The Cross of Jesus Christ
The cross of Jesus Christ is the intersection of the wisdom, justice, and mercy of God. If a person wants to know what the Scriptures mean when they say, “God is love.” (1Jn.4:8), then they can look to the cross of Christ. The overarching aim in all of the apostle Paul's preaching was Christ and him crucified (1 Cor.2:2), and it should be the overarching aim of every preacher and every hearer of the Word of God. The cross of Christ is not all the Scriptures tell us about, but the cross of Christ is the central message of the Scriptures.
Therefore, it is imperative that every Christian learn about the cross of Christ. It is important to learn about the atonement at the beginning and throughout the Christian life. One way we can do this is by hearing it preached. Another way is by reading it in the Scriptures as revealed in bud form in the Old Testament, and in full bloom in the gospels and letters of the New Testament. Yet another way is by standing on the shoulders of others who have written about the atoning work of God by the cross of Christ.
One book I would suggest reading is The Truth of the Cross, by R.C. Sproul. It is a faith building book that founds the reader's heart and mind on the Scriptures as they reveal the holy God's work of redemption to lovingly seek and save the lost. Here is a sample of the text as Dr. Sproul tells the reader how Christ’s atoning work on the cross accomplishes a secure faith,
“One of the sweetest statements from the lips of Jesus in the New Testaments this: “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34b). There is a p,an of God designed for your salvation. It is not an afterthought or an attempt to correct a mistake. Rather from all eternity, God determined that he would redeem for himself a people, and that which he determined to do was, in fact, accomplished in the work of Jesus Christ, his atonement on the cross…He is your Suret, your Mediator, your Substitute, your Redeemer. He atoned for your sins on the cross.” (p.153)
Dr. Sproul’s book is short and simple read. The Cross of Christ, by John Stott is a longer read, but a classic work on the atonement. Another classic text is Redemption Accomplished and Applied, by John Murray. This work is fairly short and not only leads the reader down the road of Christ’s historical work on the cross, but also helps you understand how the finished work of Christ is applied to the believer for their salvation. If you would like to read something more devotional with two to three page chapters, but sounded securely on the Scriptures, pick up John Piper’s, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die. Finally, if you are looking for a good book that helps you apply the atoning work of Christ to your everyday life read , C.J. Mahaney’s, Living the Cross Centered Life.
These are some ideas I hope will be helpful to you as you take up and read on the cross of Jesus Christ. However, if you want a fuller reading list along with an annotated bibliography check out Ligon Duncan's post here.