Attending Evangelical Friends (EFCI) churches back in the 1960s (before they left their first love), I remember salvation messages about “the Blood and the Cross”, as well as hymns of Calvary such as “Power in the Blood“, “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood“, etc.
Today “The Blood and The Cross” message – the blunt, straightforward, bloody gospel message of repentance-of-sin and salvation that offends and convicts sinners – is seldom heard in the EFCI (particularly the ultra-liberal Northwest Yearly Meeting aka NWYM) and other evangelical denominations. Sermons, hymns and tracts about Calvary used to be common, but no longer.
Today most evangelical pastors have become deeply entrenched in the Emerging/Emergent church movements. These pastors seldom use these terms in their sermons: sin, judgment, perish, eternal damnation, Hell, Lake of Fire, repentance of sin, the Blood, the Cross, etc. It seems these pastors are hesitant to offend or turn off unsaved seekers in their congregations/audiences, for fear they’ll scurry off to churches which are “less offensive.”
I know of a large Evangelical Friends church which – praise the Lord – was offering a series of classes in “evangelism training.” Yet when this church obtained a new pastor, the pastor discontinued the evangelism training classes. Now the church has many “fun” activities (Life Groups for devotees of amateur radio, classic cars, scrapbooking, etc.) Apparently the pastor wants unsaved seekers to become involved in “fun” secular activities alongside born again church members, become comfortable attending seeker sensitive church services, then eventually be presented with the “full” salvation message. But when is this “full” salvation message presented by the church? I have never heard “hellfire and brimstone” preaching from the pastor, nor the “bloody” message of Christ on Calvary (picture the movie “The Passion of the Christ.”)
Frankly, Pastor, you (like so many other Emerging/Emergents today) are way off track. For sinners to repent of their sins and accept Christ as their Saviour, to truly become born again, you must preach an “offensive” gospel of “the Blood and the Cross” that will be hated by unsaved church attenders who insist on remaining in their sin. And unsaved seekers don’t need to be “eased in” to a church setting – they need confronted head on, as soon as possible, with the so-called “negative” message of the Blood and the Cross.
“That old Baptist preacher didn’t pull any punches when he dangled my feet over the flames of Hell. I am glad that he did. It was what I needed. I had already been hearing soothing and nice things from other “preachers” and remained lost. I needed to know and feel that I was lost and, when I did, it was a simple matter to run to the Cross.
Believe me, if the church has failed to reach the world it is right here. We do not need to come up with something more appealing to the world; we need to revive and sharpen the only things that will pierce their hearts with holy conviction so they know the choices are clear.”
Following are some more excerpts along this line, from A.W. Tozer. (Tozer had his flaws. He was not perfect, but I don’t know of any godly preacher or writer who ever has been.) These excerpts are from “The Old Cross and the New”, by A. W. Tozer. Click here (Berit Kjos’ website) for the original source of these excerpts. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].
Excerpts from …
The Old Cross and The New
By A. W. Tozer
This wise saint went to be with the Lord in 1963. His messages were written more than forty years ago, yet they are as relevant now as they were then!
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 by 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 back of 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 good-by 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 death sentence. There is no commutation 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 is 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 stands always 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 Saviour, 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….
Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we… alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power.
“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24
Info on the above article, found here:
NOTE: This article first appeared in The Alliance Witness in 1946. It has been printed in virtually every English-speaking country in the world and has been put into tract form by various publishers, including Christian Publications, Inc. It still appears now and then in the religious press.
FOR FURTHER READING
Some comments on “The Old Cross and the New”
A.W. Tozer, The Radical Cross: Living the Passion of Christ – This book contains, under one cover, many essays by Tozer about the Atonement and related doctrines.
These are just a few of the many essays included:
“The Cross Does Interfere”
“The Cross is a Radical Thing”
“Each His Own Cross”