GOD WITH US

What do I believe about Jesus? Matthew in his Gospel (1:20-23)  says, “an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).”

Two observations for me from that text is that “he will save his people from their sins”, and he can do so because in reality he is “God with us.”

We don’t know the day Jesus was born,  varying dates were considered by the church fathers, but eventually they settled on the 25th December in the West, with “Western Christians first celebrating the birth of Jesus on December 25 in 336, after Emperor Constantine had declared Christianity the empire’s favoured religion.” But how easy it is to lose sight of the original intention of Christmas and to get caught up in the glitter and tinsel and all the self-interest that accompanies Christmas, and to forget the purpose of the Incarnation, that he had come to save his people from their sins, and he can do that because he is, “God with us.”

In Luke’s Gospel (Luke 2: 8-11) we read, 8 “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” The King James Version describes him as, ‘Christ the Lord’.

That is how the Bible presents Jesus. In “1 Corinthians 8:6 we read, “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” Whatever can be said of the Father can be said of Jesus.

In John’s Gospel (1:1-18)  we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . . . 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”)16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”

And in a letter to the Philippians (2:5-11)  the Apostle Paul expresses more fully the purpose of the divine visit to our world when he says:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

In my previous post,  I said there was “a subject dear to my heart, that of the Deity of Jesus. Having come from a direction in life where I treated God with indifference, and even at times with hostility, and ignoring the graciousness of God as described by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:5-11. I consider that my attitude was really a truly treasonable posture, a creature’s total disrespect and indifference towards his Creator. . . I have become very sensitive of any suggestion that Jesus Christ is anything less than the Creator, and would always want to say with Thomas, “my Lord and my God,” John 20:28.”

But that is what I read so frequently. It is in the Philippians text that we are informed the God the Son voluntarily became one of us to show Adam need not have sinned in his place of paradise while Jesus resisted temptations in the hostile wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11).  Instead he “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” There is nothing in Scripture that suggests the subordination among the Trinity, except in Christ’s role as our Saviour coming to planet Earth as both God and Man, to provide the bridge for fallen humankind to come back to God. The Bible says “The Word was God,” and “the Word became flesh” (John 1:1,14). When Jesus became one of us “It was not that he gave up what he was but became what he was not” (John Owen).

In all my reading since my last post, I have read quite extensively on the subject of the deity of Jesus, and I find John Stott’s book Basic Christianity to be one of the most succinct explanations of who Jesus Christ is and the reason for his incarnation. The Amazon review section on that promotion is mostly 5 star, and deservedly so. Millions of this little book has been sold and is well worth the read.

There seems to be such an avalanche of anti-Trinitarianism on the Internet to confuse readers that I see this little book as one of the best to ‘un-confuse’. No Christian objects to the existence and status of God referred to as the Father, but for many the Holy Spirit is merely an expression of the Father and Jesus the Son as Someone brought into existence at some time in eternity by the Father, and is and always was subordinate to the Father. For the Trinitarian this demeans not just the action of Christ on our behalf but demeans our understanding of the Trinity in their distinct roles in the saving of fallen humankind.

Not that we can know everything about the Trinity as we might like; to know everything about God would make us God. Instead, as the very good article on the BBC website makes clear.  We cannot know all we want to know about God, but we can just humbly accept we are his creatures (Colossians 1:16).

For me, A. R. Torrey  expresses well my understanding on the Deity of Jesus it is where I feel comfortable. When Jesus was born into this world he was as the angel announced, “God with us.”

Posted in Christ's Sacrifice, Gospel, Incarnation, Jesus, Salvation, The Gospel, Trinity | Leave a comment

Seventh-day Adventists And The Trinity

I came across a website recently that released its tirade upon Seventh-day Adventists. It took some researching to find the author’s name. I thought I could at least engage with him on one of his many indictments. I eventually found the name David J. Stewart, and with further Google search I found his full name; David John Stewart. Apparently, with the aid of Google, I find he is a very formidable character who seems to take on the whole world with his indictments. I read too that his website does have an enormous amount of hits, from those he appeals to as well as those who feel he is worth investigating.

From reading some blogs or websites critiquing David John Stewart, I decided that any thought of trying to appeal to him to correct the allegation he makes, would be a futile task and would just waste time. It seems from my reading that better minds than mine in the Christian world have tried to address the concerns they have over David John Stewart’s website, but seems to me it is to no avail. There are other allegations, but for now, let me address the one allegation he makes that concerns a belief credited to one of the co-founding members of the Adventist church, Ellen G. White.

The indictment is on a subject dear to my heart, that of the Deity of Jesus. Having come from a direction in life where I treated God with indifference, and even at times with hostility, and ignoring the graciousness of God as described by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:5-11. I consider that my attitude was really a truly treasonable posture, a creature’s total disrespect and indifference towards his Creator.  Since being ‘born again’ through the work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8) and through the reading of His Word (1 Peter 1:23-25), I have become very sensitive of any suggestion that Jesus Christ is anything less than the Creator, and would always want to say with Thomas, “my Lord and my God,” John 20:28.

The Godhead did not send a subordinate to rescue the fallen inhabitants of this world, but came here Himself, God in the Person of Jesus Christ, (John 1:1-31014Colossians 1:16,17).

So it was this indictment of an Ellen White statement that sent me searching for her alleged offence. Let me quote David J. Stewart:

“It makes a difference” he says, ““who” Jesus really is, for 2 Corinthians 11:4 warned there’d be those who’d teach another Jesus, preach a different gospel, and have another spirit. These marks identify cults, who invariably attack the Doctrine of Christ. Early SDA’s denied Jesus’ deity saying he was only an archangel. Their Commentary, volume 5, pg. 1129, cites Ellen White as saying . . .” And then typed in a separate line in bold large print Stewart cites:

The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty.”

SOURCE: Ellen G. White (1903, ms 150, SDA; Commentary V, p. 1129

That is followed by texts “that show that Jesus is Almighty God. John 1:1-3, 14; 10:33; 1st Timothy 2:5; 3:16; Colossians 2:16; Hebrews 7:4; Revelation 1:8; 15:3, 16:5-7; and 17:14 – all show Jesus is Almighty God.” (Some of the texts he has chosen do not seem to fit the category of the Deity of Jesus). But then comes the strong and bold accusation: “Ellen G. White is a LIAR!” He’s not God-angel-man. Clearly, SDA’s have a different Jesus.”

As an Adventist, with a high view of who Jesus is, I found that indictment challenging. Obviously, David John Stewart has access to the SDA Commentary, and so do I. I looked up the SDABC vol.5:1129 which I admit I hadn’t read before. There is a lot of material in those 7 thick volumes. But in fact there wasn’t just one page but 6 pages of compilations of Ellen White comments following the regular comments on John chapter 1. They were all on the deity and humanity of Jesus, over 4400 words.

I made my way down page 1129 to find the offending sentence and sure enough, it is there: “The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, . . .” ten words, selected from over 4400 words, the sentence incomplete and taken completely out of their context to say something the author was not saying.

I have made my own selections from those 4400 word selection of comments to give a representative view of what Ellen White believed on the Deity and humanity of Jesus. I have made these selections for two reasons; they are for my own concerns over what else David John Stewart thinks Adventists believe about Jesus, and my concern over what some Adventists may believe over the nature of the deity of Jesus. The selection that follows might well serve to resolve the other concerns, which I will take up in a following post.

This selection of Ellen White Statements on the Humanity and Deity of Jesus are taken from the same source that David John Stewart used to indict Ellen White as rejecting the Deity of Jesus:

“Equal with the Father, honored and adored by the angels, in our behalf Christ humbled Himself, and came to this earth to live a life of lowliness and poverty—to be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Yet the stamp of divinity was upon His humanity. He came as a divine Teacher, to uplift human beings, to increase their physical, mental, and spiritual efficiency.”

The “offending” sentence comes in this next paragraph, but now in context:

“There is no one who can explain the mystery of the incarnation of Christ. Yet we know that He came to this earth and lived as a man among men. The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one.”

That gives a different intention to the half sentence selected to denigrate the author. Here the author is talking about Christ’s humanity as well as His deity. Notice the next paragraph where she takes the traditional view that Paul was the author of the Book of Hebrews. Citing:

John 1:1–3, 14 (Phil. 2:5–8; Col. 2:9; Heb. 1:6, 8; 2:14–17; see EGW on Mark 16:6). Divine-Human Saviour.— Ellen White says, “The apostle would call our attention from ourselves to the Author of our salvation. He presents before us His two natures, divine and human. Here is the description of the divine: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” He was “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.””

“The tongue can never describe it; the imagination cannot take it in. The eternal Word consented to be made flesh! God became man! It was a wonderful humility.”

(Matt. 27:54; 1 Tim. 3:16.) But although Christ’s divine glory was for a time veiled and eclipsed by His assuming humanity, yet He did not cease to be God when He became man. The human did not take the place of the divine, nor the divine of the human. This is the mystery of godliness. The two expressions “human” and “divine” were, in Christ, closely and inseparably one, and yet they had a distinct individuality. Though Christ humbled Himself to become man, the Godhead was still His own.”

David J. Stewart would have read all this so why did he select a half sentence out of 6 pages of comment to make the indictment he did? So to repeat again the next paragraph which includes the “offending phrase”:

“There is no one who can explain the mystery of the incarnation of Christ. Yet we know that He came to this earth and lived as a man among men. The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one. The Deity did not sink under the agonizing torture of Calvary, yet it is nonetheless true that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.””

“4 (chs. 10:18; 17:3). Christ’s Life Was Unborrowed.—“In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.” It is not physical life that is here specified, but eternal life, the life which is exclusively the property of God. The Word, who was with God, and who was God, had this life.” . . . “In Him was life, original, unborrowed, underived.”

“14 (Phil. 2:6–8; Col. 1:26, 27; 2:9; Heb. 1:3; 2:14–18; see EGW on Luke 2:40, 52). The Incarnation an Unfathomable Mystery.—In contemplating the incarnation of Christ in humanity, we stand baffled before an unfathomable mystery, that the human mind cannot comprehend. The more we reflect upon it, the more amazing does it appear. How wide is the contrast between the divinity of Christ and the helpless infant in Bethlehem’s manger! How can we span the distance between the mighty God (highlight mine) and a helpless child?” And I have to include the last two paragraphs of this 4400 word selections of commentary: called “Our Washing and Ironing time”

“29 (Lev. 14:4–8; Rev. 7:14; see EGW on John 12:32). Washing and Ironing Time.—Remember that just as you are in your family, so will you be in the church. Just as you treat your children, so will you treat Christ. If you cherish an un-Christ-like spirit, you are dishonoring God. … Position does not make the man. It is Christ formed within that makes a man worthy of receiving the crown of life, that fadeth not away. …

This is our washing and ironing time—the time when we are to cleanse our robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. John says, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” … Shall we not let Him take them away? Shall we not let our sins go (GCB April 6, 1903, p. 89)?

Posted in Apologetics, Christ's Sacrifice, Jesus, The New Birth, Trinity | Leave a comment

Moses’ Better Choice

Back in 1922 with the help of the media a sinificant and unique find caught the world’s attention. Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun with its hidden treasures. Recent speculation has created further excitement of another possible find equivalent to that of Tutankhamun and his treasures. Leading archaeologist are suggesting the possibility of more rooms behind the painted walls of Tutankhamun’s tomb that may hold the mummy of Queen Nefertiti and more ancient treasures that would have been buried with her.

Having visited some of the celebrated tombs of the kings of Egypt, the Pyramids and the tombs in Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, my visits on two occasion going down into Tutankhamun’s tomb was a bit of a disappointment each time. It doesn’t compare to my visits to some of the other tombs in the Valley of the Kings that lay in Thebes just across the Nile from Luxor. But when you go to the Cairo Museum and view the treasures on display that were removed from that tomb, one is left to imagine just what treasures must have been in the more elaborate tombs of the more significant Pharaohs in Egypt’s history. Tutankhamun’s tomb is not as impressive as other tombs, but it attracts more interest for the treasures that Howard Carter discovered there back in 1922. So what more fascinations might lay behind the decorated sealed up walls of Tutankhamun’s tomb? We wait and see.

Prior to Howard Carter’s find in 1922 many scholars were skeptical about the claims made in the Bible about the ancient world and all its gold and other treasures. So when the Bible says: “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be ill-treated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead for his reward” (Hebrews 11:24-25). Prior to 1922 the so called treasures of Egypt wasn’t to be taken seriously, but 1922 changed all that. If Tutankhamun was quite insignificant compared to most Pharaohs, with a tomb that appears to reflect a hurried burial, what might the other tombs in the Pyramids and in the Valley of the Kings have contained in the way of priceless treasures, before the grave robbers found them? That find in 1922 cast light on that statement in Hebrews 11: 24-25.

The author of Hebrews had more information than we had until that discovery. The author knew what he was talking about when he spoke of Moses choosing not to indulge in the sins and treasures of Egypt, but instead he chose to follow God’s instructions to lead the people of Israel to their promised land (Hebrews 11:23-29), where they unfortunately failed to carry out their witness for God to the nations around them (Ezekiel 5:5-6).  Like the others mentioned in Hebrews 11, Moses looked for something more permanent (Hebrews 11:13-16).  He made the better choice.

Posted in Apologetics, Archaeology, Bible, Salvation, Saved by Faith | Leave a comment

The Wonder Of The Human Eye

The devotional below by William Johnsson from his book, ‘Jesus’, seems appropriate at this point in time for me, having struggled with cataracts on both eyes for a few months, reading at times with a magnifying glass while wearing my reading glasses. We take our sight for granted until we find ourselves restricted from recognising people we know until close up, from reading or watching some favourite activity and restricted from driving because that sense of distance has become impeded and pedestrians become blurred images. I have just had the cataract from my right eye removed a few days ago and now waiting to have the cataract removed from the left eye but already there is an enormous difference in what I can see. What value our eyes, and what a wonder of nature is the human eye.

So when my wife read ‘EACH LIGHT-FILLED HOUR’ by William Johnsson, I took that extra interest:

Oh, how sweet the light of day, and how wonderful to live in the sunshine! Even if you live a long time, don’t take a single day for granted. Take delight in each light-filled hour. Eccl. 11:7, 8, Message

Taken alone, anyone could utter these words from Ecclesiastes. Even a pagan might give praise to the gods and goddesses of nature.

But these words do not stand alone. They come in the context of the writer’s “Honour and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young” (Eccl. 12:1, Message) and his closing words: “The last and final word is this: Fear God. Do what He tells you” (verse 13, Message).

God makes all the difference. When we know Him as Creator and Redeemer, as our personal Friend and Lord, we look out on His creation through grace-filled eyes.

And how rapturously beautiful is that creation!   Marred and defaced by the effects of sin, it nevertheless bears the stamp of a beneficent Maker.

I love the light. I love the dawn’s first gleaming; the early rays reflecting off lake and mountain and surf; the full-throttled power of midday; the soft light of the gloaming.

I love the gentle coolness of the moon, the silent wonder of the stars. On an island in the antipodes, far from city lights, I lay on my back and gazed amazed at the startling clarity of the Milky Way and the Southern Cross.

If the sun or the moon or the stars rose only once a year, everyone would turn out to witness the event. So as the wise man said: “Don’t take a single day for granted.”

This world is incredibly beautiful, this life incredibly wonderful. I want to take delight in each light-filled hour.

On a morning walk in the park, Noelene and I saw a bluebird sitting on a pole only feet away. This shy little chap didn’t move as we stood and watched. Then another bluebird flew by, and another, and another. Then two males went by in tandem, their majestic colours brilliant in the light. For an enchanted moment it seemed as if we were surrounded by bluebirds.

“A moment of grace,” whispered Noelene. What a way to start the day!

            Lord, may I look out on Your world today through grace-filled eyes. Show me the wonder of Your world and the beauty of Your people

More here on the creative wonder of our eyes!

http://creation.mobi/our-eye-movements-and-their-control-part-1

http://creation.com/our-eye-movements-and-their-control-part-2

Posted in Apologetics, Articles, Faith & Science, Origins | Leave a comment

Assumptions & The Truth Of Christianity & God

Says J. Warner Wallace, “As a skeptic, I was slow to accept even the slightest possibility that miracles were possible. My commitment to naturalism prevented me from considering such nonsense. But after my experience with presuppositions at the crime scene, I decided that I needed to be fair with my naturalistic inclinations. I couldn’t begin with my conclusion, and if the evidence pointed to the reasonable existence of God, this certainly opened up the possibility of the miraculous. If God did exist, He was the . . .

Posted in Apologetics, Articles, Faith & Science, God, Origins | Leave a comment

THE REJECTED CHRIST

Reminding myself about Jesus’ commitment to humankind does not have to be limited to any particular time of the year such as Easter. It is something I need to do every day

This daily reading is from William Johnson’s 2006 Devotional book,

Jesus: A Heart Full of Grace

He came unto his own and his own received him not”. John 1:11

The story of Jesus of Nazareth is incredible in many ways, but none more than this: the Creator of the universe came to the world He had made, but we, His creatures, rejected Him.

How could it be? How could creatures of dust spurn the hands that fashioned them? How could men and women, bound by a life span of 70 or 80 years, turn their backs on the One who is eternal?

What condescension! What forbearance! What humility! Even to come as a human being, accepting the working of the laws of heredity, would be a massive step down. But to come knowing that rejection, suffering and death awaited Him – the story boggles the mind.

Long before John penned the poignant words “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” Isaiah had foretold the rejection:

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isa. 53:3, NIV)

They rejected Him then; they still reject Him, Why? Because He is the Light that shines into the heart of every person. The Light reveals what we are like. In the Light we see ourselves as we truly are, and it’s not a pretty sight.   That’s why, in Jesus’ time and still today, most people respond with “Put out the Light!”

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19 NIV).

But the rejection wasn’t total, praise God, and still isn’t today. In the original Greek text the two words translated “own” in John 1:11 are different.   He came to His own world, and His own people received Him not. He commanded the waves, and they obeyed Him; He broke the loaves and fishes, and they multiplied in His hands. And nature covered His face in darkness as He hung in agony on the cross.

And there were some people (not the majority, but some) who did not reject Him, who did not say “Put out the Light!” but who opened their hearts to receive Him

Then, some.     Today, Some.

I want to be among them, today and every day.

Posted in Apologetics, Christ's Sacrifice, Easter, Incarnation, Injustice, Jesus, Suffering | Leave a comment

He Is Risen! Is There Evidence For The Resurrection?

“Many theories have been advanced, attempting to show that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a fraud. I believe that many of the people who came up with these theories must have had two brains–one lost, and the other one out looking for it. Historians have to become anti-historical to invent some of their ideas” (The Resurrection Factor, p. 76).

Harvard professor Dr. Simon Greenleaf also summed it up, when he said, “According to the laws of legal evidence used in courts of law, there is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history.”

And there’s this:

Posted in Apologetics, Easter, Jesus, The Resurrection | Leave a comment