Which Jesus?

[4] For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

2 Corinthians 11:4

Is it not true to say that we can adapt Jesus to fit our view of Him? Add to that there are many who don’t like the evangelical Jesus. Plus there seems to be many Jesus’ out there; the liberal Jesus, the catholic Jesus, the Jesus we see in the cults, the Jesus in Islam as well as the Jesus we see at the cinema and on TV. There is the fully human Jesus with a little help from God, there is the fully divine and hardly human Jesus. The political Jesus and so on, get the picture? Each to his own then?

I think not! any other Jesus other than the one we read of in the gospels and portrayed by the apostle Paul is not the true and real Jesus, whether we like it or not. There is only one Jesus, only one God and only one Spirit, and only one gospel that can save.

At it’s most basic level Paul tells the church in Corinth that false apostles were proclaiming a “Jesus” different from the one he had preached. It’s interesting that just because powerful and influential people declare and use the name of Jesus this does not mean that it’s authentic and true, one must weigh the words and ask which Jesus?

It would be good at this point to re read 2 Corinthians 11:2-4. There is a standard, plumb line to which Jesus must be measured, and that is the Jesus Paul proclaimed and the gospel he taught to the church in Corinth that they had accepted (vs 4).

It has nothing whatsoever to do with our preferences or the sort of “Jesus” we think is especially needed in our day or whatever “Jesus” would appeal to our culture. There is only one Jesus. It is the Jesus Paul “proclaimed”. There is only one Jesus that matters and it is us who have to bend the knee to Him, not reject the bits what we don’t like. So,

[3] concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh [4] and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,

Romans 1:3-4

[5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, [7] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. [8] And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8

[30] And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,

1 Corinthians 1:30

There is only one Jesus and he is the one that did these astounding things.

[25] whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

Romans 3:25

[13] Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”

Galatians 3:13

[16] For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. [17] And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Colossians 1:16-17

[9] For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,

Colossians 2:9

Why would we dare to change Him?

When any alleged “Jesus” is received as something less than the all-sufficient and all-satisfying saviour from sin and death, he is not the “Jesus” Paul proclaimed. Is the “Jesus” you received the single, solitary basis for the forgiveness of your sins? Is the “Jesus” you received the one whose death satisfied the Father’s wrath by providing a penal, substitutionary sacrifice for your transgressions? Is the “Jesus” you believed the one who rose physically from the dead and will return personally to consummate his eternal kingdom? Any other “Jesus” says Paul, is a theological fiction, a religious cul-de-sac that will lead you in circles but never open up the road to heaven and eternal life.

Receiving “another” Jesus also entailed the receiving of a “different spirit” (vs 4). If it wasn’t the same “Jesus” Paul preached then clearly the “spirit” they received was also “different,” which leads us to ask what kind of “different” spirit was at work here?

It seems to me that the combination of Jesus, Spirit, and gospel here in vs 4 points to the Jesus who is preached and the Holy Spirit who works to save, which together constitute the gospel. Paul does in other letters talk about receiving the Spirit but on this occasion he is clearly speaking about the Holy Spirit’s work In Salvation. It is frightening, is it not what’s going on here? Another Jesus, another gospel and another Spirit all meaning that the Corinthian church have come to tolerate in their midst, and have exposed themselves to the power of a spiritual presence that is deceptive and misleading and ultimately destructive.

D A Carson said this,

“Provided there is fluent talk of Jesus, gospel truth, Christian living, and spiritual experience, combined with effective, self-confident leadership, we seldom ask if it is the same Jesus as the one presented in the Scriptures, or if the gospel being presented squares with the apostolic gospel.”

The truth is; there is not, and cannot be “another” Jesus. There’s only one. What the Corinthians have done is to believe false things about the true Christ, His Spirit and His Gospel. They have strained and stretched to fit for themselves a “type” of Jesus and in doing so they portray an image of Him that changes the essential truths about His relationship to the Father, His mission, His life, death, resurrection, and soon return. The opposers in Corinth used all the right terms “Jesus”, “Spirit”, “gospel” but gave each of them a different meaning. Boy, do we have to take care!

There is only one Jesus, God incarnate, sin-bearing saviour, whose one Holy Spirit awakens us to His beauty and sufficiency and once-for-all sacrifice for sin. This is the gospel we receive by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. There is no security or hope in a different Jesus. Don’t adapt Jesus to fit your life, bend you life to His. He is the one who said

[6] Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6