Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Which Jesus Is Your Jesus?

I recently performed an Internet search for my name and learned to my surprise that I am not the only Paul Siems listed in Wichita, Kansas. I found that there is another Paul Siems just a short distance away (at least according to that search). He is not me and I am not he. Yet via an Internet search for Paul Siems you will find us both. We have never actually met one another, by the way. Yet we share the same name, at least this far.

He is Paul E. Siems.

I am Paul A. Siems.

Yet if we both were in a crowd and heard someone call out, “Paul” or “Siems” or “Paul Siems”, we both would likely respond. That is, if we both heard it. However, someone could call out for Paul Siems and receive a response from the wrong one of us. And if the calling person had never met either of us, how would the person know whether the right Paul Siems had been contacted? More information would need to be verified to be certain. However, the person may not bother to verify, not realizing that just calling out “Paul Siems” is insufficient.

Yet how many Christians Pray to “Jesus” in just this way?

How many Christians use the additional information necessary to identify the true Jesus? How many simply use the name of Jesus and expect that their prayers will be heard and received, without verifying that they are using the name rightly and addressing it to the true Jesus?

Which Jesus is your Jesus?

Do you even know? Do you care?

It seems that most Christians are oblivious to the fact that there are many Jesuses and many Christs, even though there is only one true Jesus and Christ. Most Christians express that believing and praying to Jesus is sufficient, without any need to be sure that one knows who Jesus Christ really is.

Well, it certainly matters in the case of Paul Siems in Wichita, Kansas. One Paul Siems is the son of a retired dentist. The other is the son of a deceased millwork draftsman and wood worker (carpenter). One of us is a Lutheran pastor and an arborist. I don’t know more about the son of the dentist, even though the dentist was my dentist until he retired.

Moreover, we do not pronounce Siems the same way. He and his family say Sims rather than Siems (seems).

Now here is something rather frightening.

According to this, which can also be viewed at PeopleFinders, I am back living in Hugoton, KS again rather than Wichita. Hmm. It also says that I have used an alias of Paul M. Siems. Not true! It lists as my relative my wife, only identifying her as a relative, and listing her maiden name, which she has not used for 19 years. Hmm.

Now for the scarey, part. This source of information about me offers to provide information regarding:

* Criminal records
* Misdemeanors
* Felonies
* Lawsuits
* Bankruptcies & Tax Liens
* Sex Offender Check
* Judgements

Yikes! They don’t even know where I am, and they identify me according to an alias that I have never used. What sort of false information will they give regarding felonies and sex offender checks? I wonder whether my wife and I are divorced and don’t know it!

Do you see the point? Using such a source for information will direct a person to a Paul A. Siems who does not exist, even though some of the information given will be correct. Other information will send the person seeking me on a wild goose chase.

Yet with regard to Jesus Christ, most Christians settle for far worse sources of information and base their contact with Him on the faulty and even fraudulent information provided by their false sources.

Do you suppose that this makes a difference?

For example:

How many churches and pastors teach that the Jesus who says: “This is My body, given for you.” and “This is My blood, shed for the remission of sins” does not mean what He says? Does your Jesus really mean these words, or did He just say them to have something to say? Or did He say these words meaning something else entirely than the words that He spoke?

How many say that what Jesus says of regeneration and conversion is not how regeneration and conversion take place? Jesus says that the nations are discipled through baptizing and teaching. His apostle, Peter, says that Baptism saves us (1 Peter 3:21) and gives us the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and that this promise is not only for the adults who hear it but also for their children and even for those who are far off in the future (Acts 2:38-39). St. Paul says that salvation is by grace through faith and that this is a gift of God, not a work that people do for themselves (Ephesians 2:8-10). Yet most Christians say that faith is a decision or commitment that the person must make for oneself and that the children cannot have such faith because they are unable to produce this faith for themselves through human reason. So is your Jesus the one who says that salvation is through faith, which is given in Baptism with the Holy Spirit, purely a gift of God that He works, or is your Jesus the one who says that you must do this for yourself when you reach the age of reason, however you choose to define this?

Is your Jesus the one who says that the words of the apostles are given to them by the Holy Spirit as the very words of Jesus that cannot be rejected without rejecting Jesus, or is your Jesus the one who sent forth a bunch of confused liars who said things about salvation and the means of grace that are really just symbolic gestures?

Is your Jesus the one who commands that His disciples mark and avoid those who cause divisions in His Church regarding doctrine and practice, or is your Jesus the one who says judge not and tolerate all things and all doctrines and all forms of worship as equal? Is your Jesus the one who commands that the pastors bind the impenitent to their sins and excommunicate them, or is your Jesus the one who says that the Lord’s table is a matter for the individual to decide regardless of what the person says and does?

Is your Jesus the Almighty God who created in six days all things, both visible and invisible, or is your Jesus merely one who claims for Himself what actually happened by accident over millions and even billions of years?

Did your Jesus suffer and die for the sins of world, rising bodily from the dead and rising with that body to heaven, or did your Jesus merely live an exemplary life and teach enduring principles of morality?

And when you gather into a congregation, is this the one true gathering of saints into the name of Jesus in accord with all that He entrusted and charged to His apostles? Or do you congregate in a congregation that is in association with many diverse groups who worship according to many styles and confess different things concerning Jesus and His Church?

So, the question is: Which Jesus is your Jesus?

When you pray, to which Jesus do you pray? When you gather with others into the name of Jesus, do you all gather into the same understanding of that name? Do you worship with the same confession of who Jesus is? Do you bind yourselves in communion with those who are truly one in Christ? Do you share the same understanding and belief concerning the work of the Holy Spirit? Do you truly share together in the Holy Communion of Christ?

Are you among those who imagine that these things don’t really matter?

Well, I can tell you that if you attempt to contact me through the means that direct one to Paul E. Siems, I will not hear you or respond to you. If you seek to find me in Hugoton , you will not find me. You can cry out until your throat bleeds and I will not hear you.

So perhaps it would be wise for us all to examine ourselves and our understanding of Jesus and our ways of worship and praying to be certain that the Jesus to whom we pray is the real Jesus according to the name through which all men must be saved (Acts 4:12). Perhaps we would do well to ask whether or not we are congregating with those who are truly of the body of Christ according to His definition.

In these matters, is wishful thinking enough? Is being close really enough? In spiritual matters is ignorance ever bliss? Are you satisfied with what you have assumed regarding these things, or do you stand with the apostle (Philippians 2:12) in counting the necessity of working out your own salvation with fear and trembling to be certain that your hope is not in vain?

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1 comment:

Gary Cepek said...

Thank you, Pastor Siems. When the Savior used the phrase, "in My Name," He wasn't referring to an abstract and fuzzy concept, but to the core distinctions as the Person who is True God and True man, the only Savior for sinful mankind.

Gary Cepek