Anyone who has ever read the writings of Dr. RC Sproul—even though he may not agree with Sproul’s entire theology—must come to the conclusion that Dr Sproul is a gifted theologian, with the ability to put biblical truths on the bottom shelf, so that the untrained reader might benefit
In his book The Truth of the Cross, Dr. Sproul blesses the Lord’s church once again with an able, unapologetic presentation of the cross of Jesus Christ.
There are nine chapters in the book, followed by a Q&A (178 pages). The chapters are average length in reading, but packed with profound biblical truths on the cross of Christ. Dr. Sproul sprinkles anecdotes throughout the chapters to illustrate the points under consideration and to keep the reader interested. Below is a brief overview of each chapter with a few excerpts:
1. The Necessity of the Atonement. In this chapter Dr. Sproul outlines the struggle through the centuries to understand the biblical doctrine of the atonement of Christ. He says:
“If we are defective in understanding the character of God or understanding
the nature of sin, it is inevitable that we will come to the conclusion that an atonement was not necessary.”
2. The Just God. Dr. Sproul builds this chapter on the question asked by the theologian-philosopher Anselm of Canterbury,
“Cur Deus Homo? This title literally means ‘Why the God-man?'” “Anselm
saw that the chief reason a God-man was necessary was the justice of God.”
3. Debtors, Enemies, and Criminals. Dr. Sproul says, “In fact, there
are three distinct ways in which human sin is described and communicated biblically—it is called a debt, it is called a state of enmity, and it is called a crime.” The rest of the chapter is a biblical development of these three distinctives.
4. Ransomed From Above. In this chapter Dr. Sproul shows the importance of Jesus coming to redeem his people. He develops the concept of ransom and redeemer from the OT, while at the same time dispelling the “ransom theory.”
5. The Saving Subtitute. This chapter is an important contributing to a proper understanding of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ.
When we looked at the biblical depiction of sin as a crime, we saw that Jesus acts as the Substitute, taking our place at the bar of God’s justice. For this reason, we sometimes speak of Jesus’ work on the cross as the substitutionary atonement of Christ, which means that when He offered an atonement, it was not to satisfy God’s justice for His own sins, but for the sins of others. He stepped into the role of the Substitute, representing His people.
6. Made Like His Brethren. In the incarnation Jesus made like his people in order to save them. God became flesh. In this chapter Dr. Sproul defends what is called “Total Depravity” in Reformed theology.
7. The Suffering Servant. This is a penetrating and moving demonstration of Christ, the God-man, as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. Sproul takes the reader into the heart of Jesus’ suffering, as he bled and died for sinners.
On the cross, God’s wrath was poured out on Christ. God did strike Him, smite Him, and afflict Him—but not for any evil in Christ. He was smitten in His role as the vicarious Substitute for the people of God.
8. The Blessing and the Curse. Dr. Sproul draws heavily on the Deuteronomy 28 to demonstrate the blessing and the curse that were involved in the death of Christ. He then goes to Paul in Galatians three to show how Christ and his cross became the curse for trangressors. He also explains in meaning of Jesus word, “My God, my God, Why have You forsaken Me?”
Aquinas speculated that the Beatific Vision, the vision of the unveiled glory of God, was something Jesus had enjoyed every minute of His life until the cross, when the light was turned off. The world was plunged into darkness, and Christ was exposed to the curse of the wrath of God. To experience the curse, according to Jewish categories, was to experience what it means to be forsaken.
9. Secure Faith. Again, you may not agree with Dr. Sproul, but he makes the point that Christ at the cross actually accomplished something-the definite atonement for his people. It was not a potential atonement but a definite one.
10. This is a Q&A of some crucial questions surrounding the death of Christ and what it all means. I found the Q&A quite helpful on some tough questions, though I’m not in agreement with all the answers Dr. Sproul offers.
Here’s what Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner, professor at Southern seminary, says about The Truth of the Cross:
“The cross stands at the very center of our Christian lives. Still, many Christians are confused about the heart of the gospel, for many deviant views are in the air. R. C. Sproul blows the fog away in this wonderfully clear, theologically profound, and pastorally rich work. Learn afresh or anew what God has accomplished in the cross, so that you will boast only in the cross of Jesus Christ.”