When Christian Heretics Market the Wrong Jesus and Break the Ten Commandments Doing So
There is a reason the apostle Paul told Timothy to do one thing, “Preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2).” As a young pastor, it is likely Timothy would have turned to billboard advertising, social media, or some other marketing gimmick to promote Jesus as a product or service. Instead, he was given one message communicated by one method.
Clearly, men still put Jesus on the cross, as a helpless, pleading savior. They present Him as weak, with a faint hope that people will choose to believe Him and even live for Him. Who is this wrong Jesus? Who are these marketers? Why do they break the Ten Commandments to “make it happen.”
First, who is this wrong Jesus, who is quoted as saying on one billboard advertisement (that pictures Him on the cross), “I died for you…live for me.” Of course, if Jesus actually said these words, He would be a liar. The wrong Jesus is a Universalist savior. He dies for “you” (ie. everyone, everywhere, at all times). Everyone is saved. Still, He must plead with everyone to live for Him because He is so weak (probably because He is still on the cross!).
Another way to read the heretical billboard is a universal redemption (Universalism and Arminianism), but with a more imperative, “You should live for me.” Jesus still claims “I died for you,” but it is guilt that is hoped for by the church marketers. Jesus is still on the cross. “You did that to Him. You should feel guilty. Out of guilt and shame, you should live for Him,” is a second message. This is the Roman Catholic version of the same billboard.
A third interpretation of this heretical marketing ploy also has its implications. “Jesus died for you. He is still on the cross, hoping you will use your free will choice to decide to live for Him. He loves you, and He is hoping and praying you will make a good decision. He has made it that easy — for you to do one little work to make it happen. Do you believe this? Just believe! Say a little prayer. Do something, so He doesn’t have to hang around waiting for you to decide,” is the message from the Arminian heretic.
Who are these three heretical groups, who love to market deception? First, the Universalists conjure a god who is above the Law and can break His own Law to save absolutely everybody.
Second, the Roman Catholic thrives on a weak Jesus, always and forever on the cross, enticing everyone to justify themselves by good works for their organization. Let’s hope you live and work enough for Jesus to actually save you!
Third, the Arminian heretical marketer enshrines man’s free will choice for everyone to decide for themselves to let Jesus save them.
Any of these three heretical groups could be the hidden church marketer of this billboard, with Jesus hanging on the cross, saying something he never said. All of the three groups would agree to some degree with the visual and linguistic message.
The Universalist might argue, “It really may not have been necessary for Jesus to die on the cross, other than to be an example for all of us.” The Roman Catholic might add, “Jesus is still on the cross in every Mass.” The Arminian might say, “Well, we don’t exactly like the picture, but the words say it all, “Jesus died for everyone, and He remains hopeful that wise men will still seek him.”
The Roman Catholic Church embraced two- and three-dimensional icons in A.D. 845. Prior to that there were two groups in the organization: iconographers and iconoclasts. They viciously opposed one another. The idea of creating images of Jesus, the Son of God and second person of the Trinity, has also been progressively adopted by Protestant groups since the Reformation. From nativity scenes to drawings, to movies, the image of Immanuel is prevalent and rarely questioned as a sin.
The second commandment of the Decalogue reads, “You shall not make for yourself an idol or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 9 You shall not worship them or serve them…(Dt 5:8–9a).” So, when the icon on the billboard says, “Live for me,” there is a problem. It is the sin of making an image, and the sin of tempting others to serve that image.
Having recently seen a number of “Christian” billboards, I have written a number of articles rejecting the message of each one. In this article, I have rejected the three possible messages of this particular billboard. I have identified the heretical groups that all could be the “Christian marketers” funding it. I have also identified the marketing scheme, as a blatant breach of the second commandment.
I leave you with the true Gospel. God is eternal. God created everything. He made humanity, ordaining the fall, which man must be responsible for because God made man responsible. Man’s sin leads to death of the soul, then of the body. All people are stillborn, spiritually, dead to God, dead in sin (Eph 2:1). All are condemned to eternal hell from conception, being children of wrath (Eph 2:3).
But God chose some for salvation (Eph 1:4, 5; Rom 8:30; 9:23). He sent His Son to take on flesh (Jn 1:14; 3:16), to live perfectly under the Law (Mt 5:17; Heb 4:15), to die on the cross as a substitute sacrificial payment for the sins of His people, for whom He came to save (Mt 1:21). He saved us and brought us salvation (Titus 3:5), by sending the Holy Spirit to make us spiritually alive to God (Jn 14:26; 15:26; Eph 2:5), granting us eternal life, granting us faith to believe in Jesus Christ (Phil 1:29), the Son of God…for His glory. This billboard is a lie, but the Bible is the truth (Ps 119:160; 2 Tim 2:15). Just read it.
Spokane Valley, Washington
February 20, 2022