>How you “fill in the blank” of the title “The Cross: Picture of God’s _______” determines how you look on things like atonement, hell, wrath.
Most will put the word “love” in the blank…and it should be there…but should be followed by “hate.”
Love of people. Hatred for sin.
A simultaneous portrait of His amazing love and the horribleness of sin.
It is “normal,” (but not right) to get off balance on the love portrait. But to ignore, or be ignorant of, God’s absolute holiness, and thus His hatred of sin, opens one to all kinds of error.
I look at the cross and, gratefully, I see His love (Romans 5.8). The very next verse reminds me that I am “…saved by Him from the wrath of God.” That wrath should be poured out on me, but it is not…because it has been poured out on the Sacrificial Lamb.
Don’t hear many (any?) songs about God’s wrath…His fury, anger, and indignation at sin.
John R. W. Stott has a well-written reminder in a book that, if you’ve not read it, you should:
“Only he who knows the greatness of wrath will be mastered by the greatness of mercy. All inadequate doctrines of the atonement are due to inadequate doctrines of God and man. If we bring God down to our level and raise ourselves to His, then of course we see no need for a radical salvation, let alone for a radical atonement to secure it.
When, on the other hand, we have glimpsed the blinding glory of the holiness of God, and have been so convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit that we tremble before God and acknowledge what we are, namely ‘hell-deserving sinners’, then and only then does the necessity of the cross appear so obvious that we are astonished we never saw it before.
The essential background to the cross, therefore, is a balanced understanding of the gravity of sin and the majesty of God. If we diminish either, we thereby diminish the cross.”
Side note: some readers are aware of the ongoing controversy regarding universalism ( all humans are “saved” according to this school of, ah, thought)..Stott is NOT a universalist, though he does believe nonbelievers are annihilated rather than confined to an endless hell. I really respect Stott, but as march as part of my heart wishes to agree, I can’t. His books, especially this one, are well worth reading:http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=jacksjots-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=083083320X&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr