May 23, 2010

Book Review: The Cross of Christ-John Stott

As I have mentioned in the past, as a seminary student, I read prolifically and memorize most of what I read. It is the nature of my calling and part of the spiritual gifts God has been so gracious bestowing on me. If a book doesn't appear to be worth retaining in memory as I read it, often times I will just stop reading and drop the book off at the local used book store. If I complete the book and deem it worth a second read, potentially usable as reference or borrowable I will pack it away. Very rarely will I put it back on the shelf with new books on with my Bibles and commentaries to use either as a reference or for self-edification.

John Stott achieves something with this book that brings the Cross of Christ to the modern day reader in real time. The pain, betrayal, the centrality of Jesus, the torture, the suffering, the love, the sacrifice and clearly, the salvation and victory over evil.

It is broken into four parts. The first three are the indicative. The information that needs to be assimilated, digested, pulled apart into its constituent parts so that all the spiritual and mental nutrients can be extracted from it. He builds his case thoroughly and effectively over the first three portions:

Part One: Approaching the Cross
The Centrality of the Cross
Why did Christ Die?
Looking below the surface

Part Two: The Heart of the Cross
The Problem of Forgiveness
Satisfaction for Sin
The Self-substitution of God

Part Three: The Achievement of the Cross
The Salvation of Sinners
The Revelation of God
The Conquest of Evil

The last part is the imperative or how and what we are to do with the information we glean from the first three parts. After having built the case of the first 3/4 of the book he then expounds on how its applied and used in our lives. How are we to live now that we are Christians. How we are to apply the information we have learned to our discipleship and in our evangelism. We are called to sacrifice what we selfishly want and empty ourselves to allow God to work in us. To slip on His yoke and abandon the world's.

Part Four: Living under the Cross
The Community of Celebration
Self-understanding and Self-giving
Loving our Enemies
Suffering and Glory

Bottom-line is this: If you are not convicted by your sin to some extent after reading this book, you need to check yourself for a pulse. If you have one you had better examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. This book is real. Very real. It is also very biblical and very visceral. You cannot walk away having read this book and not be affected by it at some level. Very few books crack my top 10 this one is in the top 5.

Addendum: Since it was a concern to a reader online I will state that this book does not mention or become affected by Stott's view on Annihilationism. I am aware of his recent stance that Hell may not exist as punishment and this recent view is clearly apostasy. I wish to lead no one astray. If I thought this book would do so I would've never have posted this review. Sadly, Mr Stott has either "turned to the right or to the left" since penning this book because this book is dead-on and frankly I find it excellent. Regardless, Jesus Christ was explicitly clear on the topic of Hell and eternal punishment/seperation from God. Hell exists, it is real and you do not want to be there, eternally seperated from Him. 'Nuff said. It is a shame John Stott diverged from sound doctrine since writing this book as .

Rating: 100 of 100

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