Articles

The Old Cross and the New, by A.W. Tozer
 

 The Old Cross and the New By A.W.Tozer
ALL UNANNOUNCED AND MOSTLY UNDETECTED there has come in modern times a new
cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but
different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and
from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique-a new type of
meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same
language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as
before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam's proud flesh it
meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by
the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it
is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of
good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without
interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own
pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching
religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor.
The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane
morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach.
The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life
can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key
into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant
demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher
level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the
moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the
religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into
a cleaner anal jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the
self-assertive it says, "Come and assert yourself for Christ." To the
egotist it says, "Come and do your boasting in the Lord." To the thrill
seeker it says, "Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship." The
Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order
to make it acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity
does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It
misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of
a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down
the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He
was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified
nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It
did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard,
and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no
escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they
may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by
liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and
the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers.
The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming
to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it
at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations
agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not
imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business,
the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but
prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life
out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would
possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in
God's just sentence against him.

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life
in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he
must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake
himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not
seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of
God's stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and
from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that
ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power
that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with
Christ.

To any who may object to this or count it merely a narrow and private view
of truth, let me say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message
from Paul's day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words or not,
this has been the content of all preaching that has brought life and power
to the world through the centuries. The mystics, the reformers, the
revivalists have put their emphasis here, and signs and wonders and mighty
operations of the Holy Ghost gave witness to God's approval.

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we
with our stubby pencils erase the lines of the blueprint or alter the
pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross
and we will know the old power.

 


[back]