Biblical Answers to the World Mission Society Church of God

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.--1 John 4:1

Are you or a loved one struggling with this group? Do you need Biblical answers about the World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCoG or CoGWMS), their founder Ahnsahnghong (Ahn Sahng/Sang-Hong) or their current leader "Mother Jerusalem" (a.k.a. "Heavenly Mother God," Zang/Zahng Gil-Jah, or Chung Gil Cha)? Thank you for coming here. I hope my blog helps you. Questions and comments are always welcome.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Is the Cross an Idol? - Part 5 - The Cross in the Bible

A continuing look at why the cross is not an idol...

Just to review, so far, we've seen that the World Mission Society Church of God distorts their sources and misrepresents the history of the cross in Christianity (Part 1 and Part 2).  In Part 3 we saw that the way the WMSCOG represents the cross as a symbol of death shows an incomplete understanding of the sacrifice of Jesus.  Then in Part 4, we saw that God does in fact encourage and command religious symbols and imagery in the Bible.

The Bible is full of God-directed symbolism and imagery, but is there evidence in the Bible to support using the cross as a symbol?  How is the cross significant?

The Cross Reminds Us...

...that we are reconciled and have peace with God--Col. 1:20-22; Eph. 2:15-18.
...that our debt is cancelled and we are no longer condemned--Col. 2:13-15.
...of the power of God, power to save sinners and power over death--1 Cor. 1:17-18, 23-24.
...that we are new creations, set free from sin and living a new life for God--Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20; Gal. 5:24.
...that we are redeemed from the curse of the law--Gal. 3:13.

About That Curse...

The World Mission Society Church of God video about the cross says, "The early Christians regarded the cross as an instrument of the capital punishment 'shame' (Heb. 12:2) and 'a cursed tree.'" (at minute 3:10)  What does the Bible say about that?  Did the early Christians despise the cross because it brought shame and a curse on Jesus?  No, they were thankful that Jesus removed the curse from them (Gal. 3:10-15).

God mentioned back in Deut. 21:23, "anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse."  And there is a curse upon us because we cannot be saved by our own works (Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10).

We are not to think, "It's so awful Jesus had to die as a criminal hung on a tree since that is such a shameful and accursed death."  NO. There's more to it than that.

We were under a curse.  Jesus took the curse for us.
God used the cross because it was a curse.

Here it is again, because it is so important, Gal. 3:13 -- "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'"

Going back to our analogy from Part 3, and the WMSCOG's question, what if Jesus had been killed by a gun?  If God meant for Jesus to take our curse away by being killed by a gun (or sword, etc.) then He could have accommodated that in Deuteronomy.  But no, God used "hung on a tree."  He gave us that image Himself, fulfilling it through Jesus.

It parallels 2 Corinthians 5:21 -- "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
Here's a good commentary you might like regarding Gal. 3:13.

More Images of the Cross

We're not just looking for references to Jesus' atoning sacrifice (there are plenty of those in the Bible), but for references to His manner of death--the crucifixion.  Besides Deuteronomy 21:23 with Galatians 3:13, are there other indications that God meant the cross to be associated with Jesus? Yes!  Here are a few: 

The Bronze Snake
Jesus said, "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him." (John 3:14-15)  Jesus was referring to Numbers 21:4-9, comparing His "lifting up" to the way "Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness."  How did Moses lift up the snake in the desert?  On a pole.  (Num. 21:8). 

Psalm 22
When Jesus cried out on the cross, He quoted Psalm 22:1.  "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46 and Mark 15:34)  Read Psalm 22 and you'll see a description of the crucifixion.  It's especially apparent in verse 16, "they pierce my hands and feet." 

Ezekiel 9
In chapter 9, Ezekiel saw a vision of judgment being executed on the city of Jerusalem.  God told the angel, "Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.” (Eze. 9:4)  Those with this mark of God were spared in the judgment.

Although we do not know what exactly that mark looked like, it is interesting to note that the Hebrew word used here is "tav"--"mark 'tav' on the foreheads".  "Tav" (also written "taw" or "tau" or "taf") meaning "mark" is actually the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  It corresponds with our English letter "T," and in ancient scripts it did look like a cross.

So you see, God did foreshadow the cross in the Old Testament.  Here's another article you might like to read about images of the cross in the Old Testament.

God's View of the Cross

We might also ask, does God despise the cross shunning it for being the instrument of Jesus' death?  We can answer that by observing Jesus' resurrected body.

God is all powerful.  He did not have to bear the marks of the crucifixion on His resurrected body, but He chose to keep them.
John 20:20 -- "After he said this, he showed them his hands and side...."
John 20:27 -- "Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.'"

This tells us God wanted the manner of Jesus' sacrifice remembered.  And He wanted us to have a physical reminder.  God thought this physical reminder of the cross so important that Jesus bore it on His own flesh.


I can already hear the WMSCOG's response, "You say the cross is a reminder of Jesus, but how did Jesus tell us to remember Him?  Luke 22:19 says, 'And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”'  We are supposed to remember Jesus with the Passover bread and wine, not the cross."

Christians do remember Jesus' sacrifice when we take the bread and the cup of the Lord's Supper.  But communion is not something we do everyday (some churches, like the WMSCOG, only celebrate it once a year).  We often need a reminder that's right there with us.  When you get the call that your loved one has died, or when you hear the doctor say you have cancer, or when you've just been in a car wreck with your family and you are all being rushed to the hospital...  That's when you might need something to remind you of God's great power and love, without waiting until the next time you can partake in the Lord's Supper.

God knows we need physical symbols and images to help us remember and understand.  The Bible is full of symbols and imagery--not just to picture in our minds, but also to touch with our hands and see with our eyes (Part 4).

You could make a little figure of the bread and cup to put on a chain or hang on a wall if you'd like.  But as for me, I'll gladly look to the cross.  There's plenty of support for it in the Bible.

Some final thoughts:
"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal. 6:14)
"but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1 Cor. 1:23)
That's unfortunate, but even more so, "... many live as enemies of the cross of Christ." (Phil. 3:18)

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