enlarging our view of the cross

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:4-7)

And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10)

The prophet Isaiah was given a vision of the glory of God (Isa 6). Note: he was already a believer and had been active in ministry. We too, as we grow in the Lord, know more of ourselves. We know more of our mixed motives. We haven't come as far as we thought in our growth and sanctification. The world and flesh and devil have proved more powerful than we first thought. And it's not merely a greater awareness of our sin, but also of the incompleteness of our "good" works. Our motives and intentions were not so pure as we thought. Our intentions and the good works we began -- many of them -- did not come to completion. Meanwhile, our view of God's holiness has grown. We feel like Isaiah the prophet who said "Woe is me! For I am lost..." (Isaiah 6:5)

When we think of the holiness of God's character, his hatred of evil, the depth of our sin, and the great judgment to come, we may be tempted to despair. But this should drive us to enlarge our view of the glorious work of Christ upon the cross. Pastor Jack Miller used the diagrams above to describe how Christians, when they were converted, would have a view of the cross that was sufficient for their early walk with Christ, but that view did not grow with them as they grew in awareness of God's holiness and their own sinfulness. They would be tempted to fill in the gap with their own works, or else turn away in despair. 

However, Christ's death -- the one sacrifice for sins for all time (Hebrews 10) -- is fully sufficient for all of our needs for mercy, forgiveness, and grace at every stage of our Christian life. There is no lack or shortfall. What needs to grow is our view and estimation of the greatness of the work of Christ in our redemption. Miller wrote, "Never again look at your sins apart from Christ. If you know your sins are forgiven, it changes the way you think about yourself and your life." (C. John Miller, Saving Grace, pp.4-5.)  


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