Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

John Stott: "The Cross of Christ" Chapter 1 Outline

Tim Challies is currently leading an on-line reading group, which is discussing John Stott's The Cross of Christ. Below are some notes that I've taken from the first chapter.

The Centrality of the Cross

I. Introduction: The Cross was central to Christ's mission and is central to the Church's mission.

II. The Sign and Symbol of the Cross:

A. "Every religion and ideaology has its visual symbol, which illustrates a significant feature of its history or beliefs."

1. The Lotus Flower = Buddhism

2. The Star of David = modern Judaism

3. The Crescent = Islam

4. The Hammer and Sickle = Communism

5. The Swastika = Nazism

6. The Fish (ICHTHYS) = early Christianity

B. From the second century on, the Cross has been a "universally acceptable Christian emblem," because the Church has wished to commemorate the death of Christ above all.

C. The Cross was horrific and offensive both to Romans and to Jews.

III. The Perspective of Jesus:

A. "The centrality of the cross originated in the mind of Jesus himself."

1. Even at age 12, Jesus knew He had a mission from His Father (Lk 2:41-50); the nature of this mission "emerges gradually in the narrative of the Gospels."

2. In His temptations, Jesus "committed himself to go God's way rather than the devil's."

3. After Peter's confession of Jesus as Christ, Jesus began to teach the apostles "plainly" about the Cross (Mk 8:31-32).

4. In addition to the teaching just mentioned, Mark records two other occasions when Jesus plainly predicted His death and resurrection: Mark 9:31 and 10:32-34.

5. Even more remarkable than Jesus "combining the two Old Testament Messianic figures"-- "the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 and the reigning Son of Man of Daniel 7"-- "is the determination [Jesus] both expressed and exemplified."

6. "[T]he Gospels record at least eight more occasions on which Jesus alluded to his death." [Stott mentions them all.]

7. "John records [seven times, as Stott explains]... that the hour for which [Jesus] had come into the world was the hour in which he left it."

B. Three intertwining reasons that Jesus gave for the inevitability of His death:

1. "[T]he hostility of the Jewish national leaders."

2. "[Death] is what stood written of the Messiah in the Scriptures."

3. Jesus made a deliberate choice to die in order to fulfill "his Father's will and finish his Father's work... for the salvation of sinners."

IV. The Apostles' Emphasis

A. The message concerning Jesus' death is found in the apostles' preaching, and the "seeds" for the full doctrine of the atonement are found in their teaching.

B. Important points found in the apostles' preaching:

1. There was a divine purpose in the death of Christ, and His death was foretold in the Scriptures.

2. Christ died under God's curse (with allusion to Deut 21:22-23), yet He was innocent.

3. The resurrection is presented as "the divine reversal of the human verdict"concerning Christ and the means through which God glorified the Jesus who had died.

C. The Cross in the writings of Paul, Peter, and John:

1. Paul defined his gospel as "the message of the Cross."

2. Peter emphasized the Cross as our example, but at the same time wrote of Christ as our sinbearer and substitute.

3. John emphasized the incarnation, but saw the incarnation as being with a view to the atonement.

D. In Hebrews, there is a particular emphasis on Christ as our "great high priest," who offers Himself as a sacrifice.

E. In Revelation, Jesus as the [sacrificed yet living] Lamb occupies center stage throughout.

V. Persistence Despite Opposition

A. In the case of making the Cross central, "Church tradition proved... to be a faithful reflection of Scripture."

B. The early Church kept the Cross central though they were ridiculed for their emphasis of the ignoble Cross.

C. Objections to the Cross:

1. Modern intellectuals, like the Greeks of old, see the Cross as foolishness.

2. The Koran in multiple places denies the Cross.

3. Hindus like Gandhi deny the saving significance of the Cross.

4. Modern philosophers detest the Cross as weak or barbaric.

D. Christians yet hold to the Cross out of integrity and personal loyalty to Jesus.

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