How do you identify a person? A scientist uses DNA, fingerprints, dental records, photographs, etc. The average person might appeal to character, personality, or testimony. What about a person who lived in the distant past? Most of these conventional methods would prove lacking, especially in the case of the most important person in human history – Jesus Christ.
Properly identifying Jesus can only be accomplished through study of the Biblical record. The Bible portrays Jesus as a man characterized by love, compassion, and humility. In fact, these are the most widely discussed characteristics of Jesus in the world today. Did you know that, despite an apparent knowledge of these celebrated traits, most have deviated from the Biblical identification of Jesus?
In 2 Corinthians 11:4, Paul rebukes the Christians for accepting those who “proclaim another Jesus.” He explains that this Jesus was characterized by a “different spirit” and a “different gospel.” A com-parable rebuke concerning distorters of Jesus is found in Galatians 1:6-9.
How can someone follow after “another Jesus?” There are those who teach a Jesus who is vastly different from the one revealed in the Bible. Despite the glaring discrepancies between historical fact and false teaching concerning the real Jesus, many have been led to believe in “another Jesus.”
Though it may seem incredulous that some would follow after “another Jesus,” we find the present world in the same error as the Corinthians and Galatians. Many have gone out teaching a different Jesus and, likewise, many have believed the lie. In order to clear the air and to properly identify the Jesus of Scripture, let us analyze the attributes of “another Jesus” who millions now follow...
The Creation of “Another Jesus”:
While most people in our society would not allow any 21st-century person to take the place of the historical 1st century Jesus in their hearts and lives, they have fallen prey to many misconceptions about historical 1st century Jesus. In reality, they have created “another Jesus” to follow other than the one revealed in the New Testament.
The “Jesus” that many hold dear has the following attributes:
1) He does not view the Scripture as “the answer”, but he accepts that there are many correct answers. So, this “Jesus” also accepts the traditions, doctrines, & opinions of men as correct answers.
But the Jesus of the N.T. viewed every word of Scripture as “God-breathed” and therefore the final word in any discussion. See John 10:34-36 and His use of “gods” from Psalm 82. He even turned an argument on the tense of a verb, pointing out that in Ex 3:6 God said, “I am” the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to Moses at the burning bush- therefore when these men died, death was not the end of them. So He replied to the Sadducees that they were “greatly mistaken” (Mk 12:24-27).
2) He preaches “love” and does not upset anyone.
In Jesus’ hometown, He stirred up a real hornet’s nest. Though His words were
gracious, they were pointed. He did not give the citizens of Nazareth a soothing, pacifying message, but told them that in Israelite history there were times that God’s blessings had to come to and from Gentiles. The hometown folks were enraged and wanted to throw Him off of a cliff (Lk 4:16-30).
3) He never gets angry.
The God that the Scriptures reveal got very angry with His people, the Israelites. When God left their land like Sodom and Gomorrah and sent them into captivity and the nations wondered why, they would see what had happened for what it was, “a great outburst of anger” (Dt 29:22-28). When Jesus came, He said that when men saw Him they saw the Father (Jn 14:9). So would they not see anger? In fact, men did see Jesus’ anger in response to the error of their Sabbath traditions (Mk 3:1-5) and in response to the error of their actions (Jn 2:13-17). Was not Jesus’ temper inflamed in the temple, when in zeal for His Father’s house, He turned over the tables of the money changers and drove them out with a scourge of cords?
4) He accepts everyone, sin and all.
Jesus freely associated with “sinners”, those whom the Jews thought had done things that put them beyond God’s mercy and forgiveness. It was necessary and vital that He do so, as it is necessary and vital for doctors to associate with their sick patients (Lk 5:29-32). However, the Jesus of the N.T. did not receive men as spiritually acceptable until they repented-until they acknowledged their sin and changed their ways. Jesus went to the house of Zacchaeus, a tax collector and notable “sinner”, not to show that He accepted him as he was, but to seek and to save him. Jesus told Zacchaeus that salvation had come to his house that day after he had made it clear that he was going to change his selfish and dishonest ways (Lk 19:1-10).
He Looks Nothing Like the Biblical Jesus
5) He requires little commitment.
Is the Jesus of the N.T. satisfied with receiving minimal worship and service from His disciples? Far from it! After He fore-told His coming sacrifice for the sins of the world, He said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it…” (Lk 9:23-24). Jesus’ death on the cross demonstrated the kind of life that men must live if they are to be worthy of the name “disciple”- a life of self-denial, sacrifice, and total commitment. In order to save our lives forever in heaven, we must give them up totally to do Jesus’ will now. We must love Him more than anyone or anything or we cannot be His disciple (Lk 14:25-33).
6) He will take most everyone to heaven.
This sounds reasonable if you accept the first five points of our picture of “another Jesus”. A “Jesus” who does not hold the Scriptures as a standard, who would never upset anyone with his preaching, who is never angered over sin, who accepts everyone, sin and all, and who requires little commitment would certainly take most everyone to heaven. But the real Jesus of the N.T. who held the Scripture as a standard, who was not afraid to preach what needed to be preached, even if it was upsetting, who got angry because of sin, who did not accept everyone, sin and all, and who required total commitment COULD NOT then take most everyone to heaven and be true to Himself! Jesus said that few will enter the narrow gate and walk on the narrow way to eternal life (Mt 7:14). Jesus said that many will seek to enter the narrow door, but will not be able (Lk 13:24). Why won’t they be able? Jesus simply cannot and will not accept those who do not do His Father’s will as found in the Scriptures, who persist in their sin and do not fully give their lives totally to Him.
7) He would never send men to eternal fire.
As with point six, this sounds like a reasonable conclusion if you accept everything else that men have invented above- society’s picture of “another Jesus”. But the N.T. proves this “invented Jesus” false! So, if Jesus is not going to take most people to heaven, then what will happen to them? Jesus said the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction and there are many who enter through it (Mt 7:13). He says that He will send men into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels” so that they may suffer “eternal punishment” (Mt 25:41, 46).
Do you believe in the Jesus men have created or do you believe in the Jesus who God revealed to man in the Scriptures? Do not accept “another Jesus”! …
Sticking to the Real Jesus
The world attempts to redefine Jesus Christ every day. We have a living standard by which to fully know the Savior of the world. Jesus Christ remains the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8). Despite man’s unceasing desire to serve self by redefining Jesus to his particular taste, the Biblical record stands firm. The Bible states that Jesus Christ:
1) Views Scripture as the answer
2) Preaches whatever is needed; upsets men
3) Gets angry
4) Accepts men who repent
5) Requires TOTAL commitment
6) Will take only a few to Heaven
7) Will send many to eternal fire
Let us unfailingly maintain God’s identification of Christ, rejecting the world’s false identification of Jesus and standing firm for the Biblical Jesus. If we do, we may identify ourselves with Him and thereby receive Heaven’s reward.
Our Duty to the Real Jesus:
“If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:9)
Our Reward for Confessing the Real Jesus:
“So everyone who confesses me before men, I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 10:32-33)
(Note: Adapted from an article by Eric Parker)