Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
The cross has been central to the preaching of the gospel of the church of Jesus Christ since its inception. Christians regard it as a symbol of salvation, because it was on the cross that Christ atoned for their sins. Strangely, although they insist that they are Christians, the LDS will not permit a cross to be displayed anywhere on their premises.
“… such a custom is repugnant and contrary to the true worship of our Redeemer. Why should we bow down before a cross or use it as a symbol? Because our Savior died on the cross, the wearing of crosses is to most Latter-day Saints in very poor taste and inconsistent to our worship … We may be definitely sure that if our Lord had been killed with a dagger or with a sword, it would have been very strange indeed if religious people of this day would have graced such a weapon by wearing it and adoring it because it was by such a means that our Lord was put to death.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, Volume 4, pages 17-18).
One would think, after reading their statement, that Christ’s crucifixion was nothing more than a tragic act of violence. Their attitude reveals all too clearly that they don’t understand that Christ’s substitutionary suffering and death on the cross was God’s plan for the salvation of fallen man.
“The next day John [the Baptist] seeth Jesus coming
unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh
away the sin of the world.’ (John 1:29, KJV)
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6, KJV)
“But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” (Acts 3:18, KJV)
“And being found in fashion as a man, he [Jesus] humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.” (Philippians 2:8-9, KJV)
The LDS’s rejection of the symbol of the cross and their unease when it is displayed was brought home to me at my oldest brother’s memorial service. It was held in a Christian chapel. As the LDS bishop began the service he pointed to the cross embossed on the front of the pulpit and scathingly remarked that this would never have been allowed in a Mormon chapel (as though it was something obscene).
But he shot himself in the foot. There were many non-Mormon folk in the congregation who had been under the impression that Mormonism was a Christian religion. That very day they were convinced otherwise. No Christian church would ever disparage, let alone ban the cross.
The reason for their attitude towards the cross rests on the fact that it does not symbolize personal salvation in Mormonism. They earn the right to the forgiveness of their own personal sins. Their third article of faith states that “through the Atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the [LDS] Gospel.” And Joseph Smith instructed the membership of the LDS church as follows:
“… after this instruction, you will be responsible for your own sins; it is a desirable honor that you should so walk before our heavenly Father as to save yourselves; we are all responsible to God for the manner we improve the light and wisdom given by our Lord to enable us to save ourselves.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, Deseret Book Company 1976 printing, page 227).
But the Bible says that Christ earned our forgiveness by bearing our guilt and our shame in His own body, on the cross at Calvary:
“ Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on
the tree (1 Peter 2:24, KJV)
“Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” (Revelation 1:5, KJV)
“ Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:13-14, KJV)
Contrary to what the LDS implies, Christ went to the cross of His own free will, according to God’s plan.
“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man take it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again …” (John 10:17-18, KJV)
He could have turned from the cross at any time:
Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? (Mathew 26:53-54, KJV)
He deliberately went to Jerusalem, knowing full well what awaited Him there. Then He gave His life in our place, as our substitute, as was fore-ordained and illustrated in the “pictures” provided by the Old Covenant sacrificial system (c/f Leviticus and Numbers):
By insinuating that the cross was nothing more than a means of execution, the LDS detracts from its meaning. Then they compound this by wrongly teaching that Christ’s atonement only covered universal resurrection, and that it took place primarily in the Garden of Gethsemane. One can’t help but wonder what their motivation is in teaching these false doctrines, as they will not be found anywhere in the pages of the Bible. Nor were they ever taught by Christ, the apostles or the primitive church. They had their origin in the mind of Joseph Smith.
The church I attend has a large cross behind the pulpit, with a crown of thorns resting upon it. Hanging down next to it is a banner that reads, “He died for me.” This is very effective in stimulating sincere and fervent worship. And every time I enter the church, I am deeply humbled at the sight of that cross. It reminds me that the best, the most heroic and selfless Person ever, suffered and died for me, in my place, to cover my sins. And my heart fills with gratitude.
“The cross is the dynamo which generates in the human heart that response which constitutes the Christian life. ‘I’ll live for Him who died for me,’ states the dynamic of the cross. The Christian life is the soul’s reaction to the love of Christ. The cross of Christ inspires true repentance …” (Knowing the Doctrines of the Bible, Part Two, Mayer Pearlman.)
The following verse and chorus from the Christian hymn, Living for Jesus, expresses this perfectly:
“Living for Jesus, who died in my place,
Bearing on Calv’ry my sin and disgrace,
Such love constrains me to answer His call,
Follow His leading, and give Him my all.
O Jesus, Lord and Saviour, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou in Thy atonement didst give Yourself for me,
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne,
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ for Thee alone.”
(Words by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1866 -1960)
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