Dr. C. S. Lovett’s
MARANATHA FAMILY NEWSLETTER
Copyright © L. Lovett
WHY CHRISTIANITY REALLY SATISFIES!
There are many religions in the world today, each claiming to be the only true one. People hear the varied claims and wonder within themselves just which one of them is true and how it may be identified. Their wonderings are understandable. They have secret longings within their souls, yet they hesitate to select from the confused religious scene.
However, they could be aided by a simple observation. The one who surveys religion notices that they all have one thing in common. They all offer a philosophy; that is, they claim that there is some set of beliefs to which one must subscribe for salvation. They require one to embrace their particular creed. Each religion is certain that it has an approach to God, and if one will live a certain way or do certain things, as well as accept their peculiar doctrine, eventually God will be found in the process—they hope.
When we look at Jesus, we see He is different from all the rest! He dares to do something that no other has ever dared to do. He claims to be God Himself—in the boldest terms too. He said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). When He claims that eternal life is in Him alone—and He does when He says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)—He sets Himself apart from all religionists. The others claim to know the way to God, but Jesus said that He, Himself, was the way to God. None other dares to make that claim.
When Jesus claims that eternal life is in Him (John 5:26), He reveals a truth that is unique to Christianity. This truth is not found in any of the religions of the world. So central is this feature to the Christian message, that there is a peculiar sense in which it may be said of Christianity that it is not a religion at all, but a PERSON! Christianity is Christ.
While others insist that one must believe something to be saved, our Bible insists that one must receive someone to have eternal life. Of course, we see the big difference between HAVING the person of Christ and BELIEVING a religious doctrine. One has to do with knowledge; the other is experience.
Jesus calls our attention to this difference in the eleventh chapter of John where the raising of Lazarus is recorded. Perhaps you are already familiar with the event. Recall the journey that Jesus made to Bethany four days after the death of Lazarus, and how Martha, the sister of Lazarus, met Him on the outskirts of the city. “Lord,” she said to Him, “If You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). Jesus sought to reassure her, “Your brother shall rise again.” She answered, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Then Jesus responded with a remarkable lesson for her. It was as though He said to her, “Martha, get your eyes off the doctrine of the resurrection and get them on Me;” for, and here we quote, “I am the resurrection and the life…” (John 11:25). This verse is familiar to Christians, yet how many have noticed that the resurrection is a Person? How many have realized that eternal life is a Person? Obviously, Martha missed the truth of the doctrine she knew so well.
No creed or doctrine can bring life to anyone. No church, philosophy, or religion of any kind can save, for salvation is in none of these. The Savior is a Person, and one must do business with Him, not doctrines. Even the Bible with all its doctrines can save no one, but the Savior of the Bible can. More than one person has confused the truths of Christ with Christ Himself.
This is what makes Christianity so satisfying. A personal experience with the center of Christianity—an experience with Jesus Christ Himself—doing business with a living person. This is the feature that throws the religions of the world into the trash barrel. Regardless of the claims of Mohammed, he is in his tomb today. One can go to where he is buried. The same is true of Confucius and Buddha as well, but there is an empty tomb in Palestine today because Christ arose! We are contemporaneous with the resurrected Christ. The same One who said to His disciples, “I am the Way to God,” today knocks at the door of men’s hearts everywhere.
GOD’S INGENIOUS METHOD OF PROVIDING SALVATION
Having just considered that Jesus claimed life is in Him personally, how is this so, and how do you get it? If eternal life is in one man, Christ Jesus, how many other men come to have it? Obviously, they must have Him. Somehow men must come into possession of Christ if they are to be joined to God. But how is this possible? At first, it seems impossible, but deeper investigation reveals the ingenuity of our wonderful God.
When Jesus told His disciples, “I am the Life,” He knew men would have to RECEIVE Him to HAVE His life. For such a thing to be possible, it meant that Jesus would have to operate differently than He did in the Gospel period. In those days, He had a body the same as you and I. He was subject to the same physical limitations. He couldn’t be in two places at the same time. The work of bringing salvation to men could not be accomplished as long as He was confined to a body. This kind of ministry would have to come after He had made a transition from the flesh. Certainly, He was available to no one as long as He remained earthbound.
As the time of His departure drew near, Jesus began to prepare His disciples and teach them this deeper truth. The discussion in John 14 takes place a few hours before the cross. Here He tells them of the “Comforter.” He speaks of “another Comforter” (John 14:16) whom He identifies as the Holy Spirit in verse 26. In John 14:20 we find His promise to them that the day of their understanding was not far off. The day was soon to come when they would know that He was in the Father, they in Him, and He in them—the very thing of which He has just been speaking. Without a doubt, He has been trying to give them some understanding of His future indwelling in their hearts. On a certain day, they will know these things are so. That day we know to be the day of Pentecost. That is the day the Comforter came.
If the Comforter is actually Jesus Himself, coming in the Spirit, then certainly He cannot come as long as He is in a body. The Comforter cannot come until Christ leaves the body. To this Jesus also certifies, “If I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you” (John 16:7). This is another way of saying that as long as He continued to remain with them in the body, there was no way possible for them to have eternal life.
There are many today who think that it would be a wonderful experience to have the door of their room suddenly open and Jesus walks in. They imagine the thrill and wonderment as they picture themselves talking to Him and bowing before Him in worship and praise, possibly gazing with tear-filled eyes at the wounds in His hands. As thrilling to contemplate as such a scene might be, what emptiness it would produce were it to happen.
How could His bodily presence begin to compare with His presence in our hearts? If He were here in a body, that is, if He were physically present in the world today, a few might get close to Him. Some could embrace Him lovingly, but the great host of Christians could not enjoy His immediate presence. To limit Him to the body form again would be a terrible loss for us. Mere physical possession of anyone is inadequate when we think of it.
This is what Jesus wanted them to see. He wanted them to know something of the truth of having Him in their hearts. There He would be closer to them than their own hands and nearer than their breath. This is the preciousness of the indwelling presence of Jesus. Today, when you and I are in trouble, we don’t have to spell out our troubles to Jesus with the detailed accuracy of an insurance report. He already knows our hearts. He lives there. This is why He is truly the Comforter.
How wonderful is our salvation when we realize that it comes to us in the person of Jesus? We receive the gift of eternal life by special delivery for the one who died for us brings it to us personally. The Heavenly Messenger brings His work for us, accomplished at Calvary, right into our hearts. Jesus was not satisfied simply to die for us. He wants to see that the benefit of His work is carried out in our lives. So, it is that He brings His redemptive work to each of us personally. He remains with us to ensure and guarantee that nothing can possibly go wrong with it. How dear are His words, “He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16). The Comforter, (a new name for Jesus’s spirit-ministry) is to abide with us forever.
WHAT DOES THE CROSS HAVE TO DO WITH ME NOW?
Sometimes people confess difficulty in relating the cross to their personal lives. It would be hard to see if one separated the cross from Christ. The cross itself has nothing to do with us, but the death that was accomplished there does. We are joined to the One who died there. The answer to the question is this: What Jesus did for us 2,000 years ago, He does in us today. His cross made salvation possible, His Spirit-ministry makes salvation available. His work at Calvary produced salvation. When Jesus comes into our lives, He brings His work with Him so that His work becomes our work. This is why sin cannot send the Christian to hell, for the Christian has already died once. The “law of sin and death” cannot touch a dead man.
Some put it this way, “When Christ died, I died.” This serves to convey our meaning. His death becomes our death and His life, our life. We now have the same union with the Father that Christ did. We are just as safe in the Father’s love as He was.
We receive a person into our hearts. True, He’s a spirit being, but so are we. Man is not a body; he simply lives in one. The man inside that body is a spirit man also, and upon the instant of salvation, he is joined to the risen, living Christ.
Paul’s understanding must have been like this. In one place he remarks, “…which is Christ IN you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27), in another, “As ye have therefore RECEIVED Christ Jesus. . .” (Col. 2:6), and again, “That Christ may DWELL in your hearts by faith” (Eph. 3:17).
This is also why the apostle John insists that “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:12). As far as the devoted apostle was concerned, there were only two classes of people: those that had Christ and those who didn’t. The world recognizes the “have’s” and the “have-nots,” and God does too.
This is why we give the New Testament invitation when dealing with unsaved persons, “Behold I stand at the door and knock if any man hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in. . .” (Rev 3:20). We do not hesitate to tell men that if they open their heart’s door, Christ will come in. We know that He will. He has come into our own lives. We know too, that the promise He made to His disciples just before the cross, He kept. This blessed and glorious person does come into our lives bringing the work of His cross by . . .
C. S. Lovett
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