Do you have a ‘sweet Jesus’ in your heart, but not a ‘biblical Jesus’ in your mind? You need both; one will not do without the other. The biblical Jesus is also the truly sweet Jesus.
Where might we find him? One of my favourite places to look for this sweet and biblical Jesus is in the apostle Paul’s epistle to the Philippians.
Some preachers in today’s church neglect the preaching from Paul’s epistles to their own and their congregations’ impoverishment. But consider the vocabulary of joy just in
chapter 1: ‘saints’, ‘grace’, ‘peace’, ‘thanks’, ‘partnership’, ‘affection’, ‘love’, ‘fruit’, ‘glory’, ‘praise’, ‘rejoice’, ‘deliverance’, ‘hope’, ‘courage’, ‘progress’, ‘faith’ and ‘salvation’.
Consider, as well, the following memorable verses and phrases in Philippians 1: ‘Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’; ‘my prayer with joy’; ‘and I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ’; ‘I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace’; ‘and it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more’; ‘so that you may approve what is excellent’; ‘that my imprisonment is for Christ’; ‘for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain’; ‘only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ’.
And all of these riches are found in just the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Professing Christian, if the apostle Paul could write of such joys, even while in prison, the question is, ‘Could you?’
Is Jesus Christ your greatest treasure in whatever earthly circumstance you find yourself? Open your Bible to Philippians and read it for yourself. Ask your pastor to preach chapter by chapter, verse by verse through this epistle, or some other New Testament book.
Don’t settle for weak, therapeutic or cosmetic preaching; nor for those ‘worship services’ that substitute entertainment and music for the pure milk of the Word of God. For you cannot have a sweet Jesus apart from the biblical Jesus, if you wish to stand for Christ in a decaying culture.
Paltry pulpit stories and theatrics do not grow and mature God’s people — just the opposite! I can’t imagine the great saints of Hebrews 11 endorsing that which is called ‘worship’ in many of our church buildings today.
Dr Albert Mohler said it best: ‘Those who gave their lives for the sake of the gospel did not do so in a spirit of cultural compliance’.
Paul K. Christianson
The author is pastor of Grace Reformed Church, Clarkston, Washington, USA