I Corinthians 1:23 - “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness.”
In point of reference, the new covenant is Jesus Christ. More particularly, one might say it is “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (I Cor. 1:23). Furthermore, the new covenant, unlike any and every other covenant that God has ever made with man, cannot be broken. It is absolutely impossible for it to be marred, weakened, or broken. So, how is this possible?
A covenant, of necessity, is an agreement between two or more parties. In this case, it is between God and man. Every other covenant which God has made with man, we find that man has broken it almost before the proverbial ink is dry. So, how is it possible that the new covenant, which is a covenant between God and man, cannot be broken? We can certainly understand how that God always keeps His promises, but knowing the frailty of human flesh, the question looms large as to how this covenant, considering that man is a part of it, cannot be broken?
The answer to this question, as complicated as it might seem, is actually very simple. It cannot be broken simply because it is all in Jesus Christ. He is both God and man. Paul referred to him as the “last Adam,” and the “second Man.”
In effect, Jesus Christ was and is our representative man. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. For instance, in His life and living, He kept the law perfectly in every respect, not sinning even one time in word, thought, or deed. He did it all for us! And then when it came time to address the broken law, of which all of us were guilty, He offered Himself as a sacrifice, in effect, a perfect sacrifice, on the Cross of Calvary, shedding His life’s blood, paying a price that we could not pay, and which was accepted in totality by God the Father. As it regards the broken law, for all who will believe, the slate was wiped clean.
THE FULLNESS OF THE GODHEAD BODILY
Paul addressed this by saying:
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit (anything that pulls the believer away from the Cross is not of God), after the tradition of men (anything that is not of the Cross if of men), after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (If it’s truly after Christ, then it’s after the Cross.) For in Him (Christ) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (This is Godhead as to essence. Christ is the completion and the fullness of deity, and in Him the believer is complete.)
HE IS THE HEAD OF ALL PRINCIPALITY AND POWER
And you are complete in Him (the satisfaction of every spiritual want is found in Christ, made possible by the Cross), which is the head of all principality and power (His headship extends not only over the church, which voluntarily serves Him, but over all forces that are opposed to Him as well [Phil. 2:10-11]): In whom also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands (that which is brought about by the Cross [Rom. 6:3-5]), in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ (refers to the old carnal nature that is defeated by the believer placing his faith totally in the Cross, which gives the Holy Spirit latitude to work): Buried with Him in baptism (does not refer to water baptism, but rather to the believer baptized into the death of Christ, which refers to the crucifixion and Christ as our substitute [Rom. 6:3-4]), wherein also you are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised Him from the dead. (This does not refer to our future physical resurrection, but to that spiritual resurrection from a sinful state into divine life. We died with Him, we are buried with Him, and we rose with Him [Rom. 6:3-5], and herein lies the secret to all spiritual victory.)
THE LAW WAS SATISFIED
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh (speaks of spiritual death [i.e., ‘separation from God’], which sin does!), has He quickened together with Him (refers to being made spiritually alive, which is done through being born again), having forgiven you all trespasses (the Cross made it possible for all manner of sins to be forgiven and taken away); blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us (pertains to the law of Moses, which was God’s standard of righteousness that man could not reach), which was contrary to us (law is against us, simply because we are unable to keep its precepts, no matter how hard we try), and took it out of the way (refers to the penalty of the law being removed), nailing it to His Cross (the law with its decrees was abolished in Christ’s death, as if crucified with Him);
And having spoiled principalities and powers (Satan and all of his henchmen were defeated at the Cross by Christ atoning for all sin; sin was the legal right Satan had to hold man in captivity; with all sin atoned, he has no more legal right to hold anyone in bondage), He (Christ) made a show of them openly (what Jesus did at the Cross was in the face of the whole universe), triumphing over them in it. (The triumph is complete and it was all done for us, meaning we can walk in power and perpetual victory due to the Cross) (Col. 2:8-15).
WAS IT WHO HE WAS OR WHAT HE DID?
Generally those who ask the question, “Was it who He was or what He did?” are in some way denigrating the Cross of Christ. They are claiming that it is insignificant. The answer to that question is simple: it was both who He was, and what He did.
There is no one else that could have carried out this great sacrifice but the Lord Jesus Christ. No human being who has ever been born could have done such a thing. Man, due to Adam’s fall in the garden of Eden, is born in original sin. He is born with the Adamic nature, which can be referred to as the “sin nature.” As such, he is polluted, to say the least. And, as such, our Lord said, if man is to be saved, he must be born again (Jn. 3:3). Thus, man is shot down before he even begins.
So, if man were to be saved, God would have to save man, because He alone could perform this task. Therefore, God became man, the Man—Christ Jesus—and did so for the purpose of going to the Cross.
WHO HE WAS
Please understand this: Jesus Christ is God and, in fact, always has been God. As
God, He had no beginning, was not created, was not born, was not made, and was not formed, but has always been. Admittedly, that is beyond the comprehension of a human being. When God became man, the Lord Jesus Christ, He never ceased to be God. As someone has capably said: “While Jesus Christ laid aside the expression of His deity, never for a moment did He lose possession of His deity.”
He was very God and very man. But yet, as the Man, Jesus Christ, He never used His powers of deity, not even one time, in the performing of miracles and all the great things He did. He did all of these things by the power of the Holy Spirit. As God, no anointing was needed to do anything, but as a man, the Man, Christ Jesus, our Lord definitely needed the anointing to heal the sick, and to do all the great things that He did.
The Scripture says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power (as a man, Christ needed the Holy Spirit, as we certainly do as well! in fact, everything He did was by the power of the Spirit): who went about doing good (everything He did was good), and healing all who were oppressed of the Devil (only Christ could do this, and believers can do such only as Christ empowers them by the Spirit); for God was with Him (God is with us only as we are ‘with Him’)” (Acts 10:38).
But, as we have stated, only as God, as glorious as that is, still, no souls were saved, no lives were changed, and no redemption was affected. To be sure, considering that God can do all things, He didn’t have to go to the Cross; however, the Godhead definitely determined that the Cross was the way in which man would be redeemed.
WHAT HE DID!
While the deity of Christ was absolutely necessary, that is if man were to be redeemed, still, had it ended there, not a single soul would have ever been saved.
While the conception of Christ in the womb of Mary, without the benefit of man and decreed by the Holy Spirit, was absolutely necessary, still, had it stopped there, not a single soul would have been saved.
While the perfect life of Christ was absolutely necessary in that He did not sin one single time in word, thought, or deed, still, had it ended there, not a single soul would have been saved.
While the miracles that Christ performed in healing all manner of diseases and even raising the dead were absolutely necessary, still, had it ended there, not a single soul would have been saved.
For man to be saved, God had to become man, had to be born of the Virgin Mary, had to live a spotless, perfect life, and had to be a miracle worker, but for that which brought about redemption, that which made it possible for man to be redeemed from sin and death, Jesus Christ had to go to the Cross. It was at the Cross that the sin debt was forever paid. It was at the Cross that all sin was atoned. It was at the Cross where Satan, demon spirits, and fallen angels were totally and completely defeated, and done so by every sin being atoned. With sin being the legal means that Satan had to hold man captive, and with that legal means removed, which it was at the Cross, Satan has no more right to hold anyone in bondage.
All of this is why the Apostle Paul said to the church at Corinth, and to all of us as well: “For I determined not to know anything among you (with purpose and design, Paul did not resort to the knowledge or philosophy of the world regarding the preaching of the gospel), save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (that and that alone is the message, which will save the sinner, set the captive free, and give the believer perpetual victory)” (I Cor. 2:2).
So, while it was who He was, which was absolutely necessary, still, it was what He did, and we refer to the Cross, which set the captive free. Let me say it again: Jesus Christ is God and, in fact, has always been God and ever will be God; however, it took the Cross with the price paid there for man to be redeemed and, thereby, given eternal life. If we denigrate the Cross in any way, if we belittle the Cross in any way, or if we make it secondary in any way, we blaspheme!
THE CROSS OF CHRIST, THE VERY FIRST DOCTRINE
To begin with, it is perfectly proper to refer to the new covenant as a doctrine, inasmuch as it was referred to as such by the Holy Spirit.
Through Paul the Spirit said, “But God be thanked, that you were the servants of sin (slaves to the sin nature, what we were before we were saved), but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine (Jesus Christ and Him crucified; understanding that all things come to the believer from God by the means of the Cross) which was delivered you (the Lord gave this ‘form of doctrine’ to Paul, and he gave it to us in his epistles)” (Rom. 6:17).
FORM OF DOCTRINE
Incidentally, the word form in the Greek is “tupos” and means “a shape, a model, a fashion, a figure, a pattern.” To be sure, this is a pattern or form drawn off by the Holy
Spirit, which means that it must not be tampered with, must not be changed, and must not be added to or taken from. This means it is an exact doctrine, and in every respect.
In effect, it has to do with a blueprint. If the blueprint is followed, as it must be, the intended result will be achieved and done so 100 percent. The problem with the modern church, and actually, it is a problem that has always existed, man, and especially religious man, seeks to change the form, i.e., “deviate from the blueprint.” Momentarily we will deal with that which is the blueprint, relating as to exactly what it means.
THE CROSS OF CHRIST, THE VERY FIRST DOCTRINE
By the very first doctrine, we are referring to that which the Godhead has established first of all.
Peter gave us this information:
Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold (presents the fact that the most precious commodities [silver and gold] could not redeem fallen man), from your vain conversation (vain lifestyle) received by tradition from your fathers (speaks of original sin that is passed on from father to child at conception);
THE CROSS OF CHRIST
But with the precious blood of Christ (presents the payment, which proclaims the poured out life of Christ on behalf of sinners), as of a lamb without blemish and
without spot (speaks of the lambs offered as substitutes in the old Jewish economy; the death of Christ was not an execution or assassination, but rather a sacrifice; the offering of Himself presented a perfect sacrifice, for He was perfect in every respect [Ex. 12:5]):
FOREORDAINED BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD
Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world (refers to the fact that God, in His omniscience, knew He would create man, man would fall, and man would be redeemed by Christ going to the Cross; this was all done before the universe was created; this means the Cross of Christ is the foundation doctrine of all doctrine, referring to the fact that all doctrine must be built upon that foundation, or else it is specious), but was manifest in these last times for you (refers to the invisible God who, in the person of the Son, was made visible to human eyesight by assuming a human body and human limitations)” (I Pet. 1:18-20).
ALL FALSE DOCTRINE HAS ITS ORIGIN IN AN IMPROPER UNDERSTANDING OF THE CROSS
Due to the fact that it is so important, let us state it again: Inasmuch, even as the Holy Spirit proclaimed through Peter, that the doctrine of the Cross was actually formed in the mind of the Godhead from before the foundation of the world, this tells us that as far as redemption of mankind is concerned, the doctrine of Christ crucified is the very first doctrine formed. That being the case, this means that it is the single most important doctrine in the entirety of the Word of God. It also means that every Bible doctrine is based squarely upon the foundation of the Cross of Christ.
If men come up with a doctrine, any kind of doctrine, that is not based squarely on the Cross, this means that doctrine is spurious. In fact, this is the way all false doctrine begins. It is because the doctrine of the Cross is ignored, or else denied, or else given an improper place. In other words, every false doctrine has its beginning because of a misinterpretation, a denial, or a misunderstanding of the Cross of Christ. Understanding that, we surely should understand how so very important this “form of doctrine” actually is.
THE MEANING OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE CROSS
We find the core meaning of the doctrine of the Cross in Romans, Chapter 6. In the first two verses, even as we shall see, the Holy Spirit through Paul tells us that the problem is sin. Whatever label may be attached, whatever other types of claims may be made, still, the Holy Spirit has said that the problem is sin. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the redeemed or the unredeemed, the problem is sin.
And then, in Verses 3 through 5 of Romans, Chapter 6, we are given the solution to the sin problem, which is the Cross of Christ. But, more particularly, in these three verses, we are told how that we literally become a part of this form of doctrine, which is probably explained better than ever by the words “in Christ.” But it refers to being “in Christ” by virtue of His death, burial, and resurrection. In these three particulars, we are placed in Christ in His death, in Christ in His burial, and in Christ in His resurrection. In fact, the entirety of Romans, Chapter 6, is given over by the Holy Spirit to inform us as believers as to how to live for God. If one doesn’t understand this great sixth chapter, then simply put, one doesn’t understand how to live for the Lord. To be sure, such can cause all types of problems.
This article is an excerpt from the book, Paul, The Apostle, by Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart.
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