Jesus Is Lord!
Rock Of Offence Commentary
As I look at the condition of the church in modern times there are many things to be concerned about. There are those who profess a belief in God thinking that heaven is their home when life is over. Heaven (or eternal life) is a free gift, yet God set minimum requirements on how it's received. These requirements have nothing to do with religious works or meeting some level of performance in order to earn salvation. Our website agrees with the Biblical warning that salvation is the result of the unmerited favor of God and can never be earned. However, does that mean a simple belief in God is enough? And, for those who profess faith in Jesus Christ--is just believing in Jesus all that's necessary? It appears the Bible agrees with this position on the surface. The answer to these vital questions can determine your eternal destiny.
Thereís an abundance of misinformation in the world of religion. If I wrote every day for 700 years I couldn't address every topic. The subject of this article cuts through some of the rhetoric...and it carries a life-changing message.
If you profess a belief in God, what is his name? There are many gods found in the religions of the world. This includes the false politically correct god America has created for itself. It's the tolerant "generic god" that fits all religious beliefs. The Islamic god, Allah and the God of the Bible are not the same. This fact surprises lots of people. God has a name...does yours? Does the god you profess freely provide eternal life? Thereís only one God who does. And, what about Jesus Christ? When you profess a belief in Jesus...what do you believe about Him? Do you believe in his historical existence; that he was a good man, a prophet, a teacher, and a spiritual leader...someone sent to die on a cross for your sins? Do you think that acknowledging these facts provide eternal life?
C.S. Lewis, one-time atheist and author of The Chronicles of Narnia, made this statement:
"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said [about Himself] would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come away with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
Eternal life is acquired through faith. Most people think "faith" can be anything that fits their personal theology. Yet, God sets specific guidelines. Is Biblical faith nothing more than an acknowledgement of certain religious facts? I donít think so...and the Bible suggests that it involves far more. Real Biblical faith (to obtain salvation) is a characteristic of the heart. It is expressed as trust in Jesus Christ. This trust is founded in specific truths. If your god has no name, or the wrong name, your faith is founded on nothing but myth and religious imagination. If your belief in Jesus isnít based on certain truths, your faith lacks a life-giving foundation no matter how much you think to the contrary. In this situation, what many people call "faith" is nothing more than religious wishful thinking. God warns us that it is strong delusion and believing a lie. (2 Thess. 2:11)
We live in a time where seminaries are turning out large numbers of ministers that deny the Divine authority of Scripture. These "counterfeit" ministers are found in many denominations and religious groups. Regularly, I hear people tell me that their pastor warned them not to believe everything in the Bible. Some deny that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. They falsely claim that many ways to God exist. This practice is no longer the exception--it's the rule. A growing number of people wrongly believe that everyone is going to heaven and that faith in Jesus Christ isnít necessary...or that what you believe about Jesus isnít important. More and more people, including some popular conservative talk show hosts, openly declare that any person who says Jesus is the only way of salvation is an arrogant bigot or a religious extremist. In America's war on terrorism, a new wave of persecution is now surfacing. Believers in Christ are being compared to the "religious fundamentalism" of Islamic terrorists. I fully expect this kind of demonization to continue because there is a tremendous hatred of God in many prominent political groups in our country.
Are the counterfeit ministers and talk show hosts right? If theyíre wrong, is there a Scriptural test that helps us separate false Christians from authentic ones?
Recently, I've been studying economics and how the world financial markets operate. One author had this to say about the majority of those who invest in the stock market:
"It's not what you don't know that will hurt you;
it's what you think you know -- that's wrong...
and that can destroy your finances."
Think about that statement. Religious teaching can cause us to "know" wrong things about the spiritual world where God operates. It's the things we think we know that's wrong that can bring destruction to our life. This area of believing in God and faith in Jesus Christ is one of those areas. People recklessly assume many things about God.
Let's listen to the comments of Saint John...
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH, AND DWELT AMONG US, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John 1:1-17 KJV)
This Scripture gives us the origins of Jesus Christ. John tells us that Jesus pre-existed "in the beginning" as "the Word" and the Word was God. John continues by saying, "And the Word (which was God) was made flesh and dwelt among us". John is speaking about Jesus Christ. He felt it was of utmost importance to start his gospel account by establishing a spiritually crucial fact: Jesus Christ is God in human flesh.
In chapter 8 of John's Gospel we learn some things about Jesus in the account describing his encounter with the woman caught in adultery. In the midst of this story our Lord made some extraordinary statements to the religious leaders. Jesus tells them about his Father.
"Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also." (John 8:19 KJV)
Many casual readers fail to understand that by claiming God as his Father...Jesus was making himself equal with God. We know this to be true because it is clearly said earlier in John 5:18. Yet, the religious leaders didn't misunderstand his sayings. The words hit them right between the eyes--and they considered it heresy--a crime worthy of death. But, Jesus isn't finished offending them yet!
"And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." (John 8:23-24 KJV)
Notice the imperative spoken by Jesus Christ..."for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." Who is Jesus asking us to believe he is? The answer: God. If we refuse to believe Jesus is God in human flesh--Jesus said you would die in your sins. No wonder the religious leaders wanted to kill him. Yet, Jesus isn't finished offending them.
"But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me." (John 8:40-42 KJV)
Again, Jesus plainly states that He "proceeded forth" from God. If someone comes from God--that person is Divine. This is another "in your face" statement. Yet, Jesus isn't finished offending them.
"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by." (John 8:56-59 KJV)
Bible students understand the radical claim made by Jesus in this Scripture. One of the most holy names of God in the Old Testament is "I AM". God used this name in his dealings with Moses and Israel in Exodus 3:13-14. When Israel asked Moses on what authority he was sent, God told him to say "I AM" sent you. Jesus claimed this name...God's name. This saying pushed the religious leaders over the edge. They wanted to kill Jesus.
As we enter the last days, I've found that many trust a counterfeit gospel that doesn't require a belief in the Divinity of Jesus Christ. More disturbing is that many seminary trained leaders don't teach it. Yet, Jesus said eternal life couldnít be received without it. Recently, I was reviewing the "Four Spiritual Laws". This simple gospel tract illustrates salvation in four easy-to-understand steps (or laws). It was used to introduce millions of people to God's free gift of eternal life--and still is. However, I saw something absolutely crucial missing from the tract. The reader is only vaguely required to acknowledge the Divinity of Jesus Christ! The tract uses the phrase "The Lord Jesus Christ" when describing who to believe in. Some readers may contend that using the term "Lord" communicates Divinity, and I agree. Yet, in the modern world the term "Lord" is recklessly thrown around. Religion and society commonly distort its meaning. We fail to realize that only the definition God assigns to the term "Lord" is legitimate. In the New Testament the word "Lord" comes from the Greek word "kurios", meaning Lord--God--Master. You can't assume people will make the right connection when such massive levels of misinformation exist in both the world and the modern institutional church. John, also known as "John the beloved", did not omit (as a requirement for salvation) the imperative that Jesus Christ is God in human flesh. Yet, it is commonly left out of our modern evangelistic message. It frightens me to think that millions might be putting their trust in a gospel that's not Biblically accurate.
Saint John continues to teach the truth of Christ's Divinity later in the New Testament:
"And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." (1 John 5:20 KJV)
The same apostle John wrote the following statement. Once again, notice his use of the phrase, "in the flesh"...
"Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." (I John 4:2-3 KJV)
Saint John confronts us with an interesting thought. If Jesus Christ is just a man there's really nothing special about his coming "in the flesh". Every human being is born into the world "in the flesh". It doesn't happen any other way. Yet, contending that a mere man came in the flesh is not the message being conveyed. In John's account "the flesh" is described as something that God was transformed into, "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (Bible scholars call it "the incarnation"). John is stating a Biblical truth that Jesus Christ is the eternal Word, God in human flesh who dwelt among us. Later, John identifies those who are of anti-christ (false Christians). In today's language, false Christians are those who may believe in Jesus--but don't believe He is God in human flesh. I recently heard an Islamic leader say that many Muslims believe in Jesus more than Christians do. Yet, no practicing Muslim believes that Jesus Christ is God--so they can never "believe" in Jesus Christ more than a true Christian believer. Some are curious about the characteristics of the anti-christ in the book of Revelation. This person is someone (yet to be identified) who may acknowledge the works and existence of Jesus Christ, but will deny his Divinity. Anti-christ is portrayed as a world dictator who will probably acknowledge a false generic god that fits all religions in order to win the hearts of the greatest number of people. Eventually, he'll declare himself as the only true God!
On this point the Bible has some bad news. Saint John said that anti-christ was already at work in the world during his time (and more so in our time). Institutional churches are full of people that believe anti-christ doctrine while insisting they're authentic Christians. Most people believe that anti-christ is someone opposite to the real Christ. This assertion is not totally accurate. Anti-christ is someone "similar" (a counterfeit) to the real Christ. The word "anti" means "instead of" or "a replacement for". This "look-alike" characteristic tricks religious people into replacing the real Christ with the counterfeit one...because he will say things they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Many years ago I had a discussion with a colleague at work. He was an ex-Marine and the most intimidating person I've ever met. Strangely, over time we became friends. One day, while traveling together he explained how his father was involved in an accident and lost his eyesight...and a short time later, died. He told me that he'd never forgive God for taking his father. And, he could never trust a God who did such things. I shared with him some of the things discussed here. Many worldly (and religious) people share his beliefs. Yet, few consider the words of Jesus and Saint Paul on this subject.
The Bible tells us about two "gods". The first is God, our Father in Heaven. Jesus declared him to be a God of love. But, another "god" (little "g") is discussed.
"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (2 Cor 4:3-4 KJV)
In John's Gospel (verses 12:31, 14:30 and 16:11), Jesus refers to Satan as "the prince (the NKJV uses the word "ruler") of this world". When the word "god" is used with a small case "g" it means prince or ruler. Saint Paul is very direct and uses the word "god" (again--small case "g") when referring to Satan. Paul called Satan "the god of this world". Jesus said that Satan was the "ruler" of this world--same thing. Yet, many Christians reject this idea because it offends their theology! They won't accept the fact that both Paul and Jesus plainly stated that there's another "ruler" (or god) of this world other than the God of Heaven! This Biblical fact exposes much of the slanderous propaganda spread by religion about the true nature of our Heavenly Father.
"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." (John 10:10-11 KJV)
Jesus teaches an important contrast. Satan is the "god of this world" who comes to steal, kill and destroy. Yet, Jesus (who is God in human flesh) comes to give abundant life. He is the good shepherd who gives his life for the sheep. Many slanderous things are assigned by false religion to our Heavenly Father. Yet, these things actually describe "the god of this world", Satan. Often, I hear about how God makes people sick, afflicting them with disease in order to build character and piety. Pastors tell those struggling with serious illness, "God has a purpose in this sickness and we should not oppose the wisdom of His will by looking for healing." This is religious nonsense when you understand that sickness and disease are tools of "the god of this world" and not the God of Heaven. What loving father would abuse their children to help them mature? Yet, many believe this about the Heavenly Father. When you closely examine these issues, you discover that a majority of professing Christians (and many prominent Christian ministries) have their "gods" mixed up. They unknowingly side with "the god of this world" rather than God, our Heavenly Father. This kind of misrepresentation is one way the spirit of anti-christ operates in our churches today.
The next time you talk to others about God, clarify who you're talking about. Is your faith more in the deeds of "the god of this world"--or the God of Heaven, Jesus Christ? It's important to know the difference.
One of the proper names for God is the Hebrew word "Adonay". This word is generally translated as "Lord" in the Old Testament. It is no accident that the New Testament refers to Jesus as, "The Lord Jesus Christ". In the New Testament this word "Lord" is the Greek word "kurios" meaning God, Lord and Master. The word "Lord" separates Jesus from the rest of humanity. It says, without question, that Jesus Christ is God--He is Lord!
Why is this important? Because if Jesus is only a man (and not God) then the gospel is just a false humanistic teaching that makes us feel good and gives false hope. If Jesus is only a man then we are forever lost in sin and Christianity is a lie! If Jesus is only a man the cross has no power. During the story of the earthquake in the Philippian jail in the book of Acts Paul and Silas instructed the jailer about how to be saved...
"Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house." (Acts 16:29-32 KJV)
Notice that Paul and Silas did not say, "believe in Jesus and you shall be saved". They said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved". Using the word "Lord" in this way requires a belief that Jesus Christ is God in order to receive eternal life and possess authentic salvation. This truth forms one of the dividing lines between real and false Christians. Christ's crucifixion only has meaning and legal force if God was the one hanging there in your place. No other human being living at that time had the qualifications to pay the price for your sin...only God himself could make this sacrificial payment.
In closing, notice Saint Paul's words in his epistle to the Romans...
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Rom 10:9-10)
Jesus Christ is Lord!
This qualifies Him as the ONLY person who can provide eternal life. Salvation is found in no other (Read Acts 4:12). Saint John called Jesus, "The true God and eternal life". Intellectuals, college professors, politicians and media personalities say that John's Biblical claim (and anyone who agrees with it) is arrogance and bigotry. Yet, God calls it "amazing grace".