This Is Jesus
A few days ago I was watching a British movie where the main character’s mother was a practicing “Christadephian.” I had never heard of that sect before, so I did the Google thing, and found that while they held to a lot of the same teachings we do, when it comes to the Godhead, they do not see Trinity. The Spirit is just the force of God, not a person. Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, the Son of Man, and Son of God by virtue of being divinely sired, but not making Him equal with God. Jesus is not seen as pre-existent with God and the Spirit before the foundations of the world, but only coming on the scene at His birth. When God resurrected Him, God gave Him immortality. His status as “Son of God” does not make Him divine. So, when they say, “This Is Jesus,” their definition varies greatly from ours.
Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, too, do not see Jesus as “Very God of very God.” In fact, you can judge the validity of a denomination of sect by who they believe Jesus to be. When they say, “This is Jesus,” listen very carefully. How do they view Him in relation to the Father? Is Jesus seen as the only way to the Father, that we come to salvation through Him alone, as the all-sufficient sacrifice? Do they say He needs a co-redemptrix, or that there is something we must do in order to merit, or qualify, or help ourselves to be saved?
What comes after we say, “This is Jesus” makes all the difference in the world. A.W. Tozer says, “What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” I would go on to say that this is especially true of what we think about Jesus. It really isn’t easy to get it right, because He is so much greater than we can imagine. Think about John, who knew Jesus SO well, yet when he meets Him in Revelation, he falls on his face, as he sees Him now unveiled.
I’m not sure it originated with Tim Keller, but he has been noted for saying that the human heart is an idol factory. And, as Norm Wakefield teaches, we are quite adept as humans at taking the true and living God and carving away the things we don’t like about Him and making Him into an idol of our own creation. Just listen to the people who say, “My god would never do that…” as they deny something the Bible clearly declares about Him. They have carved the true God into an idol they can control, making Him like them, and not trying to make themselves like Him. We can do that to Jesus, too. Many have. In their view Jesus is all about love, but the kind of love they describe is a far cry from the holy, sacrificial, radical love Jesus really lived out and taught. We like the Jesus who gathers the children in His arms, and feeds the 5,000, but turn away from the Jesus who says we can’t serve and love Him and still make and idol out of materialism. We chafe at the Jesus who wants us to love and forgive our enemies. We get uncomfortable with the Jesus to calls us to radical faith and obedience.
Some of the carving up comes from an abysmal knowledge on our parts as to what the Scriptures actually say about who He is. I like to read books on Christology and open my mind to more and deeper truths about Him. Don’t let the term turn you off. It’s not just dry, mind-numbing doctrine and theology. In fact, people who make scriptural truths boring and inaccessible are not helpful. If you want a wonderful, worshipful book to open your eyes to Jesus, I recommend Michael Reaves’ book, Rejoicing In Christ. I would put Frank Allred’s book, Fix Your Eyes, in that category, as well. It draws from Hebrews, which is the most Christo-centric book in the New Testament, showing how Jesus is the highest of all—the better Adam, the better prophet, the better sacrifice…Better than any of the types and shadows of Himself the Old Testament reveals. Jesus is the fulfillment of both the law and the heart of God. Knowing Christ, by Mark Jones, and the abridged version of The Glory of Christ, by John Owen would also be high on my list. (If you are interested in this last book, contact me for the ISBN so you get the correct version, as it is probably too chewy for most people if unabridged). I just finished High King of Heaven, which is a compilation with John MacArthur as the editor. It has both readable and chewy parts, depending on the author of the chapter.
Why all the fuss and bother? Isn’t it enough to know He is Savior and Lord? Is it essential that we know so much more? It is not “essential” to our salvation, but it is essential to our growth in worship and awe. It is essential that when someone asks us who He is, we can declare the truth when we say, “This is Jesus.” It is essential to know who He is in more fullness, because 1 John 3:2 tells us when He comes back and we see Him, we will be like Him, and I believe the more we see of Him before that day, the more we will be like Him even here on earth. After all, we become like that which we admire most. That is the thing about idols. We become like what we worship. It would be much better for us if we were certain of What/Who we admired and became like, was the real deal, not just our idea of who He is. It is essential, because John Owen warns in his book mentioned above, that if we have little concern with the glory of Christ on earth, we need to question if we are fit to see the glory of Christ in Heaven.
Go to the Scripture with the prayer, “Show me Jesus.” Let the Lord Himself pull back the veil and let you see Him as He is, so you can declare with confidence: This is Jesus.
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries
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