A City Set On a Hill
Surviving the Seventieth Week by Reforming Fundamentalism and Establishing Cities of Refuge
...... HOME ......
...... BACK ......
...... NEXT ......
... DONATE ...
Confessing the Name of Jesus Christ
Copyright 2010 by Raul E. Lopez, MD, MDiv

The Lord told the church at Philadelphia "for you...have not denied my name" (Revelation 3:8). To deny means to affirm that there is no relationship. Peter denied Christ when he swore that he never knew him, thereby affirming that there was no relationship. Jesus Christ says "whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my father who is in heaven" (Mt. 10:33). This follows the statement "whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew. 10:32). This logical contrast implies that the opposite of denying Christ is the constant public affirmation of our relationship with Christ both by word and by action. It is this constant confession or proclamation of Jesus Christ which constitutes the essence of the Christian life. "The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Acts 11:26) because the members of the church in Antioch "spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them and a great number believed and turned to the Lord" (Acts 11:20-21).

This proclamation of Jesus Christ also needs to be the goal of all Christian preaching. The Lord himself said "if I be lifted up I will draw all men to myself" (John 13:32). Even though this refers to the cross where Christ was sacrificed publicly and raised for all to see it serves as an excellent picture of our task. If we exalt Christ in our preaching (lift him up) it will draw people to Himself. When Philip preached to the Ethiopian eunuch who was reading in Isaiah "Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus." (Acts 8:35). Jesus Christ when He accompanied two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them, in all the scriptures, the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27). These two verses summarize well the task of a preacher.

The result of the proclamation of Christ is transformation. This transformation will take the form of salvation in some of those who are unsaved, and increasing Christ-likeness among those who are believers. Paul says "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (II Corinthians. 3:18). This verse takes on greater significance when we realize that the whole purpose of our existence is to become like Christ. Paul says "for whom He did foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). This transformation into Christlikeness is what is commonly called character building or developing character. It is the strength and ability to do what is right.

This transformation is the greatest miracle of all, a spiritual healing greater than any physical healing. The focus of the great commission is not salvation, but, rather, the making of disciples. Salvation is merely the first, although essential, step. A knowledge of Christ is the foundation for a transformed life. Unfortunately, too many churches focus on the principles of the Christian life while forgetting the Christ of the life. Preaching based on the knowledge of Christ and applied to the believer's life leads to power. This is the sequence implied in this passage and stressed elsewhere (knowledge, obedience, strength). Preaching which ignores this foundation will be ineffective. Fundamentalist churches need to reemphasize Christ-centered preaching.

Even in the Old Testament God told northern Israel through the prophet Hosea "Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because [there is] no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land." (Hosea 4:1). And "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee" (Hosea 4:6). Even in the Old Testament the knowledge of God brought long life while the lack of the knowledge of God brought destruction. "The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. (Proverbs 9:10-11). Jesus extrapolated this principle out to eternity. He confessed to the Father "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3). Even though there is an experiential component to knowing God, the starting point and foundation of this experiential knowledge is the self revelation of God found in His word.

Even though God has revealed Himself indirectly through His creation, God revealed Himself most fully in the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the most direct and complete revelation of God. Jesus said to Philip "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). Paul says that Christ "is the image of the invisible God" and "it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness [of God] should dwell" (Col. 1:15,19). The writer of Hebrews states "who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person" (Hebrews. 1:3). The indirect revelation found in God's creation points to, supports, and clarifies the person and work of Christ. Consequently, every passage of the Bible proclaims Christ in one way or another. Every sermon, therefore, must act as a funnel which proclaims Christ using as text either those passages which speak directly about Jesus Christ or those which reveal Christ indirectly by means of Christian principles. After the preaching and exposition of Christ is complete, application should then be made to the believers life, thereby reversing the funnel. Paul himself follows this two funnel approach in the structure of his epistles. When addressing a problem in the church He first devotes about half of his letter to an exposition of Christ. He then applies these truths to the problems at hand in the second part of the epistle.

top of page