Much of the preaching and teaching in the Christian Church is either confined to the “Historic Jesus”, which presents a Cross-less Christ, or gives a very modified meaning to His death. And yet it is surely necessary to declare that the Cross is God’s Way of salvation, God’s sufficient and God’s only way.
It is, further, surely very clear that the Cross was dominant in New Testament days, but now we ask why has the Cross always been such a maker of trouble and such a cause of offence? And why is it that it is today behind much of the upheaval even in many of our professedly evangelical institutions and denominations, Christian homes, local churches and individual Christian lives?
In His Cross Christ created a great divide between the old world and the new, a divide which cannot be bridged. Two distinctly different systems, scales of value, standards of judgment, sets of laws, prevail on the two sides of the Cross; the system of each is not only entirely different, but irreconcilable and forever antagonistic to the other.
The Cross demands an absolute distinctiveness of interests and objectives, relationships and resources. It draws the final distinction between the saved and the unsaved, between the living and the dead. The apostle Paul said that by the Cross he had “been crucified to the world” and the world crucified to him. The Word of God emphatically declares that the age is evil and that “the whole world lieth in the wicked one” and that its ways, motives, purposes, ideas and imaginations are all the opposite of God’s and that it is utterly incapacitated from either receiving the revelation of the divine mind, growing of itself into the divine image, enjoying and appreciating real fellowship with God, or being entrusted with the privilege of co-operation with God.
It is this verdict, condemnation, and demand of the Cross which is unacceptable and irritating to a very great number of professing Christians. Further, it is the presence of much that is called “worldliness” both in the individual Christian life and in the Church which absolutely neutralizes their effectiveness in the realization of the essential purposes of the Cross.