The Gospel of the Cross

Our continued look at the meaning and significance of the cross.

By W.W. Prescott

Proposition One.— Sin is a state of enmity against the holiness of God, which is expressed in overt acts of rebellion against the gov­ernment of God, and involves con­demnation, wrath, and death. Col. 1: 21; Rom. 5: 16; 1: 18; 2: 5; 1: 32; 6: 16, 23; 5: 12, 21.


Proposition Two.The gospel of the cross is the good news that " God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." 2 Cor. 5: 14-21, A. R. V.

a. The death of Christ was a racial death. 2 Cor. 5: 14. The last Adam, the second man, was the new head of humanity. What He did was reckoned as having been done by humanity repre­sented in Him.

b. He Himself became " the propitia­tion " (the atoning sacrifice) for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2: 2.

c. The death and the resurrection of Christ are inseparable, and taken together they constitute the cen­tral feature of the gospel. 2 Cor. 5: 15; 1 Cor. 15: 1-4.

d. Through His death and resurrec­tion there is provided the power for a new creation. 2 Cor. 5: 17.

e. Reconciliation is the direct act of God through Christ. Verse 18.

f. The whole world was reconciled to God at the cross. Verse 19 (cf. 1 John 2: 1, 2).

g. God reckoned the sins of the world to His own Son, and judged them on Him. 2 Cor. 5: 19 (cf. Isa. 55: 5, 6, 12) ; Luke 22: 37 (cf. Rev. 18: 20).

h. Thus God made Him to be sin on our behalf. 2 Cor. 5: 21.

i. This act on God's part made it possible for us to become the righteousness of God in Him. Verse 21.

j. The climax of the act of reconcil­iation was at the cross. Rom. 5:10; Eph. 2:13-16; Col. 1: 20-22.

k. At the cross both God and man were justified. Rom. 5: 9; 3: 24, 25; Ps. 51: 3, 4; Rom. 4: 24.

l. God in Christ accepted the condem­nation, the death, due to sin, and by a suffering obedience made atonement to His own holiness. Isa. 53: 4-8, 10-12; John 1: 29 (margin) ; Phil. 2: 8; Rom. 5: 19; Heb. 5:8; 2:9, 10; 9:26; 10: 5-9; Matt. 20: 28; Rev. 5: 9.

m. The central feature of the gospel is the atonement, the mediation of forgiveness through the suf­ferings and death of Christ. 1 Cor. 15: 1-4; Rom. 4: 25; 1 Peter 2: 24; Eph. 1: 7; 1 Cor. 1: 18.

Proposition Three.The cross repre­sents a voluntary and a vicarious, or substitutionary, or representa­tive death in behalf of sinners. John 10: 17, 18 (cf. Matt. 27: 50; Mark 15: 37; Luke 23: 46; John 19: 30); Gal. 1: 4; 2 Cor. 5: 14; Matt. 20: 28 (cf. John 11: 49-52).

Proposition Four.At the cross the world became a reconciled world, although not a saved world. 2 Cor. 5: 19 (cf. 1 John 2: 2).

Proposition Five.To the ministers of the gospel has been given the priv­ilege of proclaiming to all, that the world has been reconciled to God through the cross. 2 Cor. 5: 18, 19.

Proposition Six.The reconciliation which God accomplished in Christ, is received through Christ. Rom. 5: 11.

 Proposition Seven.In order to appro­priate the benefit of the death and resurrection of Christ, we must be united with Him in that experi­ence. Rom. 6: 1-7, 11; 7: 4-6; Gal. 2:19, 20; Col. 3: 3; 1 Peter 2: 24; Gal. 6: 14 (cf. Eph. 4: 20-24) ; Col. 3: 9, 10.


The Right Understanding of Christ's Gospel

Those only who realize that the cross is the center of hope for the human family can understand the gospel that Christ taught.—" Testimonies for the Church," Mrs. E. G. White, Vol. VIII, page 206.

All Truth in the Light of the Cross

The sacrifice of Christ as an atone­ment for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In or­der to be rightly understood and appre­ciated, every truth in the word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption,— the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foun­dation of every discourse given by our ministers.—" Gospel Workers," Mrs. E. G. White, p. 315.

The Real Essence of the Gospel Message

There is a great work to be done. The world will not be converted by the gift of tongues, or by the working of miracles, but by preaching Christ cru­cified.—" Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers," Mrs. E. G. White, p. 424. [Note the difference between preaching the crucifixion of Christ and preaching Christ crucified. In the for­mer case the cross is a mere incident in the life of a person; in the latter case a person is preached who died and lived again, who conquered death, and who now lives to impart to all believ­ers the victory which He gained for them on the cross.]

The Central Point of AN Christianity

The crucified Messiah is the central point of all Christianity.—" Counsels to Teachers," Mrs. E. G. White, p. 24.

The Place of the Cross

The cross must be uplifted, and its place in the gospel work shown. . . . The cross is the center of all religious institutions. —" Testimonies for the Church," Mrs. E. G. White, Vol. VI, pp. 240, 241.

He [Christ] knows that the cross must occupy the central place, because it is the means of man's atonement, and because of the influence it exerts on every part of the divine government. —Id., p. 236.

The Sin-pardoning Saviour

The very first and most important thing is to melt and subdue the soul by presenting our Lord Jesus Christ as the sin-pardoning Saviour. Never should a sermon be preached, or Bible instruction in any line be given, with­out pointing the hearers to " the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1: 29. Every true doctrine makes Christ the center, every precept receives force from His words. Keep before the people the cross of Cal­vary.— Id., p. 54.

The Center of Teaching and Study

Let the youth make the word of God the food of mind and soul. Let the cross of Christ be made the science of all education, the center of all, teaching and all study.—Id., Vol. VIII, p. 320.

Five Points Concerning Reconciliation

First, you will note that the recon­ciliation is between two persons who have fallen out, and not between a fail­ing person on the one hand and a per­fect, imperturbable process on the other.

The second thing is a corollary from the first, and is that the reconciliation affects and alters both parties and not only one party. There was reconcilia­tion on both sides.

Third, it is a reconciliation which rests upon atonement and redemption.

Fourth, it is a reconciliation of the world as a cosmic whole. The world as one whole; not a person here and another there, snatched as brands from the burning; not a group here and a group there; but the reconciliation of the whole world.

Fifth, it is a reconciliation final in Jesus Christ and His cross, done once for all; really effected in the spiritual world in such a way that in history the great victory is not still to be won; it has been won in reality, and has only to be followed up and secured in actuality. In the 'spiritual place, in Christ Jesus, in the divine nature, the victory has been won. That is what I mean by using the word " final " at the close of the list.—" The Work of Christ," P. T. Forsythe, pp. 76, 77.

What Reconciliation Accomplished

In reconciliation the ground for God's wrath or God's judgment was put away. Guilt rests on God's charging up sin; reconciliation rests upon God's nonimputation of sin; God's nonimpu­tation of sin rests upon Christ's being Made sin for us. You have thus three stages in„this magnificent verse [2 Cor. 5: 19]. God's reconciliation rested upon this, that on His eternal Son, who knew no sin in His experience (although He knew more about sin than any man who ever lived), sin's judgment fell. Him who knew no sin by experience, God made sin. That is to say, God by Christ's own consent identified Him with sin in treatment, though not in feeling. God did not judge Him, but judged sin upon His head. He never once counted Him sin­ful; He was always well pleased with Him; it was part, indeed, of His own holy self-complacency. Christ was made sin for us, as He could never have been if He had been made a sin­ner. It was sin that had to be judged, more even than the sinner, in a world salvation, and God made Christ sin in this sense, that God, as it were, took Him in the place of sin, rather than of the sinner, and judged the sin upon Him; and in putting Him there He really put Himself there in our place (Christ being what He was) ; so that the divine judgment of sin was real and effectual. That is, it fell where it was perfectly understood, owned, and praised, and had the sanctifying effect of judgment, the effect of giving holi­ness at last its own. God made Him to be sin in treatment though not in feeling, so that holiness might be per­fected in judgment, and we might be­come the righteousness of God in Him; so that we might have in God's sight righteousness by our living union with Christ, righteousness which did not belong to us actually, naturally, and finally. Our righteousness is as little ours individually as the sin on Christ was His.—Id., pp. 82-84.

College View, Nebr.

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By W.W. Prescott

May 1928

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