The subject of most of these book reviews are books that have been written recently and are new to the Christian book market. This book – The Cross of Christ by John Stott – was written thirty-five years ago. Having read it many years ago I decided to re-read it recently and I believe that I benefited from it even more reading it again than I did when I had first read it.
The theme of Stott’s book is the doctrine of the atonement. He begins by showing, in various ways, how the cross is central to the Christian faith. He then looks at the various human factors that led to Jesus being crucified before going on to show that behind all those factors was the work of God himself in the plan of redemption. But why was it necessary for Jesus to die on the cross?
Stott beautifully and wonderfully shows that due to the problem of sin on the one hand and God’s holiness and justice on the other, the cross was the only way by which salvation could be achieved and that it was all down to the grace and love of God for sinners.
The author addresses and answers the often controversial question of the extent of Christ’s atoning work showing that it had specific reference and application only to those who would believe (God’s elect). Though universal in the sense of being available to and effective for the salvation of people from every nation, Christi’s death is nevertheless not effective in saving every human being from their sin and thus not universal in the sense that ultimately everybody will be saved.
In the cross God gives us a revelation of himself with particular emphasis upon his attributes of love, mercy forgiveness, holiness, righteousness and justice. The cross is also the supreme evidence, tus far in the history of redemption, of God’s victory over evil.
The final section of the book deals with and shows how as God’s redeemed people we are to live in the light of the cross, showing by our daily lives the self-sacrificing service to others that Jesus himself showed to us, thereby being living witnesses of the grace and power of God to transform people’s lives.
Reading this book for the first time in the early 1990’s was a tremendous blessing to this reviewer’s own soul. Reading it for the second time in 2021 made me appreciate it even more. Certainly in this, one of many books by John Stott, it can be said, as was said of Abel, “He being dead yet speaketh.” (Hebrews 11v4)
Robert Robb, Ballenon and Ballylane RPC