraham with all the honor that can be given any man. The Lord Jesus joins me in that honor.
Immediately after writing my two articles on Gethsemane, I was hit with a greater assault of darkness than anything I have known since I wrote The Jesus Secret. Other things in-between have been more painful, yes, but not darker. My last letter, “God – of the Cup,” was written out of that agony of soul, and though it was of the Lord, yet, I am so grateful that I find myself back in the Spirit of hope and joy by which we walk this path home.
The word God speaks is always filled with hope and joy; God ALWAYS leads us in triumph.
Now, let me say something you may not understand. But this next paragraph is incredibly important for our lives and for the victory of Christ through us and on this earth. It is impossible for me to convey with words how important this next thought is.
We CANNOT know the way by which we are led to life by looking at it. Every description and definition of that way, of the way of the cross, that I have ever heard has come through the eyes of those LOOKING AT the way. No one I have known or heard or read has seen that way through the eyes of the one walking in the way. But unless we see out from the eyes of the one being led through that way, we CANNOT know anything about that way. Those who describe the way of the cross by study end up seeing the very opposite of the only way of walking through which we are led to life. Those who describe the way of the cross by looking at it from the outside, give us the way of death, not the way of life.
God gave us three men in the Bible who walked fully in that way, who were led on the path of life. When we see out from their eyes, hearing the beat of their hearts, thinking the thoughts of their minds, only then can we discover this incredible path. Indeed it is the way alone by which man is God revealed. And God revealed is life, not death.
Then, when we see the way through their eyes, we discover the descriptions of that way all through the lives and writing of other men and women, Biblical and Christian. Yet many have walked in that way in part without knowing it. And others who thought they were walking the way of life, were not walking in life at all, but in the way of death, the way of Adam's rebellion.
Death does not lead to life; only the way of the cross leads to life. There is no death in the way of the cross, only life leading to life. Death constrains and presses against that way, yes, but no shadow of death or dying is found IN the way.
Adam was the first to be led by God in the way by which he was led towards life. Every step Adam took was inside that way until the very split-moment when, contrary to all, he rejected that way in an instant, in utterly unexpected and overwhelming defiance and rebellion against the incredible honor God was leading him towards. We know the way by seeing the two things by which Adam turned his back on God and, walking completely backwards, step by step, created the way that leads to death, the thing too many precious believers call “the cross.”
Abraham was God's awesome, open rebuke of Adam and all who walk Adam's way – the way of hating the weakness of the flesh, the way of expecting the curse.
And Jesus walked the way that leads to life, all the way to the tree of life. He died ONCE for ALL, and we were inside of Him. Now, with that sacrificial, atoning death forever behind Him (He dies NO MORE), He gives to us to eat of the tree of life as we learn the way of the cross, the way of God revealed, the way of ever-springing-up newness of life, rivers of living water.
Before we look at Adam, you will notice that instead of saying “the way that leads to life,” I have been phrasing it, “the way by which we are led to life.” The second is the meaning of the Greek word translated “leads.” It is not “leads”; it is “led.” This truth is utterly important, both in how we see out from the eyes of those walking this path, and in knowing the most powerful thing God says in the New Testament describing the way of the cross.
And, as I said, there is no difficulty found IN the way, but rather, all difficulty that exists, though it presses hard against the way, never ever enters it nor ever even casts a slight shadow upon it. There is no death or darkness in the way of the cross.
Adam walked with God in the garden. Adam walked in utter innocence; no knowledge of any sorrow or loss or darkness or death existed anywhere near Adam. Neither had God created Adam with any propensity to “fall.” God in no way intended Adam's choice, though He knew what it would be.
Adam was pure and perfect, though not yet complete. Consider looking out from Adam's eyes as you look out from your own. We do not order our steps; things come our way by the Hand of God. Everything that presses upon our way is by His purposing, yet none of those things press into our way. Our way, the way in which we walk, flows entirely out of our own hearts. The way we walk is the way we ourselves see, looking out from our own eyes.
Everyone judges his or her own self as innocent. If someone is angry with us, we see the fault as theirs because we know our own motives and reasoning and we always judge ourselves to be deserving and our actions to be justified. Adam, of course, knew nothing except goodness and blessing and favor. Everything he touched prospered. Everything flowing out of his own heart was pure and holy. Nothing pressed against his way except goodness and abundance overflowing. He had no conflicts with anyone, period, nor any thought of opposition.
Yet there was a longing deep in Adam's heart; a yearning for something he knew he did not have, something he knew was an essential part of himself. Adam did not know what that yearning meant, nor that it was for two very different, though related, things.
Adam longed for a companionship he did not know, and he yearned for a LIFE he had not yet tasted.
God, who had pronounced every part of His creation, “good,” now said, “It is not good – that man should be alone.” The yearning of Adam was the yearning of God inside of him, for God had designed Adam as His likeness.
Adam fell asleep. When he awoke, as his eyes focused, he realized that right before his eyes stood the highest pinnacle of all God's creative powers, the wonder and glory of the entire creation – a woman, fashioned just for him, yet shockingly beautiful, erotically desirous, stunningly apportioned, witty, winsome, and fun.
Only one man ever desired a woman more than Adam desired Eve – Jesus as He walked the way of the cross.
That desire comes right out of the center of God's heart. Eve, in her present person, was God's highest work of art, His highest creative expression – beauty upon a high pedestal.
Walk in Adam's mind and heart; look out from his eyes. He is being led entirely upon an exact path, a path whose every detail and circumstance is 100% ordered by God. Adam knows nothing other than walking that path with God. Eve is 100% God's will for Adam. He is captivated by her personality even more than by her body!
Yet as they walk together in joy and infatuation, the second longing, the second desire, continues to tug at Adam's heart, drawing him forward through the trees of the garden, Eve ever at his side.
The tree of life is calling, calling to Adam's heart. He and Eve were made for that tree and it for them even more perfectly than Eve was made for Adam. The tree of life beckons, and they cannot but tend in its direction.
Adam and Eve arrive in a large meadow, void of trees except two near its center. The tree to the left is huge, lush, and loaded with fruit. The tree to the right is scrawny, distant, its fruit high up in its branches unreachable from the ground. It is a thorn tree.
Adam's heart is caught by the second tree, the thorn tree, and he pauses to gaze up at its branches, his mind disturbed by the cry reverberating in his heart, the deepest desire to taste of the Life he was created to be.
When Adam looked back at Eve, his entire world had drastically altered.
Stay in Adam's mind and thinking. God orders his steps – it is not in man who walks to order his own steps.
Adam did not know he was walking the way of the cross; but he most certainly was in it – the way of life by which God was leading him to life. There was no death IN his way. As his gaze turned back to Eve, he was instantly aware of three overwhelming powers pressing hard against the life-filled way in which he stood. Those powers were not in the way, but they were pressing hard against that way, placed there by God for that very purpose.
There is no approach to the tree of life except the way of the cross. Adam walked that way; Abraham walked that way; Jesus walked that way. We also walk that way – all the way into life. We must know the way by which God leads us. It is hemmed in on all sides by darkness, but no darkness casts its shadow within the way. Yet that darkness is ordered by God to press against the way.
You see, Adam had absolutely nothing to do with the circumstances now pressing against him. He was in no way at fault, nor had he done anything “wrong.” He was in that terrible confrontation BECAUSE he was simply following the longing of his heart to eat of life. Yes, the wrong originated from the serpent, not from God, but God alone allowed that serpent in the garden at that moment. God alone created the tree of knowledge out from His own being and placed it there as the serpent's tool. And God alone gave the woman to Adam, the epitome of perfection. Adam did not cause Eve to eat of the fruit – yet as he looked back at his woman, all things now altered were pressing against him by the ordination of God. God was not causing Adam to sin nor doing him any injustice.
There is no path to life without those three things pressing against it, constraining that path, and serving as a decoy, a miss-direction, a false attention-getter, to the one being led in the way.
The first thing Adam saw was his woman. Instantly he knew that she had changed, but how and why he had zero knowledge of in that first instant. She was as achingly beautiful as before, but now there was something seductively tantalizing about her beauty. Before that moment, all desire welling up in both of them was pure and holy. Now, the appeal was tinged with a shadow, a seduction that Adam found an enormous liking for inside his body.
In the second instant, Adam saw the law of God in her hand, held out to him, beckoning to him to eat. In the same instant, though no words passed between them, all the psychological power of the serpent bore down upon Adam's mind and heart.
Yet Adam was a man of God. God's word was front and center in his mind: “In the day that you eat of the tree of knowledge, you will surely die.” Yet Adam was caught in the massive jaws of a bear trap. Adam also enjoyed the full capacity of his mental powers – an IQ likely as high as 2000. His perception of his reality at that moment was piercing, certain, and immediate. Adam knew his options, and he knew the stakes.
Remember that Adam is 100% innocent. There is no wrong in him nor any wrong IN his way. God is leading him in the path of life; all darkness exists entirely outside of that path.
The first huge chunk of knowledge hitting his mind is that his wife, this ravishing woman who has utterly captured his heart, is in big trouble. The second is that he himself has no knowledge or strength or ability to do a thing about it. God has led him into overwhelmingly difficult circumstances and given him no ability in himself to save his woman. Yet he also knows what he must do – he must turn his back on her and walk away. He must climb up the tree of life, piercing his hands and his feet, pressing his brow up among the thorns, and win the fruit for her sake. He knows that, but in that moment, life is VERY MUCH option number two.
Option number one was in Eve's hand – wisdom and strength, his own knowing of what God expects, his own doing of what God says – the quality of a being who makes moral decisions and who is accountable for himself. Adam himself – strong and wise and capable, just like an angel, just like a god! “You can fix your problem.”
Paul tells us what happened in Adam's heart in that moment. Adam became angry with God for the way he was made, limited and weak, unable to function as a man, unable to provide for his woman, unable to know, unable to do. Adam failed to give thanks. But failing to give thanks is the negative side of a very powerful counter-emotion. That counter emotion was rebellion – hatred of God for having created Adam weak.
Adam hated himself, and by hating himself, Adam hated God.
But that was only one step for Adam; there were two. You see, any negative word, “thou shalt not eat,” can only produce a guilty conscience in the hearer when that word is broken. The guilt is not something coming from God to Adam, the guilt is Adam, speaking to himself the curse of God. God did not curse Adam; Adam cursed Adam.
You see, Adam dealt with God's grievous mistakes in designing him by altering the way he looked, putting on an outward show – fig leaves – self improvement – the law: “All that the Lord says, I will do.” But that was not the only power now working in Adam. Adam knew God's command, and Adam damned himself. Thus, when God came looking for him, Adam committed his second act of rebellion. Adam hid from God – “knowing” in his heart, by virtue of his newly acquired “knowledge,” that he was toast.
Let's look carefully at the exact interchange.
. . . Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? . . .” Genesis 3:8-11
First, Adam was ashamed of the way God had created him. Second, Adam's heart condemned him; Adam spoke the curse against himself. Third, by that condemnation, Adam failed to place himself, in all of his weakness, in all of his mistakes, in all of his failure, right out into the light and decision of God.
God spoke the curse, unwillingly, not because Adam had sinned, but because Adam had cursed himself.
From the time that Adam turned his gaze back from the tree of life to look upon his wife, to the time that they were running in terror out of the garden, was likely less than an hour.
Here are the two words by which Adam damned himself. “God, I hate the way You made me; God, I expect You to curse me.” The refusal to give thanks and the expectation of the curse – by those two means, Adam turned his way, a way that was life leading to life, into a way that became death leading to death.
I hope to prove to you that the thing most “deeper-truth” Christians call “the way of the cross,” is, in fact, the way of Adam – hating the flesh and expecting the curse.
Let's look, next, at God's open rebuke of Adam, a man whom God called “Abraham.”
Abraham did not have a tenth of the advantage that Adam had. Abraham basically walked alone – he had heard God speak to him, maybe four or five times in his life. Abraham had no Bible, no history of anyone walking with God before him. All the people in his life were a hindrance and a distraction. The world in which he lived was entirely dark and shattered. Open intercourse with demons and beasts was the way of life all around him.
Abraham had two things only. He had a word, a blood covenant with God, binding God to him and he to God, and he had the son of that word, the son of promise. Here is the account.
Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning . . . Genesis 22:1-3
Now, we know exactly what was going on in Abraham's mind and heart as he walked, step by step, up that mountain. We know, because God tells us. Here are the two things God says were happening inside of Abraham.
And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” Genesis 22:5
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead . . . Hebrews 11:17-19
Again, we cannot see the way of the cross unless we look out from Abraham's eyes and hear the beating of his heart. Let's walk inside of Abraham, climbing the mountain.
Abraham puts his left foot forward: “God, you said that Sarah would bear me my son. God, I thank you, that Sarah and I can have no more children, my body is dead, and Sarah's womb is barren, I thank you God that You created us unable.” Right foot forward: “God, I EXPECT Isaac to walk down this mountain again with me!” Left foot forward: “God, you said that Isaac will be as the stars of the sky for multitude. God, I thank you that without this young man, I am nothing. I thank you that You have constrained my way with lack.” Right foot forward: “God, YOU WILL raise Isaac from the dead.” Left foot forward: “God, I give You thanks for my weakness.” Right foot forward: “God, I EXPECT YOU to arise in power on my behalf.”
Every breath, every step, Abraham gave thanks. Every breath, every step, Abraham expected God to move in power on his behalf, according to all that God had spoken. Every step up that mountain was a willingness to offer back to God the only thing Abraham cared about – HOWEVER, this was no “passive surrender.” Abraham moved in no “blind obedience.”
For every step of thankfulness, Abraham's next step was CONTENDING with God. “Isaac WILL walk down this mountain WITH ME. God, YOU WILL raise him from the dead.” Abraham was not asking God to do it – God had already given His word to Abraham. No, Abraham expected God to move in power, to do that which Abraham could not do. Yet in every step of demanding that God prove Himself true, Abraham stepped again towards the total giving of his heart back to God. Every step up the mountain was Abraham giving thanks for his weakness, his lack, his inability. Every step was Abraham offering back to God his very life.
And every step up the mountain was the expectation of God, the contention with God, that God MUST prove Himself true. God was bound to Abraham by Covenant.
There was no thought of death in Abraham's mind, only life; Isaac WOULD WALK back down that mountain by his side. By Abraham, God rebuked Adam utterly and without defense – thankfulness AND expectation of God, thankfulness AND expectation of goodness. From the time that Abraham walked up that mountain, giving thanks and expecting God, to the time he walked back down again with Isaac at his side, was likely less than an hour.
God speaks the very opposite to Abraham from the words Adam heard.
“By Myself I have sworn,” says the Lord, “because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son — blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your seed (singular) . . .” Genesis 22:16-17
Now, let's bring this picture of Abraham, seeing out from Abraham's eyes, hearing the beating of his heart, right into the New Covenant. This word God spoke to Abraham at the top of the mountain IS the foundation word of the New Covenant we have entered into with God. Everything God speaks in the New Covenant comes out of this word.
There is only one reason Abraham could walk the way of the cross, from life to life, all the way into God. God and Abraham had entered into Covenant together, the very same Covenant God enters into with us.
Do you see how, in entering Covenant with us, God places Himself at our disposal. Covenant is completely a two-way street; it is a union of equals in honor. Abraham was fully at God's disposal, and God was fully at Abraham's disposal. Abraham followed God, and God followed Abraham. Abraham did not ask God, “Pretty please, if You would.” Not at all. Abraham expected God according to His word; God had no choice. As far as Abraham was concerned, Isaac would walk back down that mountain.
Abraham walked the way of the cross; He was led from life into life. There was neither death nor any shadow of death in Abraham's mind or heart, regardless of the press against that way. God calls Abraham's attitude, “faith.” And all who find that same faith, call him, “Father,” including Jesus.
Then we come to Jesus.
I have shared in previous letters concerning the two mighty things going on in Jesus' mind and heart as He walked the way of the cross: giving thanks, giving thanks, giving thanks, for His weakness, for His stumbling and falling, for His present inability to do anything for His precious woman now jeering and mocking Him. But as with Abraham, for every step of thanksgiving, Jesus' next step was the expectation of the resurrection. “God, You will raise Me from the dead.” “Thank You, God, for My utter inability and weakness, for the limitation of My flesh.” “God, You will raise me from the dead, and I will stand in glory with You, with My woman by My side.”
Yes, death pressed against Jesus' way, the way by which He was led into Life. Death and all sin and rebellion and darkness pressed against His way. But we cannot know that way except we look at it out from Jesus' eyes. And that is something we are well able to do, for we were very much inside of Him as He walked that way. There was not one thought of “I need to die,” in Jesus' mind, and neither can there be in ours. Jesus neither did nor thought ANYTHING against Himself.
Jesus did not crucify Himself.
When Paul said, “I die daily,” he was not speaking of a way of dying, but a way of living.
When Jesus said, “Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it remains alone,” He was not speaking of a way of dying, but a way of living.
Think. If a seed died after it was put into the ground, no farmer would ever plant it and everyone would starve to death. The seed does not die, it takes on the appearance of death. But that appearance of death fools no one (except those who are being tempted by the serpent). It is not long, just a few hours if there is rain, after the seed is planted in the ground, before new life is springing forth from it.
Thanatos, death, is not found in anything Jesus said, nor in any part of Christ inside of us.
Now, let's look at three other factors to consider about Jesus' walk in the way by which He was led into life.
Adam's mind and heart was filled with one thing only as he made his decision – his woman, Eve. Abraham's mind and heart was filled with one thing only as he moved in the Covenant he had made with God – his son, Isaac.
Jesus' mind and heart was filled with one thing only as He walked the way of the cross – His woman, the Bride of Christ. Remember His words in John 17: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me.” We must understand that inside those words “I desire,” are found more passion than all the desire of all humans put together. Inside those words is the Desire of the universe.
Jesus wanted His woman with a wanting that we cannot comprehend. “For the JOY set before Him, He endured the cross, thinking NOTHING of the shame.” You and I are that JOY.
If Jesus lives in our hearts, then that same immense desire for His woman also fills our hearts. We don't need to “feel” it for it to be there. If He is there, His desire also fills our hearts.
But unlike Adam, Jesus truly loved His woman. And by love, He turned His back on her and walked away – though, unknown to her, He also carried her utterly inside of Himself.
Second, we MUST know what God says about Jesus' actual physical death upon the cross. His words leave no wiggle room, they are absolute and certain.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:8-11
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Hebrews 2:14-15
But now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. Hebrews 9:26-28
But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:12-13
We must have God's absolute in full view before our eyes before we continue.
There is ONE death alone – the Lord Jesus' death upon the cross. That death IS our death, full and complete.
There is NO OTHER death. Christ does not die again.
Now, this assertion does not remove the fulfillment of the second witness of Christ in Revelation 11:7-12, it simply casts that revelation of God out from us into the light of the ever-living, ever arising Being who carries us inside Himself and who proves Himself true in all ways through us.
Third, we must see how Jesus responded to the curse. “Cursed is every man who hangs upon a tree.”
It is this curse, come upon Jesus, not by His own doing, but by the ordination of God, by which, according to Paul, all sin came upon the Lord Jesus that He might be the sin offering.
Adam condemned himself and thus hid from God. When God said, “Where are you, Adam?”, Adam's answer contained two parts. “I am ashamed of myself, God, You made me wrong.” and “I am afraid of You.” Rebellion and the expectation of the curse.
Jesus' response is the opposite. Remember, these are the loudest words in the universe. If we could hear all things as they really are, we would be unable to hear anything else, for these words are continually, every moment, the loudest sounds in creation. And remember, that these words are spoken out of all sin and rebellion, out of all separation from God. Jesus NEVER cursed Himself.
“Here am I! I and the children whom You have given Me.”We live always and forever inside these words; never is any part of us found outside of these words.
Now we come to ourselves and to our glorious walk in this way by which we are led in all abundance and joy all the way into LIFE.
First, let's look at the ugly, ugly thing that most “deeper truth” Christians term “the way of the cross.”
“I am bad; bad me must die.” “God, You made me wrong; God, I expect You to curse me.”
This is the full rebellion of Adam – diametrically opposed to the way of the cross. Let me ask a simple question. Did the words, “I am bad,” ever enter Jesus' mind as He walked the way of the cross? Did the words, “Bad Me must die,” come out of Jesus' mouth when God asked of Him, “Jesus, where are You?”
One, Jesus was never ashamed of Himself - He “despised the shame,” meaning, being a human, naked and hanging on a tree in open violation against the direct word of God meant nothing to Him.
Two, Jesus never condemned Himself, no matter how far away from God He felt. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – “Here am I. I and the children whom You have given Me.”
We cannot be IN the way of the cross except we walk just as Jesus walked.
In Christian realms there are those who simply rejoice in being “saved” and “on their way to” heaven. They see nothing more. Then there are those who enter into the fulness of the Spirit; along with rejoicing in being “saved,” they also now joy in all the healing and provision of God in the present time. They see nothing more. But besides those who see nothing more, in all the realms of Christendom, there are many who are drawn to the tree of life and who see the need for something more in their walk with God.
ALL of these brethren do approach the tree of life, walking in the way by which they are led to life. And ALL who walk that way pass by the same press of the serpent against that way. ALL.
Here is the doctrine they take into themselves from the serpent – identical to Adam. “My flesh is bad. My flesh is at war with God. I must bring my human nature into submission. I must come to the end of myself so that Christ can be seen in me.” That is the first part of the way of thinking they take into themselves. But God says in the gospel, “If you live according to the flesh, you will die.” (Romans 8:13) Thus they also, then, condemn themselves. They live in the expectation of God's displeasure. “Since I am bad, I have not yet died, not really. I must die.” – Curse!
They call this way they have found “the way of the cross.”
I have heard these things all my adult life. “You need to die, brother.” “You're just a dead man walking.” “Your flesh is not under submission.” “The flesh is strong; God will help you overcome it.” “You sin because you 'want to' sin.” There are many, many ways in which Adam's rebellion is phrased, but all of them say the same thing. “God, I am made wrong.” Which is the polite way of saying, “God, You screwed up when You made me – You are at fault.”
But then the expectation of God's displeasure with us, the expectation of the curse, MUST always follow the belief that “I must come to the fullness of the death of the cross.” And when brethren teach the expectation of the goodness and favor of God upon us, they are called “deceivers.” God cannot bless someone who has not “died.” We will never reveal Christ until we bring ourselves to staying on the cross and not running off of it.
Looking back now, I can see that when I was told that the solution to my “problems” was that I “needed to die,” I never understood what they meant – I never witnessed that such a word was ever from God. I thought it was, but I never witnessed to it. You see, I was fully aware that I always woke up the next morning. And I wonder at those who imagined otherwise!
You see, the LIE was very simple; it agreed fully with Adam's acute analysis of himself. “God made you wrong. But you can make yourself right through this little self-help program called the Law – do what God says.”
NO! God made me right. I am perfect in just the same way my Father is perfect – I am perfected forever. And I live always in the expectation of God arising in me in favor and life and power and goodness.
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us . . . Hebrews 10:19-20
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:14
The way by which we are led to life is a living way. It is not a way that “leads us” to life, rather it is the way in which we are led to life. The One who leads us is God.
And there is one way only by which God leads us. God always leads us in triumph.