The Cross of Christ in the Judgment Hour
The greatest and most important question that any man can ever ask and make inquiry into is "What is the meaning of the Cross of Christ?" What is the purpose of such infinite suffering by the Son of God?
As those who crucified Christ stood by and mockingly beheld the sufferings of Jesus Christ they jested that He saved others but he could not save Himself. Jeering, they taunted that He who said He would destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days ought to come down from the cross and then they would believe His claims that He was the Son of the Most High.
But Jesus did not come down from the cross. He stayed the course and with His last labored breath He whispered, "It is finished." Lightening flashed and the temple veil was rent in two. While all watched the scene in amazement wondering what is the meaning of these events, there was an unseen, invisible Visitor to the lifeless body of the Son of God hanging upon the cross. Justice, the very basis of God's government came down to Calvary and bowed at the foot of the cross and said "It is enough!"
There are those who think that the idea of Jesus dying to pay some kind of debt that we owe to God is a pagan idea. They think that God can forgive out of the shear goodness of His heart of infinite love. And to picture Christ as a "sin offering" to satisfy the justice of God is a very immature, barbaric concept with roots in prehistoric myths and fables about gods who demand blood to assuage their thirst for an innocent victim.
However to understand the Cross, we must understand the Law of God. Christ's entire life from manger to the grave was lived to "magnify the Law and make it honorable".
What is God's Law and why is it so important anyway? Can we not just live by the natural goodness that flows from our hearts. Do we need some "outside of us" standard to give us the knowledge of good and evil?
To understand the Law of God we must understand the nature of the original sin of Adam. God placed a tree in the midst of the Garden and called it "the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil". Everything in the Garden belonged to Adam and was for his use and enjoyment except this one tree.
God had made man in the image of God but one thing had been withheld from Adam—Adam was not God. Adam was not divine. Adam was a created being. He had life only as he ate from "the Tree of Life". He lived under the Law of God which determined right from wrong. Man was not free to determine or have the "knowledge" of what was good or evil, right or wrong. This prerogative belonged only to God. Thus man lived dependently upon God as Lifegiver and Lawgiver. God alone defines man's existence. God alone is the Lifegiver and God alone is the Lawgiver.
But man was not content with this arrangement. Man fell to the same temptation that destroyed Satan and caused his fall. Man was tempted to be God, to live by his own rules and take what he wanted and to live as he wanted without the restrictions that God had placed upon the human family—to live by an outside code of conduct and to have life only in dependency upon God. And so man sinned and rebelled against the Lawgiver and the Lifegiver.
Now let us view again the Cross of Calvary. There we see the innocent One as the Second Adam who lived only to do the will of God and not His own will. He, the Son of God incarnated as the Second Adam dared not reach out and take of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil". He was satisfied as the Son of Man to be obedient even unto death. He rested in the word of the Lawgiver and the life of the Lifegiver and prayed "Into Thy hands I commend my spirit."
In those words, He upheld the entire human family and restored all that was lost in the fall. He retraced the steps of Adam but where Adam fell, Christ—the Second Adam—overcame. He, though equal with God, thought it not something to be grasped and held onto while the family of Man was lost and alone and without hope.
The curses, which the Law of God pronounced upon Adam at the Fall, fell upon His own holy Person. The thorns that have pierced man since the time of the Fall were placed upon His Holy brow and became a crown of glory. The sweat that flows from all who work and toil in this wilderness here below flowed from His own person as if in drops of blood. The pain of childbirth that comes with each new life was borne by Him who took up His cross that He might bring life to all. And finally the flaming sword which barred man's entrance to the Eden lost, pierced His own side that we might return to Eden found.
The life of Jesus was one of infinite righteousness which has met all of the infinite demands of the Law of God. His life was equal to the very righteousness of God. All of His doing and dying are imputed to the believing repentant sinner who beholds the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world. His life, and His alone, can measure with the righteous demands of God's Law.
We are living in the hour of God's judgment and called to enter by faith into the most holy place to stand before the holy Law of God to be judged by our works. The Law looks into the very thoughts and intents of our hearts and we who fall so far short of its glory have no excuse to offer in our defense.
Who is worthy to stand in the judgment? We are bidden to come, but how shall we come to face our life's record? Who shall be able to stand and give an account of himself?
But we see Jesus who bids us come for "all things are ready". We enter in by the new and living way, even by the blood of the everlasting covenant shed for us at the Cross and which speaks for us in the judgment. The Accuser stands by pointing to the sins of our lives. The Accuser points to the Law of God and demands that the guilty verdict be rendered. Our own consciences condemn us as we stand in silence, unable to say a word in our defense.
"Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God". Romans 3:19
But there in the judgment we see a Lamb as if it had been freshly slain. The justice of God's Law bows before the Innocent One and says "It is enough. This sinner is innocent and set free from condemnation for the sake of the Lamb". The Lamb is all that the Law sees in the judgment for all who look to Calvary and with the dying thief look into the face of Jesus and say, "Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom." In Christ, we can come unto the marriage—for all things are ready in Him.
Soon the great testing time will come to all men. Will we trust in our sanctification and good works (even those works which are the fruit of the Holy Spirit) or will we trust only in the blood of the Lamb to speak for us in the judgment? Will we bring the offering of Cain or the offering of Abel which speaks of better promises?
The Antichrist will urge all the world to honor its mark of Cain in the Sunday sabbath by which he seeks to establish his own "knowledge of good and evil" even as in Eden. The test will come to every man. Will we obey the Sunday sabbath which is the sign of righteousness by our works or will we obey the seventh-day Sabbath which is the sign and seal of the righteousness which we have imputed to us by faith in the perfect Law keeping of Jesus?
All things are ready. We are bidden to come unto the marriage clothed in the perfect wedding garment of Christ's imputed righteousness. Will we reach out to take the forbidden fruit to establish our own righteousness or will we enter into that true Sabbath rest which we have by trusting in the perfect doing and dying of our Lord and Savior upon the Cross of Calvary? Whosoever will, let him come!!