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Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the…

Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing

by C. J. Mahaney

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The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing by C.J. Mahaney (?)
  journeyguy | Apr 2, 2013 |
To begin, I should say I have a very low tolerance for "touchy feely" books on living the Christian life. We live in a world that has pushed theology and doctrine into the realm of the specialists, leaving feelings alone as a measure of the Christian life for the common man. I'm not certain our culture is unique in this regard; the Puritans' deep desire for an emotional connection with God could have been ripped out of the modern Christian book store.

C.J. Mahoney, however, surprised me with this short book. While he doesn't dive deeply into theology, he does center on theology and thinking, rather than emotion. In fact, Dr. Mahoney is insistent that our constant reliance on our emotions is damaging our spiritual growth —something of a fresh wind in our Christian culture. What's more, the doctrine he does deliver is dead center, respecting the Scriptures in the fullest sense of the concept.

He begins by explaining why the Cross should be the center of our lives, or rather why Christians can never really leave the Cross behind. He then focuses on the difference between feeling and thinking, or rather what you feel verses what is real. Faith is, after all, living your life in light of that which you know to be true even though current circumstances don't seem to support that truth.

The next chapter slips somewhat, drawing a picture of God's love for people. Here he makes the classic mistake of inserting a quantitative statement in the words of Christ in John 3:16, rather than a qualitative one. This is a mistake taken up by the large majority of the commentaries in the world, however, so it's hard to fault the author for it. After this, he draws his reader into the divine dilemma —how can a perfectly just God save a people justly condemned to eternal death?

Dr. Mahoney works through the final week of the life of Christ, placing each of us into the scenes we find there. We are each condemning Christ, calling for his death. In the face of all this, the author turns again to the love of God, and how he not only covered our sins, but also understands our suffering in a sinful world.
In the two chapters, the author moves into practical application. These are the most valuable chapters in the book, explaining precisely what legalism is (trying to please God through our own will and actions), and how to unload condemnation. Here is a picture of the spirit filled life almost anyone, of any theological persuasion, can embrace and use to their advantage.

Well worth reading. ( )
  RussWhite | Jul 15, 2012 |
Good book on the gospel. I especially enjoyed his narration of the gospel with the events leading up to it as well as the penultimate chapter which gave some good practical suggestions. ( )
  matthauck | Apr 13, 2010 |
A worthwhile read. The essential message is captured in the title and earns high marks. I'm someone who most appreciates books that are so chock full of worthwhile nuggets that they cannot be read quickly. This was not such a book. You could opt to read the whole thing in an extended sitting, if you wished. ( )
  dvalliere | Mar 19, 2010 |
Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing written by pastor C.J. Mahaney, who leads the leadership team of Sovereign Grace Ministries. This book helps the Christian dwell on what is most important, a life centered on the cross. We thank God for the cross His and ours. Mahaney sums his thesis in a quote: "The Spirit does not take his pupils beyond the cross, but ever more deeply into it." It’s a small and quick read full of cross centered scriptures as I Cor. 2:2 “determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" which exemplifies a life centered on the work of the cross.

Those who have been Christians for many years and even those in leadership forget at times the most fundamental teaching in all of the Scripture – the message of the cross (I Cor. 15:3-4). Mahaney argues quite adamantly for the centrality o the cross in the life of the Christ follower. He offers an invitation given by John Stott: “The Cross is a blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled, but we have to get near enough for its sparks to fall on us.” Then the question is raised do you consider the cross of Jesus to be the great and most glorious of all subjects?

Mahaney goes after stressing the importance of the cross in the introduction to explaining its meaning and revisits its most poignant scenes. He teaches that only the cross can give meaning and hope to our suffering, and offers assurance and joy. The book closes with some practical suggestions on how to cultivate a more cross-centered mindset and a final plea to keep the gospel the main thing.

For it’s through the cross we overcome not only the guilt of sin, but also the power of sin (Rom. 6:18). The gospel empowers and motivates us in our ongoing pursuit of holiness. This book helps one to grasp the need for the cross and develop a God-centered theology. Mahaney's book wants nothing less than the cross of Christ to be supreme at the core of our beings. In our theology and in practice, in faith and in works, in putting on Christ and putting off sin, the gospel must take center stage. If there's anything in life we should be passionate about, it's the gospel...passionate in thinking about the gospel, reflecting upon it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world and all of life. We also in the end of the book enter into Gethsemane and appreciate the Savior's final agonizing moments on the cross. ( )
  moses917 | Feb 18, 2010 |
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