Monday, April 2, 2018

The Jesus of the Bible

"And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Both shepherds and wisemen were challenged by the concept of the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. During the next few days we will consider the historical development of the doctrine of Christ.

In our day there is an emphasis on having a personal encounter with Jesus. The important truth in this emphasis is that Jesus Christ is indeed a person, and we need to know Him personally. It is one thing to know about someone, and it is something else to know him personally.

At the same time, if all we have is some kind of personal experience, how do we know that we have “encountered” the real Jesus Christ? We read that Satan poses as an angel of light. Perhaps we have entered into a personal relationship with a demon posing as Jesus. This is an important question because liberalism, modernism, and “neo-orthodoxy” in our day have emphasized such “personal encounters,” but the “person” they are encountering is a far cry from the Christ of the Bible and of historic Christianity. Very often it is just a Christ of their imagination.

We need some way to prevent our subjective experiences from creating a mythological Christ. A well-known gospel song has this refrain, “You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart.” Of course, the author of this song did not intend to set forth a totally subjective religion, but if the only way we know that we “serve a risen Savior” is to have a subjective “feeling,” then we don’t have much to go on.

I’d rather sing, “Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so.” God’s Word is what tells us about the Incarnate Word of God. It is in biblical doctrine that we find the objective balance to our subjective experiences. The Bible tells us about the Person we have encountered, and frees us from demonic delusions and misconceptions.

It is easy to fall into an impersonal “doctrinalism” that neglects to maintain a vibrant relationship with Jesus, but it is also easy to fall into a subjective “experientialism” that makes Jesus into a creation of our own minds. If you are out of balance between these two poles, determine what steps you can take today to correct it.