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      "W.W.J.D.?" No, the Right Question is "W.H.J.D.?"

      Thursday, February 14, 2008

      "W.W.J.D.?"

      "What Would Jesus Do?" It could be the single question that has hindered me the greatest. I remember growing up as a young, impressionable Southern Baptist when the wave hit. The "W.W.J.D.?" bracelets became the epitome of popularity for many. You simply "had to have one." I remember likening it to the same hysteria that happened when the Spice Girls put out a new album and everyone simply "had to have it or you weren't with it." I also remember being fifteen and dealing with some of my first serious struggles with sin that no one ever knew about. I remember even at that age wondering what kind of implications this question would have, though. Why? It wasn't because I had a lack of professing evangelicals around me. It was because the advice I received was basically, "What would Jesus do?" Well, it didn't take me long to admit that he wouldn't have ever slipped into some of the sin I was involved in. Likewise, it didn't take me long to realize that he never had to ask His Father for forgiveness of His sins. It was also apparent to me that Jesus would have never had to worry about His Father's approval because "This was God's Son in whom He is well pleased." Are you starting to get a feel as to why this single question has been one of the most destructive parts of my faith in Jesus Christ in times past?

      Christianity itself is a historical faith. It is faith in a person, but that person has been revealed in history. When one takes Jesus Christ out of history, they are no longer dealing with the God of the Bible. Take John's words for an example:


      "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, of which you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."

      (1Jn 4:1-3; emph. mine)


      John said that "every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God." In other words, every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ is a figure in history, that he came in actual flesh and blood, and that he actually existed at a set time about 2,000 years ago; this spirit is not of God. In fact, John goes even further to say it is the spirit of antichrist. Think of the question we've been discussing in particular: "W.W.J.D.?" Is there any historical context to that question? If you based your belief on that question alone, would you be basing it on objective historical fact on what Christ has already done or would you be basing it on subjective personal opinion of what you believe Christ would do if so forth and so forth...?


      Let's look at another passage from Paul's letter to the Corinthians:


      "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins. Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."

      (1Co 15:12-20; emph. mine)


      Paul says, "If Christ is not risen, then (the first believers) preaching is vain, and faith (in Christ) is also vain." In other words, if Jesus Christ has not be risen from the dead for almost 2,000 years, your faith in Him is absolutely worthless. Also, preaching Him is absolutely worthless. Are you starting to understand the implications of taking Jesus Christ out of a historical context? If Jesus Christ has not come in the flesh and is not risen from the dead, this whole thing, Christianity itself is worthless. But as Paul also declares, "But now is Christ risen from the dead..."


      I include this quote on my blog, but I believe it is well suited for this post. The late Princeton Theologian J. Gresham Machen said:
      "The student of the New Testament should be primarily an historian. The centre and core of all the Bible is history. Everything else that the Bible contains is fitted into an historical framework and leads up to an historical climax. The Bible is primarily a record of events." If you don't believe it is a record of events that have actually taken place, but you still call yourself a Christian (a believer in Jesus Christ), you are by definition a liberal. In other words, you're not a believer in Christ or a Christian at all. When one takes Noah and the flood, Jonah and the whale, Baalam's ass, and all the other records of historical events out of their historical context, one isn't talking of the same God of the Bible as the one that is immutable and true.

      I'm almost positive that this question "W.W.J.D.?" is one of the fires that fuels liberalism and unbelief. If one can take "Jesus Christ" apart from the same historical Jesus Christ that said such things as, "Don't think I came to bring peace, but a sword. I came to set son against father, and so on...", any rational person would admit that we are not speaking of the same Jesus Christ but rather a subjective "what does Jesus Christ mean to you?" caricature of what many people who don't want to honestly deal with facts have conjured in their imaginations over the past thousand years or two. I believe this mentality is in part driving what we are now seeing called the Sensitive-to-Please-Unbelief Movement (or the "Seeker"-Sensitive Movement as it is nicknamed) and the Emerging Group of Digressives (or the "Emergent Church" as it is also nicknamed). When we can take Jesus Christ and pick and choose what we want to believe about the Son of God who has been revealed in History, we're not believing in the literal Jesus Christ who has been raised from the dead for nearly 2,000 years. In other words, as Augustine said in so many words,"When we pick and choose what we want to believe out of the Bible, it is not the Bible that we believe... but ourselves."


      So the point has been pretty much laid out now. If our faith isn't in an actual person who has been revealed at a point in History, namely the Son of God, our faith is in vain, and we are yet in our sins. I was listening to the
      White Horse Inn a while back and Mike Horton basically made the comment... "When it's 'W.W.J.D.?' instead of 'What has Jesus done?'..." That comment was definitely an influence as to why this post was written. I got to thinking that if Christianity is basically W.W.J.D.?, is there any real need for education? In other words, is there any real need for knowing what exactly Jesus has done if Christianity is basically the subject, W.W.J.D.? Of course, the more I delved into this question seeking the answer, the more it was clear that, like the Spice Girls, anything that is extremely popular and easily acceptable by worldlings for a given time is rarely worthwhile and lasting. I mean even Allen Iverson endorses it:

      If that doesn't tell you about how suitable it is deemed by the world to be, how marketable it is, and opposed to humbling itself to objective truth the concept is, I'm not quite sure what will. With all this said, this is the point I have come to: I got fed up and gave up on trying to resurrect myself from the dead, be the only person ever to live who didn't sin, and be born of a virgin so I decided to start giving credit where credit is due. There's a reason why worshiping Jesus Christ, the historical Jesus Christ is vital. It's primarily because we can't do the things that Jesus has already done. When we take him out of context, we neglect actually believing in the Christ who's been revealed in time-space history. So in my rebellion to the "evangelism" of the day, I had a few bracelets made up:


      "W.H.J.D.?"

      What has Jesus done? That may be a novel concept to many. It may be that you've never thought about that before. It's understandable. If you're caught up in the W.W.J.D.? smoke and mirror show, naturally you're prone to neglect what Jesus has already done. When we do that, we welcome with open arms the circus that is now calling itself modern "evangelicalism".

      Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. That is a fact of history that can never be changed. He died on the cross and he was also risen from the dead almost 2,000 years ago. Think about this: If it's a fact that he actually did raise from the dead 2,000 years ago, is he dead today? Is Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of the Living God dead today? I'm not asking if you live like He is, I'm asking if it's true that in time-space history that he has risen from the dead almost 2,000 years ago, has He died again even once or died daily? No. If the Bible is true, He has been alive long before any living human being reading this post was ever even born. Think about that implication for a second. Long before my parents, your parents, you, or me were ever born, Jesus Christ had already risen from the dead forevermore. Do you see the danger in taking Him out of a historical context now? When you do, who (or what) are you actually believing in? As Horton said, "when it becomes W.W.J.D.? instead of W.H.J.D.?" chaos ensues and we confuse proclaiming the Good News with sharing narcissistic trivia about ourselves. There's a reason Jesus said that he who doesn't deny himself and take up his cross is not worthy of Him. Jesus Christ rose from the dead almost 2,000 years ago. That is news that should be proclaimed if we truly do believe and confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. (1John 4:1-3)



      END OF POST.

      4 comments:

      Anonymous said...

      "WWJD"

      Why Would Jesus Die?

      Lane,

      Actually, I was taught at a young age that Jesus died for my sins. I'm getting to be an old man now and after listening to Paul Washer's "Meaning of the Cross", I for the first time in my life realize that God the Father killed His own Son for the sins of His people. I never had that explained before. It was always Jesus died period. Does that mean I wasn't saved before when I just believed it was His being nailed to the cross and dying for me?

      Sid Bowser

      Lane Chaplin said...

      Hey, Sid.

      The best I've heard this question addressed is this:

      Many people are saved, believe in Christ, and then years later understand what exactly Jesus has done for them in some cases. I hold to the reformed faith so I believe that a person is saved by God without man's "free"-will decision, etc. In other words, I believe it entirely possible and happens in many cases that God saves a man even though he doesn't have all the "i"'s dotted and "t"'s crossed. Having all the theology down is not a prequisite to salvation, but faith and repentance is. Although you might have gone for years without understanding what Christ has done, that is irrelevant at the point you're at now. The real issue is now that you understand what he's done, do you love Christ or deny Him? Do you accept the fact that you're a sinner and there is no other name under heaven by which man can be saved other than His? Do you believe in his literal resurrection in light of all you know and do you confess that He is Lord? If you do, having the knowledge that you now have, you're believing in Christ. If you reject that, then you aren't.

      It's almost like saying I have $100 in the bank. I'm not aware of it for 15 years, but does it change the fact that I have it? No. What would happen, though, if I were to become aware of it and reject it? What would happen if I became aware of that money and denied it? I would be acting according to the knowledge I had, but I wouldn't have it. Now as doing something like that wouldn't make any sense, so it is true that if you had salvation for 15 years or so and just found out what exactly it was and that you had it, it wouldn't make sense to deny Christ which I don't think you have from your comment. I would be rejoicing right now for God revealing more of himself to you. Sanctification is a process and what did Jesus say? "Sanctify them with the truth. Thy Word is truth." If you're just becoming aware of certain truths, God is sanctifying you with the truth. It's a glorious thing.

      I wrote a post a while ago about the penitent thief on the Cross. One thing I said is that he didn't have all his i's dotted and t's crossed in terms of theology, but he was saved. Jesus, Himself said that he would be with Him that day in Heaven. One thing I'm almost certain of, though, is that even though the thief didn't make it past that day and didn't have his theology down, if he would have lived longer, he would have had the desire to whereas before he couldn't really have cared less.

      I hope this helps. Please let me know if you need me to clarify anything I've said or expand on it.

      Anonymous said...

      Lane,
      Thankyou that helps. I think I just feel insecure because the more I listen to Washer it sounds like at the point of regeneration I should at that point hated the sins I once loved. There are alot of things that I do not want to do anymore but I don't know if I can say I hate all the things I should. I guess what I'm saying is that it is a struggle many times. Washer makes it sound like God makes you hate sin so when I have a certain attraction to some things that are sinful it seems to me that I am not saved? Maybe I don't fully understand what he is saying but when he preaches from Ezekiel and states that "you WILL be clean", I start questioning myself?

      Sid

      Lane Chaplin said...

      Sid,

      That's very common to hear of people questioning if they're saved when they give into sin. The Apostle Paul, however, stated in the letter to the Romans (Ch. 7) that the good he wants to do, he does not do but instead he does the evil thing he hates so even though he was saved and wanted to do good, instead he sinned. Note that John said in 1John "If we sin, we have an advocate..." Why would he had written that to fellow believers if there was still not a chance that a believer could sin? Now there was another issue of the boy fornicating with his father's wife in 1Cor, but even then Paul said to release him to Satan so his flesh could be destroyed but his Spirit could be saved in the day of our Lord (1Cor 5).

      The question is this: Do you hate the sin or do you love it? If not, are you starting to hate it more and more? Keep in mind sanctification is a process and not a one time "light switch". Also, do you want to sin or not? I've heard those who are involved in Pastoral positions say that they've had people come to them and say that they're not sure they're saved or God's forsaken them because they keep doing the same sin over and over and they don't want to. The pastor said that that is a sure sign that God is saving that person. Think about it: Do professing atheists have any remorse for their sin in terms of it being against God? No. Believers do, though. That should give you great comfort if you do have remorse for sinning against Christ who is in Heaven right now. Read Romans 7 and it will give you great comfort especially when you realize that Paul wrote this after his conversion speaking of himself after conversion.

      I hope this helps more. Please ask if you have any more questions. I'm glad to answer them or direct you to where they can be answered more thoroughly if I'm not able to do so. I apologize for taking a few days to get back to you. I had several family issues to deal with including a funeral and a visit to the hospital so I was a little occupied this weekend.

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