About 6 months ago I was introduced to a writer named David Wells. I was first introduced to him, however, as a preacher preaching on the Supremacy of Christ. In the course of reading a series of 4 books by Dr Wells I was introduced to the magnificent and grand writing of a preacher named Peter Taylor Forsyth. I have been amazed at the similarity found between Forsyth and Wells. I cannot read a page in Forsyth’s book The Justification of God without underlining at least a paragraph. (A friend who worships at the church I preach at had purchased a copy of the book a few years ago and loaned it to me. And you can find a large selection of his books for purchase or download at http://www.newcreation.org.au/books/indexes/forsyth.htm Furthermore, you can access a short essay about Forsyth at http://www.layman.org/layman/news/2007-news/review-theological-liberalism.htm.)However, I’m not necessarily writing to talk about Forsyth as much as to talk about something he wrote in The Justification of God. It’s found in one of the later chapters of the book, the chapter called The Cross Crucial For Destiny. He wrote:
“There is none that should destroy a faith which is Christian faith indeed, i.e. which has its object, source, and sustenance in that Cross and its victory, in which the prince of the world has been in principle judged and doomed forever. In that Eternal Act (and by no moral process only) the Father’s name is hallowed, His Kingdom come, and His will completely met on earth. And we are transported in spirit into the region, not far from any one of us, where these things are always perfectly done and won. It is a solemn and fortifying thought that interior to all space, time, and history there is a world where God’s name is perfectly hallowed, his will fully done, and His Kingdom already come. That region is where we retire to renew our moral certainty, behold a royal righteousness, acquire a theodicy more than rational, restore our spiritual strength, and heal our soul’s wounds. To have faith unhinged by what we now see is to confess that it was a faith unfounded and unfed from the eternal source. It is to own that our faith arose elsewhere than at Christ’s Cross.” (151-152)
And so we must cling to the cross. We must remember Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. If we try to wrap our faith around any other victory save for the victory of the Cross we are doomed. It is no wonder so many churches close their doors. It is no wonder so many Christians drift away from Christ. It is no wonder missionary zeal is a lost passion. Too many preachers in an effort to maintain the roles, in order to scratch the itch, in order to appeal to the most people possible, offer a palliative, watered down gospel that in no way confronts sinners (Christians and un-Christians alike) with the cross of Jesus. David Wells is right (God in the Wasteland) we don’t take God or His Gospel seriously in the church and we think His judgment weak.
What preacher will have the courage to abandon a feel-good, nice God and actually talk about the God who ’spared not his own Son’? What preacher will have the nerve to speak of the blood of redemption? What preacher will rise up with a prophetic voice and shame the wise with speech and utterance about the shame, humiliation and violence of the cross upon which Jesus died? Who will dare to stand with the crucified Lord of Glory? Who agrees that this world cannot be saved by any means save for the Crucified Lord Jesus?
It is my firm conviction that the church has spent far too much time lingering over matters that matter not. We have spent far too much time in the wasteland of unbelief. The prophet Amos wrote:
“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD,
“when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.
Men will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the LORD,
but they will not find it.” (Amos 8:11-12)
Here’s a thought: Before the world will become hungry for the word of God, the people of God need to be hungry for it. I think once the Church gets a taste of the real Word of God, unfiltered, unadulterated, uncensored–once they have tasted–then the Church will get hungry for more. Preachers must stop feeding the Church junk food and baby food.