When the Sacrifice of Christ Is Just Simply Nowhere Near Enough!
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:4-8).
Both God and Jesus knew long before They ever made man or even the universe that would house him (Ephesians 1:4, 3:8-11), exactly what man would do to sinfully sever his relationship with Them (Isaiah 59:1-15a). They also knew exactly what it would take to fully and finally fix and re-establish that relationship forever (Isaiah 53:1-12, 59:15b-21) – the absolute and all-out sacrifice of no less than the sacred and sinless, only begotten Son of almighty God Himself for the sins of all mankind from Adam forward (Romans 5:6-8).
As Philippians two above assures, that would require Jesus voluntarily giving up, or emptying Himself, of some of His “God-attributes” for a time (such as being beyond being tempted – James 1:13; Hebrews 4:15); leaving His heavenly home in glory behind; being squeezed into human flesh and becoming more vulnerable to Satan’s reach (Matthew 4:1-11, 16:23; Luke 22:53); and being maligned and mistreated, beaten and rejected, scourged and spat upon, and finally crucified and separated from His Heavenly Father for the first, last, and only time in all of eternity (Matthew 27:46) as He did not just “carry our sins on His shoulders” as it were, but as the Scripture would indicate in what is a much more intense and invasive manner, “For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:17; underlining mine – DED).
And that sacrificial redemption story of Jesus, “according to the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44-47; I Corinthians 15:1-4), was all the message the apostles needed. It was with that one, simple, single, straightforward gospel message that they went armed into all the world (Mark 16:15-16; I Corinthians 2:2); attracted and converted untold thousands – and more likely tens of thousands – of lost sinners to saving and obedient faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:22-47, 4:4, 5:14, 11:19-24, etc); and turned their entire world entirely upside down (Acts 17:1-6), taking that one gospel message to their entire world in just one generation (Colossians 1:21-23).
And that sacrificial redemption story of Jesus was also enough for even the almighty God and Father in heaven Himself! “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
But apparently that sacrificial redemption story of Jesus is no longer enough today – and in fact, is believed and portrayed to be pretty near worthless, having been relegated to the trash heap of obscurity in many places. Apparently there are many man-made and originated elements that many so-called “churches” consider to have a far greater value, worth, and “pulling power” than either the story or the name above all names – according to God – of His Son Jesus!
Just consider this for a moment. Many churches today are suffering a general decline in attendance, and so are “pulling out all the stops” as it were, to attract and maintain a crowd as they compete for congregants. People in this position, whether in the secular world or the world of religion, will therefore put out before the general public what they believe will attract the most people – and the vital, spirit and truth, soul saving, grace laden gospel is nowhere to be seen in many places. Instead, countless churches are using games, gimmicks and giveaways to get people into their buildings. I was recently made aware of a story wherein a large metropolitan church was going to be giving away free, large screen television sets to the first I-forget-how-many visitors to their Sunday services. Apparently, large screen televisions are now worth far more than Jesus’ sacrifice, which is no longer powerful enough to pull in people – or it would have been put out front and center instead…
And then of course, there is the “Clowns, Cowboys, and Entertainment Crowd,” wherein everything from rodeos, to hayrides, to haunted houses are incorporated and utilized by churches, because of those things’ being perceived as being more valuable and powerful than the once all-important and exclusive New Testament gospel – which has therefore, in reality, whether they will admit it or not, been rendered and relegated to a far less powerful and prominent position in these places than their present, man-pleasing and appeasing ploys.
And lest we think that the Lord’s church is immune from such immense and incredible blasphemies: Our little congregation recently received an invitation from a congregation of the “church of Christ” in a nearby city, to come and purchase tickets and attend a concert by some instrumental music playing, world-imitating, religious “boy band” they were holding at their church building…
And; as to Jesus’ God-given “name that is above every name,” apparently there are those who think it powerless, worthless, and in deed and practice think it worth far less than “guts,” “community,” and “life,” or the phrase “on the move,” as well as the entire gambit of other faithless replacements they replace Christ’s name with. Instead of being referred to as “churches of Christ” the way the divinely-inspired record instructs and insists upon in Romans 16:16 for instance, they insist on replacing His name when they refer to their group, culminating in identification phrases such as “Guts Church,” “So-in-So Community Church,” “Life Church,” “Church on the Move,” and a thousand other lesser names that all move the Name above all names – and the only one under heaven in which there is salvation (Acts 4:12) – down into the basement of their belief system.
When exactly is the name and sacrifice of Jesus just simply not enough? The answer is simple: Whenever you see men and women willing to replace either of them with other names and worldly things that they must apparently therefore feel are worth more and are more important, as evidenced by their replacing them with worldly – and what they apparently must also therefore perceive to be more important – things!