Last week in Part One of this series, we discussed five differences between the Jesus of the Bible and the Jesus being promoted by the modern world we live in. Sadly we see too many examples of people who are “perverting the gospel of Christ,” and turning to “a different gospel.” (Galatians 1:6-9) So let’s continue with more examples of the glaring contrast between our Lord and Savior as described in the Holy Bible and the new age perversion being taught today.
#6) Modern Jesus gives you health, wealth and happiness.
Biblical Jesus gives you salvation, hope, peace and joy.
In last week’s article we already mentioned the heinous error of the prosperity gospel, but to further drive this point home I highly recommend seeing what people like John Piper and David Wilkerson have to say on the topic. Sadly there are many pastors promising their congregations and audiences health, wealth and worldly success if they come to Jesus. Because so many people haven’t actually read the countless scriptures that come in direct opposition to such deceptions, they eat it up and get a tainted view of God being some genie in a bottle that can grant them their desires instead of a sovereign Lord that deserves their surrender and worship.
Joel Osteen was about the only “preacher” I could stand to listen to before I got saved, and he has attracted a following of millions and millions of people with his “different gospel.” Such feel-good quotes constantly repeated in Joel’s books and sermons again come in stark contrast to the sometimes harsh realities of living the Christian life:
“If you develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you.”
“God wants to increase you financially, by giving you promotions, fresh ideas and creativity” – Joel Osteen, “Your Best Life Now” pg. 5
However the Jesus of the New Testament never promised us prosperity and success. He instead promised that He was the only way to the Father (John 14:1-6), that by following Him our love and joy would be perfected (John 15:9-17), and even told us that in the world we would have tribulation (John 16:33) but not to be troubled or afraid because He would give us His peace. (John 14:27) This contrast is an example of mutual exclusivity at it’s finest.
#7) Modern Jesus is loved and accepted by the world.
Biblical Jesus is hated and despised by the world.
This contrast is so simple and so easy to see in one of the same examples I used for #2 in part one of this series. People like to imagine Jesus to be this totally all loving, all accepting guy who walked around the middle east a couple thousand years ago telling everyone not to judge each other, saying things like “Why can’t we all get just get along?” No friends, I’m afraid that wasn’t what Jesus did at all. Jesus instead said that He didn’t come to bring peace on earth, but division. (Matthew 10:34-36, Luke 12:51-52) The Gospel itself is a story of the only man to live a perfect, sinless and innocent life, yet He was hated and ultimately murdered by the very people He came to save. He reminds us to remember this when we face persecution and animosity for our beliefs:
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” – John 15:18
#8) Modern Jesus overlooks sin and never corrects you.
Biblical Jesus hates sin and exposes the truth about it.
If there’s one area this is extremely visible today it is clearly in light of things like the LGBT movement. The Christian worldview as based on the inerrant Word of God is very clear about such topics, and the Biblical vantage point on homosexuality leaves no room for a “gray area.” However there have been plenty of “pastors” coming out in favor like gay marriage and/or coming out as gay themselves, not to mention the illogical notion of “gay christians” and such fallacies attempting to shatter orthodox Christian principles such as “sola scriptura.” Sometimes the truth hurts, but the true Jesus of the Bible never minimized sin and our dire need to repent and cease to practice it, no His light always exposes the hard truth about the evil nature of sin. (John 3:18-21)
#9) Modern Jesus gives “suggestions” not “commandments.”
Biblical Jesus commands with divine authority.
An old mentor of mine used to joke about how God gave the 10 commandments, not the 10 “slammin’ ideas.” It seems ridiculous to even toy with the notion that God’s rules are just “suggestions” or “guidelines” however the vast majority of the world seems to think that the Biblical rules for how we are to govern our life are archaic and no longer relevant to modern society. We live in a world that wrongly views truth as something that is subjective or relative, and encourages us to “live our own truth.” However the reality is that truth by its very nature is objective, immutable and unchanging. It always has been and always will be. The societal movement away from following God’s rules is the very reason for the chaotic mess the world has been. No friends, Jesus doesn’t give suggestions, He commands with authority. Read the account of how He handled the Gadarene demoniac for a powerful illustration of this truth. (Mark 5:1-20)
#10) Modern Jesus promises our best life now.
Biblical Jesus says we should expect persecution in His name.
We already mentioned and quoted above some of Joel Osteen’s depictions of this modern Jesus promising us “our best life now” as his first book was titled, however Jesus never said any such thing. In fact, Jesus actually told us to expect troubles, tribulation and persecution for following Him, not wealth, prosperity and success.
“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” – Matthew 10:22
As with a large portion of false portrayals of Jesus, it boils down to taking scripture out of context or looking at the Bible as a bag of trail mix, where you can take the parts you like but ignore the parts you don’t. A perfect example of this is found in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church at Philippi, where he thanked the church for their support of his ministry and expressed how he learned to be content whether suffering in distress or having his needs met; whether hungry or full. (Philippians 4:10-20) However, everyone loves to pull verse 13 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”) out of context and use it to mean they can be great at playing a sport or winning at business or being victorious in all of their undertakings. They conveniently ignore that the entire passage has to do with enduring hardship through God’s grace and strength, not using God to live our best life now.
Next week we will finish this series with five final points of contention between the Modern Jesus & Biblical Jesus, have you ever been tripped up by any of the unsound doctrine mentioned above?