Along with my friend Steve Moore, I am re-reading The Cross Centred Life by C. J. Mahaney – it is a short, simple and powerful exultation of the necessity of living your life focussing upon the cross and Gospel of Jesus Christ, and is based upon a simple *fear* that we no longer live such lives. In chapter 2 Mahaney introduces the three main tendencies which draw our hearts away from living with the cross as central to our lives – he suggests they are:
- Legalism, which means basing our relationship with God on our own performance.
- Condemnation, which means being more focussed on our own sin than on Gods grace.
- Subjectivism, which means basing our view of God on our changing feelings and emotions.
Each of these are so easily followed, consider the following untrue statements and how often such thinking pervades our living – God is more delighted with me when I have a quiet time in the morning, God loves me more when I don’t sin, God is closer to me when I feel closer to him. Undoubtedly God likes us to spend time with him, to mortify sin in our bodies and wants us to have a lifestyle (heart, mind and body) which are conscious of his presence each day. But we have to make sure our lives are God focussed, filled with grace and God’s power, not with our own self effort.
A life surrendered to God means living by faith in his gracious provision in Christ – once you have surrendered you can take up the power of the Gospel and live a God pleasing life in the way he intended. Try it today!
In the following chapters Mahaney goes on to expound each issue and helps believers to refocus on the cross. He also quotes D.A. Carson, words which are a salutary warning to modern Christians and churches:
“I fear that the cross, without ever being disowned, is constantly in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy, by relatively peripheral insights that take on far too much weight. Whenever the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed for idolatry.”
In pondering the centrality of the Gospel in my own life I then looked up some other quotes about the cross and Gospel – they are well worth pondering;
“The gospel is not only the most important message in all of history; it is the only essential message in all of history. Yet we allow thousands of professing Christians to live their entire lives without clearly understanding it and experiencing the joy of living by it.” Jerry Bridges
“The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.” Tim Keller
“All God’s plans have the mark of the cross on them, and all His plans have death to self in them.” E. M Bounds
“The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a Savior from Hell rather than a Savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness.” Arthur W. Pink
“The Law saith, Where is thy righteousness, goodness, and satisfaction? The Gospel saith, Christ is thy righteousness, goodness, and satisfaction.” Patrick Hamilton