Monday, December 26, 2011

Is God Triune?

I was watching a video on YouTube about whether God was in fact a triune God.  The speaker, who was a professor of Hebrew studies at a seminary college, was trying to convince listeners that Jesus was not God, but only a mediator between God and man.  He said it was impossible for God to be triune because it states in the OT that God is one and claims that even Jesus agreed with that.  He was actually trying to use Jesus’ words to support this idea.  Let’s take a look at the scripture this gentleman referred to and see if we can figure this out for ourselves.

Mark 12:28-29 “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:” 


Let’s look at that word “one” in the Greek language and see if it really means only one.
Original Word: εἷς, μία, ἕν
Part of Speech: Adjective
Transliteration: heis
Phonetic Spelling: (hice)
Short Definition: one
Definition: one.

Word Origin
a primary number
Definition: one
NASB Word Usage
agreement (1), alike* (1), alone (3), common (1), detail (1), first (9), individual (2), individually* (1), lone (1), man (1), nothing* (1), one (282), one another (1), one man (2), one thing (5), one* (2), person (1), single (1), smallest (1), someone (2), thirty-nine* (1), unity (1).

Well, from the limited study that we just did, it seems as if God really is only one after all.  There was one scribe and there is one God; same word "heis" is used to describe each example in this portion of scripture.  I guess we can put our bibles down and be confident in knowing that the truth has been revealed.  One means one and only one.

But wait, just out of curiosity, let’s see if there is another example where else this word “heis” is used to describe the word “one.”

Here's one.  Let’s see what it says.  I’m confident that it will back up my earlier conclusions.  Speaking of marriage, Jesus said: Mark 10:8 – “And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.” 

Okay, hit the brakes!  The word is used here to describe two people as being “one.”  The same word “heis” is being used in this scripture as well.  So two people, being married, become spiritually “heis.”  Although they are two separate individuals, they are still considered “heis” in the eyes of God.  This puts a whole new spin on what this word really means.

Now if we had stopped at our first example of the word “heis” we would have an incorrect understanding of who God is.  Too many people do too little studying and then spread false doctrine throughout the church which affects the lives of other Christians, especially the lives of young Christians.

Does this short bible study show that God CAN be a triune God?  Absolutely, because we’ve learned that “heis” can be used two ways; to describe an individual, or to describe a group of people.  Now, your decision is whether you believe that God is “one” by spiritual definition or if He is “one” by human definition.  Where does your faith lead you?

Let's not forget the other scriptures where Jesus said that He is God: 

John 8:56-59a  “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59Then took they up stones to cast at him:” 

Matthew 1:22  “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" - which means, ‘God with us.’” 

In the Old Testament God called Himself the "first and the last"
Isaiah 44:6  "This is what the Lord says - Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God." 

What does Jesus call Himself in the New Testament?
Revelation1:17-18  ..."Fear not; I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One, I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!”

Revelation 22:12-13  "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

Revelation 1:8  “'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'"

Of course, there's the Holy Spirit as well.
Isaiah 63:10: "Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them." 

Matthew 28:19: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit". 

Psalm 139:7-8: [David cries to God:] "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there."

Acts 5:3-4:
"Then Peter said, 'Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.'" 


1 Corinthians 2:10b-11: "The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."


Friday, November 11, 2011

Slavery and Christianity


The claim is often made that the Bible approves of slavery, implicating God as its supporter, since rules governing slavery can be found in the both the Old and New Testament. Since virtually everyone agrees that forced, involuntary servitude is morally wrong, how can Christians justify the Bible's apparent support of slavery?

First, we must recognize that the Bible does not say God supports slavery. In fact, the slavery described in the Old Testament was quite different from the kind of slavery we think of today - in which people are captured and sold as slaves.

According to Old Testament law, anyone caught selling another person into slavery was to be executed:  "He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death."  Exodus 21:16

What the Old Testament Says About Slavery
So, obviously, slavery during Old Testament times was not what we commonly recognize as slavery, such as that practiced in the 17th century Americas, when Africans were captured and forcibly brought to work on plantations. Unlike our modern government welfare programs, there was no safety-net for ancient Middle Easterners who could not provide a living for themselves. In ancient Israel, people who could not provide for themselves or their families sold them into slavery so they would not die of starvation or exposure. In this way, a person would receive food and housing in exchange for labor.

So, although there are rules about slavery in the Bible, those rules exist to protect the slave. Injuring or killing slaves was punishable - up to death of the offending party.
“If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished."  Exodus 21:20

"If a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye. And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth." Exodus 21:26-27

Hebrews were commanded:

Not to make their slave work on the Sabbath
Exodus 23:12  "Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves.”  

Not to slander a slave
Proverbs 30:10  “Do not slander a slave to his master, Or he will curse you and you will be found guilty.”  

Not to have sex with another man's slave
Leviticus 19:20  “Now if a man lies carnally with a woman who is a slave acquired for another man, but who has in no way been redeemed nor given her freedom, there shall be punishment; they shall not, however, be put to death, because she was not free.”

Not to return an escaped slave
Deuteronomy 23:15 "You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you."  

Who Is Joseph's Father?

Artwork info below
Matt 1:16  "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ."

Luke 3:23 "And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli."

There seems to be a contradiction here.  Matthew claims Jacob is Joseph's father and Luke says Heli is Joseph's father.  They can't both be right! 

Those who do not believe that the bible is the inerrant word of God would claim that these two verses are in conflict with each other, creating a contradiction.  How can Christians claim that the bible contains  no errors if the authors can't even get the name of Joseph's father right?!?  That is where the non-believer would stop, but since I believe that the bible is in fact the inspired and inerrant word of God, I have the incentive to try to figure out why these two scriptures seem to be in conflict.  It didn't take me long to find out that...

...Joseph was the son of both Jacob AND Heli. How could that be?  How am I going to twist the words of the bible to make it fit into my beliefs?  I'm glad to say that there was no twisting necessary, just a limited understanding of Jewish law.

Joseph was the genetic son of Jacob, but the genealogical son of Heli.  Let me explain...

Heli died without fathering any children.  Jacob, being Heli’s half-brother, fulfilled the law by marrying Heli’s widow and fathered Joseph. Heli and Jacob both had different fathers (but the same mother), so the genealogies listed were not in conflict with one another.  One was the genealogy of Jacob's biological father and one was the genealogy of his father (his mother's first husband) "by law."

So although "Jacob begat Joseph" through his seed, Joseph (by Jewish law) was legally the "son of Heli."
No contradiction here!

Here is a visual representation of what I'm talking about.  Perhaps this will help clear things up a bit.





Artwork from: http://sfpbiblicalcharacter.pbworks.com/w/page/1716115/Group:-1-Mary-and-Joseph

STONE HER!!!


Let me begin by sharing the scripture that I'm referring to (all scripture is quoted from the NASB):

John 8:1-11  1”But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. 3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?’ 6They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.  7But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’  8Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10Straightening up, Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’ 11She said, ‘No one, Lord.’  And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either Go From now on sin no more.’

The contrast we have, between the self-satisfied religious police on the one hand and the idea of a woman, who recognizes her true condition on the other, is the contrast between those who will accept or reject Christ. We see that people who have an experiential grasp of their needs are the same people who will grasp grace. People who do not understand their true condition or after a while become smug and self-satisfied and don’t understand grace are people who often won’t give it as well. We become a people who are so focused on our self-righteousness that we can no longer focus on our own condition.

So, where is the guy?  Both parties are also to be condemned; the man and the woman. Look in Deuteronomy 22:22. There you will find the mosaic requirement: “If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die; the man who lay with the woman and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.” They basically violated the Law by not bringing him before Jesus and they also violated the Law when they set up a trap in the first place. In either case, they are so concerned with the Law that they are ready to violate it in an attempt to trap Jesus.

Why Doesn't God Prove He Exists?


When you ask, "Why doesn't God prove He exists?" what you're really asking is why doesn't God prove His existence again — and this time, to you personally. After all, Adam and Eve couldn't deny His existence when He was walking through the Garden of Eden and speaking with them.  Moses and those led out of Egypt couldn't deny God's existence when He appeared as a pillar of fire by night to protect them and a pillar of smoke by day to lead them.  Nor could they deny His existence when He provided manna from heaven to feed them or caused the Red Sea to part so that they could escape Pharaoh's anger.

Let me ask you this question... what if God did reveal Himself to you?  What if God revealed Himself to you in a way that you could no longer deny His existence? What if He revealed Himself to you in a blinding ray of light with angels singing... would you believe? Be honest.  Would you believe or would you try to find some rational explanation for what you just experienced?  If it's the latter, then there is no reason for God to reveal Himself to you, since you will refuse to believe anyway. It would be a waste of time.  

What if it's the former?  He's revealed Himself to you in a way you cannot deny. What's next?  Well, you'd want to share what you just experienced, right?  Exactly how would you do that?  Well, in this day and age you'd probably take to social media and write about it.  Maybe you would text or even call your friends on your cell phone and tell them what just happened to you.  You'd probably talk to your family face to face and describe everything in great detail.  

I'm sure a lot of your friends and family are like-minded.  They don't believe in the existence of God and if you tried to describe why you now believe God does exits, how do you think they would react?  They'd either think you went off the deep end or they'd want empirical proof.  What would you offer them in way of proof?  What could you show them?  You would have nothing but your word.

Where would that leave you?  In the same place every other Christian finds themselves... in a personal relationship with the living God and the challenge of sharing who He is with people who choose not to believe in His existence.

Every true born again believer in Christ has had a common experience; that moment when we reached out in faith to a God we could no longer deny existed.  At that moment, our spirit, which was once dead, was born again.  In that instant, we were born into a new life and became part of a kingdom that will never end.
We can't prove it, or even adequately explain the change that miraculously happens at that moment, but we know that the experience is true.  Others may mock us and say all manner of evil against us, but we remain steadfast in our belief because we KNOW that what we've experienced is real.  The change in our lives is the most valuable evidence we have.  As God moves in our lives through His Holy Spirit, things begin to change.  What was once normal to us now begin to drop away only to be replaced by something new... something better.  That may convince some, but most will not be convince and brush it aside as you being "religious."

So you see, when you ask Christians why God doesn't prove He exists, you're asking Christians to show you something that you are not able to see until you have been born again of the Holy Spirit.  You've heard the old expression about walking a mile in someone's shoes, well sometimes you have to go through what others have gone through to truly see where they're coming from.  The same is true about Christianity.  In order to see what we see, you have to go through the same experience.  It can't be measured or created by any means of scientific measurement or test known to man.  It can only be experienced through active participation.  If you aren't willing to participate, you'll never know what we know or see what we see.

As a whole, Christians are saddened for those who may never allow God to touch their heart, knowing that the only alternative to eternity in heaven is an eternity in hell.  So we persist; we persevere; we make ourselves available to plant and water the seeds of faith and then pray that there will be a reaping of the harvest of faith.

May all praise and glory be to the living God!!!

Image: 
http://mrg.bz/ETo3Nx

Dark Light - A Poem


Dark light fills the void of my existence, permeating every corner of my being, bringing a sense of normalcy to a life filled with fierce bonds and woven memories. My soul aches, understanding that this dark light pledges no more than what can be seen.

A shimmer in the dark light dances in the void, calling me forward into its alluring presence. It penetrates my being, dispelling doubts and fears and self-loathing. Turning, finding none who have been influenced by the light there is hesitation, but the light calls to me, sings to me and seems to reach for me.

Approaching this brilliance, I feel no pain as I gaze into its mysterious radiance. Echoes of the pain of past hurts, and of friends lost, no longer reverberate within my soul. The light, within my grasp, is alive and full of life.

My hands extend, my mind opens to the possibilities, my heart once blemished with the stain of sin can now be cleansed. A touch is all I require to set me free. It is here that Jesus has met me, in my dark light, in the void, in my journey to nowhere. It is here that I am set free and set on the path of eternity in the paradise of His love.

Copywrite 2010 Ken Souza

Why Islam Will Never Accept the State of Israel



It is a common belief that the "Arab Israel conflict" is a conflict of two peoples fighting over the same piece of land and is therefore one of nationalism. Rarely, if ever, do we hear or read of the religious component to this conflict.

However, if anything, the conflict is more of a "Muslim-Jewish" one than an "Arab-Israeli" one. In other words, the conflict is based on religion -- Islam vs. Judaism -- cloaked in Arab nationalism vs. Zionism. The fact of the matter is that in every Arab-Israeli war, from 1948 to the present, cries of "jihad," "Allahu Akbar," and the bloodcurdling scream of "Idbah al- Yahud" (slaughter the Jews) have resonated amongst even the most secular of Arab leaders, be it Nasser in the 1950s and 1960s or the supposedly "secular" PLO of the 1960s to the present. Indeed, the question must be asked: If this is really a conflict of different nationalisms and not Islamic supremacism, then why is it that virtually no non-Arab Muslim states have full (if any) relations with Israel?

There is a common Arabic slogan that is chanted in the Middle East: "Khaybar, Khaybar! Oh Jews, remember. The armies of Muhammad are returning!" It would be most interesting to know how many people have ever heard what -- or more precisely, where -- Khaybar is, and what the Arabs mean by such a slogan. A short history of the Jews of Arabia is needed in order to explain this, and why Islam remains so inflexible in its hostile attitude towards Jews and Israel.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Why Does the Crucifix "Provoke" Muslims?


The same "provocation," a crucifix, that prompted Muslim students in the United States to complain about "human rights" abuses at a private Catholic university, prompted Muslims in Egypt to murder a man.

First, the American incident: The Washington, D.C. Office of Human Rights confirmed that it is investigating allegations that Catholic University violated the human rights of Muslim students by not allowing them to form a Muslim student group and by not providing them rooms without Christian symbols for their daily prayers. The investigation alleges that Muslim students "must perform their prayers surrounded by symbols of Catholicism – such as a wooden crucifix, paintings of Jesus, pictures of priests and theologians which many Muslim students find inappropriate."

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Does The Bible Prove Ghosts Exist?

The practice of necromancy... it's in the bible.  1Samuel 28:9-21 tells the story of a witch who seemingly conjured up the spirit of Samuel.  Is this God's way of telling us that ghosts really do exist?  Let's see what this scripture says.  

Brief background: Saul was a king King of Israel. When Saul was walking in fellowship with the Lord, He obeyed God in His command to destroy all demonic practices because it was an affront to God. Saul eventually began disobeying God.  God had repeatedly warned him that He would turn His face away from Saul if Saul continued to disobey Him. When the Philistines were preparing to attack, Saul sought out the Lord, but the Lord didn't answer him.  It's because of this that Saul sought out a medium to conjure up the voice of Samuel so that he might seek Samuel's council.

All Human Life Is Faith Based

All humans live a life of faith, whether it’s faith in the Judaeo/Christian God, a false god of another “religion”, human intellect, traditions, etc... no matter what it is, we live a faith based life.

My major faith is that the Judaeo/Christian God of the bible is real.  I’ve submitted my life to Him, making mistakes along the way, but still making the effort to stay on that difficult and narrow road that I’ve chosen to remain on.  I’ve heard the argument that not believing in something is the absence of faith.  That would be true if you want to stop there, but why express an incomplete thought?

Having no faith in something is only half of the equation.  If you don’t believe in one thing, then you must believe in another.  Often people who don’t believe in God turn to science to back up their claims that God does not exist.  Their faith in science is extraordinary!  Science, no matter how advanced it is at the moment, has only scratched the surface of all that is out there in the world and in the universe, yet people bow down and worship the god of science rather than the One who created all the laws of this universe.  Science will take evidence and extrapolate where that evidence is taking them, almost certain that they will reach a particular conclusion.  Often times the most likely outcome must be accepted by faith because the evidence and variables are too great to be relatively sure that they will reach the expected outcome.

Don’t get me wrong, I love science.  Science has been used to help billions of people and has given us some answers to how God created the universe.  The more diverse the fabric of the universe, the more it reveals the effort God made to create such an intricate place for us to live.  It’s when you put the idol of science and human intellect above God that science becomes your belief system; and to have a belief system you have to have faith in that this system of belief is correct, or else why believe in it?  Why waste your time on a belief system that you don’t have faith in, right?  

So the question is:  “Can you reject the existence of God and explain it as an absence of faith?”  The answer is no.  In order to reject the existence of God, you had to have made up your mind that there is another explanation for the existence of everything in the universe; an explanation you need to have faith in.

Throughout history, the majority of mankind has tried to live a life apart from God and every single one who has managed to do so, without exception, has met with a most horrible experience at the moment of his or her death... being ushered into eternal suffering with the promise of eventually being thrown into the lake of fire.

It's A Warning, Not A Threat

There are warnings and cautions on everything, from Styrofoam coffee cups to electrical devices; from chemicals to cigarette packs; from mini-blinds to children’s toys.  We don’t feel threatened by them.  On the contrary, the warnings and messages of caution are there to protect us and to inform us of any danger that is associated with the labeled item.

Why is it when there is a warning or caution on an item, it’s taken as just that... a warning, but when A Christian tries to warn someone of the impending danger of a life lived without a relationship with God, it’s described as a threat?

Warning: Traveling down the path of destruction leads to spiritual death.

Caution:  Unless you are born again, you cannot enter the kingdom of God

Warning:  Eternal pain and suffering beyond this point.  Do not cross.

Caution:  Door closes at time of death.  Make preparations in advance.

I think when someone labels this type of warning as a "threat," they’re actually thinking of it as a threat to their own way of living.  They’re happy with how their life is going and they're willing to wait it out and see what happens when they enter the unknown at the moment of death.  Unfortunately, by that time it’s too late to change anything. 

I don’t expect any of my blog articles to change anyone’s heart... that’s God’s job not mine.  But I don’t want to just sit by without warning others that a life without Jesus means an eternity of separation from Him in a place of torment.

You can’t blame the stop sign for your accident if you refuse to do what it says.

You can’t blame the doctor for complications from surgery if he tells you to take a week off from work but you go into work anyway and aggravate the injury.

You can’t blame the utility company for cutting off service if you never paid the bill.

Well, you can’t blame God for eternity in hell if you never accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life.

Yes, it’s just that simple.  People want to make Christianity complicated, but it’s not.  Jesus said to believe in Him.  Confess your sins.  Accept Him as Lord and Savior of your life.  It’s that easy.  He doesn’t expect you to give up everything when you become a Christian.  God cleans up your life little by little, day by day.  When it comes time to give something up, you’ll WANT to give it up.  The longer we walk with the Lord the more we become like Him.

Before you blame someone for “threatening” you with hell, remember that God says you don’t have to go there, but as always, it’s your choice.   Whether you've made a choice to follow God or not, you’ve still made a choice.

Image:  http://mrg.bz/RvpEdR