Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book Review: Cries from the Cross

Cries From the Cross: A Journey Into the Heart of Jesus. Erwin Lutzer. 2002. Moody. 170 pages.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

I loved this one. I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it. Why? Well, it's rich in gospel-truth for one thing! In Cries from the Cross, Erwin Lutzer spends one chapter on each of Jesus' seven 'cries' from the cross. Need a refresher course? Here they are in the order in which he writes about them:

A Cry for Pardon: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)
A Cry of Assurance: "Today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
A Cry of Compassion: "Dear woman, here is your son...Here is your mother." (John 29:26-27)
A Cry of Anguish: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)
A Cry of Suffering: "I am thirsty." (John 19:28)
A Cry of Victory: "It is finished." (John 19:30)
A Cry of Submission: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." (Luke 23:46)

Those chapters--along with the preface, introduction, and epilogue--do an amazing job of presenting the gospel. Not the easy gospel. Not the watered-down gospel. Not the afraid-to-tell-the-bad-news gospel. But the cross-centered, Christ-centered gospel. The gospel that calls for you and me and everyone to repent and believe.

Here is, in part, what he says in the preface:

To stand at the foot of the cross is to witness the purpose for which God created the world. Here we see the attributes of God on display; and if we look carefully, we will see ourselves, with all of our needs, sins, and self-deceptions. Thankfully, it is at the cross that God chose to remove His wrath from those who would humbly trust Christ as their sin-bearer. (11)

And here are some gems from the introduction:

The cross properly understood exalts no one whom it first does not humble; it gives life only to those whom it first "puts to death." The cross exposes the futility of our self-righteousness; it reminds us that we are sinners, incapable of bringing about our own reconciliation with God. Before the cross we can only stand with bowed heads and a broken spirit. (16)

Unless we see ourselves as deserving of the verdict that Pilate gave to Jesus, unless we see ourselves a worthy of hell, we will never understand the Cross. Someone has said that it is difficult for us to embrace the cross in a day when person enjoyment is king.
Contrary to popular belief, the central message of Christianity is not the Sermon on the Mount or Jesus' parables about love toward one's neighbor. The message that changed the first-century world was that human beings are guilty, helplessly guilty of sins for which they cannot atone. The cross shatters all pride and undercuts the ultimate value of self-effort. The cross stands as proof of God's great love but also reveals our own ugliness. (17)

Jesus' suffering was terrible for the simple reason that our sin is terrible. (20)

Today we often hear it said that God forgives people on the basis of His love rather than on the basis of His atoning sacrifice. Modern minds, having rationalized their sins, find it difficult to understand that God cannot extend His grace toward sinners until His holy justice is satisfied. (23)

As we shall learn, Christ was forsaken that we might not be; He experienced hell that we might experience heaven. (28)

And here are a couple of quotes from "A Cry For Pardon":

Certainly all sin makes us ignorant. We have no idea of the greatness of our sin because we do not understand the greatness of our God. (42)

There is no unpardonable sin for those who come to Christ for forgiveness. For those who refuse Him, all sins are unpardonable. (46)

And now "A Cry of Anguish":

Jesus went through darkness that we might have light. He was cursed that we might be blessed. He was condemned that we might be able to say, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). (103)

Either Jesus bears our sin, or we do. If the Father turned His face away from His beloved Son when He was regarded as a sinner, we can be sure that the Father will turn away from every sinner who stands before the Judgment Bar on his own merits. We are either saved by His rejection, or we must bear our own rejection for all of eternity. (103) 

I hope by sharing a couple of quotes, a couple of gems, that I can persuade you of this book's worth. For it is truly one of the best books I've read. It is a necessary book. A book with potential to change your life. It is rich in gospel truth, the kind of truth that can set you free. For it is only when you get the bad news AND the good news that you can find life, abundant life.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can never go wrong with an Erwin Lutzer book. I am gonna have read this one. I am curious what he says about the 7 last words of Jesus. My church does a 3 hour service in 25 minute segments every Good Friday on the 7 last words.