Editorial: The Cross and Revelation

Rarely does a day pass that we don’t ponder and praise God for the cross of Christ. The more we survey the wondrous cross, the more we learn about ourselves and about Him. The cross reveals our utter depravity, for it is astonishing that we dared to nail our Creator upon it. And it is even more astonishing that He allowed it to happen without thundering down judgment upon us, which reveals something about the matchless mercy of our Lord. In fact, the cross unveils the character of God in many ways.

The cross reveals God’s glory. Scripture says that Christ’s miracles demonstrated God’s glory (Joh 2:11; 11:4,40). Christ’s presence here on earth displayed God’s glory (1:14). But notice how many times the Lord Jesus referred to His own death as the time He and the Father would be glorified (12:23ff.; 13:31-32; 17:1). He also prophesied that at His death He would be “lifted up” (3:14; 8:28; 12:32), not just raised physically upon a cross but glorified thereby, drawing “all people to Himself.”

The cross also reveals God’s justice, for it was there that Christ bore the penalty for our sins and satisfied a holy God by enduring His wrath. Through the cross, God has been revealed as Just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom 3:26).

In one of Scripture’s “3:16’s” we learn that the cross reveals God’s love. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us …” (1Jn 3:16 ESV; see also 4:10; Rom 5:8). John is telling us here “that, apart from Christ and his cross, the world would never have known what true love is … That is why, if we are looking for a definition of love, we should look not in a dictionary, but at Calvary.”1

Paul tells us the cross reveals God’s wisdom and knowledge. After his marvelous exposition of the gospel in Romans, where he declares ruined sinners can be justified by faith and changed to be instruments of righteousness by the power of the Holy Spirit, and where Gentiles and Jews are gloriously brought together, all because of Christ’s work on the cross, Paul can hardly contain his joy: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Rom 11:33 ESV).

It is also Paul who informs us that the cross reveals God’s power. Although it is folly to the perishing, the message of the cross is still the power of God to those who are being saved (1Co 1:18; see also Rom 1:16). God has brought to us through the cross justification, reconciliation, redemption, sanctification, and other glorious blessings emphasized in the pages to follow, in this special issue devoted to our Savior’s wondrous cross. And we have merely scratched the surface of the many ways in which the character of God is revealed in the cross. Edward Denny was right: “‘Tis in Thy cross, Lord, that we learn what Thou in all Thy fullness art.”

1 John R.W. Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 212.