20 million. That is the sold number of copies of William Paul Young’s book The Shack. Now a film, this author’s message has spread to an even larger audience. But is this a good thing?
Michael Gungor, from the popular band, Gungor (the one that wrote songs utilized in worship services around the US such as “Beautiful Things”) recently shook things up when he tweeted that if God needs to be appeased by blood, such a thing would not be beautiful, but horrific. What do Gungor and Young have in common? They both fail to see the glory that is in the cross.
Not many crueler methods of torture and execution exists that parallel to the suffering crucifixions dealt. Assyrians initiated the gory method by simply impaling humans and leaving them out for wild beasts to consume and scatter their bones. It was believed that since they did not have a proper burial, their spirits would be forced to wander the earth, never to rest in peace. The Romans perfected their work. They could keep people alive on crosses for days. Those crucified suffered the elements of weather, mocking, wild animals, and the mental/emotional torture of the knowledge that they would soon die. To be sure, there is nothing glamorous about the cross. Yet, Paul says in Galatians 6:14 that he would boast in no other thing but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Why then, would Paul glory in an instrument that excels in barbarism? By the cross, the world and all that it offers was nailed to the cross so that Paul could gain all that the crucified Christ has to offer. In Galatians 2:19–20, Paul declares that he was crucified with Christ, and the life he now leads in the flesh is not a life led by the flesh, but by Jesus. Such a life would not be possible if it were not for the cross. But what did the cross actually achieve?
Young, in his recent book Lies We Believe About God, states that if the cross was God’s idea, then God is—in his words—“a cosmic abuser” (see page 149). He goes on to say that the cross was a human innovation and that God submitted to humanity. According to Young, prior to the crucifixion, God already saved humanity, even before Christ even came to the earth. Are you seeing the problems yet? Can you see how Young and Gungor both fail to glory in the cross?
If God had already saved humanity, then it would not have been necessary for Jesus to come, to die, or to be raised from the dead. Likewise, humanity would be going in an altogether different path, for everyone whom God has saved has received God’s Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). Here in lies the rub—humanity is not good, and the heart of mankind is desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10–12). The reason the world is in the condition it is in is evidence enough that all humanity has not been saved, but is in great need of salvation—hence the cross.
By the cross, God sent His Perfect Son to die on behalf of our sins. Though He was sinless, Jesus served as our substitute to take on our sin so that we could take on His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus did not obediently submit Himself to humanity, He humbly surrendered to the will of the Father (Matthew 26:39; Philippians 2:28). The cup Jesus asked to pass from Him, was a symbol of God’s wrath and is also utilized in Old Testament passages to signify God’s judgment (Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:15). Jesus drank every drop from the cup of God’s wrath so that the stain sin has made would be erased by every drop of Jesus’ blood. This leads Paul to say that our sins are forgiven by the means of Christ’s blood (Ephesians 1:7).
While the truth of Paul’s statement remains true today—the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18)—it is imperative that we who believe in the power of the cross hold fast to the genuine message that is the Gospel, because by the cross the power of God is demonstrated as He saves those who believe in the true Gospel (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18). Such a Gospel leads us to boast in the cross, for by it we see our former lives end, and our new lives in Christ begin.
Loudly then we sing the line from “In Christ Alone:”
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live!
For His Glory,