The Magnitude of the Cross

The Magnitude of the Cross

by Darrell Conner


Publisher Darrell Conner

Published in Christian Books & Bibles, Religion & Spirituality, Nonfiction

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Book Description

Understanding Regeneration should be a priority for every Christian, and in understanding what it means to be Born Again the glory of Christ and the Work of the Cross is magnified in the heart of the Believer. As we set aside some popular misconceptions about what Scripture teaches concerning our Salvation, we begin to understand the harmony and consistency of God’s Redemptive Plan and His will for our lives.

Sample Chapter

The Disciples of Christ

“Were men born again before Pentecost?”

This is a question you may or may not be ready to answer, and if not, the hope is that before you get through a few chapters of this book you will be.

When we look at the Ministry of God in the Old Testament, we recognize the Holy Spirit ministers in and through men, empowering them for ministries such as Prophet, Priest, and King. We are told of King David when anointed as King, "The Spirit of the Lord came upon him from that day forward," but is this the eternal indwelling of God? We would be hard pressed to say that it was, seeing Christ foretells the coming of the Comforter, Who, He teaches, will then be in the disciples, contrasted with the Spirit being with them, and, that He would be with them forever:

John 14:15-17

King James Version

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you

Here are a few points for consideration as you read:

1. The True Bread which provides eternal life, which Christ contrasts with the provision given the "fathers" (manna), came down from Heaven (John 6:32-33), and we see when that took place (at the time of the Incarnation, John 1:14);

2. The eternal indwelling of the Spirit did not take place until after Christ returned to Heaven, because the Spirit could not come unless He left (John 16:7). Not only did Christ make this clear (John 14:16), but we see it fulfilled in Acts 2, which follows Christ's statement in Acts 1 that the disciples would be Baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence (Acts 1:4-5);

3. Remission of sin through the Atonement was retroactive, the Old Testament Saints were not made perfect/complete (in regards to Eternal Redemption and remission of sins) prior to their deaths (Hebrews 9:12-15 11:13, 38-39);

4. The disciples did not have the saving knowledge that leads to new birth, as the Gospel was not revealed to them during Christ's earthly Ministry, though told them on a few occasions. This was evidenced not only by Peter's opposition to the Gospel, but clearly stated by Christ Himself both before and after His Resurrection (Matthew 16: John 16:28-32; Mark 16:9-11; Luke 6-11)).

All of these will be touched upon within the course of this study, as well as making application of this one simple truth and how it clarifies the Redemptive Plan of God throughout the course of Redemptive History. I mention them as a baseline to begin our look at whether men were born again before Pentecost.

The Unbelief of the Disciples

Let's begin with an examination of something simple: did the disciples believe in Christ as Savior prior to Pentecost and being baptized with the Holy Ghost? Some may view questioning their faith in Christ as heretical, ludicrous, or even blasphemous, but I can assure you, if the Lord Himself questioned their belief, I see no problem with us coming into agreement with His view (John 16:28-32).

First, we consider that while the disciples were men of faith, we also keep in mind the progressive nature of revelation, meaning the knowledge God reveals to men and when He revealed that knowledge. We will look at the Mystery of the Gospel in more detail, but I will mention at this time that in several passages it is made clear that the revelation of this Mystery did not take place in prior Ages. We can draw a line between Pentecost and all periods of time prior to Pentecost, as this is the time in which the New Covenant was established. Prior to the New Covenant being established, we see that men were under the Covenant of Law. Prior to the Law being established we see the Abrahamic Covenant. The point is this: if we do not make that distinction, then we merge the Two Covenants together (and the provision that went/go with them), and that is the first mistake contributing to a misunderstanding of the promises that all Covenants prior to the New Covenant held. For example, the Abrahamic Covenant held a singular promise that we can dogmatically assert as not being fulfilled until the New Covenant was established:

Genesis 12

King James Version (KJV)

1 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Our focus here is that "all families of the earth shall be blessed" through Abraham. This is the foretelling of Gentile Inclusion, and the provision for Salvation offered to all men, or, in other words, that Gentiles would at some point in the future come into relationship with God, and that men would not be distinguished between as they were under Law, Jew and Gentile. The Nation that God would make of Abraham is of course, in the immediate fulfillment, Israel, and when the Covenant of Law is established Israel is the exclusive People of God. Gentiles could enter into that relationship by embracing the Covenant of Law and becoming proselytes, but, there was still a distinction drawn between them and Israel herself. How this promise is fulfilled in the New Covenant is the creation of "one man" between the two, Jew and Gentile. They are “one” because both are now in Christ (in eternal union with Him). Israel was the Old Testament type, or model, of the eventual One Fold God has always intended to be the end result of His Redemptive Plan. The Church, the Body of Christ (made up of all Born Again Believers), is the current picture of that eventual One Fold (at which time we will all reside in glorified bodies). Israel was a physical picture of the Church in this Age, a people separated unto God and distinguished from the world in general.

Paul speaks of this distinction between Jew and Gentile here...

Ephesians 2:11-13

King James Version (KJV)

11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

How this is relevant to the focus of our study is this: the promise of Gentile Inclusion was only promise until the New Covenant was established. One of the best known passages in Prophecy concerning Christ also mentions this:

Isaiah 42:5-7

King James Version (KJV)

5 Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:

6 I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;

7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

Included in this prophecy is mention of salvation in Messiah. Keep in mind as we look at the Disciples of Christ that we are not denying that these were men of faith. In view is understanding that while they were men of faith, their faith was specific to the revelation they were given understanding of. They did indeed trust in Messiah, and He was their hope. However, in regards to being born again we understand that specific faith in Christ as the Resurrected Lord differs from the fundamental teaching the prophecy of the Old Testament provided. It is impossible to impose understanding of the Gospel in the Old Testament Saint because it was still mystery. The Gospel was foretold but unrevealed as to its specific nature. Sometimes when we seek to justify a position or Doctrine, there is a tendency to go to an extreme. The best example I can give to illustrate is the differing views between certain groups concerning Mary as our Lord's mother. Those who seek to revere her might err in going so far as to actually worship her, while those disagreeing with that view go so far as to come to despise her and become irreverent of her. We have to keep things in perspective, and in that example my position is that we give her the honor that Scripture itself affords her, but we do not forget that there is One God and One Savior, and that Christ alone is to be credited with, not only Eternal Salvation, but even our physical salvation here on earth.

All that to say we do not undermine the faith of the Disciples, or that of the Old Testament Saints. We seek only to place their faith in a proper perspective according to the progressive nature of Revelation and the unfolding of redemptive effort on the part of God.

It is important to understand that Revelation (that knowledge given to Man by God) was progressive, meaning that when we track the course of the revelation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We see Him spoken of early on in the Bible, but knowledge of Christ does not equate to understanding of that knowledge. For example, in the first mention of Christ in Scripture…

Genesis 3:15

King James Version (KJV)

15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

…we see what we-having the full revelation of both the Old and New Testament-understand as a clear reference to Christ overcoming Satan. However, there is no knowledge given here of Christ dying in the stead of sinful man, and man being in need of trusting in the Sacrifice of Christ. As Scripture emerges over time, we see reference after reference to Christ, but, again, the understanding of such passages as Isaiah 53-which gives a clear statement of the Sufferings of Christ-was not given to men in those Ages. As time progresses, Prophecy reveals more about Christ, yet, the Doctrine of Christ introduced is called by the Writer of Hebrews as the “First Principles of the Doctrine of Christ,” meaning, basic knowledge as compared to the more complete revelation he gives in His Epistle (as well as the other Epistles being circulated throughout the Church in the First Century).

We must also keep in mind that the Spirit of God has always ministered in the lives of men, and has always been the source of enlightenment and illumination in the hearts and minds of His Saints. What He reveals to men can be seen to be secluded to certain periods, and the extent of understanding also often seen to be excluded. We look to Prophecy as “exhibit A” in regards to understanding that though something has been revealed to men, that does not mean they understand how it will unfold (1 Peter 1:10-12). The Gospel of Christ is the prime example of men being told of something, yet understanding of that knowledge being withheld from them. And the one thing we must understand in regards to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that no man was made to understand the Cross of Christ prior to this Age, which, again, began at Pentecost. While Israel sat in expectation of her Messiah, their understanding was limited to a physical understanding. Fulfillment was thought to refer to a physical descendant of David rising up and physically restoring Israel. That the throne erected by Christ would be everlasting meant that a physical descendant of David would always occupy that throne. We will discuss the Revelation of the Mystery of Christ in further detail, but I wanted to give a brief description of the Progression of Revelation going into the topics we will discuss.

Can men be born again without trusting in the Risen Savior?

Now let's turn our attention back to the Disciples of Christ. We ask the question "Can men be considered born again if they are not trusting in Christ for their salvation?" Most usually answer this question with a resounding "No!" So we ask another question, "How then could the Disciples be born again if Christ had not yet died, and they did not know at that time that the belief Christ preached was specific to His Resurrection and atonement for sins?" The answer would be…we can't. And we remember, we are discussing if they were born again, not if they were saved. Many often tend to attribute Atonement prior to the Cross, but Scripture does not. We know men were justified by grace through faith in all Ages, but we look at the provision for remission of sins in past Ages compared with the remission of sins achieved by Christ. And there is simply no comparison. We will examine the theme of "Perfection" as taught in Hebrews as we continue in this study, which makes the point that the sacrifices of the Law were incomplete whereas the Sacrifice of Christ was complete, making "perfect," or complete, those who are sanctified by His Sacrifice...forever. Understanding this significant difference helps us to better understand the magnitude of Christ's Work. Men were saved in the Old Testament from the eternal perspective of God, yet they all died not having received one specific promise in the New Covenant, and that is God no more remembering their sins. The last sacrifice that men like Abraham, Moses, and David would have offered prior to their death would have been that of an animal only, which we are told in Hebrews could not take away sin. And this we will go into greater detail in later chapters.

Christ makes it clear that He came from Heaven to bestow eternal life. The implication is that this was not taking place before. And when we consider what the Lord states as the means of Eternal Life, we see it is quite impossible to equate the faith one had in Messiah prior to the Revelation of the Gospel Mystery with that demanded of men in this Age. Let’s consider something we see often in the Lord’s-as well as the Apostles’-teachings, a contrast between Himself as the eternal fulfillment of Prophecy and Promise, and the physical standard of the Ages that preceded the one established by Christ through His Work:

John 6:29-35

King James Version (KJV)

29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

In this statement we see the provision under the Law (manna) and the provision that we can only conclude falls after the True Bread has actually come from Heaven. This is a reference to the Incarnation and specifically designated as the "flesh” of Christ. Manna sustained physical life only, and that is Christ's point throughout this passage. The Jews demand a sign that they might believe, appealing to the provision of God in the Wilderness as a "proof" that those in the Wilderness might believe. Christ's response rebukes them in regards to Who-Father God, not father Moses-provided that provision, and that the provision given then is distinct from the provision that He came to give.

Note carefully, the "Bread of God is He that comes down from Heaven," that is, Christ, and this Bread “gives life to the world.” They say "Give us this bread," to which He replies that this bread shall be given to those that come to Him, and believe on Him. Again, keep in mind the contrast between the two, the physical bread of the Exodus which sustained physical life, and the spiritual Bread which provides Eternal Life.


Excerpted from "The Magnitude of the Cross" by Darrell Conner. Copyright © 2018 by Darrell Conner. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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