Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

       One of the challenges Christians face in America is that Christianity is being sold as a lifestyle and not the actual life of Christ being imparted and established in believers through the born-again experience. This new life is resurrected and worked in the inner man by the indwelling Spirit. Lifestyle is the world’s take on presenting an idea of living that promotes an elusive identity, unfulfilling purpose, unrealistic meaning, and temporary happiness to a person. The reason that a lifestyle is void of true life is because it is based on cultural influences, worldly standards, and fleshly pursuits. It has no eternal substance to it and will prove to be a practice of vanity in the end.

      The reason for Christianity succumbing to the concept of lifestyle is because the Christian life has been presented as a subculture in the midst of the American culture. We Christians have our own language, terminology, and practices. But, what is missing from the subculture of Christianity is the Spirit of God. He is not into promoting a lifestyle that runs parallel to some show of outward piousness; rather, the third person of the Godhead’s main goal is to lead people to the reality of Jesus, His redemption and example to save, prepare, and sanctify believers for the next world to come (John 16:7-13).

      In this subculture there is a mixture of the profane and the holy as the Jesus of the Bible is being replaced with a more acceptable Jesus to the world’s taste buds and the gospel is not the Gospel of the Bible, but a social gospel of good works and putting all men on the same page taking away any identity or uniqueness and calling it justice. It is no longer about the salvation of souls, but about influencing the masses. It is about bringing all people under one umbrella or covering, the spirit of the world, whose goal is to blind men to their real condition and to the Gospel that saves (2 Corinthians 4:3-6). In this confusing, insane environment, sin is cleverly being done away with by the world’s philosophy of tolerance, as personal rights run amuck (Colossians 2:8; James 4:3-4). There are no absolutes, thereby, doing away with any Biblical standard of truth (Psalm 119:89, refer to John 17:17; 1 Peter 1:23-25).

      Without absolute truth, there is no absolute authority or rule as to what is right or wrong. As a result, man is becoming more amoral even in Christendom as each individual does what is right in his or her own eyes regardless of the destructive fruits (Judges 21:25; Proverbs 14:12; Matthew 7:16-20). Everything that has been established as acceptable by God is being defiled by those who hate truth. True repentance is being replaced with outward piousness that lacks conviction and conversion, righteousness is being redefined according to worldly tolerance and love, and godliness is being done away with by political correctness.  And, what is the final fruit of this lawless, godless way? The world clearly calls good evil, and evil good, redefining people’s worldview to embrace everything that is contrary to God and His Word. And, as Isaiah 5:18-25 states, “woe” to those who prescribe to such delusion and wickedness! “Woe” in this text is an expression of grief, admitting that “alas” one is tasting the bitter consequences of his or her wicked ways.

      Such an unholy mixture will dull Christians down who do not maintain the edge of righteousness in their personal life. A spiritual vacuum will be erected, rendering some of the church powerless, causing it to look to the world and institute worldly methods in order to seduce the masses. Salvation of individual souls will take a back seat as quantity and not quality becomes the focus. In such environments, the work of the Holy Spirit is either being faked or replaced by a religious spirit seeking self-exaltation.  Since numbers become the measure of kingdom success, people will lose the excitement and passion to make the necessary commitment to see believers being trained to be disciples of Jesus with changed lives that are focused on doing the will of God and bringing glory to Him.

      Although we see some of the visible church playing the harlot by marrying the world in an unholy union to benefit from it, we know there are those who have never bowed before the various altars of Baal. These individuals have believed the Word in regard to coming out and being separate from touching unclean things (coming into agreement with the wrong spirit), resisting the devil, and fleeing youthful lusts to maintain their status as strangers and spiritual pilgrims to avoid partaking of the corruption of the present world (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 1 Timothy 3:2; 2 Timothy 2:22; James 4:6-10; 1 Peter 2:11; 2 Peter 3-4).    

      The real casualty in this environment is the reality of God. God is often humanized while man is dehumanized to become slaves or commodities in godless societies. Religion simply becomes a platform for heretics, wolves, and hirelings to promote another Jesus, another Gospel, and another spirit (2 Corinthians 11:2-4). This is why I am writing this series.  For the last couple of months I have been talking about Jesus being Lord (Adonai-deity) and the Man (The Promised One, the Lamb of God). As Christians most of us take this understanding of Jesus for granted. We have accepted it as so, but have we received it as a personal truth that guides our life? Accepting something operates on an intellectual plane, where one can agree with the idea of a matter but the latter one operates on the heart level, where it is a revelation that confirms our foundation of who Jesus is and must be to ensure salvation.

      The problem is that because of the world’s influence, many people possess a different Jesus. A Jesus who is not the Jesus of the Bible and cannot save an individual from the wrath of God that abides on unbelievers. This pseudo Jesus might make a person feel good about his or her religion or self, give him or her a sense of being infallible in his or her understanding, and serve as a guiding light of some type, but it is a false light that can be traced to an antichrist spirit (1 John 2:21-23; 4:1-3).

      The greatest affront committed against Jesus is the rejection that He is God, but the greatest misunderstanding towards Jesus has to do with His humanity. How Jesus’ deity and humanity work together often becomes a confusing point that creates misunderstandings for others. For the most part fundamental Christians accept the Triune God without debate. They know that Jesus represented the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form, but how many understand the significance of Jesus having dual natures?

      We know that only God could satisfy the requirements of His holy Law. The Law declared all men to be sinners, transgressors of it, falling short of reaching their potential to reflect the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Without God’s Law there would be no transgression (Romans 3:19-20). Without the Law, man would have no idea that he is lost to God and why he is lost. Without the judgment of the Law passed upon all mankind, man would not see any need to be saved, for the wages of sin is death, spiritual separation from God, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23).

      Only God could suffice the Law, pay the necessary wages of redemption in order for mankind to be spared from paying the wages that left each person without hope and a future. It would take God taking on human form to become the perfect sacrifice because there is no remission (pardon/forgiveness) of sin without the shedding of blood. There would be no covenant established without a cutting or sacrifice to seal it (Hebrews 9:11-26).  In His humanity, Jesus could become the Lamb of God, the perfect acceptable sacrifice for all mankind. However, it would take the fact that He is also deity to pay the price for all mankind.

      It is important to point out that the Law required separate sacrifices from each man and for each sin. Consider the ramifications of this for a moment. If Jesus was simply a man, His death on the cross would only be able to secure salvation for one man. However, as eternal God He could effectively satisfy His Law for each of us by taking away all sin once and for all with one sacrifice, thereby securing a pardon for all of those who come to Him by faith seeking His forgiveness (Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:4-19). When Jesus reached out His arms to embrace the cross, His reach would embrace all humanity as a loving God. This is what some people would call the “wow” factor in Christianity.

      The Bible tells us that Jesus is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4). Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the Law on behalf of all of us, and through Him righteousness is imputed to all who believe in Him as God’s ultimate provision (Matthew 5:17-18; Romans 4:21-25). In fact, we know that out of Jesus’ death, one Body, His Church would be born, raised up in newness of life, hidden in the fullness of His Life, adorned in His righteousness, established in His sanctification, and marked for the fullness of redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:13-14; Colossians 3:2-3).

      How important was it for Jesus to be both God and Man? As perfect, sinless man He paid the price of redemption, but as God He raised Himself up, as did the Father and the Holy Spirit in resurrection power (Romans 10:9-10; Galatians 1:1; John 2:18-21; Romans 8:11). The Apostle Paul tells us that If Christ had not been risen, that our preaching of the Gospel and our faith towards God would be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14).

      How important was it for Jesus to be the God/Man? As man He serves as our example as to what the spiritual man looks like (1 Corinthians 15:47-49). We see that He was meek in attitude, lowly in disposition, and in total subjection to the will of the Father (Matthew 11:29; Philippians 2:5-8). Even though He was deity, as man He was in submission to the leading of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1). He had to be ordained, anointed, empowered, established, and verified by heaven itself as to His calling and ministry. In His humanity, He had to look to heaven for His authority, power, and instructions. He was totally disciplined in every way by the Holy Spirit, but we know even as God, He would also do all matters according to the Spirit. Zechariah 4:6c confirms this, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of Hosts.”   

      I say all of this because of what one person said to me. She was in a cult that preached that Jesus was simply man and not God. When pressed about what consequences such Christians would face who believed in the Triune God, and stood on the fundamental truth that Jesus is fully God and fully Man, the only consequences mentioned that such “foolish” people would pay was that they would not be part of the rapture.

      Because I do believe in what the Bible says about Jesus, I am assured of being taken up with the rest of the Church when He comes back for His people, but these people’s idea of the consequences that believers will pay for believing what the Bible says about Jesus being the God/Man gives me insight into their attitude towards Jesus. To them it is not a big deal if you get Jesus right or not. After all, the point that Jesus came as man is a historical fact. The Gospel’s proclamation that Jesus died is also a historical fact, and even though His resurrection has been debated it can even be proven in a court of law by the historical records of those who wrote about it according to the testimonies of witnesses. Therefore, the fact that Jesus came as man and died requires no faith. If His resurrection is researched, it requires no real faith. However, what requires faith is that Jesus is both God and Man. It is because of whom He is that He was able to accomplish the impossible and continues to do so. It is for this reason Hebrews 11:6 tells us that, “But without faith, it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (for who He is).”  (Both emphases added.)

      The Bible declares if you do not believe the record given about Jesus Christ, you will not be saved! (See 1 John 5:4-13.) In other words, these poor deluded souls have a lot more to lose (their souls) than those who approach the Bible in childlike faith to believe what it says about Jesus being the God/Man. As Man, Jesus satisfied the requirement of the Law and secured redemption, but as God, He completed the task by taking the sting out of death and making the victory that the grave once claimed upon man, hollow by His resurrection. This God/Man is the only One who can save a person and if a person does not possess His life, the judgment he or she faces is eternal damnation, forever separated from the one true Savior that he or she failed to receive by faith.

      When I questioned this lady as to why she refused to believe what the Bible said about Jesus being the God/Man, her answer surprised me. She told me if Jesus was God, there was no way she could come into compliance with the Bible to be like Him (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; 1 Corinthians 15:49).  Even though I explained that Jesus serves as our example in His humanity, not in His deity, she still could not see herself ever becoming like Jesus because He was God. She knew she was far from perfection and with that view in mind the bar was too high for her to reach if Jesus was God. She let Jesus’ deity overshadowed the fact that in His humanity He had to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to walk in the way that was pleasing and acceptable to the Father.

      Next month I am going to delve deeper into Jesus’ humanity. However, my goal in this month’s article is to challenge or encourage people to operate on the outside fringes of confusion and vagueness. We need to understand the significance of Jesus being both God and Man and how His dual natures were necessary to save us to the uttermost. We need to be able to give an account of why we believe what we believe with the intent of obeying Jude 21-24, “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”