The Irresistible Draw of the Cross

(SeanO) #1

I have been reviewing Andy Stanley’s book ‘Irresistible’ and was struggling with the idea that the Church would be irresistible if it lived out the Gospel. Then today I was reading John Stott’s ‘The Cross of Christ’ and he used the word ‘irresistible’ to describe the draw of the cross. Aha! I understood - the cross is an offense to the self-righteous and the self-preserving, but for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness it is irresistible - like water to the thirsty and bread to the hungry.

We rediscover the apostolic emphasis on the Cross when we read the gospel with Moslems. We find that, although the offence of the Cross remains, its magnetic power is irresistible.

‘Irresistible’ is the very word an Iranian student used when telling me of his conversion to Christ. Brought up to read the Koran, say his prayers and lead a good life, he nevertheless knew that he was separated from God by his sins. When Christian friends brought him to church and encouraged him to read the Bible, he learnt that Jesus Christ had died for his forgiveness. ‘For me the offer was irresistible and heaven-sent,’ he said, and he cried to God to have mercy on him through Christ. Almost immediately ‘the burden of my past life was lifted. I felt as if a huge weight…had gone. With the relief and sense of lightness came incredible joy. At last it had happened. I was free of my past. I knew that God had forgiven me, and I felt clean. I wanted to shout, and tell everybody.’

In what way has the cross proven ‘irresistible’ in your life? Here are two classic hymns that I always enjoyed growing up.

(Dean Schmucker) #2

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Romans 8:28‭-‬29 ESV

I was listening to the brother preaching on Romans 8. He stopped at verse 28, but I felt led to go on. That’s when the Spirit showed me the connection between 28 and 29. WHY do all things work for good? Through the work of the cross, we are being formed into His image! This is why James tells us to CONSIDER IT ALL A JOY when our faith is tested.

(Tabitha Gallman) #3

That’s a good point @SeanO. Sometimes I have to surrender my pride to focus on what it is that God is trying to tell me. I have been coming across the word pious a lot recently, and and admit that it gets easy to feel that way at times. I don’t want to ever cause anyone to stumble because of my pride.

To me the message of the cross is irresistible because when I read the things that are detestable to God from the OT I am reminded that he came to Earth as a man and lived among those detestable things and even suffered and died because of the detestable things I am capable of doing. He knows me and loves me more than I will ever know here on Earth.

(Tabitha Gallman) #4

@SeanO - In my recent studying both online and in God’s word, I came across this CNN article about the Father/Son relationship between the Stanleys and it reminds me of how human they both are. I’ll admit that I feel in my spirit that Andy’s message of his book “Irresistible” could somehow (maybe many, many years from now) lead to shunning of the OT or just dropping OT from print…OK maybe not that extreme, but despite how panicked I feel about the inspired word of God being judged as a stumbling block to seekers and believers that have lost their faith, I am encouraged by this article that tells of a father and son reconciling:

(SeanO) #5

@tabby68 Yes, it is wonderful to see Christians who had a serious family disagreement and actually reconciled. I don’t think Stanley’s teaching would be used to drop the OT from print ever - if anyone understood it accurately :slight_smile:

(Tabitha Gallman) #6

@SeanO - In Phil 1:10 (NIV) what event is the “day of Christ” referring to?

(SeanO) #7

@tabby68 This specific phrase appears to be unique to Philippians, at least when searching in English. It refers to the day that Christ returns to judge the living and the dead - the second coming of Christ. Some might debate whether Paul is referring to the second coming or to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, when Christ ‘came on the clouds’ in judgment on Jerusalem. But I think that it must ultimately point towards the second coming of Christ when He judges the living and the dead even if it had a prior point of reference.

It must refer to Christ returning in judgment because Paul says he wants to present them ‘pure and blameless’ before the Lord.

Phil 1:6 - I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Phil 1:10 - so that you can approve the things that are superior and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ ,

Phil 2:16 - Hold firmly to the message of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing.

(Tabitha Gallman) #8

@SeanO - is it possible that the event that Jesus described in Matthew 5:18 the same as the Day of Christ or His second coming that Paul talks about in Phil 1:6?

(SeanO) #9

@tabby68 Do you mean the phrase ‘until everything is accomplished’ in Matthew 5? I think that the ‘end of the age’, the ‘day of the Lord’ and the return of Christ are all closely related. If I understand correctly the ‘end of the age’ was the end of the Old Covenant era when the temple was destroyed. Jesus said that God’s Kingdom had come - so we currently live in an age when God’s Kingdom is upon earth among those who believe. But then there is also a day when Jesus will return again to judge the living and the dead. For the apostles I think all of these concepts were wrapped up in one event - I’m not sure they realized there would be a gap between the end of the Old Covenant / age and the return of Christ to judge the living and the dead.

(Tabitha Gallman) #10

@SeanO - yes, ‘until everything is accomplished’ is the phrase I’m referring to. Thank you very much. I definitely don’t want to begin diving into Eschatology too much right now, but isn’t there a level of end time events I should feel somewhat sure of to be able to share the gospel with others that points to the truth as far as moral absolutes are concerned? I know in my heart what the Holy Spirit tells me, and I don’t necessarily get concerned with all the details of the end times, but I do know that we are all going to be judged in the end. The more I study God’s word, the more I am seeing how it is all relevant and connected and how timeless it all is.

For instance, I am still reading in Deuteronomy, yesterday I was reading Deuteronomy chapter 29 when Moses is going over the conditional part of the covenant to the Israelites just before they go into the promised land. Is verse 4 that reads: “But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear.” connected in some way to Ezekial 36:26-27 when Ezekial the prophet says: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (27) And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” ? Is this a prophesy concerning the Holy Spirit indwelling each of us after becoming born again?

(SeanO) #11

@tabby68 Yes, the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead - He has not yet returned just as He left (Acts 1:11). Ezekiel I believe does refer to the New Covenant of life in the Spirit and has a parallel in Jeremiah 31:31-34. At first glance, I do not think the passage from Deut is a prophecy as much as a statement of the hardness of the hearts of the Israelites.

(Tabitha Gallman) #12

@SeanO - In Deut. ch. 30 verse 6 Moses tells the Israelites “The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.” And Paul refers to ‘circumcision of the heart’ in Romans 2:29.

I found this article from
and it discusses the phrase ‘circumcision of the heart’. Here is one paragraph:

"Paul is discussing the role of the Old Testament Law as it relates to Christianity. He argues that Jewish circumcision is only an outward sign of being set apart to God. However, if the heart is sinful, then physical circumcision is of no avail. A circumcised body and a sinful heart are at odds with each other. Rather than focus on external rites, Paul focuses on the condition of the heart. Using circumcision as a metaphor, he says that only the Holy Spirit can purify a heart and set us apart to God. Ultimately, circumcision cannot make a person right with God; the Law is not enough. A person’s heart must change. Paul calls this change “circumcision of the heart.” "

Could this go along with what Moses told the Israelites back in verse 4 of chapter 29? Is this how we are justified by faith because the Holy Spirit living in us impels us to ‘obey him with all our heart and with all our soul’ ?

(SeanO) #13

@tabby68 As I understand it, the OT saints did not have the Holy Spirit indwelling them the same way we do today, so being justified by faith and being filled with the Spirit are separate, while related, realities. We are justified by faith because we choose to trust in God - in His existence and His goodness - and He credits that to us as righteousness in Christ. Being filled with the Spirit enables us to obey God as we ought because He enables us to crucify our flesh with its passions and desires and walk in newness of life.

(Tabitha Gallman) #14

@SeanO - Before God sent his son Jesus, He communicated differently with His people although the Trinity was always present? Is this right? I am interested to learn more about how the Trinity worked in the Old Testament. If you know of any good books that practically speak about people and their interaction with God the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit please pass that on to me. Thanks @SeanO!

(SeanO) #15

@tabby68 I can’t think of a single book that would cover that specific topic in a way I would believe to be holistic.

One instructive case is that of Simeon. Remember, this is before Jesus died and the Spirit came upon the believers in Acts. And yet we see the Spirit active in Simeon’s life in ways very similar to how the Spirit may be active in our lives. So I think even before Jesus we see the Spirit lead and guide those who seek God.

All of that to say, I am not sure there is a neat and tidy answer to this question. I think what is different about the NT is the way the Spirit indwells us and conforms us to the image of Christ. But if we study Scripture the Spirit has been active in the lives of the faithful ever since creation based upon my reading.

Luke 2:25-35 - There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:

Now, Master,
You can dismiss Your slave in peace,
as You promised.
For my eyes have seen Your salvation.
You have prepared it
in the presence of all peoples—
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and glory to Your people Israel.

His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them and told His mother Mary: “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed— and a sword will pierce your own soul—that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”