The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Cross & The Ages To Come

The Cross & the Ages to Come by G. Campbell Morgan - Part I

As the Judgment came unto all men, even so the free gift came unto all men. Romans 5:18-19

“Through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His Cross; through Him, I say, whether things upon earth or things in the heavens.” [Colossian 1:20]

The sphere of reconciliation is declared - "all things … upon earth or things in the heavens." Describing the glory of Christ in creation the apostle declares – “In Him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth.” But when he tells of reconciliation, it is in the opposite order: “things on earth and things in the heavens.” The creative order was that of heavens first – the reconciling order, of earth first. It is not for us to discuss now as to whether this planet of ours is indeed the center of the universe. It is certain there are far reaching stretches of creation of which we know nothing. It is enough at the moment to recognize the fact that, for the purpose of our apprehension of the meaning of life we are compelled to deal with the universe as circling about the earth on which we live. Recognizing necessity, the apostle shows that reconciliation begins here and later affects the heavens. That which demands reconciliation is here, but that which is here exert its influence to the utmost bound of the creation of God. [Hebrews 9:23 and context.]

All Things In The Heavens and Earth

This conception of the world at once lifts it and our theme into highest dignity and vastest importance. If we can grasp it, it will deliver us from all mean thinking about our own lives, our own sin, our own redemption.

The sphere of reconciliation is first that of “things on earth.” That is not, however, the phrase which startles us most, but “things in the heavens.” This all-inclusive term has reference first to angels - intelligences described elsewhere as “thrones, dominions, principalities, powers.” These are included in the reconciliation Christ wrought on His cross.

Far Reaching Realms, At The Center; The Cross

The conception is a remarkable recognition of the cosmic unity of the universe. Man is seen at the center. Beyond are the far-reaching realms which he is incapable of understanding during his earth-life. At the center of all things Paul sees the CROSS. He declares that by that cross God reconciles all things [lit. “The all”] unto Himself. Yet the phrase “things in the heavens” takes us one startling step further. The sphere of reconciliation is not only man, – not only the created beings in the heavens above him, – it is that of the very Being of God. Remember the words of the Psalmist – “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Omitting for a moment the fact that they have met and kissed, let us consider them separately. They all exist in the nature of God. If we reverently think of God as apart from the mystery of evil, we recognize the perfect harmony of these: mercy, the tenderness bending over in love: truth; which is uprightness, stable, and builds: righteousness, which is a straight line without deviation; peace, which is absolute safety. All these coexist in the nature of God.

Breaking Up Of Harmony

The introduction in to the universe of the principle of sin breaks up the harmony of these, and there is the necessity of reconciling within the very being of God. He is a God of truth. In His universe a being violates truth. How is it possible for Him to bend in tenderness and love over such a one whose action threatens the stability of the universe? God is the God of righteousness of that which cannot deviate from absolute rectitude. The introduction into the presence of essential righteousness of that which contradicts it must make peace impossible. It is not by the caprice of a God who is a despot, but because of the necessity of the essential facts of His Being, that, the moment sin existed in the universe there was need for reconciliation, if mercy and truth, righteousness and peace, were to meet and kiss each other.

The Nature of The Reconciliation, The Healing Of The Wound, The Closing Of The Breach

The consideration of the suggested sphere of reconciliation leads immediately to our second line of thought, – that of the nature of reconciliation. This is expressed in the words “unto Himself,” or more literally, with reference to Himself. Here again we begin on the lowest level – “things on earth.” What is the nature of the reconciliation necessary to the restoration of order? Fallen man misrepresents God, and “science governs nature.” The results? Chaos, instead of cosmos. In the words of the prayer Jesus gave to His disciples, the supreme thing is that His name be hallowed. His kingdom come, His will be done on earth as in heaven. The reconciliation here is restoration to the government of God. The healing of the wound, the closing of the breach, the gathering into one of all that has been scattered. [Ephesians 1:10]

Reconciliation Of The Heavens

What then is the reconciliation necessary for the heavens? Peter says “the angels desire to peer in to the sufferings of Christ and the glory to follow.” Bending over the worlds, they saw sin and suffering culminating in the experience of Christ. We must ever think of angels as finite; of all the principalities and powers, as limited. While loyal to the government of God, servng with perfect satisfction, they watch the processes among men without foreknowledge of the issue. Their peering into these things was in the nature of inquiry. I am not suggesting there was even incipient rebellion in these high places. There was surely an expectation that there would be some explanation of the mystery of that which they recognize as a rupture in the nature of God, resulting from the presence of sin in the universe. Angels need an answer to their inquiry.

Continuing Activity Of Mercy and Truth

Again, reverently, we take a further step. Reconciliation, in order to completeness, must be such that, in the BEING of God there shall be possible the continued activity of Mercy and Truth, Righteousness and Peace, so that violence be done to none.

All this leads us finally to the consideration of the supply of the reconciliation which is revealed in His words, “Peace through the blood of His Cross.” The Gnostic teachers were suggesting the necessity for the inter-mediation of angels. They were declaring the need for ascetic practices, urging voluntary humility, and even the worship of angels. Paul, recognizing the necessity for reconciliation, not merely as between man and God, but throughout the universe, in the heavens as well as the earth, declares that it is provided in “the blood of His Cross.”

Not Just A Roman Gibbet!

In this connection it is necessary to repeat a warning and utter a solemn protest against the idea that when we speak of the Cross, we refer only to a Roman gibbet, and to the death of a Man thereon. If He of the Cross were Man only, then all this writing of the Apostle is not only foolish, but vile dreaming, mirage, and nightmare; a delusion and a snare. On the other hand, if He of the Cross be the Image of the Invisible God, the original Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, the Firstborn out of the mystery of death into life, then in the presence of His Cross I begin to tremble, and yet to believe the declaration that through that Cross He reconciles all things [ta panta – the universe] unto Himself upon the earth and in the heavens.

Through that Cross there is first the reconciliation of things upon the earth. This is established first by the creation of peace with God in the case of man, and then in the peace of God througout the order over which redeemed man reigns. The process is a slow one as mortals count time. The travail is an agony, the conflict is unto death, but the victory is assured; and that victory is the reconciliation of all things upon the earth, first of man to God, and then of the whole creation to man in that peace of God which issues from the establishment of His throne, and the right relation thereto of all the kingdom.

The Cross & The Ages To Come (continued}

The Revelation Of A Mystery

Through that Cross also, there is the reconciliation of things in the heavens. We call to mind again the picture of angels desiring to look into these things. As they did so they became conscious of the profoundest depth of the mystery in the hour when Jesus died. It was the mystery of which He spoke before, that of the death of a pure and sinless and therefore deathless being. Personally, I can have no doubt about the literal accuracy of the Bible story that in the hour of that death the sun was darkened. My wonder sometimes is that it ever shone again. The angels saw in the mystery a revelation. They knew the person whom they saw die, and recognized that the death of the Christ must have some profound significance in the economy of God. Through the death of the Lord they beheld man reconciled to God. They saw salvation provided for the sinner in his losing from his sins. They saw the resultant cooperation of the saints as, conformed to His dying, they came to living knowledge of Himself, sharing the power of resurrection, and entering into the fellowship of His sufferings. They saw these saints bearing through to lower reaches of God’s creation the renewing forces which had remade their own lives.

A New Unveiling Of God

What effect, think you, had that working out into visibility of the passion and power of the love of God upon the watching angels? It was for them a new unveiling of God. In that Cross they saw Him as they had never seen Him. The essential love of deity shone whiter, for holiness was vindicated as never before. The essential love of deity shone redder, for compassion was manifested more perfectly. The essential life of deity was realized more fully, for its values were revealed more absolutely. I can imagine that, as the Lord Jesus Christ died, and all the issues of His dying were revealed to them, angels borrowed the song of the Psalmist, and chanted to the measure of their own perfect music;

“Mercy and truth are met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other”

Rev. G. Campbell Morgan D.D [The Cross & The Ages To Come]

Copied from “The Presbyterian”
June 1932

By permission Scripture Studies Concern, 1050 E. Grand Blvd, Corona CA

The Jarrings Of Heaven Reconciled By The Blood Of The Cross

-Final segment-

The Jarrings Of Heaven Reconciled By The Blood Of The Cross

Reverently we come to the last fact in our consideration of this supply of reconciliation. Over two hundred years ago John Leland, a Baptist minister of Massachusetts, preached a sermon which he entitled “The Jarrings Of Heaven Reconciled by the Blood of the Cross,” in which he attempted to set forth a picture of the high courts of heaven and of the conflict within the very nature of God as the result of the presence of sin in the universe. The sermon may accurately be described as highly imaginative, but that is not a condemnation. There are matters so high that we can never hope to reach them save by the exercise of imagination.

What Is Love To Do?

We speak of law and love, of truth and grace, of justice and mercy, and so long as sin does not exist there is no controversy between any of these. If there be no sin, law and love are never out of harmony with grace or each other; truth and grace go ever hand in hand; justice and mercy sing a common anthem. If the law be broken, what is love to do? If truth be violated, how can grace operate? In the presence of crime, how can justice and mercy meet? This is the problem of problems. It is not a problem as between God and man. It is not a problem as between God and the angels. It is a problem between God and Himself. It is answered in the Cross, “God was in Christ,” from eternity, in the days of human manifestation, and surely also in the hour of the Cross. Thus, by the way of all the suffering consequent upon the conflict within His own nature, He found the way of reconciliation. By suffering wrought out into human history and in the sight of all the ages, through the Cross, He demonstrated that love meets law as it suffers and fulfills it; grace satisfies the demand of truth of meeting all the issues of its violating;and mercy can operate on the basis of justice, not because God has smitten and afflicted other than Himself, but because, in a mystery which baffles and bruises the intellect as it attempts to encompass it, God has gathered the whole into His own heart, and suffered to reconcile all things (the universe) unto Himself.

Out Of The Heart Of God

Thus, as Christ is centre, source and goal of the universe, His cross is the centre, source and goal of reconciliation. The Ephesians letter is the compliment of the Colossians. In that the apostle teaches that through the Church the wisdom of God is manifested to principalities and powers in the heavenly places. Christ and his ransomed people are to exercise a ministry beyond that of today which is initial and preparatory, through all the coming ages. That ministry is to be that of an unveiling of the profoundest thing in the heart of God; the love which, operating through self-abandonment and sacrifice, ransomed, redeemed, and remade lost humanity. The angels will hear the music of love as they have never heard it, as the ransomed sing, “the old, old story of Jesus and his love.” Sons of the morning are they, unfallen intelligences who have never known the misery of sin or its pollution; but they will hush their high anthems while the ransomed sing

“He loved us, and gave himself for us,”

Thus for all the universe and for the ultimate ages, every proceeding in beauty from the being of God, the cross will abide the supreme revelation of God, through which all creation will come to an understanding of His holiness and His love, the deepest and truest of His being.

Christ Singing In The Church

What a theme for imagination, which, nevertheless, is utterly incapable of encompassin all the glorious truth! We dream of the birth of ceaseless ages, of new creations, springing like fresh mornings fom His wisdom and His might (ability); and as in unfailing procession they appear, Christ and His ransomed Church will sing to them the song of redemption, and while they know the might and majesty of God in the wonder of their life, they will only come to a true apprehension of His heart as we tell them that He loved us, and “loosed us from our sins by His blood.”

"In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time.
All the light of sacred story
Gathers around it head sublime.

If by that Cross all things in the heavens are to be reconciled, and infinite peace is to follow, I dare trust it, notwithstanding all my sin and all my weakness. By the way of that Cross I am reconciled to God, and through it I find rest, infinite, eternal, undying. At last my rest shall be rest with the whole creation, for the cosmic order will be restored through the mystery of God’s suffering as revealed by the Cross.

-By G. Campbell Morgan-

"The Father Himself loveth you."