The Gospel

When You Hear the Name of Jesus…

…what comes to mind?

In the Bible, Jesus asked his followers, “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?” His followers gave him various answers. Some people thought Jesus was one of the prophets raised from the dead: Elijah, Jeremiah, even John the Baptist.[1]

It’s very much the same in America today. Most people have heard the name of Jesus or have heard of the person some call Jesus Christ, yet there are many opinions about who he is.

One group of people believe Jesus is really an appearance of the Archangel Michael, one of God’s angels mentioned by name in the Bible.

There is another group who says Jesus is the spiritual brother of Lucifer.

Some people will acknowledge the name of Jesus as a man living some 2,000 years ago in Israel, who was a wise Jewish rabbi, and was crucified by the Romans for what he taught.

Others will readily admit they have heard of Jesus; however, other than his name being connected with many churches in America, they really don’t know very much about him.

Still others say Jesus was God, who became man.

Which one is right?

After Jesus heard the various answers from his followers, he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Of the twelve men Jesus had chosen to be his disciples, only one spoke up, Simon Peter. He said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”[2]

Jesus, a Jew born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, told the Hebrew religious leaders of his day, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.”[3] In other words, according to Jesus, the entire Old Testament of the Bible was written about him (since the New Testament was written by his followers, and after the time Jesus said this to the Israelites). This is an incredible claim! His statement tells us two important things. First, to understand who Jesus is, we need to be instructed by the scriptures. Second, if one desires eternal life, he or she must find it in Jesus, and not just any Jesus, but the Jesus revealed in the scriptures.

Who is the Biblical Jesus?

The Bible says Jesus was both fully man and fully God. He was born of a virgin so Jesus was fully human, yet he was sinless, being conceived of the Holy Spirit.[4]

Jesus himself said he was God when he told the Jewish leaders, “I and the Father are one.” They picked up stones to stone Jesus. When Jesus asked them for what good work he had done to cause them to want to do this, they responded, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”[5] Jesus made the same claim at other times and the religious leaders recognized what he was saying.

Jesus, as a man, declaring himself to be God, is a bold claim indeed. Bible-believing Christians throughout the last 2,000 years of history believed Jesus to be both fully man and fully God, supporting his incredible claim.

Moreover, Jesus claimed to be the only way to heaven. On the night he was arrested by the temple guard, he told his twelve disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”[6]

This is another amazing claim. In effect, what he was saying was, if anyone believes there’s another way to eternal joy in heaven, they’re wrong because believing in him is the only way.

Between these two statements, as one man put it so many years ago, either Jesus is a liar, a lunatic, or he truly is the Lord.

If he is God, then why would God become a man? Again, we turn to the Bible to understand what Jesus did while he was on earth.

What has Jesus done?

Jesus did many miracles while he was on earth. Nevertheless, the miracles were not the purpose for his coming to earth as a man. These were merely evidences from the Old Testament scriptures authenticating who he said he was, the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God.

You see, Moses told the people of Israel, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers– it is to him you shall listen.”[7]

Jesus would be like Moses when he came because the life of Moses was spared when Pharaoh ordered the death of male Jewish infants, just as Herod ordered the deaths of male infants 2-years-old and under in Bethlehem after Jesus was born. Moses performed mighty miracles before Pharaoh, and finally delivered Israel from their bondage in Egypt on the evening of the Passover following the death of firstborn sons. Jesus performed mighty miracles just like Moses before the Pharisees, and finally delivered Israel from the bondage of sin on the evening of the Passover through His death upon the cross, as the only begotten son of God.

His death upon the cross was why Jesus came. When the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, asked Jesus if he was the King of the Jews, Jesus said, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world– to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”[8]

Understanding his death upon the cross is important in order to know fully who Jesus is. Right after he asked his followers the questions about who he was, Jesus began teaching them about his arrest and the death he would suffer on the cross.[9]

Why is the life and death of Jesus so important?

Just a moment ago, Moses was mentioned. After Moses led Israel out of Egypt, and after God destroyed Egypt’s armies of chariots in the Red Sea, Israel camped at the foot of the mount in the wilderness and Moses received Ten Commandments on tablets of stone written with the very finger of God.[10]

These commandments summarized the heavenly standard of God’s holiness, if mankind wanted to worship a holy God. These commandments were:[11]

  1. You shall have no other gods before the LORD.
  2. You shall not worship idols or serve them.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness (lie or commit any untruth).
  10. You shall not covet anything belonging to another.

So what’s the problem here? Well, Jesus taught if you are angry with your brother without a reason, you’re guilty of murder.[12] Anyone who has been a child and had a sibling has broken this commandment. Parents of more than one child know this occurs almost daily. Moreover, Jesus said if anyone lusted after a woman, he was guilty of adultery.[13] Why? Because the commandments of God are more than an external act.

The holiness of God demands purity of soul in every area of one’s life. This cannot be done by sinful descendents of Adam, the first man, who disobeyed God in the garden of Eden. The Bible declares, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”[14] This means, the very best of man’s character can never meet God’s minimum standard for righteousness when compared to His heavenly holiness.

You were created for God’s glory,[15] yet, you and every person on the planet have broken God’s commandments. We have lived a life to indulge our own selfish desires, in rebellion against God.

This is why Jesus must live a holy, righteous, and sinless life as a man. We have not and cannot. By his holy life, Jesus is the only man who has ever kept every command of God perfectly in thought, word and deed.

This is also why his death upon the cross was so important. His perfect life made Jesus the only substitute for the penalty of sin. The Bible declares, “the wages of sin is death.”[16] Moreover, since every soul has sinned against God, the Bible declares, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”[17]

Since sin came into the world and all human beings were made subject to it by one man’s disobedience, Adam, God declares that by the sacrifice of one righteous man, Jesus, those who believe in Jesus may be saved.

Jesus suffered God’s holy anger for sins he did not commit. Jesus paid a debt he did not owe, for a debt we owe and cannot possibly pay. The blood of Jesus was shed so our sins may be forgiven. It was written in the Old Testament, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood… for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.”[18] All the animals commanded to be sacrificed on the altar in Israel was because their shed blood, the death of their innocent lives, and their burning upon the altar foreshadowed the wrath suffered, shed blood, and death of God’s only begotten son, Jesus.

And his death wasn’t the end of it. Jesus rose from the dead after three days and nights in the tomb. It demonstrated the power of God over sin and death and verified the truth of Jesus’ testimony: he really is eternal and almighty God.

How does this apply to you?

Consider this: your sins are so repulsive and horrifying before a holy God, it took nothing less than God becoming a man in order to be the perfect sacrifice for the sins you’ve committed against Him. We are all guilty of sinning against God! Our wicked works have made us His enemies!

Are you indifferent to all you’ve read so far? Or worse, are you offended by it, thinking you’re a much better person than Jesus and the Bible declares? If so, your heart may be hardened toward God and numb to sin. Cry out to God for help right now so you can gain a true understanding of your sinful condition. Your eternal soul hangs in the balance and your everlasting welfare is at stake!

You see, God gave an infinitely priceless treasure when He sent His only son, Jesus, to be the sacrifice for mankind’s sins. Nothing in all the universe can match the infinite worth and eternal value of God’s son. By sending His son to die for men’s sins, it not only tells us how evil our sins must be, it also tells us that to reject Jesus as Lord and Savior is the very worst of sins a human being can commit.

Jesus rose from the dead, as mentioned a few moments ago. Afterward, he ascended into heaven with the promise to return. Those living, as well as the resurrected dead, will stand in judgment before the throne of Jesus when he returns.

Those who have believed in Jesus, who have trusted in him as their Lord, and repented of their sins, will spend eternity with him in the joy of his presence. Those who have never repented and believed, whether they have heard of Jesus or not, will be cast into a lake of fire in outer darkness where there will be eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth.[19]

Do you believe? Have you repented? If you have not, the Bible says you will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of Jesus Christ; and the smoke of your torment will rise forever.[20]

If this causes you to fear, keep reading because we’re on the right track. The Bible says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”[21] Men can only kill your body, says Jesus, but God should be feared above all because He alone can destroy both body and soul in hell.[22]

So what must you do?

As mentioned earlier, Jesus said he was the only way to eternal life when he told his disciples he was “the way, the truth, and the life.” Since his death upon the cross is the only payment for an individual’s sins, you must believe in who Jesus is as the son of God and trust what he has done to sufficiently pay for your sins. Since you already know your works are insufficient because you’ve broken the commandments, a “good life” or “good deeds” can’t save you. A heartfelt prayer can’t save you or just wanting it bad enough won’t do it for you.

This saving faith is a supernatural transformation which takes place miraculously in the soul who hears the truth about Jesus Christ. If there is something now changing within you because you’ve read the words so far in this tract, or heard many of the same things and more from the person who gave this tract to you, or both, then it is the Spirit of God working upon your life to save you.

How do you know?

Now, as faith to believe is the gift of God to the one He is saving through Christ, repentance also accompanies this saving faith.

First, let’s look at saving faith. This trusting faith in Jesus is more than a mere acknowledgement of the facts. The Bible says, “Even the devils believe– and shudder!”[23] And why not? Devils are fallen angels, eternal beings who have seen their creator. They know who God is and have seen him, yet they are unsaved. Therefore, knowledge of the facts won’t save you. Neither will fear of this knowledge save you. Understand that not everyone who fears God is saved; however, everyone who is saved fears God.

Saving faith engages the heart because it changes a person from the inside out. It’s not merely lip service to say you believe. It comes forth from a real change because God has placed in you a new heart and a new spirit to believe.[24]

Saving faith comes by the truth of God’s Word, the Bible, and by a supernatural understanding of the gospel truths as the Spirit of God makes it clear to the soul.[25]

Saving faith also instills reliance upon Jesus for all things in life. It surrenders to Christ’s authority as King of kings and Lord of all, rejecting anything and everything else which competes with loyalty to Jesus.[26]

In salvation, faith and repentance are distinct, yet inseparable. Repentance may be defined as a turning of the mind, emotions and will. Sometimes, however, this concept may be hard to grasp. Here is another way you might look at it….

Since you’ve heard the truth and believe in Christ, trusting in him alone for salvation, is your life now so transformed that your thoughts concerning sin have changed? Do you now hate the sin which you once loved because it is offensive to God?

Since you’ve heard the truth and trust in Jesus, is your life now so transformed that you now love Jesus and want to spend eternity with him, whereas before, you may not have given Jesus a second thought?

Since you’ve heard the truth and trust in Jesus Christ, is your life now so transformed that you are now determined to forsake sin and follow Jesus? It won’t be sinless perfection. You will fail. Nevertheless, are you resolved to surrender your life to only Christ?

If the answer to those three areas is ‘yes’ then your repentant condition will produce evidence of this new life.[27]

Having heard the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, you must realize you are not guaranteed tomorrow. You’re not even guaranteed the next minute of your life. God says, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever.”[28] There’s not a moment to lose.

Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”[29]

Cry out to God right now. Turn from your sin and follow Jesus. The Bible says, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”[30] Receive his free gift today!

Where do you go from here?

If faith and repentance in Jesus has not come forth, yet you know there’s something different, don’t dismiss it. Continue to call out to God. Find a Bible-believing, gospel-preaching, Christ-exalting church where you can be encouraged in these truths. If God has begun a good work in you, He will bring it to pass. Persevere until you are certain of God’s finished work.

Perhaps you’ve cried out and God has answered your prayer. You, too, will want to find a Bible-believing, gospel-preaching, Christ-exalting church where you can continue to be encouraged in these truths. Seeing Christ in scripture and understanding the Bible with a gospel-centered approach will spiritually motivate you to put your Christianity into practice for God’s glory and mature you to advance Christ’s kingdom.

If you’re anywhere near Anniston, Alabama, we warmly invite you to visit us at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church.

[1] Matthew 16:13-14

[2] Matthew 16:15-16

[3] John 5:39

[4] Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:34-35

[5] John 10:30-33

[6] John 14:6

[7] Deuteronomy 18:15

[8] John 18:33-37

[9] Matthew 16:21-23

[10] Exodus 31:18

[11] Exodus 20:1-17

[12] Matthew 5:22

[13] Matthew 5:28

[14] Romans 3:23

[15] 1 Corinthians 10:31

[16] Romans 3:23

[17] Hebrews 9:27

[18] Leviticus 17:11

[19] Matthew 22:13

[20] Revelation 14:10-11

[21] Proverbs 9:10

[22] Matthew 10:28

[23] James 2:19

[24] Ezekiel 36:26

[25] Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 2:14

[26] Luke 14:26-27, 33

[27] Matthew 3:8-10

[28] Genesis 6:3

[29] Matthew 11:28-30

[30] 2 Corinthians 6:2

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