Easter Without The Cross?

Easter Message 2021
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
(1Cor.1:17-18)

In the above quote from the book of 1st Corinthians, the Apostle Paul is clearly stating that the cross of Christ has power, and that power is the power of God. The Church has understood this teaching and has always taught this as biblical truth. This Easter, Christians will celebrate the death of Christ and His resurrection. The resurrection is a foundational and primary aspect of the faith which is symbolized by the cross. How important is the cross to Christianity? I believe that one of the best answers comes from Martin Lloyd Jones, a great English pastor known for his fiery sermons. Here is a quote from one of his sermons:

“The preaching of the cross, the preaching of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on that cross is the very heart and center of the Christian gospel and the Christian message.”

The problem is that many Christians have abandoned the cross and have embraced unbiblical teachings concerning the meaning of the death of Christ and don’t believe in His resurrection. These are the fundamental and most important beliefs in Christianity, yet they have been discarded by a large number of self-proclaiming Christians.

The Issue

I have become increasingly frustrated in my recent discussions with those who describe themselves as Christians, but who have abandoned the traditional Church teaching on the cross. They reject the fundamental biblical teaching that Christ, as the Son of God, died on the cross in a sacrificial act to redeem mankind from the penalty of sin, and to reconcile man back to God. Yet, they will celebrate Easter without believing in the reason for the celebration. Christians have always acknowledged Easter, (better known as Resurrection Day), as the day that Christ rose from the grave three days after His death on the cross.

The problem is greater than just a rejection of an essential doctrine, it is the rejection of Christ and Christianity. The Church(Christianity) has been declining in membership for the past several decades–And we have just crossed another milestone. Just this week (3-29-21), the Gallup organization announced the results of their recent poll which shows that membership in the Christian church in the U.S. has just fallen below 50%; the first time ever in the history of the poll. Not only are people rejecting the basic doctrines of the faith but they are rejecting the faith outright. There are several reasons for the rejection of doctrine and the faith; such as the competing views of secularism, liberalism, relativism, socialism, and post-modernism; to name just a view. These views conflict with the teachings of Christianity and they undermine the significance of the cross. The cross is the universal symbol for the Christian faith, and it has always stood for the salvation of man through the love and sacrifice of God. The rejection of the cross is heartbreaking for all true believers because it is a rejection of the work of the Savior.

The Remedy

For many pastors and church leaders the remedy is in making the church more seeker friendly by watering down the Gospel, and by rejecting several of the key doctrines of the faith because they have become controversial. They believe that the key is to become relevant to modern society by embracing current cultural norms even if they conflict with biblical truth. In this scheme of being relevant, a church can reject the doctrine of the cross but still keep Christ by redefining Him as simply a great teacher of wisdom. But, they reject the teaching that He is the divine Son of God. They reject many biblical teachings and instead present non-controversial substitutes resulting in a different and false gospel. This remedy is of course nonsense, since it has been used for decades and the Church has been declining, not growing.

The actual remedy is found in the words of the Gospel, and unfortunately these misdirected pastors and leaders cannot find it is because they have abandoned Gospel truth. The Apostles who were appointed by Christ, and who went out to spread the Gospel message throughout the known world revealed to us the remedy in their writings. Paul explains in his 1st letter to the Corinthians that the message of the cross of Christ is the power of God, (C-the verse above 1Cor 1:17-18). The power to draw people to the Church is in the Gospel message of Christ and the cross. The Gospel of Christ is the power of God which is able to destroy all modern teachings, views, and philosophies. It has the power to get to the hearts of men and women by showing them Christ and Him crucified, as Paul declares in 1Cor.2:2.

“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

1Cor.2:2

The power of God to attract people to the Church is not only in the Gospel of Christ, but it is also in the person of Christ Himself. Unlike the founders of other religious movements who have long passed away, the resurrected Christ is living and ruling in His kingdom–to which He calls people to Himself. An error many church leaders make is in believing that they are the ones attracting people to the church, but it is actually by the ministering of His gospel that Christ attracts followers. The power of the cross draws people to Jesus. Christ and his work on the cross is the only solution that meets mans greatest and most fundamental need. What is that need? It is a savior! A savior who can deliver sinners from the penalty of sin. Every man, every woman is a sinner who needs and desires a savior. Christ is the only Savior, and as God, He alone can fill that desire that every person has–which is to be in relationship with Him. The crucified Christ meets the deepest needs of the heart of all mankind, (R.A. Torrey, “The Great Attraction: The Uplifted Christ”).

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

John 12:32

Closing Remarks

The church leaders that have compromised the truth of scripture for a kinder message that is not offensive to todays inclusive culture and that wishes to offend no one except Christians, are bowing to the demands of the current social ideologies instead of standing firm in the eternal and unchanging word of God. The early church in its infancy was persecuted by the Romans who desired that the Christians be more inclusive by including the worship of their gods and their emperor into their beliefs. The church stood firm and would not bow to worship other gods, they did not alter the teachings of Christ and His apostles. They preferred death to the abandonment of biblical truth. The church leaders and pastors that have deserted the gospel of Christ for the sake of pleasing the current pagan culture of self worship are fearful and rebellious false shepherds. In comparison to the courageous martyrs of centuries past, they are modern day Judases who have betrayed Christ and His most precious sacrifice.

For my American readers, I hope that this message adds some clarity to the current situation of the Church and the consequences of renouncing biblical truth for the benefit of appeasing the modern culture of inclusiveness and diversity. Gods word is the standard of universal and unchanging truth. Christs death on the cross is the ultimate expression of love, and God’s kingdom is open to anyone who has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

For my readers from all the various nations in the world, may this message give you hope that there are still many believers here in the U.S. who stand firm in biblical truth and have not submitted to the demands of an ever changing culture. We are working against the ever rising tide of secular thought, as difficult as it may be. We also hold those fellow believers who live in nations where persecution is a reality such as; China, India, Iran, various countries throughout Africa and the Middle-East, in the highest regard. For those in countries where many still give their lives for their faith, we admire you for having the same courage that the early church members displayed as they were martyred for the faith. We pray for you and encourage you to stand firm in Christ!


The Old Rugged Cross

A HYMN BY GEORGE BENNARD (1917)

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,

the emblem of suffering and shame;

and I love that old cross where the dearest and best

for a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,

till my trophies at last I lay down;

I will cling to the old rugged cross,

and exchange it some day for a crown.

 O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,

has a wondrous attraction for me;

for the dear Lamb of God left his glory above

to bear it to dark Calvary.

 In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,

a wondrous beauty I see,

for ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,

to pardon and sanctify me.

UPDATE

On Easter day a newly elected U.S. senator who is also an ordained minister, posted a tweet which affirms the message of this article. It was posted after the publication so it could not be included as a supporting claim, but it is added now to enhance the original text.

Sen. Raphael Warnock (Dem.) has been the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta since 2005 and has pastored other churches before then. He is a seminary graduate and he even holds a doctorate in Systematic Theology. Here are the exact words of his tweet, “The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether you are Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves.” Soon after the tweet several responses appeared which criticized it and labeled it as heresy. The tweet was deleted later that evening.

Clearly, Warnock is proclaiming that neither Christ or His death on the cross are necessary for salvation. His statement that “the meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” is another way of saying that the meaning behind the celebration of Easter is far superior and surpasses the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The true meaning of Easter according to Warnock, is that a person does not have to be a Christian to obtain salvation. It is through a commitment to helping others that makes it possible for people to save themselves—Sorry, Lord but all that suffering, torture, and agonizing pain on the cross was commendable, but it provided nothing towards salvation. Obviously, for the reasons stated in the article, this is classic heresy. This type of false teaching has no biblical support and should be condemned by all true pastors, church leaders, and Christians everywhere. It can be assumed that if this senior pastor is sending this message through social media then he must be teaching this heresy in his church. Unfortunately, there are numerous churches bearing the title of Christian that are also teaching this deception. It is a prime example of how, many churches are celebrating Easter(Resurrection Day) without the cross. They have ejected our precious Lord and His cross from their pulpits, and from their teaching. Let us not stand silent for this grave offense. Let us confront the false teachings of false teachers. Proclaim and teach God’s truth as it is written in the Scriptures!

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