Going straight to the Cross
 

The Jesus We All Need

by J. Randal Matheny

Each society and culture has its own identifying marks. Language, history, values, and world view distinguish one people group from another.

The gospel can reach every group, meeting every need and addressing every concern. The many threads of redemption woven together in a single cord manage to penetrate the thinking and issues of every culture.

So a few weeks ago, I shared with a congregation "The Jesus that Brazil Needs." While each point addressed a feature of Brazilian culture, these truths about the Christ need to resound in every place.

1. Jesus is Lord.

We live in a time and place where, like Israel during the judges, each one does what one thinks best (Judges 21:25). Not only in Corinth is the slogan "Everything is permitted" chanted with enthusiasm (1 Corinthians 10:23).

Saying Jesus is Lord means at least three things:

(a) He has all authority (Matthew 28:18). Authority means obedience is essential (Matthew 7:21; Luke 6:46). We are servants of Christ, or better, his slaves (Romans 6:16-18). And when things get out of hand? Get back to the original word of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:23).

(b) Jesus is our unifier (Ephesians 4:4-6; 6:9). If we all obey him as Lord, we step together. Peter finally woke up to the radical truth that all may come to God through him, making him "Lord of all" (Acts 10:36; cf. Romans 10:12).

(c) Jesus as Lord means we have been given a revelation (1 Corinthians 12:1-3). The Holy Spirit shows who Jesus is and what his Lordship means. So we must always, says Paul, "remember the words [his revelation] of the LORD Jesus" (Acts 20:35).

2. Jesus is power (to save).

Brasil has long awaited the "savior of the country," who will never appear. People feel impotent to change their lives and their own society. And right they are.

Washed with the strongest soap, man still retains his sin (Jeremiah 2:22). Who can say, "I have purified my heart, I am free from sin?" (Proverbs 20:9). No one can even identify his own sins (Psalm 19:12). Nor can anyone redeem his brother (Psalm 49:7-9, 15).

The answer to the disciples' question, "Who then can be saved?" is "No one." "For man this is impossible, but for God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:25-26).

Now, for Jesus to be Savior, he must first be, to us, Lord. The full phrase "Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" is found only in Peter (2 Peter 1:11; 2:20; 3:2, 18) and always in this order. The order is important, for it is not the nice sound which dictates that "Lord" is written before "Savior," but theology -- to get into the eternal kingdom, Jesus must first be Lord, must be obeyed (Matthew 7:21-23).

The commandment of God spoken by Jesus to all men "is eternal life" (John 12:50). Not just "means" eternal life, or "brings" eternal life, but obeying the commandment of God (in the age of grace!) is so identified with eternal life that Jesus says the commandment IS eternal life. Hard to get around that one.

Jesus' power to save means he saves completely (Hebrews 7:25). He is ABLE to save. Only he can make it happen. ("Able" is from that Greek word "dunamai" from which we get "dynamite.")

Jesus saves completely, absolutely, in every way, cleansing our past, holding us in the present, guaranteeing our future. He can save everyone in every place, in every time.

Jesus can save the worst: a hated, traitorous publican (Luke 19:9-10); a criminal on death row (Luke 23:40-43); a dogged persecutor (1 Timothy 1:15-17).

Next time, more about Jesus as our fullness, our wisdom, our example.

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