I used to struggle under the notion that the trials I was going through may be crosses that God wanted me to bear. A theology of suffering was presented and I was encouraged to believe that somehow God was getting glory out of my problems.
Since then I have subscribed to a theology of victory, and I believe it is more in line with the Bible. Yes, we will have troubles in this life, but the troubles are not to reign. That is the old way of death, but we are now walking in life: For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).
Believers often fail to see themselves as reigning in life, but that is what the Lord wants to do through us. He wants us to be more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). Instead, many struggle because they have not been encouraged to fight. Rather than believing that God can see them through the trial and deliver them, they think He is using it to teach them something. So they fail to resist the devil (James 4:7).
Discipline and Crosses
Someone will inevitably object that God does discipline us. It is true, but the church has redefined “discipline.” When a parent disciplines his child, it is temporary and it gets the point across. If a parent were to inflict his child with terminal cancer, that would not be discipline. It would be child abuse!
“But didn’t Jesus say to take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23)?” The word daily is actually not found in a number of reputable manuscripts or in the parallel places (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34).
If you look into the context, Jesus is referring to laying down your life and siding with Him. But even the disciples did not do this when He was arrested! Spiritually, they did after Pentecost. Spiritually, we did the same when we yielded our lives to Him.
The idea of new covenant believers “taking up their cross daily” needs to be re-thought. Taking up a cross is a one time deal. You will not find any exhortation in any of the epistles to take up your cross. But you will find several references to the fact of being crucified- that is already having been crucified (cf. Rom. 6:6; Gal.2:20; 6:14). It is a one time event. A ‘siding’ with Jesus.
Side or Abide
Having sided with Jesus, our work now is to abide in Him.
New covenant believers are blessed with all spiritual blessings (Eph.1:3) and have authority to overcome (1John 4:4; 1John 5:4). The body of Christ should see themselves as continuing His mission to destroy satan’s works (1John 3:8).
While we as believers have many trials to go through, the Lord has promised to see us through. But I do not believe they are crosses to take up or crosses He is putting on us. We have already sided with Him and there would be no merit in our adding crosses to the finished work of Christ!
“Well you can still use the principle of siding with Him daily.” Yes, but that would seem the wrong way to look at it. Do you have to make a decision each day to follow Jesus? The issue should be settled once and for all.
Once and for all side with Jesus! Then abide. Don’t embrace troubles as being your crosses to bear. When you took up your cross and yielded your life to Jesus, you entered into the New Covenant. Abide in the Vine and you will bring forth fruit. Little children, abide in Him (1John 2:28).