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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 |
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 |
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