The Cruciform

What is “the Cruciform” that you claim we all must enter into to truly be Christians?

The doctrine of the Cruciform finds its basis in Pauline (the Apostle Paul’s) theology. Its founding text is in the letter to the Philippians, its truest form and explanation is found in the letter to the Galatians, and evidence of the doctrine pervades nearly all of Paul’s letters.

The equivalent of the cruciform is expressed in Johannine (the Apostle John’s) theology, though with less detail, as being “born again” or “born from above” (John 3:1-6). Where John has Jesus saying that, “one must be born again – from above,” Paul explains that one must experience the form of the crucifixion. In the gospel account, “spirit is spirit and flesh is flesh;” Paul concurs by establishing that the fallen nature (the “flesh”) must be surrendered to the new nature (“in the spirit”).

[All Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB]

In Philippians, the basis for the cruciform is in 3:10-11:

“…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

For Paul, “being conformed to His death” (the form of the crucifixion) is necessary to knowing Christ, in a way that only experience could express; it is necessary in knowing, in a way that only experience could express, the power of His resurrection [in this life] (the resurrection life). Let us not forget knowing, in a way that only experience could express, in the sharing of His sufferings (the pain of the flesh being killed); and the attaining to the resurrection from the dead [the resurrection that is eschatological – at the end of things). According to Paul, God’s plan and purpose is for the “Christian” to conform, not to the life of Christ, but to Christ’s death (Rom. 8:29).

There is a peculiar phrase that Paul utilizes in all but one of the letters bearing his name – an expression of a state of being; a position of standing; a reality that cannot be experienced by the works of the flesh (Gal. 3:3), but the metaphorical killing of it (Rom. 6:7) – that phrase is, “In Christ.” So numerous are the references (93 in all) that to quote each text would be ridiculous. Rather, I will simply list the Scriptures for you to investigate yourself:

Romans 3:22, 24; 6:11, 23; 8:1-2, 39; 9:1; 12:5; 15:17; 16:3, 7, 9-10
1Corinthians 1:2, 4, 30; 3:1; 4:10, 15, 17; 15:17, 19, 22, 31; 16:24
2Corinthians 1:21; 2:14, 17; 3:14; 5:17, 19; 12:2, 19
Galatians 1:22; 2:4, 16-17; 3:14, 22, 26, 28; 5:6
Ephesians 1:1, 3, 10, 12, 20; 2:6-7, 10, 13; 3:6, 11, 21; 4:15, 32
Philippians 1:1, 26, 29; 2:1, 5; 3:3, 9, 14; 4:7, 19, 21
Colossians 1:2, 4, 24, 28; 2:5-6, 11
1Thessalonians 1:3; 2:14; 4:16; 5:18
2Thessalonians 1:12; 3:12
1Timothy 1:14, 16; 3:13
2Timothy 1:1, 9, 13; 2:1, 10; 3:12, 15
Philemon 1:8, 20, 23

What Paul means by “in Christ,” in its truest form, is explained best in the letter to the Galatians 2:20, when he states:

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

While it is true that Christ was crucified for our sins, according to Paul in Galatians 5:24, Christians are also crucified, as it were, to kill the power of the flesh:

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Speaking of himself as an example to be mimicked, in Galatians 6:14 he says:

“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

And again, speaking collectively of all Christians, Paul explains in Romans 6:6-7 that:

“…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”

So, the means of escaping our sin nature, then, is to experience the killing power of the cross. Where Christ was crucified, dead and buried, and resurrected, so we are to experience the same crucifixion, death and burial, and resurrection in a spiritual sense (Rom. 6:1-8; 8:6, 10, 17; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:11-12, 20). When we take our place on the “cross of Christ” (1Cor. 1:17; Gal. 6:12, 14; Phil. 3:18) we receive that which our baptism is but a sign – a “new nature” (Rom. 12:1-2; 2Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:1-4, 9-10). The sign of baptism exemplifies our dying and then being buried, and Christ, then, rising up from the water. We – our old fallen natures – are still dead and buried. We – our new natures – are really Christ living in and through us individually and corporately in the power of the resurrection life.

If we are attempting to live in our own strength as (so-called) “Christians,” seeing Jesus simply as an “example” (as though He is the long-since dead founder of an equally dead religion), then according to Paul’s line of thinking, we are expressing nothing more than a perversion – the Night of the Living Dead; the, as of yet, unburied dead.

Thus, “the Cruciform,” according to Paul, is necessary in order for the church to be the full expression of Christ on the earth. Logically speaking, the only possible way to fully express Christ is to have Christ fully living in us. And to possibly have Christ fully living in us we must quit making this about ourselves! You have died and it is Christ who lives in you!! This is the resurrection life of Christ working in full resurrection power through you!!!

2 responses to “The Cruciform

  1. Pingback: Necessity of the Cruciform « Reap The Vision

  2. Pingback: Necessity of the Cruciform | Reap The Vision

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