“Making the Most of the Cross” (2011, Matthias media) is a book which gets right to the heart of Christianity, the Cross of Jesus Christ. It takes us on a tour of the riches God offers us at the Cross, and how to make the most of them, to grow our confidence in God. In less than 100 pages of fairly large print, author John Chapman examines two main topics: the death of Jesus and His resurrection. Chapman writes in a simple yet engaging manner, with the clever wit of a seasoned preacher and evangelist. He explains fully, yet clearly and in short chapters, who Jesus was and why he had to die. It is an excellent book for Christians to read, to revisit the basics of the Gospel and be challenged again by the grace of God. But it is also especially good for newcomers to the faith. It would make a great companion for home reading in conjunction with a course like ‘Christianity Explained’, ‘Christianity Explored’ or ‘Introducing God’ – or simply for extra reading for someone new to Jesus and the message of the Cross. Each chapter contains plenty of discussion from the big story of the bible to help people grasp God’s redemptive plan and how it is fulfilled in Jesus. There is a suggested short prayer at the end of each chapter, to pull together and apply what has been discussed.
For Chapman, Jesus’ death is “unique, unrepeatable and sufficient for all who turn to him” (p24). Chapman impresses on his readers that salvation is at the heart of what Jesus was about. Along the way he is not afraid to discuss God’s wrath (the reason we need salvation!) and to answer common objections, such as the belief that God is a vindictive child abuser (p26): “The Father did not force any punishment upon the Son; the Son himself chose to bear it on our behalf because of His love for us. That is anything but child abuse.” Jesus’ death turns away God’s anger, brings the defeat of Satan and justifies sinners. God is just, He punishes sin and love sinners. These are the clear concepts Chapman wants to reinforce.
I particularly enjoyed chapter 7 which explored the way ‘Jesus’ death is the unifying force in the Christian community’. He says we are “made acceptable to one another because of Christ. . . Understanding this truth is wonderfully liberating. We are free to be ourselves. There is no need to pretend. It doesn’t matter what you find out about my past, or what I might discover about yours. It is all deal with in the death of Jesus. That is the basis of acceptability. We are all sinners saved by grace.”
He then challenges us to apply this to how we treat others, to conduct radical surgery on our thinking, to accept and love others even (especially?) when it’s incovenient.
The second half of the book looks at the Resurrection across seven chapters. Of particular interest was his discussion of our ‘resurrection bodies’ This is a pretty difficult concept for people to grasp, but using texts from 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 21, Chapman makes it clear that we won’t be disembodied spirits floating around forever on clouds. He says Christ will take up our bodies “and transform them so they will be breathtaking! They will be immortal, imperishable, powerful, glorious and spiritual. They will be perfectly suited to the new creation. . . When I see the apostles relating to the risen Lord Jesus, I can see how it will be. I can see that the resurrection of the Lord Jesus means that there really is eternal life; there really is a new world in which we will live and relate to each other and to the Lord Jesus Christ” (p83-84).
One great thing about reading “Making the most of the Cross” is knowing that the author, John Chapman, can now see the reality of the things he has written about, the things he has long hoped for. Last year, after 82 years, John Chapman went to be with the Lord. We can take great encouragement from his faithful ministry – and his many books – of which this is most worthy of a read! Buy two and pass one on today. (Buy here)
Some of Chapman’s other books include:
- Know and Tell the Gospel: a coherent and highly influential theological account not only of the gospel but of the involvement of every Christian in its spread
- A Fresh Start: the most widely used gospel give-away book of the past 30 years
- Setting Hearts on Fire: an inspiring and informative training resource for evangelistic preachers
- A Sinner’s Guide to Holiness: a short guidebook on how the gospel calls sinners to a holy life as the fruit, not the means, of salvation
- A Foot in Two Worlds: a simple guide to the eschatology of the gospel—that we belong to the next age but live out our salvation in this evil age
- Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life: an evangelistic book for seniors on the meaning of eternal life
- Making the Most of the Cross: a simple exposition of the key facets of the death and resurrection of Jesus
- Making the Most of the Bible: a simple argument for the authority and sufficiency of Scripture as a necessary corollary of our faith in Jesus as Lord.