By Charles Stanley
From an outsider's perspective, believers can appear morbidly fascinated with the cross—the symbol appears on our churches, around our necks, and stamped on book covers. Calvary equals death in the minds of nonbelievers. But far too few Christians can adequately explain why we hold a wooden execution device at the center of our faith.
The message of the cross permeates the Scriptures. Every chapter of the four gospels points toward Golgotha and the aftermath of Jesus' death. The remaining New Testament books primarily refer back to the Crucifixion instead of to Christ's teachings and miracles. The reason is simple: Jesus came to die. He did not dwell on earth primarily to be a teacher or healer; His main purpose was to rescue mankind from the penalty and power of sin.
Throughout the Old Testament, God covered sin through the shedding of an animal's blood. Man cannot rid himself of the stain left on his soul by wrongdoing. Nor can the Lord's justice allow a transgression to go unpunished. But His mercy permitted a substitutionary sacrifice to be made, transferring the sin-debt and the death penalty to the animal. Jesus Christ is the permanent substitute. He died on the cross in order to wash away the sins of all who receive His forgiveness and salvation. Our eternal life in heaven is possible only because He died in our place.
Apart from Jesus' sacrifice, we have no future. If someone asks why we focus on the cross, we can answer, "Our life depends upon it."
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