Archive for April, 2016

This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

These words thundered from the very mouth of God in Matthew 17:5 when Peter, James, and John beheld the illuminating brilliance of Jesus Christ in His glory, as He was transfigured before them high upon the Mount of Transfiguration.  Imagine how they must have felt as they beheld the Lord of glory communing with Moses and Elijah while they watched, engulfed in radiant white light.  Awestruck and unable to keep silence any longer, Peter exclaims in blissful delight how good it s for them to be there and then…..a big mistake.  He commits the critical error of equating Moses and Elijah with Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, when he suggests that they build three tabernacles–one to honor each of them—on that very spot.  Immediately, a cloud engulfed them all, God’s voice was heard confirming the preeminence of His Son, and then, when the smoke cleared, there remained Jesus only standing with them.

Oftentimes, it can be frustrating for us when we see Christianity casually and irreverently lumped into the same category as the false, man-made ‘religions’ of our day. Those who do so also commit a grave error, comparable to the one made by Peter all those years ago.   Personally, I dislike the word ‘religion’ (at least in the modern sense) as a descriptor for the Christian Faith, as nowadays that word carries connotations that tend to conjure up images in the mind of all sorts of ritualistic, superstitious rites and traditions (e.g. bowing toward a particular city in prayer at various mandated times of day, lying on a bed of nails or performing handstands for hours with one’s head buried in the sand, reciting ‘hail mary’s’, dousing oneself with and drinking cow urine in the streets of India, vain repetition of ‘formal’ prayers, ritualistic and robotic reciting of verses from a ‘holy book’, offering of prayers to dead saints, idolization of ‘holy’ relics, etc.) that go hand in hand with the worship of man-made gods.  Christianity, by contrast, is not based upon ‘religious’ form or mysterious rites of passage but, rather, it is a genuine relationship with Almighty God through Jesus Christ.  We are reconciled to God, not based upon our own works, but by placing our faith and trust in the finished work of His only begotten Son.  The Apostle Paul confirms this in the very familiar passages of Ephesians 2:8-9 when he declares:

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Herein lies one of the primary distinguishing factors which separates the Christian Faith from man-made ‘religions’.  While it is useful to know some of the details and beliefs of false religions when witnessing to those who hold to them, we need not feel overly compelled to burden ourselves with learning the finer points of papal infallibility, trans substantiation, the five pillars of Islam, proxy baptism for the dead, etc. in order to engage a Catholic, Muslim, or Mormon in a discussion.  Instead, I have found it much easier to demonstrate the exclusive Truth of Christianity vs. other religions via a very simple (yet powerful) illustration:

Visualize two columns in your mind.  In one column, list every world religion you can think of (e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism, The Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientology, etc.).  In the other column goes Christianity, all by itself.

Upon closer inspection, you will find that the man-made religions in the first column all have something in common;  at their core, they ALL advocate some form of ‘works righteousness’–the ability of man to somehow earn God’s favor or forgiveness through doing ‘good’ deeds or performing some other outward work.  Without exception, this is the mark of any false religion, as mankind’s prideful desire and need to merit their own salvation is the fly in the ointment which corrupts, and, subsequently, exposes corrupt human creeds vs. the genuine Truth of God.  Religions of men attempt to (and do) woo masses by appealing to man’s unregenerate and self-righteous human nature with a flattering message which proclaims, ‘you can earn your way to heaven through your own goodness’, while Christianity tells us something radically different.

The Bible teaches that there is NONE righteous or good in themselves (Rom. 3:10).  In fact,  we are told that our own self-righteous deeds are as filthy rags before the absolute, perfect holiness of Almighty God (Isaiah 64:6).  Christianity unapologetically declares to a sinful and rebellious world, ‘there is nothing you can do to save yourself, but God has mercifully paid the penalty for your sins in the blood of His precious Son’.  Upon Divine authority, it demands that we cease our vain and contemptible attempts at self-righteousness at once and surrender to the Saviour, in order to be reconciled to God and to be justified freely by Him on his terms, not ours

While the religions of the world are man’s prideful and futile attempt to attain unto righteousness on his own, Christianity is God’s demonstration of Divine love expressed through the act of Him humbly becoming a man and obtaining for us what we could never hope to obtain for ourselves.  He lived the life we could not live and then died the death that we should have died.  As such, he receives ALL the glory for our salvation, as He is, therefore, both the Author and Finisher of our Faith.  The difference between these two competing philosophies is as drastic as night and day and the consequences of which one we choose to follow are eternal.  As it was that fateful day with Peter, James, and John, so it is today—when the smoke of worldly deception clears, the Christ of Christianity stands alone as THE way, THE truth, THE life, and mankind’s only hope of salvation and righteousness before Almighty God.  Amen.

As we draw nearer to the time of Christ’s return, God has assured us in His Word that we can expect to see an increase in those defecting from the Christian Faith and also a general departure from the sound foundational doctrines of Christianity.  The Apostle Paul writes of this in 1 Timothy 4:1-2:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

And again in 2 Timothy 4:2-4:

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables

Now more than ever, we are seeing an obvious attempt by satan to undermine the revealed Truth of God’s Word.   Through the spirit of error (I John 4:6), he has caused many to forsake sound Biblical doctrine in exchange for ‘fables’—or made up, false human notions.  With access to information all around us, you don’t have to look very hard to find examples of where this has occurred.  In fact, I ran across an online article awhile back which was dedicated entirely to disproving the existence of the Trinity.  The article was written by a well-meaning, professing Christian name Bobby who was also offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who could prove otherwise.

I have had face-to-face encounters in the past with others who embrace this type of anti-Trinitarian theology as well, and am familiar with the types of arguments that are normally used in support of this un-Biblical position.  Interestingly enough, Bobby’s article contains some of those same arguments, as well as some new ones.  I put forth a response on his site and thought it might be helpful to repost it here for the benefit of those who may be dealing with this (and similar) doctrinal issues as well.   If you haven’t encountered this ‘doctrine of devils’ yet, you probably will at some point.  Here is my response to Bobby as originally submitted (with minor edits):

Bobby, my name is Mike and I happened across your articles on the internet today. You have certainly done a lot of work and research in compiling the information you have posted. I commend you for your desire for truth, as that is the mark of a Christian and is something that should grow more intense in us as we grow in the Lord. With that said, I am a born again Christian who happens to hold to the doctrine of the Trinity and see it as an essential part of true Christian theology. I am not interested in the $10,000 reward that you have offered, but I do see some fundamental problems in the arguments that you have presented against the doctrine of the Trinity as they are based on flawed premises. If I may elaborate:

 1st:  You said: “I am a father, a son and a husband. But, none of these TITLES is my name, and I am NOT three different people! These are separate and distinct positions, roles or offices that I occupy and function in, as ONE PERSON! At times I speak and function as a father. At times I speak and function as a son. And at times I speak and function as a husband.”

Your analogy here is a false one, as at no time are you your OWN father, son, or husband. Jesus claimed that God was HIS father many times while on earth and even AFTER He was glorified in heaven (which means He was no longer in the flesh–Rev. 3:5, 12). Likewise, God Himself announced openly that Jesus Christ was HIS son numerous times, and this is confirmed over and over again in the Scriptures . Unless you are arguing that Jesus was His own father and God was his own son (which is absurd and un-Biblical), this argument has no merit. Besides, Jesus Himself stated that if you are married, then you and your wife are ‘one flesh’. Surely, you don’t take that to mean that you and her are the same person do you? Rather, you understand Jesus to mean simply that the both of you are ‘one’ in unity. The same type of consistency must be applied to our understanding of the relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (the term ‘Trinity’ literally means Tri-unity or ‘Three in unity’).

 

 2nd:  You seem to be arguing that since the word ‘Trinity’ is not found in the Bible, then it therefore cannot exist. Using that same logic, one could argue that neither the Bible nor grandfathers can exist either, since neither of those words is found in the Bible. Surely, you would agree that such a conclusion is absurd, no? Hopefully you can more clearly see the problem with your argument as well. Although the word ‘Trinity’ is not mentioned in the Bible, the concept of ‘three in one’ is (1 John 5:7; Eph. 4:4-6; ). Not to mention the litany of times that Jesus used the terms ‘we’, ‘us’, and ‘our’ to describe Himself in relation to the Father along with the crystal clear instances at Jesus’ baptism and Stephen’s stoning where all 3 are present and individually recognized and described.

 

3rd:  You said:  “Unauthorized changes were made in 325 A.D. when Emperor Constantine and his “scholars” introduced the doctrine of the “trinity” to the world, and established it as the official doctrine of the church of Rome … with the emperor being its head.”

I would say that this is the most troubling argument of all. Here, you are asserting that, at some point in time, the Bible was changed and is therefore not accurate in its description of the Triune nature of God. If that’s the case, how do you know that any of what the Bible says is reliable? How do you know that Jesus really was the Son of God who was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead on the third day if the Bible isn’t reliable and doesn’t really mean what it says?   With all due respect Bobby, it seems all too easy for those who disagree with what the Bible says to somehow try to undermine its authority in order to validate their own doctrines and beliefs. Ironically, this is exactly what counterfeit cults such as Jehovah’s witnesses and Mormons (which you oppose in some of your other writings) do to try and justify their doctrines. Perhaps you should give this some serious thought.

 As a born again Christian, I hold the Bible to be the infallible, inspired Word of God.   It is my ultimate authority and the foundation of my reasoning.   The Bible is the lens through which every Christian should interpret the world around us, and not vice versa. I’m sure you would agree that, never should we try to make the Bible ‘fit’ our individual beliefs, but rather we should adjust our beliefs to fit the truth of the Bible. I do not deny that there are some difficult doctrines in Christianity, but the doctrine of the Trinity is undeniable IF we study Bible in a consistent, straightforward manner and interpret Scripture in light of other Scripture. One God existing in 3 persons is not in any way unfathomable, as Even H2O exists in 3 totally distinct, different forms at certain temperatures, yet it still remains H2O at all times.   As I mentioned previously, I appreciate your zeal for the Lord and your obvious knowledge of the Word of God. I do not doubt your sincerity as a Christian, but simply hope to provide you with some food for thought and some items to consider with regards to this crucial topic.

In Christ,

Mike