John Stott includes four chapters under the heading 'Living Under the Cross' in his classic work on the centrality of the cross entitled The Cross Of Christ. In this particular section Stott focuses on how the cross relates to and effects the church, our service to others, our enemies, and all those who suffer in this world. Allow me to share a few quotes from each chapter.
Chapter 10: The Community of Celebration
- “Thus the very purpose of his self-giving on the cross was not just to save isolated individuals, and so perpetuate their loneliness, but to create a new community whose members would belong to him, love one another and eagerly serve the world. This community of Christ would be nothing less than a renewed and reunited humanity…” (255)
- “ And from the Day of Pentecost onwards it has been clear that conversion to Christ means also conversion to the community of Christ, as people turn from themselves to him, and from ‘this corrupt generation’ to the alternative society which he is gathering round himself. These two transfers- of personal allegiance and social membership – cannot be separated.” (255)
- “What we are (our self or personal identity) is partly the result of the creation (the image of God) and partly the result of the Fall (the image defaced). The self we are to deny, disown and crucify is our fallen self, everything in us that is incompatible with Jesus Christ…The self we are to affirm and value is our created self, everything in us that is compatible with Jesus Christ…True self-denial is not the road to self-destruction but the road to self-discovery.” (282)
- “So then, whatever we are by creation we must affirm; our rationality, our sense of moral obligation, our sexuality (whether masculinity or femininity), our family life, our gifts of aesthetic appreciation and artistic creativity, our stewardship of the fruitful earth, our hunger for love and experience of community, our awareness of the transcendent majesty of God, and our inbuilt urge to fall down and worship him. All this (and more) is part of our created humanness. True, it has been tainted and twisted by sin. Yet Christ came to redeem it, not to destroy it. So we must gratefully and positively affirm it.” (282)
- “Whatever we are by the fall, however, we must deny or repudiate: our irrationality, our moral perversity, our blurring of sexual distinctives and lack of sexual self-control, the selfishness which spoils our family life, our fascination with the ugly, our lazy refusal to develop God’s gifts, our pollution and spoliation of the environment, the anti-social tendencies which inhibit true community, our proud autonomy, and our idolatrous refusal to worship the living and true God. All this (and more) is part of our fallen humanness. Christ came not to redeem this but to destroy it. So we must strenuously deny or repudiate it.” (282-3)
- “If our peace-making is to be modeled on our heavenly Father’s, however, we shall conclude at once that it is quite different from appeasement.” (296)
- “We have no right to expect, therefore, that we should be able to engage in conciliation work at no cost to ourselves…” (296)
- “Although the followers of Jesus never have the right to refuse forgiveness, let alone to take revenge, we are not permitted to cheapen forgiveness by offering it prematurely when there has been no repentance.” (296)
- “What Scripture does give us warrant to say, however, is that God’s eternal holy love, which was uniquely exhibited in the sacrifice of the cross, continues to suffer with us in every situation in which it is called forth.” (330)
- “There is good biblical evidence that God not only suffered in Christ, but that God in Christ suffers with his people still…It is wonderful that we may share in Christ’s sufferings; it is more wonderful still that he shares in ours.” (335)
Having finally finished the book I can say unequivocally that it is a classic and holds a spot in my 'Must Read' list. The book was most powerful through the middle sections dealing with key realities such as divine satisfaction and substitution, propitiation, redemption, justification, and reconciliation. Nevertheless, it is a formidable work of literature throughout its entirety.