What is the reason why every church erects the cross?
There was no cross in the early Church
The reason why the churches today set up the cross is because they regard it as the symbol of Christ. Even those who do not believe in God take it for granted. However, the cross can never be a symbol of Christ.
The cross, which was an object of shame and the”accursed tree” to the apostles in the early Church (Gal 3:13), was introduced into the church as Christianity became paganized. The leaders of the Church of Rome accepted pagan ideas and symbols under the pretext of evangelizing pagans, and one of them was the cross. Paying attention to the fact that Jesus was crucified on the cross, the Church of Rome set forth a plausible logic that Christians should remember the sacrifice of Christ by looking at the cross, and introduced it into the church.
Historical records show that the cross began to be publicly used as the symbol of the Christian religion from the time of Emperor Constantine and that it was first erected in the church in A.D. 431.
So there is no doubt that the cross did not exist in the church for hundreds of years since the establishment of the early Church.
The cross is an idol
God forbade us to make any image as an object of faith to worship or serve it.
“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them. . . .”Ex 20:4-5
The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.Ps 135:15-18
Idols are merely images made by the hands of men. There is no life or breath in them. So how foolish is it to impose sanctity or a religious meaning on the idols made by human hands? The cross is nothing but an idol made of wood or silver or gold.
A lesson from the history of the Israelites who worshiped the bronze snake
In the Old Testament, there are some verses which teach us that it is idolatry to worship the cross.
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said,”Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said,”We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses,”Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.Nu 21:4-9
The Israelites, who were emancipated from slavery in Egypt, grumbled against God and Moses as they had a rough journey through the desert. As a result, they were bitten by venomous snakes and many of them died. So they urgently asked God to save them through Moses, and God told Moses to make a bronze snake and put it up on a pole, saying,”Anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” As God had said, those who looked at the bronze snake on the pole were able to live. However, the Israelites mistakenly thought it was the bronze snake that saved them, not the words of God, and they began to worship the bronze snake. Their worship of the bronze snake continued until the time of King Hezekiah.
He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)2 Ki 18:3-4
Nehushtan means”a piece of bronze.” The Israelites had worshiped the bronze snake for about 800 years until King Hezekiah removed all idols from the temple of God after realizing God’s will.
The bronze snake represented the saving work that Jesus would accomplish on the cross.
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”Jn 3:14-15
This verse is a prophecy about Jesus’ death on the cross. Just as the Israelites lived by looking at the bronze snake on the pole in the times of Moses, we have been set free from the power of sin and death through the sacrifice of Jesus who was lifted up on the cross. What is important is that we are saved by Jesus’ precious blood shed on the cross, not by the cross itself.
As the bronze snake was a mere piece of brass, so the cross is a mere piece of wood—an idol which has no power to save us.
Christ’s blood saves us
In ancient times, the Israelites worshiped the bronze snake which was visible to their eyes, forgetting about the salvation that God provided for them. It is the same today. Many people revere the cross itself and worship it, oblivious to the grace of Jesus who was sacrificed on the cross. However, if they truly fear God, they must remember the precious blood of Jesus, shed on the cross, not the cross itself. This is the duty of God’s children who worship God correctly.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.1 Pe 1:18