What some groups teach about Jesus and the Bible’s response
Adapted from Rose Publications, Christianity, Cults & Religions, 7th Edition
My disclaimer upfront: I do not agree with this belief. I am though reaffirming my beliefs and hoping to impact others. Another thing you need to know about me is that I am just a guy that is trying to put intelligent thought down on paper; something that I have never been very good at. So if you are going to criticize, be kind.
One of the decisive responses to a statement like this is: Deuteronomy 6:4. It says, Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
As with all scriptures this requires faith. Faith becomes a little easier when like the children of Israel God demonstrates who he is and what he can do for you, on a daily basis. But here we are so many years later, surrounded by a sea of doubt and unbelief.
The children of Israel are dead, there descendents live on, but they have been infiltrated, and integrated into the unbelief of the nations that they were to have conquered. Now comes Isaiah the prophet. God wanted us to understand who he is, and speaks through one of his prophets in an attempt to convey who he is and his plan.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 NIV)
One might miss the significance of this when considering who God is until you look attentively at the word Immanuel; for that word means: God with us.
Now how do I integrate what Isaiah said into an argument against the concept that there are three separate gods. How does God, the almighty, stay where he is, and present himself here on earth as a child. He attempts to establish this by having a virgin give birth, and giving the child a name that signifies that he, the child, was God.
Thoughts about a virgin birth:
Who is going to believe you, especially when you are betrothed?
The women folk have ways of telling if you are telling the truth, as humiliating as that can be, and it is hard to believe that they did not scrutinize this young girl thoroughly.
This is not only impossible in mans eyes, but God also tells anyone who will listen what the sex of the child will be. In today’s modern world Doctors can determine what the sex of the child is before it is ever born. It was not that long ago that the sex of the child was totally random.
Consider that God himself wanted us to know and believe; look at Isaiah 43:10.
“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. (Isaiah 43:10 NIV)
God testifies about himself, saying: Before me there was no god formed, nor will there be one after me. How would anyone but a supreme being be able to make such a bold statement?
Matthew 1:18 NIV
(18) This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
If the writer uses the terminology “found to be” then there is the implication that she was examined. That should dispel all doubt, but it did not. By the way, did you notice that the terminology just changed. Whereas Isaiah, by inspiration, had said that God will give a sign, we now have the young girl pregnant through the Holy Spirit. So if you are counting we now have God the Father, having God the Son, through an act of God the Holy Spirit. But as usual this still takes some faith on your part.
Matthew 28:18 NIV
(18) Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Wait a minute. Even in my limited human mind I know that all authority comes exclusively from God, and yet Jesus now says that all authority, in heaven and on earth has been given to him. How can this be without being God himself?
I am well aware that Jesus now sits on the right hand of the Father in heaven. So how do I rectify this situation now, for Jesus seems to be a separate entity. Even as a Son of the creator of the universe he would have had immense power available to him. From what I gather, the mindset of the hearer when this was written was one with no disassociation between the Father and the son. The son carried the weight of the Father and the authority. The Jewish mindset had no separation between the two. To prove this when Jesus argued that he only did the work of the Father, the Jews picked up rocks to stone him because he had, in their minds called himself God.
John 10:30-39 NIV I and the Father are one.” (31) Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, (32) but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” (33) “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” (34) Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”‘? (35) If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came–and Scripture cannot be set aside– (36) what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son‘? (37) Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. (38) But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” (39) Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
To further establish this Jewish mindset let’s look at the letter to the Hebrews.
Hebrews 1:1-14 NIV In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, (2) but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (3) The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (4) So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. (5) For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? (6) And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” (7) In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.” (8) But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. (9) You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (10) He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. (11) They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. (12) You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” (13) To which of the angels did God ever say, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? (14) Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
So lets’ bring this to a close with a passage from one of Peter’s letters to the church. Peter is writing to the church, when he says, “To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, (1 Peter 1:1)”. We who have chosen to give him our trust, therefore our lives, are the chosen. There is nothing elitist about that attitude, it is merely an understanding that God made the choices long before the world began. God did not exclude anyone by making this choice, for there are no parameters that define those that cannot be chosen. God, while the world was yet in sin, sent His only Son, to die for us; all of us. Where is the distinction then? People have to choose whom they will serve. I know, you think you serve yourself and no one can tell you how to live, but God has an answer for that too, for you are slaves to the one you obey. Take the time to read the sixth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans. There you will find many references to slavery, in terms of a change of ownership.
1 Peter 1:2 (NIV)
who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
We are all merely slaves, who have changed ownership. Chosen because of the foreknowledge of God the Father, and his great mercy. We who have come to him have done so through the sanctifying (that means to be set apart for righteous service) work of the Spirit (The Holy Spirit of God). So that we could serve in obedience to our new owner Jesus Christ.
Peter assists us in the argument by showing the three personages of God: the Father, the Spirit, and the Son, Jesus Christ.
It may be just that simple, and it may be that they work in such perfect unison and harmony that there really is no difference. I became a huge fan of the book “The Shack” for in it God, in the form of a large, black lady attempts to define this concept to the main character, Mack. It is not a hard concept, and seems perfectly legitimate, but my mind, and yours too, is broken because of sin. Get real, scripture tells us that all creation is broken and cries for it’s time of redemption as well. Understanding that, I have learned that there are some things that I have to take by faith. This faith thing should not be a hard concept for any of us, because we do this on a daily basis. We believe that cars will stop for red lights as we attempt to cross on the green, and that the money we carry around in our pockets will be acceptable as exchange for things, and food. What makes that concept work? Faith in government that backs it. Is that government quickly failing us? Yes.
I will throw this in for free, because I struggle with the concept of being a slave, everyone in their right mind will, for God made us to be free and to have dominion (That never meant dominate one another).
In all the years I have known the Lord I have never experienced a feeling of bondage. Sure religious zealots have tried to put me and anyone else they can, in bondage, but that is man’s attempt at damage control, for they do not believe that you will do the right thing, and ultimately they do not believe that the Spirit is capable of guiding us, but there always seems to be rules. Some slave owners were very oppressive and gave those they owned no freedoms at all.
As a slave to Christ are there things that you should not mess with? Certainly. I will give you an example. A married person should not allow themselves the thought of exploring another person outside of their marriage. Why? Because we all have weaknesses, and while one person can hug everyone in the office with no apparent ulterior motive, another may struggle with weaknesses, and a perceived lack of acceptance at home. That lack of acceptance may be real, but that comes out our brokenness as humans and our selfish desires to dominate. That is exactly what slavery is based in, a domination of another. The bottom line here is that an extra-marital affair, whether imagined or real can be like alcohol to an alcoholic; one drink is never enough.