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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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This little book on what the cross of Christ means and what its implications are for believers (and unbelievers) is outstanding. Mahaney belongs to a dying breed of authors who understand the very heart of the gospel--Christ's death:

What we face is the righteous threat of furious wrath from a holy God. That is the threat faced by all who have gone astray, by each one who has turned to his own way.... We are indeed guilty of sin and deserving punishment.
      But the innocent One, the holy One--God the Son--stepped forward to die for the rest of us. On that cross the Servant suffered for sinners like you and me, because of sinners like you and me--and as the substitute for sinners like you and me.
      He takes the punishment that you and I richly deserve... [T]hose who have been granted new eyes perceive that He was indeed smitten by God and afflicted--not for His sin, but for ours.

Be Persuaded of His Love
The motivation of God the Father in sacrificing His Son as our substitute is uniquely revealed--shockingly and startlingly exposed--in verse 10 of Isaiah 53: "It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief." The death of the Servant was not the fruit of human initiative and design; it was God's plan, God's purpose, God's will.
      Who killed Jesus?
      God did. God the Father was ultimately responsible for the death of His Son. God is telling us, "I purposefully determined to crush My Son with My wrath--for your sins, as your substitute."
      "Because I love you." (pp. 55-56, emphasis his)
That is the gospel! I do, however, think Mahaney should've added Proverbs 17:15--"He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD" (NASB)--and Genesis 18:25--"Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?"--to further elaborate "The Divine Dilemma" chapter.

And while Mahaney thinks that 1 Timothy 2:5-6--"For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time"--"succinctly captures the main theme and essence of the entirety of holy Scripture" (p. 70), I think Romans 3:25-26--"God displayed [Jesus] publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus"--better fits the description.

Mahaney also interprets 1 Timothy 2:4--"[God our Savior] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth"--out of context, for "the LORD has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Proverbs 16:4). The verse really means that God desires all kinds of men to be saved.

Additionally, He thinks that Christians still remain sinners to some extent (pp. 29, 117, 129-30) and, ironically, argues that the prostitute who visited Jesus in Luke 7:36-50 was already a Christian, though the Bible says that she was a sinner and that Jesus forgave her.

Overall, this book is an excellent presentation and explanation of the gospel. If Mahaney had included a chapter on how sinful man is compared to God's perfect law, this would be a nearly perfect book to give to an unbeliever. It is nevertheless a must-read for all Christians, especially new Christians, and for backsliders and false converts. ( )
  cemontijo | Jan 18, 2016 |
The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing by C.J. Mahaney (?)
  journeyguy | Apr 2, 2013 |
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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