West London Alliance Church

TBT@ITT - More from Stott


Originally posted March 25, 2009:

I'm still working through John Stott's excellent work entitled The Cross of Christ. It has been an incredible read and a very thorough study of Christ's work on Calvary.


Although I am only about half-way through the book, the last two chapters have been outstanding. I remember reading through Knowing God by J. I. Packer last year and being astounded by his chapter on adoption. It was the best chapter of theology that I had read. Chapters six and seven of the The Cross of Christ belong with Packer's chapter on adoption.

Chapter Six is entitled The Self-substitution of God. Here are a few quotes:

“Because God never contradicts himself, he must be himself and ‘satisfy’ himself, acting in absolute consistency with the perfection of his character. ‘It is the recognition of this divine necessity, or the failure to recognize it,’ wrote James Denney, ‘which ultimately divides interpreters of Christianity into evangelical and non-evangelical, those who are true to the New Testament and those who cannot digest it.’” (133)

“Both verses [Gal. 3:14, 2 Cor. 5:21) thus indicate that when we are united to Christ a mysterious exchange takes place: he took our curse, so that we may receive his blessing; he became sin with our sin, so that we may become righteous with his righteousness.” (148)


“For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man.” (160)

Chapter Seven is entitled The Salvation of Sinners. A few more quotes for you:

“…so the salvation of Christ is illustrated by the vivid imagery of terms like ‘propitiation’, ‘redemption’, ‘justification’ and ‘reconciliation’…” (167)

“Such images [propitiation, redemption, justification, reconciliation] are indispensable aids to human understanding of doctrine. And what they convey, being God-given, is true. Yet we must not deduce from this that to have understood the images is to have exhausted the meaning of the doctrine. For beyond the images of the atonement lies the mystery of the atonement, the deep wonders of which, I guess, we shall be exploring throughout eternity.” (168)

“They [propitiation, redemption, justification, reconciliation] are not alternative explanations of the cross, providing us with a range to choose from, but complementary to one another, each contributing a vital part to the whole.” (168)

“As for the imagery, ‘propitiation’ introduces us to rituals at a shrine, ‘redemption’ to transactions in a market-place, ‘justification’ to proceedings in a lawcourt, and ‘reconciliation’ to experiences in home or family. My contention is that ‘substitution’ is not a further ‘theory’ or ‘image’ to be set alongside the others, but rather the foundation of them all, without which each lacks cogency.” (168)

Can the book really get any better? We'll have to find out!


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