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Christology

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Jesus teaches
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In today’s Bible reading, Jesus highlight the importance of knowing and being known by Jesus. (John 10:14-16; John 10:25-29) In fact, in light of eternity, knowing Him is the most important thing for you to do.

I’m not talking about going to church. I’m not talking about praying a prayer. I’m not talking about being baptized. I’m not talking about any of those things. I’m simply asking if you know Jesus.

And when I ask the question, the first response is probably, “Which Jesus?” The religions and cults have their opinions of Jesus. And all of them distort the Jesus as the Bible presents Him. So they don’t know Jesus. Many Church-goers don’t even know Jesus as the Bible presents Him.

Perhaps you believe in Jesus. But how do you know if you have the right one? Johanna Michaelson said she believed in Jesus; he was her occult spirit guide. But obviously, her Jesus wasn’t the Jesus of the Bible.

As I pointed out a couple of days ago, the Jesus of the Bible isn’t a “feel-good” Jesus, a peaceful Jesus, a grace-only Jesus. No, those pictures of Jesus are incomplete distortions of the Jesus as presented in the Bible. The Bible also presents a divisive Jesus, a righteous Jesus, a Jesus Who doesn’t want you to stay the same way as you are when you first come to Him. He is a transforming Jesus.

Application

When you think of Jesus, are all of your thoughts positive, feel-good thoughts? Or does He make you feel a little uncomfortable?

When you cross over to the other side of eternity, the only question you’ll be asked is, “What did you do with Jesus?” Did you ignore Him? Did you give all of who you are to Him and His work? (Matthew 6:33) Did you think you knew Him? Or did you really know Him?

Having the right Jesus is paramount! Don’t settle for substitutes!

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Today’s Bible reading includes a familiar passage where a woman is brought to Jesus who was caught in the act of adultery. (John 8:4) Jesus tells the Jewish leaders to go ahead and stone her, with the condition that the first one to throw the first rock must be completely innocent. The accusers walk away, and Jesus tells her that He doesn’t condemn her. End of story. Right?

There are several things I need to highlight here. Yes, the Jewish Law prescribed death by stoning for those guilty of adultery. (Leviticus 20:10) Note that the death penalty was for both of the partners committing adultery. Where was her partner? Did they let the man go? And what were these Jewish leaders doing when the act was being committed? Where were they? How did they know?

Second, her accusers left her alone with Jesus Who tells her that He didn’t condemn her. But He didn’t just leave it there. He says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” John 8:11 (CSB)

In telling her He doesn’t condemn her and letting her go, Jesus never condones the woman’s sin. Never. Instead, He uses the situation as a teachable moment for the woman. And for us. Instead of sentencing the woman to death and participating in her execution (as He was obligated to do under the Law), Jesus extends grace and mercy, demonstrating that there is more to dealing with sin than serving as judge, jury, and executioner. God offers a clean slate and an opportunity to start over.

Application

None of us is the judge, jury, and executioner. As Believers and representers of Jesus Christ, we are to help bring about restoration to the brokenhearted. Restoration and rehabilitation is a big deal in the Kingdom of God. But a big problem with bringing restoration and rehabilitation is that as long as the person hasn’t dealt with their sin, there can be no restoration. There can be no rehabilitation.

Look at how Jesus dealt with the self-righteous religious leaders. Look at how Paul dealt with self-righteousness individuals in the early chapters of Romans. Neither Jesus nor Paul swept sin under the rug. Both men dealt with sin head-on. And when the people recognized their sin, both men were there with an extended hand to help the repentant sinner to “go and sin no more.”

All of us are guilty of sin. I don’t know what sins you are guilty of. The reason we sin is because we’re sinners. But have you dealt with your sin condition? Have you taken the First Step (admit that you have a problem)?

God offers peace with Himself, forgiveness, and restoration as we deal with our sin, and not a moment sooner. That’s the very purpose of the Law: to expose our sin and our hopeless condition. But we don’t get to experience the Good News until we’ve dealt with the Bad News.

Don’t cheapen grace! Deal with sin as soon as God reveals it to you. Then, repent of your sin and trust Him to empower you to “go and sin no more.”

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Jesus
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In today’s Bible reading, John makes a stunning observation. “So the crowd was divided because of him.” John 7:43 (CSB) John wins the title, “Captain Obvious” for this one!

Many today will say that Christians need to be more like Jesus: more peaceful, more inclusive, less judgmental, and less divisive.

“Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” Matthew 10:34–36 (CSB)

It’s as if the ones telling Christians to “be more like Jesus” don’t know Who Jesus really is. Sometimes I just have to scratch my head and wonder if these people have ever read the Bible!

If you read the “Fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23, you’ll see character qualities that everyone can admire. Yes, Jesus was the embodiment of all of these things. And He was more. So much more!

We don’t get to take a trip down the Bible Buffet Line, picking and choosing what we like and disregarding what we dislike. No, we can either take the Jesus presented in the Bible, or reject Him outright.

Application

By His very nature, Jesus is divisive. He is God. And God is divisive! God is very divisive.

And we must choose. We must choose, not which parts of Jesus we want, or which version of Jesus we want, but whether or not we really want the Jesus Who’s is revealed in the Bible. The whole Bible.

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We begin reading John’s Gospel in today’s Bible reading. The beginning of John reads like the beginning of Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” John says, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God … The word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:1, 14)

Think about that for a second: The word was God. The word became flesh and dwelt among us. God became flesh. John says, “God lived among us in the flesh.” “God walked with us.”

John makes no apologies. He doesn’t brag. But he just puts it out there: God walked with us.

That is a tremendous truth claim. No other religion dares to make such a claim. None. And it either happened, or it didn’t.

If it’s true that God — the Creator of the universe, the Creator of all that is — showed up on a planet He created — this planet — and walked around among His creation, that’s a pretty big deal. And like I said, no other religion has dared to make such a claim. All the others — Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, Shintoism, Hinduism — have important teachings, but none features a teacher who makes the kinds of claims that Jesus or His followers made.

Application

What kind of God would visit His creation? What does it say about a God Who would visit His creation? What are some of the repercussions of a creation-visiting God? What difference would it make on your life if it’s true?

(Pssst… it IS TRUE!)

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Sales

Did you know that the antichrist is already here? John says he’s already in the world. And he wrote that during the last half of the First Century.

John begins 1 John 4 in today’s Bible reading with a warning to test the Spirits. (1 John 4:1) So how do you know which spirits to believe? John answers that question for us.

This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming; even now it is already in the world. (1 John 4:2-3 (CSB)

One scholar says, “To test the spirits is ‘Put them to the acid test of truth as the metallurgist does his metals. If it stands the test like a coin, it is acceptable , 2 Cor. 10:18), otherwise it is rejected.'”[1]

It’s so easy to turn on the TV to a “Christian” program, or tune into a “Christian” radio station and hear all kinds of teachings from all kinds of Bible teachers. And not all of the Bible teachers are teaching Biblically-sound teachings. Oh, they may quote the Bible. They may throw around some Greek or Hebrew words. But how do you know if what you’re hearing is right?

The early church struggled with this question. The Apostles’ warnings are laid out in their letters to the young churches and their leaders. And back then, there was a higher level of accountability than there is today. Back then, all you’d have to do is call out the false teachers in a letter and the local pastors confronted them. But today with 24/7 “Christian” TV and radio — not to mention the Internet — there is little to no accountability of the false teachers and their false teachings. Don’t believe me? Call the teacher/preacher/writer and ask the receptionist to let you speak with him/her. Trust me, you won’t be able to talk with him/her. They have more important things to do.

Application

Regardless of the times and the technology, each of us is responsible to make sure that the preachers/teachers/writers we learn from are teaching consistently with the Bible. And that means Believers must test the spirits for themselves. Your pastor can help to point you in the right direction. And that’s one very good reason to be plugged into a good, Bible-believing church. But even your pastor may not know if a particular preacher/teacher/writer is teaching God’s Word legitimately.

Applying John’s counsel, look at what the Bible teacher/preacher/writer says about Jesus. Is the Jesus he/she teaches the Jesus revealed in the Bible? Just talking about “Jesus” doesn’t mean it’s the Jesus of the Bible. What does the teacher/preacher/writer have to say about the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Does what he/she say line up with all of Scripture? Does he/she say that God’s Word is our ultimate authority on Who Jesus is? Does listening to him/her make you feel uncomfortable about sin? Does listening to him/her make you want to live more of a God-centered life?

Yes, it’s very important to put Bible teachers/preachers/writers to the acid test. And just because they passed the test ten years ago doesn’t necessarily mean they would pass the test today. Don’t let down your guard. Your walk with Jesus is impacted by who you watch, listen to, and read. Be careful. Test the spirits.

[1] Robertson, A.T. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933. Print.

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