Saturday, April 17, 2010

John Stott on the Cross of Christ

In preparation for Mid Year Conference I have been re-reading John Stott's classic book The Cross of Christ. It's not just a classic because it was published in the 80's! (It was first published by IVP in 1986). It is a classic because it is a clear yet profound study of the central doctrine of the Christian faith - Jesus' work on the cross (also called the atonement).

You can read some reviews written for the Twentieth Anniversary edition here. The book is also a classic because it has been constantly in print for over twenty years - being reprinted almost every year! If you aren't sure about buying your own copy then just ask an older Christian -they are likely to have a copy on their shelves. But I warn you, this is a book you will want to own yourself and re-read a number of times. In re-reading the book I have found it still fresh and very relevant.
The book is divided into four main parts:
  • Part 1 is on Approaching the Cross, and has chapters on The Centrality of the Cross; Why Did Christ Die? and Looking Below the Surface.
  • Part 2 is on The Heart of the Cross and has chapters on The Problem of Forgiveness; Satisfaction for Sin; and the Self-Substitution of God.
  • Part 3 is on the Achievement of the Cross and has chapters on the Salvation of Sinners; the Revelation of God; and the Conquest of Evil.
  • Part 4 is on Living Under the Cross and has chapters on the Community of Celebration; Self-Understanding and Self-Giving; Loving our Enemies; and Suffering and Glory. The Conclusion is on the Pervasive Influence of the Cross.

I hope to post a number of quotes from the book, but I will begin with a quote from the preface on the significance of the topic:
Evangelical Christians believe that in and through Christ crucified God substituted himself for us and and bore our sins, dying in our place the death we deserved to die, in order that we might be restored to his favour and adopted into his family. J.I. Packer has rightly written that this belief 'is a distinguishing mark of the world-wide evangelical fraternity' (even though it 'often gets misunderstood and caricatured by its critics'); it 'takes us to the very heart of the Christian gospel'. (page 7)
The misunderstandings and caricatures continue (both from within and outside Christianity), but the importance and centrality of this topic remain. It is therefore essential for every generation to gain a deep understanding of this central doctrine of the Christian faith

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