#789. THE CENTRALITY OF THE CROSS (10/4/23)
This week, following on from Easter season, I want to bring attention to the book "The Cross of Christ" by John Stott. This crucial work delves into the significance of the cross in Christianity, examining its various aspects such as its importance in the Old and New Testaments, the problem of forgiveness, the satisfaction of God, and the self-substitution of God. I encourage you to read this book and hope that these devotionals, based on this book, will inspire you to reflect more deeply on the centrality of the cross in our faith. Today’s devotional is based upon chapter 1, The Centrality of the Cross.
1. CHAPTER SUMMARY
Chapter 1 of John Stott's "The Cross of Christ" is titled "The Centrality of the Cross" and is divided into four sections.
In the first section, "The Sign and Symbol of the Cross," Stott explores the meaning of the cross as a symbol and its importance in Christian theology. He notes that the cross was originally a symbol of shame and execution, but through the death and resurrection of Jesus, it became a symbol of hope and redemption.
In the second section, "The Perspective of Jesus," Stott looks at the significance of the cross from Jesus' perspective. He argues that Jesus understood his death on the cross as a necessary part of God's plan for salvation.
The third section, "The Apostles' Emphasis," examines the preaching of the apostles in the New Testament and their emphasis on the cross as the central message of Christianity. Stott argues that the apostles saw the cross as the means by which God demonstrated his love and mercy towards humanity.
Finally, in the fourth section, "Persistence Despite Opposition," Stott acknowledges that the message of the cross has often been met with opposition throughout history. However, he argues that the centrality of the cross remains a foundational aspect of Christian theology and must continue to be preached and taught.
‘For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel – not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’ (1 Corinthians 1:17-18)
What is central in your life? If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend a lot of time thinking about food, doing things I enjoy, how long until I have a holiday… There are many good things for us to enjoy, but all good things are kept in their right place as we put the cross at the centre of our lives. We can lose many good things, but the good that comes to us through the cross can never be lost!
In chapter 1 of "The Cross of Christ," John Stott emphasises the centrality of the cross in the Christian faith. He argues that the cross is not only a sign of suffering and shame but also the ultimate symbol of love and redemption.
As we reflect on this passage and chapter, let us remember the power of the cross. We may be tempted to rely on our own eloquence or wisdom when sharing the gospel with others, but it is ultimately the message of the cross that has the power to save. It is through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross that we are reconciled to God and receive the gift of eternal life.
Let us also remember that the message of the cross may seem like foolishness to those who do not believe. We may face opposition or ridicule when we share the gospel with others, but we can take heart knowing that the power of the cross is not diminished by human skepticism or rejection.
As we go about our day, let us keep the centrality of the cross in our hearts and minds. Let us seek to share the message of the cross with others, not relying on our own strength or wisdom, but on the power of God's love demonstrated through Christ's sacrifice on the cross.