A preliminary Introduction to JESUS INDEED
Book by Joseph Torie (to be re-published shortly)-
The Message of Jesus
Jesus Indeed discusses a number of important topics related to the message of Jesus, as revealed, preserved and transmitted by the gospels. The book is based on the premise that understanding the message of Jesus as recorded in the gospels puts in perspective the whole of Scripture, including the Old and New Testaments, the prophecies, the history as well as the writings and lives of the apostles and other Bible 'heroes'.
The book points to the central message of the gospels, which is 'God loves us and wants to forgive us our wrongs, even though we are sinners'. That message, also known as the 'good news', the message of salvation, or the New Testament in Jesus' blood is good news for sinners, like you and me, because we could never stand before God based on our own merits, virtues and accomplishments. We are not good and when compared to the goodness of God, we are all pathetically lacking no matter how saintly a few might seem to be when compared to the rest of us, human counterparts.
None of us is that 'good', we all have offended and broken God's laws of love, except perhaps for very young children, of whom Jesus said to His own disciples, "Suffer (allow) little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 19: 14) and "Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18: 3).
Jesus Indeed brings out that even the saved, believers and followers are sinners, although their sins have been forgiven by God's' Grace, through His Son Jesus, the Savior and Messiah. In that sense, the difference between an unsaved sinner and a saved one is that the latter has accepted God's forgiveness, courtesy of Jesus.
According to the book, the study of the gospels brings out inevitably the contradiction between the message and life of Jesus and that of a part of organized Christianity and some of its institutions. Specifically, the contradiction is that while Jesus came to save sinners -which couldn’t save themselves-, those institutions often expect people to be perfect and sinless to deserve being loved by God. In that sense, a number of religious Christians -perhaps due to their inmaturity- follow the harsh sample of many of the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus' day instead of the Lord's sample of love, compassion and mercy.
For example, when the religious leaders of Jesus' day saw that He ate and talked with sinners, prostitutes and drunks, they complained to His disciples saying, Why does your master eat with sinners? Obviously, those religious leaders saw themselves as good and pure, who wouldn’t have 'contaminated' themselves by associating with 'bad' people, and faulted Jesus for doing so.
When Jesus heard what they were saying, He told them, "... go and learn what that means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but (the) sinners to repentance (and therefore to salvation through forgiveness)." (Matthew 9: 13). Obviously, Jesus didn’t come here to tell us that we should be good and save ourselves but to save us and to die in our stead in the process.
One of the problems with those religious leaders was that they have gotten so absorbed with their religious obligations and keeping of commandments that they have lost sight of the true nature of God, love and mercy. In addition, through all their keeping of religious regulations, they couldn’t see that they were as much as fault as the 'common' sinners were, such as the prostitutes, drunks and tax collectors. Clearly, if those religious leaders were so 'righteous' as they claimed, they would have understood God's love and mercy towards us, sinners.
Even today, among very religious 'Christian' circles and groups there are still many that haven’t received and understood the straightforward message that 'we are not good, only God is Good, but He loves us'. The dogmatic message of some of those very religious people to the people of the 'world' could be boiled down to the following: 'God would like to forgive your sins, but if you want to be loved by God, you have to be saintly, as our leaders and we are. The more saintly you are the more He will love you ... but unfortunately, we have proof that you are a sinner, so God can't and will never love you. You are doomed'. In the end, their message is the opposite of what Jesus taught and preached.
It is curious that many religious Christians today would think they are good. They should re-read the gospels and the words of Jesus. Once when someone called Jesus, 'Good Master', the Lord asked the person, "Why do you call me good?" Then He added, "None is good, save one, that is, God." (Luke 18: 19). So, if not even Jesus, while in His earthly life accepted being called 'good', why should religious Christian people spend so much effort to prove to themselves and others that they are 'good'? Christians are sinners saved by grace.
The only possible 'goodness' for us sinners is to accept that we are not good, accept God's love, be forgiven and then go about and forgive other people equally unrighteous as we are.
It should be clarified that the feeling some people have that they are good and righteous is not just a phenomenon confined to one church or Christian organization, but it is widespread, although usually it doesn't affect everyone in one congregation or group. In addition, it is something that at one time or another could happen to any of us, including the author, as we are all sinners. The purpose for bringing up these facts is the desire to be of help, but not to condemn or judge others for the same sins or weaknesses I am guilty of.
Thankfully, among Christians around the world, regardless of their affiliation, there are many true 'saints' aware of their limitations, weaknesses and sins, who strive to pass the love, compassion and forgiveness they receive from the Lord daily, to as many as possible.
Jesus Indeed was written for them and for the rest of us sinners too. In fact, this book is written for all, as it is based on the words of Jesus, as recorded in the gospels. His words are for all and that's why He told His disciples, 'Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature".
The goal of the book is to rediscover the message of Jesus, right from Jesus' words and actions as recorded in the gospels. This is because He is the only one that being free from sin, could reveal to us exactly the unadulterated words of God. The rest of us can only pass His words, as our own words and actions are often tainted by our own weaknesses and sins. Only God is Good. True believers and followers of Jesus are sinners saved by grace, living by grace and trusting in His grace, not in their assumed own righteous religious virtues.
The main claims of Jesus Indeed are based on the words and actions of Jesus as recorded in the gospels. This is to present His message without any of the additions and interpretations of the last two millennia or from before. The author has tried to stick to His words sans any of the traditions, detours and Christian traditions, which in many cases have obscured the message of God's infinite love for us sinners. Where the book errs in this purpose, kindly forgive the author.
Finally, if you would prefer not to read this somewhat controversial book based on the words of Jesus, for fear of losing the 'straight path' set by your Christian group or association, no worries. Instead, please go directly to the source of this book, to the words of Jesus in the gospels. In fact, that's the ultimate goal of this study, to get the reader hooked on the words of Jesus and His actions as recorded in the gospels, above the words of any preacher, pastor, indie writer, father, brother or sister. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life no one goes to the Father, except by Him.