The Time of the Cross, by Watchman Nee


God Himself knows the eternal worth of His Son’s cross. He has manifested to all the eternal freshness of the cross of His Son. Now He desires to gain the redeemed ones so that they would know this fact also. The realization of the eternal freshness of the cross brings power. The realization of the eternal freshness of the cross brings love. The realization of the eternal freshness of the cross brings victory. The realization of the eternal freshness of the cross brings longsuffering. If we truly know the freshness of the cross, what inspiration we will receive from it! What motivation we will derive from it! If the cross is not old in our heart, we will surely have an intimate fellowship with our Lord. If a believer has forgotten the cross, it means that he has forgotten the Lord.

The Lord intends that His cross be forever fresh in our spirit and our mind. This is why He told us, "This do, as often as you drink it, unto the remembrance of Me" (1 Cor. 11:25). The words "as often as" imply "frequently." The reason the Lord established His supper is for His saints to remember Him always in His death. He foreknew that many would consider His cross as obsolete. This was why He charged His disciples to always remember His death at the Lord’s supper. He knew that worldly affairs, distractions, and temptations would come and would secretly rob the freshness of the cross from us. This is why He charged us to take the supper often and to remember Him. How fresh was the cross to us when we first believed! But after many days, the cross seems to have become hazy. When we first realized the victory of the cross, how fresh it was to us! But through frequent mention of its glory, the cross seems to have become common. However, the Lord does not want to see us losing the freshness of the cross. He desires that we remember the cross often and always have the death of the Lord before us.

It is a pity that we have lost the inspiration of the cross of the Lord Jesus. The crucifixion of the Lord Jesus should be openly portrayed before our eyes all the time (Gal. 3:1). We must never consider the Lord’s cross as a mere historical monument.

The book of Galatians is an epistle on the cross. When the cross was openly portrayed before the Galatians, how free they were! When they tried to receive the Holy Spirit through the keeping of the law or be perfected through the work of the flesh, they lost the freshness of the cross. One can tell the spiritual condition of a saint just by his attitude toward the cross. If he considers the cross as something old, it shows that he is cut off from the source of his power.


What are the benefits of knowing the freshness of the cross? The benefits are innumerable. We know that anything new easily touches men. If something happened long ago, it does not have the power to stir men up. If we have the Lord’s cross openly portrayed before us every day, how much we will be moved by it! Joseph in the ancient times was only willing to be Christ’s disciple in secret. Nicodemus only dared to come to see the Lord in the night. But when both saw the crucifixion of the Lord, they were greatly moved. As a result, they risked offending the crowd and asked for the body of the Lord for burial. The cross can make the most fearful men the most courageous ones. When they beheld Jesus on the cross and the way He suffered and was rebuked by men, the love of the cross inspired them and moved them. Hence, if we have the death of Christ before us all the time, we will be moved in the same way that they were moved. The cross will then become our strength.

"Should we continue in sin that grace may abound?" (Rom. 6:1). We should be able to answer this question. If we truly see the Lord’s cross all the time, if we truly see how He suffered there, if we see the wounds on His hands and feet and the crown of thorns on His head, if we see how His love and blood mingled, and if we see His sufferings and sorrow, will we not be deeply moved, and will we not cease from doing things that do not please Him or cause Him sorrow? It is because we lack the eternal fresh revelation of the cross before us that we despise the love of the Lord.

If the cross on which the Lord died for us is forever fresh, our crucifixion with Him will also become unchanging. If we have a fresh revelation of the cross day by day, we will add to ourselves many fresh experiences of faith in our dying together with Him. It is because we do not see a daily cross that we have many experiences of sin resurrecting in us. If we see the eternal freshness of the cross and its ever unchanging nature, our death to sin will also be unchanging. Many children of God fail because they do not realize that the death of the cross is not just something that happened once for all, but something that is with us continually all the time.

We know that many times we fall unconsciously. Thank God the Father, who does not reject us because of this. The Bible says that "the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). He did not cleanse us just once. The blood of His Son is still continually cleansing us. The word "cleanses" in the original has the sense of a continual action. This is the perpetual work of the cross. How wonderful it is that God has prepared for us such a salvation! If we stumble by accident, and we come to Him and confess our sins, He will forgive us, and the blood of His Son will cleanse us from all sin. What eternal freshness there is in the cross!

(The Time of the Cross, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)