About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
I was born, raised,
and have lived my life in Evangelical Christianity.
Over the last 67 years I have noticed many changes in the
Evangelical church - some good - some not so good.
One good change came in the 1960's when the church forgave the guitar
of its many sins. Finally,
my dad could play his once sin-infected guitar alongside the sanctified
piano and organ. Prior to dad
becoming a Christian in the mid 1950's he was a well known guitar player
in our community. He had his
own country-music band and radio show, but once entering the world of 1950's
style Evangelical Christianity, he had to lay aside his God-given talent,
his music, and his guitars.
One not so good
thing that I believe has crept into the Evangelical church is a
devaluation, even a redefining, of what it means to believe in Jesus.
Believing in Jesus is fast becoming a simple acknowledgment that He
is the divine Son of God. Is
that what the Evangelical church's most well-known Bible verse means?
Read John 3:16 again.
"For God so
loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes
in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
"believes" in John 3:16 is translated from the Greek present
participle "pisteuo." This
word means "to trust," and being a present Greek
participle, means that one, by virtue of who he is, presently trusts his
life with Jesus. A present
participle emphasizes who a person is in present time, not just what he does.
I am not splitting grammatical hairs.
There is a difference between doing something and being that which
you do. An auto-mechanic fixes
cars, but not everyone who fixes a car is an auto-mechanic.
To whom would you trust your car?
John 3:16 means this. Anyone, by virtue of becoming a born again (John 3:1 - 5), newly created (2 Corinthians 5:17), present-day, believing one, will not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 does not mean this. Anyone who acknowledges Jesus' divinity will not perish but have everlasting life. That acknowledgement, as important as it is, saves no one.
a person repents of his sinful existence, trusts his life with Jesus,
receives the Holy Spirit into his being; he will be saved.
That person believes because he has become a newly created, in
I, therefore, ask: might there be some sitting in what is commonly
called a church pew this Sunday who have only acknowledged that Jesus is
the divine Son of God? Might
there be some sitting in those pews who have not become a newly created
believer in Christ? Might
there be some who do not belong to God because the Holy Spirit does not
reside within them (Romans 8:9)?
The gospel we
proclaim has eternal implications for those who accept our message.
It is, thus, vitally important that we preach the John 3:16 gospel
as Jesus taught it. If we
preach a mere rational acknowledgement of Jesus' divinity, we do a
disservice to both John 3:16 and Jesus.
Worst still, we deceive those thinking they are saved based on
their rational acknowledgement when in fact they are not saved.
Our present-day trend to a rational belief in Jesus saves no one, and
this is what scares me most about Evangelical Christianity today.