Seven Men Named Jesus

A recent poll claimed that about half of all professing Christians donít believe that Jesus is God, or that the Holy Spirit and Satan even exist.  Smaller but still significant percentages donít believe that Jesus lived a sin free life or that He is the only way to salvation.  This has prompted questions about whether this means they arenít really saved.  I remembered an article on this subject that I wrote a number of years ago and in response to these questions I have updated and expanded it.  I believe it will explain what you have to believe about Jesus to be saved.  Letís read it.

 The Other Six

Ever suspect while talking with someone that you may have a mutual friend? Then as you get further into the conversation you realize that you are describing two different people who happen to have the same name? So it is with discussions of Jesus. The nameís the same but the descriptions vary widely. Over the years Iíve collected numerous descriptions of men named Jesus. Which one do you know?

First thereís the Jesus of Judaism. Heís known in Jewish writings as the illegitimate son of Miriam (Mary). He lived in the first century CE (they donít use AD) and led people away from main stream Judaism into a cult. His followers were first called Netzerim (people of the branch) and later Christians. In his name Jews have been persecuted unmercifully over the centuries.  Jews who admit to believing He was their Messiah are often considered dead to their families. Jews donít believe in a second coming because they donít believe thereís been a first one.

Then you have the Jesus of Islam.  He was a prophet and teacher on a par with Mohammed. His role was to help prepare people for the great leader from Allah coming at the end of time to judge the world.   He was born of a virgin but was not the son of God because the Quran says ďGod begets not, nor is he begotten.Ē  He didnít die for the sins of the people because in Islam salvation comes from good works.  Neither was he resurrected. Instead, in a time of confusion God took him live into heaven and someone else was crucified.  He will return at the end of the age to defeat the anti-Christ, call everyone to Islam, and prepare the world for judgment.

The Jesus of Mormonism is the spirit brother of Lucifer.  Both are sons of a god who was once a man and one of his many wives.  This Jesus became a human as the result of a sexual union between the Mormon god and an unmarried Jewish girl named Mary. Heís often called the Savior but never Lord, because although heís one of godís sons, heís not god.  If he determines that youíve done everything you possibly can to earn your own salvation and are still short, heíll graciously make up the difference.  Heíll return at the End of the Age, having protected his saints through the time of  Great Tribulation, to set up his kingdom.

 The Jehovahís Witnesses have a Jesus too. Heís a son of Jehovah, but Heís not God. Rather, he was a perfect man just like Adam originally was.  Before he became a man he was the Archangel Michael, who The Witnesses believe to be Jehovahís  first created being.  Just believing in Jesus is not enough to save us. we also have to become a Jehovahís Witness, be baptized, and obey Godís laws all of our life to prove ourselves worthy.  Their Jesus wasnít physically resurrected, but came back to life in Spirit form.  He returned to Earth in Spirit form in 1914 and will become a physical being again at Armageddon.

Then thereís the Jesus of the liberal denominations. Heís a first century man who lived an exemplary life of such gentleness and grace that it was almost as if he was God. Heíll see that everyone who joins their denominations gets accepted into heaven whether theyíre born again or not. Some proponents of liberal theology claim that heíll also see that everyone who was sincere in whatever other religion they practiced will get to heaven too. For the most part, liberal denominations donít believe in the literal fulfillment of End Time events.  For many, the 2nd Coming happened to each person when they first believed in Jesus.

The New Age Jesus is really one of the oldest. He originally appeared in first century Gnosticism. This Jesus was a man who like 40 other ďascended mastersĒ holds the key to knowledge (gnosis) that when learned will bring about the next phase of human evolution, a spiritual growth that will finally make peace on earth possible. He didnít die for our sins because thereís no need for us to be saved.

Youíll find variations on these six themes in nearly every major religion and cult around today. It seems every body wants you to think they know a man named Jesus, even if they have to redefine him to suit their beliefs.

The Real Jesus

But there is one more man named Jesus.  He is not a created being.  On the contrary He is our Creator. As Paul wrote in Colossians 1:16,  By him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. Heís not an angel and heís not a mere man, because He created both.  The archangel Michael might be the first created being, but if he is, Jesus is the one who created him.  And Lucifer may have many brothers, but if he does, Jesus created them all.

This is the Jesus of the Bible. He claimed to be God in the form of man (John 10:30 and 14:9). Men who knew Him agreed. Paul taught the Deity of Jesus in Colossians 1:15-16. So did John (John 1:1-3). The writer of the Book of Hebrews also agreed (Hebr 1:3) and included a quote from Psalm 45:6-7 that shows God Himself addressing Jesus as God (Hebr 1:8). And this is not just a New Testament idea.  In his prophecy of the Messiahís birthplace, Micah said He was an eternal being whose goings forth were from days of eternity.  Literally from before time and perpetual. (Micah 5:2) He is the eternal God.

Hereís where your knowledge of Scripture becomes really important, because in order to be all the Bible claims, Jesus has to be both 100% man and 100% God. If He isnít a man He couldnít have been made like us in every way and suffered our temptations as Hebr. 2:17-18 claim; he couldnít be our High Priest as Hebr. 4:14-15 assert; and he canít be our redeemer because he wouldnít be our next of kin as required by Lev. 25:47-48 and explained in Rom 5:18-19.  If He isnít God He couldnít be King Davidís Lord (Matt 22:41-45) He couldnít be sinless (Rom 3:20) and He couldnít be our Savior (Mark 2:6-12 and 1 Ptr 1: 18-21).

Is This a Cult?

Three things distinguish Christian cult beliefs from orthodox theology. The cults deny the doctrine of salvation by grace alone. You have to earn at least part of the salvation they offer. They also deny the notion of eternal punishment for sin. Everyone goes to some kind of Heaven. And most importantly, they deny the deity of Jesus. They portray Him as a great man and role model; a great teacher, a prophet, even a social revolutionary, but certainly not God.

In truth Jesus was all of that. But He was also much more. He was God in the form of man; the Father dwelling in the Son (Col 1:19). To think of Jesus as anyone other than God is to reject the truth concerning Him revealed through out His Word, and to put yourself at risk of trusting in the wrong Jesus for your eternal destiny. The Jesus of the Bible is the only one of the seven men named Jesus who is able to save you.    Selah 05-02-09