Today, I am reviewing a classic, a magnus opus. Written by one of the foremost preachers and Christian leaders of his generation, John Stott’s The Cross of Christ has always been on top of the list of recommended books on the finished work of Christ.
The Cross of Christ was originally released in 1986. Over the years, this book is being constantly recommended to me, but I can’t get ahold of a copy, until just recently. This year, in honor of John Stott‘s one hundredth birthday, a centennial edition was released by InterVarsity Press. They graciously sent me a copy in exchange for my honest and fair review.
The Cross of Christ consists of four chapters. The introductory chapter, “Approaching the Cross,” delves deep on the centrality of the Cross, its message, its meaning, and the necessity of Christ’s death for the salvation of guilty sinners. In the second chapter, “The Heart of The Cross,” Stott discusses the problem of forgiveness in the gravity if sin and the holiness of God; how God Himself made the satisfaction of sin through His self-substituting sacrifice. In the third chapter, “The Achievement of the Cross,” Stott summarizes what God in Christ has done on the cross: to rescue us, disclose Himself, overcome evil. In the final chapter, Stott concludes the book on how is it to live under the cross; that we as Christ’s body is a community of the cross, and that the cross revolutionizes our attitude to ourselves and to God, and ultimately compels us to love even our enemies, and find meaning in suffering as Christ has suffered.
“At the cross in holy love God through Christ paid the full penalty of our disobedience himself.”Chapter 2, Page 91
In a nutshell, this book is life-changing. No wonder it is called a classic just 35 years after its original release. In the first three chapters, John Stott presented the message, necessity, achievement of the cross plainly and clearly. In spite of its theological depth, the message is straight-forward: we are sinners and God is holy. We need saving, and God provided a Savior through Jesus Christ. After making all this clear, it concludes with application. It is a complete theology of the Cross. Stott did not leave any stone unturned. The message is deep yet accessible, straight-forward yet tender and pastoral. I can see myself going back to this book over and over to always be reminded of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I highly recommend this particular version of The Cross of Christ – the Stott Centennial Edition. Not only because it is a commemorative edition but also because it includes some new and additional content. This one includes an updated foreword by Alister McGrath, a new timeline of Stott’s life, and a study guide. It has also a new and beautiful cover. I just wished the publisher sewn the binding so that it could survive more years. Nevertheless, this is an excellent edition of a classic work.
“I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross…. In the world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?”John Stott