The cross: the most precious gift we have to offer the world

Richard Coekin | June 18th 2020

Many Christians may feel familiar with the basics of Christ crucified. But the more we can understand about the cross, the more we’ll delight in God’s amazing grace, and the better we’ll be able to explain it to unbelieving family, friends and colleagues.

The Cross Is There From Start to Finish 

Christ crucified is central to Christianity. The cross is the purpose of creation and the turning point of history, the climax of Scripture and the heart of our faith. It is the highest revelation of God’s glory and the deepest joy of our eternity—forever stirring the vast crowds of heaven to worship the Lamb of God who was slain (Revelation 5 v 6-10)!

The Cross in Four Words

The Cross in Four Words

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Discover how the cross delivers everything the world needs most.

And the cross saturates the pages of Scripture from start to finish. For example, one word used for the cross (translated “cross” in Acts 10 v 39 and “pole” in Galatians 3 v 13) is also used at the beginning of Scripture, in the Garden of Eden, for the “tree of life” keeping God’s people alive (Genesis 2 v 9). At the end, in Revelation 22 v 2, in a beautiful vision of God’s new creation, the same “tree of life” is there to heal and sustain God’s people for ever. This language points to the fact that Christ crucified is the center of everything.

Themes of The Cross

Surveying the whole of Scripture, we find that by his death, Christ has glorified his Father in many marvellous ways—too many to describe in detail here. For example, his death completed an exemplary Christian life that shows us how to live. His death disarmed Satan’s claims upon us by suffering the penalty we deserve under God’s law. And his death has saved us into a new humanity. But the supreme accomplishment of Jesus’ death was in satisfying God’s holy justice. He accepted onto himself, like a lightning conductor, all God’s anger against our sin. By faith in him, our sin is no longer counted against us.

The most precious gift we have to offer the people of this world and the communities where we live is the life-saving message of “Christ crucified”.

The background which explains this wondrous accomplishment is found in three unfolding themes, beautiful crimson threads, flowing throughout the Old Testament. This is why the risen Jesus himself turned to the Old Testament to explain his death to his bewildered
disciples on the road to the village of Emmaus:

“How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24 v 25-27)

Paul, too, emphasised the importance of the cross in the Scriptures when he wrote:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15 v 3)

We will marvel more at the beauty of the cross, and be able to explain “Christ crucified” more clearly to others, when we follow these three crimson threads through the Old Testament to discover how the death of Christ brings us freedom, forgiveness and justice.

Purpose and The Cross

There is a fourth word which will also help us to fully embrace Christ crucified: Purpose. In a world full of people crying out to know who they are and why they exist, the cross of Christ fills our lives and our churches with the all-consuming mission and deeply satisfying purpose for which we have been created and re-created: to pick up our own cross and follow Jesus in a life of sacrificial service for the salvation of others.

As Christians we seek to love the people around us in every way that the Bible commands. We resist injustice, prejudice and ecological irresponsibility; we seek relief for victims of crime, poverty and trafficking; we contend for freedom of speech, protection of the unborn and the reformation of church denominations. But the most precious gift we have to offer the people of this world and the communities where we live is the life-saving message of “Christ crucified”. It is the power of God to save sinners from the horrors of hell, for the holiness of heaven, in happiness forever.

This is an extract from the introduction of The Cross In Four Words, which looks at how the cross wins us freedom, forgiveness, justice and purpose. Written by Kevin DeYoung, Richard Coekin, and Yannick Christos-Wahab, this book sums up the victory of the cross in those four words and explores what that means for us.You can buy a copy here. 

Richard Coekin

Richard Coekin is CEO of the London-wide Co-Mission church-planting network and Senior Pastor of Dundonald Church, one of Co-Mission's churches in South West London. A renowned Bible teacher and the author of several books including Our Father and Ephesians For You, Richard is married to Sian and they have five children.

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