by David Y.
Today I was reading an article by a popular Bible teacher that posed the question, “Is Jesus really all we need?” He followed that question by saying, “I would argue, no, Jesus is NOT all we need!” He continued by saying that Jesus never promised to be all we need, but only to provide all we need… He then established a list of other “essentials”, which included church (of course), the Bible, friends, a worshiping community, the Holy Spirit, etc.
Now, while I’m not in disagreement with some of the author’s statements, I think they are a little disorganized and confused. For example, by saying that Jesus is all we need does not negate the value of Scripture; however, Scripture won’t save your soul. Even Jesus told the Pharisees:
John 5:39-40 – “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to Me! Yet you refuse to come to Me to receive this life.
Apparently, Jesus thinks that HE is more essential than the Scriptures because He says that you cannot receive eternal Life unless you embrace HIM! Jesus did not demean the Scriptures, but He emphasized that it was HE that is essential to Life!
The author said that we also “need” church. Interestingly, he used the term “church” separately from “community” and “fellowship”. Why of course, because in this author’s traditional view (like so many religious folks), the church is a religious organization that people should belong to and attend weekly. His support for this did not even include Scripture, but rather the argument that (and I quote): “People who have strong social connections but poor health habits (eating, exercise, etc.) are just as healthy as those with weak social connection and good health habits… Better to eat Twinkies with friends than broccoli alone.”
Now, while there may be some truth in his statement about the value of community, his point still falters with respect to the foundational issue; whether or not Christ is all we need.
The author said we need a “worshiping community”. This comes from the religious concept of worship as being, essentially, a song service. But Jesus never taught that we “needed” a worshiping community or a religious Sunday morning song service. Rather, Jesus taught that true worship is our way of life; the way we connect with God and live that out each day. Jesus told the woman at the well (I like the Message version here):
John 4:23-26 – But the time is coming–it has, in fact, come–when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter. “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself–Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.” “I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”
I love how Jesus did not point to a “worship community” but directed complete focus to a relationship with God and then concludes by saying, “I am He, you don’t have to look any further!” Sounds very much as though Jesus was saying that He is all that is needed! The walk of spirit and truth is true worship! It has nothing to do with a song service or attending a public worship gathering. Not that there is anything wrong with singing worship songs together with other believers! But true worship is so much more!
You see, part of the problem with the typical religious mindset is that it sees Christ as divided from all these other things (i.e. fellowship, community, relationship, the Holy Spirit). For the religious, being a Christian is like keeping a checklist. Forgive my bluntness, but the whole thing is utterly stupid. Preachers, perhaps not unlike this author, who want to suggest that you need more than Christ either don’t know Christ or are likely seeking some way to control or manipulate people in some respect through religion.
When a person genuinely comes to Christ, He absolutely becomes their all in all. All of their needs will be met completely in HIM!
Acts 17:24-25 – “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since He is Lord of heaven and earth, He doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve His needs—for He has no needs. He Himself gives life and breath to everything, and He satisfies every need.
Those who Know Him, know that it is by the indwelling Spirit of God that we are even able to call Him Lord. God in Christ through the Holy Spirit works as one to lead us in the Way. Because of this, the gifts of the Spirit and the various administrations assigned by the Lord for our lives are not separated from Him but flow from Him. Whereas the organized church likes to divide everything up into convenient compartments, those who walk with Jesus know that He satisfies every need and supplies for every work He calls us to.
1 Corinthians 12:3-6 – “Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
There again we find that Jesus really is all we need!
As for fellowship, I have said this many times before, while many church folks think of “fellowship” as either something you attend or something you do, the reality is that The Fellowship is who we are in Christ. He is our Fellowship and it is because of Him that this Fellowship exists among all of us who know Him. This fellowship is not dependant upon flesh and blood gathering together. It exists because of who He is and who we are together IN Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:9 – God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 John 1:1-4 – We proclaim to you the One who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw Him with our own eyes and touched Him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This One who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen Him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that He is the One who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then He was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.
1 John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Again, I want to reiterate that I am not talking about an isolated kind of Christianity. I am not suggesting to anyone that you should try to go it alone or that you should reject all opportunity for physical forms of fellowship. I am simply saying that Christ is absolutely all you need! If you are His, HE WILL LEAD YOU COMPLETELY! The Holy Spirit will guide you into His Truth and He will also fit you perfectly within His body as He sees fit! Remember, YOU HAVE fellowship right now because you are IN FELLOWSHIP with Him!
Think of the apostle John who was exiled to the island of Patmos. He did not have any advantage of physical fellowship among believers. He was virtually alone. Yet he was able to give this testimony:
Revelation 1:10 – “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day…”
John was FULLY connected! Even though physically separated from his brothers and sisters in Jesus he remained part of them! He was IN the Fellowship of Christ and that by the Spirit of God! As a result, John was not only instructed directly by Christ Jesus, but he was also able to convey letters to the people of God (that he was not physically present with) to share God’s instruction with them! Nothing was lacking! Physical separation did not disrupt the Fellowship of the Spirit! John had ALL he needed in Jesus Christ!!!
When Paul met Jesus, it was not through attending a church meeting, or from a pastor counseling him, or from an evangelistic outreach. Jesus HIMSELF showed up and revealed Himself to Paul (then called Saul)!
Acts 9:3-5 – As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting Me?” “Who are You, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!”
So Paul obeys the voice of Jesus speaking directly to him and then goes straight to seminary where he is trained to be a professional pastor… No, that’s not what the text says does it?
Galatians 1:15-24 – But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by His marvelous grace. Then it pleased Him to reveal His Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus. Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother. I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie. After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. And still the Christians in the churches in Judea didn’t know me personally. All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” And they praised God because of me.
While I suppose many professional clergy will look at this passage one way, I see a simple testimony by Paul. In short, Jesus called him PERIOD. Because of His relationship with Christ, he was able to spend time getting to know other believers like Peter, but Paul never invests the language of a clergyman. Instead he lays emphasis on His calling by Christ Jesus alone and gives NO CREDIT to human flesh and blood! Paul says, “JESUS ONLY!” In fact, that very statement becomes his primary credentials for preaching the Word of God!
The problem with the religious church mindset is that it assumes non-attachment to an organization means isolation from the body of Christ. The religious church mindset assumes that not being under the “covering” of a pastor and part of a dedicated denominational fellowship means that you are outside of fellowship and that the only hope you have is to be led to depression, doctrinal error, and a fruitless life.
The reality is that anyone who is connected to the Vine (Jesus) cannot help but bear fruit! Furthermore, by virtue of our connection to the Vine, we understand that there are also other branches connected to that same Vine. All of us together IN CHRIST are part of the same plant that is being nurtured by God Himself! I shouldn’t have to reiterate the fact that the Vine isn’t a church building or organization. It’s not an institution. It’s not a weekly gathering. It’s not a Bible study, Sunday School class, or membership in a Christian College. The Vine is JESUS CHRIST! Yes, HE is ALL you need!!!!
John 15:4-6 – “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.”
In Jesus and ONLY JESUS is the Fellowship of God! Only through Christ can genuine fellowship among believers be realized, but that fellowship is not independent of The Fellowship! Many church folks wrongly assume that to say “Jesus only” means we are rejecting Christian community. The fact is though, for most “out-of-church” people I’ve talked to, they actually crave it! But they are tired of the status quo churchianity that they have been fed in today’s organized religious machine. They are seeking Christ; to make HIM Lord of their lives and to allow His Holy Spirit to work as the divine Assembler of His Body and to fit them together as HE sees fit! They want to be fruitful. They want to do all God wills of them!
Please don’t allow yourselves to be intimidated by religious folks that just want to fit you in the convenient cookie cutter mold of churchianity. Have grace and understand that they do not yet understand the freedom you have embraced. For them, your detachment from religious mindset means you are “falling away”, or that you are “deceived” in some way. You can’t do anything about them thinking that… But you can let your light so shine before men! It is when they see Jesus in you shining (His love through you), that the questions will begin to rise in their own minds… They will know you are His by your love! They may fight that conclusion on the surface, but God will prick at their heart.
For all the preachers and teachers out there who wish to continue suggesting that Jesus isn’t all we need, I would simply add, we certainly don’t need anyone who resists the emphasis of Jesus as Lord of His ekklesia! If you, dear preacher, prove to be an obstacle to that message, you will simply be ignored by those of us who are interested in keeping Jesus at the center of our lives. Christ himself will deal with you in His timing. I pray that it will be with mercy and soon and not harsh judgment if you strive against Him too long.
1 John 2:24-28 – So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life He promised us. I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. But you have received the Holy Spirit, and He lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what He teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as He has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when He returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from Him in shame.
Remember when Martha was busy about serving the Lord, while Mary chose simply to sit at His feet and listen? Remember what Jesus himself said to her? Think about this the next time someone tells you that Jesus isn’t all you need…
Luke 10:41 – And Jesus answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. But one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
ONE THING IS NEEDFUL!!! Sitting at the feet of Jesus! There you have it, straight from the mouth of the Lord himself. To the preacher who wrote that article I talked about earlier and declared to people that Jesus never said He was all they needed, I say to you YES HE DID SAY THAT HE WAS ALL WE NEED!!!
2 Peter 1:2-3 – May grace and peace ever be increasing in you, in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; Because by his power he has given us everything necessary for life and righteousness, through the knowledge of him who has been our guide by his glory and virtue…
One of my favorite songs is called “Liquid” by Jars of Clay. It’s based on one of my favorite passages of Scripture (1 Corinthians 2:2), “For when I was among you I determined to know nothing but one thing; Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” In this song, the chorus rings out, “This is the one thing, the one thing that I know…” JESUS!