We are living in an era of seemingly unprecedented social and moral decline. At the same time, the church’s authority has been grievously diminished by doctrinal confusion and indifference. Concerning the relationship between church and culture, the late D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones observed that as the church goes, so goes society.1
The solution? The apostle Paul explains: “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). It is to this teaching that Jon Cardwell, author and Pastor of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Anniston commits his latest publication.
Why do so many Christians fail to see the providential hand of God in difficult and trying circumstances? When tragedy or calamity strikes, why do so many find little comfort in the knowledge of a sovereign God? Cardwell contends this is because a critical doctrine has “lost its place as the heart of our Christianity.”
With shepherd-like tenderness and scholarly precision, Cardwell takes us back to basics: the soul-saving doctrine of Christ, and Him crucified. In nine, easy to read, scripture laced chapters, he expounds upon the Gospel message in its preeminence, its proposition, its power, its purpose, its provision, its privilege, and its priority. Displaying his gift for poetry and prose, Cardwell caps each chapter with a hymn that is both doctrinally sound and devotionally sweet.
For those seeking “signs and wonders”, Cardwell points to John the Baptist of whom Jesus said, “among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist.”
It is interesting to note that John performed no miracle; neither was there any wondrous sign given by his hand. He preached the Christ to come, and repentance in preparation for His coming. Yet, Jesus also included at the end of His discourse that the “least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” I believe that this is because the very least soul saved by the preaching of Christ crucified after the Day of Pentecost and the impartation of Holy Spirit, is full of the greatest power on earth: God Himself. The greater works that would be done is the preaching of the cross by the blessed power of the Holy Spirit.
For those pursuing doctrine apart from knowing Christ, Cardwell reminds us of the end goal:
Our study of and meditation upon scripture is not to merely amass and categorize factoids to increase our intellects and enhance the knowledge of our minds; it is to know the Person of Jesus Christ. It is to know Christ, not things about Him. To know Christ is godly; to desire to know things about Christ is idolatry.
To be sure, Cardwell’s own theology has been forged on the crucible of adversity. In 2008, he and his wife Lisa were called out of the Alaska bush where he served as missionary-pastor to the Aleut people of the remote Alaskan fishing village of King Cove and to the Yup’ik Eskimos of the remote Alaskan fishing village of Scammon Bay. In 2006, symptoms once thought to be ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease began to manifest. Six years later, despite extensive medical testing at some of the finest facilities in the country, Cardwell’s condition remains “unidentified”. He and his wife however, live daily with the life threatening ailments. You can read all about what Cardwell calls his “light unidentified affliction” here. “Christ and Him Crucified” is written by someone who cannot afford to entertain a gospel of cheap grace.
I believe the timing of this book to be providential in that the current state of affairs bears a strong resemblance to the conditions that led to the Reformation. A gospel of grace remains largely obscured in a compromised church that sits in the midst of a culture characterized by moral and social declension. Moreover, the Romanization of the evangelical church is quietly but most assuredly picking up speed. Cardwell, in the spirit of the Reformers, calls us to put away our rotten religious falsehoods and cast ourselves wholly upon a crucified Savior. Only then will the church be revolutionized and whole societies reformed.
It is with great pleasure that I recommend “Christ and Him Crucified” to anyone seeking gospel truth. This book will lead you to a deeper examination of your faith in light of the one event upon which all eternity hinges — Calvary.
I leave you with the sobering yet faith-filled words written in his postlude:
If we desire to be faithful in Christ’s kingdom, we need look no further than the truth of Christ crucified in the pages of scripture. Every doctrine that exalts itself above the gospel truth of Christ, and Him crucified, will lead men astray: into temptation, into sin, into gross heresy, into blasphemy, unto death. Every good work, kind deed and Christian practice that exalts itself and draws attention away from Christ crucified is a damnable exercise from the start to finish. Both of these, whether deed or doctrine, if it detracts from the gospel of Christ crucified, it is building with wood, hay and stubble in Christ’s kingdom, and will be consumed by the Judgment in that Day.
Jon has graciously provided 2 signed copies of “Christ and Him Crucified” for the Heavenly Springs giveaway. If you are interested in participating, please leave a comment. To increase your chances, share this post on your FB and/or blog and let me know you have done so. I will add your name for each share. The drawing will close Wednesday, February 29th at 8pm EST. Winners will be announced on Thursday, March 1st. International entries welcome!
I’ll be back early Thursday morning with the winners. Until then, God bless you!
1 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Remembering the Reformation” in Knowing the Times: Addresses Delivered on Various Occasions, 1942-1977 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth. 1989).