If we take up the cross, will we but suffer pain

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Thanh Le

San Francisco, California, United States

Praise the Lord! I thank God giving us this hymn which gives me the way to have a practical experience of bearing the cross of our dear Lord. May Lord has mercy on me in order to practise this truth humbly!


Bonnie

Austin, TX, United States

I have been suffering pain too long! "if we bear the cross, be sure that we will die!" "Though cruel it may seem, it is a grand release." When we experience Christ's death, pain is over and the painful soul-life is slain, and victory has begun! This is indeed a "grand release!"


Glenn

Fullerton, CA, United States

I believe that many of us in the churches today may not truly appreciate the vastness of the Lord's accomplishments on the Cross and it's true meaning in our daily lives. If we did realize it extensive meaning, then we'd die to the flesh, and the natural man sooner, and hasten the Lord's return. Our brother's continual ministry of the Cross and resurrection life is truly profound for us to aspire to. Amen!

Many people equate the cross with suffering. Actually, the cross is not primarily a matter of suffering. During the fifteenth century, Thomas a Kempis wrote the book The Imitation of Christ. In China, this book was soon translated into Chinese by the Catholics. There was a thorough discussion of the cross in this book. However, the whole subject was distorted in that it considered the cross a kind of suffering. Even Madame Guyon was under this book's influence.

We know that in the New Testament, the primary meaning of the cross is not to suffer but to be killed. When a person is nailed on the cross, there is not merely the suffering but also execution. The very person is removed. The New Testament shows us that the first one to be crucified was the Lord Jesus. When men crucified Him on the cross, not only did He suffer, He was being done away with. Hymns, #622 says:

If we take up the cross, will we but suffer pain?

Nay, if we bear the cross, be sure that we will die!

The meaning of the cross is that we may be slain;

The cross experienced the self will crucify.

Once we have seen the vision, the vision will surely send us on the way of the cross. The emphasis of such a way is not suffering but being "no more I." The way of the cross is the way of being no more I. Those who are on this way have all put themselves aside. There is only Christ, and there is only God.

However, the divine thought of the Bible is greatly different from human philosophy. The way of deliverance revealed by the Bible is not suffering, but death. It is not suffering which delivers man, but death. Romans 6:7 says, "For he who has died is justified from sin." Although suffering can restrain man and keep him from sin, it can deliver him only to a certain extent. Moreover, those who suffer are not necessarily free from sin; sometimes they may sin even more. Therefore, suffering cannot actually deliver man. What saves and delivers man from sin is death. This is God's way of salvation. This way is not through suffering, but through death.

Catholicism has subtly changed the meaning of the cross. There is a book among the Catholics called The Imitation of Christ which teaches people to bear the cross and to apply the suffering of the cross as an element of asceticism. Later, those from the inner life group had similar thoughts. Madame Guyon once said that the cross is something to be loved, and that she desired to embrace and kiss the cross. Even in the early years I had felt that this kind of speaking could lead to improper impressions. Therefore, forty years ago I wrote a hymn especially to clear up the confusion caused by Catholicism. The hymn (Hymns, #622) says:

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