Following Jesus is hard enough without having to deal with lies about how he feels about us or what he said or didn’t say.
Truth matters, especially when it comes to understanding Jesus.
So, to all of us who have ever struggled with relating to Jesus because of confusion or fear, I offer these brief reflections on misconceptions of what He taught, focusing on five things Jesus didn’t say.
1. I’m so disappointed in you.
This is my personal favorite and the one I’ve battled the most. For years, I lived convinced that I was a big letdown to God and that Jesus was constantly disappointed in me.
But then I began to rethink God. It’s impossible for him to be disappointed in anything because he knows everything, even before it happens. Jesus died for sins I haven’t even committed yet. How am I going to surprise or disappoint him? He knows my sin better than I do.
And knowing that, knowing that he died for me anyway, freed me from my fear of being a constant disappointment to him.
It should free you too.
2. You’re too far gone to be saved.
Some people fear they or someone they love has sinned too much for Jesus to save them.
We see Jesus shaking his head like a discouraged physician, saying, “There’s simply nothing I can do.”
That of course, is a lie straight from the Enemy.
Let me give you one word from Jesus that proves no one is too dirty for him to save—whosoever.
In John 3:16
Jesus told us that anyone who believes in him will be saved--no conditions, no exceptions.
There’s simply no “going too far” for God to save us.
3. If you were a better Christian this wouldn’t be happening.
How many times have you wondered if that bad thing—be it a cold or cancer or the death of a child—is the result of your weak Christian faith
? Satan loves to throw guilt on us by whispering, “If you were a better Christian this wouldn’t be happening.”
So what about Paul and the disciples who all suffered terribly in their walks with Jesus? Was their pain because they were bad Christians? You know better.
Remember that guilt isn’t from God. Guilt tears down and pulls away from God. Conviction is from God. It pulls up and invites us to aim higher.
Jesus will never say, “This is all your fault.” But he will say, “Go and sin no more.”
4. I’m really tired of hearing from you about this.
I know many Christians who believe that God gets tired of hearing them pray about the same things over and over again. They feel like they’re bugging God and that he grows impatient with their persistent asking.
They see him as the unjust judge in the parable of the persistent widow (See Luke 18:1-7
). But Jesus' point is that God is the opposite of the unjust judge. He’s a loving and good father and wants to hear from us about the things that concern us.
Persistent prayer doesn’t exhaust God, it honors him.
5. Those who never hear of me automatically go to hell.
I saved this one for last because it’s one of the biggest misconceptions of what Jesus taught. It’s so important we get this right that I devoted significant time to it in my book, A Man Who Told Us the Truth.
Let’s be clear, Jesus never said those who don’t hear of him automatically go to hell. In fact, he never said that anyone goes automatically to hell. Jesus hates hell and doesn’t want anyone to go there. His death on the cross ensures that every person in history has the chance to be saved and live forever with him in heaven
So what did Jesus say that confuses so many and is so often misquoted?
He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,” (John 14:6
People read that verse and interpret “no one comes to the Father but through Me” to mean that those who never hear of Jesus can’t be saved. That’s simply not true.
Jesus said that those who reject him are condemned, not those who don’t hear of him.
Those who don’t hear of Jesus' saving grace are judged on their response to the revelation of God in creation (Romans 1:18-20
) and are saved in the same way that Abraham was saved. Their humility before and worship of God as the Creator is “credited to them as righteousness,” (See Genesis 15:6
It’s comforting to know that we’re judged for what we do know, not for what we don’t. We need to communicate that.
Friends, Jesus' words matter. Let’s know them well enough to promote what Jesus did say and correct what he didn’t.
Will Davis Jr. is the founding and senior pastor of Austin Christian Fellowship (ACF), and the author of several books including
A Man Who Told Us the Truth,
10 Things Jesus Never Said,
Enough and more. For more information, please visit www.willdavisjr.com or www.acfellowship.org.
Publication date: April 14, 2016