No child of God can visit Calvary too frequently; and in these days of coldness and carelessness and marked indifference, there is a tremendous need that we should journey often in our thoughts to Calvary and be reminded of the purpose of our Saviour in going there. You and I will never have a warm heart toward the Saviour, and we will never have a warm heart toward a world for whom the Saviour died, unless we go often to Calvary.
To Bring Us To God
As a starting point, consider 1 Peter 3:18: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit." Notice carefully—"Christ also hath once suffered for sins." It is impossible to divorce sin from suffering. It matters not whether it is the sinner committing sins, or whether it is the saint committing sins, or whether it is the Saviour acting as a substitute; there is always suffering. Because sin always entails suffering, we find it was necessary for our Lord to suffer—not for His sins, for He had none; but for yours and mine. The Just One voluntarily suffered for us, the unjust ones.
We could not bring ourselves to God. But what we were unable to do, thank God, He was able to do. Our Lord died upon the cross in order that He might bring us to God.
Lord of All
I trust that all of us know what it is to be brought to God and are safe in His arms. If so, having settled the matter of our relationship to God through faith in the Lord Jesus, let us read Romans 14:9: "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living." Not only did He die to become our Saviour, He died to become our Sovereign; He died that He might be the Lord of our lives.
What does the Lordship of Christ involve? It means implicit obedience on the part of the believer. "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it" (John 2:3-5). Not "Question it"; not "Think about it"; but "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." Why? Because He suffered, He bled, He died, and He came out of the grave that He might be Lord, Sovereign, Master of your life and mine.
I like the testimony of that dear saint of God who stood up one day and said, "If the Lord told me to jump through a brick wall, it would be mine to jump; it would be His to get me through." That is obedience.
Oh, beloved, out of some twenty-five years of pastoral experience, out of twenty-five years of dealing with men and women, I have come to the conclusion that here lies the crux of the whole situation. The reason why people are defeated, why lives are frustrated, and why divine plans are missed is because there is a hesitancy in being willing to do whatever He tells us to do. "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." If your heart responds and says, "I will, Lord," I can tell you that there will never be a time in your life when you will stand in need of divine guidance and it will not be there.
As you stay your mind upon Him and say, "Lord, Thy will—nothing more, nothing less, nothing else," there comes that blessed response of His heart of love, "I will guide thee with Mine eye" (Psalm 32:8).
Deliverance From This World
Next, read what Galatians 1:4 says: "Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father." There is Calvary; there are the nail prints; there is the brow that wears the crown of thorns. Why is He dying upon the cross? "That He might deliver us from this present evil world." You and I were in the clutches of unbelief. We were not able to extricate ourselves from this awful bondage; but, thank God, He came to deliver us. And what a Deliverer He is! That He might deliver us from what? "This present evil world."
D.L. Moody once said, "Many of God's people talk cream, but they walk skim milk." Think it through. Our Lord went to the cross and died that He might separate us from this present evil world. This is not the separation of the Pharisee who draws aside his garment and says, "I am holier than thou." This is not the separation of the monk who hibernates and says, "The world is too evil; I cannot live in it." But it is the separation of a bride to the bridegroom; it is the separation of a lover and the object of his love. I do not believe that we are called to separate from this present evil world out of a sense of legality, but rather that our love for the Saviour will purify us and cause us to rise above the things of the world.
Are we separated? I believe we need to examine every part of our lives to determine whether we are identified by our Saviour or whether we have the stamp of the world upon us. He died that He might deliver us from this present evil world.
A Christ-Centered Life
Now let us look at 2 Corinthians 5:15: "And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again." We never live until we are saved. The world says that life begins at forty; the Word says that life begins when we are born again.
Now there are only two principles which govern the Christian life: one is a sacrificial principle, and the other is a selfish principle. Your life and my life are governed and driven one of these. Man by nature is selfish. Man by nature lives an egocentric life. And it is possible, beloved, that as saved ones we are governed largely by the same selfish principle of life. But as redeemed ones, this need not be.
Our Lord went to the cross and died that "they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again." Dear children of God, hear me. He wants us for Himself. He doesn't want anything else or anyone else ever to lay a hand upon us. He wants us for Himself. Listen, beloved, if we can say, "I believe," we must go on to say, "I belong." "Ye are not your own." We are His. "My Beloved is mine, and I am His" (Song of Solomon 2:16). May God forbid that there should be anything or any one between us and Him.
A Life of Fellowship
"Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him" (1 Thessalonians 5:10). The reference here to wake or sleep should be considered in the light of 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17. Whether we live until His coming, or whether we fall asleep (die), the ultimate purpose of His death upon the cross is that we might live together eternally with Him. "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
The dead in Christ shall say, "O grave, where is thy victory?" and the living in Christ shall say, "O death, where is thy sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55), and together they shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall they ever be with Him. Together we will shout, "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).
A Spirit-Filled Life
"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us … that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Galatians 3:13,14). No Calvary, no Pentecost; no outpoured blood, no outpoured Spirit. The Lord Jesus went to the cross, bore the awful penalty, and paid the supreme price, making it possible for the second of all the great gifts of God, namely, the gift of the Holy Spirit. And, beloved, what does the Spirit of God do in your life and mine? It is His purpose to take all the purposes for which Christ died on the cross and turn them into facts and into forces in your experience and in mine.
If the Holy Spirit has His way in our lives, what will He do? He will lead us, first of all, to see Christ as our Saviour, who died—the Just for the unjust—that He might bring us to God. He will lead us to the place where we will crown our Saviour the Lord of our lives. He will lead us to a separation from this present evil world. He will dominate our lives and motivate them with a sacrificial principle which will send us out to live for Him. And when the Lord comes, He will present us to Him to live eternally with Him, and to be like Him.
—Condensed from "The Program of the Cross" by Ralph Stoll.