Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Preach Christ crucified, no matter what

Why don't men preach Christ crucified? John Stott offers some profound insights on this question with his analysis of the offense of cross, from his commentary on Galatians. I am humbled and challenged by this reminder.
What is there about the cross of Christ which angers the world and stirs them up to persecute those who preach it? Just this: Christ died on the cross for us sinners, becoming a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). So the cross tells us some very unpalatable truths about ourselves, namely that we are sinners under the righteous curse of God's law and we cannot save ourselves. Christ bore our sin and curse precisely because we could gain release from them in no other way. If we could have been forgiven by our own good works, by being circumcised and keeping the law, we may be quite sure that there would have been no cross. Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, 'I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.' Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size. And of course men do not like it. They resent the humiliation of seeing themselves as God sees them and as they really are. They prefer their comfortable illusions. So they steer clear of the cross. They construct a Christianity without the cross, which relies for salvation on their works and not on Jesus Christ's. They do not object to Christianity so long as it is not the faith of Christ crucified. But Christ crucified they detest. And if preachers preach Christ crucified, they are opposed, ridiculed, persecuted. Why? Because of the wounds which they inflict on men's pride.
You can receive daily quotes by Stott via email from the Langham Partnership International.

4 comments:

Wyman Richardson said...

Great words from Stott! Thanks for posting them.

Oddly enough, I was in the Beeson bookstore yesterday and was thumbing through a little book that Stott wrote last Fall entitled The Radical Disciple. In it, he says he's 88-years-old and this little book is his farewell. He said he was laying his pen down for the last time. It struck me as sad but beautiful in its own way: the elder statesman of evangelicalism saying goodbye.

Stott isn't without his faults, but he's had an amazing ministry of preaching and writing and quotes like this one show why.

Wyman

DE123 said...

I moved to a new area awhile back, and while looking for a church attended the same church on the Sundays we didn't visit a new church. The kids seemed to like this church, but it didn't take me long to figure out it was a "seeker church" so I knew I wouldn't be making it my permanent church home. The sermons are mostly practical daily living stuff...not bad but very devoid of theology. The word "Christian" is NEVER used, but the words "Christ Follower" are used. I don't have a problem with using Christ Follower but to purposely drop the word Christian seems strange to me. You never hear anything about the cross, or the crucifixion...they don't want to make anyone uncomfortable. I did not attend services there on Easter, but decided for once to attend Thomas Road Baptist Church of all places. Heard the coolest Christian harpist ever. (Greg Buchanan) And I even like Jonathan Falwell. But I had to wonder...was the cross or Jesus's death even mentioned at the seeker church...even on Easter Sunday?

George said...

Dear Tom,

My Pastor preached on Hell on Sunday, saying that Hell was "for ever and ever".

Did Stott believe and teach that?

Wyman Richardson said...

George,

This is horribly rude of me, as I'm not Tom. So my apologies to you both for intruding.

But to your question, as I understand it, Stott seemed to embrace annihilationism for a time (or I believe he said it was, in his mind, an option) but appears to have moved away from that position. I could be wrong, but I heard Stott asked about it somewhere and, if I recall, that was the upshot of it.