“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Col 2:13-15 AV)
During a recent discussion of the relevance of the resurrection with regard to Christ’s crucifixion at Calvary, this passage from Paul’s epistle to the Colossians came to mind. There is a thought I want to touch on dealing with the sufficiency of Christ’s finished work at Calvary.
A pastor of mine from some years ago shared a wonderful teaching with his congregation regarding the proper faith of the Christian saint. We are of one body, crucified with Him, buried with Him in baptism and risen in newness of life as the scriptures teach, all of which is the result of a sinless and perfected sacrifice upon that rugged Cross of Calvary. Knowing this, we can understand our faith as needing both a proper object and as well, a proper focus. Being in Christ, Jesus is our proper object and realizing that the preaching of the Cross is indeed the power of God unto salvation, our focus must always be upon His finished work upon that Cross. It is where not only the power of God is made evident for salvation, it is where the Holy Spirit looks to affect His work of edifying and sanctifying the Body as it matures in faith. It is our Christocentric faith and direction as saints of the LORD. We need look to no other place, trust in no other person or work but that of Jesus of Nazareth.
Now it has been said by some that our salvation is not determined at Calvary but at the resurrection or some other consequential place or act. Of course it must be stated that the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is essential doctrine in any Christian setting. What could our faith possibly endure had Christ not risen? There could be no Christian church nor Body to withstand the assault of this ungodly world should Jesus remain in the grave to this day. The faith of Christ could not be if such were the case, so it is clear that the resurrection is vital to our understanding and purpose as saints.
However, it is also critical to understand that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the evidence of Christ’s perfection at Calvary and not the cause of it in some other manner. It is the proclamation of Christ’s triumph rather than the triumph itself. The ordinances against us were not nailed to the rock blocking the tomb but to the cross. It was not the sunshine of that morning of first fruits that cleansed us but it was the blood of the slain Lamb. Our Word-Faith friends from the Charismatic sects seem to have a lot of trouble with these truths, as do some of the full preterist, heretical sects. There is a sense among some of these fellows that there was a further work to be performed by Christ after his crucifixion, yet the scriptures declare His shed blood to be the basis for all that saves us. We can search the scriptures and become overwhelmed by the glosses of “by blood” or “through blood,” the blood of Christ, etc. We can find nothing concerning “through resurrection” or “by the resurrection.”
There is a reason for my comments that I am trying to work out and apply to a direction I see much of the Church moving in. We are a Christocentric church, especially among my Arminian fellows, and the manner in which we stay Christocentric is to ensure our faith is Calvary-centered. We live in an age when the lyrics of “The Old Rugged Cross” are an offense to some in the Church, and this should never be. There are churches that refuse to sing or talk about Calvary, reject discussions about blood, conviction and sin. A church that has moved from a sure Calvary-focus is one that has found a miry clay to stand upon, and no church can be sustained on such a foundation. We need voices to stand in the gap and never be moved from our first love, our object and focus being Jesus Christ and His finished work at Calvary.