QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 6
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Without a doubt, you have often heard the claim that Jesus is God, the second person in the "Holy Trinity." However, the very Bible which is used as a basis for knowledge about Jesus and as the basis for doctrine within Christianity clearly belies this claim.
WHY ARE THERE SO MANY CONTRACTIONS AND INEQUITIES IN THE BIBLE?
Withouta doubt, you have often heard the claim that Jesus is God, the second person in the "Holy Trinity." However, the very Bible which is used as a basis for knowledge about Jesus and as the basis for doctrine within Christianity clearly belies this claim.
You need to do a little more homework. First, the Scriptures provide God's assessment of Jesus the Son. "But of the Son He says, "THY THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM" (Heb 1:8). Having heard from God, it really is not necessary to obtain a second opinion, particularly the one you provided.
In comparing Jesus with Moses, Jesus is said to have built the house over which He presides. The very next verse states, "For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things IS GOD" (Heb 3:3-4). Prophesying the birth of Jesus, Isaiah affirmed His name would be called "The mighty GOD," and "the EVERLASTING FATHER" (Isa 9:6-7). The incarnate Word is specifically called "GOD with us" (Matt 1:23). Jewish leaders rejected Christ Jesus because they said He "made Himself out to be GOD" (John 10:33). Thomas, when convinced of the resurrected Christ, cried out, "My Lord and my GOD"--and was not rebuked by Christ (John 20:28). Titus 2:13 refers to Jesus as "the great GOD and Savior, Jesus Christ." In a grand proclamation of the present ministry of Jesus Christ, John wrote, "This is the true God . . . " (1 John 5:20).
Your comparisons of God and Jesus overlook one key consideration. When Jesus came into the world, He laid aside Divine prerogatives in order to taste of death for every man (Phil 2:6-8). He did not cease to be God, but voluntarily took a lower station, making Himself dependent upon God in order to become a faithful and effective Intercessor (Heb 2:9-12).
WHATARE THERE SO MANY CONTRACTIONS AND INEQUITIES IN THE BIBLE?
You have a lot of questions which have plagued people from the beginning. They never were caused by the Bible, but by a misunderstanding of it. They are produced because what God is doing in Christ Jesus is not seen clearly.
First, I do not believe you are receiving my daily devotions, some of which will address these questions. I am adding you to the mailing list. At time you want them to be stopped, your name will be removed. Secondly, I will answer as many of your questions as time will allow.
Christ's first 30 years on this earth are practically ignored by the gospel writers - why? The purpose of Scripture is to unveil the purpose of God, not provide detailed biographies, or an account of events not directly related to that purpose. The first 30 years of Christ's life are passed over because a detail of them would have distracted us from His purpose. He came into the world to take away sin (John 1:29; 1 John 3:5. The part of His life immediately associated with that is given.
Did Isaiah REALLY make prophecies about the life of Christ or do Matthew and Luke simply plagiarize Isaiah's work? All Scripture was given by the inspiration of God (2 Tim 3:16), and therefore is interrelated. Isaiah specifically spoke of the manner in which God would deal with sin, with one Person (His Son becoming responsible for and taking away the sins of the world--vicarious, or substitutionary, atonement)--Isa 53. The purpose of the sacrificies under the Law was to prepare men for this transaction. Jesus said (in the Gospel of John, with which you are familiar) the Scriptures are all about Him (John 5:39). He is the real theme, with everything pointing to Him in the role of a Savior and Mediator. The Apostles, inspired by God, saw this, and quoted the prophets accordingly.
And I cannot understand why the synoptic gospels imply that Jesus spoke primarily in parables when John's gospel contains no record of Jesus EVER using them. Jesus spoke primarily in parables to the disinterested and unconcerned, not to those who wanted to know the manner of His kingdom. Jesus referred to such p[eople as "others," declaring the parables actually concealed from them the truths they ahborred, and did not want to hear in the first place (Luke 8:10-11). The purpose of John's Gospel was to confirm Jesus was the Christ (John 20:30-31). Therefore He wrote those things which demonstrated that to be the case. There was a different purpose for each Gospel. They are harmonious, but directed to different audiences.
He came to set a man against his family, He did not come to bring peace (but a sword) This is another way of saying there was a fundamental difference in people. Some wanted the Lord, some did not. Some wanted the truth, some did not. Some loved sin, some did not. Jesus came to make these distinctions apparent. People that did not get along before, sometimes became friends in their opposition to Jesus (like Pilate and Herod (Luke 23:12). There were also some people who got along until they heard Jesus, and His Person and words brought a sharp division between them (John 7:43; 9:16; 10:19). Sometimes this occurred in a family (as in Gen 4:8-10; Jer 12:6). This is the sword He came to bring--a divisiion between the godly and ungodly, the righteous and unrighteous, the believer and the unbeliever. He brought peace to those who received Him (Rom 1:7).
we must give up all of our possessions if we wish to become disciples Jesus spoke of giving them up as priorities. He told a rich young man to sell everything he had because his riches were standing between him and eternal life (Matt 19:21)--but Jesus nor the Apostles ever commanded people to do this as a general rule. Otherwise, they would not have had resources to share with those in need (Matt 5:42; Eph 4:28).
we should "hate" our parents and we are encouraged to leave the recent dead unburied. The word "hate" does not mean loathe or detest, but to consider second place. We are not to love father, mother, brother...more God (Luke 14:26). The word literally means "love less." When we love God, we will be considerate of our parents and relatives, and properly care for them. When they become our primary concern to the neglect of God and Christ, we need to take Christ's words to heart.
We are even told that Jesus rejects a man for wanting to say goodbye to his family before giving his life to Christ and joining the disciples. This is not exactly what Christ was saying in Luke 9:61. The meaning of "farewell" here includes the idea of setting things in order, disposing of business, closing out the affairs of the house, etc. It is not the same thing Elisha did when he kissed his parents goodbye when determining to follow Elijah (1 Kings 19:19-20). This man had other matters important enough to him to delay following Jesus. In this respect, he was not like Peter and Andrew, and James and John, who left their nets and followed Jesus at His call (Matt 4:20-21).
We are told that Christ kills 2000 pigs - for no apparent reason!! Jesus did not kill pigs, but let demons enter into pigs as they requested. It was the demons that caused the pigs to run violently off a cliff and into the sea (Matt 8:30-32). Jesus allowed this because they had grievously tormented a man for some time. Man is in the image of God, and has the capacity to walk with Him. Pigs do not. This is too apparent to speak any further about the matter.
We hear of strange and cruel teachings on divorce, the rich are condemned, the lonely are told that there will be no marriage for them in Heaven, countless facts vary from one gospel to another and contradictions abound. The teachings of Jesus are "strange and cruel" only to those who do not think like Him--people who do not have all of the facts before them. His teachings were not on divorce, but upon marriage, which God did not intend to be handled at the carpice of fickled people. It was instituted by God, and that for the purpose of mutual help, the means of satisfying natural desires, and the bearing of children. Divorce is what is cruel, not the teachings of Jesus. It is a heartless thrusting away of one to whom a commitment has been made in preference for other desires (Matt 19:9).
The rich are NOT condemned. Abraham was rich (Gen 24:35), yet was the "friend of God" (James 2:23). Job was rich (Job 1:3), yet was highly esteemed by God. Riches are condemned when they are an end of themselves--when they draw the heart from God. The "rich" men in Scripture who are condemned receive judgment because they did not use their riches properly (Luke 16:19-22), or trusted in them (Luke 12:16-18). Riches are temporal, and as such are not to capture our hearts. We are to use them, they are not to use us.
Jesus performs many miracles, but very few details are given regarding the miracles themselves (the epistle writers don't even mention them) The point is not the details of the miracles, but the REASON for them. John, with which you are familiar, covered this subject when he wrote, "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:30-31).
we are never told why Jesus accuses God of forsaking him. Jesus did not "accuse" God of forsaking Him, but revealed it. The purpose is delineated in Scripture. It was during this time that Jesus was "made a curse" for us (Gal 3:13). It was then, upon the cross, that Jesus "became sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor 5:21). After enduring this unspeakable judgment against our sin, which was "in His body on the tree" (1 Pet 2:24), Jesus came back from the dead, fully recovering--something we could not have done. Thus the full penalty for sin was paid.
St Paul, who, as far as I can tell, never even met Jesus, condones slavery and homophobia and tells us that "it is good for a man not to marry". Paul did not say, nor does any inspired man, that slavery was condoned. What he did do, under the inspiration of God, was instruct slaves to live their lives for the Lord, honoring their masters, especially if they were believers (Eph 6:5-6; Col 3:22-23). Masters, on the other hand, were told to be considerate of their slaves, treated them equitably and fairly (Eph 6:9; Col 4:1). By doing this heartily, and to the Lord, slavery would eventually disappear. This was nothing less than a Divine strategy to remove the practice.
As to "homophobia," that is a human term and concept. God has declared without any ambiguity whatsoever, that man lying with men and women with women contradicts nature itself, as well as God (Rom 1:26-27). The fact that such a manner of life cannot produce another generation speaks for itself. The preferences of fallen humanity will not be forced upon God. God will, however, eventually bring every such work into judgment. We will find out at that time who was right. Of course, it is to our advantage to get in on that answer now.
Paul's advise to remain single was given for a "present distress," or unusual circumstance (1 Cor 7:26). This probably was a fierce persecution (which history seems to confirm) that would mean the death of many believers. Marriage, under such circumstances, would not only be cut short, but would be a handicap when facing death for Jesus' sake.
He tells us that women should have long hair (and cover their heads) but men should not, women should be silent (especially in church), avoid teaching, expensive clothes, jewellery, etc. and "submit" to their husbands. Paul did give recommendations concerning hair, saying it was the glory of a woman. He also said their should be no contention about the matter, saying that was the custom of the churches at that time (1 Cor 11:16). It appears to be more cultural than a spiritual requirement for all generations.
Under ordinary circumstances, women were not to assume leadership in teaching. Paul did say they could, under proper consideration of God and their brethren, prophesy and pray in the church (1 Cor 11:5). This was to be done with the Divine order of things in mind: namely, the head of woman is man, the head of the man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God (1 Cor 11:3). Jesus doesn't complain about having a Head, and neither should the man or the woman.
The Scriptures do not say woman should not wear expensive clothes, jewelry, etc., but that this should not be the source of their beauty (1 Pet 3:3-4).
We are told to "rejoice" in suffering, while those who have not yet heard the gospel are condemned. Rejoicing in suffering is done by way of comparison. When considering the glories of the world to come, and eternity with the Lord, the sufferings of this world become light (2 Cor 4:17; Rom 8:18). They are confirmation that we are strangers in this world, which is going to pass away. Particularly when they are for righteousness sake, they are a form of fellowship with Christ, who was rejected by this world, and endured siuffering from it (Phil 3:10; Col 1:24).
And in the Old Testament, incest is seemingly condoned, circumcision (self-mutilation) is encouraged, children are stoned, beaten, sacrificed and ripped apart while a "vengeful" God kills and tortures (often innocent) people with frightening consistency. God "wrestles" with Jacob, attempts to kill Moses, dictates (?) the specifications of the ark, introduces very specific food laws and punishes children for the sins of their parents. There are constant sacrifices, rituals and new laws, insane visions and long (seemingly pointless) lists of names. Noah becomes a father at the age of 500, Adam lives to be 930 and Satan appears in Heaven (Job 1:6-12). The Old testament prophets seem to predict very little and fail to mention ANY of the important events which have shaped the 20th century.
This entire assessment is an attempt to stuff God into the mold of human understanding. I can answer all of these objections, but do not feel inclined to do so. It seems to me that it is on the part of wisdom to ask God for wisdom to understand Him, rather than trying to explain why He is not like man. There are reasons that will be adduced in the day of judgment that will explain things difficult to discern now. We will find God was righteous in all that He did, even though it was not clearly perceived here. This is where faith must take over, believing God is righteous in all that He does. If we cannot believe that, there is no hope for us, nor any satisfactory explanations. I ought to add, the things you mentioned were temporary, and eventually came to a conclusion.
The 20th Century has produced significant things in human estimation, but they are not significant in view of eternity. The earth, and all the works that are in it, are going to be burned up (2 Pet 3:10-12). In view of that, the innovations of this century are not really sigificant.
In the final book of the New Testament, Jesus promises, "I am coming soon" - why? That was almost 2000 years ago!! This is language to faith, not to a time-calculating mind. It is saying the next significant event will be Christ's return. It is "soon" in the sense that every believing generation has expected it, and looked forward to it. Faith makes it "soon"--it is lengthy from any other point of view.
And the "Heaven" described in the book of Revelation is a surreal and terrifying place (Revelation 4:2-8). The book of Revelation is an apocalyptic book, portraying things in symbolic language. In the case of heaven, there is no other language capable of transmitting to our understanding a precisely accurate picture. The symbols in the text you mentioned denote value, preciousness, a holy environment, and one that is arresting to those around the throne.
PERSONAL WORD. Your communication was troubling to me. I did not care for the tone of it, and recommend that you revisit your questions from a different point of view. It is obvious that you lack wisdom, as you yourself acknowledge. God can, however, give you satisfying wisdom from above (James 1:5). But you must ask Him for it in faith, not in the grip of doubt and unbelief. I humbly suggest you stand on precarious ground when you charge God Almighty with indescretion, thoughtlessness, brutality, and the like. You must repent of such intemperant language.
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