In the early years of the third millenium there was a lot of debate in the UK (and to some extent in the US) about the Cross and what exactly happened there. Steve Chalke famously caricatured the traditional ‘penal substitution’ understanding that Christ took the wrath of God in the place of sinners as “cosmic child abuse” (Chalke & Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus, 2004, pp. 182-183). I was at theological college at the time, and one that was close to the debate, and I remember the heated (quite rightly) discussions. This was not a mere academic debate but one that got, as most people on both sides realised, to the very heart of the gospel and the Christian message.
In many ways it was a very healthy time of debate with lots of good things coming out of it. There is always a danger of doctrine getting dusty, over-familiar and sloppily expressed (or assumed). It’s always good to bring the most important things to the forefront, re-examine the Scriptures, sharpen our understanding, express things clearly for a new generation, and most importantly be freshly amazed and awed at the glory of God. Perhaps Steve Chalke was raised up for such a purpose. One of the key books to come out of this period was Pierced for our Transgressions (Crossway, 2007). There Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey and Andrew Sach but together a very strong argument for penal substitution from Scripture, systematic theology and church history while also addressing all the major attacks and concerns from those who oppose this understanding of the atonement.
Now Steve Jeffery and Andrew Sach have given us a much shorter, punchy, accessible book on the Cross.
In a book that takes only an hour to read they call us back to four crucially important but often neglected aspects of the Cross of Christ:
- Pierced for our transgressions – that Christ took our punishment.
- To destroy the work of the devil – that Christ defeated the evil spiritual powers.
- Take up his Cross and follow me – that we walk the way of service and suffering
- Crucified with Christ – our participation in Christ’s death and resurrection
The book ends with the only right response to all this – worship.
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise. (Rev. 5:12)
[The Cross is available from iServe Africa Bookstore for 200 KES]