Every religion has a symbol that represents it. The Christian faith also has a universal symbol-the cross. Why a cross? The cross is more than a symbol of Christian faith. It is not a magic wand that priests can use to chase away evil. Having a small replica of a cross will not provide you protection from satanic forces, or from vampires and such. It is not a lucky charm that you can wear around your neck when you go for an exam or an interview.
The cross has a much greater significance in the Christian faith. Paul says that he will glory only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:14). What did he mean by taking glory in the cross?
The cross in the Bible has several different meanings. It sometimes means the wooden cross that Jesus was nailed into and put to death on the mount Calvary (Phil. 2:8). That was not the cross Paul had in his mind. Why would he glory in such a horrific instrument of Roman execution? I have no doubt that he would denounce such a torturous method of execution. The cross sometimes means afflictions and trials that believers have to go through when they follow Christ faithfully (Mat. 10:38; Luke 14:27). Paul didn’t mean it either. What Paul meant is the message of the cross. It is the grand peculiarity and the principal glory of Christianity, called the gospel.
Paul simply calls it “Christ Crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23). It is the message of the saving power of God in the atoning work of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ at the cross. The supreme theme of the scripture is the person of Christ and His redemptive work on the cross. The cross is the intersection of God’s love and His justice. Without the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, we would be without hope and without forgiveness.
The cross was not an accident. The cross was the most wicked evil ever committed by human beings. Caiaphas meant it for evil, Pilate meant it for evil, the Pharisees meant it for evil. But over and above the human wicked intentions, God was at work to bring about good. Jesus died for our sins according to the predetermined plan of God by the hand of wicked men before there was any human sin to die for. God planned that his Son would be slain for sinners. He gave his life as a ransom for the unrighteous. The Father is the architect, the Son the accomplisher, and the Spirit the applier of the atonement.
The saving work of Christ was completed on the cross and stands complete. Christ finished His work and triumphantly returned to the Father. There is nothing more to be done by God, man, or any religious institution. Roman Catholicism, for example, still cannot believe that the work of Christ is truly completed. They believe that Jesus is the son of God. They believe Christ died for our sins. But, they are still trying to complete the finished work. They reason that such a grand gift as forgiveness from such a holy God must require some kind of payment from us. The Roman Catholic message of the cross is a damnable heresy. And there is no glory in that preaching.
The Roman Catholic adoration of crucifix is a profane and blasphemes practice. They lift the piece of wood representing the crucifix and offer incense to it. Then they kneel before it, touching brow and eyes and lips to the wood, as if it were Christ. This is gross idolatry. The second commandment forbids the use of any physical representation of something used in the worship of God. Even though the stated intent is for use as a remembrance of the crucifixion, God commands us not to use any image or likeness in our worship of Him.
The message of the cross divides people into two groups: heaven-bound and hell-bound. It determines a person’s ultimate destiny. If anyone believes that there is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God and Jesus was truly human, and he died on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for sin, he will be saved. But whoever does not believe is already condemned to eternal hell. There is only one ground on which a sinner is accepted in the presence of a holy God. That is, based on the “righteousness of God in Jesus Christ”.
How do you see the cross of Christ? Do you see it as a panful, degrading thing and turn away from it? Or, do you see it as a profitable and excellent thing to be boasted about everyday? The cross is the crown and glory of Christian faith. It is our hope, joy and comfort. It is the weapon that won the victory over Satan and hell. So, I would join with Paul and proclaim, “I will never glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
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