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“Jesus” Talk

“Therefore I make known to you, that . . . no one can say,
‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”

(1 Corinthians 12:2, NASB)
By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

Amongst pan-evangelicals nowadays, there’s a lot of talk, talk and talk going on about “Jesus,” the name that bespeaks the genuine humanity of the Lord. The best selling religious allegory The Shack pictures Jesus as a relatively unattractive Middle Eastern Jewish man with a “big nose” who functioned as the retreat center’s repairman.[1]

At face value, there is nothing wrong with portraying the humanness of Jesus. As Paul the Apostle wrote, Jesus was “found in appearance as a man” (Philippians 4:8). Christians cannot deny—though Docetism, an ancient heresy in the early church, taught that Jesus only “seemed” (Greek, dokein) to have a body, that His body was not real—that Jesus possessed/possesses a genuine humanity. To counter this false teaching, John the Apostle wrote that “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us,” and that “many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” (John 1:14; 2 John 7).

No true Christian believer denies that Jesus possessed/possesses a true humanity. But true believers ought to be concerned that this “Jesus-Jesus-Jesus” talk might indicate there’s a Christ-identity crisis going on amongst professing evangelicals.

To this point, one can observe that in Wm. Paul Young’s novel, The Shack, Jesus is never referred to as “Christ” or “Lord.” In contrast to Paul the author, we can note that in various combinations Paul the Apostle predominately referred to Jesus as “Christ Jesus” (90 times), “Jesus Christ” (79 times), “Lord Jesus” or “Lord Jesus Christ (72 times), or “Jesus our Lord” (10 times). In the minority of instances when Paul refers to Jesus as “Jesus” (Romans 3:26; 8:11; 2 Corinthians 4:5, 10-11; Galatians 6:17; Ephesians 4:21; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 4:14), the context indicates Jesus is being referred to as Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus or the Lord Jesus Christ. Why then, in contrast to the “Jesus-Jesus-Jesus” talk going on these days, does the Apostle refer to Him as such? I suggest the following reasons.

First, He is Jesus because He is the Savior for our sins (Matthew 1:21).

Second, that He is “the Christ” is how Jesus Himself expected to be referenced (Compare Peter’s confession and Jesus’ response to it in Matthew 16:16-17.).

Third, by His resurrection, Jesus was “declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4).

Fourth, Paul wrote to the Romans that nobody can be saved if they do not confess “Jesus as Lord” and believe in their heart that “God raised Him from the dead” (Romans 10:9; Now in contrast to name-it-claim-it charismaticism, there’s the real the word of faith! See Romans 10:8.)

And Fifth, in that He’s now ascended into heaven and there occupying the honored place at the Father’s right hand (Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1), addressing Jesus as “Lord” by faith gives recognition to Jesus’ honored state. One day “every knee” shall bow, “of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). Question: Before our ascended Lord, why should we not before Him bow our tongues now, and like the Apostle, refer to Him as “Christ Jesus,” “Jesus Christ,” “Lord Jesus,” or “the Lord Jesus Christ”?

Having observed that the New Testament refers to Jesus as Savior 24 times and Lord 522 times, one author concludes: “We should be able to make a personal application of these important statistics.”[2]

So who is Jesus? Is He Jesus-Jesus-Jesus, or THE LORD JESUS CHRIST? As we answer this question, we ought all remember that “no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). If we should find a deficiency within us making it difficult to refer to Jesus as “Lord” there may be indication of a deeper problem going on within our souls; and that is, we are not really being led by the Spirit in all this Jesus talk (John 15:26), or worse, that our hearts are not really regenerate.

[1] Wm. Paul Young, The Shack (Los Angeles: Windblown Media, 2007) 111.
[2] William McDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, Art Farstad, Editor (Nashville,TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985) 2075.

Pastor Larry DeBruyn is the author of UNSHACKLED: Breaking Away from Seductive Spirituality available HERE. Article reproduced with permission, and slightly reformatted for this blog posting. Pastor DeBruyn’s website is http://www.guardinghisflock.com