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8. Jesus - Saviour and Sovereign

Thoughts on my journey with Jesus.

Bible reading 2 Corinthians 11:1-4.

Paul and the false apostles I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one Husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the snake’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough”, (italics mine).

More than One Jesus? “A Jesus other than the Jesus we preached”. Does this mean there is more than one Jesus? The answer is both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. We need some spiritually careful discernment[1] based on some solid Bible definitions to distinguish what is true from what is false. I believe this discernment is the mark of maturity[2] in anyone’s Christian growth.[3] In the sower parable that our Lord Jesus told, He warned that not all who become Christians would progress on to Christian maturity, Luke 8:4-15, (one could argue mathematically that only 8% will). Answer ‘Yes’, there is only one Lord Jesus Christ. He was God expressing Himself as one Human Being known as Jesus, understandable by all other human beings, when “(God) the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”, John 1:14. In Bethlehem, Palestine, this God-Man Baby was humanly born, apparently to a faithful but fearful carpenter named Joseph, a little over 2,000 years ago. “ … an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins”, Matthew 1:20-21. The historical Jesus of the Bible and our Christianity was a real Person, born in actual calendar time, at a known place on our planet Earth. But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’”, Galatians 4:4-6.

Yet the answer to my question is also Answer ‘no’ because not every person with the name ‘Jesus’ is this same ‘Word Jesus’ of John 1:14. ‘Jesus’ is quite a common name among Middle eastern people, South Americans and others today. Gabriel Jesus is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a forward for the English Premier League champions Manchester City and for the Brazilian national team in this 2019/2020 season. Neither is the ‘Jesus’ who some preachers and some miracle prosperity workers preach. He is not the true and genuine ‘Jesus God incarnate’, ultimately from and for ‘out of this world’. The closer we get to the end of human time the more false teachers appear, exactly as our Lord Jesus warned us. “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. You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth-pains”. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”, Matthew 24:4-14, (italics mine). Notice the words our Lord Jesus used, “false” and “deceive”. ‘False’ may mean ‘incorrect, untrue or mistaken’. It may mean ‘artificial, but intended to look like the real thing is being used when something else, a substitute, actually is’. ‘To deceive’ means ‘to make someone believe something that is not true, usually in order to gain some personal advantage for yourself’. [4] Learn to be spiritually discerning Sadly there are men and women around Christian communities in South Sudan and even parts of Moslem Sudan today, - as there are around the world of course - who minister these ‘nearly Jesus’s’ as if they were preaching, promising and healing in the name of the true One and Only Son of God Jesus and His gospel. It is only the maturing Christians who can tell the difference, as God gives them the ability to discriminate the true Bible teaching, preaching and miracles from the plethora of false. Please my precious friend, I urge you, keep on learning to be spiritually discerning. I became a victim of fraud Last week, 18th June 2019, I realised I had become the victim of a fraud. Somebody making out that they were me, visited my bank on line (electronically) using a computer or mobile phone of some type. They somehow got all the correct details of the bank account where Brenda and I keep the monies that we raise from our supporters for the printing, publishing and distribution of our Juba books. Five times this person took around £45 from this account and transferred it away into their own ‘NOVEL.COM’ account somewhere in Europe. (I know the location because they stole our money in Euros not in UK£, and made us pay the charges!). This person did a very good job of impersonating me. He/she was word and number perfect in their dealings with my account at my bank. I only realised what was happening when carrying out my monthly account check. Foolishly I had not been careful enough doing the checks for a little while. Fortunately the bank immediately stopped this deceiver from doing it anymore and are currently working at getting our money back to us. We are thankful (to them and to God) because it could have been a lot more money in value that was stolen. One more Jesus – and so nearly genuine Why am I sharing this with you? To illustrate that ‘a fraud may use true facts, but for their own profit, not for their intended purpose. A fraudster is ‘someone who is not genuine and much less good than they claim to be’.[5] Christian sisters and brothers, be on constant look out for “a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached”, 2 Corinthians 11:4. Big differences are easy to spot, so we disciples of the real Jesus must learn to discern the vitally important little differences: · Does this other Jesus, and his messenger, seem to promise health and wealth in this world when the biblical Jesus focuses much more on heaven? · Does this other Jesus, and his messenger, require you to take Old Testament promises out of their context and drop them into 21st century life? · Does this other Jesus, and his messenger, live like the genuine Lord Jesus Who “had nowhere to lay His head”, Matthew 8:20, and Who “went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him”? Acts 10:38. · Does this other Jesus, and his messenger, live with the same attitudes and to the same standards as the true Jesus revealed in the four Gospels? For example check these five example Scriptures: 1. “Jesus looked at (the rich young ruler) and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ He said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me’”, Mark 10:21 (italics mine). 2. I do not accept glory from human beings”, John 5:41 (italics mine). 3. I am not seeking glory for Myself; but there is One Who seeks it, and He is the Judge”, John 8:50 (italics mine) . 4. “The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel round His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped round Him”, John 13:2-5 (italics mine) . 5. “I am among you as one who serves”, Luke 22:27(italics mine) . Lifestyles often say much about those who preach a false Jesus. And remember, you can hardly see the home lifestyles of people like me who visit your country from overseas. Therefore it is very difficult to test us. Do your best not to become a victim of a ‘spiritual Christian fraud’. Beware wrong uses of the Bible One last but important point on this issue. I read Psalm 91 in my devotions this morning. It contains the words Satan used to tempt our Lord Jesus from the top of the temple, Psalm 91:11-12; compared to Matthew 4:6. If You are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning You, and they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone’”. Cyril Okorocha comments well: “Because the devil can use Scripture for his own purposes, we must be aware of that danger… Jesus rejected this use of the psalm. He knew that God’s promise of protection is not intended to cover every foolish thing that a person may choose to do. We must understand that our lives are in God’s hands, but we cannot ‘control’ Him by using the cross or the Bible as a good luck charm”. Christians gain wonderful comfort and strength from Scriptures like a later verse in Psalm 91, where verse 15 says that God will be with us in trouble. He does not promise we will never have trouble! He may not pluck us out of our difficulties but He will be present in them. Keep your hand firmly in His.

Jesus is my Salvation – Yeshua is my Saviour We saw above that carpenter Joseph was told by God to give Mary’s baby the name Jesus. My predecessor as British director for Ambassadors for Christ wrote a book called ‘The Jesus I have come to know – also known as Yeshua’. In it he explains: “In some respects, it is unfortunate that we use the English transliteration (via the Greek) for the name of Jesus, because His Hebrew name Yeshua is much more meaningful and powerful. In the English language the name Jesus does not carry the depth of meaning (although it has become precious to those who have a personal relationship with Him). In Hebrew the name Yeshua means “Salvation” or “God saves” or “YHWH is salvation”. Matthew 1:21 says, “You are to give Him the name Jesus (insert Yeshua), because He will save His people from their sins”. In English, that verse does not carry any linguistic weight. But when you realise what is being said by applying the Hebrew, it carries significant meaning”. If I insert this meaning into our Matthew 1:21 text you will see what he means: “Joseph – You are to give this Baby the name Yeshua, ‘Salvation, God saves, YHWH is salvation’ because He will save His people from their sins”.[6] Simeon, the elderly prophet who blessed the holy family at Jesus’ circumcision in Jerusalem’s temple, had the baby Jesus in his arms when he said to God, “For my eyes have seen your salvation (Yeshua)”, Luke 2:30. Jesus is God’s salvation. Jesus is the salvation God has provided for every human being who will personally repent of their sin and trustingly commit themselves to Jesus-the-Son-of-God-Saviour for ever.

Discovering the True Jesus

“Jesus told His disciples, ‘You know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where You are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you really know Me, you will know My Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.’Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me? The words I say to you I do not speak on My own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work. Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves”, John 14:4-11, (italics mine). Among Jesus’ disciples it was Peter who made the first confession,[7] known as ‘the great confession’, when answering Jesus’ questions: “Who do people say that I, the Son of Man, am?” and then “Who do you say that I am?” See Matthew 16:13-17. His confession was, “You are the Messiah, (i.e. the Christ) the Son of the Living God”, verse 16. Christians must always know what they believe and Who they believe in, especially about the essentials of our Lord Jesus Christ and genuine Christianity. We must be able to ‘confess our faith’. After all it is a basic part of our witness to our Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour and our salvation, Romans 10:9-10. Jesus was sharing a meal with the disciples one evening in a place that had been prepared for them. In conversation He suddenly says, “I am going (away to My Father’s house) to prepare a place for you”, John 14:2. Then He promised to return and escort them to their reserved places there. Almost the only thing Jesus did not say was when this would happen.

The Only Way to the Father

R. C. Sproul is minister of preaching and teaching at St Andrew’s church, Sanford, Florida. In his commentary on John’s gospel he writes about 14:4-11: “I once took a college class that was taught by a woman who was openly hostile to the Christian faith. She never missed an opportunity to attack Christianity in her classroom, so I tried to melt into the woodwork to escape the arrows of her wrath. One day, however, she called me in front of the class. She said, “Mr Sproul, do you believe that Jesus is the only way to God?” I knew how she felt about any exclusive claims to Jesus, so I knew I was caught between a rock and a hard place. If I said what I believed, I would experience an avalanche of wrath from the instructor. But if I didn’t say what I believed, I would be guilty of nothing less than treason to the King of kings. I mumbled an answer, but she said, “What was that?” So I said: “Yes, ma’am. I do believe that Jesus is the only way to God”. She went into a paroxysm of rage that spilled out on me. She said, “That is the most narrow-minded, arrogant, bigoted thing I’ve ever heard a student say”. The rest of the class glared at me as she heaped her scorn on me.” “After the class, as I was walking out the door, she stopped me and said: “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be so hard on you. But I just can’t understand how anybody could be that narrow-minded”. I said to her: “Well, I hope you can understand my problem. I have been persuaded that Christ is the Son of God. I am a Christian. There’s nothing more foundational to Christianity than the confession that Jesus is the Son of God. Now if I believed that Jesus was the only way because He happened to be my way, and the unspoken premise of my logic was that anything R. C. Sproul believes must, by logical necessity, be the only true way to think, then I would agree with your assessment that that would be unspeakably arrogant, bigoted and narrow-minded. But I hope you understand why I believe Jesus is the only way. It is because Jesus said that He was the only way, and if I deny that, I deny Him”. [8] I believe what my Lord Jesus said as recorded in our Bibles. My ‘believe’ is an active word, describing my deliberate and personal committed trust. As long as Jesus my Saviour is welcome at the Father’s right hand of authority and power, I know I live or I die securely under His all-seeing eyes.

Positive narrow-mindedness

Since 2006 I have had several operations to take cancers out from my body. I have had 33 radiotherapy sessions designed to kill any traces of malignant cancers that escaped the surgeon’s knife. A targeted beam of high energy radiation focuses narrowly and specifically on the cancerous area. If the target is missed perfectly good and healthy body tissue will be destroyed by it. I know, because I have experienced this since 2009 after a second operation on my neck badly damaged my trigeminal nerve around the left side of my head, leaving me with awful pain which has had to be controlled by strong drugs and injections. If only the surgery and radiotherapy had been more specifically ‘narrow-minded’ I could have been spared all of that suffering! (Of course I know that the medical people did not err deliberately). For us now the lesson is to keep a firm but narrow hold in mind and heart on the truth about our Lord Jesus Christ. This will help us discern error from truth.

The Sole Jesus is the Sovereign[9]

The Great Commission our Lord gave to His disciples, including us, was:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”, Matthew 28:19-20.

As we obediently follow His will for our lives, Jesus has “promised that such a ministry would result in people leaving their other religions in order to follow Him”. Our Lord’s clear command is at variance with the dominant spirit of pluralism in many postmodern institutions. Pluralism makes the false assertion that “No ideology can claim to possess absolute truth; all the religions are more or less equals in the universe of faiths”. “Their main objection is to the Christian claim to have the only ultimate truth”.[10] Sadly many so-called Christian institutions teach this, so beware! You have been warned. It is ‘another Jesus’.

My Christian faith stands squarely on the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus Christ. My 50 year ministry has preached and taught this unique Lord Jesus Christ in the middle of, and in spite of, the pluralistic world in which we live. Other people believe there may be a multiplicity of ‘ultimate beings’, or a variety of ways to reach one or many of them. I do not. My Christianity rests firmly on the facts revealed about the Lord Jesus Christ. He is God Himself, having been One with God from everlasting past, then supernaturally disclosed to humanity when born as Jesus of Nazareth.

Between His return home from the temple visit as a baby and starting His ministry in Galilee, about eighteen years passed for Jesus:

“And the child grew and became strong; He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on Him…

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness…

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through the whole countryside”, Luke 2:40 and 4:1,14.

The above are all facts told us by God in the Bible. The following are well-researched ‘best-guesses’ from a book I read at Christmas 2018:

‘Almost certainly the growing young Jesus worked as a builder/carpenter in the daytime and then discussed with the local ‘haberim’ (friends) of an evening. They were part of a

lay movement of ‘Friends’, serious-minded Jews who examined their Torah together after work and made suggested applications of this law to their everyday lives.[11] Our Lord Jesus shows His skills in this rabbinic style of debate during His ministry’,[12] see at least six examples in Matthew 5:21-48, usually beginning something like: “You have heard that it was said … but I tell you …”, compare verses 21-22, 27-28, 31-32, 33-35, 38-42, 43-45.

God sovereignly prepared His own Son Jesus for His future ministry, just like He has prepared you and me for ours. We want a good education for our children as they grow up. So did He. God has always known what He will do in the course of worldwide human history and in each individual personal life too. He still knows today, and is planning His use of big international events and even little old you and me . How wonderful is that?

Choose the side of the Sovereign Lord

Simeon used the words “Sovereign Lord” in his temple prayer, Luke 2:29. He was speaking to God the Father in Heaven. He had seen God fulfil His promise by providing the Saviour Jesus, who was cradled in Simeon’s arms. The early Christian believers with Peter and John began their prayer after they were intimidated by the chief priests and elders, Acts 4:24, using those same words. They had had to choose between obeying their Lord Jesus’ Great Commission and knowing His ‘absent presence’ with them, or stopping speaking about Jesus because of the orders of the ruling Jewish council, the Sanhedrin. They had made their choice clear a little earlier:

“Then they (the Sanhedrin) called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, ‘Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to Him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard”, Acts 4:18-20 (italics mine).

This stand that they took arose from their clear and concise, theological and gospel beliefs. That is always the way it works. When you know what you believe, your life will show what you believe. Earlier still they had witnessed:

“Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone’. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved”, Acts 4:11-12 (italics mine).

Worshipful theology helps us in our living praise expressed often to the only true God. I unreservedly believe that our Sovereign God became a sinless Human Being while He remained the unchanging Triune God. “Jesus is the exact duplicate of the nature (or being, Gk. hypostasis) of God, making Him exactly equal to God in every attribute. Moreover, He continually upholds the universe “by His word of power”, something that only God can do”.[13] Jesus is the Son of God. Our Jesus is God the Son.

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”, Hebrews 1:3.

“Jesus Christ is God and man. This is the Jesus the church is to proclaim to a needy and dying world. This Jesus the church is to keep before God’s people in order that each one may be presented mature in Christ, Colossians 1:28. This is the real Jesus …”[14] (italics mine).

The Lord Jesus Christ sovereignly was (and is) the crystal clear Image of God; sovereignly Man as God always intended mankind to be. Sin has meant that since Adam and Eve chose to separate from God we humans can only by ourselves show a corrupted image of the One majestic and mysterious Almighty God, the Holy Trinity. Jesus visited us, as we have seen above. He came to remake our distorted image of God into its original God-given glory. He did so by completely dealing with all of mankind’s sin over the centuries through His death on His cross. We were “created to reflect God’s glory – indeed, to be like Him in all ways appropriate for human beings, male and female, to imitate God”.[15] Now, in Jesus Christ, we can do so once again. And one day in Heaven we Christian believers will all be like Him!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen!

Believer, since you say Jesus is your Saviour, your salvation and your sovereign, I want to pray for you:

Lord God of all heaven and earth, keep your servant firm and strong in his or her understanding of You.

May all people he or she daily lives among see our Lord Jesus

Christ more and more, in your servant’s Christian attitudes, actions and hear Him in his or her words.

May those people soon come to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord too.

I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen’.

Will you say ‘Amen’ too, as you pray for yourself and for me?

Discussion guide

1. Share examples you have seen, heard or read, when folk have preached or taught “a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached”, 2 Corinthians 11:4. What was the particular ‘give away point’?

2. Suggest Bible ways to help a young Christian become more and more spiritually discerning. Consider my thoughts under the heading ‘One more Jesus – and so nearly genuine’ in this chapter.

3. Think about the Scripture Satan quoted at Jesus in Matthew 4:6.If You are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning You, and they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Satan used Psalm 91:11-12. Why did Satan try to get our Lord Jesus to do this? There are several reasons I can think of.

4. How might Satan or his friends (should I say ‘fiends’?) attack you similarly? What is your best defence – always? See what Jesus did every time in Matthew 4. Memorise Psalm 119:11, and if you’re in a group, test one another!

5. Spend time recalling all you can of what the Bible says about our sovereign Lord Jesus Christ. You may start with Hebrews 1:3.

End notes: [1] ‘Discernment’ is having keen perception or judgement; the ability to discriminate which things of any particular kind are good and which are bad. [2] If you describe a Christian as ‘mature’, you think that they are well developed, balanced in their personality, emotions and behaviour, showing good understanding by applying the Bible in all actions of their daily life under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. [3] See ‘mature’ in NIV Luke 8:14; 1 Corinthians 2:6; Ephesians 4:13, 4:15; Philippians 3:15; Colossians 1:28, 4:12; Hebrews 5:14 and James 1:4. [4] [5] [6] Fraser Harding The Jesus I have Come to Know (Gawler Publishing: Runaway Bay, Queensland) 2014, page 8. [7] Among several English meanings, confession here means ‘you publicly tell people that this is what you believe or feel’. [8] R. C. Sproul John - St Andrew’s expositional commentary (Reformation Trust Publishing: Lake Mary, FL.) 2009, pages 262-263. [9] This spelling of ‘sole’ means ‘only’. [10] Ajith Fernando Acts NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI) 1998, page 59. [11] In the Jewish religion, the Torah is the first five books of the Old Testament of the

Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, regarded collectively. Reading them it is good to remember you are reading your Lord Jesus’ ‘bible’. [12] Kenneth Bailey Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes (S.P.C.K.: London) 2008, page 147. [13] Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology an introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester) 1994, page 547. [14] Stephen Clark The Forgotten Christ (Apollos/Affinity, IVP :Nottingham) 2007, page 9. [15] D. A. Carson Jesus the Son of God (Inter-Varsity Press: Nottingham) 2012, page 29.


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