Book Review: The Truth of the Cross

The Truth of the Cross
R.C. Sproul

There is no more recognizable icon than the cross. People from all religions in all different parts of the world recognize the cross. However, it would be safe to assume that the vast majority of people who could easily recognize a cross and associate it with Christianity would not be able to explain the significance of the cross in any substantive way. The bible teaches that the cross is significant, not as an icon, but as a means to salvation. People recognize the cross, but they do not understand the truth of the cross. People are in desperate need of the truth of the cross, and it is to this end that R.C. Sproul has written his latest book The Truth of the Cross. The Truth of the Cross is a small and simple book teeming with cosmic truths.

After establishing the necessity of the atonement, Sproul spends the majority of the book dealing with the doctrine of the atonement and its implications. In the next to last chapter Sproul concludes with a chapter on the intention of the atonement. If you are wondering why a book with the title The Truth of the Cross spends so much of its time dealing with atonement it is because atonement is exactly what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Remarkably the cross is not often spoken of in these terms. Terms like atonement and justification are looked at as antiquated terms in today’s theological circles. And the situation is not much better among non-theological circles. On this point Sproul makes the observation that,

The prevailing doctrine of justification today is not justification by faith alone. It’s not even justification by good works or by a combination of faith and works. The prevailing notion of justification in Western culture today is justification by death. It’s assumed that all one has to do to be received into the everlasting arms of God is to die. pg 10

Sproul is spot on in his assessment of the religious climate in our world. This is why his book is so important. After reading this book I am convinced that every Christian, or individual who wants to know what the bible says about salvation would profit from reading this book. This book is vintage Sproul! It is filled with vivid imagery and practical illustrations that  made high and lofty doctrines available to all ages and maturity levels. As a student minister I am excited about this book because it is another resource that I can recommend to parents as they seek to grow their children up in the way of the Lord.

One of my favorite paragraphs in this book speaks of Christ as the ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer,

Now these terms and customs are applied throughout the Scriptures to the work of the Messiah in His atonement. In the ransom that Christ pays, He works as a Kinsman-Redeemer for His people. As our elder brother, He pays the indebtedness that we have incurred before God. He buys us out of indentured servitude by paying the price for our freedom, thereby restoring to us our inheritance in the Father’s kingdom. pg. 64

As I read through this section in particular I was quite moved as I contemplated the work that Jesus had done in my own life. This, by the way, is one of Sproul’s strongest attributes as an author. Sproul has an innate ability to take abstract theological discussions and make them authentic in the lives of his readers.

The only objection that I have with this book is a quibble I have had with Sproul’s writing in the past. On page 143 Sproul lumps Dispensationalist together with Arminians. This is not the first time that I have observed Sproul make this generalization, and I often wonder what he thinks of men like John MacArthur and John Piper who are both Calvinists and Dispensationalist. That being said, this quibble is literally with only one line in the entire book. Sproul does not even elaborate on this issue.

The Truth of the Cross is a well written and important book for our day. I wish that more authors would take note of Sproul’s writing and emulate what he has done with this book. With this in mind I whole-heartily recommend this book to you.

Title: The Truth of the Cross
Author: R.C. Sproul
Publisher: Reformation Trust
Year: 2007
Price: $15.00 from Ligonier
ISBN: 1567690874
Pages: 178



  1. Paul,

    Just a little clarification. John Piper is not a dispensationalist. Here is a link to his ministry, Desiring God, which includes his view on dispensationalism:

    Here’s a quote from the last paragraph of the article: “He is probably the furthest away from dispensationalism, although he does agree with dispensationalism that there will be a millennium.”


  2. David,

    Thanks for the link. I see what the article is saying, but at the same time I am not sure what to call someone who believes in a millennial reign, and a future fulfillment for Israel.

    The point that I was making in the review was primarily that Sproul over generalizes those who disagree with him on covenant issues. Unfortunately it seems that I myself have over generalized.

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