The Cross of Christ (John R.W. Stott; 2)

Speaking of the cross of Christ, Stott writes:

“Why must we proclaim the scandalous, and glory in the shameful? The answer lies in the single word integrity. Christian integrity consists partly in a resolve to unmask the caricatures, but mostly in personal loyalty to Jesus, in whose mind the saving cross was central. Indeed, readers who have come without bias to the Scriptures all seem to have come to the same conclusion. Here is a sample from this century.

P.T. Forsyth, the English Congregationialist, wrote in The Cruciality of the Cross (1909):

‘Christ is to us just what his cross is. All that Christ was in heaven or on earth was put into what he did there …. Christ, I repeat, is to us just what his cross is. You do not understand Christ till you understand his cross'” 40 (Stott, The Cross of Christ, p. 48).

40 P.T. Forsyth, The Cruciality of the Cross (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1909), pp. 44-45.

We are continually unmasking the various caricatures of the God-haters regarding the scandalous (Greek:skandalon) teaching that every regenerate believer has his boast in the cross of Christ as an immediate and inevitable result of the Spirit’s regenerating work in their hearts (cf. Romans 9:33; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Galatians 5:11; 1 Peter 2:8).

It is because of our love and loyalty to Christ and our agreement with Him regarding the centrality of His work that we glory in Him and do not trust in flesh:

“But may it never be for me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).

“For the rest, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you truly is not tiresome to me, but safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evil workers, look out for the concision party. For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, and who glory in Christ Jesus, and who do not trust in flesh” (Philippians 3:1-3).

To glory in Christ Jesus and not trust in flesh is to boast in nothing, except the cross of Jesus Christ. There can be no separation of the Person of Christ from the Work of Christ, for they are inextricably connected. To glory in the Person of Christ is to boast in the Cross of Christ.

“For many walk as hostile to the cross of Christ, of whom I often told you, and now even weeping I say it, whose end is destruction, whose god is the belly, and who glory in their shame, the ones thinking earthly things” (Philippians 3:18-19).

Those who are hostile to the cross of Christ are those trusting in the flesh and glorying in their shame. Those who believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception are those trusting in the flesh and glorying in their shame. Whatever one believes makes the ultimate difference between salvation and damnation is what one trusts and glories in. For one to believe that self makes the ultimate difference between salvation and damnation, rather than Jesus Christ, is to trust in self and to boast in self; this is to glory in one’s shame.