Monday, January 14, 2019 -
This morning in my time of personal devotions, God deviated me to John 5, beginning in verse 18. Here, Jesus was being confronted by the Jews who wanted to kill Him, not only for breaking the Sabbath but also because He was “calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (v. 18). Jesus, in the next few verses, confirms and makes the case that He is indeed the Son of God. In fact, He uses the word for Son in conjunction with God as Father ten times!
The word for Son consistently used is huiós, which literally means “Son.” When used of Jesus, it is not perfectly synonymous with Messiah; it designates the same person, but not in the same respect. Christ calls Himself the Son of God because of His divine nature.
Here Jesus conveys the fact that God bestowed upon Him the attributes of God. I had missed this portion of Scripture yesterday when confronting the Muslim who claimed Jesus Himself never called Himself the Son of God. There is no doubt in John 5 that this is what Jesus is doing, and He takes it much further and describes His role as God incarnate. The Muslims today use the same tactic as the Jews were doing in denying Jesus’ divinity. Yet it is very clear in this passage and is evidenced by the many miracles Christ did.
I shared this passage, as well, with the man who is seeking the truth, who joined me today for more discussions. He’d heard the Muslim say yesterday that Jesus was not the Son of God because he claimed, He never said it. He also claimed that you had to examine what the original language said, which I also did. It is another proof that Islam is a false religion that has deceived many. It is an anti-Christ religion.
Changing subjects, an interesting point, and probably the primary premise that Herbert Schlossberg takes in the section of Idols for Destruction he aptly labels “Idols of Religion,” that throughout the Old Testament Israel and Judah’s main problem was the complete abandonment of their religion, that they repeatedly combined it with the pagan beliefs and practices of the surrounding pagan peoples -- Israel had been defiled by merging their religion with the worship of idols. As Israel became apostate, its practices became progressively less distinguishable from those of the Canaanites, “Placed in the midst of a society sinking into desperate wickedness, the priests and teachers failed to sound the call to repentance and fell into the same low state as the community over which they were given charge,” Schlossberg explains. “Thus the prophets were called to fulfill the role the religious establishment had spurned. When Israel fell into idolatry, it did not openly renounce the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in order to bow before the pagan shrines. Rather, the nation combined the older rituals with what it knew of Canaanite religion.”
We as Christians are also called by God to be set apart – not to be “conformed to the world.” Schlossberg draws the similarities with the church today, “Ecclesiastical structures that depart from the faith do so by the loss of distinctiveness, the gradual conformation of their thought and life to that of the larger community…In sociological terms, the church functions as just another means used by the political and social establishment to integrate society’s values into the next generation.”
Indeed, most of those who call themselves Christians, and many, many inside the church, have become nearly indistinguishable from the culture around them. I see this very evidentially here in prison. Schlossberg calls it “civil religion,” because “by its nature, it rises from the society…Civil religion eases tensions when biblical religion creates them. Civil religion papers over the cracks of evil, and biblical religion strips away the covering, exposing the nasty places. Civil religion prescribes aspirin for cancer, and biblical religion insists on the knife.” Schlossberg calls the dominant relationship taking place “convergence,” and quotes Ellul: “secular religions are insinuating themselves into the Christian churches, or else they are absorbing Christianity into themselves.”
Where are the prophets of today? Who is calling on the church to repent in this day and age? “We are left,” Schlossberg claims, “with a church that to a large extent has chosen to befriend the powers that dominate the world rather than judging them. We should be reminded that the crucifixion of Christ was a joint production, instigated by religious authorities and then carried out by the state. When the state joins forces with historicism and humanism in forging the great brutalities of the future, we should not be surprised to find the representatives of the established churches, fugal men for the idolatries, earnestly assuring us that God’s will is being done.”
This prophetic call for repentance needed in America today must begin with individuals. Richard Foster said it aptly well in a recent Christianity Today interview, “So many think of salvation as ‘I get the fire insurance policy and then I sort of wait for heaven when I die.’ But the salvation that’s in Jesus brings us into a life, and that life involves relationship, and the relationship brings the purity in time and in God’s way.” We need to begin teaching what Jesus told us, the way is indeed narrow, but so is the path.