No Cross, No Crown. By William Penn
And the prophet adds, “Blessed are all those who wait upon God” And why? “For those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” The encouragement is great. O hear him once more! “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him.” Behold the inward life and joy of the righteous, the true worshippers! – those whose spirits have bowed to the appearance of God’s Spirit in them, leaving and forsaking all that it appeared against, and embracing whatever it led them to.
13 For two evils hath My people done, Me they have forsaken, a fountain of living waters, To hew out for themselves wells — wells, That contain not the waters. (Jer 2:13 YLT)
Striving to possess life in anything other than God results in a dual evil. First, in the rejection of the source of life. Second, in the indulging of idolatry. Jesus offers freely living water which springs up to life eternal. Turn from the empty, desiccated vats of idolatry and drink from Him, through whom all things were created and are sustained. He who creates life can surely supply it through Jesus Christ.
and at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a great voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabachthani?’ which is, being interpreted, ‘My God, my God, why didst Thou forsake me?‘ (Mar 15:34 YLT)
It was not the force of the scourging, nor the weight of the cross that Jesus shouldered that made him cry out that day. It was the force and weight of God’s wrath against sin that brought forth Jesus’ question that pierced eternity. Drawn from the ensuing silence, the answer to that question is the resolute love of God for His people at the cost of His only begotten Son.
47 and if any one may hear my sayings, and not believe, I — I do not judge him, for I came not that I might judge the world, but that I might save the world. 48 ‘He who is rejecting me, and not receiving my sayings, hath one who is judging him, the word that I spake, that will judge him in the last day, (Joh 12:47-48 YLT)
Jesus is worthy of obedience and demands it clearly. He who ignores His commands will be judged by them. The Word resonates deep in the heart of a man, teaching him how to obey His sayings. While defiance merits death, submission quickens a man to love God with all his heart, soul, and mind, leading to life everlasting. By grace a man is sanctified, allowing him to delve deeper into obedience by faith.
and it was the third hour, and they crucified him; (Mar 15:25 YLT)
The nails that held Jesus to the tree were not shaped by the heat of a fire, but forged by the burning wrath of God against sin. The force of the hammer that drove the nails pounded with the intensity of God’s love for His people. Yes, a fruitful tree of life awaits a man who repents and believes, but he must first kneel at the rugged wooden cross that God planted on a hillside outside Jerusalem. For it is at the foot of this tree that a man will first taste new life in Christ, the abundant life, lived for God and not for self.
Thus said Jehovah: The heavens [are] My throne, And the earth My footstool, Where [is] this – the place- My rest? And all these My hand hath made, and all these things are, An affirmation of Jehovah! And unto I look attentively, Unto the humble and bruised in spirit, And who is trembling at My word. Isaiah 66:2
The infinite vastness between the Creator and the created is intimately closed by the gaze of the Creator’s grace. The Christian launches into born-again life as the following characteristics fuse together: The humble kneel before the cross in urgent repentance; the bruised in spirit find forgiveness of sins and peace not within themselves but according to a saving faith; and those who tremble at His word plant themselves at the intersection of the fear of God and the authority of scripture. A new creature in Christ walks forward, turning time and time again to these characteristics to hold the gaze of his beloved Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer.
‘Come unto me, all ye labouring and burdened ones, and I will give you rest, take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, because I am meek and humble in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls, for my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.’ Mat. 11:28-30
How can a man be sure of his eternal destiny and alleviate the weight of his sin? Only through faith that Jesus bore the weight of man’s sin on the cross. Those bound by sin are freed by the redemptive planning and execution of the unbound. Christian liberty is derived from being yoked to God’s power and might. Each burdensome chain of darkness, disorder, judgment, and hate is exchanged for the merciful chains of light, peace, grace, and love.
Jesus answered to him, ‘Verily Verily, I say to thee, If any one may not be born from above, he is not able to see the reign of God.” John 3:3
Christians have transferred their allegiance from the world, the flesh, and the devil to the Lord Jesus. They no longer serve the world that is passing away, the flesh that is crucified, and the devil who has been usurped, but they serve the King of Kings. While all men are born into the death of trespasses and sin, the Christian man is born into a hunger and thirst for righteousness. This is of God and unexplainable apart from His sovereign hand in redemption.
The Christian man’s knees bow to the King who reigns forever. Jesus ascended to the throne by humility and obedience to God the Father. New life, eternal life, comes from above when a man humbles himself and kneels at the foot of the cross. The Scriptures proclaim, “wherefore, also, God did highly exalt him, and gave to him a name that [is] above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee may bow – of heavenlies, and earthlies, and what are under the earth – and every tongue may confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11) The man who waits until the day of judgment to make this confession rejects both abundant life now and eternal life forever.
“In this was manifested the love of God in us, because His Son – the only begotten – hath God sent to the world, that we may live through him; in this is the love, not that we loved God, but that He did love us, and did send His Son a propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10
God has taught the cost of love to man through the execution of his redemptive plan. The cost of love is sacrifice. God revealed the extent of His love by sending his only begotten Son, the sinless Lamb, to be sacrificed at the hands of sinful men to satisfy his wrath towards sin. Accepted, the sacrifice of Jesus made a path through which Jesus can live out His life through those who are obedient in laying down their lives for Him. As the Christian man sacrifices his pride, Christ lives out humility through the new man. As the Christian man sacrifices his selfishness, Christ lives out selflessness through the new man. As the Christian man sacrifices his idolatry and love for this world, Christ lives out love for God and the kingdom of God through the new man. This new life in Christ begins with repentance, a turning away from sin and belief that God’s supreme act of love was demonstrated on the cross.
“(not by works that [are] in righteousness that we did but according to His kindness,) He did save us, through a bathing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit” Titus 3:5
All men are born onto a level playing field, that being a totally depraved disposition with complete enmity towards God. There is no amount of good works that a man can do to outweigh the sin he has been born into and commits throughout his life. All men born into the fallen creation are guilty and deserving of God’s righteous judgment — eternal wrath in hell upon death.
Yet, there is salvation and life in the redemptive hope of Jesus Christ! How awesome is the moment in time when a man is confronted with his sin to the point of deep conviction and recognition that there is nothing that he can do to earn salvation. There is no amount of money he can give away, no amount of love he can devote to others and no amount of evil things he can avoid to make up for the sin in his heart. This moment of conviction is surpassed only by the man’s first encounter with grace as his eyes are opened to the reality of what Jesus has accomplished on the cross. Saved, the new man walks into born-again life, living for God who offers salvation freely.