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The “Doctrine” of the Christ

by David A. DePra 

     Central to the Truth of Christianity is Jesus Christ.  If I am a Christian, I got that way by seeing the Truth about Christ, and about my sin, and by then embracing Him as Savior by faith.  Christianity without the Truth of Christ is like water without the wet.  You don’t HAVE Christianity.

      But how do we come into the possession of the essential Truths about Jesus Christ?   If left to fend for ourselves, how could we ever know Jesus?  What we need to see is that God REVEALS Jesus to us.  Just as He revealed Him to Peter (Matthew 16), so God reveals Him to us.  Revelation is not the product of  “flesh and blood.”  It is the work of the Holy Spirit.

     So what this leads us to see is that becoming converted to Jesus Christ is not simply a matter of God saying, “Here is a list of things you must believe before I will give you salvation.”  No.  Conversion is not so much a matter of agreeing to a list of “REQUIRED” doctrines, as it is a matter of embracing REVEALED Truth.

     Get that.  Conversion is not a matter of God “requiring” us to believe – almost like our belief in a doctrine is something we produce as a ticket into the kingdom of God.  No.  God must REVEAL to us the Truth.  Then if we embrace it by faith, we have entered into new life.

     God REVEALS to us both our need for a Savior, and Jesus Christ as that Savior.  We embrace Christ by faith and are converted.  Then as we grow in our learning and discernment of Truth, we are able to state what we believe in the form of a teaching or a doctrine.  Thus, our conversion is the product of us embracing REVEALED Truth – not a product of us merely agreeing to REQUIRED doctrines.

Faith Comes by Hearing

      Of course, most of us are presented with the doctrine of Christ before conversion.  Indeed, it is necessary to hear the Truth before we can embrace it.  Why?  Because conversion mandates a choice of free-will to surrender ourselves to Jesus Christ.  And a choice does require some understanding.  Teaching and preaching – if the Holy Spirit is in it – provides that understanding.  Teaching and doctrine about Christ are the tools which God uses to face us with the Truth about Jesus Himself, and bring us to conversion:

The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.   For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture says, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who hath believed our report?  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.  (Romans 10:8-18)

      God uses preaching as the messenger “upon the wings” of which the Living Word is carried.   But it is not our words and preaching that converts people.  It is the Holy Spirit who testifies to Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit prepares the heart – and uses our preaching to penetrate the person being converted with the Light of Jesus Christ.

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me:  (John 15:26)

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.  (Heb. 4:12-13)

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.  (John 6:44)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.   (Romans 1:16-17)

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.  For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.  For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:  But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;  But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.  (I Cor. 1:17-24)

      Thus, sound doctrine and preaching points us to the PERSON.  It “introduces us” to Christ in anticipation of conversion, and it teaches us about  Jesus Christ once we are converted.   But the Holy Spirit is the One who draws and converts – not merely to teaching ABOUT Jesus Christ – but to PERSON of Jesus.

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.  Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.  (John 5:38-40)


       Conversion requires that we pass through a threshold of Truth and revelation, and embrace what we see by faith.  God reveals to us the Truth – so that we can understand enough to CHOOSE TO SURRENDER – and embrace Christ by faith.  There is NO OTHER PROCESS by which we are saved.  We must hear and see the Truth.  We must believe.  Then, and only then, are we saved.

     Several things must be clear and must be embraced to be saved.  We must SEE Jesus is God, that He died for our sin, and rose again – AND – we must SEE ourselves as sinners in the Light of HIM.  This will result in repentance and conversion TO Christ.

     Note that we are talking about initial conversion.  There is a ton which we need to learn afterwards – many absolutely essential Truths.  But the Holy Spirit will be faithful to show us all of those things ONCE we embrace the Savior.

     Thankfully, God does not “require” that we understand everything about Christ, or that we have a great deal of ability to theologically explain the Redemption and the doctrine of Christ.  But to be converted, we MUST understand enough to place our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation – understand enough to make the choice to believe.  That much is necessary.  This is the threshold through which we pass in the conversion process.  Later, as the Holy Spirit ministers to us, renewing our minds according to the Truth, we see more clearly the Person we embraced by faith.  We GROW in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

     We are converted by being granted repentance by God – repentance which leads to salvation.   I repent of refusing Christ and turn, and embrace Him by faith.  This can happen all at once, but it might also happen over a period of time, as the Truth dawns on me.   But I cannot be saved – will not believe -- unless I see my need, and see that He alone is the solution. 

Of God, or Not of God

        We must be clear about something:  Having passed through this threshold of seeing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and having embraced Him by faith, it means that once I am converted, it is IMPOSSIBLE to deny the Truth about Christ – if my conversion is real.  Why? 

Because conversion means I’ve embraced the Truth about Christ.  Thus, if I now deny it, I am proving by that denial that I never really embraced Him.

     We must see this.  Conversion is not a matter of taking a doctrinal position.  No.  It is a matter of seeing eternal Truth and embracing it through a moral surrender to God through Jesus Christ.  I am converted if I see the Truth and embrace it by faith.  If I do not see it, or do not embrace it, I am NOT converted.  Consequently, I cannot later say that I am converted, but deny the very Truths I must embrace to BE converted.

     Again – once I enter the “room” of conversion, I cannot deny that I have passed through the only “doorway” which can get me there.  If I am truly converted to Christ, then I have seen the Truth about Him.  If I deny the Truth about Him, it is proof I’ve never seen Him, or having seen Him, have rejected the Truth about Him.

     Jesus illustrated this in a number of ways.  One of the best is found in John 10:

He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.  But he that enters in by the Door is the shepherd of the sheep… I am the Door of the sheep.  All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.  I am the Door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.  The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly… But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  (John 10)

      Jesus Christ IS the Door.  You only GET IN by passing through the revelation of Him.  You have to see and embrace Jesus.  Thus, if you later deny Jesus, it is proof that you got in another way! 

     Today many who claim to be Christians –even leaders – are denying the very Lord they must embrace in order to BE Christians.  Those who do this are NOT Christians.  It is impossible.  For they are denying the very Truths they must embrace to BE a Christian.

      Could it be that they DID embrace Christ, but now have turned away?  God knows what people have seen.  If they have seen, they have ultimately rejected what they saw.  They are now denying it.  Either way, you cannot deny the very thing which you must embrace to be a Christian, and still be a Christian.

     There are few Truths that the Bible is more clear about.  Jesus explained this entire Truth to the Pharisees:

If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.   Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.  Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.  And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.  Which of you convinces me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?  He that is of God hears God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.”  (John 6:42-47)

      Jesus is telling us that we are either “of God” or “not of God.”  He is saying that if we are OF GOD then we will hear – be open to receive – that which God speaks.  We will be open to the Truth which God wants to add to us.

     But He makes another point too:  The fact we don’t embrace the words of God is EVIDENCE that we are not OF GOD – for those words have no place in us.  Consequently, any one who denies who Jesus Christ is certainly cannot be OF GOD.  They are denying the very thing they must embrace to be OF GOD in the first place!

     This is actually a principle that governs, not only conversion, but our whole Christian life.  If I am converted to God through Jesus Christ, I am going to embrace the Truth God continues to teach me, because the way I BECAME CONVERTED was by surrendering to God.  There is therefore receptivity and a place in me for that Truth.

     Jesus draws this picture by using the analogy of a family.  He tells us that a person will hear the words of their “father.”  In you, there will be an affinity for that which belongs to your family.  He that is OF GOD will hear the Words OF GOD.

     So here we see that despite the fact that we might initially understand very little about Jesus, that we can nevertheless embrace Him by faith and become saved.  BUT – and this is the point – it is precisely BECAUSE we are converted that we will then “hear the words of God.”  We will hunger and thirst for righteousness and Truth.  We will be open to God.  The new life in us will function like that.  It will ALWAYS function like that.

     But, Jesus says, if we are not open to God, or if we deny Christ, it is probably because we have never received Him to begin with.  We are NOT converted.  We can’t be.  For how can we now deny the very Person we must embrace to BE converted in the first place?

     The Bible, in other places, expands on this Truth, especially in the epistles of John:

Whoever transgresses, and abides not in the doctrine of Christ, has not God. He that abides in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:  For he that bids him god speed is partaker of his evil deeds.  (II John 1:9-11)

 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.   Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ?  He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son.   Whosoever denies the Son, the same hath not the Father.  But he that acknowledges the Son has the Father also.  (I John 2:21-23)

      We must be clear about this:  God is not saying that if we deny Christ that He will “punish us” by withdrawing Himself.  No.  He is saying that if we deny Christ it is EVIDENCE that we have NOT GOD to begin with!  Why?  Because the way we GOT GOD in the first place was by embracing Christ – the One who we now deny! 

     Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except by Me.  If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.”  (John 14:6-7)   There could be nothing more clear or certain:  Jesus is the Way to the Father.  If you deny Jesus, you have NO WAY TO THE FATHER.  Thus, YOU DO NOT HAVE GOD.  Those who deny Christ have not God because the only means by which we have have God is BY embracing Christ.

Deception and Heresy

      We have stated that AFTER conversion, it is not possible to then turn around and deny the very One whom we embraced FOR conversion.  I cannot say I am converted to Christ, but then deny Christ.  I cannot say I “have God” and then deny the only Way TO God.   If I DO say that – it is proof that I have never been converted to begin with.

     No true Christian will deny the essentials of Jesus Christ.  But once we are converted, it does not mean we understand much.   We do have new life.  We are “in Christ,” and Christ is in us.  But we still have much to learn and to unlearn.  The Christian walk consists of the on-going work of the Holy Spirit to renew our minds according to the Truth.  We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.  This requires time and experience.

     Here we see the place of teaching and doctrine once again.  God uses Christian teaching and doctrines for the purpose of explaining the new life in Christ.  The teaching articulates and brings understanding to our conversion.  It tells us HOW to walk, what to seek, and what to OBEY.  It puts reality in a form which can be used for living and choosing in our walk with Christ.

     We see the use of teaching and doctrine in the Bible as a tool for helping us grow in Christ.

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.  (Acts 2:42)

 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  (Romans 6:17)

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.  (II Tim. 3:16)

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;   For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:   Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:   That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.  (Eph. 4:11-15)

      The passage from Ephesians is most profound.  It clearly states that the gifts and the teaching of the church is unto one end:  The unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God.  Christian maturity.  AND – Paul adds – if we come to this, we will not longer “be tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.”

     All of this is God’s design for us.  To convert us to Christ, and then to bring us on into a greater understanding and union with Him.  The teaching is the sign post or tool God uses.  But our faith and surrender, as always, is where the real action is.  The teaching tells us we must surrender to God.  By faith, however, we actually DO the surrendering.

Exposing Us to the Truth

      Because there is Truth, there is also error.  Because there is true teaching, there is also false teaching – misrepresentations of Jesus Christ.  Thus, once we are converted, it is quite possible to become deceived or blinded by FALSE teaching – just as God wants us to be set free by the Truth.  False teaching can sidetrack us, and even shipwreck us – if we allow it to govern our life.

     Note a distinction here:  It is possible after REAL conversion to be deceived.  But this is much different than never being converted to begin with.  God will expose WHICH has happened if we continue walking with Him.

     Once we understand what false teaching really is, we will see why it can have terrible effects upon people.  Just as “true doctrine” tells the truth about God Himself, so does “false doctrine” LIE about God.  It misrepresents God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the plan and purpose of God for believers.  Thus, if I buy into false teaching, I will have my conversion, and my subsequent walk with Christ, wrongly defined and directed.   I will be walking in a way that is contrary to the purposes of God – and deceived to the fact I am doing it.

     The real goal of the enemy in false teaching is more than just getting me to believe false teachings.  It is to get me to put my faith in someone other than Jesus Christ.  If the enemy can get me to do that, then I will never have stability, and I will not be walking in the Truth.

     There are many people whose conversion was REAL.  But then a false teacher gained influence over them.   Error may have come in and defined their conversion falsely.  They may have become convinced that it was something it was not.  This may have led to them being confused, if not deceived, about who Jesus Christ is.  In their case, their conversion was real.  Their denial of Christ is not real.  It is not the product of unbelief.  It is the product of deception.

     Fortunately, God is never passive.  He is continually seeking those who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.  (see John 4:24)  The Holy Spirit will guide us into all Truth.  (John 16:13)  And God desires that all men be saved and come into the knowledge of the Truth.  (I Tim. 2:4)  So if I have become confused as to who Jesus Christ is, and as to my conversion, God is more than eager to show me the Truth.

     Here is the point:  If my conversion was real, then I am “of God.”  Even if confused and deceived.  Thus, I will hear the words of God when God brings them.  Perhaps not very loudly at first.  But there will be something in me which responds.  And if I am open to God, I will eventually be set free.  Conversely, if my conversion was NOT real, then I am “not of God.”  Thus, I will not hear the words of God.  I will refuse to be open and may end up denying Christ.

      The Truth always comes out:  Whether I have really embraced Christ, or have, in fact, a denial of Him in my heart – this will be exposed once God faces me with the Truth.  And God is continually trying to do that. 

      We need to see this.  I may be confused about Christ, or ignorant of His way.  But if I have embraced Him, I will eventually  be open to more Truth about Him.  God will be able to bring Truth which sets me free from the various side-tracks into which I might fall.  But if I have never embraced Christ, this too will come to fruition. 

       Again, the words of Jesus:  “He that is OF GOD hears the words OF GOD.”  If I’m not OF GOD, I will prove it by whether I HEAR – by whether I am willing to turn and obey.

     It is absolutely impossible to deny Jesus Christ if I am open to the Truth.  Why?  Because Jesus Christ IS the Truth to whom I am open!  So despite the possibilities of error sidetracking me in my walk with Jesus, indeed, perhaps even casting a shadow over Him, it is always possible to turn to God and see the Truth about His Son.

     Biblical teaching and sound doctrine can direct me on how to do this.  I can be taught as to the true identity of the Son of God.  It can be explained to me how conversion works, and how I can always turn to God for Truth.  But I must do the turning.  Faith doesn’t happen on paper.  It is a choice I personally make to surrender to God.

Another Jesus and Another Gospel

      We see the absolute necessity for having sound, Biblical doctrine regarding Jesus Christ.  It directs us in our walk with Jesus Christ.  It tells the Truth about God.  It defines reality. 

     In fact, sound teaching is so important that Paul gives no quarter to false teaching – or to those who bring it.  False teaching is not merely WORDS spoken.  It is also CONDUCT.  It is any form of misrepresentation of God.

     Just as Christians are to be living epistles and living witnesses to Jesus Christ, so it is possible to be false witnesses.  This can be executed through false teaching, false conduct, and even wrong relationships. 

     Of course, we can be guilty of these things through ignorance.  But after awhile that excuse wears thin – because God has already promised us that He will seek to bring us into the knowledge of the Truth.  Thus, to remain forever in the dark may mean we are not responding to the light God is bringing.

      The Bible is very clear as to what our position is to be regarding heresy, false teaching, and especially toward those who are instruments of the enemy for promoting it in the Body of Christ.

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.   But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he that comes preaching 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, ye might well bear with him.  (II Cor. 11:2-4)

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:   Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.   But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.   As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.   For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.  (Galatians 1:6-10)

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.   Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:  And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.  (I John 4:1-3)

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.   Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.   Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.  (I Cor. 12:1-3)

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.  This is a deceiver and an antichrist.  (II John 1:7)

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.  (II Cor. 6:14-7:1)

      In our “politically correct” society, the church has conformed itself to the world.  God is not here telling us to remove ourselves from unbelievers in an attitude of superiority.  Neither is he talking about those who are seeking Christ, or at least interested in hearing more about Him.  No.  He is telling us that we are not to have fellowship with unbelievers because THERE IS NO FELLOWSHIP with unbelievers.  Therefore, to act as if we are having fellowship with them is living a lie.  We are not only hurting the church, but we are actually hurting the unbeliever.  By our fellowship with them, we are AFFIRMING them, and telling them that there is no real difference between one who is in Christ and one who denies Him.

     What should we do?  Tell them they are lost.  That’s the Truth.  And then tell them about Christ.  And it is certain that if we do that, we are going to find out fast whether they are at least seeking the Truth.

The Essential Truths

      From all of this is should now be clear that at the top of the list of the “essential doctrines” of Christianity is the Truth about Jesus Christ.  These Truths are essential because they are THE Truths which you and I embrace to become Christians.  They define who Jesus is, and what He has done for us.  Take any of these Truths away, and you no longer have Christianity.

     We must see that Jesus is God, and that He is our personal Savior.  We must see that we are sinners, that is, that we NEED a personal Savior.  And we must embrace what Jesus has done by faith.  All of that is repentance.  It is what happens when we are converted – either all at once, or over a period of time.

     But from out of these basics come other essentials.  Conversion does not necessarily require an in-depth understanding of these other essentials.  But they are essentials nevertheless, for they comprise the experience and reality of our life in Jesus Christ.

 Essentials of Christianity Related to the Person of Jesus Christ

If any of these Truths are taken away or distorted, you no longer have Christianity.  None of them are independent.  They stand or fall as a group.

 1.    Jesus is God, existent from all eternity.

         2.        Jesus is God Incarnate – the Word become flesh and blood.

         3.        The virgin birth – which makes possible God becoming a man.

         4.        Jesus was the sinless man – became the Lamb of God without blemish.

         5.        Man is dead in sin, born with a sin nature, and needs a Savior.

         6.        Jesus died for the sins of the world – bore the sin of the world on the  Cross.

         7.        Jesus was raised from the dead.  We are saved by His new life thru the  resurrection.

         8.        The Redemptive work of Jesus Christ is forever finished.  The work of     the Holy Spirit is to reveal it to us that we might believe and enter into it.

         9.        There is only ONE way to the Father – Jesus Christ -- because He alone  redeemed us.

        10.   Jesus ascended bodily into heaven – now forming His kingdom for the     eternal ages.

        11.   Christianity is a new birth.  I am dead in Adam, but can be born anew in  Christ.

        12.   Salvation is only possible “by grace, through faith” – never by our works.  The GOSPEL.

        13.   Salvation is the result of our repenting of sin – of unbelief -- and then     coming to Jesus Christ by faith.

        14.   There is salvation in Christ alone.  But there is also judgment for those   who reject Him.

        15.   Christianity is “Christ in us” through the new birth.  This results in          sanctification, holiness, and good works.

        16.   The Christian life – and God’s purpose – is to conform us to the image     and likeness of His Son.

        17.   The Body of Christ, the church, consists of only those – but ALL those --   who are “in Christ.”  The church is called to “BE witnesses” in this age           unto Christ.

        18.   Jesus Christ is coming again as King of kings and Lord of lords.

        19.   There will be a resurrection from the dead of all people, when God will judge everyone by His Son, Jesus Christ.

      There are other essentials Truths of Christianity.  These are the ones which focus on Jesus Christ.

     There are a number of these essential Truths about Jesus Christ that merit special attention and discussion.

 Jesus is God

     Jesus Christ is known to us through many roles.  He is Lord, Savior, and the only Way to the Father.  He is the Word of God, the second Person of the Trinity, who exists from all eternity.  Fundamental to this is the fact that He is God – God Incarnate.

     The moment I admit that Jesus Christ is God, every argument against Him falls to the ground.  For if Jesus is God, then He cannot lie.  Thus, He is just as He claimed:  The only way to the Father.  He is then born of a virgin, lived the perfect life, and then qualified to bear the sin of  the world.  He is then Risen Lord, King of kings, and Lord of lords.  But if He was just a man – a good teacher – then not only is Christianity based on a lie, but Jesus Himself was the LIAR.

     C.S. Lewis came up with an argument many years ago along this line.  It is logically sound.  It goes like this:  Jesus had to be one of three things:  Lunatic, Liar, or God Incarnate.  Why?  Because of the claims He made about Himself.  You see, Jesus did not leave it to us to figure out who He was.  He stated it openly:  He said, “I am God.”

     This forces us to deal with the argument of C.S. Lewis.  For if Jesus claimed to be God, then it narrows down for us probable identities to the three mentioned:  Lunatic, liar, or God.

      Someone who claims to be God might be a LUNATIC.  He might be crazy.  In other words, He might actually THINK He is God, even if He isn’t.   Jesus’ friends and enemies both actually considered that as a possibility.  His friends said, “He is beside himself.”  The scribes said, “He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casts he out devils.”

      Someone who claims to be God might be a LIAR.  In other words, they KNOW they aren’t God, but are simply claiming this for their own advantage.  Jesus was also accused of this.

     Now, the problem which arises if Jesus were a lunatic or a liar is that it is no longer possible to accept, let alone follow, His teachings.  It is no longer possible to call Him “one of many good teachers which God has used down through history.”  You can’t.  Why?  Because the teachings of a lunatic certainly cannot bring sanity to our living.  And the teachings of a liar cannot be the Truth.   Thus, the fact Jesus claimed to be God makes it ALL or NOTHING:  Either Jesus was who He claimed to be – God Incarnate – or we must discard Him.

     Of course, there is a way out of this unavoidable conclusion.  Simply say Jesus never existed.  But not even the most hardened skeptic denies that any longer.  Most everyone agrees that Jesus did exist.  His identity is the thing which is questioned.

     The other way out of the argument of C.S. Lewis is to claim that Jesus never said He was God.  To this we will now turn our attention.  Jesus continually claimed to be God.  And through His resurrection from the dead, no doubt remained.

     Here are a few of the places where Jesus clearly claimed to be God:

If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.  (John 8:42)

      To be “sent” by God, you had to have pre-existed before your birth.  And certainly to “proceed forth” from God means to BE God.  There is no other conclusion Jesus leads us to in this passage:  He was God become man.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.  I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.  And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.  (John 17:3-5)

      Again, Jesus points to a pre-incarnate existence.  He says the Father “sent” him.  And He mentions “the glory” He had with the Father “before the foundation of the world.”   But more, He says that to know HIM is eternal life – just as to know the only true God is eternal life.  No man could make these claims and be telling the Truth unless He were telling us that He was God become man.

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.  Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?  Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.  Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.  (John 8:56-59)

      The Jews understood exactly what Jesus was here claiming.  That is why they took up stones to put Him to death.  Jesus envoked the very name God gave to Moses:  I AM.  (see Exodus 3:14)  There is no question about His claim:  He was God.

But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.  Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.  (John 5:17-18)

      Why did the Jews seek to kill Jesus?  Because, according to their tradition, He broke the Sabbath.  But more so, because “he said God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” 

I and my Father are one.  Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.  Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?  The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, make thyself God.  (John 10:30-33)

     Claiming to be God merited death by stoning.  This is why the Jews sought to kill Jesus, among other reasons.  John leaves no doubt about how the Jews understood the claims of Jesus.  He quotes them as saying, “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, make thyself God.”

     Note that Jesus never once says to them, “You misunderstand Me.  I’m not God.”  No.  Thus, Jesus was either crazy, a liar, or exactly who He claimed to be:  God.

Peace be unto you.  Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.  And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.  Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.  (John 20:26-29)

     This is after the resurrection.  Thomas addresses Jesus as “My Lord and my GOD.”  We don’t find Jesus correcting Thomas.  Instead, He commends him for finally believing, even though, for Thomas, it took more proof than for the others.

I am the way, the truth, and the life:  (John 14:6)

     Can any mere man say that HE is the way or the TRUTH or the LIFE?  Only God is those things.  And Jesus made many such claims which point to His identity as God Incarnate.

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.  (Rev. 1:8)

      These are the first words recorded from the mouth of Jesus in the book of Revelation, which is a revelation OF Jesus Christ the Person.  He claims to be God – the Almighty, who existed forever.

     This passage from Matthew is often pointed to as “proof” that Jesus denied He was God:

Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?  And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.  (Matt. 19:16-17)

       Jesus was not saying to this young man, “Don’t call me good because I’m not God.”  No.  Rather, He was saying, “Don’t call me good unless you call me God.”  This becomes especially clear when we read the entire exchange between Jesus and the young rich ruler.  This young man went on to rehearse to Jesus all of the “good” deeds he had done – which according to him – fulfilled the requirement to inherit the kingdom of God.  Jesus, knowing his heart beforehand, was simply trying to point out that his works were not good enough.  The only good is God.  Thus, this passage is not one which shows Jesus denying He was God.  Rather, it indirectly shows Him affirming the fact He was God.

Other Scriptures

      There are many other scriptures where Jesus referred to His Divinity.  But let’s turn to some of the others who wrote the Bible.  They don’t record the words of Jesus, but state openly that He was God.  This shows that the same argument which applies to Jesus – lunatic, liar, or God  -- also applies to the source of the Bible.  It is either the product of mad-men, a conspiracy of lies, or the inspired Word of God.

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.  (Hebrews 1:8)

     God Himself is quoted here addressing the Son.  Guess what He calls Him?  God.  And the Father ought to know the identity of His Son.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not….. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.  (John 1:1-5, 14)

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature, God, thought equality with God not something to cling to for Himself:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  (Phil. 2:5-7)

 For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  (Col. 2:9)

      Of course, Jesus is called The Son of God many times in the Bible, forty-eight times to be exact.  One would think that being called The Son of God would be easily understood as a statement to the effect that Jesus is God – since the Father brought forth His Son.

Jesus is Man

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.  Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:  And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.  (I John 4:1-3)

     Fundamental to the Truth of the Christ is the fact He was God INCARNATE, that is, God become man.  Of course, John 1, as cited earlier says this clearly, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  (Jn. 1:14)

     The fact that Jesus was not only one-hundred percent God, but also one-hundred percent man, leads us into many Truths.  First of all, it necessitates the VIRGIN BIRTH – which the Bible clearly teaches.  If Jesus were not born of a virgin, then He had TWO human parents.  But if that were the case, then He was not God – not pre-existent from eternity.  He was simply born like any one of us.

     It is only because of the virgin birth that Jesus – who is the only man ever born that existed before His birth – became a human being.  This required that He leave His heavenly existence and be reduced to one of us, all the while maintaining His Divinity, His personhood and individual identity.  For if He did not maintain these, the Word did not BECOME flesh. 

     The denial of the virgin birth then leads to another error:  If Jesus were born of two parents, then He was NOT without sin.  He had a sin nature like the rest of us.  This means, however, that He could not have died for OUR sin.  He died only for His own.  Thus, in one stroke, the entire plan of salvation falls, as revealed by the Bible through Jesus Christ.

     The passage quoted above, from I John, was written to combat Gnosticism, which was a problem in the early church.  John writes against Doceticism, a form of Gnosticism.  This error claimed that Jesus did not actually come in the flesh – did not actually become a flesh and blood human being.  Rather, He just appeared to be human.  It was all an apparition.

     The reasoning behind the heresy was that those in Gnosticism thought all of the material world was evil.  Thus, there was no way that God would actually BECOME a flesh and blood human being.  Jesus HAD to have merely looked that way. 

     So when John writes that “every spirit confessing that Jesus is come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which denies this is not of God,” we can now see the story behind his words.  But we do need to understand that God inspired these words for reasons which transcend the doctrine of Gnosticism of the first century.

     Gnosticism abounds today.  We just don’t call it that.  It goes by other names, or no name at all.  But anyone who denies that Jesus is God agrees with the heresy of Gnosticism, and is therefore NOT OF GOD.  Why?  Because, John says, the Holy Spirit always confesses that Jesus is come in the flesh.  And that means He had to exist BEFORE He came in order TO come.  This points to the necessity of His pre-existence as God.

     John also wrote that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  Any teaching which denies this Truth is Gnosticism and a lie.  The pre-incarnate Word must be acknowledged if we believe that He then BECAME flesh.

     Any teaching which misrepresents the fact that Jesus bore the sin of the world in His body is likewise NOT OF GOD and is of this Gnostic error.  Why?  Because to bear the sin of the world in HIS BODY, He had to have a physical, material body.

     Any teaching which denies the resurrection is also NOT OF GOD and of this same heresy.  The resurrection of the dead is meaningless unless it was the resurrection of the same physical body which died on the Cross.  Our salvation depends upon it.

     A denial of the virgin birth is likewise a denial that Jesus is come in the flesh.  God became man through human agency.  But not two parents.  One.  This is the only way Jesus could be the God man.

     There are other, more subtle ways, in which it is possible to deny that  “Jesus is come in the flesh.”  One is to have a Christianity in which there is no real experience.  Just doctrines and teachings.  Paul warned against such things when he wrote of those who would, “Have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.”  (II Timothy 3:5)  Note the Gnostic slant:  Looks like the real thing – a “form of godliness” – but not real.

     Here is the point:  Any suggestion of Christianity which cannot be experienced and lived by flesh and blood human beings is not of God.  God has redeemed human beings from sin and death.  He has indwelt them with His Holy Spirit.  This is not show.  It is real.  We are redeemed humanity.

     In a nutshell, just as “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” God wants “the Word” to once again “become flesh IN US.”  This is the new birth and the Christian life.

     The Bible teaches throughout that Jesus Christ was God, but also a man:

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.  (I Tim. 2:3-6)

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature, God, thought equality with God not something to cling to for Himself:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.  (Phil. 2:5-7)

For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  (Col. 2:9)

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  (Heb. 4:15)

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.  Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.  (Heb. 5:7-9)

     If we would just think it through, we would recognize that the very Blood of Jesus Christ which was the price paid for our redemption cannot so much as exist unless Jesus was the Word become FLESH – flesh and blood.  Our salvation depends upon Jesus Christ becoming one of us!  He could not have died for us otherwise.

The ONLY Name Given

      Once we see who Jesus Christ is, it seems almost silly to waste time proving that He is the only way to the Father – the ONLY way of salvation.  But some people in this day and age nevertheless continue to state otherwise.  It seems somewhat inconceivable that someone could truly see Jesus, see their sin, and embrace Him as Savior, yet cling to the notion that there could be other ways to salvation.  Thus, this is an essential Christian Truth, and one with which we cannot compromise.  It is one we will surely see as part of the process of our own conversion.

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  (John 14:6)

      These are the words of Jesus, and we must come to terms with them.  Either Jesus was telling the Truth or He was not.  And again – if we say He is not telling the Truth, then He is no longer a good man.  He is a lunatic or liar.

     The disciples heard Jesus say these words and make these claims.  Later they would repeat them – proving that they understood exactly what He meant by His claims.

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.  (Acts 4:12)

      Folks who insist that Christianity be placed on a “list” of good religions, or that Jesus be placed on a “list” of ways to the Father, need to understand something:  Jesus Christ gives you no liberty whatsoever to put Him on your list.  What He does say is this:  ALL or NOTHING.  He says, “There is no list.  There is only Me.  I’m not even on top of the list.  I AM THE LIST.”

     It is absolutely impossible – if you have the slightest idea about Jesus Christ – to put Him on a list of possible ways to the Father.  You cannot.  His claims make that impossible.  To take a person who says, “I am the ONLY way to the Father, “ and put Him on list of good men, all of whom you say are possible ways to the Father, is contradictory.  And frankly, insincere.

     Why is Jesus the ONLY way to God?  Because He is the ONLY one who was God become man.  Because He ONLY died for our sin.  Because He ALONE brought out of the tomb new life.  What we see here – again – is that Christianity is not merely a matter of embracing teachings and doctrines about a person.  It is about BEING IN THAT PERSON – through a new birth.

     Thus we see that Jesus being the only way to God is not a matter of God being narrow-minded.  God says Jesus is the only way because Jesus made the only way.  He alone redeemed us.  In Him alone there is life.

     The biggest reason people say there is more than one way to God is that they are either ignorant of the fact, or refuse the fact of SIN, and of the need to deal with it.  They have no concept of the need for a Savior, or for men being brought into the light of Truth.  They no nothing of God’s plan to prepare man, through Christ, to live with Him forever.  Thus, who cares how we come to God.  Might as well create God in OUR image.

     One of the more common arguments today, in an attempt to bring about unity among differing religions is to say, “I can’t limit God to one way, namely, Jesus Christ.”

     That “sounds” so wonderful and broadminded, doesn’t it?  You can almost hear the arrogance reeking!  What is really being said here is, “I’m so much more full of love and concern for the human race than is the God of the Bible.  I would never tell man there is actually such a thing as Truth.  Instead, I believe that the “real God” would allow men to come to him on their terms.  That is “real love.”

     In effect, instead of limiting God to one way, the Truth is, Christianity offers the ONE WAY which is UNLIMITED.  Get that.  Christianity has NO compromise with the fact that Jesus Christ is the only way to God.  But God invites ALL to come to Christ.

     The reality is, if there WERE many ways to God, it would prove that there is no such thing as absolute Truth – for these “many ways” contradict each other.  They reveal an array of gods who have nothing in common.  Some are even unholy and hateful.

      And what about the teeming millions throughout history who never had the chance to hear about the real Jesus?  Leave them in the hands of a perfectly just and loving God.  Jesus Christ did not die so that millions would “fall through the cracks.”  God has a plan that spans more than this present age.  I’m not talking about giving folks a “second chance.”  I’m talking about the fact that God promises all people a FIRST chance.  God desires that none perish, but that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth.

The Gospel

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand.  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.  (I Cor. 15:1-4)

     The basic gospel message is as stated above.  We see in it that Christ died for our sins – which would mandate that we know we are sinners who needed Him to die for us.  We see that He was buried, and then rose again – that we might have new life.  Paul says, of this gospel, “by which you are saved.”  This message, if ministered by the Holy Spirit, will result in repentance unto salvation.  We will be born again.

     Probably the most well-known statement of the gospel is found in John 3:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.  (John 3:16-21)

     And then finally, Paul’s summary of the gospel, and how it relates to the Christian life:

You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:  Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:  Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:  That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  (Eph. 2:1-10)

     Always the gospel is exactly what the term means:  Good news.  The Gospel is an offer of life and deliverance FROM sin and death UNTO life.  It is never a threat of punishment FOR sin – although there is never an apology for the fact that if we will not embrace Christ, God has no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved.

His Death

     Jesus Christ died for our sins.  But the Bible reveals that there was more depth to this Truth than Jesus simply acting as our substitute – although He was that.  Indeed, the Bible reveals that we were “planted together” with Christ in HIS death.  In effect, the old nature which is in us by birth does not escape death because of Christ.  We MEET death in Christ.

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin.  Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:  (Romans 6:3-8)

      Here we see that Jesus was not merely crucified in our place, but that we are crucified IN HIM – that is our old nature; our “old man.”  This is important to realize, for it is upon this Truth that all freedom from sin rests.  Paul says, “He that is dead is freed from sin.”  We ARE DEAD – if we have been baptized, or planted, into HIS death.  Paul goes on to say, “Likewise reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God.”

     Thus we see that we are not merely freed from the penalty of death through the death of Christ, but from sin itself.  If we have died in Christ, we are dead to sin.  It can no longer run our lives.

      This Truth is all based our MEETING death – the death of our old nature – in Jesus Christ.  And THAT is based on the fact that Jesus Christ bore our sin on the Cross.  Peter states this directly:

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.  (I Peter 2:24)  

      Truly, Jesus Christ "tasted death for every man."  (Heb. 2:9)  So the ultimate price for sin was paid by Him FOR us.  But if we die IN HIM, "our Adamic nature" DIES.  It is left in the grave.  That is why we are freed from sin.

Perfect Justice, Total Forgiveness

     Another thing we see once we realize that the “old man in Adam” died in Christ on the Cross is that the perfect justice of God was satisfied.  God told Adam, “In the day you eat thereof, you shall surely die.”  And in Christ, Adam DID die.  There was NO pardon.  Adam, and all who are in him, died in Jesus Christ on the Cross.

     This naturally leads us into the forgiveness of God.  Because the perfect justice of God was completely satisfied in Jesus Christ, there is nothing left to satisfy.  God is then able to freely offer us salvation through the resurrection.  He is able to forgive us completely.

     Ask yourself a question:  Did Jesus die for ALL sin?  Answer:  Yes.  Did Jesus’ death result in God’s forgiveness for all sin?  Answer:  Yes.  Is the death of Jesus finished forever?  Answer:  Yes.  So is forgiveness finished forever?  Answer:  Yes.

     Get that:  God is finished forgiving.  He has done all the forgiving He is going to do!  But His forgiveness is for ALL sin – because it was for ALL sin that Jesus died. 

     Herein we see the finality of His forgiveness.  God has finished forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  He tells us to simply believe and embrace that forgiveness by faith.  That is the gospel.

     God speaks of the death of His Son continually throughout the Bible.  Jesus death paid the price for sin, and brought an end to the old creation.  We were reconciled back to God by His death, so that we could be raised with Him a new creation.

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:  And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.  Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.  (II Cor. 5:14-21)

His Resurrection

      We are reconciled to God by the death of His Son – that is – everything of the old creation is passed away through His death.  This would include all that stood between us and God.  But it is through the resurrection that we obtain NEW LIFE.

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  But God shows his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  (Rom. 5:6-10)

     Salvation is LIFE – new life.  And we can’t get life through death.  We can only get life through LIFE.  Therefore, we MUST die in Christ to bring an end to the old.  But it is through His resurrection that we are actually given salvation.

     But again, don’t think of this as God “handing” us salvation.  No we have salvation because we have been “planted into” Christ.  It is HIS life.  That is the ONLY eternal life there is!

     The most important characteristic of new life in Christ is that it has victory over all sin, death, and corruption.  This is a “kind” of life that never existed in people until Jesus walked out of that tomb.

Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?

     The resurrection validates everything Jesus said, did, indeed, it validates Him as the Son of God.  Paul says:

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;  And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.  (Romans 1:3-4)

     Paul also tells us that unless Jesus has been raised, we have NO salvation:

But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:  And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.  Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.  For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:  And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.   (I Cor. 15:13-19)

      God Himself tells us that the identity of Jesus Christ stands or falls upon the resurrection.  Our salvation depends on it.  Therefore, how are we to know for sure that Jesus was raised from the dead. 

     The first way to know is by the life of the resurrected Christ within you.  Now this is proof that many will not accept, for anyone can claim they have Christ in them.  But in the first century, before Christianity became organized into a religion, the life of Christ within was so strong and real, that it really was THE proof.

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.  (I Jn. 4:13)  

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.  He that believeth on the Son of God has the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.  And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.  (I John 5:9-12)

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;  Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  (John 14:16-17)

But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.  I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.  (I Jn. 2:20-21)

But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.  (I Jn. 2:27)

      We see here very clearly that the proof of the living Christ is the same proof we would use today to prove anyone was alive:  THEM.  If He is alive, and in us, then there should eventually be evidence to that effect.  May God help us return to the original condition of the church, where HIS life in us was so powerful, that it was not something we needed to verify with external evidence.

     Did you notice something about this INTERNAL proof – the proof of the life of Christ Himself?  It goes back to what we saw earlier about not being able to be converted to Christ, and then later deny Him – if the conversion was real.  If our new life in Christ is real then we cannot deny Him.  Why?  Because we are IN HIM.  Not just in theory.  Not just in the form of doctrine.  Not just as a religious concept.  But really.  There is a new life in us which, in and of itself, PROVES our conversion was real.

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