“Focus on Jesus,” some people say. Or, another way to put it is, “Keep your eye on Jesus.” Where does this expression come from? What’s the downside? What does it really mean?
Jesus fed 5,000 men with 5 loaves and 2 fish, and everyone was full. The leftovers filled 12 baskets. John 6 adds in that the people saw that Jesus was “that prophet” (v 14) and they wanted to force Him to become king (v 15). Jesus then departed to the mountains alone, while the disciples sailed to Capernaum without Him (vv 16 – 17).
23And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
32And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
33Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. (Matthew 14:23-33, King James Version)
Peter, who frankly has more guts than I do, wanted to walk on water with Jesus. As long as he focused on Jesus, he was fine. However, the distractions of the waves and winds took his attention away from Jesus, and Peter began to sink.
Notice, though, Jesus’ admonition was focused on faith. Peter’s problem was not on the physical act of looking upon Jesus, but in second guessing his journey and paying attention to the distractions around him.
Peter should have been focused on Jesus as his goal. Think about what that really means, though. This entire life is for a purpose, right? What is that purpose? To become like Jesus. We are to be moving towards developing the mind of Jesus (Php 2:5; Ro 12:2).
To put it another way, far too many mainstream Christians focus on “the person of Jesus” without that having any meaning at all. Much like when they “spiritualize” things, they make them disappear into thin air, by focusing on what they perceive as the person of Jesus, they focus on a false target. They focus on a false perception of Who Christ was and is.
Even the Pharisees, who saw Jesus in the flesh, did not recognize Him for Who He was, in spite of the fact that He was standing right in front of them! Why? Their perception of Who and What the Messiah was supposed to be was so skewed that they could not see Him for Who He really was and still is!
Instead of focusing on becoming like Jesus, far too many focus on making Jesus like themselves.
And, yes, Jesus kept the Sabbath, the holy days, abstained from unclean foods, etc. That’s the example He left us. He also told us that love is the basis for the Law and prophets. He also told us that mercy, faith and judgment (funny how that last one is often overlooked) are “weightier matters of the Law” (Mt 23:23).
We need to keep from getting skewed towards a “person” who is really a figment of our imagination. We need to keep from getting skewed towards the letter of the Law (and thus adding our own traditions upon it). In other words, we need to keep from becoming distracted from actually becoming more like Jesus in every way (Col 3:10).
Good thought provoking article.
How can anyone really have their focus on the true Christ of the Bible and understand the true Gospel He preached–even in the COG today–unless they have their nose in the Bible everyday, having prayed for God to open their minds to be able to see and accept the truth recorded there?
If I were a betting man (which I am not)–and speaking of things getting "skewed" as you put it, I would bet that thousands of long time members of the COG wherever they are could not tell you the main focus of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! WHY??
recent Church literature and sermons do not present it correctly–being somewhat "Skewed".
What was it about?? who wants to explain it from their understanding of Christ's Gospel and the COG perspective? Mr. Meredith in LCG says it was primarily about "right government", contradicting his own statement of beliefs. UCG says the same thing in the Gosepl booklet,(Page 18) yet have rejected Biblical based forms of it. We cannot teach what we have not learned nor refuse to practice. are they right in what they say about it?
Some good comments, John. Thanks.
I agree that far too many evangelicals focus on the person of Jesus and thereby miss life change and who He really is. On the other hand I could point the finger at the failures and disobedience, backbiting and disunity of members of xCG's. What good would that do?
In the end we all will be measured by the fullest extent of God's perfect law. Only one sin will keep a person out, period. I think we agree no one will be able to survive that judgment unless they have Jesus's atoning blood covering them.
If my obedience determines whether I make it or not, then why in the world did Jesus die? Is He just some messenger boy? Or does He save fully? When at the original Passover in Egypt, Israel was told to do ONE thing – put blood on the door post. That blood covered and saved them, period. No if's, ands or buts. The lamb's blood did it. It didn't matter if the family inside the home was arguing, fighting, lying, stealing or other despicable acts. The death angel still passed over if the lamb's BLOOD covered the door. God forbid that any one of them were sinning, but God forbid too that anyone would claim Israel's obedience saved them. It was grace, period.
Even with all the stupid, adulterous and sinful acts in the wilderness their not getting into the Promised Land all boiled down to one thing – lack of faith in God. They sincerely didn't believe God would save them. No confidence. No assurance. No belief. They did not trust Him period.
For me to look at the xCG's and make a blanket statement that they won't make it because they're all looking to their obedience and not Jesus would be narrow-minded and condemning people that I have no idea about. There are surely true Christians in those groups God is working with. I'm willing to work with and support those fellow Christians not because I like it or believe the same way they do, but because we both believe in Jesus and Jesus said something significant about unity in John 17 and Eph 4 and love for one another. The world will know us by our love for one another (in varying degrees) and we will know each other by our fruit (in varying degrees). And yes, absolutely obedience is also a mark (in varying degrees). However, obedience is not the engine, though. Jesus is the power and engine.
I see 7 very different churches in Revelation 2 & 3. Each with various strengths, weaknesses, obedience, obedience problems, fruit and varying love.
From my perspective, the KEY element to understanding this "salvation concept" is this.
Because of God's plan, which it seems only the Church of God understands, the issue AT THIS TIME is NOT even salvation. The issue is—- who will be the first fruits.
Now, I know we understand this in the Church of God, but I really don't think many in the Church of God understand this.(grin)
When we frame our thinking with the question, how do we attain salvation, again, at this time, we have an inaccurate frame.
God is in the process of deciding who will be first fruits. He is not thinking in terms of who will be ultimately saved.
I am convinced the Church of God assumption that if we are given the opportunity to be a first fruit and "blow it" we have lost our one and only chance of salvation. Nonsense.
It will be a JUDGEMENT by God as to whom will be first fruits. I also tend to think, again, tend to think, there will only be 144,000 first fruits, as do others in the Church of God.
When one frames the issue this way, I believe, it changes one's paradigm (if indeed it is a change)and helps us to see that God will be very precise in choosing first fruits.
God's foundational governance structure, for all eternity, MUST have people he can have complete trust in. The character of all first fruits will have proven to God he can have this trust.
I would think among these traits would be, true honesty, true humility, having a teachable mindset,people growing in true love and concern for people, and a true servants heart.
@Jim Butler: What you are essentially saying is that Gentiles will not be among the firstfruits, then. Rev 7 says the 144,000 are from the 12 tribes of Israel. Worse, it says, "These are they which came out of great tribulation", so by reasoning that only 144,000 are firstfruits, even the Apostles are not among that group.
John, this is a big subject and not for a blog like this.
I did say tend to believe, twice. It is God's plan, not mine.
Christ himself, recorded at least three times in scripture, said he only came for the lost tribes of Israel. Obviously he knew what he was doing. I know our English translations talk about Gentiles being converted. The word Gentile is actually "dogs". Jews refered to other Israelite tribes as dogs because they did not consider them followers of God.
The ones that came out of the great tribulation are the great multitude of ALL nations. Rev. 7:9 starts by saying, "After these things…"
I believe this is referring to a time after the millennium. I know it says they came out of the great tribulation in verse 14. Again, a big subject.
That said, that was only a secondary point to the main point. I don't think we frame this salvation issue properly.