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 to 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 a 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-bye 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 men, 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 a 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 the newness
of life. That evangelism that 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 goodwill 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
A. W. Tozer, ‘Man, the Dwelling Place of God.’