The Missing Piece
By Tracy Jessup
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:1,6)
In his book, Searching for God Knows What, Donald Miller tells about an experience he had while lecturing at a Christian college. He presented a form of the gospel but left out a critical element to see if they would notice. He even told them in advance what he was doing and asked them to listen carefully to figure out the missing piece.
Miller spoke of sinful humanity and gave examples simply from observing the depravity present in our culture. He talked at length about how sin separates us from God and pointed to the Scripture that says “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). He addressed the importance of repentance and referenced passages from the Bible that clearly affirmed this concept. Continuing with his presentation, Miller “spoke of the beauty of morality” and the benefits of making the right choices when tempted to sin. And then he told of the splendor of heaven, “and how great it will be to walk on streets of gold.”
This is how Miller describes what happened when he finished the lecture:
“I rested my case and asked the class if they could tell me what it was I had left out of this gospel presentation. I waited as a class of Bible college students…sat there for several minutes of uncomfortable silence. None of the forty-five students in the class realized I had presented a gospel without once mentioning the name of Jesus.”
The story bears repeating: I presented a gospel to Christian Bible college students and left out Jesus. Nobody noticed…To a culture that believes they ‘go to heaven’ based on whether or not they are morally pure, or that they understand some theological ideas, or that they are very spiritual, Jesus is completely unnecessary. At best, He is an afterthought, a technicality by which we become morally pure, or a subject of which we know, or a founding father of our woo-woo spirituality” (pp. 158-159).
Nearing the end of his first epistle, John begins to disclose the motive and aim which have directed his writing – “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Today’s passage emphasizes the object of faith, not just the experience of believing. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God” (1 John 5:1a). Christian faith has distinctive and irreducible content. Put together the first part of verse 1 and the last part of verse 5 and we see what it is. Christians believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. That is not just an article of faith, it is faith. It is this alone that makes a person a Christian (David Jackman, The Message of John’s Letters, p. 134).
Prayer: Lord, we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Help us to act on that belief as a channel through which your love flows to others.
Dr. Tracy Jessup serves as vice president for Christian Life and Service and senior minister to the University. He is a graduate of Gardner-Webb with a B.A. in Music and earned his M. Div. degree at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also teaches in the undergraduate department of religious studies and enjoys the opportunity to serve the local church through interim pastorates, pulpit supply, and preaching revival services. he and his wife, Teresa, have two children, Christian and Anna.
Read more Good Christian News from Dr. Jessup HERE.