Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Eternal Life Begins Now

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Unless Christ died for nothing, His followers will shine in this dark world like stars on a black, stormy night. They will be free from the curse of selfishness.

But as we look both about us and in us, we see that often when sin is overcome on lower levels, it subtly reappears on higher levels. Selfishness crops out anew, disguised and refined but nonetheless evil. The pathetic pretensions of "saints" who have forgotten that they are sinners have been the scandal and reproach of much that the world sees as "Christianity." Is it hard to imagine the shame that Christ must often feel?

In Jesus' clear teaching about the cross we find the solution to this problem: "Then He said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me'" (Luke 9:23). The reason for Jesus' command to take up our cross daily is the fact that the "old man" who was crucified yesterday reappears in a new form today. His true identity is never fully apprehended by the sincere believer.

What we sense as "self" today may be correct, and our experience of renouncing and crucifying self today may be genuine. But each succeeding victory is that of a battle and not the war itself. The "old man" reappears in a higher, more cleverly disguised form daily. Hence the need, as Jesus says, for bearing the cross daily.

Can we ever get beyond bearing the cross? If we say Yes, we make ourselves better than Jesus was, because He had to fight the battle daily throughout His life. "I do not seek My own will," He said of His daily conflict, "but the will of the Father who sent Me" (John 5:30). Jesus would not ask us to follow Him in taking up our cross daily unless He also took up His cross daily. "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master" (Matt. 10:24).

Not only will the cross be carried here in this life daily, but even in heaven's eternity the principle of self‑renunciation symbolized by the cross will motivate the behavior of the redeemed, while the cross of Christ will remain their study. The book of Revelation presents to us that after sin is no more, Christ will still bear His title as the Crucified One—the "Lamb." The temple in the New Jerusalem is the Lamb; and proceeding from the throne of the Lamb is the river of water of life. The throne of God is the throne of the Lamb (Rev. 21:22; 22:1, 3). The love so amply demonstrated on the cross will ever be recognized as the basis of God's government, and will flow out to all the universe in unending streams of light and life and gladness.

Only as the selfless love of Christ on the cross reigns in every heart will it be certain that sin can never appear again. Should the love of self ever arise in any heart in the universe, the very essence of sin would be back again, and the whole sad war in the universe would have to be repeated. Thank God, that will not happen! "Affliction will not rise up a second time" (Nahum 1:9). And in bearing our cross daily now, we are beginning to live out that principle of eternal life. In fact, eternal life begins now.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: In Search of the Cross, chapter 7, 1999.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."