Friday, September 23, 2011

Finding Jesus in Every Part of Scripture

There is a view in the church today of interpreting Scripture by seeking Jesus within the Scripture.  I do not disagree with the fact that Jesus can be found in and preached from anywhere in the Bible.  Jesus is the Word Made Flesh and so it only stands to reason that He can be found in any part of the Word.  The problem, though, is that many people who take this view only look at one aspect of Jesus, that being grace.  Please do not get me wrong, I am not opposing grace or even trying to seek the grace of God whenever we can.  What I am saying is that it becomes a doctrine of seeing grace in every part of Scripture and not necessarily Jesus.  Jesus is our savior and for a Christian there is nothing more important.  Our failure is in that Jesus is not only our Savior but also our Lord.  Not only that, but to the rest of the world He will be Judge.  So today, let us look at some of the aspects of our Lord that some parts of the church do not like to talk about because if we are to see Jesus in every part of Scripture, we need a more complete picture of just who Jesus is. 
Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Hebrews 13:8 NKJV
I begin with this verse because we need to keep this in mind.  The same Jesus who created the world in Genesis 1 is the same who will destroy it in Revelation.  It is the same Jesus who gives us eternal life who will send others to eternal damnation.  It is the same Jesus who who frees us from the law that tells us to love Him by following His commands.  We can not just look at one aspect of Jesus at one brief time in His timeless existence and use that as a prism to use to view of the rest of Scripture.  That brings up the real danger of taking the approach of looking for Jesus in any of the Scriptures.  We must make sure we are learning from Scripture and not teaching to Scripture.  If Jesus is the Word made flesh, then the word is a testimony of all that He is.  We must use the Scripture to learn about Jesus and not take just the grace aspect of Jesus as a means to interpret Scripture.  What I mean is that it is not so much that we have to find Jesus in any verse of the Bible, it is that we have to see the entire Bible as being about Jesus.  We can't lead the Holy Spirit in interpreting the Scripture by telling Him what we want it to mean, but we need to ask Him what it actually does mean.  We can not try to project our notion of Jesus into a verse to try and discern what that verse is trying to say, but we must ask what that verse is saying about Jesus.  Finally, we have to understand that the Bible was written for us to learn and read from.  There is no secret interpretation or hidden meanings behind the Scripture.  God is not the author of deception and Gnosticism was an early and roundly condemned heresy from the start.  What the Bible means is what it says it means and the only time we can stray from that bedrock truth is when the Bible is clearly giving an illustration or using some other obvious literary device to make a point.  With that in mind, let us see more of what the Bible says about Jesus.
For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world [that] then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth [which] are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:5-7 NKJV
Jesus destroyed the world once and will do so again.  That same Jesus who died for our sins was and will be again the destroyer or this wicked world.  Some may say that this represents the Father and not Jesus, but Jesus and the Father are one.   We do not believe in three gods, but one God in Three Persons.  They are one God and act in one accord.  It is not like Jesus and the Father had a long debate with the Holy Spirit casting the deciding vote regarding judgement.  It was God, acting as God, in all Three Persons, judging the world for its sin.  Jesus is savior to those who accept his free gift of salvation, but to the rest of the world, He will be their Destroyer. 
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is [the Book] of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.  Revelation 20:11-15 NKJV
When Jesus returns, He will judge the living and the dead.  The same Jesus who came to earth to die for sins so that we can receive grace instead of judgement will judge eternally those who scorned that free gift.  The same Jesus who is our savior will be the same Jesus who sentences those who did not call upon His name to eternity in Hell.  In fact, in His ministry on earth, Jesus spoke more of Hell than He did of Heaven.  I am not saying that makes Hell more important, but we must make note of the fact that while Jesus has come to give us grace, that grace comes in place of the judgement that would befall us should we stand before God without Jesus.  So when evaluated Scripture, we must also remember that Jesus is the final Judge. 
each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on [it] endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.  1 Corinthians 3:13-15 NKJV
Jesus will not only judge those outside of Christ, but He will judge the works of those who have accepted his gift of salvation.  This judgement is not for our eternal destination, but it is used to determine our level of reward.  All who make it to this judgement are saved, but some will receive a greater reward than others.  To think that what we do once we are saved is of no consequence, needs to do a better job at studying their Bible.  All we do after we come to Jesus will be evaluated.  If were good servants in the time the Lord gave us, we will be rewarded.  If we squandered that time, we will suffer loss.  We will not lose our salvation, but we will experience some kind of loss in terms of our reward.   We can not live our lives thinking that God does not care about what we do with ourselves.  Jesus is not just our savior, but He is also our Evaluator who determines what rewards we receive once we are in heaven. 
If you love Me, keep My commandments.  John 14:15 NKJV

But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?  Luke 6:46 NKJV
Finally, and most importantly, Jesus is not only our Savior but He is also our Lord.  We can never forget that.  We know we are no longer bound to the law, but we should desire to grow in righteousness.  We should desire to obey our Lord.  Jesus tells us that if we love Him, we should keep His commandments.  At another time, He makes an even more direct statement asking us why we call Him Lord if we do not do what He tells us to do. This is not legalism, this is Jesus.  Jesus is Lord, meaning we defer to His authority over our lives.  We can not happily continue in our sin and yet continue to say that Jesus is Lord.  In other words, Jesus can not just be your Lord in name only.  That is not Lordship at all, but merely a symbolic title you call Him because that is what you learned to call Him.  Jesus being your Lord means you will live in obedience to Him and if He is the Word made flesh then you will be obedient to the Word. 

I hope that we can all see now that when we interpret the Word in the context of finding Jesus in the Word that it is not merely grace we need to be looking for.  Jesus is our Savior, but He is also our Lord and ultimately our Evaluator.  For the rest of the world, Jesus is Judge, Lawgiver, and Destroyer.  What we learned today about Jesus was directly from Scripture. I did not take an idea of Jesus and try to fit a Scripture into that idea, but rather I took Scripture about Jesus and allowed His Word to define who He is.   We must take that approach to Bible study.  The Bible is given to us to teach us, not for us to twist into our own ideas.  We must strip ourselves what we want Jesus to be and allow the Holy Spirit to show us who Jesus is through His Word.  There is no substitute for Bible study.  It should be something that all of us do on a regular basis.  If we do not have a desire for God's word then it reflects a problem in our walk with God.  It either shows that you are not as close to God as you should be or that we really do not believe it to be the Word of God.  Quite honestly, if you truly believe in Jesus Christ and truly love Him, then how can you not have that desire to read His letter to you?  Read the Word, get excited about what God has to say to you through it, and apply it to your life.  There is no greater teacher about Jesus than the Word He gave us.
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.   Luke 24:47 NKJV

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