Seattle Billboard: “Try Jesus, If You Don’t Like Him, The Devil Will Take You Back”
To acknowledge Satan on a public billboard these days warrants our respect. The spirit of the age, for the past two hundred years, has denied the supernatural, especially the personage of the chief demon. The Bible, however, has much to say regarding, Lucifer, the father of lies (Jn 8:44).
The implication that the citizens of Seattle are in a personal relationship with the prince of the power of the air is also justified because most people in most cities are children of the devil (1 Jn 3:10), operating under the spirit of disobedience (Eph 2:2), making them children of wrath (Eph 2:3). Only a remnant of the whole will be saved (Rom 9:27; 11:5).
The peculiar theology embedded in this billboard message carries the assumption that the wicked sinners of Seattle are inclined to want to “Try Jesus.” The Bible assures us that the people of Seattle and people everywhere else are not seeking God (Rom 3:11). In fact, the Bible assesses the status of the great majority of billboard readers as “haters of God” (Rom 1:30) and haters of Jesus (Jn 7:7; 15:18–25). We are confident, therefore, that Seattle’s citizenry already dislikes Jesus, save for a remnant.
Apart from this futile exercise of trying to entice the enemies of God to “Try Jesus,” we must consider the message, theologically. First, Jesus is the Son of God. He is the Second Person of the Trinity. He is God incarnate and now glorified. He sits at the center of the throne of God, at the right hand of Majesty, with all authority in heaven and on earth. He reigns as Lord of all.
Further, Jesus is the one and only Savior of sinners (Titus 1:3; 2:13; 3:6), and His success rate in saving God’s chosen people from their sins is 100% (Jn 10:28–29; Rom 8:35–39). God the Father chose the elect (Eph 1:4–5). He gave them to Jesus (Jn 6:37), and Jesus paid the ransom for their return (Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45; 1 Tim 2:6), purchasing them for a price from the slave market of sin (Jn 8:34; Rom 6:6,16–20; 1 Cor 6:20; 7:23). He shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins, for those incorporated into God’s covenant of grace (Mt 26:28; Eph 1:7; Heb 9:22).
So, considering this short list of His excellencies, we must inquire what it means to “Try Jesus”? Sinful men put Jesus on trial and found him guilty of blasphemy, for claiming to be equal with God. In raising Jesus from the dead, God confirmed that Jesus was approved. This, of course, is bad news for those who tried Jesus and misjudged Him. He is God, and He is equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit in substance.
Ironically, when men entice others to judge Jesus, today, they miss the biblical teaching that God has turned all judgment over to Jesus. In other words, Jesus Christ is the Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 17:31; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Tim 4:5). Sinners protest, but in their despising and rejecting Jesus, for being their righteous Judge, they miss that they are condemned already (Jn 3:18).
For those in Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation (Rom 8:1), but for those outside of Christ, the wages of sin is death, and sinners are simply waiting for their arraignment date (Heb 9:27), at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10), located on the great white throne of judgment (Rev 20:11).
Children of the devil are reprobate sinners who do not belong to Christ, which is why they do not believe in Him (Jn 10:26). They may hear the Word of God being preached, but without the Spirit of Christ, they will never have faith in Him (Rom 8:9; 10:17). The Spirit is sent from the Father and the Son (Jn 14:26; 15:26), and He is received as the gift of God (Acts 2:38; 10:45) because it is the will of God (Jn 1:12–13), not of man (Rom 9:15–16; Eph 2:8–9), according to His gracious choice (Rom 11:5).
Let him who understands the sovereignty of God, yes, let him marvel at the twisted idea of luring others into the position of judging Christ, to see if the sovereign Son of God meets the wretched sinner’s standard of acceptability. Who are you, O church in Seattle, to put God to this test?
In summary, we have a church in Seattle with unsound doctrine. They are not conscious that they are tempting sinners to become God’s judge. In judging Jesus Christ, the consumers of such advertising are being challenged by the church to further their course of sinning, by testing to see if Jesus is good enough to be something not disclosed by the billboard, hence, we have the church of immaculate temptation.
The remedy for this bad theology is found in the Bible. We must preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 1:18, 23; 2:2, 4), which is the Gospel of God unto salvation for those who believe (Rom 1:16–17). Faith in Christ, granted by God, to the hearer of God’s Word, is what justifies the guilty sinner (Rom 3:28; 5:1; 10:17; Phil 1:29). Gospel hearers are no longer trusting in themselves, their inherent goodness, or good works to merit favor with God — rather, full trust is placed in Christ, alone (Acts 16:31).
Our message is not, “To trust Jesus, you will have to try Him.” Our message is, "Your trust in Jesus is valid, today, because God has graciously given you His Spirit, which is why you believe that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, as the incarnate Emmanuel, who lived the perfect sinless life, as the Lamb of God slain, as the substitute sacrifice, whose death and burial were acceptable to God, who raised Him from the dead on the third day in fulfillment of the Scriptures.
The church never tells the world to “Try Jesus.” It tells the world that “Jesus Christ is Lord.” It declares His rule and reign over all. The church calls all men everywhere to repent of their sinful rebellion, in allegiance to the ruler of this world, Satan, who will himself be judged on the Day of the Lord, when the King of glory returns in glory.
Bad theology is no help to sinners. It is indicative of an apostate church, adhering to the heretical teaching of those teachers, who gather to themselves those who wish to God that Jesus was in their likeness and image. If he was, they tell us, they just might accept Him. Their judgment of Jesus, enticed by a Seattle billboard, is meaningless when it is set against His judgment of them.
Spokane Valley, Washington
June 26, 2022