By Eric J. Swarbrick
“The Cross of Christ, without fail, must be the object of our faith…The Cross must ever be the object of our Faith…” . And again, “It is the Cross alone which can bring about this Work of the Spirit. The Believer is to ever make the Cross the object of his Faith…” The Evangelist February 2004, On the Dark Side of the Desert and — http://www.jsm.org/message-cross.html
The fundamental flaw in these statements is that it suggests that the cross of Christ is the only means or path to Jesus. This is Jimmy Swaggart’s corrupt and unhealthy emphasis on the cross. This statement suggests that “The cross is the way” when we all know that “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father except through Him” So you see, Jesus is the way, not the cross.
Followers of Swaggart will say that by “the cross,” they mean Jesus and what he did on the cross. Nevertheless making the cross the prime object of faith is problematic, for it limits Jesus’ actions and power to the cross alone. For example, this is similar to saying the Bible is in the book of John. It is more accurate to say that the book of John is in the Bible. You see, the Bible has more to offer than the just the book of John. It’s just the same with Jesus. When you make the cross the object of your faith, you are only taking one thing that Jesus did. This minimizes everything else he did and is still doing, which is plenty, as seen here:
“Christ Jesus…who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” (Romans 8:34)
“Much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:10)
Saved By His Life
You see, we are not just saved by his death on the cross, but also by his life. He is now interceding for us. He is now desiring to commune with us and have a living vital life-changing relationship with us. But Swaggart’s doctrine denies this. He says, “There is nothing before the cross and nothing after because there doesn’t need to be.” This is not biblical teaching.
The proper perspective is that we should put our faith in Jesus Christ AND what he did on the cross AND all that he is now doing for us. You see, we are not to just put our faith solely in “what he did on the cross,” we put our faith in Jesus, in the totality of all that he is,which includes but is not limited to what he did for us on the cross. For example, 1 Peter 1:3,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”
You see, it was “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” and there is no mention of the cross here. It is not that the cross is insignificant or that it doesn’t play a vital role to our salvation, but it is that it becomes dangerous to speak exclusively and say something like “the cross of Christ, without fail, must ever be the object of our faith.”
Jesus Is More Than The Cross
Swaggart’s statements wherein he says “Without fail” and “the object of” are modifiers that exclude important aspects of our faith and renders his doctrine unbalanced. Faith in Jesus is the only thing that you can make exclusive statements about because Jesus Christ circumnavigates everything; death, burial, and resurrection, whereas the “cross alone” theology leaves out the resurrection and his current intercession and working in our lives. These are fundamental aspects of our faith that should not be minimized.
Jimmy Swaggart’s followers use 1 Corinthians 2:2 as a proof text:
“For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”
They fail to note that what Paul is saying here is actually a criticism and not intended to be a prescription or a proclamation saying that only the cross should be taught to Christians. Rather he is writing a letter to the people of Corinth telling them how immature they were (when he was with them) and how they were not ready to grow further in Christ and that when he was there he had to stay on basics, determining to teach them nothing more than “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”
Paul calls this teaching “milk.” Within the first few chapters of 1 Corinthians you can easily see the context of this verse. For example, in chapter 3 Paul says:
“I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly.”
This is also reiterated in Hebrews 5:13-14:
“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
You see, Jimmy Swaggart is “not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness” because his unhealthy emphasis of the cross keeps the believer on “milk” rather than moving on to “solid food.”
Paul gently chides the people of Corinth that they still required milk and that he had to teach nothing to them except “Christ, and Him crucified.” However, he was eager to see them move on to solid food, and grow in the full counsel of God.
There is much more that could be said about Swaggart’s strange doctrines and practices, such as always capitalizing the “C” in cross as though the cross itself were deity, even changing the punctuation of actual scripture in the King James Version in his Expositor’s Study Bible to this end. Scripture should not be tampered with in this way. His strange assertions that God the Father and the Holy Spirit have bodies is also peculiar and unbiblical.
Swaggart’s distain and disparagement of the rest of Christendom is particularly egregious:
“The tragedy is almost all Christians think they know all about the Cross. The truth is this generation of Christians knows almost nothing about the Cross, especially about the Cross as it regards their Sanctification. These Christians can be set free only by the “Cross” being preached to them.” (From Me To You,The Evangelist, January 2004)
A man who fancies that he has cornered the market on all Christian thought and claims that all of the Church is in error is a very dangerous cultic leader and any who follow him should take caution.
He is an accomplished orator with a smooth and slippery tongue. He’ll preach fifteen minutes of sound doctrine and then slip in and out of cultic teaching, blending truth with error. It can be difficult to catch.
Be advised that Jimmy Swaggart’s “New Revelation of the Message of the Cross,” that he claims to have received by divine revelation from God, is fundamentally flawed. To new Christians or curious unbelievers who may be reading this: If any is unsure of where faith should be placed or what you have to do to be saved, take heart! For it’s been made clear to us in the book of Romans:
“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9) Put all your faith in Jesus, for scripture declares, “He who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Romans (9:33)