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Another Jesus

March 7, 2007

I go door-to-door evangelizing every week.  I present the gospel at least once a week and always hopefully more.  “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16).  I’m not ashamed even though “fundamentalists” say it doesn’t work, even though most evangelicals have more time to blog and do seminars, and even though I have never in 20 years run into anyone else preaching the gospel while I was out preaching the gospel.  How could that happen if Christians were not ashamed of the gospel of Christ?  One would think that we might just bump into each other out their shamelessly proclaiming it.

One day I was out preaching, and I knocked on the door of a man who invited me into his house.  This doesn’t happen much where I live.  I smiled, said thank you, and crossed his threshold.  I noticed on his wall a figure hanging on the cross.  The person portrayed in a painting as being crucified was a black African male.  I want you to consider this question:  Was that artwork representative of the Lord Jesus Christ?  Another question:  Could a man believe in a Jesus who was a black African and be saved?  I’m not so interested in the point that he was African instead of Asian or Hispanic or Caucasian or Indian, so let’s not go there.  But you answer the questions.

I believe that most people don’t know who Jesus is.  That is sad.  He’s Wonderful.  He is King of Kings, Mighty God, the Great I Am, and the Jehovah of the Old Testament.  He is my Great Intercessor, my Lord, my Savior, the Good Shepherd, and the Great Physician.  Every single day I pray for Him to set up His kingdom on this earth.  I do yearn for His kingdom to come.  And yet people do not know Him.  I want to go one step further.  I don’t think most Christians know Who He is.

Our culture has dumbed Jesus down so much that He is hardly recognizable.  People in churches are a lot more comfortable with their idea of Jesus than the One in the Bible.  When the real One gets presented, they’re often miffed or offended.   Churches and their leaders have figured this out, so they water Jesus down for easier consumption.  The One in the Bible is worthy of my life and love, but not this placebo.

The Apostle Paul begins a sentence in 1 Corinthians 11: “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted.”   People can preach another Jesus.  They were, they have, and they do.  The modern Christ seems a designer Jesus concocted for the narcissistic culture duped in Freudian-think.  They’re lookin’ for the thrill they feel in an experience with Jesus.  That’s the same Jesus men wanted in John 6.  That wasn’t Him, so they walked away, and Jesus didn’t run them down.  Today churches would definitely chase these people and offer them something, anything to hold their attention for a moment, until they can give them Jesus the entertainer, Jesus the goodymeister, or Jesus their therapist.

The crowd that won’t pause to consider Jesus Christ won’t understand Him better if we offer them something less than Him to gain their audience.  What we’ll do instead is give them the impression that Jesus is some kind of heavenly bell-hop, a genie in a bottle who will pop out to grant them their three wishes.   We might get some people this way, but will they get a real Jesus?  And will we really have them?  They’ll stay as long as we keep offering the temporal bread–bread and circuses is probably more like it.  If they can jive with Jesus, groove with Him, rap with Him, or hang with Him, we might keep them.   The true Jesus of the Bible would have nothing to do with any of what they really want, which is tell-tale that they don’t have the real Him.

There’s so much to say here.  So much confuses the world about Who Jesus is today–absence of long, clear teaching about Him, leading to a deep knowledge of Jesus Christ, the lack of separation, associating Him with false doctrine and practice, the very darkness against which He is the light.  I recently read this by a famous modern preacher:

There are living images of sanctification in our world today which are more real, more authentic than all the people put together who think sanctification is passé. Malcolm Muggeridge takes Mother Teresa as an example:

I think a person like her comes into the world, not by chance, and radiates the Christian faith at its most simple, most pure, most effective level. She takes any baby that is given to her and looks after it. She brings in dying people from the streets who might live for only a quarter of an hour. When they leave this life with a loving Christian face beside them instead of one of rejection, she would say that it is well worth it. She is diametrically opposed to the spirit of the age—abortion is a horror to her, and all the attitude of mind associated with it. (Eternity, April 1984, p. 27)  Â

When a young woman living in the security and comfort of middle class Western society moves to Calcutta in obedience to Jesus, that is sanctification, and it is not irrelevant. Don’t let the irrelevance of the word mislead you. The reality is immensely important.

John Piper said that.   According to him, his Jesus is the same Jesus as Mother Theresa, dedicated Roman Catholic nun.

So what about the black African male hanging on the cross in the painting?  Jesus was a Jew, a Hebrew, from Galilee, Who left heaven to be born of a virgin in real time in real history.  We can’t believe in a symbol.  We must believe in a real Person, Who is the way, the truth, and the life.

Why do we spend time on the Deity of Christ with the Watchtower crowd?  You know.  They have the wrong Jesus.  Without the real One, they will die in their sins, separated from a loving, holy God forever in Hell (2 Jn. 1:7-9).  We do the same with Mormons.  We plead with them, open Scripture, and show them.  We must believe in… the One, the Only Jesus Christ.  But do you know what?  That goes for us too.  Us too.  That’s right.  We are heading there fast, if we haven’t already arrived, that most of those who believe in Christ, a Christ, alone, don’t have Him either.  They too have another Jesus.

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Categories: Brandenburg, The Gospel
  1. March 7, 2007 at 8:15 am

    The problem today is that many preachers do not believe that Jesus can draw men unto Himself, if we present Him faithfully.

    We try to draw men to the Savior by misrepresenting the Savior to men. This will not work. We must represent the Savior for Who He is, and lift Him up in front of sinful men. Then, He will draw them to Himself.

    I am not a Calvinist, but I know that it is the Spirit of God working in conjunction with the faithful preaching of the true Jesus that saves sinners.

    My two cents…
    Art Dunham

  2. March 7, 2007 at 8:53 am

    Thanks Art, I agree. Salvation is supernatural and only the Jesus can save.

  3. Bobby Mitchell
    March 7, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Kent,

    What about the Jesus of Arminianism that promises a sinner a salvation that they can lose? There is a man in our church who attended for weeks and professed that he had been saved a few years ago. When I questioned him on this I discovered that he had believed in a Pentecostal church where he was taught that Jesus would save him, but he could later be lost. Over time I showed him that The Lord Jesus Christ promised salvation that could never be lost. When he came to realize that he had believed on a false Jesus, he repented and put his faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is new creature now as is evidenced by his works, love for the Lord, love for the church, etc.

    Amen to your post. Isaiah said, “We hid as it were our faces from him . . .” This world is eager for the hippie Jesus, the peacenik Jesus, the Catholic Jesus, the feel-good, positive only Jesus, etc. But, sinners hide their faces from JESUS. He must be lifted up.

  4. March 7, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Yes, the powerless Jesus, at least the weak Jesus, of whom you speak, that cannot truly save; he needs our works—this is not the Scriptural Jesus. That’s right.

  5. March 9, 2007 at 1:55 am

    I think you are just trying to come up with stuff against John Piper or something. Wonder why :^)

    But I think you’re wrong here. He is using her as an example of what sanctification looks like. He was quoting Muggeridge, actually. He is not weighing in on whether Theresa was saved or not. She thought Jesus wanted her to go to Calcutta and she did. That is remarkable. That is an example of what true sanctification will look like.

    Now we can question whether it was the wisest thing to seem to promote Theresa and her church by bringing her up as an example. It seems Piper used the example because it communicates with people. That may not have been the best choice. Or the one I’d make, necessarily. But the quote as you give it does not say what you say it does.

    So my point stands that you are just trying to bring things up to make him look bad. Why not be happy about all the good things he is doing? He is exalting the true knowledge of Jesus and preaching Biblical sermons exalting the Word and exalting Jesus. He is not the average evangelical who is in it for $ or who is promoting a feel-good, anything goes religion. He calls for radical risk-taking allegiance to Christ. And many in his church are following in going to the mission field, to church plants, and other noble causes.

    I know, I’m biased. I’m a member at Piper’s church. I probably shouldn’t even bother posting this rebuttal here. You see what you want to see in Piper, I guess. And you’ll say the same for me. Paul, though, rejoiced whenever Christ was preached, no matter what the situation (Phil. 1).

    Anyways, I’ll bow out now.

  6. March 9, 2007 at 8:16 am

    Bob, Piper is a fave. It’s not just you. And I posted this because I happened to read it. So it wasn’t targeted at you. When I posted it, I did think about what you would do, and I thought you would defend him, which is tell-tale, saying something about your approach to truth. In this case you sell it for John Piper. You trade in the birthright for the mess of pottage. The gospel should be defended, not John Piper. What you are saying, in essence, is that John Piper is ambiguous here. “He isn’t saying that she is sanctified, just using her as an illustration of sanctification.” Perhaps he has himself covered, plausible deniability, due to the word “image.” Anyone with common sense reading it, says that he thinks that Theresa is a true Christian, which makes him popular. That kind of loosey-gooseyness destroys the gospel, whether he says he loves it or not. You shouldn’t be defending him. He is confusing the gospel with the illustration. He did it purposefully. He did it at the start of the sermon, more memorable. The example he uses is as bad as it gets, because she is Roman Catholic. And on top of that, he uses her for an example of sanctification, a blessed doctrine, dragging it through the desolate darkness of Roman Catholicism. Your defense of him says something about your discernment.

  7. Sam Hanna
    March 9, 2007 at 10:12 am

    The Jesus of Mother Theresa and John Piper is not my sanctifying Jesus of the Bible.

    This is the “other” gospel mentioned by the Apostle Paul – if it isn’t what on earth is?

    I wonder what all the left leaning effeminate bloggers of SI will do now when their rap-singing, Toronto-blessing, Romanising hero is exposed as a false Bible teacher?

    Great Post – Pastor Kent. If Piper was embarrassed as a self-styled “Reformed theologian” why has he not removed this citation and apologised for it – after all he has had since 1984 to rectify it. It seems Piper is more Deformed than Reformed. Wonder what Mr. Luther and Calvin would have made of their erstwhile comrade Piper’s comments?

  8. March 9, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    I agree Sam. You’re correct on all of these counts.

  9. March 9, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    “Toronto-blessing”? Lost me there…

  10. March 9, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Joe, Piper brought his staff up to Toronto for that. Piper is not a cessationist.

  11. Dan Starr
    March 10, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    This post was a great blessing. One that I am going to share with my teens. It is true that Jesus does not need our help, but I am glad that he has allowed me to help in his work.

    I agree Sam the Jesus I serve does not need the help of the sacraments to get me to Heaven. Jesus does not need the Christian (Satanic) rap music to hype up those in his service. Michael Sattler did not have to be pumped up before he was led away to be martyred and those that serve the true Jesus serve him for who he is. We love him because he first loved us. Amen on your comment!

    Bob I don’t get how Piper could mean something different than what he has said. The Jesus I serve is not the same as the one Mother Theresa served.

    Thanks again Pastor Brandenburg
    Dan Starr

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