The thesis: Jesus Christ did not come to change the world, but to save those who were lost from it.
If Jesus Christ came to save the world by addressing political, cultural, social, economic or military ills, then He was an utter failure, a misguided political and social leader who was betrayed by His own friends, rejected by His own people, and given an humiliating death on the cross by His political and social enemies, even to the point of dying faster than the two thieves that He was crucified with while a mocking “The King of the Jews” sign above His head and a “crown” of thorns on it. Honestly, who in their right minds would follow such a person, a complete and total abject failure in every way, who was betrayed by His own followers and killed before He changed a single thing about either His own Jewish society or the larger Roman Empire? So clearly, such a Jesus Christ is a false one, the invention of human imagination.
Evidence of this: the false messiah of liberation theology. Why follow him, be inspired by him, practice what he lived and preached, or pay attention to anything that all that he said, did or even existed when this liberation theology messiah did not liberate anyone? Again, in a political or economic context, Jesus Christ did not liberate a single person. For that matter, nor did He even try. Jesus Christ told His followers to generally submit to and respect the Roman rulers, to pay taxes into an unjust economic and political system that left so many poor and deprived the vast majority of Roman subjects so much as the benefits of citizenship. Jesus Christ denounced and criticized the Jewish rebels and subversives against Rome, calling them robbers and murderers, and instead socialized with tax collectors, who were Roman collaborators. Jesus Christ even worked miracles at the request of Roman officials, including at least one Roman centurion.
But those were the Romans. What about among his own Jewish people? Jesus Christ never challenged the authority of the priests, He only exposed their lack of righteousness. Jesus Christ instructed the people to generally obey the rulings of the Pharisees because of their position of authority “in the seat of Moses”, only warned them not to follow their hypocritical ways. Jesus Christ never led a rebellion or even told people to defy or resist King Herod. He did not try get his own cousin, John the Baptist, out of jail to save him from getting executed by that same King Herod. Jesus Christ did not attempt to do away with the temple tax, only drove the moneychangers from the temple to fulfill the prophecy (and also because they weren’t supposed to be there in the first place). And when Jesus Christ was arrested by the Jewish leaders to be delivered to the Romans to be crucified, He made no defense. He did not defend Himself or even allow others to fight on His behalf in the Garden of Gethsemane, instead telling Peter to put away his sword and healing one of those who came to arrest Him. He did not say a word to defend Himself during His trial, completely respecting the authority of the Sanhedrin and the high priest, not even mentioning that the trial was a sham and that Caiaphas was corrupt. And when Jesus Christ was given to Pontius Pilate to be crucified, He never denied, opposed or resisted Pilate’s power over Him (after an earthly, civil fashion) but rather affirmed its legitimacy! And while Jesus Christ was dying on the cross an innocent victim of a corrupt, repressive religious and political regime, rather than curse His enemies and yell out some exhortation for His followers to continue the revolution, He prayed for the forgiveness of the Romans and Jews! So tell me, what manner of liberation theology or any other liberal, radical or “fight the power, fight the system” can be given from Jesus Christ? At every turn, Jesus Christ submitted to the proper human authorities, religious and civil, Roman and Jewish, even though those authorities generally gave Him and His followers nothing but cruel oppressive unfair treatment. So rather than being the creator of some liberationist movement, Jesus Christ Himself modeled Paul’s controversial Romans 13:1-7, the main passage that the political (false) messiah followers claim was the prime example of Paul’s abandoning the “true message of the true Jesus” in order to gain favor with the power elite.
The problem is that there is nothing in Romans 13:1-7 that contradicts a thing that the actual Jesus Christ ever said or did. That’s why people who insist that Jesus Christ was a radical executed by Rome (or even the Jews) for His political beliefs ignore the fact that both the Roman AND the Jewish leaders declared Jesus Christ to be innocent. Caiaphas the high priest did so by stating that Jesus Christ should die in order to appease the anger of the Roman empire against the FALSE MESSIAHS that were leading insurrections, and sought false witnesses against Him. Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him, proclaimed Jesus Christ innocent when he tried to return the blood money to the priests, and the priests by their words and behavior (“what is that to us, that is your problem!”) confirmed that they knew that Judas Iscariot was correct rather than objecting to any untruth in his statement. And the Roman official in charge, Pontius Pilate, declared Jesus Christ to be innocent. What was Jesus Christ innocent of according to Pilate? Quite simply, being a radical, subversive or any sort of the political leader that worldly “Christianity”, whether of the liberal or conservative sort, wanted to make Him out to be. After all, what did Pilate care if Jesus Christ called Himself equal to God and would be seated on the right hand of God in heaven? What concern was that to the Roman Empire, which did not even respect, let alone practice, the Jewish religion? That was why Pilate attempted to get the Jews to deal with Jesus Christ according to Jewish law … whatever Jesus Christ was accused of was of no interest to Rome because Jesus Christ WAS NOT a rebel, either in the violent armed revolutionary or nonviolent subversive resistance sense. Had the Jews any evidence that Jesus Christ was either, they would have given it to Pilate, who would have declared Jesus Christ guilty and deserving of death on the spot. That Pilate declared Christ’s innocence is proof that all ideas of a political messiah are false, flying in the face of both the Biblical evidence and the common sense logic that a worldwide religious movement would never have been started by someone who was so utterly and spectacularly a failure.
The real Jesus Christ, meanwhile, is the one that the Bible speaks of, the one who was already Lord and came as Servant and Savior, and who actually SUCCEEDED in His mission. It is THIS Jesus Christ who rose from the dead. After all, had Jesus Christ come as a social reformer or political leader, to what effect was the resurrection? What did it mean? What did it change? And do not be deceived. When the apostles, still misunderstanding because the Holy Spirit had not yet come, asked Jesus Christ when He was to take the physical throne of David over the human political entity of Israel, defeat the Romans in a battle for Israel’s sovereignty, and then subdue the entire world to bring about the Messianic age, thereby bringing the political and social reforms that the apostles wanted, how did Jesus Christ reply?
With the classic “now and not yet” futurist and realized eschatology. The spiritual kingdom of Jesus Christ is now in our hearts. The church, which is present on earth, is Jesus Christ’s body. Jesus Christ Himself as the Head of the church. Jesus Christ indwells the church through the Holy Spirit, and every member of the church is “in Christ”, not only merely through identification with Him via baptism, but as a part of His Body. Thus, as Jesus Christ is seated on His throne on the right hand of God the Father, we are seated with Him. So, we are with Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of heaven, not in His place, not right beside Him as the mother of James and John asked, but as a part of Him.
But do not ignore the “not yet” part. That refers to the physical manifestation of Jesus Christ’s reign, the evidence of Jesus Christ’s Lordship being realized on the natural plane. It was the expectation of the apostles for this to happen in the form of a Messianic age that Jesus Christ was going to physically bring to pass in the form of a worldwide earthly kingdom that He would rule from Jerusalem. That expecation, in the immediate sense, was dashed when Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. Jesus Christ told the disciples to wait on the Holy Spirit’s coming to reveal more truths to them, and they did.
And when the Holy Spirit came, more truths about Jesus Christ and His kingdom were in fact revealed to them. And what did the apostles do based on this truth? Well, it is more interesting what they DID NOT do. What the apostles and the early church DID NOT do, did not even TRY to do, was embark on a mission of social, economic, military, cultural or political reform. To do so would have been to carry on the mission of some false failed messiah defeated just as many other pretenders who led doomed Jewish uprisings against Rome were. It would have been to carry on the mission of those who came in their own names, who were not God in the flesh, and who did not rise again from the dead.
Instead, the Holy Spirit pressed the early church onward to perform the work of the true Jesus Christ. The One who actually was born of a virgin, who did reveal Himself to the world through His works and teachings, and by this revelation of Himself who also revealed the God the Father, whose will alone He did. The One who died on the cross in our place for our sins, and the One who conquered death and the grave and rose again on the third day. The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost bearing witness of the true Jesus Christ who succeeded, not of some false messiah who failed. And the message of those who received that witness in that time was to repent of their sins, believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized, to live lives of faith and obedience, to pass from death to life, to leave the kingdom of Satan – which is death and destruction – for the kingdom of Jesus Christ, which is life everlasting. After the person has joined the spiritual kingdom of heaven NOW by believing the gospel, they were to await the coming of the physical kingdom that is NOT YET here with the return of the King, Jesus Christ.
And we are not to spend the time waiting for the return of the actual, living true King by pursuing the work of the many dead imposters and pretenders, which is pursuing social and political reform, trying to make society better, trying to redeem a fallen and soon to be judged earth with our good works. Be not mistaken, we are to perform good works, for the Bible does tell us that faith without works is dead. But the point of our works is the gospel which leads people to the spiritual kingdom of heaven of the true Messiah, not the earthly aims of the dead frauds. Whether the reform agenda is a liberal one (ending poverty, improving the environment) or a conservative one (opposing abortion and gay marriage) it is the earthly agenda of the false messiahs who died and are still cold and dead in their graves. It is not the agenda of the true Messiah who was raised from the dead and is alive forevermore.
So, which Messiah are you following? Whose agenda are you seeking? If you are following a dead, false messiah, why? What profit is there in this world? Riches of wealth and of good feeling? Those are things that the moths and rust corrupt and thieves can steal. Those things are going to come to an end when time is no more and will not be carried over into eternity. They are corruptible, and therefore there is no profit in them. It is only if you are following a living true Messiah, doing the things that this Messiah and His apostles told you to do as is recorded in the Bible, His New Testament, that you are reaping the true riches.
They may leave you indigent, marginalized and despised in this life, even among a great many of those who are after a fashion pious and religious. After all, the pious and religious people rejected Jesus Christ, so why shouldn’t they reject you, who serve Jesus Christ also? Is the servant better than His master? But you will have riches in eternity, New Jerusalem, and they will endure forever.
What should be remembered is that those who are trading the true living Jesus Christ for a false messiah are as Esau, trading something truly valuable, their birthright, for something of no value, a bowl of soup. Had Esau simply waited, he would have gotten something to eat. If nothing else, his mother would have fed him! And the same is true with Christians. Read the book of Revelation and the other eschatological passages, and also what Jesus Christ said to His apostles in the prologue of Acts. In the prologue of Acts, Jesus Christ didn’t say that their Messianic age expectations were wrong. He did not say “Never.” He simply said “Not yet.”
Because let it be known: if your desire is reform, if it is defeat of the wicked worldly systems that cause poverty, oppression, bigotry and whatever other ill that you imagine, that is most certainly going to happen. Jesus Christ has promised to return, defeat all evil, and rule the nations with the rod of iron. Satan, death, the grave … all will be defeated. It is there in the Bible, particularly Revelation, so please read it! We just have to be patient enough to wait until it happens!
The true Jesus Christ, the one actually spoken of in the Bible, holds promises of both a spiritual kingdom and a physical one, the former now and the latter at the time of the new heaven and the new earth after the resurrection. By contrast, the false messiahs, the liberation theology, liberal theology, black theology, feminist theology, antiwar theology, social justice theology, religious right theology models, can’t deliver salvation, real hope and change, in this world OR the next. Why? BECAUSE HE IS A FAKE! HE IS A FRAUD! AN IMPOSTER! Only the real Jesus Christ of the Bible can do these things, and it is this Jesus Christ that we should serve.