At or Through the Cross
It is my contention that the Law was dealt its death knell through
the Cross of Calvary. I highlight through because although
the Cross was the decisive event that broke the Law, it was the
Coming of Christ within the "this generation" time frame as
promised by Jesus in Mt 24:34 that actually brought an end to the
Law and its entire system of works for righteousness as found
under the Old Covenant, i.e., the Parousia was the end of the world
as it related to the Law.
If redemption was completed at the
Cross then surely there was no need of Christ's resurrection etc.
Humanity's redemption was secured through the Cross, not at
What was initiated in Christ's ministry was thus ratified
through the Cross, and was duly completed or fulfilled at His
2nd Coming [Parousia] circa AD70 in the destruction of Jerusalem. This
was the "already-but-not-yet" reality of the transitional saints –
Bearing this in mind helps in the understanding
of a number of Scriptures, that apart from this important distinction
may seem out of place or even little mystifying. In the New Testament
era, believers – those referred to as first-fruits
throughout the Epistles, were coming out of the world of the Old
Covenant. Although the Old Covenant system had no redeeming virtues
because of the Cross, the Old Covenant system still held sway over
many of the people; until the drawing nigh of their redemption [Lk
21:28] for example:
Act 15:1 And certain men came
down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are
circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."
Act 15:5 But some of the sect of the
Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to
circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses."
Act 15:24 Since we have heard that
some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling
your souls, saying, "You must be circumcised and keep the law" --to whom
we gave no such commandment—
Act 18:18 So Paul still remained a
good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and
Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea,
for he had taken a vow.
Act 21:20 And when they heard it, they
glorified the Lord. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many
myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous
for the law;
Act 21:23 Therefore do what we tell
you: We have four men who have taken a vow.
Act 21:24 Take them and be purified
with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads,
and that all may know that those things of which they were informed
concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly
and keep the law.
Speaking of the Old Covenant world [the
Law] and the sway it had at that time the apostle John
1Jn 2:17 And the world is passing
away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides
1Jn 5:19 We know that we
[first-fruits] are of God, and the whole world [Israel]
lies under the sway of the wicked one. [High Priestly
Further evidence of the continual
ministration of the Old Covenant system in that generation
post Cross is seen in these verses from the writer of Hebrews:
Heb 7:8 Here mortal men receive
tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed
that he lives.
Heb 9:9-10 It was symbolic for the
present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are
offered which cannot make him who performed the service
perfect in regard to the conscience-- concerned only with foods and
drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until
the time of reformation.
Heb 13:10 We have an altar from which
those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.
Yet in spite of all that, the apostle Paul said
that what was a present reality for them was in fact passing away
and would soon be abolished totally – this total destruction was
to occur in the conflagration of AD70, the Lord's Coming and Judgment on
the old world of the Law system – when that [redemption] which was
established through the Cross would be complete:
1Cor 7:31 and those who use this world
as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing
Heb 8:13 In that He says, "A new
covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming
obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
2Cor 3:11 For if what is passing
away was glorious [Old Covenant], what remains is
much more glorious [New Covenant].
1Jn 2:8 Again, a new commandment I
write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the
darkness [Old Covenant] is passing away, and the true
light [New Covenant] is already shining.
It was the 1st Century first-fruits
generation that lived in the transition of the ages from the Old
Covenant to the New Covenant, they were the ones that were "putting
off" [Eph 4:22] concerning the old man/nature i.e., the ways
of the Law for righteousness, and "putting on" [Eph 4:24; Col
3:10] the new man/nature i.e., the New Covenant fashioned in Christ
– created in righteousness and holiness, making no provision for the
lusts of the flesh i.e., the ways of righteousness according to the
Law, being freed from its darkness and works. This is why Paul wrote
to the Romans:
Rom 13:11-14 And do this, knowing the
time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our
salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far
spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works
of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk
properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness
and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and
make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
This is why it is proper to acknowledge that
Redemption came through or by virtue of the Cross,
not at the Cross, a small but significant distinction. For
there in the "this generation" period AD30-70 was the out-working
to perfection by the first-fruit saints on behalf of the entire
harvest; a time of trial and tribulation; a forty year period that
emulated the Old Testament forty year period from Prison to Promised
Land – from Death to Life. This was the time of transition into the full
redemption as promised in the Scriptures. It was the first-fruit
believers [His Body] through the Spirit that prepared the way [dying
daily] for the soon coming Harvest to follow, and thus bringing
to fullness [Col 1:24] the work of Christ's redemption on behalf
of all mankind for all time.
Why this emphasis on the Law – because it was the Law that gave
Sin its power, and consequently Death to all mankind – all
of which in Christ's atonement and resurrection life has been exhausted
[1Cor 15:56-57]. What Jesus accomplished at the Cross
came to full fruition in His Coming i.e., the redemption
of the world.
David G. Embury
© Copyright 2004ŕ