HAVING ALREADY BEEN CRUCIFIED WITH THE LORD
The Lord first bore the cross and then was crucified, but with us, we first are crucified, and then we bear the cross. On the day the Lord Jesus was crucified, we were crucified with Him. Hence, on our side, we first are crucified, and then we bear the cross. What does it mean to bear the cross? Many people think that to bear the cross is to suffer. For instance, there may be a wife who is always suffering hardship because her husband has a peculiar disposition. Someone may advise her, saying, “This is the cross that God has given you. You just have to bear it.” This shows that many people have the concept that there is more than one cross. Your husband is a cross, your wife is a cross, your boss is a cross, your employee is a cross, your children are a cross, and your daughter-in-law is a cross. It seems that there are numerous crosses for us to bear. Actually, this understanding is wrong.
There is only one cross, the cross which Christ bore to Golgotha and on which He was crucified. Not only was He crucified there but so were you and I. This is an objective and accomplished fact. However, one day God may open our eyes to see the fact that not only Christ was on the cross, but all of us who have believed in Him were also on the cross. We have already been crucified with Christ. From that day on, we will be those who bear the cross subjectively.
TO BEAR THE CROSS BEING TO SEE THAT WE ARE TERMINATED
What does it mean to bear the cross? To bear the cross means to see that we are finished and ended. As soon as we begin to love someone, the cross will operate in us to kill our love. Can a crucified person still love others by himself? Can someone who is on the cross still be active? Can someone who is on the cross still do something? It is impossible. If we know the cross and bear the cross, we will immediately see that the cross has already terminated us.
We all know that when we light a kerosene lamp, at the beginning it does not smoke, but later, after we twist the wick and raise it, the smoke comes out. Our loving others by ourselves is like lighting a kerosene lamp. When we first love someone, there is no “smoke,” but after loving him more, the “smoke” comes out. This is our flesh. Today we may approve of this one and appreciate him, but tomorrow we may disapprove of him and belittle him. Therefore, when someone praises us, we should not be too excited, because later he may be the one who attacks us the most.
If a person has not been dealt with, he may do good things now, but that does not necessarily mean that he will not do bad things later. A person cannot be pure unless he has been dealt with. For this reason, God has a strict requirement on us. He requires us to be delivered not only from evil and from good, but He also requires us to be delivered from our self. Hence, we must have the experience of the cross; we must pass through the cross.
HAVING SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES BY PASSING THROUGH THE CROSS
The genuine experience of a Christian is the experience of the cross. Only those who have passed through the cross will be able to stand the tests, the blows, and the various trials and afflictions. Regrettably, many Christians have been saved for years but still do not have the experience of the cross. It seems that their experiences of their prayers being answered, their preaching of the gospel being effective, and their having fellowship with the saints are all spiritual experiences. But strictly speaking, whoever has not passed through the cross has not had any spiritual experiences. Only those who have passed through the cross have had spiritual experiences. Our being, our self, must first be broken and terminated by the cross. Then Christ can gain some ground in us and come out through us, and His life can also be constituted into us.
Christ is the life, and the cross is the way. Without the cross, we cannot have the experience of Christ’s life. Some saints fervently love the Lord, but eventually they fall, become weak, and even get into trouble. Why? It is because they have never passed through the cross. Someone may be stumbled and may stop coming to the meetings because he was told by an usher to sit in the front row. Another one who was zealous in preaching the gospel may suddenly stop preaching because others looked at him with cold eyes. What kind of experience is this? This shows us that these people have not been dealt with by the cross. If a person has been dealt with by the cross, he will not have these negative feelings. The fact that we can sense whether people welcome us or not proves that the cross has never done the breaking work in us. Only those who have passed through the cross can endure hardship and are real spiritual men.
(The Crucified Christ, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)