Finding Faith: Are you serving a curated Jesus?
(Editors Note: This is the first part of a Finding Faith column written by Rev. Donald Grant of Hillview Wesleyan Church, Flemington.)
Who is Jesus to you? Careful how you respond, because how you answer will speak volumes, as to how you live your life.
This relevant question is not a new one. Jesus asked this same question to His disciples: “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?'” (Matthew 16:13-15).
It is supremely important that we walk daily in the knowledge of who Jesus is. This knowledge translates into correct believing and correct living. This knowledge, at least in part, consists of consistent Bible study. Scripture is very clear in this respect: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
At other times, our knowledge can be based on our experience. The more we get to know Him, the more we learn about who He is: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
The Danger of False Teaching
Here is an important question: Should what we learn of Him through study or experience betray what Scripture actually says about Him? While correct teaching begets correct believing, what happens when the teaching is not correct?
There is one Scripture in particular that serves as both a divine command and a solemn warning: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
This verse answers the question: Is doctrine important? While some in the Church have formed the opinion that doctrine is not essential, here we see that if we are told explicitly to rightly divide the Word, then adversely there exists the possibility of wrongly dividing the Word. Believing a wrongly divided Word can result in forming and drawing wrong conclusions about Jesus Himself. Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of the Word of God so it is crucial to have correct doctrine.
Unfortunately, there are many who have fallen under the shroud of false teaching, and have done this very thing. In so doing, they have created a “curated Savior.” This means that they have taken wrong information concerning Jesus, as to who Jesus is and what he has accomplished on the cross on our behalf, and “carefully” created their own brand of Jesus. He becomes a Jesus who fits their lifestyle, and pattern of belief.
Some of these wrong conclusions concerning this are disturbing, to say the least. While forming wrong opinions about Jesus is commonplace, and even expected by those who are unbelievers, this should not be the case with believers.
Paul the apostle warns us about the possibility of “another Jesus:” “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough (too easily)” (2 Corinthians 11:4).
Carefully note the connection Paul makes between the Christ and the gospel, because in essence Christ is the gospel. To the Christians in Galatia, Paul makes an even sterner exhortation, with dire consequences attached: “Which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!
As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” (Galatians 1:7-9).
The child of God needs to exercise extreme caution regarding who they allow to speak into their lives because false teaching is becoming rampant in the Church, and we want to make sure that we are serving the Jesus of the Bible.
Ponder this prayerfully.