Some want to do all of the above.
According to some, Jesus never…
…fill in the blank.
Here’s some “indictments” that all start off with, “Jesus did not…”
Following each false accusation is a rebuttal.
– Believe in the God of religion
If by “religion,” you mean the doctrine that proclaims the death and resurrection of Christ, Jesus Himself walked through the whole program that God engineered that included Golgotha and the empty tomb beginning with the prophets all the way to the first Easter morning. He prefaced His explanation by saying, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (Lk 24:25-27)
So, again, if by “religion,” you’re referring to the gospel and Christ’s death and resurrection, Jesus did “believe” in the “God of religion” in that He Himself was the basis for that doctrine.
– Start Christianity
Again, if you’re basing your assertions on the idea that Christ never rose, you’re ignoring His explanation of the New Covenant as well as the way in which He validated His Identity (Matt 12:40; Lk 22:20)
– Ask people to worship him
When Thomas took a knee and said, “My Lord and my God,” Jesus didn’t correct Him (Jn 20:28).
At one point He said, “I and the Father are one” which means that He’s worthy of worship because of His being Divine. (Jn 10:30)
These are just two examples (see also Matt 8:29). An objective reading of the gospels makes it clear, both in the context of the things He said about Himself as well as the way in which He was addressed by others, He was more than a motivational speaker, He was God Incarnate and therefore worthy of worship.
– Subscribe to the doctrine of original sin
Original Sin is the tendency to sin that’s innate in all human beings which was inherited as a result of Adam and Eve’s failure in the Garden of Eden. That’s what started the decay and corruption that we all contend with, both in the context of a fallen world as well as our own sinful nature.
In Mark 9:30-32, Jesus said that He was getting ready to be killed and that three days later He would rise. He qualifies the reason for why all this was happening at the Last Supper when He puts it all in the context of the New Covenant which is explained in the book of Jeremiah (Jer 31:33-34; Lk 22:20).
The reason the New Covenant was necessary is because of man’s inability to honor the terms of the original covenant. Because Jesus steps in as the Ultimate Passover Lamb, the debt that was up to then being temporarily satisfied in the context of ceremonial sacrifices is now completely satisfied.
So, yes, He did subscribe to the doctrine of original sin. That’s the reason He had to suffer and die and He specifies that. To say that He didn’t is to ignore the words of Christ Himself.
– Die in order to rescue people from God
Hell is a real place. Those who contend that Jesus never taught about hell are not only refusing to read the words of Christ, but the Bible in general.
Consider the story of Lazarus in Luke 16. The rich man is in hell and Lazarus is in heaven. Jesus isn’t using symbolism, He’s describing a real place for the sake of making the point
Then in the book of Mark, He reinforces the sense of urgency when it comes to avoiding anything you might do to distort the Truth to the point where people have a flawed perspective on their Heavenly Father. He goes on to say that you’re better off facing life in a compromised state, then you are having all of your resources but with a rebellious disposition towards God.
If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. (Mk 9:43)
In Luke, He emphasizes the need to be authentic in your relationship with Him, as opposed to just going through the motions. He describes in vivid detail the situation that awaits those who refuse to ignore His Grace.
22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” (Lk 13:22-28)
The bottom line is that we have a problem in that our default operating system is fundamentally flawed. If that was the end of the story, it would be both tragic and hopeless. But it’s because of God’s grace manifested in the death and resurrection of Christ that we have an option that equates the kind of life that’s worth living!
And listen, getting hung up on your default sinful status is like throwing a fit because you’re out of gas all the while sitting at a gas pump with the Son of God offering to fill your tank.
The question isn’t, “How can a loving God send someone to hell?” The question is, “How can a rational person say, ‘No’ to a loving God?”
To believe that you’re not in need of rescuing translates to believing that you don’t see sin as a reality let alone a problem. It’s not about how many points you can put on the board, it’s your disposition towards the Authority of God and if you’re waking up every morning, walking up to God as He’s sitting on His Throne and telling Him to get out of your chair, the number of elderly ladies you’ve helped across the street doesn’t change the fundamental rebelliousness that characterizes your approach to Him (Is 64:6).
And as a quick aside, before you rush to take credit for whatever “good” you do in this world, remember God used King Cyrus to initiate the building project that restored both the wall and the Temple and Cyrus could’ve cared less about God (Is 45:4).
God can use a dirty mitt just like He can use a brand new glove to catch a fly ball. Bottom line: If He chooses to use you to make a difference, before you take all the credit, remember you’re always operating in the context of God’s Sovereignty, you’re never flying solo (Phil 2:13).
– Establish a spiritual hierarchy of “clergy” and “laity”
If Jesus is God, then you have Him establishing Aaron and his sons as priests in Exodus 30:30. Ephesians 4:11 says, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…”
– Hold the concept of biblical inerrancy
Jesus references the reliability of the Old Testament Law in Matthew 5:18: “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” As far as His own words, in Matthew 24:35, He says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
Psalm 18:30 says, “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” 1 Timothy 3:16-17 says that all Scripture is God-breathed. If you want to believe that the Bible could conceivably be flawed because of the human element that’s involved, bear mind that God Himself has to be willing to allow the text to be distorted. In other words, those who would criticize the Bible as being corrupted aren’t merely accusing various individuals throughout history of being either careless or sinister as much as they’re accusing God of being inept and irresponsible.
– Create a theological orthodoxy
If by “orthodoxy,” you mean something specific, then yes, He did create a theological orthodoxy and you can see that in John 14:6:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (Jn 14:6)
– Teach that women are subservient to men
No, He doesn’t. And those that use the Bible to justify what amounts to a misogynistic perspective are taking Paul’s words out of context as well as the Bible in general. (click here to read more about “Women Leaders in the Bible”)
– Believe that humankind was separated from God
This was addressed earlier as far as the way in which Jesus qualified His death and resurrection as being the manifestation of the New Covenant. It was the New Covenant that bridged the gap that existed between man and God as a result of man’s sin.
– Claim that heaven is streets of gold in the afterlife
It’s Jesus speaking to John in the book of Revelation. At one point, in chapter 21, John’s describes the New Jerusalem that Christ allows him to see and it’s made of pure gold (v18).
– Warn people that they could not trust what lies within them
Jesus said that one’s sinful thoughts and actions proceed from the heart in Matthew 15:19. Couple that with the prophet Jeremiah through whom God said,
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer 19:11)
That would equate to a contaminated status.
In addition, Jesus quoted from the book of Isaiah often (Is 13:10; 29:13; 34:4; 35:5-6; 53:12; 56:7; 61:1-2; 62:11). With that one prophet, He framed His ministry and His methodology, including His death.
In Isaiah 64:6, it says:
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Is 64:6)
Again, given, not only Christ’s words, but the whole of Scripture, you have a sinful condition that constitutes a default status that can only be remedied by God’s grace.
– Teach that God condemns people to eternal hell
In addition to what’s already been stated (Die in order to rescue people from God), in the book of Revelation, you have the Final Judgment described in chapter 20 where it says:
Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:15)
Accept God’s grace and you are gold! Refuse it and face His Judgment in the context of your sin and rebellion and you are condemned.
– Claim that his connection with God was exclusive and unattainable
In John 10:30, Jesus says:
I and the Father are one. (Jn 10:30)
So, from that standpoint, He is unique in that He is God.
Beyond that, unless you’re able to die for your own sins and come back to life, His is an unattainable status.