The Other Jesus

Jesus turns to Philip well into His third year of ministry and relationship with this disciple and states, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know Me, Philip?” (John 14:9). I believe Jesus might still be able to say this to many of His followers and disciples today. Many Christians have asked Jesus to be their Savior but have not discovered what it means to have Him as their Lord and thus don’t really know the real Jesus. Many have accepted the image of Jesus presented by the church or religious denomination that they attend – without question and without examining the Scriptures and discovering the real Jesus for themselves. So, they too don’t really know Him. Many have simply not taken the time or spent the energy needed to come to know Him as they should.

Over the past several years I have been on a journey of disassembling my understanding of and impression of who Jesus is and discovering and building a corrected, improved, biblical, and much bigger picture of the Jesus I have been following for 38 years. Reading slowly through the New Testament and especially the four Gospels I have been allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal more and more of the real Jesus. Afterall, this is His work here on the earth – to glorify Jesus. It has been an amazing journey and it is far from over… In fact, I hope it never ends as there is always much more to discover and know about Jesus.

Before you can see the real Jesus you have to prepared to dismantle anything and everything that prevents you from starting the journey. It is not an easy journey and it is one that will make you feel insecure and somewhat vulnerable as your understanding of Jesus is demolished and you sift through the rubble looking for anything familiar and ‘safe’ that you can grab hold of to feel secure. You find nothing. However, as we see in the book of Jeremiah the process of uprooting, tearing down, and removing must come before the season of planting and building (Jeremiah 1). A uncertain and sometimes frightening time but one that is absolutely essential. Then, one the ‘good old plastic Jesus’ has been revealed for what it is then the great adventure of discovering the real jesus can begin. And what an adventure.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:4 about “another Jesus” and this is what many are following and believing in. A god made in their own image. A Jesus who gives lots and demands little. A Jesus who winks at sin. A Jesus who is powerless to change the world or even the believer. So, we settle for someone or something much less than the radical revolutionary that Jesus really was and is.

Jesus invites you to join Him as He transforms the world one person at a time. Spend time coming to know the real Jesus and as you do you will also come to know your heavenly Father much better. If you have seen Jesus you have seen the Father who sent Him. Once you know the real Jesus – even just a bit – you will walk in greater faith and will join Him in His task of transforming the spiritual darkness into brilliant light as you walk in His presence and His power.

Settle for nothing less!

Two books that might help you AFTER you have spent a great deal of time soaking in the Scriptures:
“Simply Jesus” by N.T. Wright and “Jesus – A Theography” by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

Multiplying the Church

Every believer is called to go into their world and make disciples. This is how the message of the Gospel spreads and the Kingdom of God expands. Healthy disciples will reproduce and there will be more disciples…

The same is true for healthy churches. Just as disciples are called to make more disciples I believe that every church is called to plant another church and then another and another. “Yes, but…” you may say, “don’t we have enough churches already?” The answer is no!

The church-to-population ratio in the United States peaked at one church for every 430 people in World War One. Today there is only one church for every 6,194 people. In Canada the ratio today is 1 church for every 115,040 people. Obviously we are needing more churches to reach more people. It has also been found that younger churches reproduce and plant new churches more often than older churches. And, that smaller churches reproduce faster and better than larger churches.

We need a lot more church plants. Why? Because people matter to God and He “wills that all people be saved.” And, an average church plant does not pass 100 in attendance by its fourth year. As well, only 68% of church plants survive after four years. This is a similar statistic no matter the denomination or group planting the new work for Christ.. 99% of church plant make it through the first year. 92% make it through a second year. 81% make it to the end of their third year. But only 68% actually move into a fifth year surviving past their fourth birthday. So, we need to be planting a lot of churches as a number of them will not continue on and, as healthy churches, help plant the next generation of churches.

So, we all need to take a good look at how we are doing. As individual believers are we building relationships with non-believers and working towards sharing the Gospel and bringing them into the Kingdom? As healthy leaders are we reproducing healthy leaders for the churches we need to be planting? And, as healthy churches are we planning to plant another church and then another – and actually acting on those plans? If not then this could easily be the death blow for the church in North America and other nations around the world.

Apostolic Character #2 – Apostolic Evangelism #50

To truly understand apostolic evangelism and the role of character, we need to go back to the roots…

Genesis 1:26-28 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

From this foundational passage, we can see that God’s eternal plan for His people is summed up in the acrostic A-I-M:

A = Authority – We are to be under the Lord’s authority and then exercise authority over all the earth
I = Image – We are to be restored to the image and likeness of God, increasingly displaying the character of Christ
M = Multiplication – We are to reproduce, filling the earth with new converts, disciples, leaders, and churches

Do you see the integral role that apostolic character has in God’s eternal plan? The Lord has a passion for spiritual reproduction, but it is tired in with character. He wants to multiply those who are under His authority and in His image. That is how the glorious likeness of Christ is to be spread upon the whole earth.

If you work in an office and had to make 1000 copies of a certain document, you would be wise to first check the document for errors. If it had typos or had been damaged by coffee stains, you would want to remedy such blemishes before making many copies. In the same way, God very much desires to reproduce His people – But He also has a commitment to transform us into the image of His Son.

This does not mean that God is a perfectionist, for He certainly uses imperfect people to spread the Gospel. Nor does it mean that we should wait until we have perfect character before we start evangelizing, for we would be waiting a long time! However, we need to realize that there is a clear link between character and effective evangelism. The more we are conformed to the image of Christ, the more enthusiastic God will be about multiplying us. Other people, likewise, will be much more enthusiastic about receiving the Gospel form those who have good character.

One of the biggest keys to effectiveness in either evangelism or any ministry is simply this: People must want what we have. If we are living lives that make the people envious, they will readily receive our message. If, on the other hand, they are turned off by our lifestyle, all the eloquence and Bible knowledge in the world will be inadequate to convince them.

There will never be a genuine revival of apostolic evangelism unless it is accompanied by a revival of apostolic character. Before Isaiah was ready to say, “Here I am, send me,” his sins were purged by burning coals from the altar of God (see Isaiah 6:1-8). Before we can spread God’s message, it first must be allowed to do its work in our own lives as apostles and apostolic people.