..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

A.W. Tozer: The Old Cross & The New

The OLD CROSS and the NEW
by A.W. Tozer.

All unannounced and mostly undetected there
has come in modern times a new cross into
popular evangelical circles. It is like the
old cross, but different: the likenesses are
superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy
of the Christian life, and from that new
philosophy has come a new evangelical technique
- a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching.
This new evangelism employs the same language as
the old, but its content is not the same and its
emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world.
For Adam's proud flesh it meant the end of the
journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed
by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed
to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and,
if understood aright, it is the source of oceans
of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets
Adam live without interference. His life motivation
is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure,
only now he takes delight in singing choruses and
watching religious movies instead of singing
bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor.

The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun
is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different
evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not
demand abnegation of the old life before a new
life can be received. He preaches not contrasts
but similarities. He seeks to key into public
interest by showing that Christianity makes no
unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same
thing the world does, only on a higher level.

Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring
after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the
very thing the gospel offers, only the religious
product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it
redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner
and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect.
To the self-assertive it says, "Come and assert
yourself for Christ." To the egotist it says,
"Come and do your boasting in the Lord." To the
thrill-seeker it says, "Come and enjoy the thrill
of Christian fellowship." The Christian message is
slanted in the direction of the current vogue in
order to make it acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be
sincere but its sincerity does not save it from
being false. It is false because it is blind. It
misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for
the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man
in Roman times who took up his cross and started
down the road had already said good-by to his friends.
He was not coming back. He was going out to have it
ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing,
spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely
and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms
with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when
it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is
no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any
of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear
or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the
individual by liquidating him and then raising him
again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels
between the ways of God and the ways of men is false
to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers.
The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it
intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring
our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at
the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground
and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves
as public relations agents sent to establish good will
between Christ and the world. We must not imagine
ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to
big business, the press, the world of sports or modern
education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our
message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The
life He offers is life out of death. It stands always
on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it
must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and
concur in God's just sentence against him. What does
this mean to the individual, the condemned man who
would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology
be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and
believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to
forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing,
excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God,
but let him bow his head before the stroke of God's stern
displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this let him gaze with simple trust
upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life
and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that
ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to
the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from
the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ.

To any who may object to this or count it merely a
narrow and private view of truth, let me say God has
set His hallmark of approval upon this message from
Paul's day to the present. Whether stated in these
exact words or not, this has been the content of all
preaching that has brought life and power to the
world through the centuries. The mystics, the reformers,
the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and
signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy
Ghost gave witness to God's approval.

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper
with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase
the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown
us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the
old cross and we will know the old power.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If Brother Tozer were alive today, he would be grieved beyond comprehension to see how true his words were then and how large the new Cross has become.

We are not turning the world upside down like the early saints because we know not the Cross they had so we cannot have the life they did.

It does appear that He will return soon and I am not confident that He will like what He sees in those called by His name.