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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Book Recommendation: The Cross of Christ

In last Sunday’s message, we saw that the kind of obedience that gives evidence of our salvation is obedience that springs from faith.  When we obey as a direct result of believing the truth about Christ, ourselves, and the world, God is glorified.  Therefore, as we aspire to walk in faithfulness to the Lord, we should consider meditation on the truths of Scripture to be as important as meditation on the commands of Scripture.  If we want to obey Colossians 3-4, we should dig deep into Colossians 1-2.
If you want to begin to learn to meditate on gospel truths, a great tool is a book by John Stott, entitled, The Cross of Christ.  If there could be such a thing as an exhaustive look at the atonement of Christ, this book would be it.  Stott takes a slow, thoughtful look at the cross from every conceivable angle, assisting the reader in thinking deeply about the significance of what the Lord accomplished there.  

I have read much “cold,” technical theology in my life.  This is not that.  The Cross of Christ reads like devotional literature.  In fact, that is how I am using it right now.  I’m reading it for the second time and am finding a second pass to be just as rich as the first.
The book contains four sections, in which Stott answers questions like, “why is the cross central to Christianity?”  “Why did Jesus die?”  “What exactly was accomplished on the cross?”  “How should Christ’s atonement affect the way that I live?”  You may think you know the answers to those questions, and perhaps you do.  But those of us who have been in the church for many years can become somewhat desensitized to those answers.  Because of familiarity, we neglect to think about many essential truths, and in a practical sense, we forget them.  A journey through Stott’s answers to these and other questions has re-sensitized me and I believe it would do the same for you.
So if you are looking for a good, devotional tool to help you think through the gospel, you couldn’t do better than The Cross of Christ.  By the way, if you are not familiar with John Stott, this book is not a recent addition to the local Christian bookstore.  It is a bona fide modern Christian classic, easily worth your time.  You’ll be blessed by it.
I’d like to leave you with a short excerpt to give you a feel for the style and thoughtfulness of Stott’s writing.  Referring to the Jews and Romans guilty of crucifying the Lord Jesus, he writes:
“More important still, we ourselves are also guilty. If we were in their place, we would have done what they did.  Indeed, we have done it.  For whenever we turn away from Christ, we ‘are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace’ (Heb. 6:6).  We too sacrifice Jesus to our greed like Judas, to our envy like the priests, to our ambition like Pilate.  ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ the old negro spiritual asks.  And we must answer, ‘Yes, we were there.’  Not as spectators only but as participants, guilty participants, plotting, scheming, betraying, bargaining, and handing him over to be crucified.  We may try to wash our hands of responsibility like Pilate.  But our attempt will be as futile as his.  For there is blood on our hands.  Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance).  Indeed, ‘only the man who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross…may claim his share in its grace.’”

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