Taking Up Our Cross…Following Jesus

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.

Part 7

Yesterday, we talked about the supremacy of Christ, being God, in His unique and substitutionary death, and emphasized how He described it as recorded by Luke, 9: 22-26, Jesus said “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” 

And he, Jesus, immediately (the same passage in Luke) relates what He has just said of Himself to us who will identify with Him as His followers…He said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” 

Here Jesus takes this order that was so necessary for our redemption in the unique substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ and applies it to the Christian’s life. The order—rejected, slain, raised—is also the order of the Christian life of true spirituality; there is no other. If we forget the absolute uniqueness of Christ’s death, we are in heresy. As soon as we set aside or minimize, as soon as we cut down in any way, as the liberals of all kinds do in their theology, on the uniqueness and substitutionary character of Christ’s death, our teaching is no longer Christian. On the other hand, let us remember the other side of this matter. If we forget the relationship of this order to us as Christians, then we have a sterile orthodoxy, and we have no true Christian life. Christian life will wither and die; spirituality in any true biblical sense will come to an end. Jesus is talking here about our death by choice in the present life. He applies it to a specific situation to make it most concrete. In verse 26: “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.” The Bible is not speaking of some romantic feeling, some idealization, some abstraction. Jesus carries this concept of facing the rejection, being slain, down into a very practical situation: facing an alien world. It is the saying no to self when our natural selves would desire acceptance by the alien world—a world in revolt against its Creator and our Lord. As we look in the New Testament as a whole, we find that this command of Christ is not limited to one situation, it is that which is to be the whole mentality and outlook of the Christian’s life. What is being presented to us here is the question of the Christian’s mentality in all of life, and the order stands: rejected, slain, raised. As Christ’s rejection and death are the first steps in the order of redemption, so our rejection and death to the fallen world system and fallen self are the first steps in the order of true and growing spirituality. As there could be no next step in the order of Christ’s redemption until the step of death was taken, so in the Christian there can be no further step until these first two steps are faced—not in theory only, but at least in some practical practice.  

Romans 6:1-14. The Apostle Paul wrote to us “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  For one who has died has been set free from sin.  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.  For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.  So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.  Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.  

Schaeffer writes that he perceives that most Christians even read the first half of these verses faster, in order to get to the second, “happy” part of the verses, but this is a mistake. We love to skip along, but one does not get on the other side of a door without going through it, and we do not get to the joyous second part of these verses without passing through the first part. 

This is, first of all, true absolutely and once for all at justification, but then it is true moment by moment in practice in the Christian life. Let us not be confused here. The moment we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we were justified and our guilt was gone once for all. That is absolute. But if we want to know anything of reality in the Christian life, anything of true spirituality, we must “take up our cross daily.” The principle of saying no to self lies at the heart of my attitude toward the world as it maintains its alien stand in rebellion against the Creator. If I use my intellectual capacities to make myself respectable to the world, as it is in revolution against the one who created it, then I have failed. It is equally true if I use my ignorance for the same purpose. I am to face the cross of Christ in every part of life and with my whole man. The cross of Christ is to be a reality to me not only once for all at my conversion, but all through my life as a Christian. 

And now my personal prayer, today, in studying, reading, and posting this is:  Lord Jesus…the world and ‘self’ desires have such a hold on my mind and behavior ….I pray that you will give me strength and power, moment by moment, day by day, to make the choices in my life that cause me to more and more identify with you and your way… ‘so that’ the world will see that I desire to follow you…that the world will see your grace and mercy and love…at work in me.  Help me, moment by moment to remember who I am…that I am yours…that you paid my debt before God…that you gave me new life and I am a new creation ‘in you’ ….Amen 

Galatians 2:20… I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 

Galatians 6:14… But as for me, may I never boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything. What counts is a new creation. 

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

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