Message NotesTHE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS – PART 8 1
Sunday July 16th 2017
The Message of the Cross
The Cross and the Spiritual Warfare Continued
1). Re 3:21 "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I
also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
This verse is part of the ‘overcomers’ promises given to the Church by the
Lord and recorded in the Book of the Revelation. And there is in this verse the
clear statement that for the Christian who ‘overcomes’, the Lord will grant
that individual the right to sit with Him on His throne – the promise of
rulership as a joint heir with Him in the Millennial Kingdom.
a). This is indeed a remarkable and wonderful promise, but there is
another dimension to this verse that we need to take note of. Let’s look
carefully at the wording with regards to the overcomer – ‘to sit with Me on My
throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.’
b). The overcoming Christian then is to overcome as Christ also
overcame, following the example of how to be an overcomer given by the Lord
Joh 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to
the Father except through Me.
Mt 16:24 ¶ Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me,
let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
c). And if we compare scripture with scripture we can gain insight into
this - Heb 12:1 ¶ Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud
of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares
us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto
Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before
Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand
of the throne of God.
In v2 we see that the Lord, ‘sat down at the right hand of the throne of God’,
and this describes the exact same action that we read about in Revelation 3:21
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where the Lord, ‘sat down with My Father on His throne’ – sitting down with His Father on His throne and sitting at the right hand of the throne of God are one and the same thing and this depicts Christ now in a position of exaltation and power. The Son who will rule in the Millennial Kingdom. And that which resulted in the Lord sitting in this position of power was His enduring the cross and despising the shame. In essence then, this is how the Christ ‘overcame’ – by going to the cross.
d). And we might remember from last time the inescapable connection between our endurance in the present race of the faith and that which the Lord has experienced because of enduring the cross, as we look from this world unto Jesus at the right hand of the throne of God.
2). And if we go back briefly to look at some scripture we had read last time we can add more detail to the means by which the Lord ‘overcame’ –
Heb 2:5 ¶ For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. 6 But one testified in a certain place, saying: "What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him? 7 You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands. 8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet." For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
Context always is all important and we see in v5 that which is the subject of the Book of Hebrews – ‘the world [age] to come’ – the Millennial Kingdom and this age to come will not be in subjection to angels. The present system of rulership will be completely overthrown with angels no longer ruling over the earth.
a). V6-8 then deal with who will be ruling in the age to come – no longer angels but human beings thereby fulfilling the purpose for their creation as seen in Genesis Chapter 1. And because this new order of rulers is an absolute certainty it can be written about as if having already been done.
b). But, according to the end of v8, speaking of Mankind having dominion, ‘we do not yet see all things put under him’ – although rulership over the earth by human beings is certain it isn’t here yet.
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c). Although we don’t see the new order of rulers ruling yet we do see Jesus, who was also ‘made a little lower than the angels’; who came to the earth in this status ‘for the suffering of death’, which gives the same picture as enduring the cross and despising the shame seen in Hebrews 12:2. And we can see that because He did this He is now ‘crowned with glory and honor’; which describes the same exalted position pictured through sitting down with His Father on His throne and sitting at the right hand of the throne of God –
Ac 26:13 "at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 "And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?
Power Point – Slides 1-2
This is why we must choose to look from this world unto Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith, because that which the Lord has accomplished through enduring the cross and despising the shame can also be our experience if we overcome as He did.
d). Let’s now add into this the verses we had looked at from –
Php 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12 ¶ Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
V5 gives us the clear instruction, ‘Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,’ – in other words let us be like minded with Him, thinking the same way as He did because of the joy that was set before Him.
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e). And if we remember a study from some weeks back, v5 provides us with the same idea as having fellowship with Him – something attainable through the washing of water by the Word.
f). And we can see in v6-8 humility and obedience as the Lord submitted Himself to the will of His Father and this submission equates with Him being made ‘a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death’ that we saw in Hebrews 2:9.
g). And again, just as we had also seen in Hebrews 2:9, because of doing this, ‘God has also highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name’.
h). Humility, being submitted to the will of His Father, and obedience are the attributes of the One who overcame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God; attributes that find their ultimate expression in the death on the cross.
i). And with ourselves in mind here, it is not coincidence that Philippians 2:12 begins with the word, ‘therefore’ and admonishes us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
j). Submission to the will of God and faithful obedience are to be the hallmark of those who will be overcomers and both attributes, if they are our practice, must inevitably lead us to taking up our own cross as they will require the death of self – Ro 6:5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
k). And with all this in mind, and within this context, Philippians Chapter 2 then continues - Php 2:14 ¶ Do all things without complaining and disputing,15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
How might we do all things without complaining and disputing? By ‘holding fast the word of life’ - 2Co 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
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3). So, let’s remember and repeat once again that the submission, obedience and humility of Christ had one exclusive focus – the joy that was set before Him – the Millennial Kingdom.
a). A Kingdom that would not be in subjection to angels, but to Christ and His joint heirs – all who will have overcome in this present age. But those presently ruling from the heavens do not want to relinquish their role and as we had seen last time, it is following God’s declaration of intent with regards to rulership and the Son He has chosen, as the Lord comes from beneath the waters of baptism at the Jordan river, that He is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
b). And just as happened in the Garden the devil’s purpose in ‘tempting’ Christ is to disqualify the One whom God has chosen to rule, using the same method he has used from the beginning – deception – ‘has God indeed said.....’
Mt 4:1 ¶ Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" 5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'" 7 Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'" 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'" 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
As we look at these verses we can see that there are 3 ‘temptations’ and as 3 is the number of Divine completion we can know that in these the Lord was tested to the full.
a). These ‘temptations’ would be representative of all that we would experience as we set our focus on the coming Kingdom - Heb 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
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And being representative in this way the 3 temptations seen in Matthew will equate with that seen in - 1Jo 2:16 For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world.
That seen through the world, the flesh and the devil.
b). But what we will want to note is that whatever the test is that comes our way it is always within the context of, ‘Has God indeed said....’ – this level of deception is exactly what would be seen in the leaven placed in the 3 measures of meal in the Matthew 13 parables; exactly that seen in –
1Ti 4:1 ¶ Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,
If we want to know what in essence the doctrines of demons look like we need only look at the temptations in Matthew Chapter 4.
c). 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"
The first thing we will note here is the introduction to Satan’s temptation, ‘If you are the Son of God’. Now this is not a challenge to Christ’s identity as the second person of the Trinity, but a challenge to that stated about Him from heaven following His baptism – ‘This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased’ – this is the Son I have chosen to hold the scepter of rulership.
d). Satan is saying then, if you are the Son to hold the scepter of rulership, then you have the power to command these stones to become bread. And there is no doubt that the Lord is hungry at this time.
e). And in this there is an echo of Esau, who came from the field hungry and sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. And maybe Satan had this in mind, because, in actuality, this is what is at stake.
f). Of course, the Lord could have turned the stones into bread, but His physical hunger was not the issue, rather His inheritance was – hence His focus on the scripture, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’.
g). Life as seen here would not be physical life, but life in relation to the Kingdom – life that can only come through the word of God, not filling our
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bellies and this is something Jesus drew attention to in - Joh 4:31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat."32 But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." 33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?" 34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.
That which sustained Him as He looked to the Joy that was set before Him was to do the will of Him who sent Him, to finish the work He had been given, not eating bread - Ro 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
So, here is a lesson in the spiritual warfare – our physical needs are one thing, but more importantly, what does the scripture say? It is the scripture alone that will sustain us in our pilgrim journey and provide us with life in the age to come – Hence this must be our priority.
h). 5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'" 7 Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'"
Again, we will notice the introduction to the temptation, ‘If you are the Son of God’ – If you are the Son chosen to hold the scepter of rulership then You can throw Yourself off the pinnacle of the temple and God will protect You to fulfill His purpose for You.
i). And to support the temptation Satan quotes directly from the scriptures, from Psalm 91, and the scriptures say exactly that which Satan says, but are taken out of context to make them mean that which they do not mean - Ps 91:1 ¶ He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust." 3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence.
Here is a Psalm that deals with abiding in the Lord and trusting in the Lord to be a refuge and a fortress – to be in submission to His will and His Word as doing this will provide deliverance from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.
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j). We can see exactly the same teaching in Proverbs - Pr 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 7 ¶ Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
And to bring the same teaching into a NT context - Eph 6:10 ¶ Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
k). Now, it is true that Adam believed that which God had said about rulership and therefore entered into sin with his wife in the hope of redemption and Abraham believed that which God had said about Isaac and was therefore prepared to sacrifice him. But that is not the scenario for the temptation in Matthew, rather it is a perversion of it.
l). That which Satan says to the Lord attempts to turn God the Father into the genie in the lamp, to force Him to act thereby shifting the focus from trusting God and abiding in His Word to the exaltation of self – God MUST act on My behalf.
m). And once again, being true to Psalm 91, the Lord counters the temptation by going to the scripture, ‘It is written again……’. And the place the Lord goes to in the scriptures is - De 6:16 "You shall not tempt the LORD your God as you tempted Him in Massah.
This is a verse that gives commentary on the circumstances leading to the striking of the rock in Horeb seen in - Ex 17:6 "Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"
And the final words of v7 are the essence of the temptation in Matthew. God does not have to prove Himself or be proven by us.
n). 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"
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In the final temptation, there is no challenge to the Lord’s Sonship, but rather a direct appeal to pridefulness and a blatant attempt to circumvent God the Father.
o). Jesus had been identified as the Son who would hold the scepter of rulership and here on an exceedingly high mountain Satan offers the Lord that which has already been promised Him, all the kingdoms of the world and their glory – the temptation is to have it all now and not wait to fulfill the will of God and from what the Lord would know, to have it all without going to the cross.
p). And this would find its counterpart for us in the Lord’s admonition in
Mt 16:26 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
And the stinger in the tail, so to speak, is that the Lord could have exercised rulership then and there, but only by keeping Satan on the throne, thereby assuring that he would continue to rule forever and mankind would be left without God and without hope in the world.
o). And in making this offer Satan exalts himself to be God and asks God in the person of Son to acknowledge him as such. Although the kingdoms of this world are in Satan’s control as they were on the day of the temptation, he had no right to appoint a ruler himself - Da 4:17 'This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.'
Only God has the authority to appoint and replace rulers.
p). And again, Jesus goes back to that which God had said, ‘For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'
q). And it is this total dependence upon the Word that causes the devil to leave Him, with angels then coming to minister to Him – here is the way and the means of the spiritual warfare.
Power Point – Slide 3
r). And for us in this, let’s remember - Jas 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
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To submit to God is to submit to His Word by faith, to resist the devil is to hold fast to the Word of life, ‘it is written’, and reject the lie and if we do so the devil ‘will flee from you’, just as we have seen in Matthew. And I wonder if for ourselves we could add this verse concerning angels and our own engagement in the spiritual warfare - Heb 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?
Here is where our victory will be found. But we will need to continue with this next week, if the Lord is willing.