Thursday, 8 March 2018

A saving faith in a saving God: Yeshuah/Jesus

Why does it have to be Jesus? "There are so many other teachers of truth surely? Isn't it pathetic to hark back two thousand years ago when everything else has developed far beyond the primitive world view of the first century Jews and Romans and Greeks? There are many ways to find god, you are mad to claim to know the truth when truths are so many. If anything can be true in a universe that has been proven to be relative. You are stupid in maintaining that Jesus lived and was what we are told, it is all fake news that you hold on to."

These and many other such responses come from people with whom you share your belief in Christ. They will amiably chat about everything from knitting yarn to politics, from carburettors to milkshakes, from soap operas to the latest Come dancing scandals, but when the topic turns to Jesus Christ, i. e. the one and only reason for the hope that is in us, then there are suddenly awkward birds on the wire. Now and then we get an interested responder who genuinely wants to know, but most often all kinds of protests are made along the lines above. What we do believe is really not comme il faut in our contemporary mindset. We appear to many as archaic draggers of feet, fossilized anachronisms, who have not managed to catch on to the news of the day.

There is something totally disdainful in our confessing Christ in the eyes of many. It stirs up a plethora of emotions and scepticism and downright frostiness in the relationship to the world around. So we are silenced at times because the very reactions bring us to our knees and  the rejection of our testimony feels like a rejection of ourselves. And we like to be liked. We can well understand how the modern 'seeker friendly' gospels preached have such a great following, they never affront anybody and give people what they want, or so it seems. Are they getting what they need, we may ask? Well that is no longer for us to wonder about, because each man is the only one who knows what he needs, and we have no business to say otherwise.

So the saviours preached are to each man what he wants and therefore nobody can say "this is the Messiah, and this only". The very exclusiveness of the claims of Christ as recorded in the bible are rejected as being elitist and exclusive. How hateful isn't that!  And when it is enclosed in a 'sine qua non' follow-up then things can get really ugly. "You are such a bigot, you claim to know what God wants from us! And who are you to talk, look at all your failings. How judgmental you are! God is only love, he never judges anybody!" Any hint of a demand for repentance before reconciliation is poo pooed, any smattering of "you must be born again" is met with blank denial that there is anything really wrong with us except a little ignorance. Anything that remotely sounds as you must become as children is considered contrary to the great human spirit.

So why insist on Jesus Christ being what he claimed to be?  Why keep on getting bad vibes from people when you could be getting all smiles with a less provocative statement? Alluring question, is it not? Why chase people out of church with the cross of Christ when you could fill it with "the unconditional love of God?"

Indeed why?  

Some good reasons why:

1. Unless what Jesus did and said was true then there is no such thing as either faith in God or a church to go to. Unless what has been reported about him in the holy scriptures is reliable fact then we have no cause for anything called christian faith and all its derivatives called "christian churches". 

Christendom has very little to do with what Christ calls faith as recorded in the bible. In fact the very existence of Christendom is the most effective way of hiding Christ from the world. People who are believers are that not because of the churches, but because they in simplicity and humility accepted the offer that God made through Christ. That happens where ever a human being means business with God. In or out of churches.

2 A saving faith is only a meaningful concept to a lost and faithless human. Without an acute understanding of the need for salvation  no Saviour is needed. But to reduce Jesus to be only Lord in some sense (a Lordship carefully monitored by the would be powers in the world and churches alike) and to deprive Him of the main reason for coming: "To seek and to save what was lost" is to tell  less than a half truth, and by definition it is then a whole lie. If nobody is lost in a biblically defined sense then there is no need for salvation. Obviously not. But Christ came to give his life as a ransom for many, a ransom without which they would remain lost for ever. 

The record shows that were soever Christ went people saw themselves as unclean and sinners, demons yelled confessions of his true status and begged him not to torment them before the appointed time. Where the fact of his death on the cross was preached there he caused a mighty upheaval in the souls of men and women alike and they shouted: "what must we do to be saved?" Are we then surprised when our mention of Christ stirs up anger? "We are not slaves, we are free!" Christ came to release the captives, but they may not like to be told that they have been the servants of God's enemy! The slave mentality functions best when they believe their slavery to be their freedom. And not seeing the need for salvation they keep on being willing to stay as they are rather than set out a long journey into the unknown. By faith in the guide!!

3 Jesus the Christ claimed to be the only way to the Father. As no other ways are offered it seems wise to tread that only. But why go towards the Father? Who is he? God is One we are told. In what sense is it then likely that the ways to God must be many? Oh for sure, every human must walk towards God on his or her own two feet, or shuffle on their underarms and bottom, or which ever way necessary, but irrespective of the manner of motion towards God they all come to the same gate. "I am the door into the fold" "I am the true shepherd." "No man comes to the Father but by me." It is a non-negotiable statement made by Him who is the door. And at that the only one.

Dare you call this a bluff, and will you call it?  Will you say, nay I can't imagine a loving God making such a  narrow door? What of all who have not a chance of knowing about Him? I turn the question against you: there is not only a door, but also a road to it: "I am the way, the truth and the life." By what fiendish imagination do you demand another and different and shorter or better? What can you find to improve on a manner of approach that The Only True and Wise God has defined and proclaimed? Are you God's counsellor? Have you been invited to advise God on the issue?  The way God made is simple, it demands that you become like a child before the Father, and that the one way of being well received by that same Father is to come as a lost child yearning for home. You do not negotiate better terms when you are offered salvation. It would be like being caught in a blizzard on an alpine rock wall and only accept rescue from a troupe of clowns from a circus.

Only when you come to yourself will you realize what you have lost and what you still may find if you go back to the Father, and to do so  you cannot bypass His son Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus is central and crucial.

4 "The words that I speak to you are spirit and life".  Existing and living are two different things. Exist we do because we are living souls, as vital as any cabbage, ox or butterfly, but neither any more and as unconcerned about eternity. Living comes in when you have been given the life quality of Him who is a life-giving Spirit. And it is  His word that creates that life in you in exchange for your existence as a egotist self. He gives himself to you. No part exchange. You have no genuine spiritual being until the Holy Spirit of God has been given to you. But that Spirit is the Gift of Christ to you, in order that Christ himself might live in and through you. Being a christian is not the mere acceptance of a statement of faith. It is accepting for yourself Him who is the one in whom you believe. Without the presence of Christ in a human, there is no rightful claim to be a christian.  The sole object of Faith is Christ.

5 The one and final arbiter of how we have lived and spoken is  Christ. "For the father judges no man. He has given over all judgment to the Son, ..He has given all judgment to the Son because he is the Son of man."  There is therefore no condemnation for them who are in Christ." "This is the judgement that they do not believe in Him whom God has sent." "For every idle word that men speak will be brought to account on the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned." These are the words of the gospels and the apostles who were with Jesus for three years. It takes a brave man to ignore Jesus Christ. And also a very very foolish one.

6 "We preach not ourselves, but Christ crucified and ourselves as servants for His sake." "The preaching of the cross is a folly to those who prefer to be lost, but it is like a welcome aroma to those who see their need for salvation." The one factor that nerves the christian ministry is the cross of Christ. Removing the cross is the same as removing the one stumbling block that brings men to their knees. And it is in vogue in our time to let people come into the church without the cross as a reality in their understanding of  what the cost has been to the Lord and Saviour to thus open the gates for all to come in. The cross has been ignored in many a way and the effects of it is also missing. 

The cross is not just the place of the death of Christ on our behalf it is also the point at which God reconciled the world to Himself. There He who had no sins of his own to pay for payed for ours, all of ours, that whosoever will look up to Him on the cross also will be drawn to Him and raised up from having stumbled onto their faces. "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to me"  When there is no longer a proclamation of the mystery of the work on the cross, then another gospel is preached than that given by Christ to his disciples. And another gospel can no longer do what the preaching of Christ is called to do.

When Christ is no longer lifted up so that he draws all men to him, then he will be dragged down to the cheap common level of men and be used for their ends.

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" That word is once and for all given to all the saints and is contained in that which we call the bible. So as truly as Euclides discovered some fundamental mathematical principles in the field of geometry, long before our time, but his findings are virtually identical to what we know today, and needed never to be improved upon, so the eternal principal teachings of and about Christ have been truly handed down to us.

The choice is ours

We have one choice to make: look at the things that scripture claims about Him, address Him personally, and then accept what is said and thereby become part of what He came to do, or study and deny Him and accept the loss of all that He is. But don't play games with the message. Like no other it has eternal consequences. If you reject Euclidian principles in geometry the only things that suffer will be some buildings on earth. Ignore the Bible and the message of Christ, and you will be naked before the throne of God and have no eternal home to go to. And while you live as they did in the days of Noah, eating drinking and playing all day long constantly on the chase for new temporary satisfactions, you will lay up for yourself no treasures in Heaven at all.

"This is eternal life, that they know you, Heavenly Father, and Him whom you have sent". And no, before you say that you are not interested in everlasting life, I must tell you that eternal life is not about time at all, but about quality of life now. Available in Christ Jesus  Alone. And now.

So tell me: how could I deliberately bypass all this on the spurs of becoming popular? Do you truly expect me to be quiet when I know all this about the Messiah, the Christ and Lord. And what better offer can you make? 

True, for the sake of Christ there are lots of things we can well do without. And we will seem unsuccessful and impoverished and living on a shoestring and never really landing in this world of vain emptiness. You see, we have been made for eternity, and will never be satisfied until the eternal becomes the core of our temporal being.

He is eternally The son of God and the Son of man. We are expecting Him back to earth to gather those who love him. Maybe soon.. maybe later, no matter, we wait.

Teddy Donobauer, Doncaster  February 8th 2018

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