The Centrality and Universality of the Cross (1948)

by T. Austin-Sparks


The Bible - when we stand back and view it as a whole - gives us two views of the universe. Firstly there is the standpoint of eternity and of God's eternal purpose. From this the universe is Christo-centric. Secondly there is the standpoint of the incursion of sin, with all its effects. From this point of view the universe is Redempto-centric. The former represents the tremendous significance of Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man. The latter sets forth the terrible and glorious meaning of Jesus Christ and Him crucified; in other words, the Cross. It is with this second, as with the wheel within the greater wheel, that we are now occupied. The greater has become wholly dependent upon the other, and so the Cross becomes adorned with all the significance of the universal purpose of God from eternity to eternity.

In order to meet any misconception as to unbalanced emphasis, let us once and for all say that, according to the revelation of the entire Word of God, both in the Old and New Testaments, the Cross is now basic to everything, and the diagram which is before you [click here] represents a wheel with all its spokes and its rim, and its wheels within wheels, but the hub of everything is the Cross of the Lord Jesus. It is not one of the spokes; it is not one of the lines of teaching; but it gathers up in itself everything, and it makes possible everything. If you fail to recognise God's place and God's meaning for and in the Cross of the Lord Jesus, it is then that you become unbalanced; you become departmental, your perspective is thrown out and your vision is distorted. For the right adjustment and regulation and balancing of all truth you must place the Cross right at the center and see the relationship of everything else to it, and of it to everything else.

We venture to say that there is not a theme in all the Word of God relative to the eternal purpose of God which is not governed by the Cross of the Lord Jesus. In the smallest matters of practical everyday life, the Cross is to have its place, and from commonplace things the application is to be made to ever widening circles.

Of course, it is understood that the phrase "the Cross" does not merely mean the crucifixion of Christ, but the death, the burial, the resurrection and ascension to the throne, and the sovereign relationship vested now in Christ there for us; all is by way of the Cross. We never see the throne apart from the Lamb in the midst thereof "as though it had been slain." Everything is gathered up in the phrase: "Jesus Christ and Him crucified," and when "the Cross" is mentioned, "Christ crucified" with all that that implies is meant.

So then, let us recognise once and for all, that the Cross is not a specific line of teaching, not a department of truth, not an isolated message in an unbalanced emphasis, but the all-comprehending, all-explaining center of the universe. It is the hub of the wheel. To it and from it all the spokes move through clearly defined circles of Divine instrumentality and activity unto the farthest bound of the universe; in the superheavenlies, the heavenlies "Far above all": there the Cross is still. You never get outside of the range of the Cross.

Having said that the Cross is not a phase of truth, but is now the center or hub of all the truth - the basis, the issue, and the explanation of everything - we shall now proceed to see how that is so in relation to the four major lines of revelation as to Christ. These four 'spokes' moving out from the hub and ever coming back to it are:

1. The Person of Christ.
2. The Holy Spirit.
3. The So Great Salvation.
4. The Coming again of the Lord.

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