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cross artStill wading through “The Cross of Christ”, and not because the book is boring but to the contrary—it’s eyeball deep in theological richness.  John Stott proposes, “the cross enforces three truths—about ourselves, about God, and about Jesus Christ.” 

First, our sin must be extremely horrible.  Nothing reveals the gravity of sin like the cross. For ultimately what sent Christ there was neither the greed of Judas, nor the envy of the priests, nor the vacillating cowardice of Pilate, but our own greed, envy, cowardice and other sins, and Christ’s resolve in love and mercy to bear their judgement and so put them away. It is impossible for us to face Christ’s cross with integrity and not to feel ashamed of ourselves. Apathy, selfishness and complacency blossom everywhere in the world except at the cross. There these noxious weeds shrivel and die. They are seen for the tatty, poisonous things they are. For if there was no way by which the righteous God could righteously forgive our unrighteousness, except that he should bear it himself in Christ, it must be serious indeed. It is only when we see this that, stripped of our self-righteousness and self-satisfaction, we are ready to put our trust in Jesus Christ as the Savior we urgently need.

Secondly, God’s love must be wonderful beyond comprehension.  God could have quite justly have abandoned us to our fate. Read the rest of this entry »

christ stained glassI mentioned reading John Stott’s classic, “The Cross of Christ” a few days back.  I was struck today by the simplicity with which Stott handles a question he poses, “What was there about the crucifixion of Jesus which, in spite of its horror, shame and pain, makes it so important that God planned it in advance and Christ came to endure it?”

First, Christ died for us.  In addition to being necessary and voluntary, his death was altruistic and beneficial.  He undertook it for our sake, not for his own, and he believed that through it he would secure for us a good that could secured for us in no other way.  The Good Shepherd, he said, was going to lay down his life “for the sheep,” for their benefit.  Similarly, the words he spoke in the upper room when giving the bread were,”This is my body given for you.”  The apostles picked up this simple concept and repeated it, sometimes making it more personal by changing it from second person to the first””Christ died for us.” (1)  There is no explanation yet and no identification of the blessing he died to procure for us, but at least we are agreed over the “for you” and “for us.” Read the rest of this entry »

telephone pollFor my 40th birthday this year my parents gave me a gift card to Borders Books (they know me by now).  A couple days later I was thumbing through shelves upon shelves lined with new books when I stumbled upon John Stott’s classic (The Cross of Christ, 1986), which was published the year before my life and entire outlook on everything was forever and radically altered one ordinary night at a car dealership in Phoenix, Arizona.  It was $25 (hardcover 20th anniversary edition) and so was my gift card.   

Last night I picked it up and started reading (I’d merely given it my customary casual glance several months back I do with 90% of the books I check out at the library, and the ones I bought when books were in the budget).  Stott tells of the famous British journalist and author Malcom Muggeridge and his conversion experience which included a turning away at first (taken from his book “Jesus Rediscovered”).  The only Jesus he knew growing up was a “Jesus of good causes.”  I could so relate.  Who I regretfuly spent most of my teenage years running from (a sort of deified Mister Rogers), turned out to be someone altogether different from the Jesus I’d envisioned even in my craziest dreams.  Read the rest of this entry »

a blog about radical discipleship, the gospel of grace, a theology of the cross, Christian spirituality, the mission of the church in this world and whatever else on the same wave length that may be running around the brain of a hopeful Protestant.

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