I read an article in a university magazine where one of the chaplains claimed that the cross is not the crux of Christianity. Similarly a youth leader explained to a group of us why the cross doesn’t feature in the logo of his organisation—he said that the cross is ‘bad public relations.’ I find all this staggering given the fact that the apostle Paul can summarise his message by simply saying that he preached Christ crucified.
When evangelicals are asked to define their core beliefs the cross is always included. For example, the statement of faith for Evangelical Alliance Ireland includes our belief in the ‘substitutionary atoning death on the cross.’ Christ died the death I deserved. He took the punishment my sin earned. This is the grounds of my peace. This is great news.
So, in this age of theological vagueness, I have two books to recommend. One book is heavy, and the other is light. One book is long, and the other is short. One book should be read quickly, and the other should be pondered over and digested.
The first book is C. J. Mahaney’s delightful ‘Living the Cross-Centred Life.’ This is a refreshing and inspiring read that won’t take even a slow reader like me long to get through.
The second is John Stott’s ‘The Cross of Christ.’ Of all Stott’s books this is the best. It is comprehensive and will take time to get through, but will more than repay the effort.
I finish with some words of John Wesley (the eighteenth-century evangelist and founder of Methodism). Wesley declared that because of Christ’s death on the cross:
‘His [the Christian’s] sins, all his sins, in thought, word, and deed, are covered, are blotted out, shall not be remembered or mentioned against him any more than if they had not been. God will not inflict on that sinner what he deserved to suffer because the Son of his love hath suffered for him. And from the time we are "accepted through the beloved," "reconciled to God through his blood," he loves and blesses and watches over us for good, even as if we had never sinned.' [from Wesley's sermon entitled 'Justification by faith']