Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Superb Book.

   This book is an excellent explanation of the Cross, and the Questions and Answers in the back are worth the price!  

I always knew that Jesus had died for my sins on the Cross, and as I grew I began to have the vague idea that this was what was meant by Substitutionary Atonement. I never thought there was another view of it. I surely would not have been wise enough to defend the Biblical view against the heresies. I had heard that I had the Righteousness of Christ, but did not know if that was different from having my sins forgiven. I do know that what God did on the Cross was the most important event to ever happen, the Cross and the Resurrection, and I want to tell others that. 
I am commanded to go and tell others how they may be saved, and how can I if I do not understand the way their salvation was purchased for them- on the Cross? If you are in a state like that, or if you love the Cross passionately and need to be freshly shown its agony and purpose, then you must read this book. If you are studying the Cross and would like a volume to get you started, this would be a good one. 

 The Truth of the Cross opens with this statement.

"One of the most important subdivisions of theology is Christology, which is the study of the person and work of Christ. Within that field of study, when we want to get at the aspect that is most crucial, the aspect that we may call the “crux” of the matter of Jesus’ person and work, we go immediately to the cross. The concept of the cross is at the very center and core of biblical Christianity. In a very real sense, the cross crystallizes the essence of the ministry of Jesus."

We know the Cross is the symbol of Christianity. We all know it. Christians love it. Non Christians hate it. Ground zero Cross anyone? Mojave Desert Veteran's Memorial Cross anyone? And we rightly sign petitions and write letters to the editor and debate the anti-Theists who are attacking the Cross. Yet there is a greater threat to the Cross than the anti- Theists who attack the symbol. The greater threat is apathy and ignorance of what that symbol means in the professing Church. There is apparently a question within the professing about whether the Cross is even necessary, symbolic or otherwise. There are mega "Chuches" removing the Cross from their buildings to "avoid offense", and removing the Cross from their preaching to avoid offense even more thoroughly. Without an understanding of the Cross no one there can be saved. Are we offended by the Cross? Can we defend the Cross from the other views? Are we outraged that a Church would remove the Cross? Or do we think we should remove the offensive Cross so that the unsaved will "feel more comfortable"? The challenge is hostility outside the Church, and apathy and ignorance within the Church.

 R. C. Sproul says "I doubt there has been a period in the two thousand years of Christian history when the significance, the centrality, and even the necessity of the cross have been more con- troversial than now. There have been other periods in church history when theologies emerged that regarded the cross of Christ as an unnecessary event, but never before in Christian history has the need for an atonement been as widely challenged as it is today."    This book made me ask myself,  Do I know the meaning of the Cross? Do I love the Cross?  And this book helped with both questions.  To rightly understand the Cross, we need three things. We need a true understanding of God's HOLINESS, a true understanding of Man's Sinfulness, and a True understanding of Salvation.  This book provides that. First, God's Holiness.  "God is loving, but a major part of what He loves is His own perfect character, with a major aspect being the importance of maintaining justice and righteousness. Though God pardons sinners and makes great provision for expressing His mercy, He will never negotiate His justice. If we fail to understand that, the cross of Christ will be utterly meaningless to us."
Then Man's SINFULNESS, defined by the Westminster Shorter Catechism as “Sin is any want of conformity to, or transgression of, the law of God.” The words want of conformity to and transgression of indicate a failure to keep the Law of God. So in this sense, sin is a crime.Neither does He give suggestions or recommendations. He gives commandments—“Thou shalt . . .” or “Thou shalt not . . .” ......Dr Sproul then quotes Anselm, "Each of the three characterizations of sin that we have considered—a debt, a state of enmity, and a crime—constitutes a violation of that divine righteousness, which necessitates satisfaction. When we incur a debt by failing to meet an obligation before God, that debt must be satisfied—that is, the requirements must be met in a satisfactory way... How is such satisfaction to be achieved? It is accomplished by the other actor in the drama of the atonement—the Lord Jesus Christ."

 We also desperately need to understand Salvation, for if we do not have a Cross focused view of Salvation, we will not go to it to be saved, and we will never tell our friends they must go to the Cross to be saved. It has always been the Cross that sets Christianity apart from every other religion. It is the Cross of Christ that says it is Finished. No prayer beads, no candles, no tantra, no mantra, no karma, no dharma, no yogi could bring us back to God. Christ from the Cross said It is Finished. The work is done. He has reconciled us to His Father in a way we never can in our pitiful, poor, blind efforts. This book is also for the loved one in our life who has no idea why the Cross had to happen, who views it as "primitive and obscene", and possibly claims that God does not require a blood offering for sin. Of course, that person betrays a twisted understanding of Sin, Holiness and Salvation. 

"As we have seen, the atonement is a multifaceted event—Jesus is shown providing surety for our debt to God, mediating the enmity between us and God, and offering Himself as a substitute to suffer God’s judgment in our place. But He is also seen in the New Testament as the Redeemer, the One Who redeems His people from captivity, setting them free by offering Himself as a ransom."

This is too amazing,GOD Redeemed us by offering HIMSELF as my, and our ransom.  Once we have all of this foundation, and only with this Foundation, we can understand the atonement."In light of the facts of God’s justice and our sinfulness, it is not difficult to see the absolute necessity of the atonement."  Once we understand all of this, we can read this with joy that we are covered with the Glorious Righteousness of Christ, and our sins were borne by Christ.

This book is one of many excellent books that Dr. Sproul has written.  And after reading this I understand afresh with joy, that My sins went to Christ, he bore them in His Body,and His perfect Righteousness was given to my account. What Christ did on The Cross was the focus of God's redeeming plan throughout the ages, and the transaction on the Cross can still save a sinner today. 

 This is the first of Dr. Sproul's books I have read. I hope to read many more. I received a free copy of this book for this review. 

 Read the first few pages HereDr. R. C. Sproul is a well know Pastor and Preacher, beloved for his many books and sermons. You can hear him on radio, Renewing your Mind, and visit his ministry Ligonier Ministries.

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