Christ is Light

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Stubbing your toe on the bed-frame is just one of the many perils of walking in the dark. Moving blindly through your familiar home is one thing, but the unfriendly and bewildering darkness in the world conceals devastating troubles. Simply put, darkness is cold, confusing, and dangerous.

Amid such darkness, the dawn of light breaks through in the person and work of Jesus Christ! Warmth renews, and gloom dissipates; for the comforting and illuminating presence of Christ has come.

The theme of light is rich and pervasive throughout the Bible, and Christ embodies all that God tells us about light. Christ is the presence of God with us (Jn. 1:14, 18); He is the glory of God revealed (Jn. 1:14); He is the wisdom of God made known (Jn. 1:9); He is the life-giving power of God to save (Jn. 1:4, 12-13); He is the fullness of God’s gracious grace (John 1:16)!

Oh, praise be to God! For the dawn of light has come, and He is Christ our King and Savior!

Quench Your Thirst

Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37).

Everyone thirsts… This is true, but not everyone realizes it, nor do many people know what their thirst really is. People chase many things in search of something that will somehow ease their desperate need for a satisfying drink. When temporal pools fail, the thirsty seek deeper wells or distracting tonics. In the end, there is only one who truly satisfies, and Jesus makes His graciously fulfilling offer to those who can hear it.

Jesus’ offer is incredible, and it is magnificently different from every other invitation. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” Three things are noticeable here. First, the thirst must be recognized, and it must be acknowledged for what it is – a longing for something much more substantial and lasting. Second, the one who thirsts must come to another, utterly throwing off any hope or trust in the self. Third, Jesus clearly says that He is able to satisfy.

If you are thirsty, drink your fill of Christ! Drink of His goodness and grace! Drink of His majesty and glory! Drink of His humility and mercy!

Drink all you can hold, and continually drink; quench your thirst indefinitely in the person and work of Christ.

The Christ from the Father

Jesus said, “I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true… I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me” (John 7:28-29).

The grand narrative (or big story) of the Bible is bigger than most people realize. Additionally, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is fundamentally a Trinitarian Gospel. That is, God the Father sent God the Son to be the one through whom the work of redemption is accomplished, and God the Holy Spirit applies this work to the hearts and lives of those who enjoy the benefits of spiritual life in the triune God.

All of this was and is played out in real time and over the course of human history, but this story began even before time itself. While the Gospel (and the triune God from whom this good news comes) is timeless, we are not. We live only a short while, and then we enter an endless existence – where we will finally see with eyes wide open what we only see now through dim light in this upside-down world.

The Christ from the Father makes His appeal to all who will hear and obey it: “Come to me, for I am life and truth.” Without delay, repentance and faith (turning from sin and trusting in Christ) are the right response, because one day the offer will no longer be available to sinful rebels like us.

May God grant us faith and repentance this very moment, and may we give proper attention to the gracious gift God offers us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Commemorating the Lord’s Death

“…proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes(1 Corinthians 11:26).

While we would likely prefer to avoid hard and uncomfortable topics, God addresses them head on. Our loving heavenly Father graciously gives us truth and wisely meets us where we are. God doesn’t pretend bad things are not really bad, and He doesn’t merely give us empty one-liners in a superficial attempt to make us feel better.

Instead, God gives us a suffering Savior who triumphs through defeat. While the whole world clamors for power, God the Son voluntarily gives Himself over to humiliation. While humanity seeks to be free from woe and grief, the God-man presents Himself as the willing sufferer. What is this?! What kind of King… what kind of Messiah… what kind of God?!

God gives us real hope for all time and a promise of victory forevermore, not by forcibly and immediately removing all suffering, but by entering the suffering Himself. One day we shall finally be free from suffering and death, but until then we commemorate the death of death in the death of Christ, our Lord.

The Great I AM

“[Jesus] said… “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you, therefore, that you would die in your sins, for if you do not believe that I AM you will die in your sins” (John 8:23–24).

While many people claim that all religions are basically the same – various ways of aiming at purpose and morality – Christianity sets itself apart in no uncertain terms. Jesus makes the claim of deity; He demands that His hearers admit He is God.

Jesus clearly and emphatically claimed to be God in many ways, but one of the most dramatic ways He does it is through His “I AM” statements in the Gospel of John (example: Jn. 8:24, 58).

God revealed His name and essential divine character to Moses at a burning bush. God said, “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3:14). This profound and mysterious passage is understood as a high point of God’s self-revelation, and Jesus claims the very same language for Himself. Jesus says He is “I AM” (Jn. 8:58), and He even makes clear the fundamental necessity of believing His claim (Jn. 8:24).

Whatever one may say of Jesus, one cannot say anything good of Him unless it is admitted that Jesus is, in fact, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In the famous words of C.S. Lewis, Jesus is a liar, a lunatic, or He is Lord (i.e. God Almighty).

Most Glorious Christ

“Whom have I in heaven but you, [oh Lord]? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25–26).

Christians are often quick to speak of Christ as good, gracious, kind, or loving. Christ Jesus is most certainly these things, but the Bible speaks of Him as the highest expression of them. Christian maturity is a progressive result of seeing Christ as most glorious, and thus most desirable.

The word “glorious” means worthy of admiration, having striking beauty or splendor, and magnificence that evokes feelings of adoration. Christ is supremely worthy of our admiration; He is beautiful and splendid beyond compare; and His magnificence does indeed rouse our hearts and minds to worship!

For centuries, Christians have gazed upon the wonderful Savior and found Him to be the most glorious Christ. May we behold Him, worship Him, and enjoy Him above all else.

The “Jesus” of Mormonism

What do Mormons believe about Jesus Christ?

As is true of Christian churches, those parishioners of the Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints may not be aware of or able to articulate every foundational belief of the institution. Like many naïve Christian church attendees, some Mormon temple members might be unable to state (and fewer are likely able to explain) the doctrinal stance of the LDS (Latter-Day Saints) Church pertaining to the person and work of Jesus Christ. However, a church’s statement of belief concerning Christ (biblically orthodox or not) is essential to understanding what the church believes about almost everything else.

So foundational is the biblical description of Jesus Christ that maintaining an inaccurate or lacking view of His person and work in the face of truth is destructive to the soul. In other words, belief or trust in the true Jesus of the bible ensures the salvation of one’s soul, but a belief or trust in someone with different or missing attributes accompanied by the same name leaves one condemned. Of particular importance is the acknowledgment of Christ’s full divinity and actual humanity. This unique and biblical description of Jesus Christ is at the heart of Christian belief and the message of the Gospel itself. God’s plan to redeem sinful humanity is only accomplished through the person and work of this singularly capable God-man – Jesus Christ.

Mormonism maintains a view of Christ that is extremely dangerous to those who are not deeply planted in the soil of biblical truth. One could read the statements about Christ on the official Mormon or LDS websites without noticing much in the way of distinguishing marks from Christianity. However, Mormons may use the same terms as Christians when they speak of Christ, but they have attempted to redefine His person and work – the terms have new definitions.

Brigham Young, a major Mormon Prophet who directly followed Joseph Smith, said, “He [Jesus] was the Son of our Heavenly Father, as we are the sons of our earthly fathers. […]Jesus is our elder brother spirit clothed upon with an earthly body begotten by the Father of our spirits.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 2, September 28, 1862 [emphasis mine]).

An Apostle of Mormonism stated, “We are brethren and sisters of Satan as well as of Jesus. It may be startling doctrine to many to say this; but Satan is our brother. Jesus is our brother. We are the children of God. God begot us in the spirit in the eternal worlds.” (Apostle George Q. Cannon, March 11th, 1894, Collected Discourses, compiled by Brian Stuy, vol. 4, p. 23 [emphasis mine]).

Not only do Mormons believe that Jesus was the literal offspring of Mary and a physical Heavenly Father, but it also claims that Jesus had many wives himself. “The grand reason of the burst of public sentiment in anathemas upon Christ and his disciples, causing his crucifixion, was evidently based on polygamy, […] a belief in the doctrine of a plurality of wives caused the persecution of Jesus and his followers. We might almost think they were ‘Mormons.'” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 1:345-346 [emphasis mine]).

In conclusion, there could be many other citations and a more detailed description of the Mormon Jesus as he contrasts the biblical Jesus Christ. The words of authoritative Mormon Apostles and Prophets state it clearly as they proclaim, “It is true that many of the Christian churches worship a different Jesus Christ than is worshipped by the Mormons or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (LDS Quorum of the Seventy member Bernard P. Brockbank, The Ensign, May 1977, p. 26 [emphasis mine]) In fact, Brigham Young makes it unambiguous when he says, “Brigham Young said that the “Christian God is the Mormon’s Devil…” (Journal of Discourses, Volume 5, page 331).

The Jesus of Christianity and of the bible is not the Jesus of Mormonism and, therefore, not the Jesus who saves.

The purpose of stating such a thing in dramatic contrast is not to personally ‘cast stones’ at those who willingly take upon themselves the label of “Mormon” or “LDS.”  Rather, my purpose is to present the real and present divergence of these two religious systems.  Christianity – the bible itself – offers salvation, the forgiveness of sins, through the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.  This gift is to be received by faith, apart from any work, effort or will of man.  Mormonism offers a version of salvation through one’s diligent effort and overwhelming obedience.  This system is like many others with respect to its “path towards salvation.”  According to the bible, the path is really no path at all – the path is a man, and only He can save sinners from God’s imminent wrath (John 14:6).