At or Through the Cross

By David Embury

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 the Cross:

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 – AD30-70.

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 wrote:

1Jn 2:17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

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 ministration]

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 away.

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.