Tuesday, July 17, 2012



From the very beginning of writing the book, JESUS PLUS NOTHING, I have had so many people challenge the assertion: "Jesus plus nothing." Although I can't go into my answers to these challenges exhaustively in a daily podcast as I did in the book itself, here are a few thoughts for your consideration.
The challenges were basic to the discussion: What about prayer? Don't you need to pray? Yes, but who are you conversing with when you pray? Jesus!
What about the Scriptures? Don't you need Jesus and the Scriptures? Well, Jesus made it pretty clear, when criticizing the religious leaders that they were studying and memorizing the Scriptures and missing him in the process. The written Word speaks of Jesus, but only Jesus, the living Word, can give eternal life (John 5).

What about Church membership? Well, besides the fact that there is nothing in the Scriptures requiring Church membership, the church or gathering of Jesus happens when two or three come together in his name. So, Jesus is all you need-the one, the only one to gather around, whether you are gathering in a living room or assembling in a massive Church service. That's again Jesus plus nothing!

What about Jesus plus the Holy Spirit? What a person is really saying here is, "Aren't you forgetting the Holy Spirit by asserting Jesus plus nothing?"

Check out what Jesus says of the Spirit and the Father in the 15th and 16th chapters of John: "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me, because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you."

Do you see the pre-eminence of Jesus acted out in the play? When it comes to the Holy Spirit, Jesus is the marquee character. And the spotlight is always on him! So, again, "Jesus plus nothing" works!

This Vine and branches visual is powerful. When Jesus taught about the dynamic relationship he wanted with his disciples, he used the illustration of the vine and the branches. He clearly taught in this section that the relationship he wants and the only one that matters is for the disciples (the branches) to cling to and stay connected to Jesus (the vine). He even went further to say, "Without me you can do nothing." Nothing. What don't we understand about nothing? How much clearer could Jesus have said it?

Jesus says, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He lifts up every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15)."

This all happens in the name of Jesus with nothing added. Not Miracle Grow on the leaves. Not mulch on the roots. Just Jesus. Note that it's not that you can do nothing without the Spirit, but it's without Jesus you can do nothing. You just can't short-change this. It is clearly Jesus plus nothing!

Two other thoughts come to mind here. First-every person he encountered, touched, healed or raised from the dead are convinced that Jesus alone is enough.

Second-After Paul listed out his major religious accomplishments when writing to the Philippians, he made it crystal clear that Jesus plus nothing else is all you will ever need. Check out what Paul said: "If others think they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things."