Bad theology: Are you loving the wrong Jesus?

By Greg Laurie

In a poll by the Barna Group, half of those who described themselves as Christians didn’t believe that Satan exists, and one-third were confident that Jesus sinned while he was on earth.

It seems to me that in the church today, there’s a rising biblical illiteracy among professed followers of Jesus. Our biblical IQ, if you will, never has been lower.

As George Barna put it, “Growing numbers of people now serve as their own theologian-in-residence.”

What we believe about God and what he says about himself is the most important thing we could focus on and think about. In fact, what we think about God has everything to do with how we live our lives. Our views of God will determine how we react to what comes our way in life.

Yet we don’t have to check our brains at the door when we choose to be followers of Jesus Christ, because Christianity is a reasonable faith. It is a logical faith.

God says, “Come now, and let us reason together,” (Isaiah 1:18 NKJV). A modern version of this verse says, “Come. Sit down. Let’s argue this out” (MSG).

We need to think and act biblically, not emotionally. Far too many people today emote when it comes to God. They feel, but they don’t think. They say things like, “I don’t believe in a God of love judging anyone,” “My God would never do thus and so,” or the classic, “I’m not into organized religion; I’m just a really spiritual person.”

We need to think carefully about these things. We neglect theology at our own peril, because experience is never to be the basis for theology. Rather, sound theology should be the basis for our experience.

C.S. Lewis gave this warning: “If you do not listen to theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones.”

The apostle Paul wrote, “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16 NLT).

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Yet someone will say, “Well, I just love Jesus! Can’t we just set these things aside?” That is a nice sentiment, but here’s the problem: What if you end up loving the wrong Jesus?

For instance, if the Jesus whom you supposedly love sinned while he was on earth, as half of the self-described Christians in the Barna poll believe, then what kind of savior is that? If the Jesus you love is not the Jesus of the Bible, then effectively you’re an idolater. You’re worshiping another god.

Imagine if you boarded a plane, and just before takeoff, the pilot announced over the intercom, “Fuel schmuel! Let’s just see how far this bucket of bolts will go!”

Or, what would you think about a surgeon who said, “Hey, let’s just get out the scalpel, start cutting, and see what happens”?

You would be alarmed.

Yet at the same time, when it comes to something that decides their eternal destiny, many people treat it casually, effectively making up the rules as they go.

A. W. Tozer said, “Nothing twists or deforms the soul more than a low or unworthy conception of God.”

We must have a proper understanding of the character and nature of God, and there is no better place to start than with God himself. What does the Bible say about God?

God exists and is the creator of the universe and humanity. Of course, I know there are atheists who have done their level best to undermine the faith of those who choose to believe the Bible. However, most polls would reveal that Americans, by and large, believe in God.

Interestingly, the Bible never tries to prove the existence of God. It simply starts with these words: “In the beginning God …” (Genesis 1:1 NLT). This assumes the obvious. It assumes that people know this is true. And frankly, I think it takes far more faith to believe there is no God than to believe there is one.

People today are willing to accept the premise of God, but it seems they want a god in their own image. As Voltaire pointed out, “God made man in His image, and man returned the favor.” And that is what we largely have today: a generation that believes in a god of their own making.

We live in a day of information on demand. We can hear and see what we want, when we want it. And we sometimes apply the same approach to God. We customize a god that does what we want him to do and says what we want him to say.

But that is not the way to know God. We don’t mold God into our own image; he wants to mold us into his. God said, “I am the Lord, and I do not change” (Malachi 3:6 NLT).

In the beginning God. That is where it starts. And if we eliminate God, we have a big problem. The Bible doesn’t tell us where God came from; it just tells us that God is. God always has existed. He did not come from something. He was not invented or created. God always has been there. He has no beginning or ending.

Though times and circumstances change, God never does. Everything except God is changing day by day. We live in a storm-tossed world. These are uncertain times, and we need a real certainty that will help us get through them.

When you believe God, it doesn’t necessarily change your circumstances, though sometimes it will. More often than not, it will change you. It will help you to view your circumstances properly.

On the other hand, if we don’t understand who God is, if our view of God is warped, then it will affect us in the way that we live. Let’s make sure we are worshiping the true God as he is presented to us in the pages of Scripture.

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