[b]A Call to the Cross[/b]
By Josef Urban
It is absolutely imperative that the people of God in these last days obey the call of Christ to a devout and holy life of self-denial and of bearing the cross unto the crucifixion of the flesh with all its' ambitions, lusts, and self-willed desires in order to live free from the course of this world. It is through the power of death - of Christ's death and our total conformity to it - that the soul is liberated from a life of barrenness and through which the spirit of man, in unison with the enrapturing of the Spirit of God, is set free to break through the outer tabernacle of the flesh and manifest the Kingdom of God in demonstration of power to the world around.
The flesh is a hindrance, a barrier, and it must be broken in order to see a release of the Spirit from within. Self-denial and a crucifixion of even the smallest distractions of the self-will with it's carnal appetites and desires - not even necessarily sins - but of every fleshly desire that distracts us from a life of whole-hearted devotion to God, is an essential to living a life in the fullness of the Holy Ghost and of constant communion of soul with the abiding presence of the Living God.
In order to see the rivers of living water flow outwardly from the depths of the Spirit within, first the fountainhead of dead carnality must be dammed up by the old wooden cross of self-denial. Everything of the old man within, including every last residue of selfish ambition and every last stain of the flesh that so defiles the beautiful purity of the Spirit, must be crucified with Christ.
We cannot afford to sit, "at ease in Zion" on our "beds of ivory" and "comfortable couches", "drinking wine in bowls" any longer. To the extreme contrary, our heart-cry must be, "Bind me with Thy cords O God, even unto the horns of the altar, accept me I plead as a living sacrifice, and may the fire of Thy all-consuming presence swallow me up and ignite my life that I may shine as a glorious torch for Thee".
It was the Master who said, If any man will come after me
, that is, any man without exception or loophole,
he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. The day one fails to take up and bear the cross is the very day the flesh prevails, the Spirit of God is grieved, and the fellowship of His presence is hindered and broken. How many outsiders from the world look at the lives of Christs followers and say, The self-denial they demonstrate is very noticeable
they live as if this world isnt their home? Has any said that of you lately? Or has the light in you become darkness and the salt lost its savor?
Let it be stated explicitly clear that I am not talking about crucifying only every last bit of willful sin, but of crucifying every last bit of the very source of sin itself, which is the root of the self-will within that deep and hellish pit called the heart of man. Who can know the heights and depths of its boundless wickedness and selfish ambition? Im convinced, that root of self has to be crucified if we are to see the glory of God.
Many Christians do not walk in so much self-denial as to even do morning devotions and cannot seem to exercise even so little mastery over the flesh as to deprive themselves of a little sleep for the sake of Gods glory, and yet, such an example of self denial is barely but the very pinnacle of the tip of the ice-burg of which I am speaking. Im not speaking of self-denial and cross-bearing only in the mornings, but in the course of every day life not of such little self-denial as to deny the entertainment of the flesh in order to attend to brief and periodic devotions and prayers, but I am speaking of so much self-denial as to include a lifestyle of Christ-like devotion living, breathing and moving every second of every day as a sweet and acceptable fragrance of sacrifice unto God!
If the last days Church is to walk in Christ-like power, then the members of His Body must walk in Christ-like self-denial and devotion with a single eye to the glory of the Father. It is obvious in light of the present state of things within the Church that the lack of power is the direct consequence of a lack of true devotion among its members. The open wounds of the world around us are bleeding and damnably infected while the salt has lost its savor and is no good to burn the wounds into health and heal the infection of societys woes. The salt must be salty, and it can only remain salty and pure when its not contaminated and diluted, and the only thing that can keep it from dilution is apostolic self-denial and reckless abandonment from the things of this world.
O saints of the Most High, can you not sense the urgently earnest expectancy of the great cloud of witnesses of generations upon generations of saints, of countless heavenly hosts, even of the creation itself eagerly waiting in expectancy to see this last-days generation of the sons and daughters of God to be revealed in the full manifestation of Christs truth and power? And tragically heart-wrenching is the fact that the only hindrance is the remainder of un-crucified flesh and selfish ambition of Gods children! Behold, the Devil is no more hindrance to the power of the risen Son of God than chaff is to a blazing furnace of fire! The hindrance is the self and the flesh; the lack of true devotion and the lack of cross-carrying! As the saying goes, We have met the enemy and he is us.
And so we must lay utmost stress and emphasis upon the necessity and utter crucial-ness of this last days Church to forsake all; to take up the Cross; to deny and kill the desires of the flesh and put to death every last but of selfish ambition and the self-will, and to ARISE as soldiers of the Cross of Christ, marching forth victoriously as those alive from the dead into the last and greatest battle of all time! The Church indulgent must become the Church triumphant! And so shall we see the glory of God. Amen.