The OLD CROSS and THE NEW
– by A.W. Tozer –
In case you might have doubted how far the Church has drifted from her holy moorings of the Gospel, please read the following by Pastor, Dr. A.W. Tozer, (1897 – 1963), an American Christian pastor, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor, who, for his accomplishments received honorary doctorates from Wheaton and Houghton colleges.
(This article first appeared in the Alliance Witness magazine in 1946)
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 in 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 and 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 behind 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 goodbye 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 a death sentence. There is no one to commute it 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 are 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 always stands 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 Savior, 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.
SOURCE – The Alliance Witness magazine.
I, and some of my friends, have been personally attacked by many pastors and ‘church leaders’ over the years, for pointing out the spiritual and moral drift of the postmodern Church. The Bride of Christ is being sullied by the teaching and example of these same pastors, preachers and Bible teachers, who willingly and enthusiastically teach and encourage following a false gospel. But far worse, the Bride is being soiled by the Christians who endorse these false teachers by their own lackadaisical and errant attitudes and behaviors, which are defiantly on full public display.
The day of our Lord’s return is near – it could happen at any time. Please, let’s set our course to return to the ways of Jesus, so the watching world can see. No more compromising. No more self-serving. Let’s work out our salvation with holy fear and trembling before His Cross.
Your Brother and Friend,
2 thoughts on “THE OLD CROSS and THE NEW CROSS – by A.W. Tozier”
Tozier could see 70 years down the road. So much insight perfectly penned!
I agree. Tozer has always been a favorite.