Know Your Bible

VOL. 7                           June 15, 2008                           NO. 21

Preaching Another Jesus

    Paul warned early Christians some were preaching "another Jesus whom we have not preached" (2 Cor. 11:2-4). Today many are not preaching the whole truth from God's word concerning Jesus. Please consider how some are preaching "another Jesus" today.

1) Preach the baby Jesus without the Lord Jesus. Many pay homage to a Jesus that remains a plastic baby. He never speaks, he never acts, he never commands, he never demands, he remains passive and silent. This is the kind of Jesus they desire to "serve". The real Jesus did not remain a baby in a manger. He grew up, taught us the truth, was crucified for our sins, ascended into heaven and was given "all authority" (Mt. 28:20) as "both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). We must confess and obey this Jesus to be saved! (Phil. 2:9-12; Heb. 5:9)

2) Preach the compassionate Jesus without the angry Jesus. Jesus was the ultimate exampleof compassion (Mt. 14:14). But some serve a Jesus who never gets upset and angry. This is not the Jesus of the Bible. The real Jesus was angry at wickedness, sin, false teachers and their doctrines! On one occasion when dealing with wicked people it is said He "looked around at them with anger" (Mk. 3:5). On another, his disciples remarked that "the Pharisees were offended" (Mt. 15:12) by what Jesus said. On another, He was angry enough to call people "Hypocrites!", "blind guides", "Fools", "whitewashed tombs", "Serpents, brood of vipers" (Mt. 23).

3) Preach the tolerant Jesus without the strict Jesus. Many view Jesus as ever tolerant of anybody and anything. The Jesus of the Bible showed great patience, but He never gave unquestioning acceptance! Jesus said, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Mt. 7:13,14) He also said (Mt. 7:21-23) that religion alone, regardless of how sincere, will not save us! But, we must do the will of His "Father in heaven", otherwise on the day of judgment He will say to us, "I never knew you; depart from Me" (Mt. 7:23). Not presenting this aspect of Jesus is to preach "another Jesus"!

4) Preach the saving Jesus without the judging Jesus. Many people only want to know a Jesus who saves (Jn. 3:16). Undoubtedly the news of salvation is the most wonderful news ever heard. But, the real Jesus is not just a Savior, He will one day also be our judge. Paul said, "the Lord Jesus Christ...will judge the living and the dead at His appearing" (2 Tim. 4:1) and "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2 Cor. 5:10) Is it any wonder then that in view of this Paul said, "Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men"? (2 Cor 5:11)

    Are you persuaded to be a faithful Christian obedient to Christ? You should be! What Jesus do you serve?

—Craig V. Thomas

Who Is My Minister?

    Without a doubt, there is a lot of confusion in the religious world today about what a minister is and what a minister does. Most folks equate being a minister with being a preacher. And while preachers are ministers, it is entirely incorrect to reserve the term minister exclusively for preachers. Actually, the word minister as it occurs in many English translations of the Bible simply refers to one who is a servant or to the act of performing a service.

    As we attempt to identify who the minister is, it might be helpful to consider the different ways ministers may be described. Ministers are described with respect to who they work for, the work they do, or who their work benefits. To illustrate, consider how we might describe a waitress in a restaurant. She works for the restaurant, so she is a minister of Quincy’s or Shoney’s or whatever. She serves food, so she is a minister of food. Her service benefits the costumers, so she is a minister to the customers.

    These three views of ministering can be seen in the service of the apostle Paul. He was a minister of Christ because he was working for Christ (1 Corinthians 4:1). He was a minister of the gospel because he preached (served) the gospel (Acts 26:16; Ephesians 3:6-7; Colossians 1:23). He was a minister to Gentiles because they had received the benefits of his preaching and been added to the church (Colossians 1:24-25). All three of these descriptions of Paul’s ministry are found in Romans 15:16, where Paul says that God’s grace was given to him so that he, "might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God…"

    In Ephesians 4:11-12 we learn that God intends for the saints who make up the church to be equipped for the "work of ministry." All Christians are ministers of God, in that we work for Him (cf. Hebrews 9:14). We all should use whatever God has given us to benefit others; as Peter says, "If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies." (1 Peter 4:11). Our ministry should focus particularly on fellow Christians – the work of ministering to the saints is especially commended in Scripture (1 Corinthians 16:15; Hebrews 6:10).

    So, who is the minister? Surprise, Surprise! YOU ARE. Or, at least you should be.

    On one occasion a man asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?"(Luke 10:29). Jesus answered by telling the story of the good Samaritan, the point of which was to teach that we should be more concerned about BEING a good neighbor ourselves than about HAVING good neighbors around us. The question of concern should not have been "Who is my neighbor?" It should have been, "To whom can I be a neighbor?" The point being made in this article is much the same. The question "Who is my minister?" should not concern us nearly so much as the question "To whom can I be a minister?" Whom can I serve, and how may I serve them?  

---Steve Klein

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Which is Easier?

    Four couples were sitting around the table discussing humorous things that have happened during their marriage. One brother told of buying a boat and not telling his wife for several months. He said after some rough days that she finally forgave him and began to cook again. He said that his philosophy is "It is easier to get forgiveness than permission."

    Many seem to be living by this philosophy. Instead of being concerned about permission, they bank on being forgiven. Many young people ignore the wishes of their parents and, when they get "caught," they cry, "I'm sorry." They might get a few weeks of being grounded. But why worry about permission when one can be forgiven?

    I am not seeking to vilify forgiveness, because without it we are all lost. But the possibility of being forgiven does not give us a license, either in relationships or with God.

---J.R. Bronger

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