“Only he who knows the greatness of wrath will be mastered by the greatness of mercy. All inadequate doctrines of the atonement are due to inadequate doctrines of God and man. If we bring God down to our level and raise ourselves to His, then of course we see no need for a radical salvation, let alone for a radical atonement to secure it.
When, on the other hand, we have glimpsed the blinding glory of the holiness of God, and have been so convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit that we tremble before God and acknowledge what we are, namely ‘hell-deserving sinners’, then and only then does the necessity of the cross appear so obvious that we are astonished we never saw it before.
The essential background to the cross, therefore, is a balanced understanding of the gravity of sin and the majesty of God. If we diminish either, we thereby diminish the cross.”
–John Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 109-110.