Looking At the World Through the Beauty of the Cross

Bibbia_con_rosa(Octavius Winslow)

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14

Jesus could accomplish man’s redemption in no other way than by crucifixion. He must die–and die the death of the cruel cross.

What light and glory beam around the cross!

Of what prodigies of grace, is it the instrument,
of what glorious truths, is it the symbol,
of what mighty transforming power, is it the source!

Around the cross gathers all the light of the Old Testament economy:
it explains every symbol,
it substantiates every shadow,
it solves every mystery,
it fulfills every type,
it confirms every prophecy,
of that dispensation which had eternally remained unmeaning and inexplicable, but for the death of the Son of God upon the cross.

Not the past only–but all future splendor gathers around the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. It assures us of the ultimate reign of the Savior, and tells of the reward which shall spring from His sufferings. And while its one arm points to the divine counsels of eternity past–with the other it points to the future triumph and glory of Christ’s kingdom in the eternity to come! Such is the lowly yet sublime, the weak yet mighty instrument, by which the sinner is saved and God eternally glorified.

The cross of Christ is . . .
the grand consummation of all preceding dispensations of God to men;
the meritorious procuring cause of all spiritual blessings to our fallen race;
the scene of Christ’s splendid victories over all His enemies and ours;
the most powerful incentive to all evangelical holiness;
the instrument which is to subjugate the world to the supremacy of Jesus;
the source of all true peace, joy and hope;
the tree beneath whose shadow all sin expires, all grace lives.

The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!
What a holy thrill these words produce in the heart of those who love the Savior!
How significant is their meaning, how precious is their influence!

Marvelous and irresistible, is the power of the cross! The cross of Christ has . . .
subdued many a rebellious will;
broken many a marble heart;
laid low many a vaunting foe;
overcome and triumphed, when all other instruments have failed;
transformed the lion like heart of man, into the lamb like heart of Christ!

When lifted up in its own bare simplicity and inimitable grandeur–the cross of Christ has won and attracted millions to its faith, admiration, and love!

What a marvelous power does this cross of Jesus possess! It changes the Christian’s entire judgment of the world.Looking at the world through the cross–his opinion is totally revolutionized.
He sees the world as it really is–a sinful, empty, vain thing.
He learns its iniquity, in that it crucified the Lord of life and glory.
His expectations from the world, and his love to the world, are transformed.
He has found another object of love–the Savior whom the world cast out and slew.
His love to the world is destroyed by that power which alone could destroy it–the crucifying power of the cross.

It is the cross which eclipses, in the view of the true believer, the glory and attraction of every other object.

What is the weapon by which faith combats with, and overcomes the world? What but the cross of Jesus!

Just as the natural eye, gazing for a while upon the sun, is blinded for the moment to all other objects by its overpowering effulgence; so to the believer, concentrating his mind upon the glory of the crucified Savior, studying closely the wonders ofgrace and love and truth meeting in the cross–the world with all its attraction fades into the full darkness of an eclipse.

Christ and His cross infinitely better than the world and its trinkets!

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14

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Resting in Jesus

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(Octavius Winslow)

“This was the one who had reclined on Jesus’ bosom at the supper . . . ” John 21:20

The bosom of Jesus still pillows the head of the weary, loving disciple of the Lord. There is no real rest for the soul, but in Jesus.

Where should the Christ-loved, the Christ-loving disciple lean, with his sins and sorrows, with his weariness and want–but upon the bosom of his Lord? It is the place of repose, of faith, and of love.

There is room for you there amid the countless ones who fly to it for consolation, safety, and repose! Go and lean with your burden, your grief, and your sin–where the beloved disciple reclined; and you shall realize the blessedness of the oneness, confidence, and affection which exist between Jesus and all the disciples whom He loves.

When the World is Shut Out

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The world is a most hurtful snare to the child of God. It is impossible that he can maintain a close and holy walk with God, live as a pilgrim and a sojourner, wage a constant and successful warfare against his many spiritual foes, and at the same time open his heart to admit the greatest foe to grace – the love of the world. But when the mind is pre-occupied by Christ, filled with contemplations of His glory, and grace and love, no room is left for the entrance of external allurements: the world is shut out, and the fascinations of sin are shut out; and the soul holds a constant and undisturbed fellowship with God, while it is enabled to maintain a more vigorous resistance to every external attack of the enemy. – Octavius Winslow

Sacrilege!

(Octavius Winslow)

Cultivate a profound reverence for God’s Word. Nothing is more grievous to the Holy Spirit than a trifling with Revelation. The words of Scripture are divinely inspired, “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

Beware of referring to it with levity. To use the words of Scripture irreverently, or to employ its phraseology flippantly, is . . .
to cast discredit upon inspiration,
to press it into the service of the flesh, and
to make the Word of God the jest book of the profane.
This is awful trifling with the thoughts and words of the Holy Spirit!

Stand in awe of this Holy Book! 

God says, “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at My Word.” Isaiah 66:2

“Then all who trembled at the Words of the God of Israel…” Ezra 9:4

“My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of Your laws.” Psalm 119:120

My heart stands in awe of Your Word.” Psalm 119:161

“God’s name is taken more times in vain in churches than anywhere else.
The blasphemy in the sanctuary is worse than the blasphemy in the street!” MacArthur

(Editor’s note: How very sad is it that many professing Christians use the holy Word of God to amuse others with ‘bible jokes’ and in other trifling and irreverent ways. Much of today’s pseudo Christian music, movies and children’s literature use the Word of God in a flippant manner, if not in a downright profane and sacrilegious way.) 

Why the Cross? 

Phare du Petit Minou(Octavius Winslow)

True sanctification is a daily mortification of the root of sin in the heart–the continual destruction of the principle.
What is your predominant sin? Lay the axe at its root! 
Seek its death and destruction–or it will be death and destruction to you, as long as it prevails.

One sight of a crucified Savior imparted by the Holy Spirit, will effectually weaken the power of indwelling sin–more than all other means combined.

O the might of the Cross!
O the virtue of the blood!
O the power of the grace of Jesus–to crucify, cleanse, and subdue our iniquities!

While the Cross is a comforting truth–it is also a sanctifying truth.

Why the Cross? 

To evince the exceeding hatefulness of sin, and to show that nothing short of such a stupendous sacrifice could remove sin consistently with the glory of the Divine nature, and the honor of the Divine government.

When the mind is diverted from the Cross–sin appears to be a trifle. It can be . . .
looked at without indignation,
tampered with without fear,
committed without hesitation,
persisted in without remorse,
gloried in without shame,
confessed without sorrow.

But when Divine justice is seen drinking the very heart’s blood of God’s only Son, in order to quench its infinite thirst for satisfaction; when Jesus is seen in His humiliation, suffering, and death–all with the design of pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin–then how fearful a thing does it seem to sin against this holy Lord God! How base, how ungrateful, does our sin appear–in view of love so amazing, of grace so rich, and of glory so great! 

Cultivate a constant, an ardent thirst for holiness. Do not be discouraged if the more intensely the desire for sanctification rises–the deeper and darker is the revelation of the heart’s hidden evil. The one is often a consequence of the other. The struggle may be painful, the battle may be strong–but the result is certain, and will be a glorious victory–victory through the blood of the Lamb!

The Power of Pride

627px-Ary_Scheffer_-_The_Temptation_of_Christ_(1854)(Octavius Winslow, “Eminent Holiness Essential to an Efficient Ministry”)

“I hate pride and arrogance!” Proverbs 8:13

Pride is a protean evil–assuming a thousand varied and opposite forms.

There is no soil so holy, in which the root of pride will not strike.
There is no employment so sacred, on which pride will not engraft itself.

Pride will even make the cross of Christ a pedestal on which to erect its deformed visage! Yes, while exalting Jesus–we may be found but exalting ourselves. And while exclaiming, “Behold the Lamb of God!”–we may be but veiling His true glory behind our insignificant persons; virtually exclaiming, “Behold my talents, my eloquence and my zeal!” Is there not in us, my brethren, a manifest deficiency of the lowly, self-annihilating humility of the Divine Master whom we serve, and whom it should be our aim and glory to resemble?

The glory of God! What a persuasive motive to ministerial holiness! Let it be ours, my brethren–our one, sole, undeviating aim. Let us sacrifice everything that would divert us from it–fame, applause, reputation, popularity, worldly comfort, the dearest interests of self. If any of these come in competition with the honor of divine truth and the glory of God–then let them go!

“The Lord detests all the proud of heart!” Proverbs 16:5

The Book for the Afflicted

bible5(Octavius Winslow)

“Before I was afflicted I went astray–but now I obey Your Word.” Psalm 119:67

The Bible is the book for the afflicted. We fly to it in times of adversity. It is then that we . . .
read it more attentively,
counsel with it more closely,
understand it more clearly,
relish it more sweetly, and
receive it into the heart more experimentally, as the engrafted Word.

Affliction illuminates the Bible–as though a new book had been composed–or another constellation in the spiritual hemisphere had burst upon the telescope of faith!

We know more of the Lord Jesus through one sanctified affliction
–than by all the treatises the human pen ever wrote!

Welcome whatever makes you more acquainted with God!

Despise nothing that will deepen your intimacy with Jesus.

Welcome the cross–though it may be heavy!

Welcome the cup–though it may be bitter. Receive it as an blessing sent to you from your Father–receive it as a heavenly message to your soul.

The Bosom of Jesus

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(Octavius Winslow, “The Loving, and the Loved” 1864)

“This was the one who had reclined on Jesus’ bosom at the supper . . . ” John 21:20

The bosom of Jesus still pillows the head of the weary, loving disciple of the Lord. There is no real rest for the soul, but in Jesus.

Where should the Christ-loved, the Christ-loving disciple lean, with his sins and sorrows, with his weariness and want–but upon the bosom of his Lord? It is the place of repose, of faith, and of love.

There is room for you there amid the countless ones who fly to it for consolation, safety, and repose. Go and lean with your burden, your grief, and your sin–where the beloved disciple reclined; and you shall realize the blessedness of the oneness, confidence, and affection which exist between Jesus and all the disciples whom He loves.

What a Pavilion of Comfort is This!

Hallstatt III(Octavius Winslow)

“As the Father has loved Me–so have I loved you!” John 15:9

Believer, you have a home in the heart of Jesus! What a pavilion of comfort is this–the love of Christ! To know that the affections of Jesus embrace and entwine around us, to be assured that He loves us each one as though we were the only one whom He loved–what a privilege and a bliss!

And yet so it is, Jesus loves you, cares for you, watches over and sympathizes with you–as if you were the only one whom He loved. “He loved me–and gave Himself for me!” Seek this individual consciousness of Christ’s love, and you will be supremely happy!

Man’s Most Deadly Enemy

800px-shadow_personIt will even make the cross of Christ into a pedestal on which to erect its deformed visage! 

(Octavius Winslow, “Eminent Holiness Essential to an Efficient Ministry” 1843)

An attribute in the formation of an elevated standard of ministerial holiness–too essential and important to be overlooked–is a growing humbleness of mind

Where is the spiritual minister of Christ who has not detected the latent existence, and who has not had to struggle against–the secret workings of the sin of pride?It is so insidious and powerful a sin–and is so exhilarating in the sensations it produces–that few are more liable to be enamored by its fair exterior, and ensnared by its specious and seductive form–than the minister of the gospel! And yet, pride is an evil more calculated to feed as a cankerworm at the root of his ministry! A sin more loathed of God, against which His denunciations are more severely recorded, on which His wrath has more signally and fearfully fallen–is not found to exist! Pride originated the first form of evil that ever existed–and it constitutes, at this moment, the great center of rebellion against God on earth!

Thus, the identical sin which we find to form so impregnable a stronghold of Satan in the hearts of the unregenerate, and which has so sadly wounded the peace, retarded the prosperity, and deformed the beauty of Christ’s Church–is the sin most rife in our own bosoms!

Its classifications are many. Among them may be specified the pride of office, the pride of denomination, the pride of knowledge, the pride of talent, the pride of scholarship, the pride of influence, the pride of orthodoxy, the pride of eloquence, the pride of pulpit, the pride of platform, the pride of success, and the pride of applause.

Pride is a protean evil–assuming a thousand varied and opposite forms! It will insinuate itself into the most spiritual and solemn of our services. There is no soil so holy–in which its root will not strike. There is no employment so sacred–on which it will not engraft itself. It will even make the cross of Christ into a pedestal on which to erect its deformed visage! Yes, while exalting Jesus–we may be found but exalting ourselves! And while exclaiming, “Behold the Lamb of God!”–we may be but veiling His true glory behind our insignificant persons; virtually exclaiming, “Behold my talents, my eloquence, and my zeal!” We are often guilty of the awful sin of self-exaltation–while setting forth the person, work, glory, and humiliation of the Son of God!

Is there not in us, my brethren, a manifest deficiency of the humble, self-annihilating spirit of the divine Master whom we serve–and whom it should be our aim and glory to resemble? In maintaining our position in the Church–may there not be a lofty deportment, an air of self-sufficiency and importance–utterly at variance with the “mind that was in Christ Jesus”? Is there not an unholy ostentation, and a desire for self-promotion–in much that we do for Christ?

Is there not . . .
an eagerness for preferment to influential and wealthy churches,
a fondness for conspicuousness of place,
a shrinking from fields of labor where no laurels are to be won,
a thirsting for human applause,
a studied aim after popularity,
a trimming policy designed to please the world,
a trumpeting of our own fame, and
a vaunting parade of our own success?
We have plucked the crown from Christ’s head–and placed it on our own! In setting forth Christ’s infinite glory, and His deep abasement and sufferings–we have turned it into an occasion of pride and self-exaltation!

Instead of inquiring, “Who shall be most lowly–the most like Christ–the least in the kingdom?” is it not, “Who shall be the greatest? Who shall stand upon the highest pinnacle of renown?”

Are we not, in many or in all these points–truly guilty before our God? 

And yet how much is there in us, if soberly and frequently pondered–calculated . . .
to abase our pride,
to repress our aspirings of vanity,
to rebuke our self-adulation,
and to lay us low in a low place?

Has not the cherishing of this sin of pride in our bosom–deeply grieved the Spirit? Is not the real secret . . .
of our barren souls,
of our ineffectual ministry,
of our languishing churches,
of our paralyzed efforts–
simply the sad but certain consequences of our accursed pride?

A holy ministry–is a humble ministry!