As a former cult member, the real issue of salvation comes down to one issue: Jesus Christ. However, this matter does not hinge on a name, a certain religious affiliation, or even a creed. It comes down to who you say Jesus is (Matthew 16:13-17). Peter summarized it best when he answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Then Jesus told Peter this was not something he understood naturally, but the revelation came from above.
That is true for every believer. We can know the Bible, quote scriptures and be part of the most popular denomination, but unless the Father has revealed the truth of His Son to our spirit by His Spirit, Jesus is at best an intellectual concept (John 16:13). We can often come into agreement with a one-dimensional concept of Jesus because it poses no real threat to our ideas of God. We can say the same words as Peter said without real understanding as to what they mean because we know the answer, but there is no authority and power behind them because the reality of Christ being the Son of the Living God has not been revealed to our spirit by the Holy Spirit.
In our Friday morning Bible Study on parables, we dealt in depth in this subject as to who Jesus is. Just as Jesus warned in different places, especially in Matthew 24, there are many counterfeits in the world today. In fact, you try to highlight the latest counterfeit, only to turn around and realize a couple of others have cropped up. Sadly, many even in the Christian realm are accepting the counterfeits, and, in some cases, promoting them. Many of these different Christs seem to run very close to the one who has been presented in Scripture; therefore, it is easy to console ourselves that as long as we know that it is a bit off from the plumbline of His Word, we certainly will keep it clear in our minds. After all, the Jesus being presented is pleasant enough, possess some of Jesus’ more endearing qualities, and somewhat gives a person a taste of some spirituality. However, we only have to consider the warning in Luke 13:24, that many will strive to enter into the narrow gate (the Person and Work of Jesus) to obtain real life and few will find it.
My question is if Jesus clearly brought out the necessity for people to know who He is, can we be casual when it comes to wrong presentations of Him, even if they are slightly off center? 1 John 2:21-23 tells us if we do not believe Jesus is the Christ, we are under an anti-Christ spirit. Can we afford to allow any aspect of who He is to be compromised? 1 John 4:1-2 tells us to test all spirits and if the spirit we adhere to does not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, who came in the flesh, then we are of an anti-Christ spirit. Either way we turn on the matter of Jesus Christ, if we are wrong in any aspect of who He is and His work of redemption, the truth, then the Word of God is not in us, and we are not only probably lightly esteeming who He is in our attitude, but we are calling God a liar because we do not believe the record that He has given us concerning His Son (1 John 5:4-14). With such serious warnings and admonitions from Scripture, can we afford to not have a sober attitude that fears God?
Perhaps we can keep it straight in our minds as to who Jesus is, but what about the person who is seeking or the one who is not yet discipled? Will they end up with a different Jesus who is unable to save them, a Jesus who in the end will be their Judge because He does not recognize them as His servant due to them believing and serving another Jesus (Matthew 7:21-23)? In the end, will those who watch us in our lives as we dance around such subtle arenas, on judgment day turn around and point a finger at us because we either thought it not important to set the record straight or perhaps in innocent ignorance we promoted it (Ezekiel 3:16-21)? However, we are warned in Acts 17:30 that God may have winked at such ignorance in the past about who He is, but now He commands every man to repent of their foolish notions, ideas, and images of Him. (See Acts 17:23-30). After all, we have the written Word of God and we are told to study to show ourselves a workman that needs not to be ashamed when we stand before Him about how we handled His Word (Romans 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:15).
To me, one of the Scriptures that gives me a sober reality check about this matter is found in Deuteronomy 32:15, “But Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked: thou are waxen fat thou are gown thick, thou are covered with fatness: then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.” (Emphasis added.) According to Smith’s Bible Dictionary, “Jeshurun” was a symbolic name for Israel. “Waxen fat” points to something becoming gross, perverted. We read about hearts that have waxed gross in Matthew 13:15. They are incapable of understanding the matters of God. These people’s ears are closed to truth and their eyes dimmed to the light of the true Gospel.
Matthew 5:8 tells us only the pure in heart can see God. Therefore, those who have a waxed heart will never be able to see God. Their ears will be closed to what the Spirit is saying about Jesus and the days we live in, and their eyes will be blinded to their spiritual condition for they have been blinded by the god of this age to the light of the Gospel, Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).
One of the questions I recently asked the Friday morning Bible Study Group was what is the difference between an image and a manifestation? (See John 1:29-31, 9:3; 14:21-22; Romans 1:19; 10:20; 16:25-26; 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; and 1 Peter 1:19-21.) To have an image or false representation of God is to break a fundamental commandment, revealing that you do not love the Lord with all of your heart, and that in your heart you despise any commandment that is contrary to your sentimental ideas of Him (Exodus 20:3-17; Mark 12:29-31; John 9:3; 12:21-22; 14:15; Romans 13:8-10). I also asked this question because any contrary or foreign presentation of any of the three Persons of the Godhead produces some type of image. Granted, the image may be sweet, sentimental, and close to one’s idea of that particular person of the Godhead, but nevertheless, it is still an image and it breaks the commandments.
Our knowledge of God is not based on images but on how each Person of the Godhead manifests, shows, or reveals Himself to us. For instance, the Father has no form for He is Spirit and truth, and the way He manifests Himself is based on His relationship with us as a loving, protective Father. He is like the eagle that lifts us up on His wings to soar above the influences of the world, as well as cover us with His wings like a chicken does her chicks in storms or at night. He gives charge of His angels over us and as Matthew 28:10 reminds us about our little ones, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven, their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” The Father is the One who gives us all the wonderful gifts from heaven including sending His Son and giving us the Holy Spirit. He seeks true worshippers because like any loving Father He wants to sit and commune with us. He continues to bestow His love on us, but He will also out of love decide the type of chastisement that will be executed on us to discipline us and bring us back into line with His holiness (Exodus 19:4; Psalm 91:4, 11; John 4:22-24; 5:30, 37; Acts 2:38; Hebrews 12:5-14; James 1:17; 1 John 3:1).
It is important to point out that for the Father to manifest Himself as the heavenly Father, a person must be born again into the family of God (John 1:12; 3:3, 5). If the spiritual birth has not occurred then the person can’t claim they are a child of God, nor can they lay claim to eternal life and a spiritual inheritance. In Romans 8:14-16, the Apostle Paul talks about those who are under a spirit of bondage and have a hard time coming into that father-child relationship with the Father, but the fact that we have been born again points to being officially adopted into a heavenly family, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and endowed with the necessary credentials and gifts to identify us to our spiritual legacy.
This brings us to some of the presentations of the Heavenly Father. There is the presentation that He is “Adam-god” who had relationships with Mary resulting in the conception of Jesus. In one fictional presentation the Father is a loving, nurturing black lady. These are just a couple of examples of the presentations of the Father that are being expounded. However, any presentation that has an image attached to it is breaking the commandment concerning the fact we are to have no such images of the Father. To render the Father into a mere earthly image is blasphemous because it is stripping Him of His glory as God.
Next month I will deal with the manifestations of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. When it comes to Jesus, sadly most people are looking for Him in all the wrong places and accepting another Jesus. The biggest medium people are settling for when it comes to Jesus is the entertainment industry. I must question if some in the church are like Herod who asked Jesus to entertain him before He was crucified (Luke 23:8-11). We humans can tolerate any Jesus who does not insult our intelligence or upset the sentiments we hold dearly. Sadly, with such preferences, it would be natural to crucify the truth and end up with another Jesus.