Interesting Bible based Articles for you

Temple Structure

My Fathers House

My Fathers House

My Fathers House“In My Father’s House are Many Mansions…”

This is a passage of Scripture, in John chapter 14 verse 2, which causes some people to believe that Jesus was offering a place in heaven but, as Mark Buckler explains, the Lord had something quite different in mind.

Jewish Book

Many of us easily forget, when we read the Bible, that it is a Jewish book, written mainly by Jewish writers about Jewish people.  It is so easy for us to read it with two thousand years of ideas and interpretations in our minds that we forget to ask a simple question:

What did the writers of this passage understand by it when they wrote it and what did their readers or hearers understand?

So, when Jesus talked about the many rooms in his Father’s house, what did he mean by this and what would his hearers have understood?

Incidentally, this is a passage that is often read in church funeral services and today it is thought to promise an inheritance with God in heaven.  Is that what Jesus meant?

God’s House

The expression “My Father’s house” as used in the gospels always refers to the Temple in Jerusalem.  For example, when Jesus visited the Temple as a boy of twelve, his comment to questioning parents was:

 “Why were you searching for me? … Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

Or when Jesus cleansed the Temple, he said: “Get these out of here!  How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:16).

So Jesus was saying to his disciples, in John chapter 14, that there were many dwelling places in the Temple, and that he would come back and live with them on earth in a similar way to how the priests lived close to God, because they lived in His Temple – in God’s House.  But did they? Was the Temple a House for people, or just the House of God?

Temple Structure

Temple StructureIn the description of the building of the first Temple by Solomon, we are told of the construction of rooms built on three stories on three sides of the temple:

“Against the walls of the main hall and inner sanctuary he built a structure around the building, in which there were side rooms.  The lowest floor was five cubits wide, the middle floor six cubits and the third floor seven” (1 Kings 6:5,6).

These rooms were for the Priests to live in when they were on Temple duty, so when Jesus referred to the “many rooms” in his “Father’s House”, the disciples would have been able to visualise the many rooms built on the side of the Temple, and would have understood at once what he meant.

“I will come again…” This is was what Jesus promised.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).

He was about to die as a sacrifice for sins, but he would rise again and, in due course, would go to heaven, to sit at his Father’s right hand.  But when the time is right, he will come again to earth, to live with his people – as in a temple.  Were there any similar situations the disciples might think about that matched what was about to happen?

Thinking about the activities that took place in the Temple, the disciples would be reminded that daily the Priests went into the Holy Place and that once a year the High Priest went through the second veil into the Holy of Holies as the representative of the people.  After making his offering he went out again to the people, having made atonement for them.

Great High Priest

Jesus was going to do the same thing for his people – but more so!  He was going into the actual presence of God, not just into a representation of His presence, which was what happened in the Temple.  This is a theme fully developed by the apostle Paul when writing to the Hebrews, who says:

“Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.  Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.  Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world.  But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:24-26).

In the case of Jesus, when he died God showed His total approval of his sacrifice by tearing the veil of the Temple in Jerusalem from top to bottom – to show that a new way had thus been opened into His presence, and that we are no longer dependent upon an earthly priesthood.

 “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water”

(Hebrews 10:19-22).

Again, the picture the disciples would have from words like these would be based on their own experiences of life in their times.  What a different meaning we get when we look at a passage of Scripture and consider the background of the times in which it was written.  If we don’t do that we are always in danger of imposing our own ideas, from later times, thus trying to make Scripture teach what we would like it to say!

By Mark Buckler

Bible Teaching and Christian Life

Bible Teaching and Christian Life

Bible Teaching and Christian Life

There were some people living in Corinth in New Testament times who were sceptics. They did not believe in any other world than this world, theyBible Teaching and Christian Life saw no evidence for any other life than this life, and out of this belief they formed this proverb:

“Let us eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.”

They lived lives which were wholly sensual and transient and that way of life arose directly out of their philosophy.

By contrast, the Bible records the lives of many people who were transformed by the things they came to believe, people like the apostle Paul.

He started out as someone who hated the very sound of the name of Jesus of Nazareth and was determined to persecute his followers and have them executed, if need be.

He came to understand differently, however, and became an ardent follower of the Lord Jesus, eventually being executed himself because he would not renounce his beliefs. So what is it about the teachings of the Bible that might change the way we think and thus the way we feel and act? We will look at some of the key teachings of the Bible to test this out.

The Bible Doctrine of Sin

The Bible says that Sin is lawlessness.

It is a clear departing from the will of God. It is coming to the parting of the ways and choosing the way which is wrong. When sin is defined as lawlessness the Bible means that in all this lawful world only one thing is lawless – that is Man. Every other created thing is obedient to the law which has been put upon it by God.

Upon every tulip there is the law of the tulip and when it blossoms forth in all its glory it is obedient to that law, and it does what God intended it to do and therefore gives him glory.

The same is true of every eagle – when it hovers in the sky upon its great wings and hovers over its young, it does that which is true to the law of the eagle and it gives glory to God.

Upon Man there is the law of Manhood, once perfectly revealed by the Man of Nazareth and now enjoined upon those who are made in God’s image. When men turn from that high vision of Manhood and dishonour their nature they do that which is against the law of Manhood – they commit sin and are degraded, for they give God no glory.

Sin is Lawlessness

In all this lawful universe, only man is lawless. This is Sin. It is something with which God cannot compromise.

The awful purity of God does not permit Him to regard sin as something which can be forgotten and overlooked.

It is an obstinate and painful interloper in the world.

Now suppose a person does not believe or accept the Bible doctrine of Sin. Suppose he or she is ready to accept the popular view – that it is after all merely a maladjustment, a failure of education, a lapse, not an offence against God but in some way almost a blessing in disguise. Surely, a person believing this will have his behaviour affected when he is faced with temptation. Under such circumstances and mastered by such a belief – sin becomes easy.

When someone submits to the Bible doctrine of sin, to that extent he or she is fortified against it. He fears the subtlety of sin and avoids the occasions of temptation. When he is tempted he is held back by a realisation of what sin really means.

Case Studies

Joseph

JosephA good example of this is the case of Joseph being tempted in the house of Potiphar by Potiphar’s wife. She tempted him to commit adultery and I want to remind you of Joseph’s attitude  in the presence of the ruthless temptation of this frustrated woman.

He said:

“There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he (Potiphar) kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9).

Joseph knew that not only was it a sin against his master Potiphar but much more it was a grievous sin against his God who had kept and nurtured him all his life. So he fled and got out. It is a splendid example of the right doctrine of sin producing in Joseph the proper and pure life in the face of evil.

 

David

King DavidWhen King David committed adultery and murder he came to repentance at last by a realisation of what Sin really was, thus he said to his God:

“Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight— that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge” (Psalm 51:4).

The very same principle which fortified Joseph brought David to his knees In contrition. Thus we see the combined effect of Bible teaching and Christian life.

God’s Kingdom

The Bible doctrine of the Kingdom of God means the absolute transcendence of God over all the world: the fact of His government over all things and its eventual establishment on earth in place of the government of men, with Jesus Christ as its undoubted King. This is a vital doctrine for Jesus once said:

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

The first step in seeking that kingdom is to submit to its king, believe in its laws, and obey its government – and where these things exist in a person’s life, the master principle of the Kingdom of God is established.

Now therefore those who believe in the coming Kingdom of God upon the earth, at the second advent of Jesus Christ, constitute a people whose real vocation and real destiny begins in the age to come. Therefore their attitude to the present life will be regulated by that fact.

First of all, they will, or ought to be, people in whom, even now to some extent, the principles of the Kingdom of God are being realised – that is love, joy and peace. Through them the kingdom values are being manifested to those around them and by whom God’s literal kingdom and its coming is being preached among men.

They also will be people who know themselves to be pilgrims in this world, passing through it to another and a better society – the world to come on earth. Their master passion, therefore, will not be the acquisition of knowledge, the pursuit of pleasure or the accumulation of wealth. They will be looking through these external things  to the spiritual. They will hold with light hands the things of this world because they are citizens of another. They will be ready to render to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, but will be careful to render to God the things which are God’s (Mark 12:17).

Their allegiance to earthly governments has to be qualified by the fact that they have sworn allegiance to their King – ‘the King of Kings’. But they will be ready always to succour the needs and seek to alleviate the pain of their neighbours, because of the doctrine of gentleness and service which they have received by word and example from their Lord.

Now let me emphasise that this way of life arises distinctly and conspicuously out of the doctrine of the Kingdom of God, properly understood.

People do not behave in this way without some compelling reason and the reason is that the King has met them and taught them and called them to his Kingdom.

The Lord Jesus used these words to call men to his discipleship:

Christ bearing his cross“Whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple … whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27,33).

Notice that Jesus said “cannot” – not “may not” or “it will be difficult”, but “cannot”. This is a hard teaching and there were many who turned back when they heard it. But the teaching of the King is imperative – it means that SELF and SELF-INTEREST make it impossible to be a disciple when other loves and other forces interfere and intervene and breed dissatisfaction, and cause difficulty.

Tyranny

The truth is that Self comes every day seeking for preference and asking to be put first. Self is a tyrant and men standing by themselves are slaves, without consent sometimes, but slaves nevertheless. A man once said:

“What I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practise; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:15).

That is the overmastering power of self. It is the confession of a man deeply conscious of his appalling weakness in the presence of self.

When we see the matchless purity of the life of the King; when we see him wholly submitted to the will of God, never once subverted from the path of obedience – his purity has the effect of mocking our own impotence.

It is no good telling me that Jesus is the great example, because I have no power to match his success. I am undone at the fibre of my being. My achievements are utterly short of my aspirations. But the great truth is that we are not saved by example; Jesus is not just an exemplar, he is a redeemer, and a saviour. Through his great sacrifice we are not only freed from the penalty of sin, but at last we are freed from its power. If this is not so then there is some part of the Bible which is false.

Christ the Leader

The New Testament teaches us that Christ is the leader of those who are being saved by the power of God and that power is in the cross of Christ:

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Notice it is “the message” – what is being preached – which has the power and that we are either “being saved” or “perishing”. And the writer to the Hebrews explains a little more when he says:

“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).

A Clean Conscience

The good news is that Christ is not leading into the Kingdom a group of people who are broken failures, but men and women who have been able to escape the tyranny of self and have come, of their own volition, to serve the living God. For it is our consciousness that determines our conduct and our conduct forms our character. If my consciousness is low, my conduct will be low; if my consciousness is high, my conduct will be higher.

What regulates your consciousness?

What cleans your conscience?

What you believe and what you have faith in.

It follows that if you believe in the saving power of Christ to change your life it could happen. But if you deny it it will never happen. This is a superlative example of Bible doctrine and Christian life. The apostle Paul, who had struggled manfully against self, and had failed when he sought to succeed in his own strength, could later say:

“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

That faith is the inspiration of Christian conduct.

Christ is Risen!

The final example of how teaching affects behaviour is the vital and central doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In Luke chapter 24 we read of two people who were sauntering out of Jerusalem on the Emmaus road – they were sad, sorry and dejected. They believed that their Messiah was dead and buried whilst they had hoped to see him reign in triumph. Notice how their lives are in the past tense. They speak to the stranger who joined them in this way:

“Jesus of Nazareth … was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people … we were hoping that it was he who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:19–21).

Then the stranger they have met on the road flings back the shutters and opens to them the Scriptures, so that they feel their hearts burning within them. He gives them a new interpretation of familiar things – the old

doctrines in a new light – out of the Scriptures of truth. They realise that he – the Lord Jesus – is the Messiah risen from the dead.

They sauntered out of Jerusalem because they thought it was all over; they go back at the double because they realise it is only just beginning.

The apostle Paul in the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians is uncompromising about the effect of the

resurrection of Jesus. Either he is risen from the dead, he says, and can be known, or else he is a failure and we have all been deceived.

There is no middle course. If the doctrine is false we are still in our sins, the dead in the graves are dead forever and we are found to be false witnesses and the most to be pitied.

Everything depends upon the truth of this great doctrine. For what good is a kingdom if the king is just a corpse?

How can we hope for deliverance if the deliverer is dead? How can we pray for help if the advocate is unheeding?

But when this great doctrine is believed and trusted – see what it does to those who believe. Think of the apostle Peter as an example. Before the resurrection he was fearful and craven, but now he is standing up within a stone’s throw of the empty tomb and boldly laying the blame for the King’s murder upon the rulers at Jerusalem. He cries in a voice full of brave confidence:

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

Not in Vain

In Prison for JesusTwo men are in the stocks at Philippi. Their bodies are in chains and their backs torn with scourging and it is midnight – but they are singing and they are singing the song of the resurrection.

As we already recollected, the Apostle Paul met the resurrected Jesus on the Damascus road and it changed his whole life. From being once a persecutor he became one of the great heroes of the Christian faith and gave his life in the cause of the king.

These men and women of the infant church were changed and energised by the great doctrine of the resurrection.

And it still happens. Men may laugh, but we shall proclaim our faith in the resurrected Jesus. Our preaching is not vain. Thank God our sins are forgiven. The dead are only asleep awaiting the shout of the Archangel and the trumpet of God. The Lord is coming in glory and power. We are not pitiable.

Laugh at us if you must, but do not pity us. We believe we have discovered a joy which has eluded all others.

Perhaps we do not sing about it as joyfully as we ought but it is true and it is real. Jesus is alive now and is the High Priest of the Universe. His love is stronger than death and mightier than the grave and it is still making heroes today. All over the world and every day his men and women venture forth in his name on the high and holy enterprise of doing his business and seeking his will. Some are safe and sound; others are risking their lives for his cause. Why do they do it? Because they have been illuminated and invigorated by the great doctrines of the Word of God – in which they trust and by which they are inspired.

So this is our appeal. If you mean business about your religion; if you are earnest about your spiritual life; if you really want to find joy and hope in this hopeless world, then let the revelation of this Word of God become your master passion.

Trust it, believe in it with all your heart – seek to make it something that is central in your life. Do not be insulted but I am compelled to say that without it you are impoverished and utterly inadequate. Believe in it and you have discovered the secret of life.

But there is no middle course. In the end you will believe in it and live, or you will reject it and perish. And about that you have no argument with me – it was Jesus who said it. I can say no more.

By Dennis Gillett

Do Christians Need Priests?

Do Christians Need Priests?

Do Christians Need Priests?
Bible Teaching About Church Organisation

Do Christians Need Priests?FOR many people the organisation and traditions of religion create large barriers to its acceptance. Believing that God can be worshipped acceptably by an individual in a forest or on a mountain – places which bring readily to mind His awesome creative power – they shy away from grand robes and imposing buildings. When it is suggested that somehow God cannot he properly worshipped other than through a human intermediary and according to set rites, their worst fears are confirmed. The hierarchy of priests (cardinals, archbishops, bishops, canons, etc.), is confusing to them and also suggests that there are two categories of worshipper – priests and lay people. Possibly, even that those who claim to be ordained by God are more favoured than everyone else.

Churchmen argue that priests and the church speak on God’s behalf; they interpret God’s commandments for men, and plead with God on man’s behalf; only they are allowed to bless the sacraments of communion: the bread and wine shared by worshippers in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice. They claim that today’s priests are the rightful successors to the Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles; that God speaks today through the church as He spoke in earlier centuries through prophets and apostles.

What can we make of these claims? Has God commanded that He should be worshipped only through the mediation of human priests? Do men today have the right to speak for God? Are there two categories of worshippers, the priests and the laity?

A Reliable Authority
To answer these questions we need to have a reliable source of authority, something that is totally trustworthy, having stood the test of time. Priests speak with the authority they believe they receive from their church. The churches claim their authority direct from God Himself. But we are not interested in claims alone. We need some reliable evidence.

If God has declared anything about how He should be worshipped, that would surely be the reliable authority we are looking for. And God has spoken! The Bible claims to be the written word of God. Nor is this only a claim. If it was, it would be no different from the churches’ claim to speak on God’s behalf. God’s word contains various tests so that His claim can be proved.

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2022 What will it bring?

2022: World War III? The Second Coming?

2022 What will it bring?

2022: World War III? The Second Coming?

The world is in turmoil and crazier by the minute. What will we see in 2022?

With a pandemic raging, war almost breaking out left and right, totalitarianism rising, freedoms shrinking, what developments will we see in 2022 and how can we prepare ourselves?

As we head into 2022, we don’t need a prophet to tell us that we might have some more COVID-19 to deal with.  What we hope, however, is that it is a fulfillment of Habakkuk 3, and is the pestilence that comes before our king, Messiah.

Habakkuk 3:3-5 “3 God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. 4 And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. 5 Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet.”

In the recent past, we have seen the growth of government corruption in many countries, or at least it comes to light.  We have seen the growth of authoritarianism especially in places like Russia and China, but we have been losing freedoms in the West as well.  There have also been some major threats of war.  A World War III scenario could be sparked by China, Russia, Iran, or some combination of those.  This is the kind of thing that is to happen in the time of the end, however.

Daniel 11:40 is one of the places that explicitly speaks of the time of the end and what these words may mean is truly scary.  Many years ago John Carter wrote that he read the beginning of that verse as a conflict between the king of the north and the king of the south and that the grammar of the verse requires such a reading.  The verse is as follows:

Daniel 11:40 “40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.”

A straightforward reading of the verse in context indeed seems to spell out a prolonged conflict between the king of the north, which in the latter-day it seems fair to equate with Gog and Catholic Europe, and the dominant southern power, as is described in Ezekiel 38:

Ezekiel 38:13 “13 Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?”

These powers seem unwilling or unable to do anything.  Compared with Daniel 11, it definitely gives weight to the unable option.  One does not imagine that in today’s world any country, or group of them, would be able to march around the world in such a way unopposed as he “…entered into the countries, overflowed and passed over…”.  

The American Standard Version of Daniel 11:40 reflects the Hebrew better than the King James Version.  It says “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south contend with him…”  The Hebrew uses the language of animals butting or goring each other as they dual with each other.  This has been the relationship that the powers that we would associate with the opposing power of Ezekiel 38 have had with those of the north for many years and is becoming more so.  World Wars I and II and the Cold War are examples of this.

The second half of verse 40 is where is becomes scary for those living in today’s world.  Will the King of the North come against the Tarshish her lions and associates south of Israel in this way?  Russia today is in a position where it has surpassed the US in important strategic ways.  China is in the same position.  It seems like the days of the US calling all the shots is over, bringing judgment on a wicked and corrupt world.  There is advice in the Bible to flee from Babylon: Isaiah 48:20, Jeremiah 50:8, Jeremiah 51:6, Jeremiah 51:45, Revelation 18:4, and Zechariah 2:6, 7.  From Revelation and Zechariah we can see this is not so much a warning to flee from the area of ancient Babylon, but rather Catholic Europe:

Zechariah 2:6, 7 “6 Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD. 7 Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon.”

 Today we can look back at World War II and see the mercy of God in providing such a warning so that any with ears to hear can flee from the despotisms that have and we believe will again grip this world.

As believers, we wonder at what stage we will be taken out from it.  For Noah and Lot, it was the self same day.

Luke 17:26-30 “26 And as it came to pass in the days of Noah, even so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27 They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise even as it came to pass in the days of Lot; they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29 but in the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all: 30 after the same manner shall it be in the day that the Son of man is revealed.”

We pray we will be saved in like manner and not have to suffer through the great judgments that will come.  For us, as we see these things come to pass it means that our redemption draws near.  God’s judgments will come on this earth and the righteous will no longer be called wicked or the light darkness.

Revelation 11:16-18 “16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. 18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”

Isaiah 32:16-18 “16 Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. 17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. 18 And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;”

Jeremiah 23:5-8 “5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.”

The answer is not to cry out for human justice but to cry out to God to send His Son. 

In the new year, let’s look to the Hope of Israel as our hope for the future. The just one will soon come to sit on the throne of David and bring to justice the despots with all their corruption and sin.  May that day come quickly Amen.

Tim Billington –  www.bibleinthenews.com

Bible In The News

Pagan Influence on Mainstream Christianity

Pagan Influence on Mainstream Christian Teachings

Pagan Influence on Mainstream Christian TeachingsPagan Influence on Mainstream Christianity

In this article, we shall demonstrate that most of the practices of today’s mainstream “Christianity” as well as most of its beliefs were only introduced into the religion as a regrettable outcome of an excessive undue willingness to compromise with the surrounding pagans in order to attain their support and conversion. This was the same paganism Jesus fought so valiantly during his lifetime to destroy. This will be proven, by the will of God, through the writings of Christians themselves. We shall demonstrate how all of these practices and beliefs were well established among many other pagan cults centuries before the arrival of Paul and his “visions.”

The expanse of land between the river Nile and the river Euphrates was home to the Jews for centuries before the coming of Jesus. During this period, this land fell under the rule of many empires, including the Babylonians, the Persians, and the Romans, all of whom had extensive contact with many other cultures and beliefs. We shall see in what follows that the religion of Jesus was revised and modified after his departure through the influence of all of these cultures and beliefs and how it now bears characteristics of many of these religions, including Buddhism, Roman and Greek worship, Hinduism, Persian and Egyptian beliefs, in addition to Judaism and many others.

The following information has been obtained from the books “Bible myths and their parallels in other religions” by T. W. Doane and “Islam and Christianity in the modern world,” by Dr. Muhammad Ansari.

The general impression among Christians today is that the difference between today’s “Christianity” and Paganism is so great that any similarity between them is scarcely recognizable. This, however, is far from the truth. The more knowledgeable a Christian becomes with today’s “Christianity,” the more they realize that it is the end result of a continuous effort to appease the pagan Romans in order to gain their support. This has regrettably resulted in the foisting upon Jesus  and his apostles the pre-existent beliefs of ancient paganism. The established beliefs of these pagans were “inserted” into the word of God and its religious practices through the agency of many centuries of divine “inspiration” to the Church. The knowledgeable Christian scholars are the most well-acquainted with this fact.

The great luminary of the Church, Saint Augustine (354-430 C.E.), is quoted to have said “The same thing which is now called CHRISTIAN RELIGION existed among the ancients. They have begun to call Christian the true religion which existed before.”

“Our love for what is old, our reverence for what our fathers used, makes us keep still in the church, and on the very altar cloths, symbols which would excite the smile of an Oriental, and lead him to wonder why we send missionaries to his land, while cherishing his faith in ours” James Bonwick

Let us start with the very symbol of Christianity itself, the “cross.”

The Cross: Symbol of the Cross

Fish: Symbol of last supperSymbol of the Last Supper

It is well known that the first symbol of Christianity was that of a fish. On sacramental cups, seals, and lamps the Holy Spirit was symbolized by a dove and Christ by a fish (perhaps because at the time, fish was one of the elements of the sacred meal) or by a shepherd carrying a sheep on his shoulders (from Luke 15:3-7) The cross was not adopted until long after the departure of Jesus. One of the main reasons for this was the fact that he who dies on the cross is considered cursed by God (Galatians 3:13). Current historical knowledge recognizes the fact that the cross was well recognized as a religious symbol long before the advent of Jesus . It was adored in India as the symbol of the Hindu god Agni, the “light of the world.” It was placed in the hands of Siva, Brahma, Vishnu, Krishna, Tvashtri, and Jama. The cross was also well known among the Buddhists from ancient times and the followers of Lama of Thibet.

The ancient Egyptians also adopted the cross as a religious symbol of their pagan gods. Countless Egyptian drawings depict themselves holding crosses in their hands. Among them, the Egyptian savior Horus is depicted holding a cross in his hand. He is also depicted as an infant sitting on his mother’s knee with a cross on the seat they occupy. The most common of the crosses used by these pagan Egyptians, the CRUX ANSATA, was later adopted by the Christians.

The Egyptian savior, Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead and the underworld, is sometimes represented holding out this cross to mortals signifying that this person has discarded mortality for the life to come.

Another cross has been unearthed in Ireland. It belongs to the cult of the Persian god of the sun “Mithra” and bears a crucified effigy. The Greeks and Romans too adopted the cross as their religious symbol many centuries before Christianity did the same. An ancient inscription in Tessaly is accompanied by a Calvary cross. More crosses can be found to adorn the tomb of king Midas in Phrygia. The above references may be referred to for many more examples.

The “Trinity”: The Trinity

Now let us study the “Trinity” and its roots in ancient pagan worship. The “Trinity” of Christendom, as defined in the creed of Nicea, is a merging of three distinct entities into one single entity, while remaining three distinct entities. We are told to speak of the three gods as one god, and never as three gods which would be considered heresy (Isaiah 43:10). They are considered to be co-eternal, co-substantial, and co-equal. However, only the first was self existent. The others preceded from the first. This Neo-Platonic philosophical doctrine has its roots not in the inspiration of God, but in ancient paganism. Most ancient religions were built upon some sort of threefold distinction. Deities were always trinities of some kind or consisted of successive emanation in threes.

In India we find the doctrine of the divine trinity called “Tri-murti” (Three-forms) consisting of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. It is an inseparable unity though three in form. Worshipers are told to worship them as one deity. Such concepts posed no problem to the logic of a Hindu worshipper since they were already used to worshipping gods with the body of a man and the head of an elephant (Ganesh), or monkey-faced gods (Hanuman), or gods with six arms, and so forth. Remember, classical Hinduism dates back to at least 500BC, with roots extending as far back as 2000BC.

The Brahmas also have their trinity. In their trinity, Vajrapani, Manjusri, and Avalokitesvara form a divine union of three gods into one god called “Buddha.” The citizens of China and Japan also worship Buddha, but they know him as “Fo.” When they worship him they say “Fo, is one god but has three forms.”

Sir William Jones says:

“Very respectable natives have assured me, that one or two missionaries have been absurd enough to in their zeal for the conversion of the Gentiles, to urge that the Hindoos were even now almost Christians; because their Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa (Siva), were no other than the Christian Trinity.”

Bible myths and their parallels in other religions, p. 370.

The ancient Egyptians also worshipped a trinity. Their symbol of a wing, a globe, and a serpent is supposed to have stood for the different attributes of their god.

The Greeks also had their trinities. When making their sacrifices to their gods, they would sprinkle holy water on the altar three times, they would then sprinkle the people three times also. Frankincense was then taken with three fingers and strewed upon the alter three times. All of this was done because the oracle had proclaimed that all sacred things ought to be in threes. Remember that the philosophy of these people (The Greeks) is what was primarily responsible for defining the Christian “Trinitarian” nature of God. This was done through the writings of the Greek philosopher Plato regarding his “Logos” (“word”). Further, remember that the Gospels of the Bible were named the “Greek Gospels” for a reason: they were written in their language and based upon their philosophy.

As mentioned previously, T. W. Doane says:

“The works of Plato were extensively studied by the Church Fathers, one of whom joyfully recognizes in the great teacher, the schoolmaster who, in the fullness of time, was destined to educate the heathen for Christ, as Moses did the Jews. The celebrated passage: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word Was God” is a fragment of some Pagan treatise on the Platonic philosophy, evidently written by Irenaeus. It is quoted by Amelius, a Pagan philosopher as strictly applicable to the Logos, or Mercury, the Word, apparently as an honorable testimony borne to the Pagan deity by a barbarian……..We see then that the title “Word” or “Logos,” being applied to Jesus, is another piece of Pagan amalgamation with Christianity. It did not receive its authorized Christian form until the middle of the second century after Christ. The ancient pagan Romans worshipped a Trinity. An oracle is said to have declared that there was ‘First God, then the Word, and with them the Spirit’. Here we see the distinctly enumerated, God, the Logos, and the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost, in ancient Rome, where the most celebrated temple of this capital – that of Jupiter Capitolinus – was dedicated to three deities, which three deities were honored with joint worship.”

Bible Myths and their parallels in other religions, pp. 375-376.

Trinities were not confined to these groups alone, but the Persians, the Assyrians, the Phoenicians, the Scandinavians, the Druids, the inhabitants of Siberia, the ancient Mexicans, the Peruvians, and many others, all worshipped “Trinitarian” pagan deities (among a great multitude of other gods) long before the council of Nicea of 325 C.E. officially recognized this to be God’s “true” nature.

Christmas:

Let us now move on to the “birthday of Jesus,” Christmas. Jesus is commonly considered to have been born on the 25th of December. However, it is common knowledge among Christian scholars that he was not born on this day. It is well known that the first Christian churches held their festival in May, April, or January. Scholars of the first two centuries C.E. even differ in which year he was born. Some believing that he was born fully twenty years before the current accepted date. So how was the 25th of December selected as the birthday of Jesus?

Grolier’s encyclopaedia says:

“Christmas is the feast of the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated on December 25…. Despite the beliefs about Christ that the birth stories expressed, the church did not observe a festival for the celebration of the event until the 4th century…. since 274, under the emperor Aurelian, Rome had celebrated the feast of the “Invincible Sun” on December 25. In the Eastern Church, January 6, a day also associated with the winter solstice, was initially preferred. In course of time, however, the West added the Eastern date as the feast of the Epiphany, and the East added the Western date of Christmas.”

So, who else celebrated the 25th of December as the birth day of their gods before it was agreed upon as the birth day of Jesus? Well, there are the people of India who rejoice, decorate their houses with garlands, and give presents to their friends on this day. The people of China also celebrate this day and close their shops. The pagan god Buddha is believed to have been born on this day when the “Holy Ghost” descended on his virgin mother Maya. The great savior and god of the Persians, Mithras, is also believed to have been born on the 25th of December long before the coming of Jesus. The Egyptians celebrated this day as the birth day of their great savior Horus, the Egyptian god of light and the son of the “virgin mother” and “queen of the heavens” Isis. Osiris, god of the dead and the underworld in Egypt, the son of “the holy virgin,” again was believed to have been born on the 25th of December.

The Greeks celebrated the 25th of December as the birthday of Hercules, the son of the supreme god of the Greeks, Zeus, through the mortal woman Alcmene. Bacchus, the god of wine and revelry among the Romans (known among the Greeks as Dionysus) was also born on this day.

Adonis, revered as a “dying-and-rising god” among the Greeks, miraculously was also born on the 25th of December. His worshipers held him a yearly festival representing his death and resurrection, in midsummer. The ceremonies of his birth day are recorded to have taken place in the same cave in Bethlehem which is claimed to have been the birth place of Jesus.

The Scandinavians celebrated the 25th of December as the birth day of their god Freyr, the son of their supreme god of the heavens, Odin.

The Romans observed this day as the birth day of the god of the sun, Natalis Solis Invicti (“Birthday of Sol the invincible”). There was great rejoicing and all shops were closed. There was illumination and public games. Presents were exchanged, and the slaves were indulged in great liberties. Remember, these are the same Romans who would later preside over the council of Nicea (325 C.E.) which lead to the official Christian recognition of the “Trinity” as the “true” nature of God, and the “fact” that Jesus was born on the 25th of December too. The pagan emperor Constantine, who presided over the council of Nicea, was popularly considered the “embodiment” or “incarnation” of the supreme Roman “Sun” god. Neither was Constantine the first Roman emperor to be given this title, rather, many or his predecessors before him were also promoted to the status of the “incarnation” of the god of the sun.

Edward Gibbon says:

“The Roman Christians, ignorant of his (Christ’s) birth, fixed the solemn festival to the 25th of December, the Brumalia, or Winter Solstice, when the Pagans annually celebrated the birth of Sol”

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. ii, Gibbon, p. 383.

Christmas festivals today incorporate many other pagan customs, such as the use of holly, mistletoe, Yule logs, and wassail bowls. The Christmas tree itself is the most obvious aspect of ancient pagan celebrations which were later incorporated into church rites. Scholars believe that the Christian celebration was originally derived in part from rites held by pre-Christian Germanic and Celtic peoples to celebrate the winter solstice. The Christmas tree, an evergreen trimmed with lights and other decorations, because it keeps its green needles throughout the winter months, was believed by pre-Christian pagans to have special powers of protection against the forces of nature and evil spirits. The end of December marked the onset of a visible lengthening of daylight hours – the return of warmth and light and defeat of those evil forces of cold and darkness. The Christmas tree is derived from the so-called paradise tree, symbolizing Eden, of German mystery plays. The use of a Christmas tree began early in the 17th century, in Strasbourg, France, spreading from there through Germany, into northern Europe and Great Britain, and then on to the United States.

Christmas is not the only Christian festival which was borrowed from ancient paganism and foisted upon the religion of Jesus. There is also Easter, the Feast of St. John, the Holy communion, the Annunciation of the virgin, the assumption of the virgin, and many others have their roots in ancient pagan worship. Since we cannot get into the details here, therefore, the interested reader is encouraged to consult the above books.

Many people object to people who advise them not to introduce new and innovative practices into their religion, even if they were only to be festivals and celebrations. They object “what could it hurt if I were to worship God and thank Him for his blessings on this day when pagans performed their worship? I am not worshipping idols.” For this we only need to read the very explicit prohibition of God in this regard which He Himself emphatically declared in the Bible:

“Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them (pagans), after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.  (Deuteronomy 12:30)”

There is a good reason why God commands us to do things. Just because we do not know the wisdom behind a prohibition does not give us the freedom to disregard it. Indeed, it is exactly such willingness to “adapt” and “compromise” which eventually lead to the loss of the message of Jesus.

General similarities with paganism:

As we have seen, the common thread among most of these pagan sects is their worship of the sun as their deity and their selection of the winter solstice (25th of December) as the time of the birth of their supreme god. The winter solstice is the time of year when the sun would reach its last stage of decline and once again begin to rise and become “re-born.” This rise would continue until day and night become equal in length. At this point, the god of the sun would appear to be at a stand off with the “prince of darkness.” This would occur at the vernal equinox, or Easter. This situation, however, would not last for long, as the god of the sun would triumph after Easter, and days would become longer than nights.

We notice that the church too received divine “inspiration” that Jesus   was born on the 25th of December, and also that he too “triumphed over the prince of darkness” on Easter day, just as the pagan gods of the Greeks and Romans had done centuries before. Let us have a brief look at the popular beliefs of the pagan Gentiles who would later take it upon themselves to spread “Jesus'” religion to the world:

Attis:

The pagan god Attis was the son of the virgin Nana. He was the “savior” and “only begotten son.” His blood was believed to have renewed the fertility of the earth. As such, he was a symbol of immortality. He was believed to have died on March 24th and been resurrected shortly thereafter. Sacramental meals and baptism of blood were features of his church.

Adonis or Tammuz:

He was born of a virgin and was the “savior” of Syria. He died in redemption for mankind and was later resurrected in the spring.

Dionysus or Bacchus:

He was the “only begotten son” of Jupiter, the king of the gods of the Romans and the lord of life and death (For the Greeks, his father was the almighty Zeus). He was named the god of wine and revelry. Dionysus died at the hands of the Titans, who tore him apart, roasted the pieces, and began to eat them. At that point Zeus intervened, saved some of the pieces, and had Apollo bury them at Delphi. There, it was believed, Dionysus arose from the dead He said to mankind “It is I who guide you; it is I who protect you, and who save you; I am Alpha and Omega.” He was slain for redeeming humanity and was called “the slain one,” “the sin bearer,” and “the redeemer.” In celebrating his festival, his worshippers would observe the sparagmos: the tearing apart of a live animal, the eating of its flesh, and the drinking of its blood; participants believed they were in fact partaking of the god’s body and blood. Plays were also staged at these festivals. Wine had a central place at his festivals. Does any of this sound familiar?

Bel or Baal:

He was the sun god of Babylon. The story of his life and his passion play bears a tremendous resemblance to that given to Jesus in our current Gospels. Called the lord of the universe, he was killed by monsters but restored to life. His death and resurrection were celebrated annually as a part of Canaanite fertility rituals.

Osiris:

He was the Egyptian’s god of the dead and the underworld, born of the “virgin of the world” on the 29th of December. He preached gentleness and peace. Wine and corn were both his discoveries. He was betrayed by Typhen, slain and dismembered. He remained in hell for two or three days and three nights. He would be the judge of mankind in a future life.

Mithras or Mithra

He was the sun god of the Persians and the son of a virgin. He was born on the 25th of December. Christmas and Easter were two of the most important festivals of his church. His worshipers observed baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist supper at which time they would partake of their “god” in the form of bread and wine.

Krishna:

The Indian god Krishna too bears a tremendous resemblance to Jesus in the story of his mission and his divinity. He was the incarnation of the Indian’s supreme god Vishnu (the preserver and protector of the world) in the womb of Devaki. The Hindoo prophet Bala predicted that a divine Savior would “become incarnate in the house of Yadu, and issue forth to mortal birth from the womb of Devaci (a Holy Virgin), and relieve the oppressed earth of its load of sin and sorrow.” Upon Krishna’s birth, a great chorus of angles proclaimed “In the delivery of this favored woman, nature shall have cause to exalt.” His birth was indicated by a star in heaven. Although of royal blood, he was born in a cave. He was presented with gifts of sandalwood and perfumes. His foster father was told to flee and hide him lest king Kansa might take his life. King Kansa had ordered all male infants born on that night to be slain. One of his first miracles was the healing of a leper. He was later slain and this resulted in an eclipse of the sun and a black circle forming around the moon. Spirits were seen on all sides and he descended into hell, rose again, and ascended into heaven with many people being witnesses to his bodily accent. He will have a “second coming” in the future which his followers continue await. There are countless other similarities with what is known today as “Christianity” even though his religion was well establish centuries before the birth of Jesus. The accounts of Krishna’s childhood agree quite closely with the apocryphal accounts of Jesus’ childhood. In the ancient epic poems, Krishna is simply regarded as a great hero, it was not until about the 4th century BC that he was elevated to the position of a god.

Buddha:

Both books mentioned above have compiled a very detailed comparison of the legends of both Jesus  and Buddha. The similarities are astounding. T.W. Doane has gone so far as to dedicate an entire chapter to this comparison, including a 48 point side-by-side narration from the time of their birth till the end of their lives on earth. Their conception, birth, mission, miracles, temptation, preaching, worship, prophesies, death, ascension, divinity, judgment of mankind, and many other matters are almost word-for-word exact copies of one another. Dr. Ansari records in his book the following words of the eminent Christian scholar S. M. Melamed:

“Yet the fact remains that Buddhist canons were already known to the Western world before the coming of Jesus. Today hardly any Indologist of note denies the organic connection between the two redemptive religions. So close is the connection between them that even the details of the miracles recorded between Buddhism and Christianity are the same. Of Buddha, too, it was told that he fed five hundred men with one loaf of bread, that he cured lepers and caused the blind to see.”

As far back as 1884, a German historian of religion by the name of Rudolph Seydel published a very detailed study demonstrating that all of the tales, miracles, similes, and proverbs of the Christian Bible have their counterparts in the much more ancient Buddhastic gospel.

The author of “Bible Myths” observes that even though Buddha has been elevated today to the position of God, still, Mr. Doane observes that

“There is no reason to believe that he ever arrogated to himself any higher authority than that of a teacher of religion, but as in modern factions, there were readily found among his followers those who carried his peculiar tenets much further than their founder. These, not content with lauding during his life-time the noble deeds of their teacher, exalted him, within a quarter of a century after his death to a place among their deities – worshipping as a god one they had known only as a simple hearted, earnest, truth-seeking philanthropist.”

Once again, this conforms exactly to the claim of the Qur’an that God was selecting prophets from every nation on earth (not just the Jews) and sending them to their people (and only to their people) to return them to the true worship of God alone, and that after their departure, their followers would not be content with themselves until they had managed to totally corrupt what their prophet had come to preach to them and even to go so far as to make this prophet himself the object of their pagan worship (see the Qur’an, Fatir (35):24).

Does this mean that Buddha was a true prophet of God? Only God Almighty Himself knows the answer to that question. However, it does appear that there at least exists the possibility that he might have been one of those many thousands of prophets and that his message may have started out as a true message of God which was later changed by mankind.

Christian scholars today readily recognize the fact that for the first three decades C.E., “Christianity” remained a sect within Judaism and that the first fifteen Bishops of Christianity were circumcised Jews who worshipped in the synagogues of the Jews. We have seen how it was only after the introduction of Christianity to the Romans and the official “guardianship” of the Roman empire of the religion of Jesus that it began to see many of the “truths” of the mission of Jesus which were hidden from the very first apostles of Jesus. We have seen how the “Trinity,” the birth of Jesus  on the 25th of December, the Easter festival and many other founding doctrines of Christianity were not recognized to be the “truth” until after the religion of Jesus  was adopted by those people who for many centuries before that had been spoon fed the doctrines of “Trinity,” “savior from sin,” “incarnation of the Almighty,” “death and resurrection,” Christmas and Easter, “three days and three nights in hell,” “only begotten of the almighty,” “killed by the enemy,” and many other matters which were later “inspired” to them by God in order to be “clarified” in the Bible so that they could be seen clearly.

Sadly enough, once all of this detailed evidence has been presented by Western scholars in support of the fact that all of these matters were acts of pagan worship and belief centuries before the coming of Jesus, even with all of this, the adamant orthodox will ever manage to find a way out. “It is quite simple really,” they will explain, “All of these countless pagan cults from all over the earth must have had prior knowledge of the coming of Jesus and inserted the story of his life into pagan mythology centuries before his actual arrival.”

The great and elect messenger of Allah, Jesus the son of Mary (peace be upon them both), is innocent of these pagan innovations which have been foisted upon him after his departure by those who did not fear God. He was a true messenger of God and would never dare to say otherwise. God is One. Period!. He is indivisible and inseparable. There is no God but He. He has no sons nor any equal. He does not hold mankind responsible for the sin of others, but only for their own worship. And God alone shall be the final judge of all of mankind on the Day of Judgment.

There are many other parallels that could be brought up in this comparison. However, we cannot get into the details here, therefore, it shall be left up to the interested reader to read about them in the books mentioned above, or in the book “Mohammed A Prophesy Fulfilled,” by H. Abdul Al-Dahir, which I recommend highly.

Many Christians today try to deny the compromises. For a detailed examination I recommend those who seek the truth to visit

Christianity and Hindu Influence

Can Christainity Really Have a Hindu Heritage?

The Forgotten And Constantly Denied Source

16 Of The World’s Crucified Saviors

Odin

Odin is the chief god of Norse mythology. Odin sacrificed himself on a tree to attain greater wisdom.

Krishna, also called Chrishna, is an avatar of Vishnu. Vishnu is the second person of the Hindu trinity, and an avatar is a god incarnated as a man. There are numerous parallels between the Gospels and the myths about Krishna. The myths about Krishna may be one of the biggest sources Xtianity.

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The Race of Life

The Race of Life

The Race of Life

The Race of LifeThe world of the First Century, when the New Testament was written, was in many ways very much like today’s world. For example, people loved to watch athletics and First Century athletes were stars, just like today!

Bible writers often used pictures from everyday life that were designed to catch the attention and make their readers think. One of the pictures that’s often used is the picture of life as a race.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (1 Corinthians 9:24–25).

When the apostle Paul wrote those words to the Christians in the city of Corinth, he was probably thinking of the Isthmian Games, one of the most important athletic events in the ancient world which was held in Corinth. Paul is telling his fellow Christians – you should take your race of life every bit as seriously as the athlete who trains hard and gives everything, he’s got to achieve that moment of glory.

In Greek athletics the winner was often crowned with a wreath made of laurel leaves – to the athlete this was the supreme accolade, but it only lasted a few days before it started to fade. Whether it’s a laurel wreath or a gold medal, sooner or later the glory will fade and be forgotten. But the prize for the Christian is eternal life in God’s Kingdom!

Race Already Won!

Athlets Ready to RaceLet’s face it, there are some of us who are athletic and others who just aren’t.

There are some who are competitive, and some who aren’t. This is where the race of life is different from athletics – the race of life is open to everyone, and it’s a race everyone can win! Why? Because the race has already been won.

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).

The Lord Jesus Christ gave his life as a perfect sacrifice. God raised him to life again, and he now lives for ever. He has won the race of life. It’s something nobody else could have done – nobody else was good enough.

The brilliant thing is, Jesus Christ wants to share his victory with you and me! It’s not a race we would ever win by our own strength or skill, but it’s a race we will win if we follow him faithfully.

In It for the Long Term

The Greek games were held in a stadium. As the athletes ran, the crowds would be around them cheering, and often the winner’s wreath was fixed to the finishing post to spur them on. This image of the race is used in the Letter to the Hebrews.

In chapter 11, the writer gives a list of many great faithful men and women of old who ran the race of faith; and at the beginning of chapter 12 he says, think of it as though all those great men and women are now a crowd in a stadium, cheering you on as you run!

He says, get rid of anything that weighs you down – you wouldn’t run a race with bricks in your pocket, just so you need to get rid of the bad things from your life so you can run unhindered – and look to the prize, which is Jesus, who has already run and already won.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1–2).

Following the Rules

“If anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5).

It stands to reason – there have to be rules in any sport, to ensure it is safe and everyone is competing on level terms. If you disobey the rules you’re disqualified, that’s only fair.

The race of life is like that: God has set certain rules that He wants us to follow. He’s shown us what they are in the Bible.

Some people want to live their lives their own way. That’s up to them, but if you enter a race and run in the wrong direction you’re not going to win!

Discipline

Whether it’s a 100-metre sprint, a marathon or a boat race, the athlete needs discipline. If you want to succeed you have to be single-minded, train hard, get yourself in top condition, get your attitude right.

Being a ‘disciple’ of Jesus is very much like that – a ‘disciple’ is someone who follows a ‘discipline’.

The Christian’s discipline isn’t physical, but spiritual. This is how the apostle Paul put it:

“Bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

Winning Together

The race track is a lonely place when it’s you versus everyone else – but in the race of life you’re running together.

In his letter to the Christians in the city of Philippi, Paul told them to ‘stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel’ (Philippians 1:27).

Paul wrote his letters in Greek. When he said ‘striving together’ he combined two Greek words – ‘sun-athleo’.

This must have sounded odd to his readers, because ‘athleo’ means ‘to strive to win’, the word describes the single-minded pursuit of being the best and beating the rest; ‘sun’ means ‘together’.

So he’s telling the Christians, ‘Put everything you’ve got into winning this race with all the focus and dedication of the athlete who wants to be the best – and help each other so you can all win together!’

The End of the Race

Crossing the Finish LineIt’s thought that Paul’s second letter to Timothy was written while he was in prison in Rome, awaiting execution. In the last chapter he talks about his impending death:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7–8).

Here’s a man who has run the race well, and now has the end in view. The end of Paul’s life is not going to be a tragedy – it’s going to be a triumph!

Top class athletics is only for an elite few. They are people of special ability who push themselves to the limit to achieve their moment of glory. But it is only a brief moment, and the glory will be forgotten sooner or later. The race of life, on the other hand, is open to everyone – and the prize is eternal glory.

By Chris Parkin

The Real Jesus

THE REAL JESUS

THE REAL JESUS

The Real JesusTrue Christian faith is centred around the work of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. His life, death and resurrection form the basis for God’s plan of salvation.

It is vital to understand the real reason for Jesus Christ, his true status as Son of God and how we can benefit from his work. Jesus prayed to His Father just before his cruel death:

“This is eternal life, that they (true believers) may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

The Virgin Birth

Over 2000 years ago the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with this message:

“You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest…Then Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I do not know a man? [i.e. she was a virgin]. And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:31-35).

Through the Holy Spirit (God’s breath/power) acting upon her, Mary conceived Jesus while still a virgin. Thus Joseph was not the true father of Jesus. Without the Holy Spirit acting upon the womb of Mary, Jesus, the Son of God, could not have come into existence.

Jesus was “begotten” by God (John 3:16), rather than created as Adam was originally. This explains the closeness of God’s association with Jesus and also helps explain his natural aptitude for the ways of God his Father.

Christ’s Place In God’s Plan

God had a complete plan formulated right from the beginning of creation (John 1:1). His desire to have a Son was in His plan from the beginning. The Old Testament reveals different aspects of God’s plan of salvation in Christ; from the promises to the Jewish fathers, to the prophecies of the prophets and the types of the Law of Moses.

Christ existed in God’s mind and purpose from the beginning, although he only came into existence physically through his birth of Mary.

Hebrews 1:4-7, 13,14, stress that Christ was not an angel; whilst in his mortal life he was less than angels (Hebrews 2:7), he was exalted to a far greater honour than them seeing he was God’s “only begotten Son” (John 3:16). The Apostle Peter sums up the position:

Christ “was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times” (1 Peter 1:20).

Jesus was the central pivot of the Gospel:

God “had promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:1-4).

This summarizes the history of Christ:

  • Promised in the Old Testament – i.e. in God’s plan;
  • Created as a physical person through the virgin birth, as a seed of David;
  • Due to his perfect character (“the spirit of holiness”), shown during his mortal life He was resurrected;
  • Publicly declared to be the Son of God by the apostles’ spirit-gifted preaching.

The Foreknowledge Of God

God has complete ‘foreknowledge’. We will be greatly helped in appreciating how fully Christ was in God’s mind at the beginning, while not physically existing, if we can come to terms with the fact that God knows all things which will occur in the ‘future’. God can therefore speak and think about things which do not exist, as though they do:

God “calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Romans 4:17).

He declares “the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Isaiah 46:10).

Because of this, God can speak of the dead as if they are alive, and can speak of men as if they were alive before birth.

The “counsel”, or word of God, had prophesied Christ from the beginning; he was always in God’s purpose or “pleasure”. It was therefore certain that at some time Christ would be physically born; God would fulfil His stated purpose in Christ.

Biblical Hebrew has a ‘prophetic perfect’ tense, which uses the past tense to describe future things which God has promised. Thus David said, “This is the house of the Lord God” (1 Chronicles 22:1), when as yet the temple was only promised by God.

Scripture abounds with examples of God’s foreknowledge. God was so certain that He would fulfil the promises to Abraham, that He told him: “To your descendants I have given this land…” (Genesis 15:18) at a time when Abraham did not even have descendants (see also Genesis 17:5).

Christ was spoken of as existing from the beginning in God’s mind and plan, although physically he could not have done so. He was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Jesus did not die then literally; he was the “Lamb of God” sacrificed about 4,000 years later on the cross (John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7).

In the same way as Jesus was chosen from the beginning (1 Peter 1:20), so were the believers (Ephesians 1:4; the same Greek word for “chosen” is used in these verses).

We cannot easily imagine how God operates outside of the concept of time. ‘Faith’ is the ability to look at things from God’s viewpoint, without the constraints of time.

Differences Between God And Jesus

There is a fine balance to be drawn between those passages which emphasize the degree to which “God was in Christ” (eg. 2 Corinthians 5:19), and those which highlight his humanity. The latter group of passages makes it impossible to justify from the Bible the idea that Jesus is God Himself.

One of the clearest summaries of the relationship between God and Jesus is found in 1 Tim. 2:5:

“There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

Reflection upon the highlighted words leads to the following conclusions:

  • The Father is God. (1 Corinthians 8:6, Isaiah 63:16; 64:8).
  • In addition to this one God, there is the mediator, the man Christ Jesus – “…and one mediator…”, indicating a difference between Christ and God.
  • “Mediator” means that Christ is a go-between. A mediator between sinful man and sinless God cannot be sinless God Himself; it had to be a sinless man, of sinful human nature – “the man Christ Jesus”.

The Nature of Jesus

The word ‘nature’ refers to what we naturally, fundamentally are. The Bible speaks of only two natures – that of God, and that of man. By nature God cannot die, be tempted etc. Christ was not of God’s nature during his life, he was totally of human nature. It was vital that Christ was tempted like us (Hebrews 4:15), so that through his perfect overcoming of temptation he could gain forgiveness for us.

The wrong desires, which are the basis of our temptations, come from within us (Mark 7:15-23), from within our human nature (James 1:13-15). It was necessary, therefore, that Christ should be of human nature so that he could experience and overcome these temptations:

“As the children (us) are partakers of flesh and blood (human nature), he (Christ) also himself likewise took part (i.e. “partook”, R.S.V.) of the same (nature); that through death he might destroy…the devil…For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the (nature of the) seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest… to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted”(Hebrews 2:14-18 K.J.V.).

This passage emphasises the fact that Jesus had human nature: “He also himself likewise” partook of it (Hebrews 2:14). This phrase uses three words all with the same meaning, just to drive the point home. Christ was the seed of Abraham (2:16), who had come to bring salvation for believers. In every way he had “to be made like unto his brethren” (2:17) so that God could grant us forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice.

Forgiveness

Whenever baptized believers sin, they can come to God, confessing their sin in prayer through Christ (1 John 1:9); God is aware that Christ was tempted to sin exactly as they are, but that he was perfect, overcoming that very temptation which they fail. Because of this, “God for Christ’s sake” can forgive us (Ephesians 4:32 KJV):

“God. by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3).

“Sin” refers to the natural proneness to sin which we have by nature. We continue to sin, and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). To get out of this predicament, man needed help. God therefore intervened and gave us His own Son, who had our “sinful flesh”, with all the promptings to sin which we have. Unlike every other man, Christ overcame every temptation.

The Humanity Of Jesus

The Gospel records show how completely Jesus had human nature. He was weary, and had to sit down to drink from a well (John 4:6). “Jesus wept” at the death of Lazarus (John 11:35). Most supremely, the record of his final sufferings should be proof enough of his humanity: “Now my soul is troubled”, he admitted as he prayed for God to save him from having to go through with his death on the cross (John 12:27). He “prayed, saying, O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup (of suffering and death) pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).

From childhood “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature (i.e. spiritual maturity, cp. Ephesians 4:13), and in favour with God and men” (Luke 2:52, see also 2:40). This shows Christ’s physical growth as being parallel to his spiritual development.

Obedience to God’s will is something which we can all learn over a period of time. Christ also had to go through this process of learning obedience to his Father:

“Though he was a Son, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered. and having been perfected [i.e. spiritually mature], he became the author of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:8,9; see also Phil. 2:7,8).

Jesus had to make a conscious, personal effort to be righteous; he was not forced by God, which would have resulted in him being a mere puppet. Jesus truly loved us, and gave his life on the cross from this motive. The constant emphasis upon the love of Christ for us would be hollow if God forced him to die on the cross (Ephesians 5:2,25; Revelation 1:5; Galatians 2:20). That Jesus did have the option whether to obey or not, makes us able to appreciate his love, and to form a personal relationship with him.

It was because of Christ’s willingness to voluntarily give his life, that God was so delighted with him:

“Therefore my Father loves me, because I lay down my life. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself” (John 10:17,18).

What Does This Mean For Me?

Salvation depends upon a correct understanding of the real Jesus Christ (John 3:36; 6:53; 17:3). Once we have come to this true understanding of his conquest of sin and death, we can be baptized into him in order to share in this salvation.

The Lord Jesus can become real to us in our common, everyday lives because He too faced the temptations we face. We can really believe that forgiveness is possible through the work of such a representative; his example can be a living inspiration to rise above our lower nature.

Appreciating the doctrines of salvation through Christ enables us to pray acceptably; “we have boldness and access with confidence by the Faith”- not just ‘by faith’, but as a result of the Faith (Ephesians 3:12 KJV). After being baptized into Christ we can come boldly before God’s throne in prayer, with a true heart and clear conscience (Hebrews 4:16).

This “boldness” will be reflected in our being ‘bold’ in our witness (2 Corinthians 3:12; 7:4). ‘Boldness’ characterized the early church (Acts 4:13,29,31; Philippians 1:20).

God existed from infinity, and yet only 2,000 years ago He gave His only and His begotten Son. And that Son was a human being in order to save humans – only a few million of us (if that), who lived in a 6,000-year time span. That the only Son of God should die for a very few of us here, we who crawl on the surface of this tiny planet for such a fleeting moment of time, is wondrous indeed.

Christ died so that God could work out our salvation. The love of God for us is likened to a young man marrying a virgin (Isaiah 62:5) with all the intensity and joyful expectation and lack of disillusion. And more than this. Jesus Christ died for you, in the shameful way that He did. When this is fully appreciated we are left in total wonder and gratitude of God’s love.

The Trinity – Unscriptural

The Bible’s clear teaching about Christ gives no support for the doctrine of the Trinity (symbolised in the photo on the right). Consider the following:

  • Luke 1:31-35: Jesus would be the Son of God. Note the many future tenses in these verses. Jesus did not pre-exist before his birth of Mary.
  • John 3:16: Jesus was the “only begotten Son” of God. He ‘began’ when he was ‘conceived’ (idea of beginning, Luke 1:31) in Mary’s womb. If Jesus was begotten by God, then his Father is older than he – God has no beginning (Psalms 90:2) and therefore Jesus cannot be God Himself.
  • Mary is described in the Gospels as Christ’s “mother”. Jesus did not exist before his birth of Mary.
  • The word ‘Trinity’ never occurs in the Bible.
  • 1 Tim. 2:5: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”. (see also 1 Corinthians 8:6; Isaiah 63:16; 64:8).
  • “God is not a man” (Numbers 23:19; Hosea 11:9); yet Christ was “the son of man”.
  • Christ is “the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:32). God only has ultimate highness; Jesus as “the Son of the Highest” cannot have been God Himself in person.
  • The language of Father and Son, used about God and Jesus, shows they are not the same. A son may have certain similarities to his father, but cannot be one and the same person.

There are a number of obvious differences between God and Jesus, which clearly show that Jesus was not God himself:

GodJesus
“God cannot be tempted” (James 1:13).Christ “was in all points tempted as we are” (Hebrews 4:15).
God cannot die – He is immortal by nature (Psalms 90:2; 1 Timothy 6:16).Christ died for three days (Matthew 12:40; 16:21).
God cannot be seen by men (1 Timothy 6:16; Exodus 33:20).Men saw Jesus and handled him (1 John 1:1 emphasizes this).

Other Points to consider are as follows:

  • Jesus was “made like his brethren” (Hebrews 2:17) so that God could grant us forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice. To say that Jesus was not totally of human nature denies the good news of Christ.
  • In some ways Christ’s ‘will’, or desires, was different from that of God (Matthew 26:39; John 5:30)
  • From childhood “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men” (Luke 2:52). This would not be possible if Jesus was ‘God the Son’.
  • Christ did not know the exact time of his second coming, although the Father did (Mark 13:32).
  • God was pleased with Christ’s willing obedience which is hard to understand if Jesus was God, living out a life in human form as some kind of tokenistic association with sinful man (Matthew 3:17; 12:18; 17:5).

Personal Testimony 1

I was a Roman Catholic. The stuff about Mary was of course a big thing for me when I first started looking into my faith deeply. I read the sections about the trinity etc. in Bible Basics. It all worried me. I spoke to my priest but frankly he wasn’t bothered explaining anything to me. I concluded that if Mary was not of ordinary human nature then Christ could not have been both “son of man” (because he was born of Mary) and “son of God” (because of God’s action on Mary through the Holy Spirit). So, she just had to have been an ordinary woman. The fact that Christ had human nature (see Hebrews 2:14-18; Romans 8:3) means that his mother must have had it too, seeing his Father did not have it (consider Job 14:4; 15:14; 25:4). Once I gave up on the idea of Mary being a super-human woman, all the rest of it became easier, and I was soon baptized.

Personal Testimony 2

As an atheist it didn’t bother me at all when I became interested in the Bible and learnt that there is only one God. It was just obvious to me that God can’t be one and also a trinity. I now realize there are some verses in the Bible hard to understand about the extent to which Jesus revealed God to us. But it seems to me obvious that if there is one God, the Father, then Jesus cannot also be God. I have said this to many people and many seem to want to turn it all into a mystery. OK I know we don’t know everything about God. But on the other hand surely we can be clear about some really basic things, like how many Gods there are. Otherwise we can know nothing at all and one may as well return to atheism.

Personal Testimony 3

As a Muslim I had always grown up believing that there was one God, but that Jesus was just another prophet. Yet I was disappointed with my life, I sinned a lot and I felt this need to get right with God. There was nothing in Islam that offered this. So one day I decided to reply to a leaflet I had been given on the street and had kept in my wallet. They sent me the book Bible Basics. Much of it was strange to me at first. But what I was amazed to find out was that these people didn’t believe Jesus was God Himself. I thought all Christians believed that, and it was a pleasant surprise to see that not all of them do.

What was hard for me, though, was to realize that Jesus was not just an ordinary man, but He never sinned, and was the Son of God. In my background, sin wasn’t seen as important or serious. But it was serious to me. So this idea of a man who never sinned and only on that basis was my saviour, this appealed to me and fascinated me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized why He was so highly rewarded by God and why He is written of in the Bible in such high language, even though He isn’t God Himself. And when I finally realized that He really did die for me, it became very clear to me that I must personally associate myself with Him through baptism. So this is what I did and I have never looked back, despite all the problems my decision has brought me.

The Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life

The Meaning of LifeThroughout time, men and women have asked the big question:

   What is this life all about?

  ❖  Is there a purpose or meaning to it?

To answer these questions, we can turn to the Bible message and see that it is still relevant to us living in the 21st century. We will look at what the Bible tells us about the meaning of life, then go on to consider the Bible message to us personally.

We will consider the meaning of life in three sections:

❖  Where did we come from?

❖  What is life all about?

❖  Where are we going?

Then we shall look further at God’s plan and the promises which He has made.

Where Did We Come From?

Where did we come from?We were put here by a power greater than ourselves, by the unchanging Creator. The natural laws which govern our world do not change and those same constant laws apply outside of Earth. This indicates that the same power is in control throughout the universe.

The Bible tells us in Genesis 1 that God is that power, He created our world and keeps it going. In Malachi 3:6 we read that God is constant: For I am the Lord, I do not change.

Because our Creator does not change, His message does not change either.

This is crucial when we are thinking of the vital issues of life and death:

“You are God, and your words are true” (2 Samuel 7:28).

“Not only that, but God will bless those who read His word and try to follow it:

Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord!

Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart” (Psalm 119:12).

What is Life All About?

The Bible shows that our Creator is concerned about us; in fact, God’s care for us is seen all through the Bible. He assures us that the natural cycles which support our lives will continue.

He told Noah after the flood:

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).

God wants us to reflect His care, and the apostle John told us that we should show God’s love to others:

And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also (1 John 4:21).

God also cares about our future and He offers us life after death, through the work of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is summarized by what is perhaps the best-known verse of the Bible:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

This can give us a real hope for the future, whatever our present problems.

Jesus Christ promised that those who believe in him will be given endless life:

“And this is the will of Him who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).

The problems of lifeThe problems we encounter can make our lives very difficult. Sometimes, however, they can serve to make us think about our long–term future.

In Jesus’ day, a tower in Jerusalem fell and killed eighteen people. Jesus said that we should take notice and understand that without a part in God’s plan, when we die that will be the end of us (see Luke 13:4–5). We are also given good advice on this in the Old Testament.

Proverbs 16:25 tells us that only those who respect God have any hope for the future, and we should not rely on our own ideas:

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

Where are We Going?

God’s plan is for a peaceful worldwide kingdom. Throughout the Bible, many verses talk of a future world order, ruled over by Jesus Christ, which will be very different from today’s fractured experience. Here is just one example:

“Give the king your judgments, O God, and your righteousness to the king’s Son. He will judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice… In his days the righteous shall flourish, and abundance of peace until the moon is no more… There will be an abundance of grain in the earth…” (Psalm 72:1, 2, 7, 16).

True Believers Will Live ForeverThe Bible tells us that some people will be raised from the grave and given Endless life when Jesus returns to the earth to establish this kingdom:

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

God plans to fill the earth with those who respect Him, so we can be involved in this peaceful worldwide kingdom on earth, and even help in solving the world’s problems:

“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection… They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).

Bible Promises

We shall now look at the Bible message and what it should mean to us personally. This is the good news, the Gospel. Early on in the Bible we read of the promises that God made to Abram (later called Abraham), the father of the Jews.

“Now the Lord had said to Abram: “… I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:13).

God makes it clear right at the start that everyone can be involved in the blessings on Abraham’s descendants.

The rest of the Bible is the account of how God works out this promise. Now, through Abraham’s son Isaac, the Jews are his natural descendants. How then can all nations be blessed with Abraham? We find the answer in the New Testament, in the letter that the apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Galatia, an area of modern Turkey. He explains that Jesus Christ is the particular descendant who would bring blessings on all nations:

“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your seed,” who is Christ” (Galatians 3:16).

This shows that it is through Jesus Christ that all nations can be involved in the promises made to Abraham.

Both Jesus and the apostle Paul confirm the Jewish connection with God’s plan:

❖ Jesus said in John 4:22: “Salvation is of the Jews”.

❖ Paul wrote in Acts 28:20: “…for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain”.

Our Part in this Plan

In Galatians chapter 3, Paul also explains how we can be involved in God’s plan:

“[God]… preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham” (Galatians 3:89).

We join God and His Plan through BaptismSo it is those who believe and have faith in God’s promises who will be involved in His plan. When we have that faith, then we need to be baptized to demonstrate our trust and commitment:

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:27–29).

So by having faith in God’s word, being baptized and living as God asks mankind to do, people from any and all nations can be involved in the promises that God made to Abraham and his descendants.

Think about that for a moment. If we are part of God’s plan, we have the hope of being raised from the dead when Jesus returns, and to live for ever in a perfect world – that really is a hope which can give our life meaning!

By Lawrence Cave

The Logic of Faith

The LOGIC of Faith

The LOGIC of Faith

The LOGIC of Faith – The Inspiration of Scripture

The Logic of FaithInspiration
The Evidence of Peter
The Evidence of the Prophets
How God revealed Himself through Prophets
Balaam – Jeremiah – Amos
Visions and Events
Style
Conclusion

Inspiration
To anyone studying the Bible it is of vital importance to know where the ideas in the Bible came from. If they are merely the opinions of ancient clerics then they are of historical interest but there is no need to take them especially seriously today. If, on the other hand, they represent the words of a higher authority, then they provide a guide to life that must not be ignored.

The Bible makes claims for itself. For example:
2 Timothy 3:16. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

This passage tells us that the Bible is inspired by God. However, to understand this claim it is necessary to decide what is meant by the word inspiration.

The phrase “given by inspiration of God” in this passage translates one word from the original Greek, the word theopneustos. This word only occurs once in the Bible and is not found in Greek literature outside the Bible (apart from later commentaries on this passage). It appears to have been derived from two other words, the word theos, which means “God”, and the word pneustos, which means “breathed” (but is related to the word pneuma which means “breath” and also “spirit”). One can thus conclude that the word means that the scriptures were brought about by the action of God’s Spirit.

To see the detail of this one needs, however, to look at further passages. 

——————————————————————————–

The Evidence of Peter

2 Peter 1:19-21We have also a more sure word of prophecy; to which ye do well that ye take heed, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

In this passage Peter is referring to the witnesses available to show that the apostles were teaching a true message. The first witness Peter describes is the apostles who were eyewitnesses of the doings and words of Jesus but this, he tells us, is supported by the certain evidence of the Old Testament Scriptures. He goes on to tell us that these cannot be interpreted haphazardly; they have a definite meaning of their own because they are given by God and not by the will of man. The prophets spoke what was given them by the Holy Spirit. This means that the words of the scriptures are the words of God.

This picture extends not only to the Old Testament and to the words of Jesus. According to the writings of Peter, the New Testament Epistles are also Scripture:

2 Peter 3:15-16And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given to him hath written to you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.

This passage refers to the letters of Paul alongside other Biblical writings. It calls these the other scriptures which means that the letters of Paul were also considered scriptures in exactly the same way as the Old Testament.

——————————————————————————–

The Evidence of the Prophets

In the Old Testament prophets often introduce their revelations by words similar to these:

Jeremiah 2:1-2Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD…

This passage uses the phrase “the word of the LORD came to me, saying…” This phrase tells us that what follows is not the words of the prophet but the words of God. Another phrase also found in the passage above and many other passages is “thus saith the LORD”. Again this phrase introduces words that are being described as coming directly from God.

The phrase “saith the LORD” appears 802 times in the Old Testament (413 times in the form “thus saith the LORD”) and the phrase “the word of the LORD came to me” occurs 92 times in the Old Testament. The idea that the words of the scripture come directly from God is found throughout the Bible; it is a general description of the way that the Bible was revealed. Indeed, there is an explicit statement by God that this is the way that he reveals himself through prophets:

Deuteronomy 18:18I will raise up to them a Prophet from among their brethren, like thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him.

It is important to note that the prophet is to be made to speak all the words that God commands. Indeed God says that he will put his own words in the prophet’s mouth. Thus the words spoken (and written) by the prophets as revelations from God were not their own words but the words that God put in their mouth, as the passage states clearly.

This was clearly the experience of the prophets themselves as they wrote. David said, for example:

2 Samuel 23:2The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and his word was on my tongue.

and a similar thought is expressed by Samuel in 1 Samuel 28:17.

Other passages where it is explicitly stated that the words are God’s include:

Exodus 20:1And God spoke all these words, saying…
Habakkuk 2:2 And the LORD answered me, and said… 

——————————————————————————–

How God revealed Himself through Prophets

The fact that the prophet spoke God’s words is clearly attested in scripture. The mechanism that God used to do this is also described to some extent in the Bible.

There are three places in the Old Testament where the prophet describes his experience in hearing the word of God and proclaiming it to other people. 

Balaam

Balaam was a prophet of God, but not an Israelite. He was required by Balak, king of Moab, to curse the children of Israel as they ended their wanderings in the wilderness after the Exodus and were about to enter the promised land. However, Balaam explained to Balak that he would be unable to do anything as a prophet which had not originated with God.

Numbers 22:18And Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more.

The point was that Balaam knew that his prophecies simply repeated messages from God. He could not, by himself, decide what they would contain. In spite of this Balak took him up to a mountain to curse Israel, but no curse came. Instead of a curse, Balaam’s words were a blessing. When he was called on to answer for himself, Balaam said the following:

Numbers 24:13: If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the commandment of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own mind; but what the LORD saith, that will I speak.

This describes the way that the prophet received revelation; the words were given him by God and he could not change them. 

Jeremiah

Jeremiah was the writer of one of the largest books of the whole Bible. He describes this throughout as “the Word of the LORD God”. The following verses are taken from the very start of the book of Jeremiah and are all part of Jeremiah’s claim to speak the word of God exactly as God gave it:

Jeremiah 1:2To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.

This records the claim that the Word of God came to Jeremiah. Thus the words of the prophecy are God’s and not the prophet’s own.

Jeremiah 1:4Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,…

This reveals the claim that the following words, at least, are the words of God rather than of the prophet. The passage is saying that these following words are the words of God exactly as God spoke them.

Jeremiah 1:9Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

Here we have the claim that the words of the prophecy are words that were placed in the prophet’s mouth by God. They are thus words that originated with God and not with the prophet.

Jeremiah 2:1-2Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD…

The passage here makes the claim that the following words are exactly God’s. “Thus saith the LORD” is telling us that the words following are an exact repetition of what God has said to the prophet. Not only that but the words “thus saith the LORD” are part of what the word of God originally said to Jeremiah. Even the witness to the words coming from God was given by God.

Having been given the words of God the prophet was constrained to deliver them to other people without omitting or changing any part of the text. Jeremiah’s experience with this is also described in his prophecy:

Jeremiah 20:8-9For since I spoke, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach to me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not refrain.

Jeremiah did not want to deliver the words of God. They were unpopular words and Jeremiah was persecuted for them. He therefore attempted to leave them unsaid, but found that he could not do so. The words seem to have burned into his heart so that he could not ignore them or forget them and he was forced to deliver them to the people for whom they were intended. 

Amos

Amos described the way that the word of God came irresistibly into his life by an analogy:

Amos 3:8The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?

What is being said here is that the words of God were fixed in the prophet’s mind and he was then no more able to ignore them than he could fail to be afraid if he met a roaring lion. However, the prophets seem to have heard the words spoken by God rather than to simply have found a strange message in their memories. 

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Visions and Events

Sometimes the prophets would receive a vision or would see an historical event and be required to describe it rather than to repeat words given by God. Even here, the words were not left to the prophets, but were given by God. An example which illustrates this is the way that Zechariah received his vision and wrote it down:

Zechariah 1:7-8Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD to Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white.

This is the start of the description of a vision which the prophet saw. However, Zechariah was not left to describe this in his own words. The words that God gave him to write include “I saw by night, and behold…”. 

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Style

One of the objections to the teaching that all the words of the Bible come directly from God is the fact that the style of the words differs from book to book, and sometimes within single books. The objectors claim that if all the words were from God they should all have the same style.

This objection, of course, supposes that one knows the style of writing that God would use in particular circumstances. If one decides that the style is a part of the message, then there is no reason that God should not send different parts of his message in different styles. It is likely that he chose people to be prophets because their natural style fitted in with the message he wished to convey. 

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Conclusion

From start to finish the books of the Bible make an absolute claim: they are the inspired words of God, and they have been recorded under His control.

Time to Stand Still

Finding the time to Stand Still?

Finding the time to Stand Still?

It isn’t easy to find time to think. Life is so busy and there is always such a lot to do. Even when on holiday there are places to go, things to see,Time to Stand Still shops to visit and meals to eat. It can be exhausting! Just sitting and thinking is seldom an option.

Stand still

Sometimes we need to find time to take stock, especially when we are really stressed and times are hard. Fleeing refugees were once being pursued by their erstwhile slave masters when they came to an impassable barrier. What were they to do? Fortunately they listened to their leader and he gave them this startling advice:

Time to Stand Still in Awe of God“Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever’”(Exodus 14:13).

As it happened the fleeing Israelites couldn’t do much else. The sea was in front of them and the Egyptian army was behind them, so they had to stand still. Then it was that God opened a way across the sea which enabled them to escape. Thus it was that Israel moved forward as a nation and reached Mount Sinai where God declared them to be His special people, through whom He would communicate to all nations.

Kadesh Barnea

Less than two years later, the infant nation assembled on the edge of the Promised Land and hesitated. God had promised them a land flowing with milk and honey and now they had to possess it, under His guidance. But they asked for a scouting party to be sent in first, so they could see what they were up against, and selected twelve men – one from each of their tribes – to go and spy out the land.

Their report was discouraging. Only two of the twelve recommended invading; the other ten said it could not be done. What was the nation to decide? Would they believe God and go forward in faith or would they falter and fail? They faltered, because they could not believe that God could do what He had promised and the result left them with a lot of time on their hands. Moses pleaded on behalf of the faithless nation and this is what God said:

“I have pardoned, according to your word; but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord— because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it”(Numbers 14:20–23).

Wilderness wandering

The nation had been on the brink of entering the Land but because of their unbelief they were sent back into the wilderness for another 38 years until that entire generation died out. It was their children who eventually crossed the Jordan with Joshua and proceeded to conquer and cultivate the Promised Land. The promises had always been in place, but the faith wasn’t there to activate them. It was just as God had said at Kadesh Barnea. His promises would indeed be fulfilled, but only those who believed would see that fulfilment.

The people did not take the time to think things through when they had the opportunity but they now had a lifetime for reflection and regretful thought, and their experience is intended to teach us. For, in the New Testament, we read this inspired commentary on those far off happenings:

“With most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted … Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come”(1 Corinthians 10:5–11).

Time out

Reflecting upon Israel’s history many years later, King David urged his contemporaries to use their opportunity to believe in God, and he used a specific word, saying:

Today, if you will hear His voice: do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness”(Psalm 95:7–8).

Israel had been hard-hearted in that they had not been willing to believe God but had made their own assessment of the situation and had followed their own reasoning. David was urging his subjects to think differently and was encouraging them to do that now – today, not tomorrow.

A thousand years later an inspired apostle looked back at David’s advice and repeated it for early Christian believers, for God’s promises have not changed with the passing years: they remain sure and certain. What He promised David, God will most certainly fulfill, but we have to believe if we want to be part of that new age to be established when David’s heir – the Lord Jesus Christ – returns to rule from Jerusalem. So what is the apostolic advice?

“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it isTime to Stand Still and Contemplate Life called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end…”(Hebrews 3:12–14).

Today!

Every day we need to make some time for serious thought about our lives and the lives of those we love. There is no better way of doing this than regular Bible reading and prayer. Find out about the promises of God and you will learn that God has an escape plan for mankind from all the problems that now beset our world.

Things may be getting worse year-by-year, but that should come as no surprise to Bible readers. They have to get worse before they will get better. But make no mistake! There are better times ahead and if we want to be part of those good times with God, we need to find the time now to think seriously about God’s offer of salvation.

Learn here about God’s Plan for the World