In 2003, the International Dairy Foods Association celebrated its tenth anniversary of the “Got Milk?” advertising campaign. During the past ten years, just about everyone from Michael Jordan to the Cookie Monster has been featured wearing a milk mustache. Besides the fact that the construction of the marketing slogan is grammatically incorrect — “Got Milk?” as opposed to “Do you have milk?” — I’ve never been particularly disturbed by these advertisements. Yet the cultural influence they have had has left me in a state of bewilderment. It seems that such slogans are just about everywhere: “Got Termites?”; “Got Hair?”; “Got Brains?”. And while these slogans are quite harmless in nature, there is one such slogan I was reminded of recently when I noticed it on a bumper-sticker on the back of a garbage truck. The slogan: “Got Jesus?”
The question, “Got Jesus?,” presumes a number of things. Fundamentally, it presumes that one needs Jesus — and with this presumption I am in complete agreement. My contention, however, is with the question itself. Indeed, “Got Jesus?” begs the more appropriate question: “Does Jesus got you?” Although it is not nearly as trendy, and while I don’t imagine that such a question would ever make it onto a bumper-sticker, the truth of the matter is that the former question distorts the Gospel while the latter question is at the very heart of the Gospel.
Throughout the book of Hebrews, we are confronted with exhortations to persevere in the faith. The misconception, however, is that our perseverance is based upon our inherent ability to persevere. We somehow get the impression that salvation is primarily about us, and thus it would seem quite appropriate to ask the question, “Got Jesus?” And though well-intentioned, the question entirely misses the point.
First and foremost, salvation is about God — His glory and His grace, and our perseverance is not solely dependent upon our ability to muster enough faith. Rather, as the author of Hebrews reminds us, it is Jesus who is the Founder and Perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2), and it is He who has us, not we who have Him (1 Peter 5:10).
The Lord’s promise of salvation is not without security. His possession of us is firm (John 10:27–29), and His preservation of us is certain. For we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:31–39). Yet it is not in our own strength that we confide, for our striving would be losing. We are conquerors, not by our own means, but by His grace and for His glory.
In His promise of redemption, the Lord secured our faith by means of His own doing. We are constantly reminded of His sustaining grace every time we are convicted of our sin, every time we repent, every time the fear of God comes upon us, and every time we are disciplined by our heavenly Father. Though such means are not always warmly welcomed, our loving Father preserves us in such ways. It is by His kindness that we are brought to repentance (Rom. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25). It is through confession that we are cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Indeed, by placing godly fear within our hearts, the Lord has secured His everlasting covenant with us so that we might not turn from Him (Jer. 32:40). And as the author of Hebrews explains (Heb. 12:4), it is through the Father’s discipline that we are reminded of His enduring love.
These are not the only means the Lord has chosen to preserve us, however. He has established certain elements of worship in which we have the privilege of partaking (Eph. 1:3). By the immediate working of the Holy Spirit within our hearts, the Word of God is made effectual unto the preservation of our souls. It is by faith that the Lord works in us both to will and work for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13; 3:9). And it is according to His Word that He sustains us. For His Word is not simply true— it is truth; the Word of God is the standard of all truth (John 17:17), and it shall stand forever (Isa. 40:8). What is more, God has provided us with the means of prayer. We are not only citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20), we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). With this divine gift, we are given the privilege of coming humbly, yet boldly, before the throne of grace.
By the Holy Spirit, the promises of God are conferred to us in the holy sacraments ordained by Christ Jesus Himself. With the baptism of the church, we are buried with Him and raised with Him by the power of God (Col. 2:11–12). In partaking of Him, by faith we are sustained in our union with Christ (Matt. 26:26–29). Through these glorious means, the Lord preserves His promises to us. For it is not unto us but unto Him that all glory belongs — for the sake of His steadfast love and faithfulness (Ps. 115:1). By His mercy, we are not damned. By His grace, He has set us apart. By His sacrifice, we have been redeemed. For His glory, He preserves us to the end. Yet some still have the audacity to ask the most arrogant of questions: “Got Jesus?”