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THE APPLIED NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY
APPLYING GOD'S WORD TO YOUR LIFE
By Thomas Hale, Stephen Thorson
David C. CookCopyright © 2007 Thomas Hale
All rights reserved.
Jesus Christ—Who Is He?
Jesus has many names or titles. The name "Jesus" itself means "the one who saves." We usually add the term "Christ" after His name. The word "Christ" is a Greek word and means the same as "Messiah," a Hebrew word. Both "Christ" and "Messiah" mean "the anointed one" or "the one whom God has anointed for service."
The Jews had been looking for the "anointed one" for hundreds of years when Jesus finally came into the world. The prophet Isaiah had written about the promised Messiah as one who would bear the sins and sorrows of the people (Isaiah 53:1-12). Isaiah even said that this Messiah would be called the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). However, the Jews were looking for a king who would lead their nation into political victory over ROME; they did not believe that the Messiah would be God Himself come to earth as a man, or that their Messiah would die on a CROSS.
The terms "Son of God" and "Son of Man" are other terms used for Jesus (see Mark 2:10; John 1:14,18,34; 5:25-27 and comments). The term "Son of God" has often been thought to emphasize Jesus' deity. The term "Son of Man" usually emphasizes His messianic role. In the Old Testament, the Messiah was called the "Son of Man" (Daniel 7:13-14). Although this messianic "Son of Man" comes from heaven and accepts divine worship, Jesus often used the term "Son of Man" when emphasizing His own humanness (Matthew 8:20; 11:19; 17:22-23). The terms are used interchangeably in Matthew 26:63-65.
We must remember two things about Jesus Christ: first, Jesus is completely man; and second, Jesus is also completely God. Jesus is both man and God (Romans 1:3-4).
Jesus Is God
Jesus has characteristics that are divine. He is eternal, having always been with God (John 1:1-2; 17:1-5). Jesus was involved in the creation of the world (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2). God was in Jesus, and Jesus was in God (John 14:10; 17:21,23). Jesus is called the one and only Son or firstborn of God (John 3:16,18; Colossians 1:15,18; Hebrews 1:6).
More specifically, the Bible states that Jesus has shown us the Father (John 1:18; 14:9), and that He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), and the exact representation of his being (Hebrews 1:3). Elsewhere the Bible states that Jesus is one with God (John 10:30; 17:11,22), or equal with God (Philippians 2:6). Indeed, Jesus is actually declared to be God (John 1:1; Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:8). Jesus is not just partly God, but He is the fullness of the Deity (Colossians 1:19; 2:9). Jesus is fully God.
Jesus Is Man
But Jesus is also fully man. Although He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, He had a human mother and was born as a baby into this world (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:34-35). Although Jesus was God, He was made in human likeness (Philippians 2:7). He was seen and touched by men (1 John 1:1-2), and He was tired, hungry, and thirsty like other men; He wept like a man. Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are (Hebrews 4:15). Like us, Jesus expressed ignorance of the future when God had not revealed it to Him (Mark 13:32). See panel: Two Ancient Teachings.
It is important to believe that Jesus became fully man. John makes it a test of the true Spirit, saying that deceivers and false prophets would deny that Jesus came in the flesh (1 John 4:1-2).
Heresies About Jesus
Heresies, or false teachings, are wrong ideas that make our salvation impossible. They are so incorrect that we cannot be saved if we believe them. For example, some people believe a false teaching about who Jesus is. So they end up trusting in a false Jesus, who cannot give them salvation. From the very beginning, the church faced trouble from those who taught false doctrines about Jesus. Even today there are those who continue to be led astray by false teachings about Jesus. These false teachings can be divided into three main ideas.
The first false idea is that Jesus was just a man, not God at all. Those who believe this agree that Jesus was a great moral teacher, and that God blessed Him, but they deny that Jesus was God.
The second false idea is just the opposite; namely, that Jesus was God but not man. Some say that Jesus was only a spirit, that He did not have a body like other men. Some say that Jesus' spirit was not a man's spirit but was God's own Spirit in a human body. But this is also untrue, because Jesus was a complete man with a human body and a human spirit (Hebrews 2:17-18).
The third false idea is that Jesus was a god, but less than God the Father. Those who believe this say that the body is impure and sinful, and that the true God would never appear in a human body. Therefore, they say that Jesus is only a lesser god sent from the Father, but is not actually God Himself. These people (not true Christians) point to verses where Jesus said that the Father was greater than Himself (John 14:28). But Jesus had referred to the Father being greater than Himself only as it related to His role as the incarnate Son. Elsewhere Jesus said, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). John said clearly that Jesus was with God from the beginning and that He was God (John 1:1).
Therefore, Jesus is both fully God and fully man, as we saw above (see panel: Two Ancient Teachings).
The Work of Jesus Christ
Jesus is both the Creator and preserver of the world (John 1:3,10; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2-3). Jesus did not stay in heaven, but He left the glory that He had there (John 17:1-5) and became man. There were two important reasons for this incarnation of Jesus as man.
The first reason for the incarnation is that by looking at Jesus we can see what God is like. No one has seen God the Father at any time (John 6:46). But Jesus showed the Father to us (John 12:45; 14:7-9). For example, by looking at Jesus and at what He said and did, we can know not only that the Father is good and loving and that He forgives our sins, but also that He is concerned about all our needs and problems as well.
The second reason for the incarnation of Jesus was His death and resurrection for our SALVATION. The Bible speaks of Jesus being our "redeemer," meaning the one who redeemed us from sin and the curse of the law (see Mark 10:45; Galatians 3:13 and comments). Jesus did not pay the price for our freedom with silver or gold, but with His own precious blood (1 Peter 1:18-19). This ransom rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son (Colossians 1:13-14).
A holy God must reject and punish sin. But Jesus took our sin and its punishment upon Himself by His death on the cross. Therefore, Jesus is said to be our PROPITIATION, meaning that Jesus satisfied the just demands of a holy God (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2). Jesus' propitiation allows God to forgive sinners and yet remain holy, because He has punished sin instead of ignoring it. Because of our sin we were separated from God, but God reconciled us to himself through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18) and His blood (Romans 5:1,9-11; Colossians 1:20-22).
By Jesus' death on the cross and His shedding of blood, we obtain forgiveness of sins, meaning not that God merely ignores our sins, but that God removes our sins (Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 10:17) and cleanses us (Hebrews 9:14,22; 1 John 1:7-9). By His death on the cross, Jesus drove out and destroyed the devil (John 12:31; Hebrews 2:14-15). Many Christians believe that Jesus also carried our diseases on the cross, thus providing healing for our bodies and deliverance from evil spirits (see Isaiah 53:4-5; Matthew 8:16-17; Mark 1:27; General Article: Healing and Deliverance). By His own RESURRECTION Jesus gives us bodily resurrection and ETERNAL LIFE(John 6:54,58; 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22).
All of the above blessings Jesus obtained for us by His death on the cross. But Jesus has an ongoing work as well. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to empower the church on the first day of Pentecost (John 14:16-17; 15:26-27; Acts 2:1-4), and Jesus still sends His Holy Spirit (see Mark 1:7-8; General Article: Holy Spirit Baptism). He has promised to be with us always through the Holy Spirit (Matthew 18:20; 28:20; John 14:16-18). Jesus is our intercessor and helper in heaven, praying on our behalf (Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1). Jesus remains as the "head" of the church (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18), and the ruler of all things (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:20-22; Philippians 2:9-11).
The Uniqueness of Christ
Jesus is not like other religious leaders or founders of religions. Most other religious leaders have been considered either divine or human, but not both. Other religious leaders who were considered human have died and no one has claimed that they rose again.
Jesus is God's true incarnation. Some people think that Jesus is only one incarnation, or avatar, among other incarnations. But this is not true. The true living God has only one incarnation: namely, Jesus Christ. A true incarnation should live a fully human life, yet show by his life that he is fully divine (Romans 1:3-4). A true incarnation should live a life without sin. Only Jesus lived a fully human life, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22). Other so-called incarnations were not both fully God and fully man, but a little of each.
Jesus is a true mediator between God and man, because He is both God and man (Hebrews 9:15). Jesus had to be truly man in order to make atonement on behalf of man (Hebrews 4:14-15), and he had to be truly God in order to live the perfect life needed to make an atonement sacrifice acceptable to God (Hebrews 9:14). And Jesus had to be truly man in order to defeat Satan on behalf of man (Hebrews 2:14-17), and He had to be truly God in order to be powerful enough to defeat Satan and his evil spirits (Colossians 2:15; Revelation 19:11-21). Jesus was not only a guide to the way of salvation, but He was also the actual way Himself (John 14:6). Jesus was not only a preacher encouraging us to live right; He also gave us the power to live right. He gave us the power to be righteous. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus gave us freedom from the bondage of sin. Jesus not only gave us good teaching; He also gave all believers eternal life.
Jesus is the only true way to God. Jesus said: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). The Apostle Peter said: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
THE WAY OF SALVATION
All men and women are by nature sinners (Romans 3:10-12). The first man and first woman sinned (Genesis 3:1-6), and since then every man, woman, and child has sinned (Romans 3:23). The result was physical death (Romans 5:12) and spiritual death (Romans 7:11; Ephesians 2:1) for every man. Unsaved people are slaves to sin, forced to obey evil (Romans 6:17-21), and are enemies of God (Romans 8:7). Many people try to become righteous by doing good deeds. But Isaiah said that our own good deeds are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), of no help for obtaining salvation. Others try to become righteous by following the rules of God's LAW written in the Old Testament, but this also will not work (see Galatians 2:15-16; 3:11 and comments).
Men and women cannot be saved by their own desire or works (Romans 9:16); they can be saved only by the GRACE and mercy of God (see Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7 and comments).
God has done everything necessary for our salvation. In Romans 8:29-30, the Apostle Paul lists in order what God has done for us in salvation. Before the world began, God had predestined us, by His foreknowledge, to be like His Son (Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 1:2). He also called us, justified us, and glorified us (Romans 8:30). All of these words and a few others describe what God has done for us in the inclusive word "salvation."
God has "called" us. The Bible says that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him (John 6:44). And we cannot know the Father unless the Son reveals Him to us (Matthew 11:27). Man in his sinful condition cannot even understand the things that come from the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14).
The call of God is necessary, or else no one would be able to turn to Him (see General Article: Salvation—God's Choice or Man's Choice?).
God has also "justified" us. This term does not mean that God, in fact, makes us righteous, but only that He "declares us RIGHTEOUS." It is a judicial act of God, by which He forgives our sin freely by his grace on the basis of redemption by Jesus Christ on the CROSS (Romans 3:24). God cannot ignore sin. He must punish sin. In Christ, God Himself atoned for the sin of man. This allows Him to forgive us and "declare us righteous" (see Romans 3:25-26 and comment; General Article: Jesus Christ).
God not only declares us righteous, but He also gives us a new nature that is able to be righteous. This is seen in the word "regeneration." We are dead in sin, but can be made "alive" in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:10-11; Ephesians 2:1,5). Jesus said we must be born again (see John 3:3,5-7 and comment). We are born again through the living and enduring word of God (1 Peter 1:23). When we are saved, our old nature isn't merely reformed; rather, we receive a new spiritual nature that is able to obey God (Ephesians 4:22-24), and we become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Some Christians believe that this "new birth" is connected with water BAPTISM (see Titus 3:5; General Article: Water Baptism).
However, God not only declares us righteous and gives us a new nature able to be righteous, but He also helps us to actually become righteous. He "sanctifies" us or makes us "holy"; that is, He gives us His holiness. Jesus not only rescues man from the punishment due to sin, but cleanses His people from their sins also (Matthew 1:21; Romans 6:22). In one sense, we are already made holy by the onetime finished sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:10); we are already called "saints," or "holy ones" (Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1). But in another sense, we often do not experience holiness in our daily lives. So the Bible talks about the continuing work of the Holy Spirit to make us holy (see Romans 7:24-25; 8:1011; Galatians 3:3; General Article: Holy Spirit).
God also "glorifies" us (Romans 8:30). The word "glorification" refers to the RESURRECTION of our bodies and to our eternal life. Jesus prayed that we might see His glory with the Father (John 17:24), and Paul said we would share that glory (Romans 8:17). Our present bodies will be changed into glorious bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-44), and death will be conquered (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). Paul pointed out that our salvation is not only in this life, but also in the life to come. The bodily resurrection is central to our hope (1 Corinthians 15:12-20). We have been promised eternal life (see John 3:16; 10:28).
There are other words in the Bible to describe our salvation. For example, we are "redeemed" in Christ (Ephesians 1:7). Redemption (or ransom) means "to deliver by paying a price." Jesus Christ redeemed us from sin (Titus 2:14) and the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13), purchasing us for God (Acts 20:28; Revelation 5:9). We were bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20), the price of His own blood (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Using another word to describe our salvation, we are "adopted" as the children of God. God the Father predestined us to be adopted as His sons through the work of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5), and through our receiving the Holy Spirit who makes us sons (Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:5-7). At present we have only received a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. But Paul also wrote about a future full ADOPTION when our bodies will be resurrected and we will receive our full right as sons and daughters (Romans 8:18-25; Ephesians 1:13-14).
Excerpted from THE APPLIED NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY by Thomas Hale, Stephen Thorson. Copyright © 2007 Thomas Hale. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
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