“These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (v. 31).- John 20:30–31
This month, our studies in Matthew will concentrate on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus — the climax of His ministry and ultimate purpose for which the Son of God became incarnate. Our Lord’s suffering for the sins of His people is just one part of the area of systematic theology termed Christology. Before we focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection, we will take a week-long break to look at biblical Christology and the historical development of the doctrine of Christ using Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series The Doctrine of Christ (part 1).
Even though orthodox Christianity often receives criticism in our day, it is not too difficult to find people who admire Jesus. Politicians of all stripes invoke the name of Jesus, or at least what they believe He teaches, in their policy proposals. References to Him abound in popular films, books, and songs. The Jesus that is presented to us in these different ways, however, often bears little resemblance to the one we find in the Bible. In other words, many people respect a Jesus who does not exist. Instead, the Jesus that is exalted in our culture is one who has more in common with whatever is currently in vogue than with what the New Testament record has to say about Him.
Of course, this is dangerous because the Bible is clear that salvation comes only through trusting in Him — as He has been revealed (John 8:24; 1 John 2:22). Sound Christology endeavors to determine what Scripture says about Jesus in order that we might trust Him rightly. We are wrong if we limit our Christology to a personal relationship with Jesus, because without doctrine we will not know if we have a relationship with the false Christs of other religions or the real Jesus of Scripture. Knowing a list of facts about Christ is not sufficient by itself to save us; even the demons know the truths of God and shudder (James 2:19). Nevertheless, it is impossible to trust in someone about whom we know nothing, and so we must seek to understand the biblical teaching on Jesus.
It is sad that few Christians today are interested in theology. Perhaps this is a reflection on their fervor for Christ. How could anyone truly believe in Jesus and yet have no desire to learn all they can about Him and His work?
What place does Bible study hold in your life? All of us should be concerned to study Christian doctrines, for in doing so we will be able to present a distinctly Christian worldview and be assured that the Jesus whom we trust is the real Jesus. Take some time this week to learn about the basics of Christology, perhaps through a teaching series or a book on the person and work of Christ. Strive to make doctrinal study a regular part of your life.
Passages for Further Study
1 Timothy 6:3–5
1 John 5:10