Christianity IS Christ

by J. D. Watson

Once more we contemplate Ephesians 1:7: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” The words “in whom” immediately draw our attention to the One who obtained our salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ. These words connect verse 7 to the words “in the Beloved” in verse 6.

All this reminds us never to forget one principle, namely, Christianity is Christ. This sounds obvious, but in our day is really not obvious at all. Christianity is not the teachings of Christ. Christianity is not creeds or doctrines. Christianity is Christ.

It is the only faith in the world that rests solely upon the person of its founder. Other faiths might be named after their founder, but they have nothing to do with the person the founder was. One can be a Moslem, for example, and believe the teachings of Islam without having to concern himself with the person of Mohammed. The same is true of other faiths. People can believe all the teachings but ignore the founder. In fact, in some cases, the last thing the followers want to be reminded of is the shortcomings of their founder.

But again, Christianity is Christ. It has to do with a personal, even intimate, relationship with the Founder. The sum total of Christianity is in Christ’s person—not His ideas, His concepts, His philosophies, or His teachings—but Himself, His person. For example, how can we possibly possess and live the “fruit of the spirit” (or the “Christian graces”) in Galatians 5:22,23? Because they are found only in the person of Jesus Christ. Because of His indwelling Spirit, we are becoming like Him, our Redeemer—not more like some philosophy or ethical code.

I teach New Testament history at a local community college and discuss in detail the subject of who Jesus was. As does Josh McDowell, I present that there are only three possibilities: Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. Contrary to the teaching of many, Jesus did claim to be God (Mark 2:1-12; 14:60-64; John 5:16-18; 10:31-33; etc.). If He wasn’t God, then He was either the most despicable liar who ever lived, or He was the most deluded lunatic that ever lived because He ultimately died for His claims. The only other alternative, which is the truth, is that Jesus Christ was precisely Who He said He was. And because of that, every person must answer that all-important, personal question: “What think ye of Christ?” (Matt. 22:42).

Finally, what a humbling, staggering thought it is to see that we are the recipients of redemption. Why? Because of what we read in chapters 2 and 4 of Ephesians: we were dead in trespasses and sins (2:1); we walked according to the course of this world (2:2); we walked according to the prince of the power of the air (2:2); we conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh (2:3); we fulfilled the desires of the flesh and of the mind (2:3); we were by nature children of wrath (2:3); we were without hope and without God (2:12); we were far off from God (2:13); we lived in complete futility (4:17); we were ignorant, blind, and without understanding (4:18); we were past feeling, beyond conscience (4:19); and we were lewd, unclean, and greedy (4:19).

That describes us, whom He came to redeem. When we go down to the store, do we not buy things that have worth, things that in and of themselves have value? But think of it! Our Lord redeemed that which was worthless! Yes, He later makes us “able ministers” (2 Cor. 3:6) and gives us spiritual gifts to use in His service. But before that, we were worthless. Recall the words of our Lord in Mark 2:17: “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

So, we could easily paraphrase our text: “in whom even I have redemption.” We are, indeed, the recipients of a staggering redemption.

Dr. Watson is pastor-teacher of Grace Bible Church, Meeker, Colorado

Pastor Watson’s full exposition of Ephesians and other resources are available on-line at<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

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