Monday, August 18, 2014

The Achan Impulse

The ancient account of Achan and his impulsive greed is an event Bible readers know very well. He was part of the invasion force entering the enemy city of Jerico. Before the invasion, everyone was told they were to destroy the city, but to bring back precious metals to the treasury of the Israelites. Achan must have come across the residence of a wealthy man because of what he found. Instead of following explicit instructions, he kept certain plunder for his own selfish desire. The results of Achan’s disobedience was far-reaching. The Israelites suffered a devastating defeat in their subsequent invasion of Ai because God was not protecting them as a result of Achan’s earlier actions. After Achan’s actions came to light, he and his family were sentenced to death.

In parallel, just as Achan’s account occurred when the Israelites were taking possession of their “Promised Land,” Christians are on the brink of entering the new system. Is there potential for the same drama to unfold at that time? As the survivors start to organize, picture this scenario: Some are sent out to find as much food as possible and bring it back to a central location for equitable distribution. Others are sent out to find clothing and bedding. Let’s say that in this particular expedition, the scavengers are told to leave jewelry alone because it is deemed non-essential valuables at this time. But as individuals go through the ruins, one person finds a stunning piece of jewelry. They reason in their heart, “It is only one piece. No one is going to miss it.” Therefore they take it, in direct disregard for the instructions they were given.

It may seem like a very small thing, but it comes right back to the root issues of disobedience and greed. I’m not suggesting that anyone is going to die as punishment. The point is, as Jesus himself put it:  “The person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much.” (Luke 16:10)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Human Compassion And The Vagus Nerve

The TV program “Brain Games” is an interesting Discovery channel science program. Although it typically espouses the evolutionary theory as an explanation of why our bodies are the way they are, there was one particular episode on the subject of Compassion (Brain Games S04E01 Compassion) that caught my attention. Starting at 07:13 and running to 08:00 (a 47-second segment), the observation was made that the “vagus nerve….runs from the base of the brain to the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and intestines.”

As a Bible reader, I found this very interesting because from that above list, the heart, kidneys, and intestines are all mentioned as related to the person we are inside. True, the application that modern readers attach to those passages are in a figurative sense, but the question remains why would Bible writers pick those organs? Believers are convinced that the major reason that is true is that God is the real author of the Bible and the creator of our bodies. Although he may not have explained it, he knows full well how we are made and the secretaries (human writers) of the Bible faithfully conveyed those thoughts.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Plagiarized Fables?

This video (“Garden of Eden - In search of The Real Location of The Garden of Eden (Biblical origins of Mankind)”) claims to pinpoint the location of the garden of Eden as being at the base of the Persian Gulf.

Jonathan Kirsch  is interviewed as are a few others. He is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times in California who briefly studied Jewish history and he is a lawyer. At the bottom of the wikipedia link I just provided, note the Amazon books link. Read the comments of those that gave his Bible commentaries one star. There is adequate reason to be concerned about his writings, perceptions and viewpoints.

Bible’s Treatment of Women: Quote from Mr. Kirsch in this video (starting at: 03.:20): “Woman is shown again, and again, and again, in the pages of the Bible and long thereafter as the tempter, the seducer, the corrupter.” First of all, lets get rid of the “and long thereafter.” The misuse and misinterpretation of the Bible is not the fault of the Bible for whatever was written “long thereafter.” Now, consider the generalization “again, and again, and again.” Women, collectively and individually have been depicted in scripture in favorable light, but no mention of that is made. The reality is that men have also been depicted as acting in evil ways. In fact, more often than women, men who were supposed to be setting the example as leaders committed crimes that resulted in either severe punishment from God or in some cases even the death penalty. To this point, Mr. Kirsch has actually written a book about King David that portrays all his failings. So the point about the Bible picking on women as evil (implying that men are elevated above women) is false.

Creation & Contradictions? 26:02. “The Bible is apparently inconsistent and full of contradictions… It says that humans were created twice.” No, it doesn't, but nice try. The creation account gives a panoramic overview of the creative days in chapter one, which actually ends in Chapter 2, verse 3. Starting in verse 7, the writer “zooms in” to details related to mankind’s creation. No dual creation account. (And no, I didn't conveniently ignore verses 4 through 6. I’m just not going to treat those verses here because the point being discussed is the number of accounts of human creation--of which there is only one.) One cited contradiction is at  27:00. There, a Mr. Jason Boyett, author of “The Pocket Guide to the Bible,” states “in the first chapter of Genesis, Adam is created in the ‘image of God.’ In the second chapter he is created from the dust of the ground.” When I heard this, it sounded as if Mr. Boyett felt there is a contradiction between being made in the image of God and being formed from the dust of the ground. However, some feedback from a friend indicated he didn't think Mr. Boyett found that the contradiction as much as Genesis 1 speaking about humans being created as a pair in contrast to chapter 2 which indicates they were created separately.

If the claimed contradiction is as I understood it, that there were first humans “in God’s image” (thus implying they lived in heaven as spirit creatures) and the second was from the dust the ground, please note that first Genesis 1:27 says God created humans in his image and then he directs that they “fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving on the earth.” Then he says that the vegetation of the earth would serve as food. (vss.27-29). So chapter one definitely points to an earthly existence, not a heavenly one. What then of the phrase “in God’s image”? The word “image” can also be understood to refer to higher character traits not associated with other physical life on earth such as love, wisdom, and our ability to govern. The point, in context, is that humans were considered something different, something better, than animals. Chapter two continues on the thought of physical, earthly human creation by drawing attention to the fact that, like the rest of life on earth, we are carbon-based creatures made from the elements of this earth.

If however, the perceived contradiction is as my friend heard it, that chapter one seems to indicate that mankind was made as a pair whereas chapter two definitely shows Adam and Eve were created at separate times, then we need come back to what I originally stated about the differences between those two chapters--the first is an overview where each creative “day” (period of thousands of years) is addressed individually as major accomplishments; whereas chapter two concentrates its details on the sequence of humankind’s creation. (I can understand that many would be confused with the sequence of Genesis 2:4-6. For me, the key thought to always keep in mind is we should always vindicate God as the truth-teller, not ourselves.)

The Zohar Is Not In the Bible: There also mention (27:24) of “Biblical tradition… Adam’s first wife, Lilith.” But this is not a text even located in the Bible. It is referring to the Zohar, which is nothing more than Jewish fables. The video calls the Zohar “Jewish texts” and tries to link them to scripture. That is like comparing the writings of Doctor Seuss to history books. At 30:38, Mr. Kirsch is back at his shenanigans claiming that modern, liberated Bible-reading women can relate to Lilith. Really? That’s interesting, because the use of the word "Lilith" in the Bible is not directly related to humans, male or female. And there is absolutely no mention of that word in the Genesis account of creation.

The Four Rivers: Starting at 35:00 through 37:30, quoting the video, “the Bible says that they [the four rivers mentioned in Genesis] met at their source, but Juris Zarins believes they met at their base.” Mr. Zarins found two “fossil rivers” that extend from the Persian Gulf and concludes that this marks the location of paradise. Yes, this man is an archaeologist. But no, just discovering two, now non-existent, rivers at the base of the Persian Gulf doesn't prove we have found the location of the garden of Eden. If fact, since the Bible says that all four rivers “issue” (started at) the garden, the discovery of fossil rivers cannot be it. (Now, is it possible that where the Persian Gulf is today, there was once a mountain, therefore being the point of issuance instead of the point of termination? There is old saying, “Speculation yields frustration.” The fact is, knowing the location of the garden of Eden is not at all important to our current relationship with God. Our knowing and obeying Jesus, on the other hand, is absolutely vital for our lives.)

Faith Is Not The Possession Of All People: Before this video was made, I would not doubt that many 19th, 20th, and 21st century youth and adults would have said that the whole Genesis account is complete fiction. Now, science believes they may have found the location of Eden. Science has always shown itself to be adversarial toward the Bible except when they get archaeological finds shoved down their throats proving how wrong their claims against the Bible are. Then they eat humble pie and are amazed how accurate the accounts in the Bible are. Does this move the majority of people to take a second look? No. Did this video encourage or detract from the Bible? It very cleverly detracted, claiming the Bible is nothing more than plagiarized fables. (It really is laughable that this video claims to identify the location of Eden and then still feels the Bible is fable.)

In defense of Genesis.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How We Got Here And Why It Matters

The ongoing debate between evolutionists and those believing that God created the material universe and life (intelligent and otherwise) is an interesting one. Why? Well, if we choose to believe in creation then we are obliged to ask ourselves what purpose we serve. That is to say, “Why did God make us? What responsibility do we have toward God?" After all, when we make something, don’t we expect it to fulfill the reasons/needs we intended?

On the other hand, if evolution is what you choose to believe, then I’d like to ask you: Why worry about corruption in politics, sadistic evil-minded individuals, terrorist violence, and so many other problems on earth? After all, if we are nothing more than mere animals, then such social ills are really not problems at all--we are merely acting like the animals evolution claims we are.

But coming back to those believing God made us. I know that some believe that as true fact but then feel that afterward, God left us to our own devices. The scriptures linked here demonstrate that is completely untrue. More info here.

In either case, we all need to take our convictions “down the road a bit” and see how its logic works out. Merely believing something and not realizing the inferences and consequences, can hit a person like a head-on collision.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ways God Gives Hope

To have real hope about or in something, it must be more than a mere dream or wish.  For example, to hope that within the next week you will own a flying carpet is 100% dreaming, given today's technology. However, if a substance is discovered that counters gravity and can be controlled, directed and somehow woven into fabric, then your hope becomes a real possibility. But right now it is merely a "pipe dream."

For hope in God and his Word the Bible to be real, it must be based on realistic foundations. Emotions aside, what reasons can you think of to trust and have hope in God?

How can hope help us right now? Paul wrote: “We desire each one of you to show the same industriousness so as to have the full assurance of the hope down to the end.” (Hebrews 6:11) Yes, hope can motivate us to maintain our loyalty to God and to be “industrious” with our time and efforts to help others serve God faithfully.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

So Who Is Lying?

If there is one thing true Christians should believe, it is that God cannot lie. They agree with Jesus’ words “Your Word is truth.“ Through the decades, supporters of the trinity teaching have lambasted Jehovah’s Witnesses for supposedly attempting to change the meaning of John 1:1. Although what we teach about that scripture is intelligent, holds to correct grammar, and praises both God and Christ in their respective roles, opposers falsely and slanderously accuse us of wrongdoing. But what is the track record of our opposers?

In Phil.2:1-10, Paul teaches a lesson in humility.  In verse 5 Paul drives home how Jesus set the example by leaving heaven and coming to earth. Those advancing the trinity argue that Paul was teaching that Jesus was/is God. Reading the context, such a conclusion would nullify the passage and make Jesus guilty of false humility. So who is right the Bible or the trinitarians? My vote is for the Bible.

In Col.1:15-20 Paul builds successively on a reasoning point that Jesus is "first" in so many ways: 1) created first, 2) is responsible for the rest of creation (working alongside his Father), 3) is head of the Christian congregation, 4) was the first raised to eternal, heavenly life, and 5) is the first, last and only one designated by God that can save all mankind by virtue of his forfeiting his human life for our sake. But the trinitarians break the chain of Paul's reasoning at the first link by purporting that Jesus was never created because he is God. So who is right? Again, my vote is for God’s word. (If the trinitarians were right, this passage would have to be re-written into mindless dribble: Jesus wasn’t the firstborn, instead he is God. He worked alongside himself in making everything else. He was pleased to have everything rely on and be reconciled through himself (which, if Jesus were already God, it already did according to the trinitarians, so why go through all the trouble?!).

In Hebrews 1:1-4 Paul makes a point similar to both the above scriptures but also adds that Jesus became better than the angels, having attained a name better than any angel. But the trinitarians teach that Jesus is God, so how could he possibly be given a position by God that elevates Jesus? It would not surprise me that people get a migraine trying to understand the trinitarian viewpoint. To believe the trinitarians, we would have to believe that the Bible lied on three fronts: 1) God didn’t give Jesus a superior title because he already was God. 2) He wasn’t raised above the angels because he already was. 3) Jesus never sat down at God’s right hand because, again, he is already God. But, it is the trinitarian's beliefs that are the lie. The Bible truthfully says that 1) God (the Father) did indeed give Jesus a position superior to any other intelligent creation. 2) Jesus was given a position much above all the angels. 3) Jesus did indeed take a secondary place "at God's right hand."

In John 20:17 Jesus himself states that he has yet to ascend to his God and Father. But the trinitarians say that Jesus is a liar. He is God, therefore he was using some sort of euphemism. A plain, simple and easy to understand statement by Jesus is taken by the trinitarians and turned into convoluted, indecipherable brainless babble.

It really is no wonder that agnostics and atheists feel religion is the “opium of the people.” For the greater part, this is absolutely true. The truth taught in the Bible has been scrambled into such stupidity, that honest, thinking people can see right through it. Sadly, they conclude that all those teaching the Bible are wrong. However, there is a small group of us that finally saw through the smoke and fog and found the clear air of Bible truth.

(The above was only a small sampling. However, in each and every case where those adhering to the trinity doctrine try to change the scripture around so that Jesus is made out to be equal to or even the same person as the Father, the lie is easily demonstrable by merely considering the context and implications.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

First-Born of All Creation. Colossians 1:15

Colossians 1:15 (other translations here) refers to Jesus as the firstborn of all creation. I was curious how those believing in the Trinity explained that verse. One such explanation is here. First, I noted that the article was written with the unproven assumption that Jesus is God, therefore any explanation of the verse would be slanted to conform to that belief.

One of the worst cases of reasoning in that article was stating that “Christ’s relationship to His Father begins with the phrase 'the image of the invisible God.' The word 'image,' meaning copy or likeness, expresses Christ's deity. This word involves more than a resemblance, more than a representation. He is God!

Whoa, there! Back that train up. First Jesus is the “image” then, all of a sudden he is not the image, but instead he is actually God. In which alternate universe is this possible? How can an image of someone be the person itself? Even if twins stood next to each other and someone remarked that they are “the spitting image of each other,” does that mean that they are each other? No, it doesn't. Similarly, Jesus is either a copy/likeness or he is the original, he can’t be both. Further, to claim that “The word 'image,' ... expresses Christ’s deity” is completely ludicrous. Or maybe the article just (conveniently) forgot that humans are also spoken of as being made in God’s “image and likeness.” Are we, then, also God himself? You can see how ridiculous such reasoning is. (See more on “image” here.)

Another point in that original quote is his opening, “Christ’s relationship to His Father….” is that Christ is God. If he is God, then there is no relationship. Don’t understand? Let me ask you--what is your relationship to yourself? Even if you have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), there is no relationship. You are you. At times you may argue with yourself and at times you may need to make peace with yourself, but neither of those are statements of being more than one person. So is Christ a separate person or is he God? Those advancing the Trinity belief cannot seem to make up their minds. On the other hand, scripture is very plain on the subject. There is one God, the Father; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ.

There were so many derailments in this article’s reasoning. If I were to provide an explanation and rebuttal for each one, my post would be too long. So here is a short list:
  • The article states that believing that Jesus was actually a creation of the Father “conflicts with the rest of the Bible.” There were no links provided to which scriptures were involved “in the rest of the Bible.” In contrast, consider this long list of scriptures that prove Jesus and God are separate entities.
  • The article stated: “Christ could not be both Creator and created.” Why not? So just because my parents made me means I cannot also make other humans? That is essentially what the article implies. And yet, guess what, I also am a father! So yes, Jesus can be (and was) created and is also himself a creator, by drawing on his Father’s power. One thought-stimulating passage is found in the creation account--where God says “let US make man in our image.” In order for there to be an “us” there has to be more than one. If, as the Trinitarians believe, Jesus is God, then there is no “us.” There would be just one--which just happens to be the belief of Trinitarians. Yet, the scripture says very plainly “let us make….”
  • The article states: “The word 'firstborn' (Greek word 'prototokos') signifies priority.” It can, but it also indicates the person born first. Trying to dilute that fact only beclouds the plain and simple reasoning the scriptures put forth.
  • The article states: “In the culture of the Ancient Near East, the firstborn was not necessarily the oldest child. Firstborn referred not to birth order but to rank. The firstborn possessed the inheritance and leadership.” Once again an unsubstantiated claim. But lets stick with scripture, not general “culture of the Ancient Near East.” There were two scripture-based incidents where the natural firstborn lost the rights. One was Esau, the other was Reuben. Using just two famous incidents in the Bible to base an assertion that “firstborn referred not to birth order but to rank” is just plain wrong. In fact, both those instances recognized that the natural firstborn rights were Esau’s and Reuben’s but they forfeited those rights.

Everything considered, the evidence from scripture is that Jesus is the “son of God,” not God himself. He is firstborn in that he was God's first creation of a living sentient being. After that, all things came into existence through Jesus. Really, if Colossians 1:15-20 is taken at face value, without trying to run it through the meat grinder of Trinitarian beliefs, it is very straightforward, clear and easy to understand. Verse 15 states that Christ was the first creation. Verse 16 states states that after he was created, he worked side-by-side with his Father creating the rest of everything, both seen and unseen.Verses 17 and 18 (not verse 15) address the preeminence of Jesus over everything else--which would make sense seeing as he took part in creating it. Verse 19 says that God was/is pleased to bestow honor on his son. Finally verse 20 recaps how the ransom sacrifice of Jesus was/is designed to restore peace and unity in all creation, thus further driving home the preeminent position of Jesus. Through all this, Paul builds his reasoning in each verse like we would stack blocks one on top of the other to make a tower of evidence. Christ was the first created, Christ was the first permanently resurrected, Christ is second in command to Jehovah God, and without Jesus, we wouldn't have the hope of ransom from sin and death.

(Please don’t send me this link. I am aware of it. To me it seems the article doesn't really explain the passage in Colossians 1. Its real intent is to discredit, through shallow misrepresentation, the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses.)

Addendum: New article on Colossians 1:16 added April, 2017

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Holy Spirit. The 3rd Person?

In a previous post, I mentioned that I understood the holy spirit to be the force of God or God’s ability to enact his will and provide strength to others. I didn't provide any proofs to that effect and realized I was amiss in that regard. (The "proofs" provided here demonstrate omissions where one would expect to find mention if indeed the God's holy spirit were a unique individual in part of a trinity.)

  • Mark 13:32. Jesus indicated that not even he himself knew when the end was. The only one that knew was “the Father.” Why doesn't the Holy Spirit know? What is even more glaring is that Jesus mentioned the Father, the Son, and the angels but excludes the Holy Spirit.
  • If John 1 is a declaration of the Trinity, then why is there no mention of the Holy Spirit. In fact, search as they might, those believing in the Trinity can only identify two entities here, “God” and the “Word.”
  • John 14:16,26. Mentions that God would send a “helper,” identified as the holy spirit. If the Holy Spirit is the 3rd person of the Trinity, can’t he make his own choices? If he is equal to the Father and is himself God, then why would he need to be dispatched by God? Such a scenario simply does not make sense. What does make sense is that God would send his own strength/force to “help” people. Indeed, that is what happened. Consider the next bullet point:
  • (Consider each sub-point in the order listed. It will help you understand the point I’m making.)
    • God gave man free will. We can choose to obey or reject God’s direction. He is always pleased when we choose to obey but forcing us to obey goes against the very reason he gave free will to us--so we can demonstrate love for him as a personal choice. Doing so, he can tell who loves him and who doesn't. It is the only gift we can truly give to God--our willing obedience. Everything else, he already owns--including our bodies.
    • The demons are mentioned in scripture as “possessing” people. All hocus pocus aside, the dictionary definition of “possess” is to own and control. Indeed, those individuals whom the demons somehow lived inside, were controlled. But is that something God would do to us? We've already answered “no” to that question--why? Because of free will.
    • So how can we understand the phrase “filled with holy spirit” (Luke 1:41; Acts 2:4; 4:8; 9:17)? Surely a person named Holy Spirit didn't possess people, taking control of them, robbing them of their free will. No, instead, God’s force gave these individuals strength and powers beyond what was normal that they could handle their god-given assignment which they had already willingly accepted.
  • Matthew 11:27. No one fully knows father but son. If the Holy Spirit is a person, why doesn't he fully know the Father (not to mention the Son?)
  • John 10:38.The Father is in union with the Son but there is no mention of the Holy Spirit. The teaching of the Trinity is that the three are equal and one entity. If the Trinity were truly a Biblical teaching, why was the holy spirit slighted without any mention? We already considered that Jesus promised he would ask the Father to send the holy spirit, so there is no spat or disagreement among the three. So again, since they are all getting along, why was the Holy Spirit not mentioned?

So why do so many scriptures not mention the holy spirit when mentioning the Father and the Son together? Quite simply because the holy spirit is not a person, but a thing. It is the force God uses to accomplish his will. In fact, after a review of scriptures where the phrase "holy spirit" is used, I mentally tried replacing it with "force of God" and it made perfect contextual sense.

More info