We need to be rescued from an inadequate understanding of Jesus, said a prominent theologian.
While it's obvious that atheists and those who follow a liberal theology hold to an inaccurate view of Jesus, not all evangelical Christians have it right either.
"It's easy to say ... we are evangelicals. We are here because we love Jesus. We're here because we desire Jesus. We're here because we worship Jesus. We're here because we serve Jesus. Yes, but I wonder just how reductionist, how inadequate is our understanding of Jesus," said Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., a well-known evangelical and president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
"When you look writ large across evangelicalism ... there's good reason to wonder," he told thousands at the Resolved Conference in Palm Springs, Calif., over the weekend.
Hosted by Grace Community Church, Resolved brought together several renowned preachers for four days of sermons and Bible studies on Jesus Christ. The annual event drew some 3,000 people, most of whom were young adults.
GCC Pastor John MacArthur told the young crowd on Sunday, "It's really important to get Christ right."
Preaching or understanding a wrong Christ constitutes another Gospel and another Gospel brings about damnation, he warned.
The speakers at Resolved pointed to the various images of Jesus floating in the church and in society at large today.
Some describe Jesus as what "some shallow, sappy song" makes him out to be, said Steve Lawson, author and pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Ala. Some say Jesus is a "positive force" in the universe, or is someone who never makes demands on anyone's life, or is just a good and nice person.
"Many people ... miss the mark," Lawson said regarding how people identify Jesus.
"None of us ... can afford to be wrong about the Lord Jesus Christ. We need truth, we need clarity, we need accuracy because our eternal destiny hinges upon the fact that we have believed in the true Jesus of the Bible," he emphasized.
Baptist theologian Mohler pointed to the Scriptures as the "only rescue" from the wrong understanding of Christ.
"We live by the Scriptures. We know Jesus by the Scriptures. We are entirely dependent upon the Scriptures. ... We are only going to be rescued by the Scriptures," he highlighted.
"Jesus is not your therapist, Jesus is not your coach and Jesus is not your guru, your self-help manager," he noted. "Jesus is not your homeboy."
"Jesus," Mohler said, "is the great high priest we desperately need."
"We need a priest who can atone for our sins," he said, explaining that Jesus is the perfect mediator between us and God and the perfect and eternal sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus is often understood by evangelicals as a savior in a generalized sense. But when Jesus died on the cross, it was not merely a sign of his love or a sign of his willingness to die, Mohler stressed.
"It was indeed a sacrifice that was full atonement for the sins of all who are his."
Other speakers at the conference, which concluded Monday, included Rick Holland of GCC and C.J. Mahaney of Sovereign Grace Ministries.