The Cross by J C Ryle
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THE CROSS:
A CALL TO THE
FUNDAMENTALS OF
RELIGION

By J.C. Ryle

“By thy cross and passion, good Lord deliver us.”








THE CROSS

“God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our
Lord Jesus Christ.” –Galatians 6:14



Reader,
What do you think and feel about the cross of Christ?
You live in a Christian land. You probably attend the
worship of a Christian Church. You have perhaps been
baptized in the name of Christ. You profess and call
yourself a Christian. All this is well. It is more than can be
said of millions in the world. But all this is no answer to my
question, “What do you think and feel about the cross of
Christ?”
I want to tell you what the greatest Christian that ever
lived thought of the cross of Christ. He has written down
his opinion. He has given his judgment in words that
cannot be mistaken. The man I mean is the Apostle Paul.
The place where you will find his opinion, is in the letter
which the Holy Ghost inspired him to write to the
Galatians. And the words in which his judgment is set
down, are these, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the
cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now what did Paul mean by saying this? He meant to
declare strongly, that he trusted in nothing but Jesus Christ
crucified for the pardon of his sins and the salvation of his
soul. Let others, if they would, look elsewhere for
salvation. Let others, if they were so disposed, trust in other
things for pardon and peace. For his part, the apostle was
determined to rest on nothing, lean on nothing, build his
hope on nothing, place confidence in nothing, glory in
nothing, except “the cross of Jesus Christ.”
Reader, let me talk to you about this subject. Believe
me, it is one of the deepest importance. This is no mere
question of controversy. This is not one of those points on
which men may agree to differ, and feel that differences
will not shut them out of heaven. A man must be right on
this subject, or he is lost forever. Heaven or hell, happiness
or misery, life or death, blessing or cursing in the last
day,—all hinges on the answer to this question, “What do
you think about the cross of Christ?”

I. Let me show you what the Apostle Paul did not glory
in.
II. Let me explain to you what he did glory in.
III. Let me show you why all Christians should think
and feel about the cross like Paul.

I. What did the Apostle Paul not glory in?

There are many things that Paul might have gloried in,
if he had thought as some do in this day. If ever there was
one on earth who had something to boast of in himself, that
man was the great apostle of the Gentiles. Now, if he did
not dare to glory, who shall?
He never gloried in his national privileges. He was a
Jew by birth, and as he tells us himself,— “An Hebrew of
the Hebrews.” He might have said, like many of his
brethren, “I have Abraham for my forefather. I am not a
dark, unenlightened heathen. I am one of the favored
people of God. I have been admitted into covenant with
God by circumcision. I am a far better man than the
ignorant Gentiles.” But he never said so. He never gloried
in anything of this kind. Never for one moment!
He never gloried in his own works. None ever worked
so hard for God as he did. He was more abundant in labors
than any of the apostles. No living man ever preached so
much, traveled so much, and endured so many hardships
for Christ’s cause. None ever converted so many souls, did
so much good to the world, and made himself so useful to
mankind. No father of the early Church, no Reformer, no
Missionary, no Minister, no Layman—no one man could
ever be named, who did so many good works as the
Apostle Paul. But did he ever glory in them, as if they were
in the least meritorious, and could save his soul? Never!
never for one moment!
He never gloried in his knowledge. He was a man of
great gifts naturally, and after he was converted, the Holy
Spirit gave him greater gifts still. He was a mighty
preacher, and a mighty speaker, and a mighty writer. He
was as great with his pen as he was with his tongue. He
could reason equally well with Jews and Gentiles. He could
argue with infidels at Corinth, or Pharisees at Jerusalem, or
self-righteous people in Galatia. He knew many deep
things. He had been in the third heaven, and heard
unspeakable words. He had received the spirit of prophecy,
and could foretell things yet to come. But did he ever glory
in his knowledge, as if it could justify him before God?
Never! never! never for one moment!
He never gloried in his graces. If ever there was one
who abounded in graces, that man was Paul. He was full of
love. How tenderly and affectionately he used to write! He
could feel for souls like a mother or a nurse feeling for her
child. He was a bold man. He cared not whom he opposed
when truth was at stake. He cared not what risks he ran
when souls were to be won. He was a self-denying man,—
in hunger and thirst often, in cold and nakedness, in
watchings and fastings. He was a humble man. He thought
himself less than the least of all saints, and the chief of
sinners. He was a prayerful man. See how it comes out at
the beginning of all his Epistles. He was a thankful man.
His thanksgivings and his prayers walked side by side. But
he never gloried in all this, never valued himself on it,
never rested his soul’s hopes in it. Oh! no! never for a
moment!
He never gloried in his churchmanship. If ever there
was a good churchman, that man was Paul. He was himself
a chosen apostle. He was a founder of churches, and an
ordainer of ministers. Timothy and Titus, and many elders,
received their first commission from his hands. He was the
beginner of services and sacraments in many a dark place.
Many a one did he baptize. Many a one did he receive to
the Lord’s table. Many a meeting for prayer, and praise,
and preaching, did he begin and carry on. He was the setter
up of discipline in many a young church. Whatever
ordinances, and rules, and ceremonies were observed in
them, were first recommended by him. But did he ever
glory in his office and church standing? Does he ever speak
as if his churchmanship would save him, justify him, put
away his sins, and make him acceptable before God? Oh!
no! never! never! never for a moment!
And now, reader, mark what I say. If the apostle Paul
never gloried in any of these things, who in all the world,
from one end to the other, has any right to glory in them in
our day? If Paul said, “God forbid that I should glory in
anything whatever except the cross,” who shall dare to say,
“I have something to glory of—I am a better man than
Paul?”
Who is there among the readers of this tract, that trusts
in any goodness of his own? Who is there that is resting on
his own amendments, his own morality, his own
performances of any kind whatever? Who is there that is
leaning the weight of his soul on anything whatever of his
own in the smallest possible degree? Learn, I say, that you
are very unlike the Apostle Paul. Learn that your religion is
not apostolical religion.
Who is there among the readers of this tract that trusts
in his churchmanship for salvation? Who is there that is
valuing himself on his baptism, or his attendance at the
Lord’s table—his church-going on Sundays, or his daily
services during the week—and saying to himself, What
lack I yet? Learn, I say, this day, that you are very unlike
Paul. Your Christianity is not the Christianity of the New
Testament. Paul would not glory in anything but the cross.
Neither ought you.
Oh! reader, beware of self-righteousness. Open sin kills
its thousands of souls. Self-righteousness kills its tens of
thousands. Go and study humility with the great apostle of
the Gentiles. Go and sit with Paul at the foot of the cross.
Give up your secret pride. Cast away your vain ideas of
your own goodness. Be thankful if you have grace, but
never glory in it for a moment. Work for God and Christ
with heart and soul, and mind and strength, but never
dream for a second of placing confidence in any work of
your own.
Think, you who take comfort in some fancied ideas of
your own goodness—think, you who wrap up yourselves in
the notion, “all must be right, if I keep to my church,”—
think for a moment what a sandy foundation your are
building upon! Think for a moment how miserably
defective your hopes and pleas will look in the hour of
death, and in the day of judgment! Whatever men may say
of their own goodness while they are strong and healthy,
they will find but little to say of it, when they are sick and
dying. Whatever merit they may see in their own works
here in this world, they will discover none in them when
they stand before the bar of Christ. The light of that great
day of assize will make a wonderful difference in the
appearance of all their doings. It will strip off the tinsel,
shrivel up the complexion, expose the rottenness, of many a
deed that is now called good. Their wheat will prove
nothing but chaff. Their gold will be found nothing but
dross. Millions of so-called Christian actions, will turn out
to have been utterly defective and graceless. They passed
current, and were valued among men. They will prove light
and worthless in the balance of God. They will be found to
have been like the whitened sepulchres of old, fair and
beautiful without, but full of corruption within. Alas! for
the man who can look forward to the day of judgment, and
lean his soul in the smallest degree on anything of his
own![1]
Reader, once more I say, beware of self-righteousness
in every possible shape and form. Some people get as much
harm from their fancied virtues as others do from their sins.
Take heed, lest you be one. Rest not, rest not till your heart
beats in tune with St. Paul’s. Rest not till you can say with
him, “God forbid that I should glory in anything but the
cross.”

II. Let me explain, in the second placewhat you are to
understand by the cross of Christ.

The cross is an expression that is used in more than one
meaning in the Bible. What did St. Paul mean when he
said, “I glory in the cross of Christ,” in the Epistle to the
Galatians? This is the point I now wish to make clear.
The cross sometimes means that wooden cross, on
which the Lord Jesus was nailed and put to death on Mount
Calvary. This is what St. Paul had in his mind’s eye, when
he told the Philippians that Christ “became obedient unto
death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:8). This is not the
cross in which St. Paul gloried. He would have shrunk with
horror from the idea of glorying in a mere piece of wood. I
have no doubt he would have denounced the Roman
Catholic adoration of the crucifix, as profane, blasphemous,
and idolatrous.
The cross sometimes means the afflictions and trials
which believers in Christ have to go through if they follow
Christ faithfully, for their religions’ sake. This is the sense
in which our Lord uses the word when He says, “He that
taketh not his cross and followeth after me, cannot be my
disciple” (Matt 10:38). This also is not the sense in which
Paul uses the word when he writes to the Galatians. He
knew that cross well. He carried it patiently. But he is not
speaking of it here.
But the cross also means in some places the doctrine
that Christ died for sinners upon the cross—the atonement
that He made for sinners by his suffering for them on the
cross—the complete and perfect sacrifice for sin which He
offered up when he gave His own body to be crucified. In
short, this one word, “the cross,” stands for Christ
crucified, the only Saviour. This is the meaning in which
Paul uses the expression, when he tells the Corinthians,
“the preaching of the cross is to them that perish
foolishness” (1 Cor 1:18). This is the meaning in which he
wrote to the Galatians, “God forbid that I should glory,
save in the cross.” He simply meant, “I glory in nothing but
Christ crucified, as the salvation of my soul.”[2]
Jesus Christ crucified was the joy and delight, the
comfort and the peace, the hope and the confidence, the
foundation and the resting place, the ark, and the refuge,
the food and the medicine of Paul’s soul. He did not think
of what he had done himself, and suffered himself. He did
not meditate on his own goodness, and his own
righteousness. He loved to think of what Christ had done,
and Christ had suffered,—of the death of Christ, the
righteousness of Christ, the atonement of Christ, the blood
of Christ, the finished work of Christ. In this he did glory.
This was the sun of his soul.
This is the subject he loved to preach about. He was a
man who went to and fro on the earth, proclaiming to
sinners that the Son of God had shed His own heart’s blood
to save their souls. He walked up and down the world,
telling people that Jesus Christ had loved them, and died
for their sins upon the cross. Mark how he says to the
Corinthians, “I delivered unto you first of all that which I
also received, how that Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor
15:3). “I determined not to know anything among you, save
Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). He, a
blaspheming, persecuting Pharisee, had been washed in
Christ’s blood. He could not hold his peace about it. He
was never weary of telling the story of the cross.
This is the subject he loved to dwell upon when he
wrote to believers. It is wonderful to observe how full his
epistles generally are of the sufferings and death of
Christ,—how they run over with “thoughts that breathe,
and words that burn,” about Christ’s dying love and power.
His heart seems full of the subject. He enlarges on it
constantly. He returns to it continually. It is the golden
thread that runs through all his doctrinal teaching and
practical exhortations. He seems to think that the most
advanced Christian can never hear too much about the
cross.[3] This is what he lived upon all his life, from the
time of his conversion. He tells the Galatians, “The life that
I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God,
who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). What
made him so strong to labor? What made him so willing to
work? What made him so unwearied in endeavors to save
some? What made him so persevering and patient? I will
tell you the secret of it all. He was always feeding by faith
on Christ’s body and Christ’s blood. Jesus, crucified, was
the meat and drink of his soul.
And, reader, you may rest assured that Paul was right.
Depend upon it, the cross of Christ,—the death of Christ on
the cross to make atonement for sinners,—is the center
truth in the whole Bible. This is the truth we begin with
when we open Genesis. The seed of the woman bruising
the serpent’s head, is nothing else but a prophecy of Christ
crucified. This is the truth that shines out, though veiled, all
through the law of Moses and the history of the Jews. The
daily sacrifice, the passover lamb, the continual shedding of
blood in the tabernacle and temple,—all these were
emblems of Christ crucified. This is the truth that we see
honored in the vision of heaven before we close the book of
Revelation. “In the midst of the throne and of the four
beasts,” we are told, “and in the midst of the elders, stood a
lamb as it had been slain” (Rev 5:6). Even in the midst of
heavenly glory we get a view of Christ crucified. Take
away the cross of Christ, and the Bible is a dark book. It is
like the Egyptian hieroglyphics, without the key that
interprets their meaning,—curious and wonderful, but of no
real use.
Reader, mark what I say. You may know a good deal
about the Bible. You may know the outlines of the histories
it contains, and the dates of the events described, just as a
man knows the history of England. You may know the
names of the men and women mentioned in it, just as a man
knows Caesar, Alexander the Great, or Napoleon. You may
know the several precepts of the Bible, and admire them,
just as a man admires Plato, Aristotle, or Seneca. But if you
have not yet found out that Christ crucified is the
foundation of the whole volume, you have read your Bible
hitherto to very little profit. Your religion is a heaven
without a sun, an arch without a keystone, a compass
without a needle, a clock without spring or weights, a lamp
without oil. It will not comfort you. It will not deliver your
soul from hell.
Reader, mark what I say again. You may know a good
deal about Christ, by a kind of head knowledge, as the dead
Oriental churches know the facts of Christianity as well as
we do. You may know who Christ was, and where He was
born, and what He did. You may know His miracles, His
sayings, His prophecies, and his ordinances. You may
know how He lived, and how he suffered, and how He
died. But unless you know the power of Christ’s cross by
experience—unless you have reason to know that the blood
shed on that cross has washed away your own particular
sins,—unless you are willing to confess that your salvation
depends entirely on the work that Christ did upon the
cross,—unless this be the case, Christ will profit you
nothing. The mere knowing Christ’s name will never save
you. You must know His cross, and His blood, or else you
will die in your sins.[4]
Reader, as long as you live, beware of a religion in
which there is not much of the cross. You live in times
when the warning is sadly needful. Beware, I say again, of
a religion without the cross.
There are hundreds of places of worship, in this day, in
which there is every thing almost except the cross. There is
carved oak and sculptured stone. There is stained glass and
brilliant painting. There are solemn services and a constant
round of ordinances. But the real cross of Christ is not
there. Jesus crucified is not proclaimed in the pulpit. The
Lamb of God is not lifted up, and salvation by faith in him
is not freely proclaimed. And hence all is wrong. Beware of
such places of worship. They are not apostolical. They
would not have satisfied St. Paul.[5]
There are thousands of religious books published in our
times, in which there is everything except the cross. They
are full of directions about sacraments and praises of the
church. They abound in exhortations about holy living, and
rules for the attainment of perfection. They have plenty of
fonts and crosses both inside and outside. But the real cross
of Christ is left out. The Saviour and His dying love are
either not mentioned, or mentioned in an unscriptural way.
And hence they are worse than useless. Beware of such
books. They are not apostolical. They would never have
satisfied St. Paul.
Dear reader, remember that St. Paul gloried in nothing
but the cross. Strive to be like him. Set Jesus crucified fully
before the eyes of your soul. Listen not to any teaching
which would interpose anything between you and Him. Do
not fall into the old Galatian error. Think not that any one
in this day is a better guide than the apostles. Do not be
ashamed of the old paths, in which men walked who were
inspired by the Holy Ghost. Let not the vague talk of men
who speak great swelling words about catholicity, and the
church, and the ministry, disturb your peace, and make you
loose your hands from the cross. Churches, ministers, and
sacraments, are all useful in their way, but they are not
Christ crucified. Do not give Christ’s honor to another. “He
that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

III. Let me show you why all Christians ought to glory
in the cross of Christ.

I feel that I must say something on this point, because
of the ignorance that prevails about it. I suspect that many
see no peculiar glory and beauty in the subject of Christ’s
cross. On the contrary, they think it painful, humbling, and
degrading. They do not see much profit in the story of His
death and sufferings. They rather turn from it as an
unpleasant thing.
Now I believe that such persons are quite wrong. I
cannot hold with them. I believe it is an excellent thing for
us all to be continually dwelling on the cross of Christ. It is
a good thing to be often reminded how Jesus was betrayed
into the hands of wicked men, how they condemned Him
with most unjust judgment, how they spit on Him, scourged
Him, beat Him, and crowned Him with thorns; how they
led Him forth as a lamb to the slaughter, without His
murmuring or resisting; how they drove the nails through
His hands and feet, and set Him up on Calvary between two
thieves; how they pierced His side with a spear, mocked
Him in His sufferings, and let Him hang there naked and
bleeding till He died. Of all these things, I say, it is good to
be reminded. It is not for nothing that the crucifixion is
described four times over in the New Testament. There are
very few things that all the four writers of the Gospel
describe. Generally speaking, if Matthew, Mark, and Luke
tell a thing in our Lord’s history, John does not tell it. But
there is one thing that all the four give us most fully, and
that one thing is the story of the cross. This is a telling fact,
and not to be overlooked.
Men forget that all Christ’s sufferings on the cross were
fore-ordained. They did not come on Him by chance or
accident. They were all planned, counselled, and
determined from all eternity. The cross was foreseen in all
the provisions of the everlasting Trinity, for the salvation of
sinners. In the purposes of God the cross was set up from
everlasting. Not one throb of pain did Jesus feel, not one
precious drop of blood did Jesus shed, which had not been
appointed long ago. Infinite wisdom planned that
redemption should be by the cross. Infinite wisdom brought
Jesus to the Cross in due time. He was crucified by the
determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.
Men forget that all Christ’s sufferings on the cross were
necessary for man’s salvation. He had to bear our sins, if
ever they were to be borne at all. With His stripes alone
could we be healed. This was the one payment of our debt
that God would accept. This was the great sacrifice on
which our eternal life depended. If Christ had not gone to
the cross and suffered in our stead, the just for the unjust,
there would not have been a spark of hope for us. There
would have been a mighty gulf between ourselves and God,
which no man ever could have passed.[6]
Men forget that all Christ’s sufferings were endured
voluntarily and of His own free will. He was under no
compulsion. Of His own choice He laid down His life. Of
His own choice He went to the cross to finish the work He
came to do. He might easily have summoned legions of
angels with a word, and scattered Pilate and Herod and all
their armies, like chaff before the wind. But he was a
willing sufferer. His heart was set on the salvation of
sinners. He was resolved to open a fountain for all sin and
uncleanness, by shedding His own blood.
Now, when I think of all this, I see nothing painful or
disagreeable in the subject of Christ’s cross. On the
contrary, I see in it wisdom and power, peace and hope, joy
and gladness, comfort and consolation. The more I look at
the cross in my mind’s eye, the more fulness I seem to
discern in it. The longer I dwell on the cross in my
thoughts, the more I am satisfied that there is more to be
learned at the foot of the cross than anywhere else in the
world.
Would I know the length and breadth of God the
Father’s love towards a sinful world? Where shall I see it
most displayed? Shall I look at His glorious sun shining
down daily on the unthankful and evil? Shall I look at seed-
time and harvest returning in regular yearly succession?
Oh! no! I can find a stronger proof of love than anything of
this sort. I look at the cross of Christ. I see in it not the
cause of the Father’s love, but the effect. There I see that
God so loved this wicked world, that He gave His only
begotten Son—gave Him to suffer and die—that
whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have
eternal life. I know that the Father loves us because He did
not withhold from us His Son, His only Son. Ah! reader, I
might sometimes fancy that God the Father is too high and
holy to care for such miserable, corrupt creatures as we are.
But I cannot, must not, dare not think it, when I look at the
cross of Christ.[7]
Would I know how exceedingly sinful and abominable
sin is in the sight of God? Where shall I see that most fully
brought out? Shall I turn to the history of the flood, and
read how sin drowned the world? Shall I go to the shore of
the Dead Sea, and mark what sin brought on Sodom and
Gomorrah? Shall I turn to the wandering Jews, and observe
how sin has scattered them over the face of the earth? No! I
can find a clearer proof still. I look at the cross of Christ.
There I see that sin is so black and damnable, that nothing
but the blood of God’s own Son can wash it away. There I
see that sin has so separated me from my holy Maker, that
all the angels in heaven could never have made peace
between us. Nothing could reconcile us short of the death
of Christ. Ah! if I listened to the wretched talk of proud
men, I might sometimes fancy sin was not so very sinful.
But I cannot think little of sin, when I look at the cross of
Christ.[8]
Would I know the fulness and completeness of the
salvation God has provided for sinners? Where shall I see it
most distinctly? Shall I go to the general declarations in the
Bible about God’s mercy? Shall I rest in the general truth
that God is a God of love? Oh! no! I will look at the cross
of Christ. I find no evidence like that. I find no balm for a
sore conscience, and a troubled heart, like the sight of Jesus
dying for me on the accursed tree. There I see that a full
payment has been made for all my enormous debts. The
curse of that law which I have broken has come down on
One who there suffered in my stead. The demands of that
law are all satisfied. Payment has been made for me, even
to the uttermost farthing. It will not be required twice over.
Ah! I might sometimes imagine I was too bad to be
forgiven. My own heart sometimes whispers that I am too
wicked to be saved. But I know in my better moments this
is all my foolish unbelief. I read an answer to my doubts in
the blood shed on Calvary. I feel sure that there is a way to
heaven for the very vilest of men, when I look at the cross.
Would I find strong reasons for being a holy man?
Whither shall I turn for them? Shall I listen to the ten
commandments merely? Shall I study the examples given
me in the Bible of what grace can do? Shall I meditate on
the rewards of heaven, and the punishments of hell? Is
there no stronger motive still? Yes! I will look at the cross
of Christ. There I see the love of Christ constraining me to
live not unto myself, but unto Him. There I see that I am
not my own now;—I am bought with a price. I am bound
by the most solemn obligations to glorify Jesus with body
and spirit, which are His. There I see that Jesus gave
Himself for me, not only to redeem me from all iniquity,
but also to purify me and make me one of a peculiar
people, zealous of good works. He bore my sins in His own
body on the tree, that I being dead unto sin should live unto
righteousness. Ah! reader, there is nothing so sanctifying as
a clear view of the cross of Christ! It crucifies the world
unto us, and us unto the world. How can we love sin when
we remember that because of our sins Jesus died? Surely
none ought to be so holy as the disciples of a crucified
Lord.
Would I learn how to be contented and cheerful under
all the cares and anxieties of life? What school shall I go
to? How shall I attain this state of mind most easily? Shall I
look at the sovereignty of God, the wisdom of God, the
providence of God, the love of God? It is well to do so. But

I have a better argument still. I will look at the cross of
Christ. I feel that He who spared not His only begotten Son,
but delivered Him up to die for me will surely with Him
give me all things that I really need. He that endured that
pain for my soul, will surely not withhold from me
anything that is really good. He that has done the greater
things for me, will doubtless do the lesser things also. He
that gave His own blood to procure me a home, will
unquestionably supply me with all really profitable for me
by the way. Ah! reader, there is no school for learning
contentment that can be compared with the foot of the
cross.
Would I gather arguments for hoping that I shall never
be cast away? Where shall I go to find them? Shall I look at
my own graces and gifts? Shall I take comfort in my own
faith, and love, and penitence, and zeal, and prayer? Shall I
turn to my own heart, and say, “This same heart will never
be false and cold?” Oh! no! God forbid! I will look at the
cross of Christ. This is my grand argument. This is my
main stay. I cannot think that He who went through such
sufferings to redeem my soul, will let that soul perish after
all, when it has once cast itself on Him. Oh! no! what Jesus
paid for, Jesus will surely keep. He paid dearly for it. He
will not let it easily be lost. He died for me when I was yet
a dark sinner. Ah! reader, when Satan tempts you to doubt
whether Christ is able to keep his people from falling, bid
Satan look at the cross.
And now, reader, will you marvel that I said all
Christians ought to glory in the cross? Will you not rather
wonder that any can hear of the cross and remain
unmoved? I declare I know not greater proof of man’s
depravity, than the fact that thousands of so-called
Christians see nothing in the cross. Well may our hearts be
called stony,—well may the eyes of our mind be called
blind,—well may our whole nature be called diseased,—
well may we all be called dead, when the cross of Christ is
heard of, and yet neglected. Surely we may take up the
words of the prophet, and say, “Hear O heavens, and be
astonished O earth; a wonderful and a horrible thing is
done,”—Christ was crucified for sinners, and yet many
Christians live as if He was never crucified at all!
Reader, the cross is the grand peculiarity of the
Christian religion. Other religions have laws and moral
precepts,—forms and ceremonies,—rewards and
punishments. But other religions cannot tell us of a dying
Saviour. They cannot show us the cross. This is the crown
and glory of the Gospel. This is that special comfort which
belongs to it alone. Miserable indeed is that religious
teaching which calls itself Christian, and yet contains
nothing of the cross. A man who teaches in this way, might
as well profess to explain the solar system, and yet tell his
hearers nothing about the sun.
The cross is the strength of a minister. I for one would
not be without it for all the world. I should feel like a
soldier without arms,—like an artist without his pencil,—
like a pilot without his compass,—like a laborer without his
tools. Let others, if they will, preach the law and morality.
Let others hold forth the terrors of hell and the joys of
heaven. Let others be ever pressing upon their
congregations the sacraments of the church. Give me the
cross of Christ. This is the only lever which has ever turned
the world upside down hitherto, and made men forsake
their sins. And if this will not, nothing will. A man may
begin preaching with a perfect knowledge of Latin, Greek
and Hebrew. But he will do little or no good among his
hearers unless he knows something of the cross. Never was
there a minister who did much for the conversion of souls
who did not dwell much on Christ crucified. Luther,
Rutherford, Whitfield, Cecil, Simeon, Venn, were all most
eminently preachers of the cross. This is the preaching that
the Holy Ghost delights to bless. He loves to honor those
who honor the cross.
The cross is the secret of all missionary success.
Nothing but this has ever moved the hearts of the heathen.
Just according as this has been lifted up missions have
prospered. This is the weapon that has won victories over
hearts of every kind, in every quarter of the globe.
Greenlanders, Africans, South-Sea Islanders, Hindus,
Chinese, all have alike felt its power. Just as that huge iron
tube which crosses the Menai Straits, is more affected and
bent by half an hour’s sunshine than by all the dead weight
that can be placed in it, so in like manner the hearts of
savages have melted before the cross when every other
argument seemed to move them no more than stones.
“Brethren,” said a North American Indian after his
conversion, “I have been a heathen. I know how heathens
think. Once a preacher came and began to explain to us that
there was a God; but we told him to return to the place
from whence he came. Another preacher came and told us
not to lie, nor steal, nor drink; but we did not heed him. At
last another came into my hut one day and said, ‘I am come
to you in the name of the Lord of heaven and earth. He
sends to let you know that He will make you happy, and
deliver you from misery. For this end he became a man,
gave his life a ransom, and shed his blood for sinners.’ I
could not forget his words. I told them to the other Indians,
and an awakening begun among us. I say, therefore, preach
the sufferings and death of Christ, our Saviour, if you wish
your words to gain entrance among the heathen.” Never
indeed did the devil triumph so thoroughly, as when he
persuaded the Jesuit missionaries in China to keep back the
story of the cross!
The cross is the foundation of a church’s prosperity. No
church will ever be honored in which Christ crucified is not
continually lifted up. Nothing whatever can make up for the
want of the cross. Without it all things may be done
decently and in order. Without it there may be splendid
ceremonies, charming music, gorgeous churches, learned
ministers, crowded communion tables, huge collections for
the poor. But without the cross no good will be done. Dark
hearts will not be enlightened. Proud hearts will not be
humbled. Mourning hearts will not be comforted. Fainting
hearts will not be cheered. Sermons about the Catholic
Church and an apostolic ministry,—sermons about baptism
and the Lord’s supper,—sermons about unity and
schism,—sermons about fast and communion,—sermons
about fathers and saints,—such sermons will never make
up for the absence of sermons about the cross of Christ.
They may amuse some. They will feed none. A gorgeous
banqueting room and splendid gold plate on the table will
never make up to a hungry man for the want of food. Christ
crucified is God’s grand ordinance for doing good to men.
Whenever a church keeps back Christ crucified, or puts
anything whatever in that foremost place which Christ
crucified should always have, from that moment a church
ceases to be useful. Without Christ crucified in her pulpits,
a church is little better than a cumberer of the ground, a
dead carcass, a well without water, a barren fig tree, a
sleeping watchman, a silent trumpet, a dumb witness, an
ambassador without terms of peace, a messenger without
tidings, a lighthouse without fire, a stumbling-block to
weak believers, a comfort to infidels, a hot-bed for
formalism, a joy to the devil, and an offence to God.
The cross is the grand center of union among true
Christians. Our outward differences are many without
doubt. And what may be the importance of those
differences which now in a measure divide such as
faithfully hold the head, even Christ, we cannot here
enquire. But, after all, what shall we hear about most of
these differences in heaven? Nothing most probably:
nothing at all. Does a man really and sincerely glory in the
cross of Christ? That is the grand question. If he does he is
my brother; we are travelling in the same road. We are
journeying towards a home where Christ is all, and
everything outward in religion will be forgotten. But if he
does not glory in the cross of Christ, I cannot feel comfort
about him. Union on outward points only is union only for
time. Union about the cross is union for eternity. Error on
outward points is only a skin-deep disease. Error about the
cross is disease at the heart. Union about outward points is
a mere man-made union. Union about the cross of Christ
can only be produced by the Holy Ghost.
Reader, I know not what you think of all this. I feel as if
I had said nothing compared to what might be said. I feel as
if the half of what I desire to tell you about the cross were
left untold. But I do hope that I have given you something
to think about. I do trust that I have shown you that I have
reason for the question with which I began this tract, “What
do you think and feel about the cross of Christ?” Listen to
me now for a few moments, while I say something to apply
the whole subject to your conscience.
Are you living in any kind of sin? Are you following the
course of this world, and neglecting your soul? Hear, I
beseech you, what I say to you this day: “Behold the cross
of Christ.” See there how Jesus loved you! See there what
Jesus suffered to prepare for you a way of salvation! Yes!
careless men and women, for you that blood was shed! For
you those hands and feet were pierced with nails! For you
that body hung in agony on the cross! You are those whom
Jesus loved, and for whom He died! Surely that love ought
to melt you. Surely the thought of the cross should draw
you to repentance. Oh! that it might be so this very day.
Oh! that you would come at once to that Saviour who died
for you and is willing to save. Come and cry to Him with
the prayer of faith, and I know that He will listen. Come
and lay hold upon the cross, and I know that He will not
cast you out. Come and believe on Him who died on the
cross, and this very day you will have eternal life. How will
you ever escape if you neglect so great salvation? None
surely will be so deep in hell as those who despise the
cross!
Are you inquiring the way toward Heaven? Are you
seeking salvation but doubtful whether you can find it? Are
you desiring to have an interest in Christ but doubting
whether Christ will receive you? To you also I say this day,
“Behold the cross of Christ.” Here is encouragement if you
really want it. Draw near to the Lord Jesus with boldness,
for nothing need keep you back. His arms are open to
receive you. His heart is full of love towards you. He has
made a way by which you may approach Him with
confidence. Think of the cross. Draw near, and fear not.
Are you an unlearned man? Are you desirous to get to
heaven and yet perplexed and brought to a stand-still by
difficulties in the Bible which you cannot explain? To you
also I say this day, “Behold the cross of Christ.” Read there
the Father’s love and the Son’s compassion. Surely they are
written in great plain letters, which none can well mistake.
What though at present you cannot reconcile your own
corruption and your own responsibility? Look, I say, at the
cross. Does not that cross tell you that Jesus is a mighty,
loving, ready Saviour? Does it not make one thing plain,
and that is that if not saved it is all your own fault? Oh! get
hold of that truth, and hold it fast.
Are you a distressed believer? Is your heart pressed
down with sickness, tired with disappointments,
overburdened with cares? To you also I say this day,
“Behold the cross of Christ.” Think whose hand it is that
chastens you. Think whose hand is measuring to you the
cup of bitterness which you are now drinking. It is the hand
of Him that was crucified. It is the same hand that in love to
your soul was nailed to the accursed tree. Surely that
thought should comfort and hearten you. Surely you should
say to yourself, “A crucified Saviour will never lay upon
me anything that is not for my good. There is a needs be. It
must be well.”
Are you a believer that longs to be more holy? Are you
one that finds his heart too ready to love earthly things? To
you also I say, “Behold the cross of Christ.” Look at the
cross. Think of the cross. Meditate on the cross, and then
go and set affections on the world if you can. I believe that
holiness is nowhere learned so well as on Calvary. I believe
you cannot look much at the cross without feeling your will
sanctified, and your tastes made more spiritual. As the sun
gazed upon makes everything else look dark and dim, so
does the cross darken the false splendor of this world. As
honey tasted makes all other things seem to have no taste at
all, so does the cross seen by faith take all the sweetness
out of the pleasures of the world. Keep on every day
steadily looking at the cross of Christ, and you will soon
say of the world as the poet does,—

Its pleasures now no longer please,
No more content afford;
Far from my heart be joys like these,
Now I have seen the Lord.

As by the light of opening day
The stars are all conceal’d,
So earthly pleasures fade away
When Jesus is reveal’d.

Are you a dying believer? Have you gone to that bed
from which something within tells you you will never come
down alive? Are you drawing near to that solemn hour
when soul and body must part for a season, and you must
launch into a world unknown? Oh! look steadily at the
cross of Christ, and you shall be kept in peace. Fix the eyes
of your mind firmly on Jesus crucified, and he shall deliver
you from all your fears. Though you walk through dark
places, He will be with you. He will never leave you, never
forsake you. Sit under the shadow of the cross to the very
last, and its fruit shall be sweet to your taste. “Ah!” said a
dying missionary, “there is but one thing needful on a
death-bed, and that is to feel one’s arms round the cross.”
Reader, I lay these thoughts before your mind. What
you think now about the cross of Christ I cannot tell; but I
can wish you nothing better than this, that you may be able
to say with the apostle Paul, before you die or meet the
Lord, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of
our Lord Jesus Christ.”






FOOTNOTES

[1] “Howsoever men when they sit at ease, do vainly
tickle their own hearts with the wanton conceit of I know
not what proportionable correspondence between their
merits and their rewards, which in the trance of their high
speculations, they dream that God hath measured and laid
up as it were in bundles for them; we see notwithstanding
by daily experience, in a number even of them that when
the hour of death approacheth, when they secretly hear
themselves summoned to appear and stand at the bar of that
Judge, whose brightness causeth the eyes of angels
themselves to dazzle, all those idle imaginations do then
begin to hide their faces. To name merits then, is to lay
their souls upon the rack. The memory of their own deeds
is loathsome unto them. They forsake all things wherein
they have put any trust and confidence. No staff to lean
upon, no rest, no ease, no comfort then, but only in Christ
Jesus.”—Richard Hooker.

[2] “By the cross of Christ the apostle understandeth
the all-sufficient, expiatory, and satisfactory sacrifice of
Christ upon the cross, with the whole work of our
redemption: in the saving knowledge of, whereof he
professeth he will glory and boast.”—Cudworth on
Galatians.
“Touching these words, I do not find that any expositor,
either ancient or modern, Popish or Protestant, writing on
this place, doth expound the cross here mentioned of the
sign of the cross, but of the profession of faith in Him that
was hanged on the cross.”—Mayer’s Commentary.
“This is rather to be understood of the cross which
Christ suffered for us, than of that we suffer for Him.”—
Leigh’s Annotations.

[3] “Christ crucified is the sum of the Gospel, and
contains all the riches of it. Paul was so much taken with
Christ that nothing sweeter than Jesus could drop from his
pen and lips. It is observed that he hath the word ‘Jesus’
five hundred times in his Epistles.”—Charnock.

[4] “If our faith stop in Christ’s life, and do not fasten
upon his blood, it will not be a justifying faith. His miracles
which prepared the world for his doctrines; his holiness,
which fitted himself for his sufferings, had been
insufficient for us without the addition of the cross.”—
Charnock.

[5] “Paul determined to know nothing else but Jesus
Christ, and him crucified. But many manage the ministry as
if they had taken up a contrary determination, even to know
anything save Jesus Christ and him crucified.”—Traill.

[6] “In Christ’s humiliation stands our exaltation; in his
weakness stands our strength; in his ignominy our glory; in
his death our life.”—Cudworth.
“The eye of faith regards Christ sitting on the summit of
the cross, as in a triumphal chariot; the devil bound to the
lowest part of the same cross, and trodden under the feet of
Christ.”—Bishop Davenant on Colossians.

[7] “The world we live in had fallen upon our heads,
had it not been upheld by the pillar of the cross; had not
Christ stepped in and promised a satisfaction for the sin of
man. By this all things consist: not a blessing we enjoy but
may put us in mind of it; they were all forfeited by sin, but
merited by his blood. If we study it well we shall be
sensible how God hated sin and loved a world.”—
Charnock.

[8] “If God hateth sin so much that he would allow
neither man nor angel for the redemption thereof, but only
the death of his only and well-beloved Son, who will not
stand in fear thereof?”—Homily for Good Friday.


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Sermon Video :Was This Child Born Blind?Pastor J Piper
Sermon Video 1 When The Righteous Suffer J Piper
Sermon video 2 When The Righteous Suffer p2 J Piper
Sermon Video Resting and Wrestling Pastor John
Sermon Video: Judas Iscariot by Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:All Things Were Created Through Him Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:Being Single Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:Don't Waste Your Life Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:Feed The Flame of Gods Gift by Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:For Judgement I came Into This World Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:He Knew What Was In Man Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:How God Word's Produces Are Work John Piper
Sermon Video:Jesus Christ In Romans Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:Lionhearted Pastor John Piper
Sermon video:Marriage Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:Marriage Pursuing Conformity to christ Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:Pray Like This by Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:Racial Diversity Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:The Light of The World Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:The Obedience of Faith Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:The Recession Pastor J Piper
Sermon Video:The Truth Will Set You Free Pastor John Piper
Sermon Video:We Found The Messiah Pastor J Piper
Shared Intentions? Reflections on Inspiration and Interpretation in Light of Scripture's Dual Author
Sin and God's Gift Dr J Gresham Machen
SOLOMON AND THE QUEEN OF SABA DR. G. WEIL,
Spanish Theology Video ,La Perspectiva Circunstancial:Revelacion y Situación
Spanish Theology VideoLa Perspectiva Normativa: Dios y Su Palabra
St Anselm R C Sproul
St Cyprian Epistle 1
Strange Fire by A W Pink
Studies In Acts Group
Studies In Matthew Group
Studies in Popular Islam Dr Samuel Zwemer
Suffering And Consolation Rev C H Spurgeon
Sufferring Christians by A W Pink
Systematic Theology DR Cheung
Testament Hebrew Lexicon
That the Scriptures Might Be Fulfilled Piper
The Atonement by Dr J Gresham Machen
The Attributes of God by A W Pink
The Bands of Brotherhood Dr R C Sproul
The Bible and Modern Criticism by Professor F Bettex
The Bible Is The Word Of God A W Pink
The Book of Daniel Professor Joseph Wilson
The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
The Cambridge 7
The Center of Biblical Theology in Acts: Deliverance and Damnation Display the Divine
The Children's crusade DR R C Sproul Jr
The Christian Faith DR Geerhardos Vos
The Christian in Complete Armour;William Gurnall, M.A.,
The Consecrated Life:The Life and Times of Francis Ridley Havergal by J J Burns
The Conversion of Dr Martin Luther
The Covenant Way Susan Hunt
The Cross John Newton 1725-1807
The Cross: A Call To The Fundamentals Of Religion J C Ryle
The Cup of Wrath Andrew Bonar
The Dangers of Mixing Law and Gospel Jason Stellman
The Dazzling Darkness of God’s Triune Love: Introducing Evangelicals to the Theology of Hans Urs von
The Death and Resurrection of Christ W. H. Griffith Thomas
The Death of Pride
The Deity of Christ & the Church Robert Peterson
The Divine Refuge Rev Charles Spurgeon
The Doctrinal Value of The First Chapters of Genesis Rev Dyson Hague
The Doctrinal Value of The First Chapters of Genesis Rev Dyson Hague
The Duties of Parents by Bishop J C Ryle
The Early Narratives of Genesis Professor James Orr
The End of Soap Oprah Dr Carl Trueman
The Excellence of Christ by Jonathan Edwards
The Faithful Promiser John MacDuff
The Fallacies of the Higher Criticism by Professor Franklin Johnson
The Fiture of Justification John Piper Book Review
The Fool's Creed DR Torrey
The Genesis of the New Faith Charles Cutler Torrey
The German Reformation part 1 DR Philip Schaff
The German Reformation part 2 Dr Philip Schaff
The Glory of God In Preaching Darrell W. Johnson
The Glory of The Cross Part 1 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross part 10 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross part 2 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross Part 3 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross Part 4 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross part 5 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross part 6 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross part 7 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of the Cross part 8 Samuel Zwemer
The Glory of The Cross part 9 Samuel Zwemer
The Goodness of The Law DR R C Sproul
The Gospel and the Poor Tim Keller
The Gospel of John A W Pink
The Gospel of John Set Free: Preaching without Anti-Judaism.
The Grace of Cheerful Giving Frank Cavalli
The Heart of The Gospel DR A T Pierson
The Historical Basis Of The Historical Faith by DR James Denney
The History of Justification by faith James Buchanan
The History of The Higher Criticism by Canon Dyson Hague
The Holy Spirit A W Pink
The Holy Spirit Rev C H Spurgeon
The Idea of Biblical Theology DR Geerhardus Vos
The Importance of Christian Scholarship Dr J G Machen
The Importance of Prayer DR A Torrey
THE IMPROVEMENT OF AFFLICTION Robert Murray McCheyne
The Internal Evidence For The Fourth Gospel Canon G Osborne
The Jewish World In The Days Of Christ Dr Edersheim
The Kingdom of God DR Geerhardus Vos
The Koran H A R Gibb
THE LAW OF APOSTASY IN ISLAM Dr Samuel Zwemer
The Life of Adoniran Judson
The Life of Dr Martin Luther part 1 by Philip Melanchon
The Life of Dr Martin Luther part 2 by Philip Melancthon
The Life of Elijah by A W Pink
The Life of Faith A W Pink
The Life of John Bunyan
The Life of King David A W Pink
The Life of King David part 2 A W Pink
The Life Of Matthew Henry
The Life of Stephen Charnock by William Symington
The Magic Bullet Sebastian Heck
The Mohammedan Controversy (1897) Dr Samuel Zwemer
The Mosaic Authorship by Professor George Wright
THE MOSLEM DOCTRINE OF GOD Dr Samuel Zwemer
The Most Important Question DR Torrey
The Need For Revival Dr A Torrey
The New Life Andrew Murray
The Oppresion of Man Thomas Manton
The Origin of Paul's Religion by Dr J G Machen
The Origin of the 'ID AL-ADHA Dr Richard Bell
The Origins of The Qur'an Rev W Goldsack
The Pastor and the Funeral by Harry Reeder
The Peace that Passes R.C. Sproul Jr.
The Persecution of the Church by Dr Philip Schaff
The Person of Christ Dr John Owen
The Place of Christ In The New Testament by Dr James Denney
The Pleasures of God video 4 Pastor John Piper
The Pleasures of God Video 1 John Piper
The Pleasures of God Video 2 Pastor John Piper
The Pleasures of God video 3 Pastor John Piper
The Pleasures of God video 5 Pastor John Piper
The Power of Prayer Andrew Murray
The Power of The Word Of God R A Torrey
The Precious Gift of Baby Talk John Piper
The Rainbow In The Clouds John MacDuff
The Reformation by Dr Philip Schaff
The Refutatation of Dispensationalism by A W Pink
The Resurrection of Christ Dr J G Machen
The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ John Calvin
The Secret of Blessing DR R A Torrey
The Secret of Blessing DR R A Torrey
The Soul-Shaping Reality of the Gospel: An Interview with David Wells
The Spirit of Rebellion R C Sproul jr
The Study Bible developed and located around the world!
The Tabernacle In The Wilderness by Professor David Heagle
The Testimony of Christ To The Old Testement William Cavan DD
The Theology of John Calvin by DR Philip Schaff
The Theology of Romans by Dr Charles Hodge
The Things of God R.C. Sproul
The Triune God: Good, Beautiful, and True Harry Reeder
The Unholy Pursuit of God in Moby Dick Dr R C Sproul
The Vanity of the world Rev John Newton
The Victory Parade We Don't deserve R C Sproul Jr
The Way of Holiness Jonathan Edwards
The Way The World Thinks DR A Mohler
The Westminster Assembly Project Chad Dixhoorn
The Will of God In Prayer DR A Torrey
The Witness of Paul by Dr J G Machen
The Word Of God B B Warfield
The Work Of The Holy Spirit Dr A Kuyper
The Works Flavius Josephus
The Year in Books Keith Mathison
Theological Articles
Theology in the time of Charlemagne
This Isn’t Going to Be As Easy As It Looks by Keith Mathison
Time to (Re)Discover Hebrews Sinclair Ferguson
To Be Deep in History Keith Mathison
Truly Reformed Theology Burk Parsons
Truth of the Christian Religion in Six Books by Hugo Grotius. Corrected and Illustrated with Notes b
Two Thumbs Down by R.C. Sproul Jr.
United in the (whole) Truth Burk Parsons
Unqualified Christians Burk Parsons
'Uthman and the Recension of the Koran Leon Caetani
Vehicles for Giving the Self: An Interview with Michael Card
Video on the Prosperity gospel John Piper
Video:The Prosperity gospel Pastor John Piper
Video:The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World Dr D. A .Carson
VINCENT'S NT WORD STUDIES
Walking With God George Whitefield
Water of Life John Bunyan
Way to Christ Boehme, Jakob (1575-1624)
We Believe the Bible and You Do Not Keith Mathison
Western Seminary Missions Conference
What is Christianity? Dr J G Machen
What makes the Apostles Creed so special? By Simon Peter Sutherland
When To Pray Dr A Torrey
Who Belongs To The Church? by John Calvin
Who Is My Brother Dr R C Sproul jr
Why Jesus Christ Died Rev T .T. Shields Famous Canadian Preacher
With Passion R C Sproul jr
Work of Jesus Christ John Bunyan
Writing Fo God 's Glory Burk Parson
Young Women,Idolatry and The Powerful Gospel Elyse
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