Jesus Christ: The Most Misunderstood Person In History
When reading the Bible, we understand that our redemption from sin is the theme of the book. Yet, it never ceases to amaze me to see how this simple theme and prophecy concerning a coming Savior can be so misunderstood by people. In fact, people not only misunderstood the facts about Christ in “Bible days,” but He is also misunderstood today! What is it that makes Christ so misunderstood? Put simply, it is because people attached their own wishes and thoughts to Him rather than letting Christ speak for Himself! Please take note of the following.
In The First Century:
- Some expected Christ to be a military leader to overthrow Rome and rule in Jerusalem on a literal throne. This happened on several occasions. Please read the following verses and see this fact (Matt. 20:21; Jn. 6:15; Lk. 24:21; Acts 1:6).
- Some looked upon Christ as merely another prophet from God (Matt. 16:13-14; Jn. 4:19). In other words, they did not appreciate who He really is. They thought he was merely another prophet with a message from God. Yet, He was/is much more!
- Still, others saw Christ as an imposter and rebellious to Abraham and the law of Moses (Jn. 5:45-47, 8:38-40, 53-58; Matt. 27:63). Many felt their power and influence threatened by what Christ said and what He represented. Therefore, they lied about the Lord and tried to make folks believe that Jesus was an imposter so that they would not lose the “power” they had.
- There were a few, though, who understood Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ (Jn. 3:2, 4:25-29, 42, 9:33-38; Matt. 16:16). These few are what made all the difference in Bible days. These are the ones who taught the truth of Christ wherever they went.
In Like Manner, Today:
- Christ is looked upon as merely a prophet by many. There are people who blatantly deny that He is the Son of God.
- The millennialists still expect Christ to be an earthly ruler with a military campaign to defeat Satan and rule in Jerusalem on earth one day. Yet, Christ never promised such a thing would occur.
- Others see Christ as their personal “genie,” granting wishes and providing earthly treasures. Such is the “gospel of health-and-wealth” taught by many today. Such was never taught by Christ!
- There are also those who look upon Christ as the author and sustainer of the many varied and conflicting churches we see in the world. Does a position that says Christ approves of the religious division of the day agree with such passages as I Corinthians 1:10, John 17:20-21, and Ephesians 4:4-6?
Yet, how many see Christ as He really is? He is our Savior (Lk. 19:10), and redeemer (Titus 2:14). He built only one church (Matt. 16:18; Rom. 16:16). He has only one plan of salvation (Acts 2:38) which produces Christians only (Acts 11:26). He is a spiritual king concerned with our spiritual welfare. He wants us in Heaven with Him one day (II Pet. 3:9; Rom. 2:7-11). Do you believe this?
“Remember Lot’s Wife”
Luke 17:32 is a short verse, and it has reference to what happened to Lot’s wife as the family fled from Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. As Lot and his family were leaving (II Pet. 2:6-9), they were warned not to look back to the city lest they “be consumed” (Gen. 19:17). And as humans are wont to do, when Lot’s wife was told not to look back, she did that very thing and “became a pillar of salt” (Gen. 19:26). Having been promised safety by God through obedience, when she sinned, she paid the penalty for her disobedience. Certainly, when we think about our lives and the experiences that we have had; we can see that remembering is vital to our not repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Let us consider Lot’s wife and learn lessons from her error.
Luke 17:32 teaches us that God keeps His promises. Just as God promised destruction on whoever looked back to Sodom in Genesis 19, God has promised eternal damnation for those who do not know God and do not obey His word. Paul said, “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (II Thess. 1:6-9). God has promised “rest” for the people of God (Heb. 4:9). God has also promised an eternity of living in the presence of God and Christ in Heaven to those who are His children (Jn. 14:1-6; Rev. 7:15-17). Seeing that God kept His word in the Old Testament, we know He will keep it today (Rom. 2:7-11)!
In remembering Lot’s wife, we learn that God will not allow the wicked to continue indefinitely. Sodom and Gomorrah came to an end in Genesis 19. When God was through, there was nothing left but ashes and smoke (Gen. 19:28)! The lesson we must remember is that regardless of the sin, whether “public” or “private”, God knows about it, and we will answer for it. In Numbers 32:23, we learn, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Solomon said, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3). Yes, God knows when we have sinned, and we will answer for it if we do not repent and turn to God (Ecc. 12:13; Rom. 2:16; I Tim. 5:24-25; Acts 3:19)!!
By remembering Lot’s wife we learn that just because a place seems great, this does not tell you what is on the inside! Lot, in Genesis 13, “pitched his tent toward Sodom” because he saw the well-watered plain (v. 12). By Genesis 14:12, he was in the city, and by Genesis 19, he was sitting in the gate of the city. Though rich, this city was wicked because of homosexuality and simply put, they were “sinners before the Lord exceedingly” (Gen. 13:13, 19:5). This “vexed” Lot’s righteous soul (II Pet. 2:7). Yet, remember that he went there voluntarily because of the physical goods he thought he could enjoy! Let us not be fooled into thinking that physical prosperity equals spiritually soundness! Many times, it is exactly the opposite!
“What Is The church Of Christ?” (#2)
Yesterday, we studied about the church of Christ and learned that the church was founded by Christ and is made up of Christians (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:47, 11:26). It is not a building, but saved people (I Cor. 12:12-14). We learned about the organization; the work God gave the church to do; and even that the church of Christ simply uses the Bible, and not man’s ideas, for its rule of faith and practice (I Pet. 4:11).
Another truth about the church of Christ is that it is not a denomination. In other words, the church of Christ did not separate from another religious body as the Protestants did the Catholic Church. Several hundred years ago, these people “protested” the practices of the Catholic Church and broke away from it. The church of Christ, however, did not break or sever ties from any other church, because the church of Christ existed BEFORE all other churches began (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:38-47; Rom. 16:16)! Therefore, those belonging to the church of Christ (Christians, Acts 11:26) are not a part of a denomination. They belong to the one body, the one church described in Scripture (Eph. 1:22-23, 4:4; Col. 1:26). The Lord’s church has been in existence since the first century and will be delivered up to God one day (I Cor. 15:24). Do you belong to a denomination? If so, why?
The worship of the church of Christ becomes a subject of discussion with folks at times. Jesus demands that our worship to God be “in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:24). What does this mean? In this text, the word “in” means “in connection with.” Jesus was literally saying that true worshipers must worship God in connection with the spirit, and in connection with the truth.
The word “spirit” means those things related to the spiritual realm. Jesus shows that the true worshippers need to be focused on spiritual matters, not physical. Paul wrote, “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). That is why true churches of Christ do not engage in pie suppers, raffles, bingos, church-sponsored schools, etc. Such is contrary to her spiritual nature!! What is the “truth”? Jesus says, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). Jesus said God’s word EQUALS the truth. Scriptural worship demands that we worship God with our focus on things spiritual, and worship in connection with what the Bible says!
At the same time, God demands certain acts in our worship to Him. It is not left up to us to worship God any way we please (Jer. 10:23)! God has never left man to worship as he sees fit, but has always described and specified acceptable worship. Under the New Covenant, we see that worship to God includes partaking of the Lord’s Supper and giving of our means every first day of the week, as well as praying, preaching the gospel, and singing (Acts 2:42; Eph. 5:19; Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:1-2). These acts of worship to God were done in the first century, and the church of Christ continues to do them today.
Does your church worship the way the Bible teaches? Examine the Scriptures and compare what you do with what the Bible has specified.
“What Is The church Of Christ?” (#1)
When I talk to folks and tell them about the Caneyville church of Christ, there may be some who wonder about the church of Christ and the principles for which it stands. Those who are not familiar with the church revealed in Scripture (Rom. 16:16) generally have many questions. This is good, and I am always glad to answer Bible questions (I Pet. 3:15) and to study God’s word with others. Perhaps you have questions about the church of Christ; what we do and why we do it. I hope this writing will help you. Let us look into the Scriptures and see a description of the church of Christ.
First, the church of Christ is not a building. Rather it is a Heavenly institution made up of people who have surrendered their lives to Christ, i.e. Christians (Acts 2:38-42, 11:26). The church was established by Christ (Matt. 16:18), and purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28; Matt. 26:28). Because this is true, the church belongs to Christ (Rom. 16:16), and Christ is the head of the church (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22).
The church of Christ (individual Christians the world over), has no earthly organization. It is simply saved people who are added to the church by God (Acts 2:47) and thus are in a relationship with God and one another (I Cor. 12:12-20). They are called living stones in a spiritual building (I Pet. 2:5). Christians are those who have been “called out of darkness and into his marvelous light” (I Pet. 2:9)
At the same time, Christians living in certain geographic locations form local churches. This is what happened in New Testament days, and we read about several local churches and their work. Some local churches mentioned are the church at Corinth (I Cor. 1:2; Acts 18:1-8), the local churches in Galatia (Gal. 1:2), Colossae (Col. 1:2), Ephesus (Eph. 1:1; Acts 19:1-7), Rome (Rom. 16:5, 16), etc.
While the church of Christ in the universal sense (all Christians the world over), has no earthly organization, a local congregation, in order to be Scripturally organized, is to be organized with elders, deacons, and saints (Phil. 1:1). The qualifications for the elders and deacons are found in I Timothy 3:1-7, 8-13 and Titus 1:5-9. The qualifications for saints are to hear God’s word, believe that Jesus is the Son of God, repent of sins, confess faith in Christ and be baptized (Rom. 10:17; Jn. 8:24; Acts 17:30; Matt. 10:32; Mk. 16:16). Please notice that man defines “saint” much differently than God does. When reading the New Testament, it is made clear that a saint is simply a Christian (Rom. 1:7; Col. 1:2; Eph. 1:1)!
In addition to this, the local church has work to do. Though some churches are bigger in size, and others smaller, every congregation of God’s people can do what God expects. Each church has a work to evangelize, or spread the gospel message, both locally and world wide (I Thess. 1:8; I Tim. 3:15). God says the church has to work to edify (spiritually build up) its saints (Eph. 4:12; I Thess. 5:11). A third aspect of a local church’s work is to show benevolence to its saints (I Tim. 5:9-10, 16). This is work that can be accomplished daily.
“He Is Too Narrow!”
The observation is sometimes made about the preacher or teacher that he is “too narrow.” In our culture, absence of conviction is often mistaken for broadness of mind. Roy L. Smith said the following about “broad-mindedness” in religion; it is worth reading. He said:
“The preacher is sometimes accused of being narrow-minded because he insists upon the Christian’s forsaking all to follow Christ. Yet, all of life is narrow, and success is to be found only by passing through the narrow gate and the straightened way (Matt. 7:13-14). There is no room for broad-mindedness …
- … in the chemical laboratory. Water is composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. The slightest deviation from that formula is forbidden.
- … in music. There can only be eight notes in a measure. The skilled director will not permit his first violin to put in even so much as an extra thirty-second note.
- … in the mathematics classroom. Neither geometry, calculus, nor trigonometry allows for any variation from exact accuracy, even for old time’s sake. The solution of the problem is either right or wrong.
- … in biology. One varying result out of a thousand experiments will invalidate an entire theory.
- … on the athletic field. The game is played according to the rules, with no favors shown for charity’s sake.
- … in the garage. The mechanic there says that the piston rings must fit the cylinder walls within one two-thousandths of an inch. Even between friends there cannot be any variation if the motor is to run smoothly.
“How then shall we expect that broad-mindedness shall rule in the realm of religion and morals?”