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Question #129

What about wearing crosses? What about illegal aliens?

Is it okay to hang crosses in our homes or wear a cross on a necklace? Also, as Christians how should we view the issues pertaining to the "illegal alien" legislation? Is it okay to employee/sponsor an illegal alien?

The Answer:

Please refer to Question 111 for a discussion of the church’s responsibility to illegal aliens.

The wearing of crosses has become very popular in recent years. Some people wear crosses who don’t even realize that they are doing so because the Byzantine cross is different from the standard reproduction. Many who object to the wearing of the cross attend churches that have crosses on their building, engraved on the pews or on the table for the Lord’s Supper, on the cover for the trays used for the emblems used for the Lord’s Supper, or other places in their building. Of course, such uses do not make either those uses or the wearing of crosses right or wrong. That must be determined by the word of God.

Since there are no passages that deal directly with the wearing of crosses, our task is to determine whether there are any Biblical principles that prohibit their being worn. The first obvious question is whether the wearing of a cross constitutes idolatry. To answer this question we must determine what constitutes a “graven image” in the biblical sense. There are various Hebrew words used for image. 1. “Pesel” and “pasil,” both of which mean “idol, image.” There are derived from “pasal” which means “hew, hew into shape.” 2. “Masseka.” This word commonly refers to a drink offering or a pouring out. A more infrequent use, as in Deuteronomy 27:15, is to “pour out” or “cast” molten images. It is used of Aaron’s golden calf (translated “molten”) in Exodus 32:4. There may be others, but this will suffice for the question under consideration.

The context in which these words invariably appear is the treating of such “graven images” as idols. According to Strong’s, there are some 13 words in the Old Testament translated “idol[s].” Without delving into the Hebrew the meaning of “idol” is relatively clear – it is an object of worship other than the living God. It may be a graven image as is warned against in the Old Testament, but it may also include an attitude of the heart in which we love something or someone more than the living God. An example is covetousness, which Paul tells us is idolatry. Colossians 3:5.

Most if not all of the crosses worn today are molten (silver, gold, brass, plastic etc.) or carved (wood). If no more than this were involved wearing a cross would clearly be anti-scriptural. But more is involved. The context in which the first restrictions against graven images appear is that of false worship, i.e., the forbidding of bowing down to idols. Exodus 20:4-5; Leviticus 26:1. It is not likely that many wearers of crosses are bowing down to them and worshiping them. Thus, not treating them as gods, they are not idols, and this leads to the conclusion that it is not ant-scriptural to wear a piece of jewelry in the shape of a cross.

This, however, does not end the discussion. If one is thoughtlessly wearing a replica of a cross as no more than a piece of jewelry, does that cultivate the right attitude toward the cross of Christ. It is difficult to impossible to see how it could when it is treated as no more than decoration or “bling.”

Some may protest and claim that they do not wear their cross thoughtlessly – it remind us and to tell others that they are a Christian. Really? I have seen many wearing crosses whose conduct does not come close to that which should characterize a Christian, just as many put a fish symbol on their car and then drive like the devil. Even assuming that their claim is true, is there not a better way to remind us that we are Christian. Can we not “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly”? Can we not carry a copy of a New Testament to in memory that we are Christian and to declare it to others? If those who declare that they wear the cross to remind themselves and others that they are Christian, but they are embarrassed to carry and read in public a New Testament to do the same thing, there is reason to believe that they fall into the category of wearing their cross thoughtlessly. This is so because they will declare their Christianity only through an ambiguous method that can be taken as just “being one of the crowd” who wears it as no more than the latest popular piece of jewelry, while being unwilling to take an unambiguous stand as a Christian by carry the word of God.

But it is argued, “I can wear a cross to school and I will get in trouble if I carry a New Testament.” With such a response the argument is over. The response admits that the wearer of the jewelry cross is unwilling to suffer for the true cross upon which the Savior died.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)