“If you take away the cross as an atoning act, you take away Christianity.” (p. 15)
As many have said, R. C. Sproul is excellent when it comes to describing orthodox Christianity in words that can be understood by all. He does so again in The Truth of the Cross.
The centrality of the atonement is assailed in our day. And most church members cannot explain their own faith. Sproul does a great job starting from ground zero to make sure the atonement is properly understood. He starts with the human inability to be perfect and challenges us to evaluate ourselves.
The second chapter focuses on the character of God. God must be just in order to be morally good. God has to hate sin and punish the disobedient in order to uphold His own righteousness.
The third chapter relates the previous two calling the chapter “Debtors, Enemies, Criminals”. He delineates the Bible’s presentation of what sin is, who sinful man is, who righteous God is and what role of Christ mediates between God and man.
In chapter four Sproul makes sure that the idea of the ransom paid, is actually paid to the right person – to God. The old fallacy that a ransom was paid to Satan is put soundly to rest.
Chapter five is entitled, “The Saving Substitute”. Sproul explains the necessity of Jesus Christ being the believer’s substitute to suffer God’s wrath in the place of the believer. And, he writes, “if somebody argues against placation or the idea of Christ satisfying the wrath of God, be alert, because the gospel is at stake”. It is refreshing to know not only the essentials of the faith but what makes them essential.
The sixth chapter, “Made Like His Brethren”, explores Jesus’ humanity and how He was without sin, fulfilling all righteousness so it might be imputed to sinners.
Sproul uses the seventh chapter to explain the role of the Old Testament prediction of “The Suffering Servant”, where “God provided clues about His intention to send One Who would take the place of His people in order to make satisfaction to God”.
“The Blessing and the Curse” is the eighth chapter. Sproul shows the necessity of Jesus being “cursed” for us (Galatians 3:13) because of the curse God places on those who disobey Him and the blessing He provides for those who obey, which was established in the Old Testament.
The ninth chapter, “A Secure Faith”, may be difficult for some. R. C. relates the importance of definite atonement to our understanding of the cross. As always, he uses the pages given well. He brings out the security of our salvation and how it was secured in the work of Christ on the cross.
The last chapter is titled “Questions and Answers”. R. C. uses it to review misconceptions like what value each drop of Jesus’ actual blood had, whether God is present in Hell, whether God died on the cross and others.
This is an excellent book. I would especially recommend it to new believers or as a gift for them. Others, if you are not sure how the atonement fits together or why it is necessary then this book is perfect for you too.