Friday, May 27

DGM-Are Evangelicals Doctrinally Weak?

Thanks to DGM, this quotation does address itself to an issue we must consider and correct if the church is to honor her all-powerful LORD and fulfill the Great Commission. After reading the following, consider that we have the same Holy Spirit power available to empower the same holy gospel and carry it home to man's hearts no matter how recalcitrant they may be. Let us correct this gross error by trusting more the power of God and depending far less on glitz, innovation, and advertising. In days of awakening light, it has always been humble prayer and faithfully proclaimed doctrinal teaching that God has used to pierce the heart and revive the soul. 

In the book God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards, Piper writes about the present state of evangelicalism:

I resonate with the lament of Os Guinness and David Wells that evangelicalism today is basking briefly in the sunlight of hollow success. Evangelical industries of television and radio and publishing and music recordings, as well as hundreds of growing mega-churches and some highly visible public figures and political movements, give outward impressions of vitality and strength. But both Wells and Guinness, in their own ways, have called attention to the hollowing out of evangelicalism from within.

In other words, the strong timber of the tree of evangelicalism has historically been the great doctrines of the Bible—God’s glorious perfections, man’s fallen nature, the wonders of redemptive history, the magnificent work of redemption in Christ, the saving and sanctifying work of grace in the soul, the great mission of the church in conflict with the world and the flesh and the devil, and the greatness of our hope of everlasting joy at God’s right hand. These things once defined us and were the strong fiber and timber beneath the fragile leaves and fruit of our religious experiences. But this is the case less and less. And that is why the waving leaves of success and the sweet fruit of prosperity are not as auspicious to David Wells and Os Guinness as they are to many. It is a hollow triumph, and the tree is getting weaker and weaker while the branches are waving in the sun.

John Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1998), 67-68.

Thursday, May 26

Edward Payson on the Duty of Loving God

I submit this to you for two reasons: 1) in order to suggest this wonderful book from Solid Ground Christian Books, Legacy of a Legend which contains snippets from Edward Payson (1783-1827), one of the godliest leaders during the early 1800's in America. And then, 2) I am quoting the following reading which I believe will commend itself to your hearts and hopefully encourage you to purchase this little book for yourselves. 

From the back of the book: 
"Hundreds and even thousands named their sons after him in hopes that they would grow up to be like him. This volume is a fitting introduction to such a great man who walked with God, and longed that others would join him. Legacy of a Legend brings this forgotten saint back to a church desperately in need of heroes. Even a cursory glance through the Table of Contents will attract anyone concerned for their immortal soul." On loving God, Payson writes:
We ought to love God because he has given us the power to love. He might have formed us gloomy, morose, misanthropic beings, destitute of all the social affections; without the power of loving any object, and strangers to the happiness of being beloved. Should God withdraw into himself, not only all the amiable qualities which excite love, but the very power of loving, would vanish from the world, and we should not only, like the evil spirits, become perfectly hateful, but should like them, hate one another.

Every object which can be presented to us has a claim on our affection corresponding to its character. If any object be admirable, it possesses a natural and inherent claim on our admiration; if it be venerable, it has a claim to our reverence; if it be terrible, it demands our fear; if it be beautiful and amiable, it claims and deserves our love. But God is perfectly and infinitely lovely; nay, he is excellence and loveliness itself. If you doubt this, ask those who can tell you. Ask Christ, . . . ask the holy angels, . . . . Ask good men in all ages, . . . Ask everything beautiful and amiable in the universe, and it will tell you that all its beauty is but a faint reflection of his. . . . But if God be thus infinitely lovely, we are under infinite obligations to love him; obligations from which he himself cannot release us but by altering his character, and ceasing to be lovely.
I don't know how this kind of writing affects you, but it is the kind that godly men of all ages love to discuss. It is endemic to our day that such talk sounds dated and therefore to many, obsolete. Please do not think so. Go the other way entirely. Seek out such men and women who write plainly of God's beauty. 

Monday, May 23

My Take (and a Rather Unsympthetic One at That) On Harold Camping and His Followers

Well, this is Kim Riddlebarger's "take" on Harold Camping. Read his blog HERE. He knows much more about this than I, so I am "borrowing brains." WARNING, it's straightforward, what we might call "in your face!" May I add . . . and needed!

Dr. Kim Riddlebarger is senior pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim, California (, and co-host of the popular White Horse Inn, a radio-internet talk show which first went on the air in 1990 and which can be heard here: (

Harold Camping
Frankly, this whole Harold Camping mess ticks me off.  Since I write and teach in the field of eschatology, people expect me to say something.  Yet, I'm not sure many of you will appreciate my take on this.  I'm not a happy "camper."

I see this tragic episode as one gigantic mess, which God's people will be cleaning up for years.  I, for one, am not very sympathetic to Mr. Camping, or to those who follow him.  Here's why:

1).  He's done this before.  1994? anyone???  If Camping lives much longer (he's 89), he'll likely do this again.  As one of my favorite philosophers, Dirty Harry, once put it when his police superior questioned whether the serial killer (so wonderfully played by Andy Robinson) would continue to kill, Harry replied, "Of course he will.  He likes it."  You cannot tell me that however Camping came to this particular date for the Lord's return, and however sincere he might he be in his calculations, that the man does not love the media attention.  Why else spend all that money on an "in your face" ad campaign with buses and billboards across the country?  Camping likes the hubbub way too much.  Since someone's past behavior is the best predictor of their future behavior, if given the chance, Camping will do it again.

2).  Camping was disciplined by his church, and never once demonstrated the slightest hint of repentance.  When Camping was removed from his office for his unbiblical speculations, Camping's response was to declare that the church age was over, and that people should leave their churches!  (see Bob Godfrey's account of this--Godfrey on Harold Camping).  Harold Camping is not some grandfatherly old man who has weird views on things (every church has a few of these).  This is a man, who, when he did not get his way, sought to create widescale schism and division in the church.  How can we not conclude that many among his followers are schismatics who have followed their master in his sin?

3).  Camping is not a theological conservative defending the faith, he's a theological radical, and has a dangerous hermeneutic.  Camping gained a following among Reformed cultural conservatives by defending the view that only men should hold the office of minister, elder and deacon, that evolutionary thought had no place in Christian colleges, and that the rampant immorality of our age cannot go unchallenged nor be accepted by Christians.  Meanwhile, the "conservative" Camping was using some outlandish and distorted hermeneutical method to calculate the day of Christ's return and telling everyone who would listen that he was right and that anyone who challenged him had no authority to do so.  Since when did theological conservatives attack the perspicuity of Scripture?  Or champion "private interpretation" while mocking the teaching office and disciplinary authority of the church?

4).  Someone  has to say it -- the man is a false teacher and a kook.  My sense is that Camping falls within the exhortation given by Paul in Romans 16:17 (and elsewhere) -- such people are to be avoided.  Camping is a false teacher, plain and simple.  Anyone who repeatedly pulls the kinds of shenanigans he has should have no credibility.  Non-Christians see him for what he is.  Yet, Christians feel ashamed about calling him out on the same grounds--when Scripture requires that we do so!  Yes, we need to pray for his repentance, and yes, we need to be merciful to those whom he has deceived.  But given the way the man handles God's word, he is self-edvidently a kook.  He has no business being labeled a "teacher."  And it is tragic that he has used his vast radio empire to deceive so many.

5).  The only prophecy which will be fulfilled in association with Harold Camping is 2 Peter 3:3!  Scoffers will come, and sadly, Camping has given the scoffers a whole bunch of ammunition.  This is why is is so vital that Christians be clear to everyone who will listen, that despite this man's false prophecy, the blessed hope awaits all those who are Christ's, and the day of judgment will come upon those who are not.   This is a serious matter, and Christ will not be mocked.

This, then, is why it is so important to expose this man for who and what he is--a false prophet, a schismatic and a kook, lest anyone think that Jesus will not return when we least expect it, to judge the world, raise the dead, and make all things new.

And frankly, it is sad that so many Christians expect non-Christians to do our job for us.

Saturday, May 14

The Indomitable Necessity of Prayer

Over the years I have enjoyed Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotions. I’d highly recommend your getting your own copy. It is full of Christ exalting doctrine, well-phrased truth, and good sage common sense. I don’t read it as consistently now as when I first received my own copy in the mid-seventies, but I do have it as part of my Logos Bible software, on my phone, and in book form on my bedside table. As I was heading to bed the other night, I simply cracked the book, opened to the following selection and I was mesmerized. And since that doesn’t readily happen, I did what anyone would do, I scoured this entry with profit, then read it again the next morning, again, and again. Something in it caught my heart’s eye. Perhaps it will do likewise for you . . .

“Continue in prayer.” Colossians 4:2

It is interesting to remark how large a portion of Sacred Writ is occupied with the subject of prayer, either in furnishing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises.

We scarcely open the Bible before we read, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord;” and just as we are about to close the volume, the “Amen” of an earnest supplication meets our ear.

Instances are plentiful. Here we find a wrestling Jacob—there a Daniel who prayed three times a day—and a David who with all his heart called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elias; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have multitudes of commands, and myriads of promises.

What does this teach us, but the sacred importance and necessity of prayer? We may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in his Word, he intended to be conspicuous in our lives.

If he has said much about prayer, it is because he knows we have much need of it. So deep are our necessities, that until we are in heaven we must not cease to pray. Dost thou want nothing? Then, I fear thou dost not know thy poverty. Hast thou no mercy to ask of God? Then, may the Lord’s mercy show thee thy misery!

A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian.

If thou be a child of God, thou wilt seek thy Father’s face, and live in thy Father’s love.

Pray that . . .  thou mayst be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have closer communion with Christ, and enter oftener into the banqueting-house of his love. Pray that thou mayst be an example and a blessing unto others, and that thou mayst live more to the glory of thy Master. 

Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).

Wednesday, May 11

Do We HAVE to Outgrow Joy?

Most folks love to see children playing and laughing, laughing at, . . . well, . . . just about anything! It's great, isn't it? Warren Wiersbe writes in True Worship that children begin with a great capacity for wonder; they can stare for hours at an ant hill! Sadly, they lose 90% of that capacity by the time they're five! That's depressing! What happens that we grow so sour, so dour? Well, I think the pundits would offer, . . . "Life happens." Yep, we get a little older and we suffer sin in it's many forms along with rejection, trials, failure and death. And this hangs over us. Now everyone faces these things. And the question must be broached, "Do we have to outgrow joy?" 

First, I'd affirm that we have to face up to the fact that we live in a fallen world. Sin abounds and it will affect all of us. That alone will dampen the most optimistic human being! And we cannot turn a deaf ear to sin's sound nor a blind eye to it's presence. But those without Christ will hardly know of any positive spin they might put on such troubles. Let me give you this poem which I heard on "The Prairie Home Companion" with Garrison Keillor. It's touching for it's reality, and good poetry, but it could also be a bit depressing.

The Best Year of Her Life

When my two-year-old daughter
sees someone come through the door
whom she loves, and hasn't seen for a while,
and has been anticipating
she literally shrieks with joy.

I have to go into the other room
so that no one will notice the tears in my eyes.

Later, after my daughter has gone to bed,

I say to my wife,

"She will never be this happy again,"

and my wife gets angry and snaps,
"Don't you dare communicate your negativism to her!"
And, of course, I won't, if I can possibly help it,
and of course I fully expect her
to have much joy in her life,
and, of course, I hope to be able
to contribute to that joy —
I hope, in other words, that she'll always
be happy to see me come through the door—

but why kid ourselves — she, like every child,

has a life of great suffering ahead of her,
and while joy will not go out of her life,
she will one of these days cease to actually,
literally, jump and shriek for joy.

"The Best Year of Her Life" by Gerald Locklin, from Men of Our Time. © University of Georgia Press, 1992.
Second, something CAN be done about this problem! My pastor's heart yearns to say to that young girl, you may grow older, but you don't have to become cynical or jaded by sin! The prophet Jeremiah querried, "Is there no balm [cure] in Gilead? Is there no Physician there?" (Jer. 8:22). Oh, there most certainly is a Physician. [Jesus] said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick (Matthew 9:12). Jesus summarized it quite well when he said, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). Indeed, the devil only desires to steal joy and true happiness from every soul on earth! That's all. But Jesus came in order to grant life (by faith) to all who call upon him. And notice, that's abundant life! 

So, do we have to cease literally shrieking for joy? Well, perhaps we won't shriek like that of an immature, innocent child. But we can after all the worst has been done around us (and even to a great degree done within us) still find abundant joy. How? Because Jesus knew quite well that he was coming NOT to save already whole people, but those who's lives had fallen apart. No, we don't kid ourselves, such joy is for those who's hope is grounded in the Lord alone. And from him we will never fail to be blessed and find joy.

Have you?

Tuesday, May 10

True Christianity Cannot Be Tolerant of Other Religions

Depending on what we mean by "tolerant." If we mean gentle and kind. That should go without saying. It should, but perhaps it needs reiterating. But if it means viewing them as equals, then no we must not, we CANNOT view them as equals since no other Jesus Christ has been offered as the sacrifice for our sins and Savior of the world.

The Lloyd-Jones quotation yesterday and this one today combine to reinforce what men of God have taught regarding the exclusivity of the church if she is to be useful, that is, if she is to fulfill her God-given role. I quote these in light of the seeming wholesale departure by many into a more "enlightened" approach to evangelism. It is not new, nor is it the church's commission to create any kind of culture or societal bridge into the world unless that bridge is Jesus Christ, and him crucified! Jude exhorts, And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh (Jude 22–23). So, there IS a place for ministry with "teeth." Snatching someone from the fire is never a calm prospect. But it is an emergency, and they need help . . . now! If the church doesn't give a clarion call to those within her hearing, then how will the troubled know what to do? Hear what another defender of the faith, J. Gresham Machen wrote:
But when I say that a true Christian church is radically intolerant, I mean simply that the church must maintain the high exclusiveness and universality of its message. It presents the gospel of Jesus Christ not merely as one way of salvation, but as the only way. It cannot make common cause with other faiths. It cannot agree not to proselytize. Its appeal is universal, and admits of no exceptions. All are lost in sin; none may be saved except by the way set forth in the gospel. Therein lies the offense of the Christian religion, but therein lies also it glory and its power. A Christianity tolerant of other religions is just no Christianity at all.                                       
J. GRESHAM MACHEN, “The Church: Doctrinal & Intolerant”

Monday, May 9

The Church That is Different Attracks the World

Our Lord attracted sinners because He was different. They drew near to Him because they felt that there was something different about Him… And the world always expects us to be different. This idea that you are going to win people to the Christian faith by showing them that after all you are remarkably like them, is theologically and psychologically a profound blunder.        
The glory of the gospel is that when the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first. That is how revival comes. That must also be true of us as individuals. It should not be our ambition to be as much like everybody else as we can, though we happen to be Christian, but rather to be as different from everybody who is not a Christian as we can possibly be. Our ambition should be to be like Christ, the more like Him the better. And the more like Him we become, the more useful to the world we will be. 
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers

Friday, May 6

Rob Bell, Liberalism and A. W. Tozer

In his March 16 blog, Al Mohler wrote perspicuously about Rob Bell and others like him whom he termed "liberals." Though packaged differently, Bell still manages to question and raise doubt regarding the same issues as liberals did in the early 1900s, hell being one of the first doctrines to suffer their attack. See Mohler for an erudite description of liberalism then and now. The term isn't used as much these days as it was about 30 + years ago. But it should. It fits. 

Now, what I'd like to do is to quote A. W. Tozer on the enduring power of the true Christian faith despite it's many detractors, in spite of the many throughout history who've tried to extinguish the flame of the gospel. But pay close attention to how Tozer unabashedly condemns liberalism in this article! The article is somewhat dated in that communism was a very real threat back in post WW2 days, and Tozer died in 1963. But communism, if it's distilled down to its basic element is nothing other than atheistic backed government. If this is true, then see how Tozer sets the table for liberal theology and its possible impact on true Christianity. His attitude toward liberalism is not something many could stomach today!

I don't think Communism is the great danger to Christianity. I don't believe that Communism can ever destroy Christianity, if Christians will really live like Christians.

Neither do I believe that all of the liberals and modernists put together can kill Christianity. They're trying—but they can't succeed!

The atheist and the unbeliever, the pagan in his darkness—I have some understanding for these. But the liberal—he's the man who has put his own eyes out, and I haven't much sympathy for him. But he can't destroy the Christian church or the evangelical witness of Christ.

They couldn't destroy Christianity in the Roman empire. Every time they killed ten believers, one hundred others came forward and said, "Kill me, too." History tells us that.

The emperors threw so many Christians to the lions in the pits that they began to get embarrassed, and said, "What are we going to do with these fools? We kill ten, and a hundred others stand up and confess that they are Christians, too."

So, they had to call it off. And they said, "Let's try to save face. Don't kill so many—the place is getting too bloody."

Christians were willing to live like Christians, and to die like Christians. Christian blood was the seed that made the church grow.

That's why I say that Communism can never destroy the church of Jesus Christ. And you need not worry about the true Church behind the Iron Curtain.

My brothers and sisters, there have been periods down through the years when Christians met in damp basements, among the flat worms and cobwebs, and worshipped their God. Then they had to sneak out to their jobs, and at night, like Gideon, went again to some hiding place and prayed and sang in a low voice, and read any portions of Scripture they could get.

They kept the fire alive in the midst of the fiercest and most brutal persecution.
The fire of God can't be damped out by the waters of man's persecution.

It is only when the church is rotten inside that she can die. If the church in Russia is dead today, it is not because of Communism—though Communism is from hell, there's no question about that—but hell can't destroy the church.

I say, if the church in Russia is dead—and I don't think it is—it is because the institutional church had died from within.

The tree that is blown down in the storm is rotten in its heart or it wouldn't be blown down. And the church that falls because of persecution is a church that was dead before it fell.

So, I haven't much worry about Communism. Neither have I much worry about liberalism.

Some of my poor, tired brethren, faint, yet pursuing, are still running after the liberals—taking a pot shot at liberals wherever they can see the white of an eye.
But I don't bother them, because they are dead anyhow.
The Tozer Pulpit – Volume 1. Chapter 14, Nothing Can Destroy Christianity If We Live Like Christians

Wednesday, May 4

Is God in Our Pulpits?

I take the following word from Tozer personally! I should. Who else should?

"There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy.

I trust I speak in charity, but the lack in our pulpits is real. Milton's terrible sentence applies to our day as accurately as it did to his: "The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed." It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the kingdom, to see God's children starving while actually seated at the Father's table. The truth of Wesley's words is established before our eyes:

Orthodoxy, or right opinion, is, at best, a very slender part of religion. Though right tempers cannot subsist without right opinions, yet right opinions may subsist without right tempers. There may be a right opinion of God without either love or one right temper toward Him. Satan is a proof of this.
Thanks to our splendid Bible societies and to other effective agencies for dissemination of the Word, there are today many millions of people who hold "right opinions," probably more than ever before in the history of the Church. Yet I wonder if there was ever a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb. To great sections of the Church the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the "program." This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the type of public service which now passes for worship among us.

Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the Living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts."

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Preface

Tuesday, May 3

Church v. Morality?!

Some voices in our culture are speaking out for the church's call to minister to society's needs, poverty, morality, hunger in the third world, etc. Rick Warren has certainly made his mark for the "Peace Initiative." Many find it nearly impossible to speak against such efforts since the need is so great. And that is true. But the larger issue has more to do with priorities. Can the Church afford to spend her time and effort on peace initiatives or morality if in so doing she neglects her prime objective?

The question is not whether we all desire to live in and to promote a moral society. The question is if the main business of the Church is to preach morality? To answer this question, may I draw your attention to something Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached on Ephesians chapter five. After having settled it that ethical teachings alone will not alter the morality of a nation, he affirms what is the God-ordained purpose of the church.
I would also state it as my firm conviction that such activities are not a part of the Church's business as such. And here I feel the confusion comes in as between the realm of the Church and the realm of the State. The Church is appointed and ordained of God; so is the State, says the Apostle in Romans 13 and elsewhere. They are both appointed by God. . . . The two realms are meant to work in their appointed ways, and there should never be any confusion between them. . . . 

The Christian Church is not a moral agency. What is she then? She is a regenerating agency! She is not a moral agency; there are many other moral agencies; the Church is not, she is supernatural, she is divine, she is filled with the Spirit; she converts men, she regenerates men; I say she does it, she is used of God to do it. That is her realm.
He goes on . . .
The Church does not exist to produce good men. The Church exists to produce new men! And a new man is infinitely greater than a good man; you can be a good man without being a Christian at all. I repeat the word; the Church exists not to produce moral men, but to produce those who, in Scripture, are called saints. IF YOU DO NOT SEE THAT DISTINCTION, YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT CHRISTIANITY IS! [emphasis mine] Certainly a Christian is a good man and a moral man, but if you simply describe him in those terms you are insulting him; you are not describing him. The Christian is a saint! He is a regenerate man! He is a child of God! He belongs to Christ, he is 'in Christ'! We are not in the realm of morality and goodness, we are in the realm of sainthood and of the Spirit! And therefore I argue that the acceptance of a moral-agency role by the Church means that the Church is misrepresenting her own message.
This is a critical issue for us today. If we do not understand what the Church's role is from God, we will abort in our mission, bring disdain to God's name, and relegate the lost to eternal fire since they will not be hearing the alarm to 'turn and live'. The Church alone proclaims the Gospel of life, so if we become diverted in our mission, God's grace is not heard. That's immensely sobering! We must take our godly role seriously, for it has eternal implications. God help us!

(Taken from: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Darkness and Light: An Exposition of Ephesians 4:17-5:17. Baker Book House), pp. 313-328. 

Sunday, May 1

The Old Cross and The New-A. W. Tozer

One of the most influential articles I've ever read is the one which I am quoting in toto below. It is by A. W. Tozer and entitled, The Old Cross and the New. I believe that it was originally published in 1946 in the Alliance Weekly. It is ironic, in one sense, that a blog with the title of CROSS Purposes would not have published this until now! Ironic, not unbelievable. I hope it will impact you as it has me since first reading it back in the early '70s. 

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 and 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 thrill seeker 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.

(A. W. Tozer, Man, the Dwelling Place of God, 1966)