The Message of the Cross
During this time of year, we reflect and remember Jesus’ suffering and death. We remember His sacrifice and what God did to redeem us. Our good works will never be enough to receive salvation. Instead, our sins deserve the consequences of eternal death apart from God.
The message of the cross is God’s answer to sin. He demonstrated His love by sending Jesus Christ to be our substitute. Trusting Christ receives what He did on our behalf to be worthy before God and fully forgiven of our sins.
What an amazing message to share with the world – and especially with Mormons!
I recently returned home from work and spotted two Mormon missionaries knocking on the door across the street.
I prayed that the occupants of the new renters were not home, so I could chat with them. The Lord answered my prayer. When I came out to greet the missionaries, I was pleasantly surprised to see an Elder that I met with before. Over the course of several visits, I was granted the opportunity to share the real truth of the gospel in a way he could understand. And I knew he was listening!
He immediately came over to greet me and tell me that he was returning home next week. He seemed eager to touch bases with me before saying goodbye.
I quickly invited them inside and we sat down in the living room. After several minutes, the other missionary companion pointed to the cross that was hanging on my living room wall.
“Are you a Christian?” he asked. “What church do you belong to?”
“I belong to a church that believes in the message of the cross.”
“We also believe in Jesus’ sacrifice and what he did for us,” the missionary expressed.
“How we view the cross,” I explained, “really depends on what lens we use.”
The lens of Mormonism views the cross much differently and I was grateful for the opportunity to put on a new pair of glasses for my new young friend to see.
Through the lens of the Bible, believers point to the message of the cross and receive comfort with the words, “You are forgiven!”
Through the lens of Mormonism, they point to the cross and say, “You can be forgiven!”
In this month’s First Presidency message entitled “Encircled in His Gentle Arms,” he refers to an oil painting by Frans Schwartz called “The Agony in the Garden.” Mormons will routinely point to the Garden of Gethsemane as the place of Christ’s greatest suffering that is equal to the cross.
And there is a reason for that.
The process of receiving forgiveness figuratively starts in the Garden of Gethsemane. Like Jesus, a Mormon believes they can receive comfort in their resolve to carry out the will of Heavenly Father and do all they can do to eternally progress. “We can be made spotless and pure once again. We can be redeemed by the eternal sacrifice of our beloved Savior.”
Mormons believe it’s possible to be like Christ and suffer in this life like he did in the Garden of Gethsemane – to sacrifice themselves in their obedience – and to inherit Eternal Life through their determination, resolve, and good works.
Looking back at the Mormon missionary who was staring intently back at me, I stated to him, “The cross is not a symbol of death and defeat, but a reminder of God’s promises. Because Jesus substituted himself on the cross, I receive all the benefits of his sacrifice. Right now, I am forgiven. Right now, I am declared worthy. Right now, I am redeemed. When I look at the cross, I don’t focus on what I have to do, but what Christ has already done for me. Peace, joy, and assurance come from trusting God’s promises that my status is secure.”
My prayers go out to my young Elder friend. I trust the Lord’s promise that the harvest is plentiful, the Lord promises. And I pray that my Elder friend is one of those whom the Lord harvests soon.
For more information on how to share God’s Word with Mormon missionaries, please go to pleaseopenthedoor.com.