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The Fellowship of the Cross: The Deepest Secret of Pentecost

The Fellowship of the Cross: The Deepest Secret of Pentecost

Are you praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church or on your own life? Andrew Murray describes a vital aspect that is missing in Christians’ lives — something that hinders God’s answer to this prayer.

Our Concept of Christ in Heaven is Limited

The greatest work of the Spirit in our lives is to help us live every day in unbroken intimacy with Jesus Christ. In Andrew Murray on Prayer, Andrew Murray writes that this was the joy of the disciples and their preparation for Pentecost — “they were entirely taken up with Him. He was literally their all.”

Murray explains that there is a deeper secret of Pentecost.

The thought came that perhaps our conception of the Lord Jesus in heaven was limited. We think of Him in the splendor, the glory of God’s throne. We also think of the unsearchable love that moved Him to give Himself for us. But we forget too often that, above all, it is as the Crucified One He has His place on the throne of God.And, lo, in the midst of the throne…stood a Lamb as it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6)….

The Cross is Christ’s highest glory. The Holy Spirit neither has done nor can do anything greater or more glorious than He did when He empowered Jesus to go to that cross: “Christ…through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God” (Heb. 9:14). In the same way, the Holy Spirit can do nothing greater or more glorious for us than to take us up into the fellowship of that Cross, and to work in us the same spirit of the Cross that was seen in our Lord Jesus. In a word, the question arose whether this was not the real reason why our prayers for the powerful operation of the Holy Spirit could not be answered, because we had sought too little to receive the Spirit, in order that we might know and become like the glorified Christ in the fellowship of His Cross.

Is this not the deepest secret of Pentecost? [1]

The Spirit Comes to Us in Relation to the Cross

Murray outlines the places from which the Spirit comes to us. He comes to us from:

  1. The cross — where He strengthened Christ to offer Himself to God.
  2. God the Father — “who looked down with unspeakable pleasure at the humiliation and obedience and self sacrifice of Christ, as the highest proof of His surrender to Him.”
  3. Christ — “who through the cross was prepared to receive from the Father the fullness of the Spirit, that He might share it with the world.”

The main reason the Spirit comes to us is to give to us the life of the crucified Christ:

[The Spirit] comes to reveal Christ to our hearts, as the Lamb slain in the midst of the throne, so that we on earth may worship Him as they do in heaven. He comes, chiefly, to impart to us the life of the crucified Christ, so that we may be able to say truly, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20). [2]

The Fellowship of the Cross: The Deepest Secret of Pentecost

Seeking Close Communion with the Crucified Christ

I concur with Murray’s assertion that there are many people who believe in the cross of Christ for redemption but understand very little about the fellowship of the Cross. They rely on what the Cross purchased for them, but they go great lengths of time without fellowship with Jesus. They do not daily seek close relationship with the crucified Christ as He is seen in Heaven: “A Lamb…in the midst of the throne” (Rev.5:6).

Oh, that this vision might exercise its spiritual power upon us. Then we will really experience every day that as truly as the Lamb is seen there on the throne, so we may have the power and experience of His presence here!

In everything and always the Spirit and the Cross are inseparable. Yes, even in heaven. [3]

The following scriptures give evidence of the inseparable nature of the Spirit and the cross in heaven:

  • “And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” (Rev. 5:6)
  • “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Rev. 22:1)

When Moses struck the Rock, the water flowed out and Israel drank.  Murray continues:

When the Rock, Christ, was actually smitten, and He had taken His place as the slain Lamb on the throne of God, there flowed out from under the throne the fullness of the Holy Spirit of the whole world.

How foolish it is to pray for the fullness of the Spirit if we have not first placed ourselves under the full power of the Cross!…What is it that hinders? The Father…is more willing than any earthly father to give bread to His child, and yet the cry arises, ‘Is the Spirit restricted?’ Many will acknowledge that the hindrance undoubtedly lies in the fact that the church is too much under the sway of the flesh and the world. They understand too little of the heart-piercing power of the Cross of Christ. So it comes to pass that the Spirit does not have the vessels into which He can pour His fullness.” [4]

My Flesh Squirms at the Thought

This time of year, with so much focus on the cross, we become uncomfortable when the focus turns to the cross to which we are called. We’ll celebrate any day Jesus’ suffering on the cross and the blessings it affords us. But celebrate the cross to which we are called? No!

My flesh squirms at the reminder it must die. It loves the fact we’ve abandoned the confrontational language of the cross. It loves to be fooled into thinking if I don’t hear anything about the cross, if I just don’t focus on it, then my flesh will never be called to die. How wrong, for one thing. But also, how tragic!

God relates to us on resurrection ground, and this ground always includes the cross. We want His resurrection power, but we want it only if we can bypass the cross. It will not happen that way.

If I personally would have never known the further work of the cross in my life, I would be missing so much! The real joy in living my brief journey here on earth is not found in the single fact that I’ll have eternal life. It’s not that I’ve gained Jesus in my heart. It’s that each day, as my flesh is crucified, He gains a little more of me! This means that Jesus inhabits more of my life, my words, my thoughts, my actions, my strength, my plans, my abilities, my desires – everything!

The riches of Jesus Christ that we receive in return for our old self far exceed the spiritual poverty in which we lived before. Once we ever experience them, we’re changed. We’ll follow Jesus anywhere – even to the cross – if it means that more of His Spirit will inhabit us.

So banish the values of your flesh! The enemy of your soul uses them to seduce you away from the cross to which you’re called. The last thing he wants it for you to become a vessel into which the Spirit can pour His fullness!

A Closing Prayer:

Father, help me place myself under the power of the cross. According to Philippians 2:13, it is You working within me, helping me want to obey you, and then helping me do what you want. Give me the desire to live a crucified life and the ability to yield my will to Yours. Keep my mind, my desires from being influenced and controlled by the flesh and the world. Break the influence that the flesh and world have over me. Give me an experiential understanding of the heart-piercing power of the Cross of Christ. Prepare me to receive your Spirit so that I might know and become like the glorified, crucified Christ!

Questions:

  • Do you cringe reading this discussion of the fellowship of the cross? Does it make you afraid of losing temporal comforts? Perhaps you value the flesh and the world more than the fullness of the Spirit of Christ. What a perfect time to pray the prayer above!
  • Are you praying for the Holy Spirit to operate powerfully in you? Are you seeking sufficiently, or too little, to receive the Spirit in order that you might know and become like the glorified Christ in the fellowship of His Cross? 

 

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  1. Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray on Prayer (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1998),  223
  2. Ibid., 223
  3. Ibid., 226
  4. Ibid., 229 – 230

Note: Andrew Murray on Prayer is a work containing six books of Andrew Murray’s. The excerpts above were taken from the book The Prayer Life (Also available on Kindle for $.99).

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