Let’s be clear before we start: I believe in God. I believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. That in the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. That man is sinful and in need of salvation; That Jesus Christ died on the cross, and rose again from the dead to provide that salvation. That part is easy. If you want to know why I believe the Bible is the Word of God, I wrote an article in this blog last year explaining it. Do look it up.
My problem is figuring out what it says. Atheists love to point out all the contradictions in the Bible, thus showing that it cannot be the inerrant Word of God. Agnostics are kind of hung up in the middle. They kind of believe in God and Jesus and all that. They just don’t want to think about it. A lot of them will tell you they are going to hell anyway, so why think about it. (Oh, and they get offended if you try to get them to think about it.)
Most Christians, those that believe in God and want to believe they are serving God believe what they were taught in Sunday school, or in some cases Parochial school, and have locked in what they believe about what the Bible says without actually studying the Bible itself. They will tell you: “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.” A cute little saying, but do they really know what the Bible says?
There are a lot of things that Christians believe that can’t be supported in the Bible, and some of them don’t even make sense. Church goers, for the most part, just skip over these little problems and don’t let themselves think about it. How in the world can Jesus be crucified on Friday, spend three days in the tomb, and rise before dawn on Sunday. I’m no great mathematician, but that doesn’t work!
Almost every church celebrates Christmas. The Bible says nothing about Jesus being born in December, and virtually everything that Christians do in celebration of Christmas is actually forbidden in the Bible. Before you put up your next Christmas tree, read Jeremiah chapter 10.
Now, I’m human. I have a bunch of things that I believe in (Han Solo shot first!) and to try to get me to change any of those beliefs is like pulling teeth.
But I don’t want to be that way. I feel a real need to know the actual truth. So I read the Bible. I study the Bible. I see the apparent contradictions and they vex me. Not because they challenge my belief in the Divine inspiration of the Bible, but because they tell me that there is something that I don’t understand.
Is Jesus and God the Same?
That brings us to the person of Jesus Christ. Is He God, or isn't He? There is a principle doctrine that, with a few notable exceptions (Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses come to mind), every church believes in: Trinitarianism - The belief that Jesus Christ is God. It’s right there in the Bible:
John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Forgive me for skipping ahead a little bit here, but when we get to verse 14, we get to the crowning of this passage: And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Very hard to argue with. But, not impossible. Arius of Alexandria pointed out that the Greek term for Word (logos) could just as easily be understood to mean “concept” or “thought.” This would mean that God had Jesus in mind from the beginning, long before He created Him to be the Savior of the world. It doesn't have to mean that, but if you are trying to make an argument that Jesus is not God, this point is useful. Just for fun, try reading the whole passage, replacing “Word” with “thought” or “idea”. It’ll give you something to ponder.
Then there is the verse in John 8:58 - Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. If you doubt what He meant, the Jews sure didn't. They tried to stone Him in the very next verse. He could have said “I was before Abraham”, that would mean that He existed before his incarnation, but what He said was the same phase that God used to introduce Himself to Moses from the burning bush. So, He was saying that He is God.
There is also: John 10:30 - I and my Father are one. OK, that’s easy to dismiss as meaning that they are of in one accord.
But try this one: Isaiah 9:6 - For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
I honestly don’t know how you are going to get around that one. The child who is born shall be called the everlasting Father.
But there is a counter argument: Mark 10:18 - And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
You could say that Jesus was just questioning why the man called Him good while believing that Jesus was just a teacher. But then there is: Luke 2:52 - And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
Jesus increased in favor with God. Let that sink in for a bit. God’s favor toward Jesus was not constant?
John 6:29 - Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. Another example of God commanding Jesus, putting Jesus in a subservient position to God, along with John 8:42 - Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
Yet, in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, speaking of Jesus, he said: Philippians 2:6 - Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. Now if Jesus didn't think it was robbery, I’m of the opinion that it could not, in fact, have been robbery. Thus, this would put Jesus equal with God. But, here they are plainly two different persons.
Likewise in Matthew 27:46 - And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
And in Acts 5:30 - The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
Here in John 5:19, Jesus says that without the Father, he is as powerless as the rest of us: Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
I’m pretty sure I've established that God and Jesus are two different persons, but then we have this combination of scriptures:
Isaiah 44:6 - Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
Put that together with Revelation 1:17 - And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last and 16 - I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Now They’re the same Guy again.
OK, I Give Up.
There is something I’m not quite getting here. I've read and listened to a lot of commentators who fully believe in the Trinity, but none of them have been able to adequately describe what the Trinity really means.
I've heard it compared to the states of water: ice, water and steam. I've heard it compared to man - body, soul, and spirit. I've even heard it likened to a corporation where all three board member agree in perfect unison. But none of these explain Jesus praying for God to get Him out of being crucified. (Matthew 26:39 - And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.) He didn't press it that hard, but he still didn't want to do it. So, maybe not quite in perfect agreement.
So where does this leave us?
I admit that I have not fully figured out the nature of the relationship between God the Father and Jesus Christ. We can put the Holy Ghost in here too, but that’s not what people argue about. I’m sure if you can figure out the relationship between the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit will automatically make sense. I should point out here that Jesus said you better not disrespect the Holy Spirit: Mark 3:29 - But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.
But is Jesus Christ God?
Now you have to define the word God. Most people understand “god” to mean a person or thing to be worshipped. So the real question here is: is Jesus worthy to be worshipped?
The fact is, Jesus never stopped anyone from worshipping Him, and just allowing someone to worship Him would be a sin if He wasn't God. In fact, when the Pharisees got on Him for allowing Himself to be worshipped as He entered Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt, Luke 19:40 says: And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
So, while I may spend the rest of my life trying to figure out the workings within the Trinity, it’s pretty clear that Jesus is, in fact God - in that He is worthy of our worship.
Here’s What I Wrote All of This To Say:
The Bible says to believe in the Name of Jesus. So what is the Name of Jesus. It translates to Yahweh saves. The name Yahweh traces back to when God told Moses “tell them ‘I AM’ sent you.” So, Jesus would translate to I Am Saves. But verbs don’t get tenses in Hebrew, like “eat”, “ate”, and “eating”. You just get the verb, and assume the tense based on the context.
Let’s face it, “I am saves” makes no sense in English. But if you change the tense (why not?), you can not only make the English work, but you have the whole gist of what we are to believe: I AM SAVED.