Chapter 42 The Cross And The Holy Spirit

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us… That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:13-14).

You will see at once from these verses that there is a vital connection between the cross of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit. That is a relationship most profound. Historically the cross had to come before the Holy Spirit of the glorified Christ could be given. Sin had to be cleansed away before the Holy Spirit could indwell man.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

The work of the Holy Spirit in creation was to bring order out of chaos (Genesis 1:2) by His wisdom, power, and energy—transforming a work that was waste and void into one of beauty, harmony, and order. His work in the history of Israel was to take the leadership of that redeemed nation, guiding them through a trackless desert, filling and endowing men like Bezaleel with skill and wisdom to build the Tabernacle to a divine pattern. His work in the life of the Lord Jesus was to prepare a body for Him in the womb of Mary, anointing Him to speak the words and do the works the Father assigned Him, enabling Him to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sins. His work in the Church was to bring it into being on the day of Pentecost, to administer its government, to furnish it with gifts, to direct and control all its operations. His work in individuals in this age is to convict of sin, to point sinners to Christ and Him crucified, and to witness in the deepest consciousness of their being that they are born of God.

The relationship between the cross of the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit can be seen in types—bright jewels in the Bible crown—a pleasure ground for spiritual minds—steps to ever-brightening views of divine realities. For instance, the death of the Lord Jesus is prefigured in the slain paschal lamb in Israel, and the Holy Spirit is seen in their redemption which followed, under the figure of a pillar of cloud in the day and a pillar of fire by night.

In the wilderness, the suffering Saviour is seen in the smitten rock, and the Holy Spirit in the life-giving water which gushed from that rock. In the New Testament, Christ in His death is pictured in His baptism, followed by the descent of the Holy Spirit as a dove to light upon Him. Then comes the reality of the cross followed fifty days later by the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Thus we see the cross and the Holy Spirit are always together.

The Work of the Cross

The cross removes all hindrances to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. From the cross comes a stream which cleanses from all sin. From the Saviour’s wounded side flows blood which removes every offensive impediment. They are a thrice-happy people who find the value of the cross, and the more they dig into the truth of it, the richer is the ore which they find.

In Romans the cross deals with sin (Romans 3:24-25). Paul proves that both Jew and Gentile are in human ruin because of sin. But God sent forth His beloved Son to deal with the fact and issues of sin—to atone for it, to obtain eternal redemption from it. He died for us. No sufferings were counted too great to buy and purchase us as His own. He waded through all the billows of God’s wrath to set us free, and to cleanse us from all stains.

In Corinthians the cross deals with selfism (1 Corinthians 2:2). Our natural heritage is a sinful self, which has a darkened mind, unclean affections, and a disobedient will. Only the cross can deal with all that mass which belongs to such a fallen nature, so that we can triumph over it.

In Galatians the cross deals with legalism (Galatians 2:19-20). “Do this!” was the requirement of the law. “Live!” was the recompense. But an imperfect man cannot keep a perfect law, for man has trampled that law beneath his feet, and scattered its promises to the winds.

In Ephesians the cross deals with earthiness (Ephesians 4:22-23). Our position is in the heavenlies with Christ, but we are often earthbound by such things as nationalism, social standing, color sensitivity, religious affiliation, possession of riches, all of which are of the earth, earthy. Only the cross can enable us to put off this old man with all its bindings.

In Philippians the cross deals with earthly gain (Philippians 3:7). In this realm Paul had much more than most men of those things which men esteem of value: birth, inheritance, upbringing, education, prestige, status. But the cross sweeps away all pride in such things, so that the Holy Spirit may possess the whole life.

In Colossians the cross deals with worldly philosophy (Colossians 2:4). The Gnostics had a philosophy about creation—about human matter being evil in itself, which issued in license to sin most grossly. This oriental mysticism was flavored a little with Mosaic ritual to give it a show of religion, but the cross swept away this refuge of lies.

In Thessalonians the cross deals with temperamental oddities (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12). There were those who, after hearing of the coming again of the Lord Jesus, gave up their work and sat around in idleness, eating other people’s bread. The cross condemned this kind of life, and God’s Word insists that we “occupy till He come”—to keep busy in His interest until He appears.

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

When the woes of life o’ertake me,
Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me;
Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
By the cross are sanctified;
Peace is there which knows no measure,
Joys that through all time abide.

John Bowring