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The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul, a book review

The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul, a book review

1 Corinthians 2:2 – “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

We instantly recognize symbols in our world today.  If you see some Golden Arches you know immediately that you are looking at a McDonald’s.  A swoosh means that you are looking at something Nike.  An apple with a bite taken out of the left side means that you have some sort of Apple product.  A bowtie instantly directs your thoughts to Chevrolet, as a blue oval does to Ford, or a Ram does to Dodge.  We are a visual culture and one that instantly recognizes symbols.

Early on in the history of the church, the cross became the symbol of Christianity.  If you saw a cross you thought about Jesus, and that is the way it should be, after all Paul when writing to the church at Corinth says, “I am determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”  In other words that cross that Jesus was crucified on is the central and defining symbol of Christianity.

Dr. R.C. Sproul in his excellent book, The Truth of the Cross discusses exactly what that cross means to us in our world today.  He deals with the necessity of the cross and with the justice and righteousness of God.  He discusses not only why Jesus died but also what it means to us and how it impacts our lives today.

The cross of Christ means that we are ransomed, that we are saved, and that we are made to be a part of the family of God.  Because Jesus went to the cross we are blessed by Almighty God.  And because Jesus suffered the wrath of the Father on the cross and became the propitiation for us (1 John 4:9-10), you and I don’t have to suffer God’s wrath if we repent and believe. 

The cross is good news for us today.  Spoul uses several Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures to drive that point home.  The cross is good news and its gives to us all of the aforementioned blessings because through the cross we are reconciled to God and our sins are forgiven.  Before we repented of our sins and placed our faith in Jesus’ saving work on the cross Sproul reminds us that we were debtors to God, enemies of God , and criminals in His sight.  Now however we are righteous before God, friends of God and part of the family of God.  How? Through the cross and the forgiveness that we are offered there.

The cross of Christ shows us the love of God and satisfies the justice of God.  Both of which have to happen for us to be saved.  God accomplishes that for us through the cross and through sending His own Son to die in our place.  Thankfully Jesus willingly went because He loves us that much. 

Sproul points out that the cross of Christ was not a plan B.  God did not say well those people down there made a mistake and ruined my creation and ruined their lives with sin, now I’ve got to step in and do something about it.  No instead, the cross was the plan of God all along, even before the foundation of the world.  That is how much He loves us and desires for us to be saved.

One of the things that I enjoyed most about the book was its readability.  It is a book that anyone can read and benefit from, but as with most of Sproul’s writings it is also a book that contains enough depth to challenge those who have been Christians for many years and those who are seasoned Bible scholars and theologians. 

Sproul, who is Calvinistic in his theology, even takes time to explain the Calvinistic position on the Atonement.  Calvinism is a huge debate right now in many churches because it teaches that God “elects” some to salvation.  And because it is such a hot topic, when it is discussed it is usually discussed with such passion that debate usually ensues.  Sometimes these debates rage to the point where a Calvinist might say that someone who is not Calvinistic (an Arminian) is not a true believer or vice versa.  Sproul certainly doesn’t get into that here.  He affirms that there are good Christians on both sides of the debate and in the books closing chapter he states what his position and his belief is.  However he does not attempt to sway the reader in any way.  He simply states his views.  This chapter will be controversial for many readers but it is a chapter worth reading.  After closing the main body of the book, Sproul also includes for us an appendix with questions and answers regarding key points of the doctrine of the cross. 

The Truth of the Cross  is a very short book, but it is one that is packed with the beautiful truths of the Gospel.  It is a book that I would encourage every one to read.  Skeptics would be convinced by the vast amount of evidence that is presented for the truth of the cross, unbelievers would be convicted as they see the beauty and the depth of the love of God, new Christians would be built up in the faith, and those who have been followers of Jesus for a long time would be struck afresh by the power of the cross.  Pick it up and read it.  (9 out of 10 stars)