Letter to Christians in Rome: Chapter 9 (pt 5 of 13)

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Back in 2006, Steve Camp wrote on his blog:

A Boy Named “Sue”
Christians suing Christians, the latest shame in evangelicalism

Where the love of self and the love money traverse; and distrusting the sovereignty of God in one’s personal affairs is condoned
.


“There is a disturbing, growing trend emerging in evangelicalism today: Christians suing other Christians. The list of reasons is immense by those who erroneously rationalize an eisegetical [which is a personal interpretation of the Bible using your own ideas] justification for this unbiblical, self-protectionism, money driven practice: intellectual property rights; creative control; garnering past royalties; counteracting slander/malice/gossip; the loss of financial donors; etc. Some practice this with such alacrity and efficiency that they have made suing fellow Christians a spiritual gift.

What is grossly unfortunate is that this is being condoned and practiced under the guise of ‘protecting the Lord’s work.’ Skubalon!

People have heard of the Jesus of Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert—the Jesus who obviously sees no problem with these individuals lining their pockets at the expense of others. They have heard of the Jesus preached by the televangelists—the Jesus who is more concerned with the outward appearance than in the inner qualities of Christian character and integrity of life. They have also heard of the Jesus of the liberal church—the Jesus who is politically correct and is more concerned with affirming people’s lifestyles, however sinful and corrupt, than in the truth and tough love. So, just who are you talking about when you mention Jesus?

It should be obvious that it is vitally important to understand just who Jesus was and is. Your view of Jesus and understanding of him determines your response to him.

In Matthew 16, we find that Jesus had drawn his disciples apart for rest, reflection, and instruction. Jesus was never one to waste even a moment, and often he turned these times of rest into times of spiritual instruction. This time they may have been sitting around a campfire, and Jesus posed a very important question: “Who do people say that I am?”

The question of what people said, what they actually believed about Him was the pertinent question then, but it is also a relevant question today. As we have already indicated, many people really do not know who Jesus is. However, who He is continues to be the key issue.

In response to that question, His disciples told him what others were saying about him. Some people were saying that he was John the Baptist. Maybe they were referring to Jesus’ powerful and relevant preaching. Maybe they were referring to Jesus’ fearlessness in front of the religious leaders. Other people were saying that Jesus was Elijah, the prophet. The Jews waited for the return of Elijah. Even today, during Passover, they set a place for Elijah at the table. The return of Elijah was to precede the Messianic Age. Still others thought Jesus was Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. They knew he was a significant prophetic voice. They had seen him perform miracles. They knew he had an emphasis on speaking the Word of God. So, there were all kinds of ideas of just who he really was.

There was a lot of difference of opinion then, and there still is today. In fact, today the opinions are even more varied. One person describes him as a Jewish Yogi:

Jesus was a Jewish Yogi and a great teacher who believed that the church was corrupt and unnecessary. He used the Jewish prophecies known to all during his time to become the messiah and in doing so angered the church (purposefully) which he was fighting against. I believe he was crucified and that he came back to life, climbed the Himalayas (ascended into heaven), and lived the remainder of his life in East Asia. I believe that the modern story of Jesus was rewritten to create the exact opposite of what he believed in; creating an even more corrupt church, causing wars (from the crusades to Iraq) and causing millions of deaths in his name.

Well, that is one thought, but there are still others. Some opinions typical of our day make Jesus a great figure of history, but less than God the Son. Some see Jesus as a great man. Some people like to believe that Jesus was a human who had obtained a high degree of spirituality—such as that Jewish Yogi. They believe that Jesus lived on a higher plane than most of us in terms of his integrity, honesty, ethics, morality, and personal character. They see him as being a good and great man. However, while good and great, he was just a man (An extraordinary man, to be sure), but just a man. Was Jesus just a great and good man?

Others see Jesus as a great teacher. Indeed, Jesus has been described as the greatest teacher to ever live. This is no doubt true, but this opinion still makes Jesus less than God the Son. A person can be a great teacher, someone who inspires learning in the highest sense, someone who challenges people to change their lives, but still be only a man. Jesus was undoubtedly a great teacher, but was that the extent of his significance? Is he simply on the same level as or a little higher than Socrates and Aristotle? Is that it?

Equally popular is the notion that Jesus was a prophet or a great religious leader. Like Confucius, Mohammed, or Buddha, Jesus developed a religious following and a system of religious teaching. However, is Jesus just another significant religious leader or prophetic voice? Is he more than Mohammed, more than Confucius, more than Buddha?

Now, the question we need to be concerned with should not be what people are saying, but what God is saying. What does God say about Jesus? What has he revealed in his word? In Romans 9:5, we read: “. . . Christ, who is God over all.” This is what God says.

This is a powerful and strong statement. Nevertheless, it is the truth about Jesus. He was more than merely a man, even a good and great man. He was and is God. We speak of the triune God as God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit.

In fact, Jesus himself claimed to be God. In Mark 14:61-64 we read, “But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ Jesus said. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked. ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’” There was no doubt in this High Priest’s mind that Jesus had made himself out to be God the Son. Jesus claimed to be much more than merely a man.

Another time, people were picking up rocks to stone him to death. Jesus said to them, “‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’” (John 10:32-33)

In John 14:6, we read, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” Jesus made bold claims for himself. He claimed to be God the Son. He also claimed to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He did not claim to be “a way, but “the” Way. He did not claim to be “a truth, but “the” Truth. He did not claim to be “a life, but “the” Life. Further, he claimed that he was the “only” way of access to God the Father. This is what Jesus claimed for Himself.

If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome

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