What’s the point of Jesus?


God created.  His creations chose to sin (disobey God).  The world was no longer good.  But God STILL wanted a relationship with us, so He chose the smallest and weakest of the people groups (the Jews) and gave them extraordinary favor that they may demonstrate His glory to the nations.  God always wanted the nations, but He chose the Jews to be the evangelical messengers.

To the Jews, God made four covenants (with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David).  In the covenant with Moses, God gave 613 commands for His people to follow, and the idea was that by acting out righteousness, their hearts would begin to manifest a burning desire for God.  Unfortunately (and quite fortunately for us gentiles!), there were very few Jewish people who really developed that love.  And sacrifice without love is meaningless.  That’s where Jesus comes in.

Jesus is God.  He’s the physical representation of the invisible God (Col 1:15).  He’s the outward manifestation–the exact representation–of God (Heb 1:3).  And He’s God’s Son (Matt 3:17, Matt 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35).

When God saw that the Jewish people struggled to keep His commandments and develop true love for Him, He spoke to His prophets about a new covenant that He would bring.  The new covenant would allow the people to really connect with Him because His commandments would be written on their hearts (internally) instead of on stone (externally).  And though Christians are still to follow the commands of the Lord, Jesus promises that we would find rest for our souls, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt 11:29-30).

Jesus came to earth for several reasons (He tells us many in the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).  But these I want to highlight:

Without Jesus, it would be impossible for us to overcome; but when He died, was buried, and was resurrected for our sins, He also sent power through the Holy Spirit that we may intimately connect with Him and the Father (John 16:7).  It is such a powerful promise that we would be able to intimately communicate with the God of the universe!


Stop indulging the flesh


One of the best ways to grow spiritually is to stop indulging the flesh.

Paul writes:

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men…for you were not yet able to receive it.  Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?  For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not mere men? (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)

It sounds like the church in Corinth struggled primarily with envy, offense, and division (putting more emphasis on earthly leaders than Jesus Himself).  But whatever our personal battles, when we get rid of the things of the flesh, we have more room in us for things of the Spirit.  We also clear ourselves of the ‘static’ of the world, so that we can better focus on God and His voice.

So how do we get rid of the stubborn parts of our flesh?

  • We continually make an active choice in our hearts to submit to God and war against our flesh (through prayer, deliberate choice, and maybe even the intervention of other Christians)—the point isn’t whether we are initially successful, but that we earnestly and diligently desire righteousness
  • We  stop feeding our lusts by choosing not to do, watch, read or listen to the “permissible” things that are preventing us from fully focusing on the Lord
  • We welcome the conviction of the Holy Spirit and desire to work out our salvation with fear and trembling through repentance
  • In fact, we ask the Lord to search our hearts, that we may be purified–as we repent–of hidden fleshly desires
  • We abide in His Word and immerse ourselves in His truth so that we continue to grow in righteous qualities (2 Peter 1:5-8)

In my own life, I’ve found that the more I pursue the Lord and consider Him in my everyday choices, the freer I become and the easier it is to walk more in His Spirit and less in my flesh.  Jesus’ grace gives us the power to choose righteousness, so let’s discipline our bodies and lay aside every encumbrance that we may effectively run the race set before us (1 Cor 9:24-27, Heb 12:1-2).


Individual faith; intimate relationship


This is a short segment of an email I wrote today responding to a discussion based on an article about hearing from the Lord (the author of the article argues that dreams and visions have no place among today’s Christians and therefore, come from a demonic or natural source when experienced):

In the Old Testament, God’s relationship with the people was corporate—if the husband of the family was saved, the rest of the family would also be saved and so on.  It was because of the people’s sin that they could not interact personally with the Father, and, in fact, the Glory of the Lord acts so powerfully against sin that they could not safely approach the places where the Lord would choose to rest His presence (the Mountain, the Holy of Holies, etc).

The Holy Spirit was not fully available, so God would pick only one or a couple of the most righteous people to send the Holy Spirit to, that they would be able to speak to His people.  Notice that in Numbers 11, Moses wanted the burden of prophet/judge to be split among other men because it was so much for him to bear, so God led him to appoint seven elders to share leadership.  And God does something surprising: He says, “I will take of the Spirit that is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it alone.”  The Holy Spirit wasn’t fully available yet—and couldn’t be under the Mosaic Covenant—so God the Father split the portion He gave to Moses so that they each had a piece of the responsibility (for that instance; after they had prophesied once, they never did again: Num 11:25).

Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection was the sealing factor in a new covenant—the Messianic Covenant—and as a result, He promised that the Holy Spirit would now be available to every believer.  Not only that, but because God could now communicate with each individual person, people would be judged individually for their sins.  We’re now entirely responsible for our own relationship to the Lord; and Jesus promises that His sheep will hear His voice (John 10) and that the Holy Spirit would be with us to lead us into all Truth (John 14 and John 16), but we do have to diligently ask to receive the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13)—not just one time, but consistently so that we can truly walk in the Spirit.  The power of the Holy Spirit became fully available at Pentecost, but we can only receive as much as we can handle and as much as we want, and since we are continuously sanctified and growing in faith, we need to continue to ask for Him so that the world doesn’t seep into us instead.

Also, God does speak to us through the Bible, and we should always compare everything to it.  However, it’s important to realize that when Hebrews 1:2 says God speaks to us through His SON, it means exactly that—Jesus is Living and He speaks.  He speaks to us through the scriptures (which are the inspired Word of God through the Holy Spirit), but He also speaks to us through prayer, dreams, visions, the gift of tongues with interpretation, and even through other people as they are led by the Holy Spirit.  I agree that we should test every spirit to see if it is of God—the devil is speaking too, and since he doesn’t have the power to create as God does, he uses the gifts that God has already set up for his purposes.  Many people think they’re hearing from Jesus through dreams, visions, pastors, prayer, tongues and a variety of other sources when they’re really hearing from deceptive spirits or false prophets!  That’s why it’s so important to stay in the Bible (John 8:31-32) and to spend lots of time practicing hearing the Lord’s voice.  We can’t assume that all of the God-given gifts are bad, but we do have to be very aware so that we can discern whether the voice being heard is from God or the devil.