Saturday, June 22, 2013

Can You Really Be Forgiven? // & Other Powerful Videos

Instead of featuring a song this week, today I'll be featuring videos - and not just any random videos, but videos by Jefferson Bethke: author of the Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus video that went viral on YouTube about a year and a half ago. He's still making videos (both spoken word poems and just regular talking), which have gotten better and better in my opinion. I watched three of them this morning, which I'll be sharing with you!
The first one is titled Can You Really Be Forgiven?. Jeff addresses the issues of sin and forgiveness, and references two awesome verses to help us all remember God's forgiven our sin and that we are bound to it no longer.
 
[if you cant see the video or are reading via email, click here or the title above]

The second video is Jeff's newest spoken word video, A Man & His Idols. It dives into manhood and what it really means to be a man in Christ. It's just as powerful as it is true. Use the embedded YouTube player below or click here to watch.


 The final video is Every Christian Is In "Ministry". Like in Can You Really Be Forgiven? Jeff speaks straight-forward in this one, and talks about how every Christian is in ministry, not just the pastors, preachers, missionaries, etc. This video was a quick favorite for me and I'm sure it will be for you too! Use the YouTube player below or click here to watch.


That's all for now. I hope God used one or more of these videos to help you out! Have a great day and God bless!! :]

Monday, June 17, 2013

World Religions: Jehovah's Witnesses and Christianity

Before I say anything else, let me say this: Just like with any faith, I know they're a lot of stereotypes floating around about Jehovah's Witnesses, like who they are and what they do. I'm here to tell you to drop them, right now.
As Christians, we're called to respect the beliefs of others, no matter how different or weird they seem to us. That includes all worldviews, from Atheism to Wicca. Nevertheless, we're also called to be ready give an answer for what we believe, and point others in the right direction concerning Jesus and the bible, as 1 Peter 3:15 and Titus 1:9 command.

So, that is what I'll be trying to do here.

Background
“The group now known as the Jehovah's Witnesses was founded in 1879 by Charles Taze Russell, a Pennsylvania businessman. Russell's Adventist background and study of the Bible led him to conclude, among other things, that the second coming of Christ would occur in 1914, that Hellfire did not exist, and God was not a Trinity. Today, there are 6.4 million practicing Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide. Witnesses are very active in evangelism and missions, both in the group's original home of the United States and throughout the world.Jehovah's Witnesses adhere to Russell's teachings on Hell and the Trinity and emphasize the immanent End Times, clean and moral living, the equality of all races, and adherence to the teachings of the Bible. They reject blood transfusions because of the New Testament command to "abstain from blood" and do not vote or serve in the military. Witnesses reject the symbol of the cross, do not celebrate any traditional Christian holidays, and do not celebrate birthdays.” –brief overview from religionfacts.com
A couple other things not in the overview, Witnesses also believe that only 144,000 people will be saved and live with God in heaven, while the other mass of people live on a restored Earth. They get it from Revelation 7:4, where it mentions a 144,000. They also believe that they are true Christians, as they see mainstream Christianity filled with heresy and pagan traditions; and use the New World Translation Bible, a special translation of the Bible that supports their beliefs.

For a breakdown of the Trinity and what the Bible says about it, check out this post I wrote here. 

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christianity

My first point will be that Jehovah’s Witnesses is not a Christian faith. I've heard from multiple sources that it is Christian religion, or another form of Christianity; but these statements in themselves contradict. Allow me to explain.

Firstly, the word “Christian” literally means “belonging to Christ.” With that said, “Christianity,” would most likely mean the religion or faith of Christ. This contradicts with the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion, because the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe God and Jesus to be separate. If a JW said they were a Christian; that could be taken idolatry; because God clearly commanded his people to have no other gods before him. (Deuteronomy 6:13, 1 Samuel 7:3, Matthew 4:10, Luke 4:8)
If Jesus and God are truly separate, then saying you belong solely to Christ could easily be viewed as disloyalty to God.

Another way to put it is:

  1. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they’re witnesses for God alone
  2. A Christian is a witness for Jesus (Acts 1:8)
  3. Therefore a Jehovah’s Witness isn’t a Christian

God’s Name

My second point is on God’s name. The Jehovah’s Witnesses greatly stress that God’s personal name is Jehovah, and that he should be known as such.

Firstly, we should understand there are many names for God in the bible.   

  • Elohim. “The first name we find of God in the Bible is Elohim. (Genesis 1:1). It is used over 2700 times in the Bible. The prefix "El" signifies  ‘one who is great, mighty, dreadful.’ It is also a plural word that suggests the fact that God is a Holy Trinity--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Some say that the word is related to the Hebrew word meaning ‘to swear’ and implies the covenant nature of God” ( sourced from “The Names of God.”)
  • El Shaddai. “El Shaddai (remember the song?) is another name for God. It is used 48 times in Scripture. It is always translated ‘The Almighty.’ The first time this name is used is in Genesis 17:1.” (sourced from “The names of God.”)
  •  Adonai. “A 3rd name that God uses for Himself is Adonai. It occurs about 300 times in the 
  • O.T. This name suggests Lordship and ownership. When God calls Himself by this name, 
  • Adonai, He is saying, ‘I am the One who owns and rules over everything that exists.’
  • Yahweh. “… The most frequently used name for God is YAHWEH or Jehovah. It occurs more than 6800 times in the Bible. … The Word literally means ‘I Am.’ It comes from the verb which means ‘to be’ or ‘to exist.’ In Ex. 3:14, when Moses asked God what His name was so he could tell the Israelites who had sent him, we read, ‘And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM [Yahweh, or Jehovah]: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.’”

Secondly, the name “Jehovah” is actually incorrect.
See, the ancient Hebrew the people of the bible wrote in had no vowels. Eventually, the Israelite scribes felt it would be helpful to add little dots around the letters, to help remind the reader of the exact pronunciation. We know these as vowel points.
Traditionally, whenever they found YHWH in their text—God’s name in Hebrew—they would add the vowel points for the name Adonai—meaning Lord—to remind the reader that God’s Name was not to be pronounced. They usually did this so no one would take his name in vain. (Hence, why a lot of bibles say “LORD” instead of Yahweh or Jehovah)

However, around 1500, translators for the first English bible mistook Adonai’s vowel points for YHWH. The jumbled letterings resulted in the mistranslated name “Jehovah.”
Yahweh, on the other hand, is probably the very closest we can get to pronouncing God’s name correctly. However, it is inaccurate as well, seeing how there’s no “w” sound in ancient Hebrew. (sourced from “Hebrew names for God,” and “a simple overview of the divine name.”)

The 144,000


My third point is that their teaching on the 144,000 is false as well. The Witnesses take this from 

Revelation 7:4, but let’s look at the entire verse in its context. 
Revelation 7:1-5:
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
Notice how it says the 144,000 from the tribes of Israel. The Israelites, at that time, were all Jews. Anyone not a Jew was considered a Gentile. If the number of people sealed were supposed to represent a number of Jehovah’s Witnesses, then the text would have said 144,000 Gentiles. 

So most likely, the 144,000 is a reference to the Jewish people, not Christians or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Verses 5-9 go as far to name the exact number of Jews sealed from each tribe.

Even if Revelation 7:4 was referring to non-Jewish people, that number would have probably been reached during the first century. For more detailed information on this, check out this article I found here. [link to “The Jehovah’s Witnesses Version of the 144,000”]

The Cross

Next up is the cross. As stated above, the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus was crucified on a torture stake—not a cross, and that the symbol was an invention of Roman Emperor Constantine. Therefore, they reject the cross as a symbol, teaching it is pagan in origin. However, none of these statements are correct.

Firstly, history and archaeology largely debunk this theory.
The first-century Jewish historian Josephus gives us many confirmations of Jesus, biblical history and Roman crucifixion in his writings. Although he mentions various positions and cross shapes during the Siege of Jerusalem, including the single upright stake;[sourced from Wikipedia] Josephus gives an exclusive account of Jesus’ death, included below.
“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, (9) those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; (10) And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” (source: http://religiousstudies.uncc.edu/people/jtabor/cruc-josephus.html) [Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, 3]
Josephus described Jesus being condemned to a cross, not a stake. Much of what we know of the Romans during Jesus’ time comes from Josephus. If Jesus was executed on a stake, he would have said so.

The bible refutes this false doctrine as well. Consider John 20:25, quoted below.
So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!” (HCSB translation, emphasis added)
If Jesus was killed on a single stake, his hands would probably be placed above his head, forcing them to overlap, with a single nail driven through them both.
But notice how Thomas recalls “the mark of the nails(plural) in His hands,(plural)”
Taking John 20:25 into account, it would make more sense to believe that Jesus was crucified on a cross, with outstretched arms. That would require multiple nails per arm, which agrees with the bible, and is backed up by historical evidence, unlike the torture stake theory. [source, "did jesus die on a stake or cross?' @carm.]

But wait, if Jesus died on a cross, why didn’t early Christians use it as a Christian symbol?
Well, for many centuries the Christians were under some form of persecution. Roman Emperor Nero blamed them for a horrible fire that broke out in Rome in 64 AD, bringing hatred and persecution on the Christians. The Emperor afterwards used a screwy law system, forcing Christians that appeared in court either renounce Jesus—or be charged with the crime of rebellion. Emperor Septimius Severus severely persecuted the Christians when they refused allegiance to the sun god, in order to create a stronger and unified Rome. (The Bible in World History, pg. 252-255)
With that said, it is quite obvious that early Christians wouldn't use the cross as a Christian symbol. That’d be the equivalent of screaming “HEY! SOLDIERS! WE’RE CHRISTIANS! COME GET US WHILE WE’RE FRESH!” Usually, they used the Ichthus; AKA, the fish. It was harder for officials to detect, and therefore safer to use.
When Emperor Constantine came into power; he converted to Christianity, stopping all Christian persecution. This allowed Christians to come out of hiding, and actually be public with their beliefs. When Constantine introduced the cross symbol—representing the literal wooden cross Jesus died on—I can imagine many Christians eager to show it off, because they could now be public about their faith without having to worry about persecution.

So no, the early first century Christians did not use the cross and a Christian symbol. Despite the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, it wasn't because the cross was pagan in origin, because Jesus did in fact die on a cross. I believe it was simply because the cross was just too obvious. It would be suicide, and an unnecessary risk of a Christian and their fellow Believers’ lives.

Overall, the doctrine on Jesus’ death by torture stake simply reveals lack of historical knowledge and biblical detail. Research and analysis show the doctrine for what it really is—a false teaching.

1914

My last point is the Jehovah's Witnesses' 1914 prophecy.

Background  
A belief that is unique to Jehovah's Witnesses is that the eschatological events predicted in Revelation began in 1914. This is when God gave Jesus his Kingdom, and Jesus has been ruling from heaven ever since. At this time Jesus threw Satan and his demons out of heaven and down to earth, which is why, according to Witnesses, the world has been getting progressively worse since 1914. {12}] (sourced from religionfacts.com)
According to the JW website, King Nebuchadnezzar's dream, mentioned in Daniel 4:10-18, symbolized the future of God's kingdom. 
According to scripture, in this dream Nebuchadnezzar saw a massive tree—a tree so enormous and so incredible that it could be seen from all the ends of the earth. It provided abundant fruit, enough to feed all the people in his kingdom. It gave shelter to the animals, and birds lived on its branches.
Suddenly, an angel appeared, calling out to cut the tree down, only leaving the stump bound in iron and bronze. The angel then said “Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him.” [Dn. 4:15-16] 
After that, Nebuchadnezzar woke up, and asked Daniel to interpret the dream for him.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses say that glorious tree Nebuchadnezzar saw represented Jerusalem, which was a symbol God’s kingdom on earth. The seven times the angel mentioned were actually 2,520 years, from the sack of Jerusalem in 607 BC, [represented by the tree being chopped down] to 1914, exactly 2,520 years later. Because of this belief, the JW’s believe Jesus officially became King in 1914, restoring God’s kingdom and fulfilling the prophecy. (Sorry if that’s a bit hard to understand, it can be somewhat confusing.)

However, there are four major flaws with this prophecy.

False interpretation

Firstly, when Daniel interprets King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he doesn't mention anything about God’s kingdom or Jerusalem itself. Daniel made it very clear the tree represented Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom. Daniel didn't mention Jerusalem or their sack by Babylon anywhere. He’s saying the dream is a prediction of what will happen if Nebuchadnezzar keeps living the way he is. God’s kingdom isn’t represented in the dream anywhere. Neither is Jerusalem, or any twentieth-century date. The 1914 doctrine simply misuses this passage in an attempt to justify itself. [see Daniel 4:19-27]

Biblically inaccurate

Secondly, recall that in Daniel 4:16, the angel announces that Nebuchadnezzar will be given the mind of an animal “till seven times pass by for him.” If they were 2,520 years long, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim, then Nebuchadnezzar would have died insane. But in Daniel 4:34, Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity is restored, signifying that the seven times had passed. This shows that the seven times had to be within the length of a lifetime, most likely around seven years.

Historically inaccurate 

Thirdly, Jerusalem didn't fall in 607 BC. It fell sometime between 586 and 587 BC, around twenty years earlier. Public sources such as Wikipedia and Encyclopedia.com confirm this date, along with general ancient history and archaeology. So even the Jehovah’s Witness organization got the prophecy right, with all the details biblically accurate; it still would have been off by twenty years.

Contradicts scripture

Finally, Jesus wouldn't boast about something he didn't already have. In Matthew 28:18, Jesus tells His disciples “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Why would Jesus make such a claim, if He wouldn't be made King for another two thousand years? That would like me claiming I have a diploma, despite not yet finishing the tenth grade. If Jesus is who the bible says He is; He wouldn't boast about something He didn't already have. That would be a sin, and 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22 and 1 John 3:5 all make it clear on whether Jesus sinned or not.  In short, either Jesus lied, which contradicts the bible; or Jesus spoke the truth, rendering the prophecy false. Simple as that.

The 1914 prophecy could not have happened without the bible contradicting itself. That's a hard fact. God's Word neither lies or contradicts, which means that the Jehovah's Witnesses prophecy is inaccurate on it's own. 

Conclusion

As a faith, Jehovah’s Witnesses is filled with contradictions, false teachings, biblical errors, and inconsistencies. Many of their doctrines disrespect Jesus, misquote the bible, ignore opposing evidence, deceive their members, and simply go against God’s word. But don’t get the religion mixed up with the people.

Like John 3:16 says, “So God loved the world—” He loves everyone, just like He loves you and me. Everyone is created in His image. As Romans 5:8 says, Jesus loved us while we were yet sinners. If God loved us when we were dead in our sins, what do you think He wants us to do concerning those of other faiths? God wants us to love them too!
The reason I wrote this post was so the truth would be spoken. There are so few people answering the call to speak up and show others the right way to go. God’s dealt with me personally on this, and it really hurts me to think of all the people dying, each and every day, who've never really known God. I've decided to actually do something about it.


Guys, Jehovah's Witnesses are people, too. Many of them are earnest, hardworking individuals who earnestly believe they're following GodWe, the Christians, need to put our backbones back in and be ready to witness to these people when we have the chance. So many Christians neglect them the true Gospel, either because of the stereotypes we hear or read on the internet, or because of fear of rejection or doubt that they'll listen. That is not how God would want us treating others.
God loves everyone, and it should burden our hearts to think of all the lost souls out there who have been mislead into pointless religions and philosophies such as Jehovah's Witnesses. It breaks God's heart. It if it breaks His, than it should break ours as well.


I may be coming off as rude or disrespectful; and if I am, feel free to harass me about it in the comments. But I’m trying to please my God, which quite frankly means offending a few people in the process.

I apologize if you are offended, and I pray God will help you overcome your offense and allow you to see the truth. But I’m not watering it down or taking back anything I said. God’s charged me with the responsibility of proclaiming the truth. You may not like me for it, but what’s what I’m going to do.


Have a great day and God bless. :]

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” –John 8:82

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” -1 Peter 3:15


Friday, June 14, 2013

Suddenly | Now Playing

I really don't have much to say this week, except that in reference to the song below, I think we all of those "suddenly" moments. Those moments when it's as if a rain cloud is hanging over your head and in the next light pierces though and the clouds are chased away. Those moments when you've fallen down hard in the mud but all of a sudden you're picked up and running again. Those moments where you feel aimless and lost but out of nowhere realization hits you in the face and suddenly you're flying--moments like that. Moments that increase our faith and lift us up, moments that give us the momentum to soar over our mountains and giants. Moments where God moves so quickly and so powerfully that it's a brand new day. I think that's Toby described in his song "Suddenly". I pray that, even as you listen to the song, God will give you your own experience with Him--whether it's powerful and suddenly or subtle and over a long period of time--just a time where you're with Him and He's with you. Time alone together. That should be what's at the heart of every Christian's faith: fellowship with God. Even when the whole world fails us, He never will.

God bless! :]
 [click here if the video doesn't work or reading via email]
She blew everything to pieces
He's there hanging on to Jesus
She broke everything about him down
He said he never saw it coming
Until the day she dropped the bomb
And she broke everything about him down

Sometimes there's nothing left but to believe
And suddenly all of it's behind you
And I'm here to remind you
That yesterday is gone so say goodbye
And suddenly the skies open above you
And someone really loves you
Now everything's alive ... everything's alive

She's there broken into pieces
But he swears he doesn't really see it
When she says that all of it was so unfair
But Hope road is just around the corner
It's one place there's never been a foreigner
'Cause God's love makes everybody welcome there
Sometimes there's nothing left but to believe

Sometimes it's in an instant
Sometimes we wait for years
But it comes down to the moment when faith eclipses fear
Your wandering is over
The other side is real
You've broken through
Your mountain moved
And mercy is revealed
His mercy is revealed, yeah

Yesterday is long
Gone ....

And suddenly all of it's behind you
And I'm here to remind you
That yesterday is gone so wave goodbye
And finally the skies open around you
And love has truly found you
Now everything is alive
Everything's alive ... everything's alive

Sometimes there's nothing left but to believe 
Lyrics credit: azlyrics.com

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Four Reasons Why the Trinity Makes Sense

Critics of the Trinity usually slam the teaching doctrine because they claim "it doesn't make sense." 1+1+1=3, not one. Plus the concept of a three-in-one God is hard to understand, so it must not be true. Also, the Bible doesn't have the word "trinity" in it, so of course the Trinity can't be true. The Bible also says multiple times that "the LORD is one," not three-in-one. If God were a trinity, wouldn't He have said so?

Seem like legit claims. But--believe it or not--the Bible shuts down all these refutes.

First, God is huge. He's bigger than our brains, our logic, our understanding, our brain capacity. We can't comprehend all He is. Isaiah 55:8-7 says
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:7-8 HCSB
Of course trying to understand who God is in His rawest form and presence is going to be confusing. You're trying to compact the God who created time, the universe, the laws of physics, DNA, life, cells, this world, the world's most advanced supercomputer (your brain), everything, into a flawed human understanding that can barely fathom understanding time and the universe itself. If we have trouble understanding God's creation, how can we expect to perfectly understand Him?


Secondly, God is aloof and impersonal without the Trinity. John wrote in John 1:18 that no one has ever seen God, except the one and only Son. Jesus backed this up in John 6:46, and, addressing the Pharisees,  declared they have never seen the Father or heard His voice, at any time (John 5:37). Now, the New Testament does include multiple times where the Father speaks (usually in a booming heavenward voice; John 12:28, Luke 9:35, Matthew 3:17), so while hearing the Father speak was probably a very rare and nearly unheard of occurrence, it's likely that Jesus was speaking specifically to the Pharisees on never hearing the Father's voice. But, the Old Testament also tells us that no one could see the face of God and live (Exodus 33:20) along with 1 Timothy 6:15-16:
. . . which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. (1 Tim. 6:15-16 NIV, emphasis mine)
So if God is only the Father, then we've never seen God, never had a relationship with Him, probably never heard from God, never personally talked with God; we never had anything to do with Him. If we did, we'd either be scared to death or literally dead! And if only the Father is God, then who are Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Islam and Jehovah's Witnesses--the two religions leading much of the charge against the Trinity--each claim something different. Islam says Jesus was only a great prophet and the Holy Spirit is the archangel Gabriel; Jehovah's Witnesses says Jesus is Michael the archangel and the Holy Spirit is "God's active force", similar to holy lightning. Mormonism, another non-Christian religion, even states that Jesus, the Spirit and the Father are separate Gods that are "one in purpose." This is basically modified polytheism: the belief in multiple gods, which God specifically commands not to do in Exodus 20:3. However, there is no scriptural evidence within the Bible to back up any of these theories--none at all. In fact, concerning the Trinity, the Bible actually points in the opposite direction.


Thirdly, the Bible contradicts without the Trinity. As stated above, Jesus said the no man has seen the Father except the Son himself (John 6:46). But God appeared to and talked to Abraham many times face-to-face (Genesis 17:1, 18:1; Exodus 6:2-3; Acts 7:2). Jacob wrestled with God physically and saw Him face to face (Genesis 32:24-30, 30; Exodus 6:2-3). God appeared to Issac as well (Exodus 6:2-3; Genesis 26:23); Moses spoke to God face to face (Ex 33:11, Duet 34:10, Num 12:7-8) and at one point even the elders of Israel, among others, saw God and lived to tell about it (Ex 24:9-11).
Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and 70 of Israel’s elders, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. Beneath His feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire stone, as clear as the sky itself. God did not harm the Israelite nobles; they saw Him, and they ate and drank. (Exodus 24:9-11 HCSB)
If God is only one Person, then these verses all contradict--meaning the Bible isn't worthy to be trusted. Still on the topic of contradictions, there's also the notorious "Angel of the Lord" in the OT. He called himself God before Moses, appearing as the flame in the burning bush (Exodus 3:2,6,14-16), received worship from Joshua after they had come near to Jericho (Joshua 5:13-15), claimed that he brought Israelites out of the land he promised their forefathers (Judges 2:1-4), received a sacrifice from Gideon (Judges 6:19-24), and was acknowledged to be God by Samson's parents and various other people throughout the Old Testament (Judges 13:20-22).

Jesus also received worship from people and forgave sins: two things only God is worthy of [references]. Paul wrote in Colossians 1:16-17:
For everything was created by [Jesus], in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17 HCSB, emphasis mine)
 This is hard to take lightly if Jesus is a mere angel or prophet. Paul also wrote that, "The Lord is the Spirit" in 2 Corinthians 3:17 and 18 . In Acts chapter 5, two people died on the spot when they tried to deceive the Holy Spirit. If Jesus and the Holy Spirit aren't God and the Trinity is false, then how do we explain this? If Jesus is an angel or a prophet, then why would he receive worship from people? How could Jesus be sinless and the "perfect example for us all to follow" if he pridefully and arrogantly set himself up as equal to God when he wasn't? Isn't that exactly what Satan does? The Bible also tells us that the Holy Spirit feels emotions. He grieves (Isaiah 63:10, Eph 4:30), loves (Rom 15:30), has a mind (Rom 8:27), speaks (2 Sam 23:2, Acts 8:29, Acts 10:19; among many many others), knows (1 Cor 12:11), has awareness of goodness (Acts 15:28), can be lied to (Acts 5:3), can be tested (Acts 5:9), makes overseers (Acts 20:28), can be a witness (Acts 5:32), can be resisted (Acts 7:51); not to mention teaching (Jn 14:26, Lk 12:12), interceding (Rom 8:26), leading (Matt 4:1), giving life (Jn 6:63), and filling believers (Acts 2:4).  The Bible's description of the Holy Spirit falters if the Spirit is simply "holy lightning" or the angel Gabriel. Holy lightning would lack the consciousness needed to love, grieve, speak, know, have awareness, teach, witness, intercede, lead, be tested, make overseers, etc.; and neither an active force or angel would be called "Lord", as scripture makes it clear only God is "the Lord" (Ex 20:2, Duet 5:6). Yet above are the verses that do just that.

If by any chance you're a Muslim and reading this, I imagine you're probably thinking something along the lines of: Hey man, this is cool and everything, but I believe in the Qur'an--not the Bible--so I'm good. Well, the Qur'an considers the Bible to be a holy, incorruptible, God-inspired book as well. The Qu'ran says the Torah--the Jewish Bible (aka the Old Testament), which I made many of above references from--is the word of God in Sura 2:87:
And We did certainly give Moses the Torah and followed up after him with messengers. ... (Sura 2:87 Sahih International, emphasis mine)
The Qur'an states the book of Psalms is the word of God as well in Qur'an 4:163:
Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], as We revealed to Noah and the prophets after him. And we revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Descendants, Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the book [of Psalms],(Qur'an 4:163 Sahih International, emphasis mine)
and states the Gospel is the word of God in Qur'an 3:3 and 5:46
He has sent down upon you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming what was before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Gospel. (Qur'an 3:3 Sahih International, emphasis mine)
And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous. (Qur'an 5:46 Sahih International, emphasis mine)
So if the Bible contradicts, then so does the Qur'an. 

Now we just have a really big mess.


My final, and arguably most important point, is that the Bible supports the Trinity. In Genesis 1, the word translated to "God" in English is the Hebrew word "Elohim." (Ex: Gen 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . .)  Elohim is a plural word, but in the context here it's being used to describe a singular subject. Why? I imagine "one God, three Persons" might have something to do with it!

There is also Biblical evidence for Jesus' divinity: HANDS.
Jesus get's God's Honors
Jesus has God's Attributes
Jesus has God's Names
Jesus does God's Deeds
Jesus sits in God's Seat.

Jesus put himself on the same level as God, expecting people to honor them as they honored the Father (John 5:23), accepting worship his disciples (Matt 14:33; 28:17) telling them to have faith in him as they did in God (John 14:1), and even inviting them to pray to him (John 14:14).

Jesus claimed to be just like the Father as well, from stating that anyone who say him saw the Father (John 14:7-11), that he would be present with his disciples whenever they prayed, as if he were omnipresent (Matt 18:20) and even that he had existed before creation (John 17:5).

Jesus described himself as "the Son", upping himself to the Father's level  (Matthew 11:27; John 5:17-18) and called himself "I AM" the very name God called Himself before Moses (John 8:24,28,58 w/Exodus 3:14). Even Jesus's title for himself, "the Son of Man," refers to prophetic Old Testament visions of a divine yet human figure (Ezekiel 1:26-28; Daniel 7:13-14). Jesus also accepted Thomas's recognition when he Jesus "my Lord and my God," in John 20:28. Critics say that Thomas was just expressing surprise when he said that, not stating Jesus was God, but you need to remember that these people lived in a strictly religious culture. Taking God's name or anything related in vain could be punishable by law. It wasn't like today, where people use phrases like "oh my God" or "G*dd*mn" without a second thought. The Jewish people in general have always been very strict and careful about the use of God's name. If Thomas said, "my Lord and my God," when he saw the risen Jesus standing before him, then Thomas meant it.

Jesus did things and claimed to do things that only God could do. He calmed a raging storm with a single word, walked on water and fed thousands of people with one boy's lunch (Matthew 8:23-27; 14:13-33). He claimed the right to forgive people of their sins (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12), said he would raise the dead (John 5:28-29; 11:25-26) and be the final judge of all humanity (Matthew 25:31-46, John 5:22-23).

Jesus claimed that he would sit on the seat of God's own thrown, the place from which God rules over His entire creation (Matthew 25:31; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42-43). That is exactly what Jesus will do there: rule over absolutely everything in creation (Matthew 11:25-27; 29:18; Luke 10:21-22).

Even the word Christian points to the Trinity, because the word Biblically means a witness for Christ (Acts 1:8). If Jesus were anything but God, the Bible (and Jesus) would contradict themselves in this simple command: Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Luke 10:27). God comes first and our loyalty is ultimately to Him, not a jealous angel or heretical prophet.

It's also interesting to note that the Father, Son, and Spirit have each been called Lord (Matthew 4:10; Philippians 2:11; 2 Corinthians 3:17); yet the Lord is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). Another Trinity reference from God's word itself.
Speaking of Philippians 2:11, which reads,
and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11, HCSB)
 the Greek word translated for Lord in that passage is kurioswhich in the context means Yahweh, God's name. ("Jehovah" is actually a mis-translation.) The Apostle Paul understood Jesus was God as well. Coupled with Zechariah 14:9,
On that day Yahweh will become King over all the earth—Yahweh alone, and His name alone. (Zechariah 14:9 HCSB)
these verses pretty much vaporize any idea that Jesus isn't God in the flesh.
Also, the Trinity answers the question of how Moses, Abraham and friends saw God when Jesus said no one saw the Father. It's pretty simple actually: they saw/talked with God but not the Father. It probably wasn't  the Holy Spirit, as he doesn't have a physical body and wouldn't be able to wrestle with Jacob. More than likely, it was probably Jesus before he went incarnate (divine being in human form). This makes sense because many people saw Jesus--God in the flesh--and didn't die. This also makes sense of the notorious "Angel of the Lord". He wasn't notorious at all; he was God as well and accepted what was rightfully his. Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 63:9  
In all their suffering, He suffered,
and the Angel of His Presence saved them.
He redeemed them
because of His love and compassion;
He lifted them up and carried them
all the days of the past.
I don't know about you, but to me that sounds a lot like Jesus! Most likely he is described as an "angel" in the text because that's the only way the OT writers could hope to describe him as. (They didn't have Bibles back then.) So not only was the God the Holy Spirit present in the OT, but also Jesus!
The Trinity makes God personal as well. Without the Trinity, God is cold, unapproachable, distant, uncaring (sending a created spirit with no freewill to die for humanity's sins?) removed, and just kind of floating up there in the sky with no real regard for our lives or day-to-day whatevers, except for an occasional "do this!" and "don't do that!"

But with the Trinity, God is everywhere!

The Spirit: He lives inside us; He walks with us. He speaks to us daily: exhorts, teaches and encourages us. He reminds of what we've heard, what we've been taught, convicts and guides us, gives us power to live he life God has called us to live and leads us on the right path and warns us of trouble of danger, although it's our decision whether to heed to it or not. He is always present and never leaves us!

The Son: He loved us enough to give Himself as sacrifice for us--not a servant or created being (which would not be the greatest form of love; Jesus said so in John 15:3). He did more than just set an example, live a perfect life. He showed us what a person souled out to God looks like. He didn't show us what do to; He put in into action and showed us how. He spoke truth in the face of adversity. He endured what we endure--the temptation, the corruptness of the flesh, the suffering and persecution--so we would be encouraged and not lose heart. He showed us where He--God--stands on the issues, where He would be if in our world today--and invites us to join Him.
Jesus is a leader. He didn't sit from his air-conditioned palace in his million-dollar chair and bathrobe eating a gourmet sandwich as his servants massaged his feet, shouting commands at us: toiling the barren land in hundred-degree heat in our rags and sweat while he watched the Miami Heat game. Jesus came down to our level and paved the way--a narrow, rocky, rugged, little dirt trail marked with the footprints of the few who traveled it. Jesus is more than a good example or just some man. He is everything, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega. Either you can ignore Him or except Him, but Jesus is who He is, regardless of what you want to think. See the book of Hebrews for more on Jesus and who He was and is.

The Father: the originator and builder, the One from who all things originate. He is God in His purest and rawest form--such that we can't even be in His presence.

Some of you reading this may be wondering why I'm making such a big deal over correct theology. It shouldn't matter what the person believes about God, as long as they're sincere and live good lives, right? Well, no, that's not true. Jesus commanded that we love the Lord with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength.
Loving God with your mind means knowing and understanding who He really is--not in doubt but having understanding--and you can't do that if you believe the wrong things about Him and His word. While it may seem confusing or unnecessary, what you believe about God will determine how far you're willing to go with Him. Theology--part of loving God with your mind--is one of the pillars in your relationship with God: if it's crumbling, weak, distorted or otherwise corrupted, then the your relationship with God will suffer as well. What you believe about Jesus, the Spirit and God the Father will affect every area of your Christian life and walk with Him.
That's why it's so important to get things right theologically when dealing with God Himself--if you get that wrong, everything else will easily fall apart. You'll stress yourself out trying to be "good enough" when Jesus died and the Spirit came so that we could stop trying and He could  live through us. You'll try to earn God's favor instead of letting His grace wash over you. You'll try to be more like Jesus instead of letting His Spirit work through you. God seems to become a distant, even legalistic figurehead when in reality He is pursuing a genuine relationship with you and is always present and always among us. What you believe about God will affect everything in your life concerning Him.

When fully understood and applied, the Trinity can be the difference being a Pharisee and being a disciple. The Pharisees knew the scriptures and the prophecies, yet when God's Anointed One showed up right on their doorstep, they crucified Him. The disciples--despite their unpopular, bland backgrounds and upbringings--stood by Jesus, experienced Him, witnessed His goodness and awesomeness. I didn't write this post to try to slam people who believe differently than I do--I wrote this post to clear up the misconceptions so many have about God. I wrote this post so that--hopefully--God will use it as a vessel to open your eyes and bring you into knowledge of the truth.
I want you to experience God. And by that, I don't mean some spiritual high you reach at church or good feeling you get during daily prayer or going door-to-door or whatever it else it is you do. By experience God, I mean letting Him work through you. I mean being scared to death yet following Him anyway. I mean being up to midnight studying this Bible passage because you feel in your spirit God pulling you to that passage and know He has something awesome to show you. I mean suffering and being slandered, feeling pain, being uncomfortable and causing tension because the Spirit of God in you has made God, not people, your first priority. I mean feeling as if your world has fallen apart and everyone is out to get you, because Satan fears the fire of God's Spirit and wants to see it quenched immediately, but still feel at peace because the peace of God is guarding your heart.
I mean loving others with such a love that it feels like your heart just might explode--because the love of God has filled you to a point where you just can't contain it. These are only quick glimpses of what it means to experience God in your daily life, and I am still learning as well. But I have learned and experienced enough to say with confidence that God wants you to know Him. He knows you--He created you--but He wants you to know Him. He wants you to experience Him, to seek for Him, to listen to Him, to have an earnest relationship with Him--not ohmigosh I read a Bible verse I must have a relationship with God, but talking with God, spending time with God, bringing your problems to God, seeking God with all your heart, looking for His response, His thoughts on everything, and seeing everything from His perspective.

God wants you. Despite whatever you've been taught, God is a Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is not impersonal; God is around you and me and speaking to us constantly. God is not detached; He Himself died for us and gave His own life to free ours.To deny this is not only heretical but hurts your spiritual walk with God, too. It limits Him to one Person, one position in your life, when He is meant to be present in three. God wants you to experience Him to the fullest, the way He made you to experience and love Him.

There is so much that He has to show you, to tell you, to open your eyes to and paths to lead you down. But you have to believe it, first. And, hopefully, this post has supplied you with the material, explanations, and even confidence to do just that.

Have a great day and God bless! :]




Sources
Carm - http://carm.org/
The Qu'ran says the Bible is not corrupt - http://carm.org/religious-movements/islam/quran-says-bible-not-corrupt
Verses showing identity, ministry, and personhood of the Holy Spirit - http://carm.org/christianity/christian-doctrine/verses-showing-identity-ministry-and-personhood-holy-spirit
Has anyone seen God or not? - http://carm.org/bible-difficulties/genesis-deuteronomy/has-anyone-seen-god-or-not
Qur'an verses
The Noble Qur'an - http://quran.com/

Friday, June 7, 2013

Learn From the Night | Now Playing

Sent by Ravens is a post-hardcore Christian band from Hartsville, South Carolina. Their name comes fro
m the Biblical story of Elijah, when he was fed by ravens out in the wilderness while Israel suffered a severe (and avoidable) famine. Although they've been on an "extended hiatus" since mid 2012, neither their music or fan-base are dead by any means. I "discovered" the band a while back while searching for new music, bands and artists on Google Play. I stumbled over their page, loved them after listening to like half a preview, and bought two of their songs: Learn From the Night and Listen, the former being the song shared today. (I was too broke to buy the whole album.)


Learn From the Night is probably my favorite song by Sent by Ravens, just because of it's meaning. I get out of it the struggle to climb up out of emptiness and the longing for something more, combined with the fear of change and wanting to stay in the shallow area, where it's comfortable. The song describes an internal battle that I think a lot of us feel: whether to face our fears and dive into the deep waters or ignore the pull and stay where we're comfortable. Sent By Ravens really captured that moment--the moment when you're torn, one foot in and one foot out--and translated it into an alternative Christian rock anthem for all who are looking to break their comfort zone and go deeper in their relationship with God.

Lyrics are in the video!


[click here if you're reading via email or the video doesn't show up]

Have a great day and God bless! :]