Monday, January 30, 2012

Theology of Glory vs. Theology of the Cross -- One in the Same!

In some strands of theological discussion, there is a divergence over two theologies.

One, the Theology of the Cross, suggests that Christians are called to live a life of suffering, imitating the Passion of the Savior. The other, the Theology of Glory, emphasizes or prominence and blessed state in our Lord and Savior.

This division of suffering and glory is pure folly. Man seeks to break down and analyze things, creating divisions. Paul railed at the Corinthians against this hateful vice of division in the Body of Christ:

"For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

"Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

"Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Corinthians 1: 11-13)

Regarding the challenges we face in this world because of our flesh, versus the glorious promise of the Holy Spirit shed and indwelling in us through the Finished Work of Jesus Christ. the gospel and the writings make clear that they are two sides of the same coin:

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
(John 16:33)

Yes, there is a trying, crying, dying world out there. Yet within us is the very power which raised Christ from the dead (cf Ephesians 1: 17-19), and through His Finished Work we are more than conquerors (cf Romans 8:37):

"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." (1 John 4:4)

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

"For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." (Romans 8: 18-19)

A believer recognizes that he lives in a fallen world, that he lives in a fallen body, that he still possesses a fallen mind which must be renewed (cf Romans 12:2; 2Corinthians 3:18).

Yet we also have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2: 16) -- we have the Holy Spirit, the peace of God that rules in our hearts (cf Colossians 3:15).

Paul also exhorts believers not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

Christ has done all things for us, in us, and through us:

"Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;

"Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

"And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's." (1 Corinthians 3: 21-23)

The real "cross" is not the sufferings of this world, which are slight compared to the glory within us (Christ in us, the hope of glory -- Colossians 1:27), but rather the working out of the salvation which God has already worked in through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit:

"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2: 12-13)

The challenge for the believer is to walk in glory by faith, not resort to his own efforts by sight. This transformation is a cross for the flesh, which manifests the power of God from faith to faith, from glory to glory.

There is one "theology": the gospel -- there is one suffering: our flesh subdued from day to day by the Holy Spirit working within us. There is unending glory: Christ in us as we are transformed into His likeness! (cf 1 John 3:3)

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