By Chukwugoziam Onianwah
Book Reviewer: Josiah A. Bolarinwa, PhD (Director of Research and Development, The Redeemed Christian Church of God, International Headquarters, Redemption Camp, Mowe, Ogun State, Nigeria).
The Cross of Jesus Christ: It’s message and power is a beautifully printed book with Paper Back Cover, spot laminated with a picture of a wooden Cross gorgeously adorned in scarlet. It is a reader-friendly book with bold print. The contents, which cover 150 pages is written with references only in the Holy Bible of King James (KJV), New International (NIV), Amplified Bible (AMP), New King James (NKJV), New Living Translation (NLT), The Living Bible (TLB) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB) versions.
After the preliminary formalities of Commendations, Acknowledgements and Introduction, this book is divided into six chapters with an average of four sub-titles.
From the dedication, the author hints his readers on the truth he intends to pass across as he dedicates the book to Jesus Christ, who he describes as the One ‘who gave himself for me and saved my soul.’ This is equally revealed in the foreword to the book, written by Johnson Odesola who describes the book as containing insights into what Jesus did for them to be saved as well as equip the believer in Christ with requisite information in order to share their faith in Christ with others.
In the same vein, one of the writers of commendations on the book, The Most Revd. Dr. Ignatius C. O. Kattey (JP), the Dean of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) contrary to some concepts that the cross is a piece of precious metals used to adorn our necks, writes to say that, “The Cross was an instrument of immense suffering.
The victim of the cross was fastened by nail or rope with arms outstretched. This is to say that the price of the Cross was of high premium that paid for our sins. Another Clergy who commended the book was Revd. Msgr. Dr. Pius Kii of the Department of Canon Law of the Catholic Institute of West Africa.
He noted that the book is a rallying call on contemporary Christians who loathsomely reject the cross and its varied implications as ‘not their portion.’ [p. 15]. According to him, “The story of the cross, which this book highlights, forewarns us all that God’s glory comes not by going around the dark valley, but through it.”
The author, himself, does not mince words right from the Introduction to tell his readers that the Cross is a symbol of suffering, mockery, degradation and its concept is foolishness to those that are perishing. In spite of these, however, Pastor Onianwah affirmed that this gory story of the passion and death of Jesus Christ on the cross is the gospel message.
This book deals with the most significant foundation of the Christian faith. It is not just one of the books because it is upon the subject it treats (the cross of Jesus Christ) that the hope of the human race rests. This book is unique in the sense that it does not combine many themes of the Christian faith but addresses the most important one of them all.
The reader is not saddled with the responsibility of having to be sorting out the multiple plots and themes of the narratives before he or she can understand the objective of the book. In other words, the author gets his mission right from the beginning to the end and there is no ambiguity in his use of language and message he is passing across.
The illustrations through his personal testimonies as a believer in the cross and practitioner of the Christian faith drive home his points and they are refreshing.
Through this book, the author has succeeded in educating the world that the cross of Jesus Christ is more than a piece of metal that people wear on their necks as a decoration or a long crucifix being hung on the wall of a living room as a sign of being Christian or being carried about in front of the priests during liturgical procession from Sunday to Sunday. Its significance is profound, refreshing, assuring that with the Cross believers can live victoriously here on earth and in the world to come, eternal life.
Answering the question that says: What is the message of the cross? in Chapter four, the author says that the message of the cross is the information or the idea, which the cross communicates to the entire humanity. This information or idea when received, produces power to become children of God in the believer according to John 1:12 and consequently brings about the redemption of man from eternal damnation. Unfortunately, this message of the cross, more often, sounds foolish to the unbelieving minds according to 1 Corinthians 1:17-18.
Moreover, other messages of the cross include love, forgiveness, hope, all-round blessings including healing. Thus, the destruction of the works of the devil which was foretold by Jesus in John 10:10 was fulfilled and completed and victory and peace became the inheritance of those who believe in the cross of the Lord.
As the author draws the ‘curtain’ of his treatise on the book in chapter six, the closing chapter, he announces the way to gain access to the power of the cross using certain keys including the key of salvation, which is obtainable only in the cross of Jesus Christ.
The major weakness of this book is that it lacks citations from previous works on the subject of the cross of Jesus Christ hence it has no section of references. It could have been more robust in scholarship if a chapter is devoted to the efforts of previous authors who did not only write but also believed in what they wrote on his subject of enquiry.
The author sparingly makes references to one or two authors. A more in-depth review of previous works could have revealed the gap which I personally believe that this book has successfully filled when compared with previous writings on the subject of the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
However, this book is highly recommended to all genuine enquirers on the subject of the cross of Jesus Christ and the atonement which brings man back to God’s eternal fellowship.