One of the benefits of attending this year’s “Together for the Gospel” meeting in Louisville was receiving many FREE books. Among these “friends” was a small gem (167 pages), “The Truth of the Cross” by R. C. Sproul.
Dr. Sproul beautifully presents the meaning, significance, and purpose of the cross according to the Scripture and he does so in an easy to read, enjoyable way. As is typical in his writings, this work includes great illustrations both from the author’s own life as well as from history. For example, to introduce a discussion on the vicarious atonement, Dr. Sproul recalls his attendance at the deciding game of the NBA Eastern Conference championship between Orlando and Indiana. He brings his illustration to a close in this way:
…if we like the outcome, we have a tendency to say, “We won.” We identify so closely with our favorite teams that when they’re victorious we include ourselves in the victory. …This is what is known as a vicarious experience.But the book is not simply a collection of personal illustrations. It is loaded with Biblical truth and solid application. Early in the book, Dr. Sproul discusses people in general and the subject of the atonement.
…I came to the conclusion that people are not concerned about an atonement. They are basically convinced they have no need for it. They aren’t asking: “How can I be reconciled to God? How can I escape the judgment of God?” If anything has been lost from our culture, it is the idea that human beings are privately, personally, individually, ultimately, inexorably accountable to God for their lives.”Or, here is another classic paragraph from this work on the matter of justification:
The prevailing doctrine of justification today is not justification by faith alone. It’s not even justification by good works or by a combination of faith and works. The prevailing notion of justification in Western culture today is justification by death. It’s assumed that all one has to do to be received into the everlasting arms of God is to die.“The Truth of the Cross” opens with a description of mankind’s condition. It moves to a discussion of the person of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. With a firm Biblical understanding of man and of Christ, Dr. Sproul then uses the Scripture to explain the nature and purpose of the atonement. And he does all this clearly and concisely.
I strongly recommend reading this book. Those who do not know Christ will be presented with the truth of their condition and their need for the atoning work of Jesus. Those who are believers will be encouraged and strengthened in the faith by what they read.