West London Alliance Church

First posted February 17, 2009:

Book Overview: Living The Cross Centered Lif
e: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing
By C. J. Mahaney
Introduction – At The Core
  • The cross is of primary importance and is the “one transcendent truth that should define our lives” (p14)
  • “For not only does this good news come first chronologically in our Christian experience, but it stays foremost in critical for creating and sustaining our joy and our fruitfulness…” (p15)
  • Three tendencies takes draw us away: 1) subjectivism 2) legalism 3) condemnation
  • We don’t move away from the cross, only into a more profound understanding of the cross
  • There is nothing more captivating or overpowering to the soul than climbing Calvary
Chapter One – The Climax and the Key
  • Paul to Timothy: you don’t need a new truth, you need to guard the one truth
  • The cross and the resurrection are of first importance…but once the resurrection has occurred the cross remains central
  • “Some might find it surprising that I would teach a young boy about God’s wrath towards sin. But I find it surprising that any loving person would withhold this truth from another person they love. Because only when we understand God’s wrath towards sin can we realize we need to be saved from it.” (p29)
Chapter Two – The Divine Order
  • If we want the gospel to move our hearts and engage our emotions we must put our feelings in the proper place
  • “We let our feelings tell us what’s true, instead of letting the truth transform our feelings.” (p33)
  • We invest our feeling with final authority over truth: this is arrogance
  • If we will focus on truth our feeling will follow and they will be reliable feelings
  • We don’t ignore evaluating our feelings, we just don’t start there
  • Quoting Lloyd-Jones: “Have you realized that mot of the unhappiness in your life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?” (p37)
  • Talking to ourselves has an outward objective focus whereas listening to ourselves has a inward subjective focus
  • “The cross centered life starts with biblical thinking.” (p41)
Chapter Three – Searching The Mystery
  • God only promises to accompany the preaching of the gospel with saving effect, not the depiction of it (The Passion)
  • The only part we play in the divine drama on Calvary is contributing to the sin that makes the suffering of Christ necessary
  • Any illustration of heroic sacrifice falls short of being adequate because there is no adequate illustration of the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ
  • “Who killed Jesus? God did.” (p56)
Chapter Four – The Divine Dilemma
  • A great answer to the question ‘How are you?’… Better than I deserve.
  • "R. C. Sproul wrote that the most perplexing question is not why there's suffering in the world, but why God tolerates us in our sinfulness." (p61)
  • In the conflict between God and man only one person has been offended; God is profoundly aggrieved by us and yet He is fully innocent
Chapter Five – The Divine Rescue
  • “Our Mediator’s work would be a labor of blood.” (69)
  • “John Stott expressed it this way: ‘Divine love triumphed over divine wrath by divine self-sacrifice.’” (p71)
  • We have no way to atone for our sin and no way to free our selves from sin’s enslavement
  • Christ’s mediation brought peace with God and release from condemnation
  • We must deeply understand Christ’s work and take it to heart so we can share it accurately and passionately
Chapter Six – Staring Into The Cup
  • Christ’s sorrow is so profound He comes close to death
  • Christ was not surprised by death’s approach and yet he was horrified and distressed…why?
  • It is because of unprecedented and incomparable suffering of wrath and abandonment
  • The cup Jesus asked be removed? The cup of God’s wrath
  • Needing God’s comfort and support more than ever…in history…separation from God was put before Him
Chapter Seven - Your Face In The Crowd
  • After Gethsemane, Christ is no longer troubled…what is the difference? His obedience.
  • In the Calvary scene the only ones with which we should identify are thos in the mob screaming ‘crucify Him’
  • Only those truly aware of their sin can truly cherish grace
Chapter Eight – The Scream Of The Damned
  • What keeps Christ on the cross? His passion to do the will of the Father and His love for us
  • Jesus could not save himself and save you and me…He refused to save himself so He was able to save others
  • Jesus experienced what no human ever has or will have to experience – the full and furious wrath of the Father
  • Christ’s loneliness was an desolating abandonment that none shall ever fully experience
Chapter Nine – What God Understands
  • “But I do know in our time of deepest affliction, none of us find comfort by endlessly focusing on that suffering. There’s am element of mystery in all our suffering, and in this life we can’t fully understand it, yet we face a subtle temptation to relive and review our suffering. That’s an exercise which will never bring rest and release.” (p98)
  • The ideal time to prepare for suffering is never in the midst of it
Chapter Ten – Assurance And Joy
  • Quoting Thomas Watson: “Your sufferings are not so great as your sins: Put these two in the balance, and see which is heaviest.” (p105)
  • Never let there be a lengthy time where we are not receiving inspiration and direction directly from the cross
Chapter Eleven – Breaking The Rule Of Legalism
  • Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and justification before God through obedience to God
  • “Legalism is essentially self-atonement for the purpose of self-glorification and ultimately for self-worship.” (p113)
  • We change what God intends as a means of experiencing grace into a means of earning grace
  • Justification is not progressive and admits no degrees
  • One is either wholly justified or wholly condemned in God’s sight
Chapter Twelve – Unloading Condemnation
  • “Don’t buy the lie that cultivating condemnation and wallowing in your shame is somehow pleasing to God, or that a constant, low-grade guilt will somehow promote holiness and spiritual maturity.” (p126)
  • To live a cross centered life one must face their own depravity without flinching
  • You are the worst sinner you know!
Chapter Thirteen – The Cross Centered Day
  • “A cross centered life is made up of cross centered days.” (p132)
  • The most important daily habit: reminding ourselves of the gospel
  • How do we do it:
  1. Memorize the gospel
  2. Pray the gospel
  3. Sing the gospel
  4. Review how the gospel has changed you
  5. Study the gospel
Chapter Fourteen – Never Move On
  • The gospel isn’t one class of many, it is the whole building you take classes in
  • To understand the Old Testament you must grasp that the cross is the center of all human history

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