Monthly Archives: September 2012

Who is Jesus? The Prophet… The Priest… and the King!

One of the biggest challenges that we as believers in Christ will face today is trying to answer what would seem to be an easy question. This question is, “Who is Jesus?” Unfortunately today, “There are many misconceptions concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. False religions have portrayed Jesus Christ as everything from a space alien to merely a myth. Many people believe that Jesus was only a prophet” (Stewart). So how does one combat these misconceptions? As grandiose as many people would like to believe, not everyone that enters ministry will be the senior pastor of a mega-church. Therefore, we as Christ followers should be more realistic and error on the side of personal interaction. This begins by having full knowledge of how we would answer the question of Christ’s identify to the unbeliever on the street. Therefore, for one to truly know who Jesus is, they must come to identify Him through the offices He held. As this article will show, to know Christ is to recognize what it means for Jesus to have held the offices of the prophet, the priest, and the king.

As God’s ultimate messenger, it should come as no surprise that Jesus was labeled as a prophet. Unfortunately, today the confusion begins when man redefines the meaning of prophets to correspond with their own inability to understand. In doing so, they weaken the meaning of the term. In scripture, biblical prophets were identified as individuals whom God conveyed His message through. When looking at Christ’s role, we see that as a prophet, His public ministry was profoundly impacted. Jesus was so determined to speak to the people that He would travel from synagogue to synagogue. He did this so that He could tell of the good news of the forthcoming Kingdom. Jesus not only declared the good news, “He also challenged the sinfulness of people and their hard-heartedness against God, especially pointing out the hypocrisy of religious leaders” (Thorsen 202). Clearly, Jesus had an encouraging prophetic ministry; so prophetic that He even told of a future day when He would return. “‘My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am’” (John 14:2-3).

The priestly office of Christ was dramatically different from that of a prophet messenger. In today’s culture a priest is known as an intercessor or bridge between God and humanity. While in early biblical times, the priest was responsible for offering sacrifices to God on the behalf of others. Although different time periods, these definitions of a priest seem fitting for the sacrifice that Christ provided to atone for humanities sins. Furthermore, prior to Christ’s death, part of the Jews religious beliefs centered upon sacrificing animals. When viewing Christ as High Priest, “He actually combines two institutions of the sacrificial system: He is the priest who offers the sacrifice and He is the sacrifice. He did not enter Heaven with the blood of animals but through His own blood, and as a result, we are sanctified once and for all” (Eckman). With Christ’s atonement for our sins, the need for Levitical sacrifices to compensate for man’s sins are no longer needed. In its place, comes a new covenant relationship between God and man provided by the priestly office of our Savior Jesus Christ.

The third office that Christ holds is that of King. Unlike earthly kings that establish their reign through force and intimidation, Jesus’ rule was not established by instilling fear in the hearts of men. “His kingdom is not physical in regard to His people, but one in which they choose to become a part of His kingdom by placing themselves under His Lordship, voluntarily; turning away from serving the god of this world, Lucifer” (Renz). The reason that Christ’s kingship is so widely accepted is because it is based upon four facets of His life; His reign was predicted, presented, proclaimed, and it is preeminent. From the very beginning, the Book of Genesis predicts Christ’s birth by a woman, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Next, Christ’s kingship is presented numerous times in the New Testament. In fact, “Matthew refers to Jesus as king 14 times, Mark refers to Him as king 6 times, Luke refers to Him as king 5 times, and John refers to Him as king 14 times” (Renz). Thirdly, Christ Himself makes the first proclamation of His kingship in the Gospel of Mark where He claims, “‘The time has come,’ He said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (Mark 1:15). Last, Christ can only be our King if one makes a choice. We must allow Him to reign over our hearts by allowing Him to sit on the throne of our lives. For as the scriptures confirm, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

In the confines of ministry, no matter if you are a theological major or saved for only one day, there is substantial biblical evidence to support and help all Christians convey who Jesus Christ is. Yet for some reason, many still feel that they do not have the communication skills needed to minister to others. However, what they fail to realize is that, “When the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed, it does ‘not come by itself,’ that is ‘simply with words.’ Rather, when God’s Word is preached it is accompanied by work of the Holy Spirit” (Malone). Without the Holy Spirit working inside us, no extent of eloquent words will lead men and women to an act of repentance before the Lord. Therefore, one should place less emphasis on our words trying to bring forth personal transformation, and keep in mind that the weapon we bare to wage war in the spiritual battle is the Sword of the Spirit (The Bible).

In summary, Jesus Christ has come to be identified by many different titles. And at times, some have even referred to Him as just a good man. Yet for those of us who believe in Christ, we recognize that for one to truly know who Jesus is, one must come to identify Him through the offices that He held; the offices of the prophet, the priest, and the king. Two-thousand years has passed since Jesus Christ has left this earth, yet many still do not know the answer to one of life’s most important questions, “Who is Jesus?” It is a question that even Jesus Himself asked of His own disciples, “‘But who do you say that I am?’” And while we may not have a front row seat before Jesus today, rest assured as you walk out amongst the world you will have just as many chances to answer this question. It may come in the form of your next-door neighbor, your boss, your postman, or even the barista at your local coffee house. But it will be just as important as answering it directly before Christ. The only question that remains then, when faced with these opportunities, “Who will you say that He is?”

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
Eckman, David. “Christ the High Priest.” Whatgodintended.com. 2011. Web. April 21, 2011.

Malone, Kelly. “Evangelism and Proclaiming The Gospel of Jesus Christ In A Fallen World.” Crosswalk.com. September 07, 2007. Web. April 21, 2011.

Renz, Art. “Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Hissheep.org. 2011. Web. April 21, 2011.

Stewart, David J. “Misconceptions Concerning Christ.” Jesus-is-savior.com. 2011. Web. April 21, 2011.

Thorsen, Don. An Exploration of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2010. Print.

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Father, Son, and Who?

‘Trinity,’ it’s a word never found in scripture, but represents a very important biblical doctrine to the Christian faith. The term is derived from ‘Tri’ meaning three, and ‘Unity’ meaning one, Tri+Unity = Trinity. It is a way of recognizing what the Bible reveals to us about God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God known as three “Persons” who have the same essence of deity; yet the emphasis is that there is only ONE God. Thus, the study of the Trinity seeks to bring a clearer understanding of the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as set forth in the scripture; and yet the absence of the term used to describe the doctrine does not necessarily mean the term is not biblical. Unfortunately with this definition, much debate continues to swirl surrounding the identity of the Holy Spirit. As the twenty-first century has shown, contemporary views regarding the Holy Spirit has been challenged by the emergent church movement and an ever-growing environment of political correctness. This has led some to interpret the Holy Spirit as a fairy-tale like power. Others recognize the Holy Spirit as being more of an impartial influence that God provides to those who follow Christ. Yet, to find the truth, one need only ask themselves, how is the identity of the Holy Spirit described in the Bible? In its simplest form the Bible proclaims that the Holy Spirit is God. However, to better understand this concept, this article will look to identify three areas of the Holy Sprit. These are God as Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, and the identity of the Spirit.

“The term ‘Spirit of God’ appears many times in the Old testament, but the first appearance of ‘Holy Spirit’ is in Psalm 51:11 when David pleaded with God to not take away His Holy Spirit from him, which was tantamount to being cast out of God’s presence” (Dulle 6). Today there is a fundamental disagreement whether the Spirit of God is defined correctly. Contemporary views have led to idealistic interpretation and fallacy of what the Spirit of God actually is; thus, significantly changing ones view of the Trinity. As I discovered, the Spirit, “Properly describes, not one of the three divine persons, but the whole activity of God in his relation to man: ‘the Spirit of God’, is to be understood, not as referring to a divine hypostasis distinct from God the Father and God the Son or Word, but as indicating God himself as active towards and in His human creation” (Webster 2). As Paul wrote, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). From this verse one can see why the scripture attests to God being the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is in a sense, the innermost heart of God. What one comes to recognize is that God’s activity in our lives, provided by the Holy Spirit, serves as a reminder of certain aspects of God’s self-revelation to man.

Man’s understanding of the Spirit of Christ is crucial to how one comprehends its position with regards to submission and influence on the work of Christ incarnate. “Through the Spirit, Father and Son are compacted into loving unity. Such a conception clearly ties the Spirit very closely to Father and Son, sometimes to such an extent that it is difficult to see how it is personally differentiated from the first two persons” (Webster 3.) This misunderstanding has led to many contemporary views not supported by the Bible. However with proper research one can find evidence to support that the obedience of Christ is what is responsible for purchasing our salvation. As the Bible states, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9). What this verse shows is that for man to have the Holy Spirit inside him, then the Spirit of Christ must essentially flow unto us from Christ; the same Holy Spirit that flows through Christ Himself. “This Spirit is the agent of the subjective realization of Christ’s objective accomplishment of salvation. The Spirit of Christ discloses His words and deeds, His Cross and His resurrection to us, as the divine reality bearing upon us, embracing us, giving to us” (Webster 3). Thus, the Spirit becomes identified by the influential role it takes in effecting the union between the believer and Christ.

“Although church history has not always focused much attention on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit has traditionally been referred to as a person – the third person of the Trinity” (Thorsen 223). In fact, the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as being a divine person, one that has emotions, a mind, and its own will. As one finds, this can be confirmed in scripture. To begin, as Paul shows us in Ephesians, the Holy Spirit has emotions, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). Second, the Bible shows that the Holy Spirit not only thinks, but also knows, “These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). Lastly, the Holy Spirit makes choices according to His own will, “To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:8). From these scriptures we can conclude that, “The Spirit is the one in whom God moves beyond himself in provoking mission and worship. If this is true, then we are able to see that the Spirit has an identity of his own, though one essentially bound to that of Father and Son” (Webster 6).

Today, the study of the Trinity seems to be traditionally discreet with its assertion of the identity of Holy Spirit as described in the Bible. However one must remember that God has only attempted to convey things about Himself using human language. While not all answers surrounding the concept of the Holy Spirit can be addressed in such a short article, I believe the information provided offers a clearer understanding of the identity of the Holy Spirit and how it relates to the triune life of God. There is no question that contemporary concerns have led to false assertions about the Holy Spirit. Yet one must not disregard some of these assumptions as fallacy. For who God is, and the relationship of Holy Spirit within the Trinity may seem definable; yet, in essence do we have the ability to put our finger on who God actually is? As Michal Bauman concludes in his book, Pilgrim Theology, we must remain realistic, “Sometimes our theological reach exceeds our grasp. We simply do not know much of what we think we know” (Bauman 96).

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited
Bauman, Michael. Pilgrim Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1992. Print.

Dulle, Jason. “Understanding the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Onenesspentecostal.com. 2011. Web. April 27, 2011.

Thorsen, Don. An Exploration of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2010. Print.

Webster, John. “The Identity of the Holy Spirit: A Problem in Trinitarian Theology.” Theologicalstudies.org.uk. 1983. Web. April 27, 2011.

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Salvation: Answering the What? Why? How?

Most people in today’s society have heard expressions liked ‘saved,’ ‘born again,’ or ‘converted.’ Yet, no matter how many times they may have heard these terms, throngs of people have never made the effort to accept salvation through Jesus Christ. Ironically the reason for this may not be because they have never been approached; but for the simple fact they do not know what salvation is or how one obtains it. It is my hope that if you have somehow stumbled across this article, by the time you are finished reading it you’ll be able to walk away with a much clearer understanding of three very important questions concerning God’s plan for salvation. These questions are; What is salvation? Why do you need salvation? And, how do you obtain salvation?

One of the most renowned biblical verses in all of Christianity is, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). As this verse shows, salvation is a free gift of everlasting life that is only made possible through Jesus Christ. However, what is the definition of salvation? For believers in Christ we know that our source of life stems from God the Father. Yet, due to the entrance of sin we were forever separated from God. In essence, our only source for eternal life has been separated from us. Salvation is God’s plan that was designed to bridge the gap between sin and man. It is though Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that we are reunited with our father and provided everlasting life. As Thorsen states, “Salvation ultimately represents a gift from God, secured by Jesus, and affected in the lives of people through the Holy Spirit” (Thorsen 277).

With salvation now defined, you may be asking yourself, “Why do I need salvation?” Most people have heard of the story of Adam and Eve and how they lived in harmony and love with God in the Garden of Eden. Yet, man was tempted and disobeyed God’s Word when instructed not to eat from the Tree of Good and Evil. It was this action that brought irreversible death to us all. An event so sinful in God’s eyes that man would inherit this sinful nature for generation to generation to come. And since God can’t have a harmonious relationship with sinners, we are each born apart from our Creator from the very moment we take our first breath. As the scriptures confirm, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Thus, because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, we are forever banished and separated from God. Yet, the good news is, everyone has the ability to be saved. The removal of sin can occur, and we can be brought back in fellowship with our Heavenly Father. Salvation is the answer and it provides us each with an eternal lease on life. When one believes in the Gospel and gives up his or her life for Christ, we receive benefits unimaginable to the non-believer. These benefits include our sins being forgiven, a realignment with our relationship with God, eternal dwelling in Heaven instead of Hell, and a new life lived in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Now that we have recognized that everyone needs salvation, maybe you’re wondering how do you go about receiving it? In short, it is a determination to make a life-long change. “To become a beneficiary of Christ, one must first repent – become sorrowful for ones wickedness and forsake ones evil ways. Then in the second place, one must accept Christ by faith, and commit ones soul to ones Savior for salvation” (Webb 272). When one takes these first two steps a justification between man and God occurs. We are reinstated in the divine favor we once had before the Fall of Man. To better understand this, one can look to 1 Peter 3:18 which states, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). “God’s remedy through the Lord Jesus is justification. This means that if we believe in the Lord Jesus, He looks upon us as though we are righteous. It may help us to think of it like this. When I am justified it is JUST-AS-IF-I’D never sinned” (Sherring 7).

If before reading this article you never fully understood the true meaning of salvation, I hope that you are now able to walk away with a clearer understanding. I really hope you recognize that God loves you no matter what. And He wants nothing more than to deliver you from sin and the assuredness of spiritual death. I also want you to know that if you desire to receive God’s free gift of salvation, it doesn’t have to occur in a church. You don’t have to wait. Your eternal security can be changed, right here… right now as you read this. And it begins by praying something like this to God:

“Dear God, today I turn away from all of my sins (name them). This day I put my trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. He is the only way for me to be saved. He is ‘The way, the truth, and the life.’ Please forgive me, change my heart, and grant me Your gift of everlasting life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

If you’ve taken the time to say this prayer I would like to congratulate you for making the commitment to follow Jesus Christ. Your obedience to God is proof of your love for His Son. From here you should go out and find a good church to help you grow. Don’t wait for an invite; if you have questions, call a local church and ask to speak to a pastor. The decision you have just made is not taken lightly, and it comes with eternal rewards. As the Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Today is the beginning of your new life in Christ Jesus!

If you’ve made the decision to commit your life to Christ or have any questions, please use the contact me form at http://pastordodd.com/about/contact-me/ to reach out and let me know.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

 

Works Cited
Legge, David. “Love the Lost.” Preachtheword.com. March 2005. Web. May 2, 2011.

Sherring, Brian. The Meaning of Salvation. London, England: Berean Publishing Trust, 2000. Print

Thorsen, Don. An Exploration of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2010. Print.

Webb, Robert Alexander. Christian Salvation: Its Doctrine and Experience. Richmond, Virginia: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1921. Print.

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