Is salvation a name or is it focused on God and what He did?
Today it is fashionable to have Jesus as ones best buddy. While He is promoted as our closest friend and rightly so, we too often see him in his humanity and forget He is deity. Many have lost respect, what the bible calls the fear of the Lord.
Today, any kind of theology or doctrine teaching is absent from many Church’s. Because of this many of the members become subject to cult teachings found in popular books and movies from those who have honed their arguments to convince them Jesus is not God or there is no tri-unity in God’s nature.
It is a known fact that in many of the third world missionary efforts the triune nature of God is not being taught. Jesus becomes the people’s savior without them knowing that He is Lord –God. To be Lord has the meaning of more than just master. To the Hebrews it had the meaning of Yahweh the creator, master of all the universe. The book of John which came many years later after the other 3 gospels concentrates on the deity of Christ, that god became man in contradistinction to the growing of Gnosticism. It starts with His pre-existence and goes through His life and His claims proving where he came from. His miracles are presented as proof of who He claimed to be. Old Testament typology is used to prove that Jesus was claiming to be the I Am, their deliverer from Egypt.
The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. This means to have a respect for our maker, wisdom is acting upon knowledge we received, to ignore it is not wisdom. Which then means we do not possess understanding. Again, there is very little fear of the Lord in the Church today. I think it’s mainly because we have gotten away from understanding who Jesus is and respecting him as God.
In the early church they challenged the Gnostics to prove God actually became flesh, that God was truly a human being. Today it is reversed. Everyone believes he is a man, an enlightened teacher, but God… that is something not widely held, in fact it is vehemently denied, even by those who go to church and call themselves Christians.
The best and only place to start in finding this out is in the Scriptures where eyewitness accounts are historically recorded.
There is no more clear evidence of the fact of Jesus being God in any book of the bible than in the Book of Hebrews. The writer of Hebrews (probably written by Apollos or Paul) had a superior understanding of Judaism and the functions of the tabernacle, sacrifices and their prophetic significance. The writer of Hebrews used the three most important subjects to the Jews, the angels, the priesthood, and the sacrifices.
We find the Son is compared to them all, and is called superior. The Father says the heavens are the works of his hands which means the Father is calling the Son God the creator.
So what does this have to do with the gospel? Everything. The early believers in the church were Jews who knew what the words meant what the types meant what the symbols were. And they held to him being the Son of God, while the religious order challenged this
Several times "ego eimi" is used without a predicate in John. Which is the term I am. Now I am can be used in other ways, however in certain passages Jesus is identifying himself and using the very name given to Moses at the burning bush. How? Because he is the same one who said this.j
John 8:24 "I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am [ego eimi], you shall die in your sins."
John 8:28 Jesus therefore said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [ego eimi]"
John 8:58 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am. [ego eimi]"
John 13:19 "From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am" [ego eimi].
John 18:5 They answered Him, "Jesus the Nazarene." He said to them, "I am [ego eimi]." And Judas also who was betraying Him, was standing with them. V.6 When therefore He said to them, "I am," [ego eimi] they drew back, and fell to the ground.” In this instance the pronouncement of his name came with power to have them fall, it wasn’t because they were clumbsy.
We must conclude that Jesus’ use of “I am” in these references means that he was claiming to be Israel’s God.
This next point may be upsetting to some but it needs to made, Jn. 3:16 is not the gospel we are to believe in, at least not in a completed sense. Let me explain and clarify why. When Jesus was physically present He asked for the people to believe in him, believe He was sent from heaven, that He is their Messiah. In Jn.3 we have an account that takes place years before the New covenant is made. You do not find the crucifixion nor the resurrection mentioned in John’s account for this reason (Though he does make a reference to being lifted up for all to see and be healed). It was a conversation to Nicodemus who wanted some of his questions answered. He recognized no one can do these signs Jesus did unless God is with him.
What Jesus told him is that he must have a spiritual birth, how to be born again, (which at that time was a future event), Nicodemus still was troubled in understanding it.
John 3:10-13 “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” v.14-16 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Here Jesus gives a glimpse of his future crucifixion. And proceeds to tell him the famous passage Jn.3:16. That he came down from heaven to reveal this to us.
What is not said is the message we are to believe, to take to heart to be saved. For the gospel includes that He died for our sins and resurrected. Paul and the apostles all agreed this is the gospel they gave (1 Cor.15:4).
So it would no longer just believe in him as messiah but to believe He died for your sins was buried and physically raised from the dead on the third day. That is the new covenant and that is something only God can reveal. That was why He (God) came to earth. So John 3 is telling us the intent of the gospel, the motivation behind it.
In John 3 with his discourse to Nicodemus he tells him that man is condemned because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)
So he presents himself as both the Son of man and the Son of God which makes it clear to a Jewish mindset, especially the Rabbi of all Israel who Jesus is.
John 3:21 He also ends his conversation with saying those who do evil avoid the light. “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."
Nicodemus came to the light in the cover of darkness. Clearly his questions were settled. We know this because we later see in John 19:38-40 Nicodemus with Joseph of Arimathea, “…bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.’
The approval of who was crucified came 3 days later from the Father who accepted the Sons sacrifice as the substitute for sin by the resurrection unto eternal life in the body. Acts 13:33-34 written in the second Psalm: 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.' "And that He raised Him from the dead” Being raised from the dead confirms who Jesus is, the Son of God. He then becomes the first man resurrected unto eternal life and has now moved into his ministry of mediator, being at the right hand of God until He returns to earth.
To tell people God loves them (true), gave his son may be well intentioned but it does not carry enough information for most to come to the knowledge of the truth. Yes it may work for some who need one more step to be committed because they have heard before, but for most this is insufficient. It’s most unfortunate that the church does not take some time to explain the gospel. Instead they say believe in Jesus, that He died for your sins. All true, but this too is often insufficient, and soft evangelism.
Because sin is never explained. It is more than doing bad to someone. Without understanding our offense, our guilt before a Holy God we do not “in truth” call upon God to be our savior. And without knowing who the Son of God is, what Lord means
The more Scriptural information we give someone the better they can understand, the quicker they can turn if the Spirit is drawing them.
This is why we see When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.” (Matt 13:19). On the other hand “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit (different variations 30, 60, 100) (Matt 13:23)
So the better one understands the message the more God can arrest their heart and mind giving them grace to believe. So it is for our growth as well. After one is committed themselves to believing and following, the work of the word begins.
It is also equally important to believe the third point of the gospel, the resurrection, that he was made alive in the same body that died for our sins.
We need to explain it to others and it doesn’t take much time, but it does take us to be equipped to go through the passages in Acts where we see them involved in evangelism and where the church began to grow.
From the beginning: Acts 2:23-24 you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death.”
Acts 3:14-15 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead.”
Acts 4:10 that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.”
Acts 5:30-31 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.”
Acts 10:39-40 whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly.”
Acts 13:29-30 They took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead.”
We are saved by receiving (believing) the word of truth, the gospel (Eph.1:13); we begin our walk with Christ in truth (2 Thess.2:13), and are to continue in it (Col.1:6; 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pt.1:23); and stand in the gospel (1 Cor.15:1-2). If one turns from believing Jesus is God from heaven, or that he did not raise physically from the dead they have walked away from the truth.