… except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ …
The feebleness of the church is being criticized today, and the criticism is justified. One reason for the feebleness is that there has not been this focus on the true center of spiritual power. We have not dwelt enough on the tragedy of Calvary or on the meaning of redemption.
One of the main concerns that some of our critics have about the church is that there seems to be a lack of focus on the power and efficacy on the cross. To them, the perception is that we do not preach, nor teach the power of the Cross and the Cross alone. It is also noted that many of our critics are former members and make the claim that they never truly received any form of teaching about the efficacy of the Cross.
Today’s inspirational thought is for both Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical and Latter-day Saint Christians. It comes from Oswald Chambers daily devotional titled The Focal Point of Spiritual Power.
If you want to know the power of God (that is, the resurrection life of Jesus) in your human flesh, you must dwell on the tragedy of God. Break away from your personal concern over your own spiritual condition, and with a completely open spirit consider the tragedy of God. Instantly the power of God will be in you. “Look to Me. . .” (Isaiah 45:22). Pay attention to the external Source and the internal power will be there. We lose power because we don’t focus on the right thing. The effect of the Cross is salvation, sanctification, healing, etc., but we are not to preach any of these. We are to preach “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
The pure message of the Gospel is that of Christ coming to redeem humanity. For Latter-day Saint Christians, we hold to the idea that this became part of the plan that our Heavenly Father desired. A plan that was put into effect prior to our mortal existence. For our fellow evangelical Christians, they hold to the idea that Christ provided salvation for fallen and depraved humanity and without Christ, we have no hope.
Where the preconceived difference between what some claim to be “orthodox” or “Biblical Christianity” and that of the Latter-day Saint Christian faith is really no difference at all. We are taught that it is through the redemptive power of our Savior that we receive salvation. Without this, there is no hope. Coming to understand the similarities, our prejudicial lenses clear up and we begin to see the importance of the Cross and the efficacy of the Cross in the life of the believer. It is not so much doctrine that we put our trust in, but the power of the atonement.
The only difference is this: for us Latter-day Saints, we believe that the power of the Atonement became complete upon the day of Christ’s resurrection where he broke the bounds of Death. It was on the Cross that our beloved Savior made the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane where he endured the final temptation of the adversary and taking upon himself our infirmities and sins. It was through the enduring of the flogging and torture that he received at the hands of the Roman soldiers. The mocking and ridicule of the Jews that spat upon him, laughed at him, and the sneering jesters of the religious leaders. If only they knew what we have come to understand, they would know that through Christ, we receive righteousness, justification, sanctification and glory. For us Latter-day Saints, we have a fuller understanding of the efficacy of the Cross as it plays a significant role in the Atonement.
The proclaiming of Jesus will do its own work. Concentrate on God’s focal point in your preaching, and even if your listeners seem to pay it no attention, they will never be the same again. If I share my own words, they are of no more importance than your words are to me. But if we share the truth of God with one another, we will encounter it again and again. We have to focus on the great point of spiritual power— the Cross. If we stay in contact with that center of power, its energy is released in our lives. In holiness movements and spiritual experience meetings, the focus tends to be put not on the Cross of Christ but on the effects of the Cross.
Despite this, there are some who will attempt to curtail the work of the Church of Jesus Christ, by denouncing our understanding of the Savior and the Atonement. To some, they proclaim that we believe in a false Gospel, that we must work out our own salvation before relying on Christ and the efficacy of the Cross. They also teach that we diminish the cross and even have an aversion to the cross because we do not adorn our buildings or wear jewelry that has the cross. This is further from the truth. In fact, the Church’s endeavor is to preach the reality and validity of the Atonement of Christ. This includes the precious message that the Book of Mormon provides – that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God and that through the Atonement he provides, we receive our inheritance through eternal life.
Thus, the message of the Gospel is not about who has the correct interpretation of doctrine, the message of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, and through him receive salvation and forgiveness for our sins. Through him, we receive grace and through his example, we live unto God as we endure to the end.