Tag Archives: the cross

Jesus or What He Did?

Do we need Jesus or do we need what Jesus does for us? 

Of course some would suggest that these are the same.  Jesus, because of who He is, has done what we need.  But that misses the point.  Do we actually need Jesus?  Him, personally, not just what He has done?

Suppose you travel far away from your family.  You send gifts.  You have provided for their care.  You have left instructions for them.  Your children will learn the things that are important to you.  Your spouse will have words of comfort and assurances of love.  Everything they need is taken care of.  What is missing?  You!

What do we really need from the Lord?  Salvation?  Forgiveness?  Reconciliation?  Assurances of His love?  These are great and so important, but we need Him.  That’s why He offers us Himself.

Consider this:  Romans 5:6 says that “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”  What an amazing gift!  What a blessing!  But the Scriptures refer to the ungodly after the resurrection of Christ.  So why are they still called the ungodly?  If Jesus died for them, why doesn’t the Scripture call them “the saved?”  Answer: because the action on the cross didn’t complete their salvation! 

(I realize that I must walk carefully here.  We have been taught that everything happened in the cross.  I am in no way lessening what was accomplished for us on the cross, nor what was accomplished for the whole world.  Instead, I am making a distinction that is very important.)

Through the cross, the Lord redeemed us.  Justification, forgiveness, reconciliation, salvation—all are found in the work of Jesus on the cross for us.  That’s how the Lord accomplished the work we needed.  But listen carefully: no one is saved by the cross.  We are saved by the Person of the cross. 

Christ died for the ungodly.  That’s true, and I am particularly thankful that it is true.  But many will remain “ungodly” because they will never have the Person of godliness in them.  No one becomes godly apart from Jesus.  Godliness is only found in Him – not in what He did for us.  We become godly when Jesus comes into us and becomes our life.  When His life is the life in us, then we are truly godly.  Then, and then only, is our salvation complete.

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:

God was manifested in the flesh…     1 Timothy 3:16(NKJV)

Comments?  Questions?

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Filed under Grace definition, Relationship, Theology and mystery

Does Everyone Need Jesus?

Does everyone need Jesus?  Pelagius (@AD400) is credited with a doctrine that suggested nothing actually changed in the Fall.  In other words, when Adam and Eve sinned, nothing really happened.  Sure, they were kicked out of the Garden and things like evil and suffering entered the world, but nothing of their spiritual essence changed.  All that needed to happen for them to be restored to fellowship with God was for them to obey.  They could be back on the track simply by their choice. 

There is some question as to whether Pelagius ever taught this or his followers simply went too far with some of his other teachings.  The bottom line, and the doctrinal concern with what has become known as “Pelagianism,” is that there would be no need for a Savior.  The cross, I suppose, would become the ultimate example of obedience.

Pelagius, Eutychus, Arius, Montanus, Nestorius, Apollonarius—these were all reasonably good men, popular in their day, who had ideas that were just a little off.  They, and many like them through the centuries, were just trying to understand the mysteries of the faith.  They thought they had discovered some answers.  But history called their ideas wrong and their names became associated with heresy.

Not all error is primary.  Sometimes we really just see things differently.  At least one of us is wrong, but it doesn’t matter all that much.  So we have Lutherans, and Calvinists and Arminians and others—and even though they fight each other, the differences are not as significant as some would have us believe.  There is still one Savior, who is God in human flesh, and we need Him.

All primary doctrinal error leads ultimately to one of two ends: the denial of the deity of Jesus Christ or the denial of our need for a Savior.  Legalism teaches, when all of the decorations are removed, that we can and eventually must save ourselves.  Liberalism teaches that Jesus was just like us, to the extent that He offers nothing of real value to our salvation.  The natural path of error slopes toward either of these.  But even these are the same error.  Basically there is one question: does everyone need Jesus?

Yes, everyone needs Jesus. It’s all about Him, or we have nothing.


Filed under Freedom, grace, Theology and mystery