Ellet J. Waggoner
The Present Truth :: September 28, 1893
The English Churchman says:—
“It is painful to notice in visiting churches throughout the country how frequently a cross is to be seen above the communion table; in fact, it now seems to be considered the correct thing, much to the advantage of the manufacturer and seller of such articles, if to no one else. If the doctrine of the cross were only better understood the dealers in these wares would have little occupation.”
This is true. If the doctrine of the cross were understood as it should be, and as the Bible teaches it, there would never be any demand for a crucifix to be stationed in the church, or worn on the person, or for any other purpose. Christian faith and worship demand no outward symbol of that kind. He who understands and lives out the doctrine of the cross of Christ will see that such a thing is utterly useless. For the Christian, the crucifixion of Christ is an ever-present reality; not a symbol upon the breast or gazed upon in the church, but a daily experience in his life. Hear the apostle Paul: “I am crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20); and again, “We are troubled on every side … always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be manifest in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-10. And to the church he wrote: “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” Galatians 3.1. And what had been done for the Galatian church had been done for all the churches. In Paul’s day and under his preaching, the churches saw Jesus Christ set forth, crucified among them, and the believers experienced His crucifixion in their hearts. They had the reality; and where the reality is, symbols are altogether unnecessary and out of place.
Symbols are only necessary were the reality is not. Christ’s body suspended from a crucifix is not consistent with Christ dwelling in the heart. Christ suspended as an image in the church is not consistent with His actual presence there by the Holy Spirit. Where such images are, they are the only proof the religionist has to offer of the connection of himself or his church with Christ; but the possession of Christ in the heart is a condition which speaks for itself, showing to all men Christ crucified, and His life in human flesh.
By images and crucifixes the devil has made a great many men believe that they were followers of Christ, just as he made the Pharisees believe that they were very pious because they wore the law upon their phylacteries and were so zealous for its outward forms, and just as he makes a great many people today believe they are pretty good Christians if they have a Bible or two in their homes or carry one with them to and from church, although it is little read and still less understood. The great truth needs to be learned that the place for Christ and His word and for His law is in the heart; it will avail nothing to the individual to have them anywhere or everywhere else.