The Path of the Cross

By John Thiel

Jesus made a point of contact with us at our deep sense of our unworthiness of our sin. When sin has become clear to us and we feel full of loathsomeness about ourselves, there Jesus met us at the cross. From the point in time where that has made its impact on our consciousness and life, we read that Apostle Paul was in that position as well.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

He is now in a position where the death of Jesus has been his in his own life. Now that has happened, the resurrection of Jesus has taken place. It is no longer I that lives, but Christ lives in me. Life continues. It is the life of Jesus in me although I am living in the flesh I am living by the faith of the son of God.

A Life That Measures with the Life of Jesus

That is the life we are going to study. It is the path of the cross. When did Jesus commence that path? He commenced it when He left heaven and suffered the excruciating self-denial. He became unconscious. It continued down and down. The life that He lived before the cross, what sort of a life was that? How can we be saved by His life? As He makes contact with us at the realisation of our sinfulness, we are then triggered off into a path that He lived all the way along on earth and even what it meant to come down from heaven. This is the life written of. This is what we are letting ourselves into if we are getting baptised.

2 Corinthians 4:8 [We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

Always bearing in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus. That is the ongoing war. The death of Jesus that we entered into at the beginning of the path is an ongoing exercise every day. Always bearing in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. When Jesus died, what was the next thing? He was resurrected. Every day the dying takes place so the life can continue. There is no life on this earth unless there is the death of the flesh. Because the flesh is there, it is a path of continual dealing with the flesh on this earth.

Galatians 5:16 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

He describes the works of the flesh verses the fruits of the spirit. The path of the cross is described. There are impulses and desires of the flesh that have to be daily crucified and the flesh screams every step of the way. It wants to be recognised and satisfied. I die daily. I will always bear about in the body, in my flesh, the dying of the Lord Jesus. It is a continual death and dying of the body and flesh but the life of Jesus is generated by that because when He died He was resurrected. To be a Christian means 1 Peter 4:1. Here is the foundation of the very subject of perfection. There is to be a sinless perfection. How can that take place?

1 Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of [his] time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

If I’m going to live a life of sinlessness then I must follow in the path of the cross which is the path of suffering in the flesh. As we enter into baptism intelligently, we know that we have entered into a mind change. My mind is now no longer geared to please me. My mind is now to be the mind of Christ so that I will suffer always the dying of Jesus in the body. Jesus suffered for us in the flesh, not just at the cross. He suffered in the flesh all the way along. That is what he is asking and inviting us to enter into. That is the life of a Christian, the path of the cross.

This is the reason why true Christianity doesn’t exist much today. People are still hanging onto to some shreds of self-aggrandizement. They want to feel good. To follow Jesus in the cross doesn’t feel good. The moment you convey the messages to people around, they want to argue it. They don’t want to accept the concept. Who in their natural mind would choose such a course? It is something that is foreign. If you choose Jesus and his kingdom, you choose a life of sacrifice and suffering.

Luke 9:23 And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

The Death of Jesus Mine to Die, the Death of Jesus Mine to Live

We see precisely what is involved in the path of the cross.

These roads are distinct, separate, in opposite directions. One leads to eternal life, the other to eternal death. I saw the distinction between these roads, also the distinction between the companies traveling them. The roads are opposite; one is broad and smooth, the other narrow and rugged. So the parties that travel them are opposite in character, in life, in dress, and in conversation. {CET 156.1}  

Here we see some practical things that help us appreciate the path of the cross.

Those who travel in the narrow way are talking of the joy and happiness they will have at the end of the journey. Their countenances are often sad, yet often beam with holy, sacred joy. {CET 156.2}

If you see someone with a sad face, do you say cheer up? Jesus wasn’t always beaming. He was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief.

They do not dress like the company in the broad road, nor talk like them, nor act like them. A pattern has been given them. A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief opened that road for them, and travelled it Himself. His followers see His footsteps, and are comforted and cheered. He went through safely; so can they, if they follow in His footsteps. {CET 156.2}

What is your comfort and cheer? Is it that things are always going to be nice around you? He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and that is not always something that cheers you. Many people that enter this path think oh wonderful praise the Lord. Then something goes wrong and they think it shouldn’t be like this but yes it should. The thing that is going to make us happy is not the circumstances as they are going to make us sad. We are cheered as we see his footsteps.

The Children Of Israel

Jesus was with them all the way but it was a murmuring experience instead of joy that Jesus was with them. The path that Jesus trod affected his life so that it was written of him that he was a man of sorrows. People get a shock when they discover it instead of realising that is what I expected. Don’t forget this study as you take your steps. This is an important ingredient that you carry in your life daily. Always bearing in our body the dying of the Lord. Where is it going to lead? As they travel the path, the road that Jesus trod, is the path that leads to the end of the journey to eternal life. While the other one leads to eternal death is one that is comforted by the broad road that everybody can walk comfortably on there. Although it is comfortable to people yet it carries a lot of burdens too.

What a work is before us! Self-denial and the cross were shown me as standing all along in the way of life. Can we persevere in such warfare as this? Grace is against nature, and the whole strength of self is opposed to the victory. Can we take up the cross and bear it after Jesus, and consent to be like him who was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin? When the pleasures of the world come before us, we must renounce them instantly, and prefer before these the favor of God and the cross of Christ. {RH, November 26, 1861 par. 11}

We must prefer the cross of Christ.

And in this self-denying course we shall obtain victories, and in the end win eternal glory. {RH, November 26, 1861 par. 11}

By entering into the death of the cross, we are going to continue along a mind that will lead me to glory. Once the mind is in that gear we are instructed in God’s word that the new mind is what I’m going to follow through the course of life. It is a path of discovering the footsteps of Jesus in that self-denial.

Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

As we are walking along the path, what are we doing? We are actually being made perfect. If I will follow the path of suffering, I am following the process of perfection because that is what Jesus did. We become born again, we become as little babes and we are saved by his life. He cried unto him that could save him from death. We are on this path of Jesus and we keep crying to him and follow his footsteps. As I’m following with Christ I’m suffering together with Jesus. Though he were a son he learnt obedience by the things which he suffered. He was the author of our salvation. The author of eternal salvation. Saved by his life. Reconciled by his death. When you realise your sinfulness and his death with your sinfulness, you are reconciled and you are happy to be close to him. Then comes learning and the authorship he has laid out. The authorship of salvation is the path of the cross. We are to keep the serpent on the stick always before us.

Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience 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 is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

It’s a race, it’s a patient exercise. What am I to do doing this? Look to Jesus the author. The author of life of learning by the things which he suffered. That cross was not just when he died. It was the path of the cross, he endured the cross. As it is a path of suffering, we can become wearing of that. Consider him. Whenever you think the path is getting too hard, consider him. If you consider him continually you will have a constant conquering of that negative erk that comes upon you. If you keep considering him in your experience with you, then you will not faint.  Jesus learnt obedience by the things which he suffered and he did something much greater than any of us. He suffered unto blood to prevent himself from sinning. We slip so easy but praise the Lord his death covers that. We are called upon to perfect to be sinless. If we suffer as he did then we will be perfected, we will be like him.

1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

You will see as you keep travelling this path these things. A person said to me not long ago, Jesus suffered at the cross for a short time, I’m suffering all the time. They think that the suffering of the cross was only there in their mind but the continual cross they don’t’ recognise. In the wilderness he suffered and his face was marred because he suffered more than any man. When people say that they have lost the gazing upon Jesus. I will walk exactly the same way. We read the two ways before but now we will read the experience of God’s people in our time as to what we will meet and our experience in the path of the cross in our time.

Every Christian Is Going To Be Shaken

I was shown the people of God, and saw them mightily shaken. I saw some with strong faith and agonizing cries, pleading with God. Their countenances were pale, and marked with deep anxiety which expressed their internal struggle. There was firmness and great earnestness expressed in their countenances, while large drops of perspiration rose upon their foreheads, and fell. Now and then their faces would light up with the marks of God’s approbation, and again the same solemn, earnest, anxious look settled upon them. {RH, December 31, 1857 par. 1}

Along the way God gives you a few love tokens and you feel oh he is still with me and I thought I was alone. You cry to God and you can’t feel him, someone said sometimes I feel God isn’t near me. Jesus didn’t feel that God was there but God was there in the darkness with him. They were agonising and there came a ray of light of God’s approbation. When they see it, their faces light up. Having being lit up with that thought then comes the next. Again the same solemn anxious look would settle on them.

  Evil angels crowded around them, pressing their darkness upon them, to shut out Jesus from their view, that their eyes might be drawn to the darkness that surrounded them, and they distrust God, and next murmur against him. {RH, December 31, 1857 par. 2}

What is meant with this in living reality? That the darkness of the angels crowds upon the mind so that they would lose sight of Jesus. What is the darkness? What are they being led to look at that would lead the vision of Jesus away from them?

When the mind dwells upon self, it is turned away from Christ, the source of strength and life. Hence it is Satan’s constant effort to keep the attention diverted from the Saviour and thus prevent the union and communion of the soul with Christ. {SC 71.2}

What does Satan do? What is it that he draws their mind to? What the evil angels are doing to draw their minds to the darkness?

The Faults of Others Shut Out Jesus

The pleasures of the world, life’s cares and perplexities and sorrows, the faults of others, or your own faults and imperfections–to any or all of these he will seek to divert the mind. Do not be misled by his devices. Many who are really conscientious, and who desire to live for God, he too often leads to dwell upon their own faults and weaknesses, and thus by separating them from Christ he hopes to gain the victory. {SC 71.2}

The faults of others shut out Jesus. If he can turn your mind to your faults and failings, won’t that be a success for him to cause you to doubt yourself with God? It will also cause you to doubt the doctrines such as overcoming. When he has you thinking about your faults and you see others, what does natural self always do? Judge others. If you examine everything that pertains to what we have read, this is what humanity does all the time. That is Satan’s darkness. Self has to die but we don’t have to put ourselves to do that, we look to Jesus. There seems to be a slight contradiction, one ray of light reveals my defects but don’t dwell on them, flee to Christ. Don’t dwell to muddle around in the mud of my own deficiencies. Neither to look at other faults or the perplexities and problems that surround us. If I do that, Jesus sis removed out of the view as it takes everything for me to keep on looking to hm.  As I see him suffering in Gethsemane and buffeted by people around him, Apostle Peter is a perfect example.

Peter

Peter was walking on the water to Jesus. There were storms around him. If he kept on looking to Jesus he could walk safely but the moment he looked at the storms, he fell. There are many cares aren’t there? In these last days don’t life’s cares and perplexities multiply? All life’s issues, social, military, churches, isn’t it getting worse? Satan is biting us all the time.  The perplexities and problems around us all the time are the bites but the poison is immediately diffused by looking to Jesus.  The temptation and miseries that press upon me.  Satan bit Eve by the suggestion. She dwelt upon the bite.  There is an internal struggle of deep anxiety.  Satan has bitten and there is a struggle with the flesh and you are fighting the battle.

Grace is against nature.  As you let these things come into focus you experience what is the path of the cross.  In your battles you are tempted and Satan comes along and says see how nasty others are? When you see the faults of theirs and you say, oh they shouldn’t be doing that, or your own situation, all those thoughts and feelings, are the evil angels pressing their darkness upon us. That is what is. That is what you don’t indulge. If a thought comes to you that you can’t make it, don’t indulge it, out the door as fast as it comes.  The struggle is there. Jesus had to fight against the flesh and if you keep your eyes on Christ, you will never feel that you are okay.  Your comfort is we see Jesus footsteps and we are comforted and cheered. What were his footsteps? He learnt obedience by the things which he suffered. I am suffering but I don’t indulge in that suffering but I’m not indulging myself over that suffering. I cry out God and he shines upon me his approbation like Jesus in Gethsemane, the angel comforted him. Persevere but don’t let Satan oppress you to crowd out your thoughts and focus on Jesus. Your only comfort is to look to Jesus. When you look to Jesus you will never feel proud of yourself. This is the path of the cross.

Their only safety was in keeping their eyes directed upward.  {1T 180.1} 

Sometimes I see people hanging their head.  Don’t forget to stay looking at Jesus.  Don’t’ look at the negatives pressing upon you.  Their only safety was to look up.

Angels of God had charge over His people, and as the poisonous atmosphere from the evil angels was pressed around these anxious ones, the heavenly angels were continually wafting their wings over them, to scatter the thick darkness.  {1T 180.1} 

Can you see the path of the cross here? The evil angels are pressing these negatives, faults of others, pleasures of the world, yourself. While they are pressing around you, the good angels are wafting their wings to scatter that.  What does that mean?  They are sending messages to us that help us to discard the darkness. As the messages of Jesus and God and love that we study, they are the work of the angels to scatter the thoughts in such a way that they will no longer press upon us.  Have you sometimes experienced that?  Thoughts are pressing and you are wrapped up in the darkness and a message comes and it dissipates. That is the angels wafting and when a messenger gives a message, isn’t he touched by the angel to give a message? That is the angels wafting.  This is what separates God’s faithful people

   Some, I saw, did not participate in this work of agonizing and pleading. They seemed indifferent and careless. They were not resisting the darkness around them, and it shut them in like a thick cloud. {1T 180.2}

They get engrossed into what the angels are pressing them into? Have you gone through those experiences where you have plunged deeper and deeper because you indulged in negative thinking and as you plunge deeper it distresses you to the utmost?  Those who didn’t persevere, the angels left them.

  Some, I saw, did not participate in this work of agonizing and pleading. They seemed indifferent and careless. They were not resisting the darkness around them, and it shut them in like a thick cloud. The angels of God left these, and I saw them hastening to the assistance of those who were struggling with all their energies to resist the evil angels, and trying to help themselves by calling upon God with perseverance. But the angels left those who made no effort to help themselves, and I lost sight of them. {1T 180.2} 

They were just plunged into the darkness underneath and Sr White couldn’t see them anymore.  This is the path of the cross verses of the path of the world.

The Path of the Cross Verses the Path of the World

The path of this kind of grief of the cross that we are travelling and more intensely now than ever before, Jesus says he that overcomes will sit on my throne, for Laodicean’s, the overcoming of Jesus at Gethsemane and cross is the same for us. The 144,000 engage in this only to the enth degree which is why so few, only the 144,000. If you ever wondered why so few, here is the reason.  The path that they are travelling because of our grief is the path that leads upward.

   Christ rejoiced that He could do more for His followers than they could ask or think. He spoke with assurance, knowing that an almighty decree had been given before the world was made. He knew that truth, armed with the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, would conquer in the contest with evil; and that the bloodstained banner would wave triumphantly over His followers. He knew that the life of His trusting disciples would be like His, a series of uninterrupted victories, not seen to be such here, but recognized as such in the great hereafter. {DA 679.2}

You will not experience a series of uninterrupted victories here. You will see it when it’s all over and you look back. That is when you will see it. As you are going along, all you see is failure in yourself. All you see is a misery of things battling along inside of you. As you are travelling you are going up with not knowing this. You may see yourself up and down and as you keep going up and down following the path of the cross, you’re actually going up. The reality is that you are going up in a series of uninterrupted victories. How you feel and how you see yourself matters not as you are going up.  By following Jesus you will reach steps and you don’t drop back as really you have gained that and now you have to move onto the next but in your experience you feel you are going up and down and you don’t see yourself going up. This is a declaration here, it is not just a wonderful thought, it is a reality and that is what we need to keep on remember.

If you have decided to follow Jesus, the glories and the sense of the victories are yet in the future, they are not with you now. Just the approbation of God every now and then, that’s all. For a while you will get it and then you won’t get it. That is the only thing you will get. The intelligent knowledge that you are following in the footsteps of Jesus can cheer you along and encourage you. That is what you have to hang on to. Don’t fall into despondencies because of anxieties and griefs, I don’t like the anxieties, I don’t like them. That is the path of the cross. Walk constantly in the midst of it all and be cheered by;

Remember

  Our Lord says, Under conviction of sin, remember that I died for you. When oppressed and persecuted and afflicted for My sake and the gospel’s, remember My love, so great that for you I gave My life. When your duties appear stern and severe, and your burdens too heavy to bear, remember that for your sake I endured the cross, despising the shame. When your heart shrinks from the trying ordeal, remember that your Redeemer liveth to make intercession for you. {DA 659.2}

It’s so easy to forget and the test of Jesus is telling us this. This is what should cheer us up.

   I saw that the enemy would either contend for the usefulness or the life of the Godly, and will try to mar their peace as long as they live in this world. But his power is limited. He may cause the furnace to be heated, but Jesus and angels will watch the trusting Christian, that nothing may be consumed but the dross. The fire kindled by Satan, can have no power to destroy or hurt the true metal. It is important to close every door possible, against the entrance of Satan. It is the privilege of every family to so live that Satan cannot take advantage of anything they may say or do, to tear each other down. Every member of the family should bear in mind that all have just as much as they can do to resist our wily foe, and with earnest prayers and unyielding faith, they must rely upon the merits of the blood of Christ, and claim his saving strength. The powers of darkness gather about the soul and shut Jesus from our sight, and at times we can only wait in sorrow and amazement until the cloud passes over. These seasons are sometimes terrible. Hope seems to fail, and despair seizes upon us. In these dreadful hours we must learn to trust, to depend on the sole merits of the atonement, and in all our helpless unworthiness cast ourselves upon the merits of the crucified and risen Saviour. We shall never perish while we do this–never! When light shines on our pathway, it is no great thing to be strong in the strength of grace. But to wait patiently in hope, when all is dark, when clouds envelope us, requires faith and submission which causes our will to be swallowed up in the will of God. We are too quickly discouraged, and earnestly cry for the trial to be removed from us, when we should plead for patience to endure, and grace to overcome. {RH, April 22, 1862 par. 12}

   Without faith it is impossible to please God. We can have the salvation of God in our families, but we must believe for it, live for it, and have a continual abiding faith and trust in God. We must subdue a hasty temper, and control our words; and in this we shall gain great victories. Unless we control our words and temper, we are slaves to Satan. We are in subjection to him. He leads us captive. All this jangling, and unpleasant, impatient, fretful words, are an offering presented to his satanic majesty. And it is a costly offering, more costly than any offering we can make to God, for it destroys the peace and happiness of whole families, destroys health, and is eventually the cause of forfeiting an eternal life of happiness. The restraint God’s word imposes upon us is for our own interest. It increases the happiness of our families, and all around us. It refines our taste, sanctifies our judgment, and brings peace of mind, and in the end, everlasting life. Under this holy restraint we shall increase in grace and humility, and it will become easy to speak right. The natural, passionate temper will be held in subjection. An indwelling Saviour will strengthen every hour. Ministering angels will linger in our dwellings, and with joy carry the tidings of our advance in the divine life heavenward, and the angel will make a cheerful, happy record.

In the path where Satan is, the people in that path think the path of the cross is so hard and so terrible but those who are walking the broad road think they are having a good time but they have misery as well.  We think that this is misery of life?  Apart from the comfort we find in Jesus but others when they go through their experiences, there is no release and they look for all sorts of things to alleviate their suffering but ultimately it gets worse and worse.  God’s people who are going through hard times have Jesus to help them through. We can’t look across the fence and think it feels better there. If you go there, it will only plunge you into deeper despair. Let the path of the cross that was commenced when we gave our heart to the Lord and when we received a new heart, let that now be the appreciation that we are always carrying in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus and so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in us.

Amen.

 

Posted on September 8, 2010, in Sermons by John Thiel, Short Studies. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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