When saved, do we come to the cross or do we come to Jesus? Isn’t the source of our life His blood, or is it the cross, an implement of death?
Throughout the world today, the image of the cross has become iconic, a universally accepted logo for Christianity. Whether Protestant or Catholic, the cross is prominently displayed in places of worship, adorning buildings and signs. Notably, Catholics frequently include a ghastly figure of a dead man, nailed in place like a bug, bearing the marks of torture that contributed to his death.
By way of a disclaimer, I want to preface the rest of what I have to say by saying that I am not on a trip about this: “15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.” Titus 1:15 WEB. If you have a cross or wear a cross that you feel is a sign of your devotion to Christ, God bless you in it. Enjoy it. I like Christmas, despite its pagan origins. To me it represents Emmanuel: God with us; Joy to the World indeed!
The thing that I am debunking in this article is the use of this symbol as a stamp or logo which indicates holiness. It has also become a focus as the key to salvation, replacing the blood of Christ.
I have considered removing this article from my website because unless you understand the issue, it looks like picky religious straining at gnats. I have no wish or any need to offend any brother or sister who has a cross that they cherish. The important thing to understand is that the exaltation of the cross at that expense of the blood of Christ crosses a line that separates religious ritual from true spirituality.
That substitution of the cross for the blood of Christ as a focal point in our salvation is crucial. It goes all the way back to Cain and his substitution of an offering of produce for the blood sacrifice required by God. It strongly reflects the false religious worship developed by the Catholic Church.
The cross plays no part in our salvation. We are saved by being covered with Jesus’ blood. It is the work of the cross that we undergo as a part of the process of sanctification after we are saved. The old man must die so that we can be freed completely from the power of sin.
Cross pendants and necklaces in all sizes, fashioned from materials ranging from basest metal, wood, stone, glass or plastic, to purest gold hang from the necks of millions. It serves to label them as Christians, but where did it really come from? Let’s look back and see what evidence we can find of the adoption of the image of the cross as a symbol for Christianity.
Over one hundred years ago, a humble servant of God, Clarence Larkin, a Baptist minister with a gift for organizing and conveying scriptural truths addressed some of the depredations of paganism by the Catholic Church. In his book “Dispensational Truth”, he laid out God’s grand plan to rescue mankind from sin and death. In chapter “XXIV Babylon the Great”, he reveals how, among other pagan elements, the cross came to be displayed in a “Christian” church:
“Rome and Babylon
In One Religious System.
“Soon after Damasus was made “Supreme Pontiff” the “rites” of Babylon began to come to the front. The worship of the Virgin Mary was set up in A. D. 381. All the outstanding festivals of the Roman Catholic Church are of Babylonian origin. Easter is not a Christian name. It means “Ishtar, ” one of the titles of the Babylonian Queen of Heaven, whose worship by the Children of Israel was such an abomination in the sight of God. The decree for the observance of Easter and Lent was given in A. D. 519. The “Rosary” is of Pagan origin. There is no warrant in the Word of God for the use of the “Sign of the Cross.” It had its origin in the mystic “Tau” of the Chaldeans and Egyptians. It came from the letter “T, ” the initial name of “Tammuz, ” and was used in the “Babylonian Mysteries” for the same magic purposes as the Romish Church now employs it. Celibacy, the Tonsure, and the Order of Monks and Nuns, have no warrant or authority from Scripture. The Nuns are nothing more than an imitation of the “Vestal Virgins” of Pagan Rome”.
Larkin, Clarence. Dispensational Truth [Illustrated] (Kindle location 5874-5881) . PreservedWords. Kindle Edition.
Again I ask, why is the image of the cross ubiquitous in a church that is so closely tied to “”MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF THE PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH”? (Rev 17:5) To add insult to injury, our Lord is depicted bodily as tortured and slain.
The Catholic Church is notorious for its idolatry. Within its doors, Christ is occasionally portrayed alive as an infant, or one of a host of a benevolent-looking idols of wood or stone, but perhaps more often, He is depicted as slain; nailed to a cross, or draped across the lap of Mary.
Could it be that Satan considers the image of a crucified Christ a token of his victory; a grotesque trophy to adorn the place of his habitation; his chief Adversary nailed to a board, the prize specimen in his butterfly collection?
The Apostle Paul points out in 1 Cor 15:17 “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.” The life of Christ, following his crucifixion is just as vital to our salvation as His death, but the Catholic Church through imagery and inference continues to deny His resurrection just as surely as did the Jews and Romans at that time.
The victorious, omnipotent, sovereign Christ is a rebuke to everything taught through words and images within those intricately decorated walls and windows. I cannot make a more powerful argument than the one by Larkin above. But some will want to argue that the use of the cross in Protestant churches has nothing to do with the Catholic abominations. Let’s look at that.
Let me say at this point that I am not on a religious trip about this. “To the pure, all things are pure” Titus 1:15. Your walk with God is between Him and you, and only He can judge you. I’m simply holding a very common practice in Christianity up to the light. One dedicated man of God I like to listen to regularly delivers what God has shown him from behind a pulpit adorned with a cross. It isn’t, nor should it be a stumbling block to a follower of Christ. This is not a salvation issue; just something I have been thinking about.
What follows spotlights the ministry of a brother in Christ. I do not use it to condemn him, but because it exemplifies clearly the point I wish to make.
This very famous evangelist died in recent years, and at the time, controversy flared up as to the validity of his ministry. Had he sold out to the Catholic Church as many claimed? One defense that was widely disseminated was a finely crafted video on You Tube that featured a spoken message from him calling sinners to come to the cross of Christ. The cross was repeatedly referenced and pictured, but glaringly absent from that presentation was any mention of the blood of Christ. Am I just being overly nit-picky, or is the observation valid?
The broad adoption of this Catholic image throughout the religious world, through ignorance, laziness, or a wicked desire to misrepresent the doctrines of demons could be seen to constitute alignment with the spirit of one-world religion. Is there any scriptural foundation for the use of this image? Did the early Church embrace it, or did the use of it arise later, as the Church slid into apostacy?
The only symbol commonly associated with the early Church was the fish; in Greek, ichthus or ichthys, meaning fish. The Greek characters of ichthys comprised five letters that stood for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior”. The simple outline of a fish scratched in the dirt became a secret signal that Christians used to identify one another during times of deadly persecution. But I digress.
Does the role of the cross in salvation earn it a position of central focus and reverence? Do new believers come to the cross, or do they come to our Lord Jesus? Did anyone in scripture ever say that believers would be known by their crosses, or did Jesus say, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
What is the role of the cross in the life of a believer? A simple search for the word “cross” in scripture will reveal something important, and for some Christians, surprising. The cross is always associated with death, not life. It was the tool used to bring about the death of Christ; an implement that He chose. Early in the course of His ministry on Earth, the Lord admonished His followers to take up their crosses and follow Him. (Matt. 10:37)
The cross is an implement of death. It is a type and symbol of the death of the flesh. While sin can exert its deadly attraction on sinful flesh, it has no power over the new creature bound for glory. The work of the cross is an essential strategy employed by the Holy Spirit to accomplish the work of sanctification in a believer as the old man dies and becomes a new creation.
By contrast, the life of Jesus is imparted to us through His precious blood. It washes over us and covers us in a very real way so that we are identified with Him. Christ’s blood is the vehicle He uses to impart His righteousness to us. It is by His righteousness that we are saved. In John 6 He says:
Jesus therefore said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don’t have life in yourselves. 54 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he who feeds on me, he will also live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven—not as our fathers ate the manna, and died. He who eats this bread will live forever.” John 6:53-58 WEB (Emphasis added)
The cross becomes the implement of death to our flesh as God accomplishes the work of sanctification through the ministry of the Holy Spirit working in us. It is only one part of a two-part process to save us. It seems to me that omitting the role of Jesus’ blood in our salvation constituted a fatal flaw in that evangelistic ministry that was so widely acclaimed by the world. Not only must our sinful flesh die to sin, but we must take the next step, put on the righteousness of Christ, be conformed to His image and live for Him eternally.
God knows this brother’s heart, and I cannot judge him, but salvation requires that we be washed in the blood of Christ. At His resurrection, Jesus left the cross behind. It was history, it was “finished”. Jesus’ blood continues to cover us as we die to sin and like Him, when we receive our resurrection bodies, we will leave the cross behind.
As with anything else in our walk with God, the use of the image of the cross should be restricted to those things that are based in and supported by scripture. The cross of Christ plays a vital role in the work of sanctification that is done in us by the Holy Spirit, but it is an image that has been counterfeited and abused widely by the enemy. Satan uses the image of the cross to misrepresent Christ, and to cloak his wolves in sheep’s clothing. It has dangled from the necks of thousands of godless men for centuries as they persecuted, tortured and slew the servants of Christ.
- Adapted from #91237724/Jankovoy-adobe stock.com
- #102287120/photology 1971-adobe stock.com
- Adapted from #102287120/photology 1971 and #17512438/Tony-adobe stock.com
- Don’t Mess With Israel by Greg Lauer @alittlestrength.com