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Sermon No: 37049-Which Jesus do you serve



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SERMON TOPIC: Which Jesus do you serve

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 8 April 2018

Topic Groups: COMMITMENT, JESUS

Sermon synopsis: October 19, 2017 – John Stonestreet   Who is Jesus?
It’s a foundational question, and one many Christians struggle to answer.
In Matthew 16, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Some say John the Baptist,” they replied, “others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But who do you say that I am?”
These days, increasingly odd and just plain wrong answers to the Jesus’ question seem to be floating around everywhere, and churches are one of the easiest places to find them. When you see increasingly unorthodox and innovative ideas about sex, marriage, and the human person coming from religious leaders, you can bet they’re also entertaining increasingly unorthodox and innovative ideas about truth, the Bible, and even God Himself.
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Which Jesus do you serve?

Who Do You Say That I Am? Idols vs. the Real Jesus.

October 19, 2017 – John Stonestreet Who is Jesus?

It’s a foundational question, and one many Christians struggle to answer.

In Matthew 16, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Some say John the Baptist,” they replied, “others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But who do you say that I am?”

These days, increasingly odd and just plain wrong answers to the Jesus’ question seem to be floating around everywhere, and churches are one of the easiest places to find them. When you see increasingly unorthodox and innovative ideas about sex, marriage, and the human person coming from religious leaders, you can bet they’re also entertaining increasingly unorthodox and innovative ideas about truth, the Bible, and even God Himself.

Who Do You Say That I Am? Idols vs. the Real Jesus.

For example, Dr. Karen Oliveto, the first openly lesbian bishop in the United Methodist Church, recently offered this message to her flock:

“Too many folks want to box Jesus in,” she wrote, “carve him in stone, create an idol out of him. [But] the wonderful counsellor, mighty God, everlasting one, prince of peace, was as human as you and me. Like you and me, he didn’t have his life figured out.” Jesus had “bigotries and prejudices,” she added, even sins which He had to learn to overcome.

A 2014 LifeWay Research survey of self-described evangelicals found that while nearly all profess belief in the Trinity, one in four say God the Father is “more divine” than Jesus. That’s similar to what the Arians believed, it’s the error the Nicene Creed was written to combat.

In another survey conducted last year, LifeWay talked only with those who held core evangelical and conservative beliefs. Yet an astonishing seven in ten said Jesus was the first being created by God—again, a defining feature of Arianism. And more than a quarter held that the Holy Spirit is not equal with either the Father or the Son.

Who Do You Say That I Am? Idols vs. the Real Jesus.

This sad mess shouldn’t just bother theological eggheads. These errors strike at the heart of Christianity, giving fundamentally unscriptural answers to the question, “Who is Jesus?”

Answering this question correctly is itself an act of worship. It’s a vital part of knowing and loving our God as He is. And it impacts Christians’ lives at the most basic level. For example, because Jesus is equal with the Father and fully God means He can truly pardon us. As the scribes in Mark 2 correctly observed, “Only God can forgive sins.”

Yet Jesus is also fully human. In order to serve as our High Priest, He became like us in every respect, as Hebrews 2:17 says. In order to redeem Adam’s race, the Last Adam had to belong to it. This God-Man was not only sinless, He is entirely worthy of our worship. In reply to His question, “Who do you say that I am?” We should be able to say with Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and with Thomas, who fell on His knees before the risen Jesus and said, “My Lord and my God.”

Which Jesus do you serve?

The Mormons call him the polygamist half-brother of Lucifer…

The Jehovah Witnesses call him the created arch angel Michael…

The Metropolitan Tabernacle Churches claim that he endorses homosexuality and is somewhat of that tendency…

The New Spirituality contents that he is part of the Christ consciousness and the cosmic divinity…

Islam insist that he is not God.

Many people today refuse to accept that Jesus Christ is God.

They consider him only a good man, a human teacher on the same level as other historic religious leaders.

Which Jesus do you serve?

There were 4 main groups in Judaism 2000 years ago under Roman rule.

The Pharisees: Kept the Law to the letter and perceived to be experts. They were very popular with the middle class and were opposed to Hellenism (The Greek way of life which was democratic and liberal)

The Sadducees: They were pro Hellenistic, very well connected, wealthy and popular with the Roman government, but unpopular with most of the people.

The Essenes: Hyper spiritual, embraced communal living in the desert to spend time in prayer and study. (Qumran)

Zealots: Violent radical freedom fighters who were waiting for a Messiah who would overthrow the Roman government.

Barabbas was from this group and it was this murderer and revolutionary that the Religious leaders and the Jews chose rather than Jesus the son of God.

Which Jesus do you choose?

In the account of Pilate putting a choice to the crowd of who to release at the Passover and who to crucify we can see the very same traits in mankind that we see today.

The crowd, spurred on by their religious leaders chose Jesus Barabbas over Jesus of Nazareth.

The world still cries “give us Barabbas” today.

Give us the sodomites and the homosexuals, give us the adulterers and the murderers.

Luke 23:18.

But the whole crowd shouted, Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!

Which Jesus do you serve?

In today's postmodernist society, millions of people reject the idea of absolute truth. They claim all religions are equally true and there are many paths to God. Postmodernists accuse Christians of being intolerant; however, that truth comes from the lips of Jesus himself.

John 14:6.

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 20:31.

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Matthew 24:3-5.

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. Tell us, they said, when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? Jesus answered: Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, I am the Messiah, and will deceive many.

Which Jesus do you serve?

Throughout history, many a ‘Jesus’ has come and gone. The apostle Paul warned us of this and that even another ‘gospel’ would be preached. He wrote to the Corinthians and the Galatians :

2 Corinthians 11:3-4.

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted - you may well put up with it.

Galatians 1:6-7.

I marvel that you are turning away from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the Gospel of Christ.

Which Jesus do you serve?

The Jews and Pharisees asked Jesus

John 8:25. “Who are You?”

Peter, on the day of Pentecost declared:

Acts 2:36. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Emperor Julian, the apostate, in his dying words proclaimed You have conquered, O Galilean. So, who is this Jesus of Nazareth? Who is this Galilean? Who is this man who lifted the centuries off their hinges, divided our calendar in half, and changed the course of human history? Wherever His true followers went, they changed the world for the better. Indeed, there is not a country where Christianity has gone and not been of immense benefit to its people. How is it that no man or woman has ever regretted being a Christian on their deathbed?

Which Jesus do you serve?

Today, some proclaim Him as a prophet only, an enlightened new-age guru, a cosmic Christ, a moral philosopher, a political revolutionary. Among the cults, many believe He is god, but not the only eternal God, or Saviour and not Lord.

C.S Lewis in his book ‘Mere Christianity’ said:

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said, would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on a level with a 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 being 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 up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.”

Which Jesus do you serve?

Islam’s view of Jesus.

Born of a virgin

Revered as a Prophet

Did not die on a cross

Ascended to heaven

Will come again

Judaism’s view of Jesus

Son of non virgin Mary

Performed miracles by demonic power

Crucified but not resurrected

Buddhism’s view of Jesus.

Wise enlightened teacher

Not divine but had good perspective

Which Jesus do you serve?

Hinduism’s view of Jesus.

Wise holy teacher

Some include him in their list of gods

Achieved greatness through self-realization

Mormonism's view of Jesus.

Brother of Lucifer

Procreated by his heavenly father and mother

Had many wives

Had his own planet and Elohim had another planet

Jehovah’s Witness view of Jesus

Created as Michael the Arch-Angel

Son of God but not God

American view of Jesus

Ordained the violent overthrow of the Monarchy and supports right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness in this life

Do you know who you serve?

John 4:19-26.

Sir, the woman said, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem. Woman, Jesus replied, believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.

You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. The woman said, I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us. Then Jesus declared, I, the one speaking to you—I am he.

Does the “Real Jesus” know you?

The real important issue is not as some say:

“The Jesus I know” but rather

“Does the real Biblical Jesus know you”?

Does the “Real Jesus” know you?

The real Jesus does not let you into Heaven based on good works.

Many adults believe, however, that they will go to heaven as a result of their good works. Broadly speaking, this is the most common perception among Americans who have never made a commitment to Jesus—and it is also quite common among self-identified Christians. Barna group survey September 2014.

Matthew 7:21-23.

Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven,

but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?

Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!

Luke 18:9-14.

The Pharisee who prayed, fasted twice a week and tithed went home condemned with his prayers not even heard.

Does the “Real Jesus” know you?

Knowing Jesus isn’t about Church attendance, hearing or reading about him or even seeing him.

Luke 13:23-28.

Someone asked him, Lord, are only a few people going to be saved? He said to them, Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.

Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, Sir, open the door for us. But he will answer, I don’t know you or where you come from.

Then you will say, We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets. But he will reply, I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers! There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.

Barna group survey September 2014.

Overall, roughly two out of five Americans have confessed their sinfulness and professed faith in Christ (a group Barna classifies as “born again Christians”). Millennials are less likely to believe that Jesus is the path to Heaven than are other generations. Among Millennials who have made a personal commitment to Jesus, only 56 percent say they believe they will go to heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour. This percentage climbs to two-thirds of Gen-Xers (64%), six in 10 Boomers (62%) and nearly seven in 10 among Elders (68%).

Many adults believe, however, that they will go to heaven as a result of their good works and it is quite common among self-identified Christians.

In this category, people believe they will go to heaven because they have tried to obey the Ten Commandments, as a result of being basically a good person, or on the grounds that God loves all people and will not let them perish.

Barna group survey September 2014.

1. The Vast Majority of Americans Believe Jesus Was a Real Person. More than nine out of 10 adults say Jesus Christ was a real person who actually lived (92%).

2. Younger Generations Are Increasingly Less Likely to Believe Jesus Was God. Millennials are the only generation among whom fewer than half believe Jesus was God (48%). About one-third of young adults (35%) say instead that Jesus was merely a religious or spiritual leader, while 17 percent aren’t sure what he was.

3. Americans Are Divided on Whether Jesus Was Sinless.

About half of Americans agree, either strongly or somewhat, that while he lived on earth, Jesus Christ was human and committed sins like other people (52%).

4. Most Americans Say They Have Made a Commitment to Jesus Christ.

5. People Are Conflicted between “Jesus” and “Good Deeds” as the Way to Heaven.

Barna group survey September 2014

God’s will part 8a.

Who is Jesus? John 6:40.

For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life….

Who is Jesus?

Who do Men say that I am?

Matthew 16:13-18.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.

And I tell you that you are Peter (PETROS), and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”.

Who is Jesus?

“You are Peter” i.e. “You are Petros” ( a little stone) “…and on this Petra” (this rock ) {the rock of your confession } “I will build my church”.

Peter is not the foundation of the church as some teach,

Peter’s confession is the foundation on which Jesus built His church.

Rom 10:9.

If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

1 Corinthians 12:3.

Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,”

except by the Holy Spirit.

Definition.

The word ‘Trinity’ itself does not appear in the Bible but was coined by Tertullian (c.155-230) to encapsulate the teaching of Scripture regarding God’s three-in-one nature. The doctrine was formally defined in the 4th century Nicene Creed, where Jesus was declared to be: “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.”

Belief in the Trinity is a mark of all mainstream Christianity including Protestantism, Catholicism & Orthodoxy. As such, the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church describes the Trinity as “the central dogma of Christian theology”.

Bible: induction.

What are the characteristics that make God, GOD? What properties does He possess that no one else can claim to possess? If we can then show from the Bible that Jesus has all of these characteristics, we have proved by induction that He is God.

God’s unique characteristics

Eternal

Omnipotence

Omnipresence

Omniscience

Immutability

Creator

Rightly worshipped

Holy and Sinless

Jesus is the “Creator”.

Yahweh created alone:

Isaiah 44:24 …I am Yahweh, who makes all things; who ALONE stretches out the heavens; who spreads out the earth BY MYSELF.

But Jesus created alone:

John 1:1-4. In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make.

Col 1:15-16. For by him (Jesus) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

All members of the godhead were involved in creation. The Father wills, Jesus effected His will:

1 Cor 8:6: Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

Jesus is the “Creator”.

Rightly worshipped.

When Satan tempted Jesus to worship him, Jesus responded:

Matthew 4:10. Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.

Yahweh makes it clear that only He deserves worship:

Isaiah 42:8. I am Yahweh. That is my name. I will not give my glory to another, nor my praise to engraved images.

Only God is to be worshipped.

Peter refused to accept worship: Acts 10: 25-26. As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. Stand up, he said, I am only a man myself. The mighty angel in the Book of Revelation refused worship: Revelation 22:8-9. I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!

Only God is rightfully entitled to receive worship. But we have seen clearly that Jesus accepted worship on numerous occasions during his ministry!

Jesus accepted worship.

From the wise men - Mat 2:11

From the leper - Mat 8:2

From the ruler - Mat 9:18

From His disciples in the boat - Mat 14:33

From the Canaanite woman - Mat 15:25

From the disciples following His ascension - Luke 24:52

Thomas - John 20:28

All creation worships both Father and Lamb: Rev 5:11-14

When Jesus healed the blind man: John 9:38. Then the man said (to Jesus), “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

Jesus is “Holy and Sinless”.

2 Cor 5:21. God made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us …

1 Peter 2: 21-22. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.’

Hebrews 7:26. For such a high priest was fitting for us: holy, guiltless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens

Jesus is Omnipotent (All powerful)

Jesus the creator who is Holy and Sinless and accepts worship, has all the characteristics deemed peculiar to God.

Omnipotence “ALL POWER” is bestowed in Jesus, an attribute peculiar to God.

Matthew 28:18. And Jesus coming up spoke to them, saying, All power has been given me in heaven and upon earth.

Phil: 3:20-21: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

Eph. 1:21-22: far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet...

Jesus is “Omnipresent” (All present)

Matthew 28:20. And surely I (Jesus) am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Romans 8:34. Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God …

If Jesus has promised to be with His disciples ALWAYS and yet is at the right hand of the Father in heaven, the only possible explanation is that He is omnipresent.

Matthew 18:20. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.

Jesus is “Omniscient” (All knowing)

John 21:17.

The third time he said to him, Simon son of John, do you love me?

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, Do you love me? He said, Lord, you know all things; You know that I love you.

Why then did Jesus say only the Father knew the day of his second coming?

Of course the answer is that the incarnation created a special circumstance, wherein God became flesh and allowed Himself to the limitations of a man. In the same way that as a man Jesus got tired, thirsty and hungry and was clearly not omnipresent, so too his knowledge was limited while on earth. This is clear from the following Scripture:

Jesus is “Omniscient” (All knowing)

Philippians 2:7. (Jesus) … emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men

Anti-Trinitarians will typically take Scriptures that apply to Jesus humanity and incarnation and then try using them to prove that Jesus wasn’t God.

There were however self-imposed temporary limitations that Jesus accepted in his incarnation.

Jesus is “Immutable” (Unchanging)

Jesus too has the property of deity of never changing, though everyone and everything else does.

Hebrews 13:8.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 1:8,11-12.

But of the Son he says... They all will grow old like a garment does. As a mantle, you will roll them up, and they will be changed; but you are the same...

The “Eternal pre-existence” of Jesus.

Isaiah 9:6. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The above prophecy concerning Jesus shows that He is EVERLASTING or ETERNAL.

Hebrews 1:8,11-12. But of the Son he says... They will perish, but you continue. They all will grow old like a garment does. ... Your years will not fail.

John 1:1. In the beginning was the Word…

Colossians 1:17. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

John 8:57-59. You are not yet fifty years old, the Jews said to him, and you have seen Abraham! I tell you the truth, Jesus answered, before Abraham was born I AM!

The “Eternal pre-existence” of Jesus.

Isaiah 44:6 says this:

This is what Yahweh, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Yahweh of Armies, says: I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God.

When Jesus appeared to John on the island of Patmos, His words to him were:

Revelation 1:18. Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last.

Jesus makes the same statement as Yahweh in the Old Testament. It is impossible for there to be two “FIRSTS”. Either one must be FIRST and the other SECOND if they are two separate beings. But Jesus and Yahweh both state, “I AM THE FIRST.”

Jesus: is in very nature GOD

We have selected 8 characteristics unique and peculiar to God alone.

We have gone on to show that Jesus has all 8 characteristics; thus by induction we have proven that Jesus is God. You can make a god out of anything, but it will not be God by nature i.e. possess the characteristics of God. Heathen gods fall into this category of those you are worshiped as gods while not being God by nature.

Galatians 4: 8: Formerly when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.

Jesus, however, does not fall into this category as He is God by nature.

Jesus: is in very nature GOD

Philippians 2:5-6: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped…

Concerning the term “nature” (morphē) or as the NASB and KJV translates, “form”, theologian, Charles Ryrie notes that the word nature (morphē) in the Greek connotes: that which is intrinsic and essential to the thing.

Thus here it means that the Lord in His pre-incarnate state possessed essential deity.

Which Jesus do you serve?

The great church father Augustine said.

“If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it’s not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.”

Adapted from The Original Jesus.

I’ll admit, I want to accept the Jesus

who conforms to my image. The Jesus whose statements fit nicely on coffee mugs and T-shirts. But this safe, sanitized Jesus looks nothing like the real one, the one who came not to give me what I want but to rescue me from the kingdom of darkness. This Jesus, the real Jesus, is dangerous and unpredictable, calling me to lay aside my life and follow him regardless of what it costs. Jesus came not to conform to our desires but to transform us into his image.

Which Jesus do you serve?

Daniel Darling, in an online article entitled ‘Counterfeit Christ Figures We Should Stop Worshiping’, states that “Jesus seems popular these days, even at a time when Christianity seems to be facing more social marginalisation.” He goes on to note that “from political and social movements, to bumper stickers, we’ve appropriated Jesus as a mascot for our favourite causes.”

Which Jesus do you serve?

But, is this the real Jesus of the Bible or a Jesus of our own construct and making? Christ’s Mission is to call out a people and form them into His own likeness, but it seems we are more interested in forming Christ into our image. It is as if Jesus can be easily moulded into whatever we wish Him to be. Soon, the Christ we claim to worship will look strangely like the man in the mirror.

What are some ways we are tempted to mould Jesus, like clay, into whatever we want Him to be? Here are some of the partial Jesus’, pointed out by Darling and others, that have become popular in contemporary western Christian culture:

Which Jesus do you serve?

1. Guru Jesus

This is the Jesus of the enlightenment, the Jesus who existed in human history, but is not nearly as radical as that Jesus of the gospels. Guru Jesus is the wise, winsome, slightly supernatural figure who fits nicely alongside other religious titans like Buddha, Muhammad, Vishnu, and others. This is a safe Jesus, who will only ever tell us good, affirming, uplifting things, but doesn’t bother us with dangerous talk of the Kingdom of God.

Which Jesus do you serve?

2. Red Letter Jesus

This Jesus is in vogue among many well-meaning, progressive evangelicals. He’s a Jesus I’m tempted, at times, to embrace. He’s present in the kind of Christianity that only takes seriously those quotes of Jesus in the gospels that are marked out by Bible publishers in red ink.

What is convenient about this Jesus is that he replaces the so-called angry God of the Old Testament with a mostly peaceful, healing, non-controversial Jesus of justice.

Which Jesus do you serve?

2. Red Letter Jesus

What’s more, he’s way more likeable than that irascible Apostle Paul who just doesn’t understand twenty-first century social norms.

There is only one problem with Red Letter Jesus: Jesus, in his very red-letter statements, declared solidarity with the Old Testament Scriptures. Plus, have you read those red letters? Jesus said some pretty controversial things in there about marriage, about hell, and about his coming kingdom.

The Red letter Jesus.

Not everything between Genesis and Revelation is fit for a coffee mug, if you know what I mean.

Thomas Jefferson solved this tension by simply making his own “Bible.” He famously cut out the parts he hated and kept the ones he liked. Though most of us wouldn’t be that brazen, we sometimes fall prey to the temptation to highlight Scripture we like and toss the rest into a “nothing to see here” pile. The most common way we do this is through a well-meaning but misguided hermeneutical device—creating a Jesus who seems passé about the uncomfortable version of God found in the Old Testament. This is increasingly common in evangelical circles. There is a new, red-letter Jesus who just seems a whole lot nicer than the God of our youth. The “red letters,” of course, are the specific words of Jesus quoted by the Gospel writers that are sometimes highlighted in modern Bible translations.

If God is the angry Old Testament deity, Jesus has become our convenient sugar daddy who conforms to our desires. So we say things like, “I’m not a Christian, I’m a follower of Jesus.”

Which Jesus do you serve?

3. He-Man Jesus.

This Jesus has come to help men recover their masculinity in a response to a crisis of manhood. This is the Jesus of Braveheart, Rambo, John Wayne and big-game hunting. However, a Christ-shaped masculinity isn’t defined by tough talk and martial arts.

The Jesus of Scripture was both tough and tender, a Man who rebuked and nurtured. He did not come to conform men into a hyper-masculine construct, but, into men who fulfil their unique Kingdom purposes as servant leaders in the home, the church, and the community.

Fatherlessness and masculinity can only be healed through the transformation of men who lay down the fallen nature of Adam to follow the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Which Jesus do you serve?

4. Patriotic Jesus.

This is the Jesus of patriotic national renewal, who ushers in a revival of traditional values and a return to the perceived ‘glory days’ of yesterday. This Jesus always disappoints because he seeks ultimate satisfaction in short-term victories, instead of a long-term view of the Kingdom of God. In contrast, Jesus of Nazareth is not interested in simply returning America, Britain, or any nation for that matter, to an era of bygone values.

He lived, died and rose again to renew the entire universe from the curse of sin. We Christians look to that great City whose builder and maker is God.

Which Jesus do you serve?

5. Left Wing Jesus

This Jesus who serves as a mascot for progressive social causes. This is a Jesus who is definitively anti-capitalist and has little interest in personal salvation by faith.

Like the Right who appropriate Christ for political aims, the Jesus of the Left hints at truth.

It is true that the good news of the Kingdom means “good news for the poor” and yet Jesus’ coming wasn’t the first advent of Karl Marx, but the advent of God’s end-times salvation, the inauguration of a new covenant between God and His people, mediated through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. What’s more, the utopian dreams of socialism, which have only ever ended in misery for its subjects, is a paltry agenda compared to the worldwide cosmic renewal promised by Jesus at the end of days.

Which Jesus do you serve?

6. Dr. Phil Jesus

This Jesus is a tough-talking dispenser of advice. Evangelicals love this Jesus, because he’s the solution for all of their problems.

This Jesus comes close to the real Christ of Scripture, who is the answer to our deepest needs, and yet He exchanges a pursuit of Christ for a pursuit of principles.

Jesus becomes less of an object of worship than a means to an end —

a 12-step recovery program.

But a Jesus who will fix your marriage, shape you up for your next job interview, or ensure your kids make it into Harvard is, in the end, a disappointing deity preaching a moralistic, therapeutic deism that doesn’t save. The real Jesus leads us not to a set of principles, but to himself.

Which Jesus do you serve?

7. Prosperity Jesus

This Jesus is Dr. Phil Jesus’ extravagant cousin. He doesn’t just promise a better life, he promises a wealthy and prosperous life. Prosperity Jesus is popular in the wealthy suburbs of the West, where persecution and difficulty have been programmed out of the system. But he’s strangely discomforting to the nitty-gritty, threadbare existence of most Christians around the world. Prosperity Jesus is an insidious heresy, preying both on the poor to collect their money and causing disappointment and ruin when the promised prosperity doesn’t materialize. The real Christ doesn’t promise private jets and vacation condos, but offers the presence of God in the midst of difficult and self-denying faithfulness in a fallen world. What’s more, the Christ of Scripture offers a much better future return on investment than the short-term bling of earthly kingdoms.

Which Jesus do you serve?

8. Post-Church Jesus

Burned out by the overly political, legalistic church of your youth? The Post-Church Jesus allows you to worship him without all the trappings of the institutional church. In some ways, this Jesus is attractive for those who’ve grown tired of a gospel that sounds more like traditionalism than the gospel of Christ.

But the real Jesus doesn’t offer his followers the option of following him without being part of the church. The very act of regeneration by faith baptizes the believer into the body of Christ. Christ loves his bride and offers no fruitful path of faith outside of the community of faith.

Which Jesus do you serve?

9. BFF Jesus

This Jesus hits close to home, for it’s the Jesus of my evangelical culture. BFF Jesus hints at the truth of the Christ of Scripture, who is a friend of sinners, who offers personal salvation by faith. However, the BFF Jesus of some of our modern worship songs sounds less like the righteous ruler of Revelation and more like Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriend. He’s needy and clingy.

What’s more, this Jesus seems to have no connection to 2,000 years of church history and the weight of Christian orthodoxy. Instead, he’s a light and fun Jesus. Personal, private, but detached from the coming King of righteousness and justice described by the Old Testament prophets.

BFF Jesus is a Jesus who fits well with our culture of narcissism. He approves, without reservation, our lifestyles and behaviours and is safe for the whole family. He’s the Jesus of pop evangelicalism, which offers little preparation for difficulty and hard times and offers little anchor for the coming cultural storms.

Which Jesus do you serve?

10. Legalist Jesus

Lastly, legalist Jesus is a Jesus who baptizes my traditions and preferences as orthodoxy.

Like the Pharisees, Legalist Jesus mixes prohibitions on grey matters with orthodoxy. This Jesus, scorned by some, is attractive to others because he offers a simple list of rules to live by, allowing his followers to ignore the daily practice of repentance and forgiveness and the Spirit’s sanctifying work and instead offers a checklist Christianity.

This is the Jesus of my youth — the Jesus who said I was okay as long as I listened to certain music and didn’t expose myself to certain movies. The problem with Legalist Jesus is that his gospel doesn’t save. It offers a lifeless religion that seeks outward transformation at the expense of inward renewal and grace. Only the real Christ, whose life, death, and resurrection offer personal and cosmic salvation, has the power to change lives and bring His people to Himself.

Which Jesus do you serve?

11. Socialist Jesus.

This is the Jesus of progressive social causes, who is anti-capitalist and has little relevance to personal salvation by faith. While it is true that the Kingdom means Good News for the poor, Christ’s coming wasn’t the first advent of a Karl Marx, but that of God’s eternal salvation and the inauguration of a New Covenant mediated through the life, death and Resurrection of Christ. The utopian dreams of socialism are trivial compared to the worldwide renewal promised by Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.

Which Jesus do you serve?

12. PC Jesus.

This is the politically correct Jesus of many of the well-meaning, progressive, liberal evangelicals.

The Jesus we are all tempted, at times, to embrace. He replaces the so-called angry God of the Old Testament with a mostly peaceful, healing, non-controversial Jesus of justice. He is far more likeable than the Apostle Paul, who just doesn’t seem to understand our twenty-first century social norms. This is the tolerant, ‘nice’ Jesus who loves unconditionally, appreciated by moral humanists.

There is only one problem with PC Jesus, He is unlike the Christ of Scripture, who loved us sacrificially and spoke of an “unbreakable Law”. His coming was not to abolish “one jot or tittle of the Law”, but “to fulfil the Law.” The real Jesus said controversial and demanding things about marriage, about hell, about repentance, judgement and His coming Kingdom.

Which Jesus do you serve?

Each of these Jesus figures offers a glimpse of the real Jesus, but by accentuating only some of His character, it keeps Christians from bowing in worship at the feet of the real Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world.

A version of Christianity that allows us to shape Jesus as we see fit seems attractive in the short run, but it can be a spiritual dead end. Instead, I find genuine joy not in the mascot, bobble-head Jesus of my imagination, but in surrendering my heart in worship and obedience to the original Jesus of Scripture.

1 John 5:20. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

That’s the Jesus I serve!

The Jesus I believe in is: Excerpt from http://www.ocf.org/ OrthodoxPage/ prayers/ creed.html

One Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made; being of one essence with the Father; by Whom all things were made; Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from the Heavens, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man; And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; And arose again on the third day according to the Scriptures; And ascended into the Heavens, and sits at the right hand of the Father; And shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; Whose Kingdom shall have no end.

Scripture says : Acts 4:12

There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Which Jesus do you serve?

Dr James Allan Francis, in an essay entitled ‘One Solitary Life’ (1926), wrote this of Him:

“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpentry shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never travelled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself...While still a young Man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen long centuries have come and gone and today He is a centrepiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One solitary life”.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http://www.lockman.org)




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