The heart may be a biological organ existing in many animals and humans, but we use the word as a metaphor for many things that have nothing to do with that important muscle. For example, when I speak of “the heart of the issue” I’m suggesting that there is something at the center, the core, of the matter that is more important than anything else. It’s the one thing that is indispensable. It’s the thing that, if removed, would cause everything else to stop.
We use the word “heart” this way because that muscle is essential to our physical lives. Take out my heart and I will cease to be—at least biologically. Without my heart, my body shuts down. I’ve stood in a hospital room when that vital organ of a loved one stopped beating, and they stopped living. The heart is essential to life. Without it, we cannot live.
So, to say that the cross of Jesus Christ is the heart of the gospel means that removing that central truth makes the message void. God’s own Son, came into the world to die on a cross for the sins of mankind—take that fact away, and the news isn’t good at all. The cross is at the core of the message of grace, and we cannot experience salvation and the forgiveness of sins without the cross. It’s the heart of God’s plan.
This is why the apostle Paul gave this emphatic pronouncement: “May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). He was saying that the vital part of salvation is not our works, but Christ. And this is where we must put our faith—in the heart of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Stanley shares more about the importance of the cross in his message “Why We Believe” airing today on radio.