by Cindy Tutsch
Sorry to leave y’all percolating so long here. I’ve been traveling to far away places on the Good Ship Hope. My first stop was at Youth in Mission in Mannheim, Germany, where 1700 young people gathered to learn how to have a deeper commitment to Jesus and share Him more effectively in the context of Revelation’s Three Angels
On Saturday night, Ted Wilson challenged the youth to give themselves body, mind, and Spirit to the Lord Jesus and even to consider giving a year of their lives to mission service or mission preparation at one of the European Bible schools. I could hardly keep back the tears of joy as hundreds and hundreds of young people streamed to the front, offering their lives to God in living sacrifice.
Over time, I’ve heard appeals for a deeper commitment to Jesus from assorted Adventist leaders representing various points on the theological continuum. All of us sing to Jesus, pray to Him, preach about Him, write books about Him, convene conferences about Him, and call ourselves a derivative of His name. Sometimes I wonder, though, if we’re all worshipping the same Person.
So, how do we know Who Jesus is? How do we know what are His expectations of His followers? Fortunately, it’s not about our definitions, which certainly vary from person to person and from group to group. For me, the Scriptures are how I know Who He is, and what it means to be His disciple. Not just from impressions on the heart, which could be malleable as our whims, not the emotions of the moment, or even the best and most rationale arguments from the brightest minds, but rather—“Search the Scriptures, for they testify of Jesus.” Even our encounters with His Divine Person must be tested by the Word, lest it be Satan himself talking to us (ask Eve someday about that.)
Here are a few things the Bible says about Him:
1. Jesus is the pre-existing, eternal God. (John 1:1-3,14, Colossians 1:13-19, Hebrews 1:1-4) Jesus says, “I am the same, yesterday, today, and forever!” So maybe it’s us that continually try to make Him over in our own image. Could it be that when we’re done remolding, revising, reimaging, maybe what’s left is not even Jesus, after all?
2. Jesus is our Substitute, Surety, and Savior. (Isaiah 53, I Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21) He didn’t die only as an example of love. He died to take upon Himself our sins and stand in our stead. Sin is humanity’s utter estrangement from God, which could be healed only by one Who is outside the stream of human history. Death is the consequence of sin, and only God Himself could pay the price of sin for all of humanity.
3. Jesus is our High Priest and intercessor. (Leviticus 16:16-20, 30-33; Daniel 9:24, 27; Daniel 7::9-10) Having entered into The Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary on October 22, 1844, He longs to cover us with His holy righteousness, and through His grace and under His instruction give us victory over sin.
4. Jesus is our Example.(Hebrews 2:17-18; Hebrews 4:14-16; Philippians 2:5-8) While on earth, Jesus conquered sin using the same power that is available to us through faith in Him. We don’t need to spend the rest of our lives in a state of depressing defeat! Instead of making excuses for our sin, rationalizing our sin, or even bragging about our sin, Jesus invites us to come up higher.
Here’s one of my all-time favorite and balanced statements on this subject:
“When we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, we shall have no relish for sin; for Christ will be working with us. We may make mistakes, but we will hate the sin that caused the suffering of the Son of God.
If one who daily communes with God errs from the path, if he turns a moment from looking steadfastly unto Jesus, it is not because he sins willfully; for when he sees his mistake, he turns again, and fastens his eyes upon Jesus, and the fact that he has erred does not make him less dear to the heart of God. He knows that he has communion with the Saviour; and when reproved for his mistake in some matter of judgment, he does not walk sullenly, and complain of God, but turns the mistake into a victory.
There are those who have known the pardoning love of Christ, and who really desire to be children of God, yet they realize that their character is imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. To such I would say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes; but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Said the beloved John, "These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." And do not forget the words of Christ, "The Father himself loveth you." John 16:27. He desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ.
All sin…may be overcome by the Holy Spirit's power.” The Faith I Live By, page 118
5. Last, but definitely not least, Jesus is our Friend. (Zephaniah 3:17; John 15:14,15; I John 3:1) This friend holds a higher, more beautiful and holy ideal for my life than I have for myself—and I want what He wants! He longs to come into relationship with us! He longs to have us trust Him completely, confide in Him readily, and look forward with longing to the day we see Him face to face.