Monday, May 25, 2009

Who is Jesus?(by Patrick Navas)

This is a portion of an essay written by Patrick Navas,author of "Divine Truth or Human Tradition"..just wanted to share.He isn't a Jehovah's Witness.



Jesus of Nazareth, the promised Messiah

Although controversy still rages in religious circles regarding the true identity of Jesus, in the first century, the original, foundational truth of the gospel was that Jesus of Nazareth was the long-awaited “Christ” or “Messiah”—God’s “beloved” and “anointed” Son. The sense of the term Messiah (‘anointed one’) is brought out in Jesus’ own words regarding himself as “the one whom the Father consecrated and sent forth into the world,” and when God himself testified of Jesus during his baptism, “this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” He is, according to Scripture, the one whom God “sent” and the one on whom God, the Father, has “set his seal.” —John 10:36; Matt. 3:16; John 3:34; 5:30; 7:29; 6:27

Faith in, and confession of, Jesus as “the Christ” is essential, the true foundation of Christian faith; so much that the faith itself was, in the minds’ of the apostles, directly tied to one’s being “born of God”—a truth delivered by way of direct revelation from the Father. This was demonstrated in Matthew’s Gospel, when Jesus pointedly asked his disciples, “who do you say that I am?”—to which the disciple Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In turn, Jesus responded, “Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” —Matt. 16:13-18

In perfect harmony, at the end of his Gospel account, the apostle John summarized the purpose of his own writings in this way:

“These things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you might have life in his name.” —John 20:31

Unlike the doctrinal formulations of the historic “creeds,” the disclosure of Jesus’ identity as “the Christ” and “Son of God” is neither an interpretation nor a theological inference, but a divinely-revealed truth upon which the gospel stands. This is the true article of the Christian faith, resting not on the traditions of men but on the testimony of God Himself. As the apostle John wrote in his first epistle:

“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is surely greater; for this is the testimony of God, that He has borne witness to His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. He who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne to His Son.” —1 John 5:9-10

The apostle likewise assured those whom he was writing to in the first century:

“…everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.” —1 John 5:1-5

The children of God are not identified by conformity to a man-made tradition, but, as the apostle wrote, by believing that Jesus is “the Christ” and because they “practice righteousness” (1 John 3:4-10). And because “the righteousness of God is revealed” in the gospel, those “who hunger and thirst after righteousness” find their fill in the words of “the righteous one,” God’s Son (Rom. 1:17; Matt. 5:6; Acts 3:14; 1 John 2:1), who imparts in believers confidence that his message was truly from God, as he made clear:

“My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me. If anyone's will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.” —John 7:16-17

That is to say, the words of the Messiah are trustworthy and righteous, for he has “not spoken on [his] own authority, but the Father who sent [him] has Himself given [him] a commandment—what to say and what to speak,” the commandment that leads to “eternal life.” —John 12:49, 50

The apostle John bore witness to the same hope, based on the same sure foundation:

“And we ourselves have seen and do testify that the Father has sent His Son as the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” —1 John 4:14, 15

In spite of the theological formulations of early “church” councils and traditional creeds, the life that Jesus has in himself, as God’s Son, was “granted” to him by one who is “greater” than himself—his Father—and he himself lives “because of” Him (John 5:36; 6:57; 14:28). He is, as Scripture says, “the image of the invisible God,” “the reflection of [God’s] glory” and “the exact representation of His very being” (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:2, 3). He is “the apostle and high priest of our confession”—the “one mediator between God and men” (Heb. 3:1; 1 Tim. 2:5).

These are descriptions that reflect the true, divinely-revealed role and identity of Jesus, the Messiah. Unfortunately the so-called “orthodox” or “mainline” church institutions have, in a multitude of ways, defected from the original letter, and spirit, of Scripture—requiring the confession of doctrine and language that go beyond what is revealed there. As pervasive as they have proven to be historically, however, institution-based creedal formulas that go beyond the Scripture’s own language are unnecessary and often misleading. Because the Scriptures themselves are “able to make [one] wise unto salvation,” and because they spell the truth out with sufficient clarity on these matters, “the man of God” is under no obligation to recognize the authority of any other source (See for example: 1 Cor. 8:6; John 17:3; 1 Tim. 2:5; Deut. 6:4; 2 Tim. 3:14-18).

The Lordship of Jesus Christ

In the Christian Scriptures Jesus is dignified with the status of “Lord” because of the all-encompassing authority given to him by God; as Jesus declared to his disciples after the resurrection: “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18; Psalm 110:1). Jesus was a faithful servant of God who lived a perfectly obedient life to the point of an agonizing death—“for this reason God has so highly exalted him and given him the name that is above every name…” (Acts 3:26; Isaiah 52:13; Phil. 2:8-11). Because of his enduring faithfulness as “the only begotten of the Father,” God has not only “seated him at His right hand” but “has placed all things under his feet,” appointing him “to be head over everything for the congregation” of God’s people (John 1:14; Eph. 1:20-22); as Peter gave assurance to the house of Israel:

“God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ” —Acts 2:36

This is the testimony of the apostles, who, throughout their public ministry, continually drew attention to the Messiah’s resurrection and God-given Lordship as essential to the good news of salvation:

“…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” —Rom. 10:9

Scripturally, however, to honor Jesus as “Lord” is not to conflate him with the “one God, the Father,” who is “one,” but to recognize the authority that his Father, God, has vested in him. That is why our obedience to, and confession of, Jesus as the exalted “Lord” always resounds “to the glory of God the Father.” —Phil. 2:11; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; Deut. 6:4; Compare John 5:22, 23; 12:26

The dangers of “another gospel”

“…the good news that was proclaimed by me was not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”
—The apostle Paul, Galatians 1:11, NRSV

The good news preached by Jesus and his apostles is the same one Christians accept and live by today—requiring no additions, refinements, or alterations (Gal. 1:6-9). As it was in the first century, Christians today continue “devoting themselves to the apostles’ doctrine”—“sound doctrine” that is, thankfully, preserved for us in scriptural form to this day. —Tit. 1:9; 2:1; Acts 2:42; 2 Tim. 3:14-18
The apostles were well aware of the human tendency to corrupt and suppress the truth of the message they were entrusted with (Acts 20:29-32). They knew that, through various agencies, Satan falsely presented himself as “an angel of light,” and that his servants would “disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness.” They knew that the enemy deliberately worked to “blind the minds of unbelievers,” and of false teachers who would “secretly bring in destructive divisions” just as they would “distort the gospel of Christ.” That is why the apostles wrote much to address the threat of a “different gospel,” admonishing Christians to “examine everything carefully,” and to “not believe every spirit” but to “test the spirits to see whether they are of God,” since “many false prophets” and “deceivers have gone out into the world.” —2 Cor. 4:4; 11:14; 2 Pet. 2:1;1 John 4:1; 2 John 7; 1 Thess. 5:21; Gal. 1:7; 2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:6

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