[Click here to view the diagram that goes with this article]
dictionary tells us that
(a) Zero is the point in the scale of the thermometer
from which positive and negative quantity is reckoned.
(b) In military operations, the point of time from which
the start of each movement in a timed programme is at a
The combination of these two definitions is exactly what
we mean when we speak of the Cross of Christ as the zero
hour of the Creation. From that point all positive and
negative values are determined, and all movements are
Through the ages
preceding the Cross of Christ there had been a double
movement. One of expansion and enlargement; the other of
The one of development
was on the side of man, and it related to three things in
1 Man himself.
3 The devil's kingdom.
The movement of
contraction was from God's side, and represented His
attitude toward the three.
Let us look at these
points more fully.
Man was made on a very
high level and was endowed with great capacities. The
destiny fixed for him was nothing short of
world-dominion. But he was placed on probation, the
nature of which was that of utter confidence and
obedience to God. To make this confidence and obedience
something practical and not merely theoretical, he was
bound to God by a law of dependence. The temptation which
came to him was that he could - if he chose - realize his
destiny apart from the dependence; he could be
independent of God, and rather than lose, he could gain.
It was a matter of self-realization without
being bound to God. He fell to the temptation and started
on the career of independence to realize his own destiny.
Well, he has certainly developed a great deal; he has
invented, discovered, adapted, expanded, explored, and
exploited on an immense scale. God has let him go on his
self-chosen way, but there is a snag in it all. All his
development is carrying him nearer and nearer to his doom
rather than to his Divinely intended destiny. He invents,
and his inventions are employed for the greatest amount
of human destruction. His machinery has resulted in
unemployment which leads to moral decline, revolution,
and many other troubles. It has also resulted in the
strange contradiction of there being over-production of
the necessities of life and terrible shortage in the
actual supplies to the people. All this could be shown to
be the case in numerous directions, but it is enough to
point out that at this time in the world's history all
the immense developments of man are being directed, as
never before, to the destruction of all that he has built
and cherished. At the moment, the greatest brains are
occupied with the question of how - by means of a ray -
by the pressing of a button, the greatest number of men
and their equipment can be paralyzed and put out of
existence. Should such a ray be discovered or invented
man will have made this world a place impossible to live
in. This is no fiction. There are many things in use now
which would have been unbelievable only a short time ago.
That has been man's course in breaking away from God, and
that is the price he is paying.
But God knew all this
from the beginning, and He has never accepted that
From the outset God
said No, and He fixed a point at which He would register
that No fully and finally. The Cross of Christ was God's
way of saying to the universe - I do not accept that
Adam-race man, I forever turn my back to him. When Jesus
cried "My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken
Me?" it was because He had voluntarily accepted the
place of a judged and condemned race, and in a
representative capacity had stood in man's place before
One of the great
meanings of the Cross, as shown by the New Testament, is
that there in the representative person of God's Son, man
by nature was set aside. A whole order of creation was
cut off, so far as God's mind is concerned. In His
resurrection Christ represents a new order, and "If
any man be in Christ there is a new creation." In
that union with Christ by faith, when we have accepted
His death as our death, there is something imparted which
is the life of a new nature, a different species. The
development of that will see, not the doom,
but the originally intended destiny realized.
What is true of man is
also true of sin. We cannot say that man has really morally
gone up and up. While we admire courage, heroism,
endurance, and self-sacrifice, we are horrified at the
awful filth and vileness that is in human nature. The
standard is such that the one who protests against its
looseness and lowness is regarded as being behind the
times, or an offense. Sin has not changed nor diminished
through the ages, and the present colossal sufferings and
miseries of the world are a terrible disclosure of the
hatred, murder, pride, greed, selfishness, passion, lust,
cruelty, callousness, etc., which are still here. But God
has never accepted this, and in the Cross of Christ His
zero has been registered.
"He who knew no
sin was made sin for us" (in our stead) - so runs
the Divine word.
The sin of the whole
world was laid on Him and He suffered its judgment. From
that zero point God regards sin as having been put away.
The acceptance of Christ as the sin-bearer determines our
acceptance with God. It is not now a question as to
whether we are sinners more or less, greater or smaller,
but whether "The Lamb of God which taketh away the
sin of the world" has been appropriated by us in
faith, and brought to God as our offering for
In the resurrection of
Christ the new order is that in which sin has been set
aside, and righteousness made to prevail. Our union with
Christ by faith means a new life within which is Christ's
own life of victory over, and separation from, sin.
Behind the temptation
to break away from God, behind the course of independence
and self-realization with all its tragic issues, behind
the sin and all its miseries, stands Satan. Man is not
just taking his own free way in self and sin. From
dependence upon God and the tie of love and goodness man
has become the victim of a bondage terrible and mighty.
The fact is that man cannot change his course or
his life even if he would. Not until he tries to do so
does he realize that he is a prisoner. Satan's object in
the temptation was not to secure man's freedom for him,
though this is what he sought to let man think. Jesus
said of Satan that "He was a liar from the
beginning," and this poor world and race in Adam is
duped and tricked. The object of Satan was to get the
dominion into his own power and to supplant man - for
whom the dominion was purposed. Thus, oh, thou poor world
and all men thereon, thou hast been tricked, ensnared,
robbed, spoiled, and made captive!
But God had His zero
hour for Satan also. The Cross of Christ saw the kingdom
wrenched from the devil's hands and taken into the hands
of God's Son. Of that hour the Son of God said, "Now
shall the prince of this world be cast out."
In our faith union with
Christ risen and exalted we are delivered from the
bondage of Satan; "Translated out of the authority
of darkness, into the Kingdom of the Son of His (God's)
love." That is why Christians are so hated and
persecuted by all who are still under Satan's influence.
But Christ is making even the devil's work to serve His
ends, thus expressing His sovereignty. It is a part of
the spiritual experience of the Christian to learn
through faith that Jesus Christ is Lord.
So Calvary was the
determining point as to all positive and negative values,
and the crisis of all movements. Have you come by
acceptance and consent to God's zero, and found that it
is a new point for all things?
First published by Witness and Testimony Publishers in 1950 as a booklet.