Wednesday, March 19, 2008

THE OLD CROSS; THE NEW CROSS
...by A.W. Tozer

ALL UNANNOUNCED AND MOSTLY UNDETECTED there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental. From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique-a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world.
For Adam's proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach.
The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him.
It gears him into a cleaner anal jollier way of living and saves his self-respect.

-To the self-assertive it says, "Come and assert yourself for Christ."

-To the egotist it says, "Come and do your boasting in the Lord."

-To the thrillseeker it says, "Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship."
The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public. The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death
It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more. The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world.
We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God's just sentence against him.

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus?
How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God's stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die. Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ.

To any who may object to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from Paul's day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words or not, this has been the content of all preaching that has brought life and power to the world through the centuries. The mystics, the reformers, the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy Ghost gave witness to God's approval.

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power.

originally posted April 2006

16 comments:

donsands said...

Great quote. I read a portion of this earlier today.

The gospel must be declared in its simplicity, its purity, and its fullness. I never realized how intense the contending for this could be.

"Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there." -Piper, God is the Gospel.

Have a blessed and joy filled Resurrection day!

Breuss Wane said...

What a great line: "Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power."

Let us know nothing but Christ crucified.

Jim said...

This commentary really says it all. The new cross is a message that no one would kill for and it's certainly not worth dieing for. Bring back the old cross! It's worth living for and dieing for.

REM said...

Steve,
Great post. Could it be that the usages (or overusage or misusage) of actual images (wooden crosses, gold ones, etc.) have caused us to lose sight of what the cross really means? (it's a thought, but I do reference Exodus 20:4, Psalm 115:4, and in a more general sense-Romans 1:21-23)

This is also not to suggest generations past did not have low views of the cross because these outer devices didn't exist (Paul wrote, in his time, many walk as enemies of the cross of Christ, and history has encored this). I am trying to biblically understand if these devices play a role as antonists (not aids) to understanding the cross of Christ.

Ryan
1 Tim 4:16

REM said...

Sorry, last post I ment to say antagonists, not antonists (I will buy someone a pepsi if they tell me what an antonist is)

4given said...

Many are being deceived... following trails in ignorance. And though in ignorance, it still does not make this a non-sin issue. For men to bring glory to God, they MUST do their best to present themselves to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.(2 Tm 2:15)

What stood out to me was: "The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more."

I deserve to be predestined for Hell. We all deserve to. And yet, for no reason of anything I have done, the Lord made His cross real... no compromise... sparing nothing. I am nothing apart from my Lord.

God is not obligated to extend His mercy. He is not obligated to us to have sent His only Son to suffer a cruel death so that we could have an eternal High Priest. But He did. And yet this "new" cross... I keep picturing how it crucifies our Lord over and over and over. For that I weep and cringe... and appropriately fear and pray fervently that I never tamper with God's truth. Truly God forbid.

I Peter 3:15 says, "but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;"

I posted this excerpt from C. H. Spurgeon called The Need of Decision for the Truth on my blog a few days ago. It applies well here:

"...some doctrines are true, and that statements which are diametrically opposite to them are not true,—that when "No" is the fact, "Yes" is out of court, and that when "Yes" can be justified, "No" must be abandoned. ...We are not left to fabricate the message as we go along. We are not sent forth by our Master with this kind of general commission—" As you shall think in your heart and invent in your head as you march on, so preach. Keep abreast of the times. Whatever the people want to hear, tell them that, and they shall be saved." Verily, we read not so. There is something definite in the Bible. It is not quite a lump of wax to be shaped at our will, or a roll of cloth to be cut according to the prevailing fashion. Your great thinkers evidently look upon the Scriptures as a box of letters for them to play with, and make what they like of, or a wizard's bottle, out of which they may pour anything they choose from atheism up to spiritualism. ...We have to deal with God, whose servants we are, and he will not be honored by our delivering falsehoods; neither will he give us a reward, and say," Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast mangled the gospel as judiciously as any man that ever lived before thee." We stand in a very solemn position, and ours should be the spirit of old Micaiah, who said, "As the Lord my God liveth, before whom I stand, whatsoever the Lord saith unto me that will I speak.... If we would show decision for the truth, we must not only do so by our tone and manner, but by our daily actions....Above all we must show our zeal for the truth by continually, in season and out of season, endeavoring to maintain it in the tenderest and most loving manner, but still very earnestly and firmly. "

Matthew2323 said...

Thus says the LORD, "Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk {in it.}' (Jeremiah 6:16)

The description is still the same.
The prescription is still the same.

“Oh, that You would rend the heavens {and} come down…” (Isaiah 64:1)

Will You not Yourself revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your lovingkindness, O LORD, And grant us Your salvation. (Psalm 85:6, 7)

donsands said...

Appreciate all the good thoughts. Really needed that C. H. quote; very helpful. EXCELLENT QUOTE!

littlegal_66 said...

Continuing in the Spurgeon vein, here's an additional apropos quote, this time from his sermon, "The Cross-Our Glory:"

"In the old times, vast crowds came together in desert places, among the hills, or on the moors, at peril of their lives, to hear preaching. Did they come together to hear philosophy? Did they meet at dead of night when the harriers of persecution were hunting them, to listen to pretty moral essays? I trow not. They came to hear of the grace of God manifest in the sacrifice of Jesus to believing hearts. Would your modern gospel create the spirit of the martyrs? Is there anything in it for which a man might go to prison and to death? The modern speculations are not worth a cat’s dying for them, much less a man.

A something lies within the truth of the cross which sets the soul aglow; it touches the preacher’s lips as with a live coal, and fires the hearer’s hearts as with flame from the altar of God. We can on this gospel live, and for this gospel die."


_________________________________

......a gospel to die for.....
_________________________________
Galatians 6:14

Mike Ratliff said...

Gimme that old time religion!

The Gospel has not changed. People may say that times have changed and so have people, but the Genuine Gospel is forever relevant. Preach Jesus and Him crucified! The cross is an offense to the ungodly, but to the genuine believer it is the wonderful "good news" that God's people have peace with Him.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

trylbyfyr said...

Thanks Steve. I can not think of a more relevant post for the church today. This subject has been on my mind a lot recently. The new cross has been embraced by the modern church which is so concerned with numbers that it won't preach the true gospel. Jesus wasn't concerned with numbers though. After he spoke the true gospel in John 6 it says, "from this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." (John 6:66).

The new cross is a counterfeit and needs to be exposed. I along with many others i am sure were subtly deceived. Not that I din't know and live the old cross, but I was automatically filling in the blanks of the new cross to make it the old and didn't see the difference until i read "This Little Church Went to Market" by Gary Gilley. Now I see the new padded, leather interior, cadilac cross everywhere i look.

Keep preaching the truth. God will do more with a church of 300 crucified believers than with that of 32,000 false converts.

Terry Rayburn said...

The gospel that saves is the gospel that 100% eliminates man's works for salvation, speaks of the free gift of salvation through the sacrifice of Christ, but transforms the elect hearer and makes them a new creation who believes in Jesus, loves Jesus, and is against sin, in their born-again new heart.

Easy-believism says, "Affirm that Jesus died for your sins as your Savior, and you're saved, whether or not you believe in Him, and whether or not your view of sin is changed."

This easy-believism is abominable.

But the opposite of "easy-believism" is NOT:
1. works
2. "giving your life to Christ"
3. "doing your best"
4. "dying to self"
5. "taking up your cross"
6. "counting the cost"
7. "selling all you have to buy the pearl of great price"
8. paying *any* price at all
9. living up to any standard

These are all disguises for works salvation. They contain some wonderful and biblical concepts, but only for the one who is already born again, justified by faith in Jesus Christ, and recipients of the *free gift* of eternal life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:23).

The pseudo-"salvation" that results in no works or change of heart is "dead".

True salvation *will* result in works, as fruit that comes from "Christ who is our Life" (Col. 3:4; Phil. 2:13).

But to even *imply* performance of any kind to gain or keep salvation is Galatianism, pure and simple.

As Martyn Loyd-Jones reminded us, if one is not occasionally accused of being an antinomian, one needs to examine if they are preaching the true gospel of grace.

In a legalist world, however, this takes courage.

Terry

greuber said...

Praise God ! very encouraging piece.....I like what you said about the cross "intersecting"...it is not always palatable. Reminds me of this passage from Matthew 15(Mark 7)

15Peter said, "Explain the parable to us."

16"Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. 17"Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.' "

21Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession."

23Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."

24He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."

25The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.

26He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."

27"Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

28Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Its hard to understand how Jesus could sound so harsh and not just heal everybody, Jesus is Love right? We hear too much P.R and fail to hear the black/white of Heaven or Hell.
Jesus was doing what he saw his Father doing, Jesus obeyed everything his Father told him even when it was hard(the cross) or might not have made sense at the time (lazerus) and it ALL came together for the Glory of God.
I also find in that passage the amazing grace we receive ,like she did, when our hearts are turned to Him and through Faith we recieve Him and His kingdom !!

greuber said...

oops...I only meant to copy from verse 21 on.....

Bartman said...

Steve,
Do you think the broad road is getting even broader as we speed down that slippery slope Pastor Spurgeon spoke of long ago? When we compromise in the least, we can't imagine the devastation that follows. I watched just today a pastor of an enormous church mutilate the Scriptures to get people to plant a "seed offering" and because it is Passover week it will be double blessed.

We need a day like Josiah's! They found the WORD that had been lost and King Josiah tore his clothes when it was read to him.

God help us to crave Your Word and to repent and live holy lives to You!

SJ Camp said...

Greuber
Thank you for posting the extra verses... That is always acceptable here at COT!

Bartman
"Do you think the broad road is getting even broader as we speed down that slippery slope Pastor Spurgeon spoke of long ago?"

The times are certainly right for another down-grade today. In Spurgeon's time it was the adoption of a worldly methodology that led to an unbiblical theology to support its practice. When Scripture and its claims - especially in the areas of the gospel - are supplanted by experience and/or methodological concerns, then we are certainly on the down-grade once again.

The group that is raising pragmatism above Scripture these days is the emerging/emergent church. It began with Hybels was accelerated by Warren and now the ECM has gone into warp drive on these things.

There is a famine of the Word of God being rightly divided and taught in the land today. May we find our nourishment, instruction, methods, practice, and contentment in the Bible once again.