If Jesus Be Not the Christ…
Following an essay I submitted just the other day, this is the third of four doctrines which the Christian faith teaches which must be true—or I renounce my faith and walk away from the Church. I do this because I demand that my faith be true and not invention. Here is number three.
If Jesus be not the Christ (Messiah, Anointed One), and the many other appellations the Scripture bestows upon him, first and foremost being “Son of God” and “Son of Man”—if he be not fully human and fully divine, fully human that he may die in my stead, fully divine as only God can save—if he be not the sinless one as Scripture so designates (Hebrews 4:15), the spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), and especially of those who believe in him, fulfilling all the sacrifices, indeed, the law and the prophecies which were in anticipation of him—if he be not sent by the Father as our substitute, propitiation, and atoning sacrifice for the sins of his people that he might transfer them from the realm of darkness into the Kingdom of His dear Son (Colossians 1:13-14)—and if he be not the Father’s Son as the Bishops at the Council at Nicaea proclaimed in A.D. 325: “…begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not made; of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made”—
If he be only a man, a very good man indeed and one you might desire to emulate—if the miracles ascribed to him be myths and legends written by men of good will (though it be hard for me to associate deception with piety and thus classify liars as good men)—if his bodily resurrection be the grandest mischief ever foisted upon the world—if his body lie in the grave such that our “participation” in him be only by memory, which is no real participation at all—if it is only his teachings which are relevant for us, perfect though they be, yet producing an even sterner law than the Mosaic (read Matthew 5-7)—if we have only his “spirit” to go with us (not the Holy Spirit, mind you, but the mere inspiration of his holy and devout life)—or if he were not a man at all but God seeming to take human form (though few entertain such ideas today)—in short, if Jesus of Nazareth were not the Son of God who in the fullness of time came down from heaven, assumed a human nature conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin’s womb, becoming the Son of Man while remaining the Son of God, who was “born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Galatians 4:4), then I renounce my faith.
Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of the Christian faith. And the teaching which I have outlined above is that teaching plainly taught in the Scriptures and received by the Church from the beginning. Yes, there have been those scholars in recent times who have tried to “get behind the Scriptures” to the “real Jesus,” but such attempts only betray the writer’s own biases. The only Jesus we have is the Jesus of the Scriptures and as they present him.
Greater problems arise from those who would paint Jesus as a social justice warrior, community organizer, or revolutionary peasant. Jesus himself said that he came to “give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45), speaking of his Passion which his disciples (later, apostles) understood as atonement for sin. Moreover, he came to inaugurate the Kingdom of God the fulfillment of which would come at his return; he had no desire to create an earthly kingdom (John 18:36). In the meantime, he instituted his Church as his body on earth to proclaim the good news of salvation until his return (Matthew 25:14-30).
An even greater problem arises from those who would divorce Jesus from his apostles, those very men who wrote the books of the New Testament recording his life, teachings, and miracles, the very men to whom he spoke through revelations by the Spirit after his ascension into heaven, the writings of whom explain the meaning of his death and resurrection, and flesh out their Lord’s gospel. Jesus himself wrote nothing. By separating Jesus from his apostles, these people think they are then allowed to say, “Well, that’s just what [Peter or John or Paul] said; Jesus didn’t mention that,” seemingly ignorant of the fact that we would know NOTHING about what Jesus said or did were it not for these same men writing these things down! Jesus himself said to his disciples before his Passion, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:12-13). And He was the Holy Spirit who spoke to the apostles who later gave us all that which Jesus said to them during his earthly ministry, AND what he later said to them after that same ministry.
And yet these same people, who would know nothing about Jesus were it not for the apostles, will claim that they believe in him and are born of the Spirit, all the while divorcing Jesus from his own gospel which he commissioned his apostles to proclaim, which is recorded in the Gospels, the Acts, and their Letters—ALL OF WHICH COMPRISE THE WHOLE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT! And yes, what these men said about sexual morality is an integral part of that gospel, for to believe the gospel is to agree with and live that gospel—and our Lord’s gospel is precisely what the apostles proclaimed and wrote. There is no daylight between what Jesus taught and what those men wrote revealed to them by the Spirit of Jesus.