I can’t believe that … (4) God’s word would be so violent

The Bible has sometimes been known as the “Good Book”. But really the Bible should come with a health warning. Because for all the stories of love and compassion, there are also stories featuring truly horrific behaviour. Particularly in the Old Testament (the first part of the Bible) you will find stories about murder, violence, mutilation, adultery, incest and gang rape. The worst of humanity is on display. So it is reasonable to ask in what sense is this a “good” book?

The truth is that this idea of the Bible as the “Good Book” misleads people into thinking it is just going to be a collection of spiritual sayings or moral tales. But this isn’t the case at all. “Bible” means library or collection of books, and that’s what the Bible is, it is a collection of books, each with its own style and own topic. The Bible contains books of history, of poetry, of songs, of prophecies, of visions, of stories and even some letters. And given all these different types of books, we should not be surprised to find certain things. So if someone is writing history, they will write about the stuff that actually happened not just the pleasant stuff. And if someone is describing the reaction of their people to times of trial and hardship they are not going to sugar coat it, even if their reaction doesn’t seem very Christian. Since the Bible isn’t just words straight from the mouth of God, but is words written down by men that are drawn together to form God’s book, then we shouldn’t expect the Bible to read like a heavenly voice. We should expect the Bible to sound, in places at least, very human. And humans can be pretty rubbish, at times.

A page from the Wenzel Bible From the caption:...

A page from the Wenzel Bible From the caption: Printed by the Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig. From the Manuscript (c. 1400) in the Imperial Library at Vienna. —- The passage is described there as being from the Book of Moses, ch. IV., v.4–15 (=Exodus 4:4-15). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bible certainly isn’t a book of moral fables, where each story has a clear moral lesson. Many of the stories have no moral commentary at all. Those stories that are particularly troubling, with violent and evil deeds, do not come with a command “you should behave like this”. If they did then we should be really worried. But the Bible isn’t like that. When the Bible does contain moral direction it makes plain that acts like murder and rape are absolutely wrong. So we shouldn’t try and read moral lessons from bits of the Bible that aren’t intended for moral teaching.

But these violent and unpleasant passages have a point. Take for example Judges 19-21. It is story that includes betrayal, abuse, gang rape, mutilation of corpses and pointless warfare. This is one of the most unpleasant stories that you could read. But its not there to be pleasant. It is there to provide an answer to a historical, that is, how did the tribe of Benjamin become so small. And that might not seem like a terribly important historical question – and in the grand scheme of God’s message to mankind, it isn’t – but it is one of those details from which the sweep of biblical history is composed. That’s probably the best way to regard these stories. They are there as background detail, they are not big picture stuff.

Yet this isn’t the whole answer. Because some of this violence comes direct from God. God judging people. God condemning people. God requiring death for evil men. And that can be difficult to swallow. That seems harsh, that seems cruel, that seems unforgiving – very different from the character of God as often presented. So what’s going on? Why does God kill people?

Now I don’t support the death penalty when implemented by human governments. Why? Because human justice can make mistakes. Human judges might condemn an innocent person, but they can’t take back the death penalty. In addition, the death penalty admits no second chances – no chance of repentance and a clean slate. Yet these problems are problems for God. If God is all knowing then he cannot make mistakes, he cannot condemn an innocent person, if God says someone is guilty then that person is guilty. And God also knows the heart of men, he knows if they are likely to repent or whether they are beyond reaching. So, it seems to me, the only appropriate person to administer the death penalty is God.

God is justified in putting people to death if he knows they deserve it. And it doesn’t matter whether God puts people to death individually or in a group, because he is able to ensure that only those who deserve to die will die. Take the example of God’s destruction of Sodom (you’ll find the story in Genesis 18). Abraham asks God if he would destroy Sodom if there were fifty righteous people in Sodom? And God says no, he would spare all those wicked people so that he wouldn’t kill any righteous people. What about forty-five? Or forty? Or thirty? Or twenty? Or ten? Abraham keeps asking and in every case God says that he would not destroy the city if there were righteous people in it. In the event God sends angels to rescue the only four righteous people in Sodom (and let’s face it, some of them weren’t particularly righteous). So when God destroys Sodom, we can be sure that the only people who died were those who deserved to die. And if that is the way God works then these violent passages of the Bible turn out to be demonstrations of God’s justice.

Now that doesn’t answer every problem. Some passages of the Bible are still confusing. But these ideas give the broad principles for providing an answer.

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Preceding articles in this series:

I Can’t Believe That (1) … God would send anyone to hell

I Can’t Believe That … (2) God would allow children to suffer

I can’t believe that … (3) miracles can happen

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Additional reading:

  1. Never making mistakes because never doing anything
  2. We are ourselves responsible

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  • The Battle Among Us (signsofthetimes.org.au)
    Those in power are not immune to such degeneration. Politicians lie and cheat, while rich businessmen move their money into overseas tax havens to avoid paying their dues to the country that protects them.
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    Society floats in a moral vacuum. We might have an amoral, “feral” culture that ignores decency and morality. But just as evil are the cultured rich and powerful who also ignore laws.

    Society today is at war. The battle-front is not in Israel, Palestine or Ukraine. It is here in our midst: it is our own inability to distinguish between right and wrong.

    Under the cloak of freedom and tolerance, we have abandoned morality grounded in Judeo-Christian ethics, replacing it with a concept of moral relativism. 

  • Does God Let His Kids Lie About Him? A Thought (or Two) on the Enns/Bell Interview (derekzrishmawy.com)

    The Israelites lived at a rough time, the Iron Age, when nations fought tooth and nail over land and resources and the gods fought right along side of them, leading the charge

    The nations that won had the mightier gods, and victory (slaughter, pillaging) gave gods honor. Losing meant your god was either a wimp or he was mad at your people for some reason and wanted to teach them a lesson in obedience. 

    The Israelites were part of this ancient Iron Age world of warring, land acquisition, and destroying the enemy. They fit right in, and to expect their God-talk to be on a totally different page is to start off on the wrong foot.
    +
    For God to deliver commands to us about not falsely representing him and taking his name in vain, through narratives that falsely represent him and take his name in vain? What kind of confusing father is that? A little exaggeration here and there is one thing, but to fundamentally miss a key component like that is kind of a big deal. I mean, especially when God seems particularly picky about the “no false images” thing (Ex. 32-33).

  • What has convinced many believers to not believe? … the bible did. (skeptical-science.com)
    EA Hanks, a writer based in Los Angeles, has written a very personal article in the Guardian that takes us on her journey from Fundamentalist born again Christian to atheist. In it we find two rather common answers to some truly fascinating questions. Why do people convert and become “born again”?
  • Unfortunately this happens to me all the time (thei535project.wordpress.com)
    Using your standard of morality that states that things that do no emotional or physical harm are good, is raping someone who is in a coma morally wrong?If it does no harm yet it’s still morally wrong then it’s morally wrong by a standard other than your own. This means that your standard is illogical.If you maintain that your standard is logical, then you cannot assert that raping a person in a coma is wrong.
  • The Abrahamic dilemma (jeremystyron.com)
    Doesn’t a believer’s response to what I will call the Abrahamic dilemma really cut to the core of a person’s faith? If, for instance, a believer says he would, in fact, sacrifice his child, or otherwise commit some violent act against another human being, for God, this indicts him as a hideous person, at least based on our set of moral principles. If a Christian says he would not raise the knife and sacrifice his child for God, then the person is not a true believer.
  • PZ Myers Has This Problem With My Post About the Terrorist Who Lost His Head (patheos.com)

    Indiscriminate cruelty and slaughter has long been a way of life for these types. I guess I’m supposed to be sad when it becomes a way of death for them too, but for once I’ll nod along in agreement with Jesus, who is said to have stated the inevitability of violence begetting violence pretty succinctly: “He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.”

    Mohammed Fares was another Islamist boil on the ass of humanity. It’s an unpleasant procedure, but boils need to be lanced. Or beheaded — same thing.

  • If ISIS Is Not Islamic, then the Inquisition Was Not Catholic (newrepublic.com)
    As ISIS slaughters its way though Syria and Iraq, it became inevitable that we’d hear from apologists who claim that ISIS is not in fact “true Islam,” and that its depredations are due to something other than religious motivation.
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    Reply:Not true or True Catholicism and True Islam
  • Is there such a thing as “Biblical” marriage? (lotharlorraine.wordpress.com)
    Rachel Ford recently published an article on the website of the “Friendly” Atheist arguing that the Bible is a morally consistent evil book presenting marriage coherently as a man possessing several wifes as objects to be used and maltreated.
  • What is a “true” religion? (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
    As ISIS slaughters its way though Syria and Iraq, it became inevitable that we’d hear from the apologists who claim that ISIS is not in fact “true Islam,” and that its depredations are due to something other than religious motivation. Those motivations, say the apologists, are political (usually Western colonialism that engendered resentment),…

 

Why think that (5) … the Bible is the word of God

Imagine there was a man who went around claiming that he had a special message from God and that part of this man’s message was that he would be killed and come back to life. And then imagine that this man did indeed come back to life. Surely that is the sort of person you’d want to pay attention to. We have seen that there is good historical evidence that Jesus is that sort of person – that he claimed to have a special message from God and that he died and came back to life. So we would want to pay attention to what Jesus said about the Bible.

Now for the purposes of this essay we are using the gospels as historical sources, not yet as scripture (otherwise our argument would be circular). But this does not prevent us drawing some conclusions about Jesus’ view of the Bible. For instance, as a first century Jew it would expect Jesus to believe that the Old Testament was inspired by God (just as Jews do today). And the gospels corroborate this. For example, when Jesus says “everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44), he is referring to the three sections into which the Jews divided their scriptures. It is also clear that Jesus regarded the Old Testament books as messages from God. For example, he refers to the Psalms being written by the Holy Spirit (Mark 12:36).

Titlepage of the New Testament section of a Ge...

Titlepage of the New Testament section of a German Luther Bible, printed in 1769. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But what about the New Testament? None of the books of the New Testament were written during Jesus’ lifetime on the Earth. Most written between twenty and forty years after his crucifixion. This being said, there are indications that Jesus expected there to be these books. We know that Jesus was a teacher, that he appointed disciples and that after his resurrection it was these disciples that started telling everyone about Jesus. The gospels say that Jesus selected the disciples for this role; for example, “you are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:48). And those who wrote the NT recognised that they were specially selected as witnesses (e.g. 1 Pet 1:12; Heb 2:3-4). In effect, Jesus says “there are going be witnesses” and the NT writers claim to be those witnesses.

So Jesus accepted the Old Testament as scripture, and it seems likely that the New Testament was written to fulfil Jesus’ instructions. Therefore the testimony of Jesus is gives us good reason for thinking the Bible is a special book and should encourage us to look for further evidence.

How could you know if a message was from God or not? How about if that message was itself miraculous? How about if that message contained accurate predictions about the future? In fact, this is exactly the test the Bible provides for judging whether a messenger is from God or not:

When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously (Deut 18:22)

As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet (Jer 28:9)

Obviously not all predictions are going to be as convincing as others. There seem to be three criteria: (1) that prediction is made before the event it predicts (otherwise its not a prediction), (2) that predicted event can be verified with reasonable certainty (otherwise how would you know if the prediction was successful), and (3) that the predicted events is sufficiently unlikely to make the prediction significant (predicting rain in England is hardly surprising).

The Bible contains numerous prophecies. Some are short term prophecies so aren’t easy to verify historically, but there are plenty of long term prophecies to look at it. Here we’ll just look at one group of prophesies to make the point. These are the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus, which accurately predict many of the events of Jesus’ life. These include being a descendant of King David (2 Sam 7:12-13), being born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2), being betrayed by a friend (Ps 41:9), being valued at thirty pieces of silver (Zech 11:13), having no bones broken in his execution (Ex 12:46), having hands and feet pierced (Ps 22:16; Zech 12:10), having his clothing divided by lot (Ps 22:18), being buried in the grave of a rich man (Isa 53:9) and being raised from the dead (Ps 16:9-11). What is interesting about these prophecies is these predictions al converge on the person of Jesus.

There is one further prophecy worth mentioning. In Daniel 9:24-27 a prophecy is made about set period of time in the history of the Jewish people. It is described in terms of weeks but all scholars agree that these weeks are periods of seven years. The interpretation of the prophecy can be technical because of some unusual Hebrew words and the fact that Daniel was using 360 day years (as opposed to the 365 ¼ day years that we use). But in essence what the prophecy says is that from command to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem to the coming of the Messiah would be 69 “weeks”. And if you do that maths, the time between the Persian command that the wall of Jerusalem should be rebuilt to the time of Jesus is exactly the period specified by Daniel 9. Even if you wanted to quibble about the exact year of the command or the exact year of Jesus’ ministry, the timing is still so accurate that it cannot be ignored.

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Preceding articles:

Why think that (1) … Jesus existed?

Why think that (2) … Jesus claimed to be something special

Why think that (3) … Jesus rose from the dead

Why think that (4) … God would reveal himself in words

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Please find also to read:

  1. No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation
  2. The radiance of God’s glory and the counsellor
  3. The day Jesus died
  4. People Seeking for God 3 Laws and directions
  5. Only worship the Creator of all things

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  • 5 Reasons to Suspect Jesus Never Existed (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
    Most antiquities scholars think that the New Testament gospels are “mythologized history.”  In other words, they think that around the start of the first century a controversial Jewish rabbi named Yeshua ben Yosef gathered a following and his life and teachings provided the seed that grew into Christianity.At the same time, these scholars acknowledge that many Bible stories like the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, and women at the tomb borrow and rework mythic themes that were common in the Ancient Near East, much the way that screenwriters base new movies on old familiar tropes or plot elements. In this view, a “historical Jesus” became mythologized.
  • From Reliable to Divine: The Fulfilled New Testament Prophecies of Jesus (escottspencer.wordpress.com)
    +
    The Case for the Reliability of the Old Testament (Free Bible Insert)

    The ancient scribes employed a trustworthy system of checks and balances as they copied the original texts, and the accuracy of transmission process was successfully tested with the discovery of the Isaiah text in the Dead Sea Scroll collection. The ancient Jewish believers and Church Fathers also embraced the Old Testament as the Word of God. In addition, archeological discoveries have since confirmed many of the Old Testament accounts, and these archaeological evidences are rich compared to other written claims about the ancient past. Finally, the Old Testament Scriptures contain fulfilled prophecies  (including amazing prophecies about the coming Messiah), establishing the Divine nature of the texts. Based on this evidence, the following summary can be created related to the case for the reliability of the Old Testament
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    During Jesus’ life, He made several predictions in the presence of the disciples. At the time of these prophetic statements, His followers were often more than skeptical and less than understanding. But as the years passed, followers of Jesus saw His words come true, and these fulfilled prophecies served to strengthen their faith:
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    While much of the New Testament prophecy points to a distant future, many of the claims of Jesus can be assessed now. Jesus’ accuracy is so compelling, many skeptics have altered their dating of the New Testament in response. Acknowledging the accuracy of the prophecy related to the Temple destruction, skeptics typically date Luke and Matthew after 70AD to account for the inclusion of this statement. In doing so, these skeptics recognize the power of Jesus’ prophetic ability. They would rather deny the evidence for early dating than accept Jesus’ accuracy. Critics and skeptics of the New Testament recognize the power accurate prophecy has to demonstrate the Divinity of the New Testament.

  • Jesus Preached Islām. Period. (thelionofallah.wordpress.com)
    The only religion in the whole world, that believes in Jesus [ʿĪsā] (Upon Whom Be Peace) and testifies to Christianity is Islām. Muslims believe, that Jesus (Upon Whom Be Peace) was one of the mightiest Messengers of Allāh; that he was born miraculously ― without any male intervention; that he gave life to the dead by Allāh’s permission, and that he healed the born blind and the lepers by Allāh’s permission. A person is not considered a Muslim, unless, he or she believes in Jesus (Upon Whom Be Peace). Muslims believe, that Allāh delivered the Gospel ― Injeel to Jesus (Upon Whom Be Peace), just as He did Torah ― Taurāt to Moses [Mūsā] (Upon Whom Be Peace), the Old Testament ― Zabūr to David [Dāwūd] (Upon Whom Be Peace) and The Mighty Qur’ān to Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
  • The Holy Scriptures (ptl2010.com)
    During the years of Christ and His death and resurrection a great transition was made between the Old and New Covenants. The Holy Scriptures at that time were Old Testament records and were used as a basis for Israel’s faith. During the first century the Four Gospel’s and the New Testament Epistles were being written and were not published until the 3rd century and after. The Old Testament records (the Holy Scriptures) were Israel’s primary written words of God.
  • How do we know what books should be called Scripture? Broadcast (joelanddeannap.wordpress.com)
    Both the Old Testament and New Testament books were immediately recognized and treated as scripture, though we have no formal statement about the New Testament until the fourth century.
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    How did the early church judge which books were scripture and which were not?

    • The test of authority: Who penned the book?
    • The test of internal evidence: Does the book penned or authorized by a genuine prophet or apostle bear the internal evidence of being God breathed?
    • The test of God’s people: Did genuine believers from the penning of these books to the present recognize them as scripture?
  • We Have A More Sure Word Of Prophecy (nowtheendbegins.com)
    Oftentimes when we study end times bible prophecy, we tend to focus on the Old Testament prophets like Joel, Isaiah, Zechariah, and on our apostle Paul in the New Testament. But Peter has a treasure trove of scripture for us to consider as well.
  • What should we say… (thelivingmessage.com)
    The more frequently you read and study the Bible, more of it will get into your mind and you won’t have to memorize it. It will just be there waiting to be used. It will also give you a greater understanding of God and His ways to “search the scriptures” because in doing so, you will be learning about God more and more.
  • End Times Prophecy Headlines: August 28, 2014 (endtimesprophecyreport.wordpress.com)
  • Preface (whatshotn.wordpress.com)
    With one-fourth of the Bible prophetically future when it was written, the interpretation of prophecy is one of the most challenging areas of biblical study. Too often preconceptions have led interpreters to draw from the biblical text doctrines that were quite removed from what the text actually states. Because prophecy is scattered from the early chapters of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation and deals with so many different situations and subjects, interpreters of prophecy have too often abandoned any detailed interpretation and reached only general conclusions.

Why think that (4) … God would reveal himself in words

Have you ever wondered why God created the universe? What his purpose is? We’ve already explored some reasons for thinking that God cares about us but does that actually mean? What purpose did God have in creating us? And what part do we have in God’s plan? One big clue is our ability to form relationships, not only with other people but also, in principle, with God. So if God intended there to be creatures like us, capable of forming relationships with him, then it seems a fair bet that this was his purpose in creating us (or at least part of it).

But relationships don’t just happen. They require communication. Imagine trying to form a relationship with someone without any communication. How would you know what they like or dislike? How would you know which things make them happy and which things really get on their nerves? How would you get to know them and share things with them without some form of communication? And the same is true of a relationship with God. If God wants us to have a relationship with him then he needs to reveal information about himself. He needs to tell us what he is like and what his expectations are and what sort of relationship he is interested in. Without this information it is simply not going to happen.

So God needs to reveal information about himself. How’s he going to do it? One possibility would be to reveal himself directly to everyone. Now perhaps the sheer immensity of his glory prevents mortals perceiving God directly, perhaps mortal minds would simply go kaput if faced with the true reality of God. But there are other ways God could have revealed himself, say, sending an angel to visit everyone personally and explaining that God exists, explaining that God wants a relationship and performing whatever miracles that would be needed to convince each person. That, we must presume, is something God could do but it is obvious that he hasn’t.

Here’s the problem: if the existence of God is obvious then it would severely limit our free choice as to whether to enter into a relationship with him or not. If we were faced with an angel who proved to us irrefutably that there was a God of unlimited and unquestionable power it is likely that we would feel compelled by fear to serve God. And that won’t do. Because what God wants is a loving relationship, for people to choose freely whether to enter into that relationship or not. And therefore God needs to be subtle so that people have a real choice: to trust in God, if they choose, or to deny God and go their own way, if they prefer. So we would expect God to reveal himself to mankind, so they can form relationships with him, but we would not necessarily expect to reveal himself directly to each person individually.

So whilst we might reasonably expect God to reveal information about himself, we should not expect God to do this in a coercive way. More likely God would reveal himself through an intermediary – someone or something that could speak on God’s behalf without forcing people to enter into a relationship with God. One option would be a spokesperson – like a prophet or religious teacher – but their impact is going to be limited. They can only speak to a limited number of people at one time and once they died the message would be gone. A better alternative would be a written message. Something that could be copied multiple times and sent to different parts of the world, and something that would outlive any one individual. It could contain enough information to form the basis of a relationship but would not be intimating or imposing; it would only be influential over those who accepted it. In the ancient world (when there was no radio, television or internet) a written text is the only form of mass communication.

From the 1933 edition of the Bible in the Sout...

From the 1933 edition of the Bible in the Southern Min language (specifically in a Taiwanese dialect influenced by the Amoy (Xiamen) dialect of the time), written in the Latin script. The text itself is in the public domain. This photo is of a recent reprinted edition and is released into the public domain by A-giâu 09:19, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC). The pages shown are of the Book of Proverbs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are limitations to any piece of writing. In a world of many languages, any book would need to be translated and interpreted to make it accessible throughout the world. Any book, if it was to be accessible to its initial readers, would be written with the cultural assumptions of that society. As societies change over time, newer generations might find the cultural assumptions made the book to be unfamiliar or even peculiar. But none of these limitations would be insurmountable as long as readers we focused on the purpose of the book: to build a relationship with God.

The book I have been describing is, of course, the Bible. The point is that it is not unexpected that God should use a book like the Bible to reveal himself. The reasonable next question is whether there is any evidence that the Bible is a revelation from God.

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Preceding articles:

Why think that (1) … Jesus existed?

Wy think that (2) … Jesus claimed to be something special

Why think that (3) … Jesus rose from the dead

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Related articles:

  1. Science and God’s existence
  2. Did the Inspirator exist
  3. Does He exists?
  4. Morality, values and Developing right choices
  5. It is a free will choice
  6. Christianity is a love affair
  7. Without God no purpose, no goal, no hope
  8. Being Religious and Spiritual 4 Philosophical, religious and spiritual people
  9. Nuturing a close relationship with God
  10. Our relationship with God, Jesus and eachother
  11. A time for everything
  12. Life is too precious
  13. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies
  14. Around pre-existence of Christ
  15. Preexistence in the Divine purpose and Trinity
  16. Jesus begotten Son of God #9 Two millennia ago conceived or begotten
  17. How is it that Christ pleased God so perfectly?
  18. The Song of The Lamb #2 Sevens
  19. Christ having glory
  20. Marriage of Jesus 10 Old and New Covenant
  21. Kingdom Visions of a Man, Throne and Great crowd
  22. He may found a kingdom and empire which shall be literally ‘universal’
  23. In the death of Christ, the son of God, is glorification
  24. A Living Faith #10: Our manner of Life #2
  25. Miracles of revelation and of providence 1 Golden Thread and Revelation
  26. Miracles of revelation and of providence 2 Providence
  27. Being Religious and Spiritual 4 Philosophical, religious and spiritual people
  28. Dignified role for the woman
  29. Many Books, yet One
  30. Fragments from the Book of Job #7 Epilogue
  31. Isaiah’s Book of the Messenger of Glad Tidings
  32. Bad things no punishment from God
  33. A Plan spoken of in long past times
  34. You God hold the future
  35. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #9 Prayer #7 Reason to pray
  36. Festival of Freedom and persecutions
  37. Zionism comments and the place of Jerusalem in the world
  38. Bible Book of books
  39. The Word of God

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  • Your Purpose For Your Life Vs. GOD’s Purpose of Your Life (foodforthespiritualsoul.wordpress.com)
    If there is anything that I have learned about my own life is that whatever I may have thought was the path for my life, was not necessarily the path that God has meant for my life. In other’s words, God has been constantly teaching me about My Will vs. God’s Will. And this is a constant struggle of the flesh, in every way to understand. Not to mention, a true test of your surrendering to the Will of God, the Father of Creation. It requires for one to take paths, that are illogical to the human mind. It requires you to uphold God’s Words, to the point of where there will be moments where you may be “alone” in this world. I put “alone” in quotes because you see, when we truly have come to understand the Unconditional Love that Jesus Christ demonstrated on the Cross, at Calvary, we will truly feel within the deepest parts of our inner selves, the presence of the Omnipresent God.
  • The Theory of Gods Creation in His Own Image (lajbut.wordpress.com)
    God deliberately created mankind to rule the earth and to accomplish this purpose, He created mankind as His own image- He made man His co-regent/representative rules. The image of God therefore refers to our unique status as human beings rulers in Gods stead, according to His will. We are created as his image to function as He would , were he administrating his own affairs directly.
  • The Purpose of Life (thelifeofastrangercalledme.wordpress.com)
  • Reluctant Progressions. (aldavina.wordpress.com)
    Those that talk about our treatment of other people, the holiness of God and how we are to hold that to the highest reverence, but most importantly, the law in which all laws are firmly rooted upon- the law of love.
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    To trusting that God has our best interests in mind when He gave His final word. To the beauty of progression.
  • The Bible & You (924jeremiah.wordpress.com)
    The Holy Spirit is God Almighty—He’s not some collection of verses. The Holy Spirit wants to say plenty of original thoughts to you that you aren’t going to find spelled out verbatim in the Book.
    +
    We greatly value having access to the collection of historical documents which Christians call “the Living Word.” But we are not going to pretend that the Book is perfect, because that’s just deception. We are not going to teach you to put your faith in a Book because this is idolatry. God is extremely jealous for our devotion. He commands us to love Him with all that we are, to worship Him alone, and to put nothing else above Him. Many Christians are living in total violation of all these things. They are far more devoted to their own interpretations of the Bible than they are to the teachings of the Holy Spirit. They worship pastors, theologians, and other teachers who claim to be experts on Scripture. They shamelessly exalt the Bible above God by promoting it as some binding contract which He is incapable of breaking. All of these are things which you need to stay far away from if you are going to honor God with your life.
  • Today’s Sabbath Message / “The Holy Bible Versus The Holy Spirit” – Has the Bible Become Our god? (owprince.wordpress.com)
    The Apostles of Christ would refer to The Holy Scriptures (The Torah / Pentateuch) at times to confirm, affirm and proclaim the fulfillment of the promises of God in Christ Jesus our LORD and Savior.  Christ himself often proclaimed that the Holy Scriptures were fulfilled in Him and that The Holy Spirit would reveal all divinely hidden Knowledge and Truth.
  • What About Free Will? (Part 3) (mscottc.wordpress.com)
    According to libertarians, only if we are free to accept or reject God can we have a meaningful relationship with Him.  If our love for God is determined it must mean it is either mechanistically programmed or coerced against our will.  If either notion is true then love would be stripped of its value.  Greg Boyd says, “If love is the goal” of God’s creation of us then love “must be freely chosen. It cannot be coerced. Agents must possess the capacity and opportunity to reject love if they are to possess the genuine capacity and ability to engage in love.”
  • Praying the open view: partnering with God (anopenorthodoxy.wordpress.com)
    most Christians believe that whether God directly intervenes in our world depends at times on whether we petition God to do so. “We have not because we ask not” in the sense that “certain states of affairs that God can and wishes to bring about do not occur because we have chosen not to request that he intervene.” (italics mine) For open theists, how we understand this “because” is what sets an open worldview and its approach to prayer apart from other views. Sanders will emphasize the important of this “because” as well.
  • You are a unique Gospel that God wants to write: Life or lie message? (onedaringjew.wordpress.com)
    Obviously, being a Christian involves having a personal relationship with Jesus but there is content to that relationship. When you lose the Gospel you lose Christ.
  • Which is the True Religion of God? (wifeezat.wordpress.com)
    Each person is born in a circumstance which is not of his own choosing. The religion of his family or the ideology of the state is thrust upon him from the very beginning of his existence in this world. By the time he reaches his teens, he is usually fully brain-washed into believing that the beliefs of his particular society are the correct beliefs that everyone should have. However, when some people mature and are exposed to other belief-systems, they begin to question the validity of their own beliefs.

Why think that (2) … Jesus claimed to be something special

As discussed in the previous post, Jesus is mentioned here and there by some non-Christians, like the Jewish historian Josephus and the Roman historian Tacitus. But our main source of information is that provided by the early Christians themselves. This evidence comes in two main types. There are the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), which are conventionally dated from around 70 AD but may well be earlier. Then there are letters that early Christians sent to individuals or churches. There are a number of these in the Bible, many of which were probably written before the gospels. Taken together these provide us with a lot of information about Jesus and who he claimed to be.

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pi...

Gospel sources – First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak, a Medieval Armenian scribe and miniaturist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We should comment at this point about the way we’re using these sources. Though they come from the Bible, they are also historical sources and we’re going to treat them in that way. So at this point we’re not too bothered about whether every last detail of the gospels is correct or not. Nor need we be concerned about whether these documents also contain messages from God. We can leave such issues till later. For now we can just look these documents for what they are – ancient documents, which contain information about Jesus, written by people who were in a position to know. So what do these sources say about who Jesus claimed to be?

Well, the most obvious one is that Jesus was called “Christ” (or more properly, the Christ) – that’s where the name “Christians” come from. “Christ” is the Greek word meaning “anointed” , equivalent of the Hebrew word “Messiah”. The concept of being “anointed” refers to the ceremony by which someone was made king in ancient Israel. (There is a good example of this in the Old Testament when David is anointed as king – see 1 Samuel 16). By the time of Jesus the kingdom of Israel had long since been destroyed and the Jews were essentially living under Roman rule. But the Old Testament prophets had predicted that the royal line of the ancient kings of Israel would be restored and that there would be a king again. Many Jews living at the time of Jesus expected the Messiah to be someone who would lead them to overthrow the Romans so they could be an independent nation again. What is interesting about Jesus is that, though he claimed to be the Messiah – the promised king, he did not attempt to lead an armed rebellion against Rome. So whilst Jesus was claiming to be a king, he was not the king they were expecting.

The most common phrase Jesus used to describe himself as “Son of Man”. That may sound like an odd way to describe yourself, and it was even at the time. In the language of the day – Aramaic – the expression “son of man” was used to refer to humanity in general. But that’s not the way Jesus uses it. He doesn’t describe himself as a son of man but as the Son of Man. So what was he getting at? The Old Testament prophet Daniel presents a picture of human history, where nations are represented by vicious beasts (Daniel 7). But this succession of beast-nations does not last forever. At the end of the vision, a court is held with God seated as judge. Power and authority is taken away from the beasts and given to a new character who is described as “one like the son of man”. This character receives a kingdom from God that will last forever. So when Jesus describes himself as the Son of Man, he is claiming to be the future king, the one who will receive a kingdom from God. But not a kingdom like the human kingdoms that preceded it. Instead this is good kingdom that will last forever.

Jesus is often described as being the Son of God. And frequently Jesus presents himself as having a unique father-son relationship with God. He is not saying that he is a child of God in the sense that all God’s creatures are his children. He is claiming that he has a relationship with God that is entirely unique. The gospels include the stories about Jesus’ birth, whereby his mother, Mary, becomes pregnant despite being a virgin. According to the gospels Jesus had no biological father (though no doubt Joseph cared for Jesus as his own son). So in a very real sense God was Jesus’ father. But being the Son of God is not just about parentage. Jesus claimed to have a very special relationship with God. The gospel writers describe Jesus has having special power to perform miracles, special wisdom to teach people God’s ways and special authority to forgive sins. Jesus was not simply claiming to be a prophet or holy man, but God’s special representative on earth.

Lastly, Jesus took the remarkable step of claiming that he was going to die. And not in battle, or by murder, but that he was going to die to free people from sin. He says:

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45)

Westvorhalle der Stiftsbasilika St. Vitus, Ell...

The King of the Jews (INRI) Nailed to death – Westvorhalle der Stiftsbasilika St. Vitus, Ellwangen (Jagst) Kreuzaltar, Hans und Matthäus Schamm (Ottobeuren) zugeschrieben, um 1610; detail: Christushaupt und INRI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And the early Christians reflecting on the death of Jesus also recognised it as a special death. A preacher named Paul wrote to a church explaining the things he had learnt from talking to those who knew Jesus. He writes:

What I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3)

Now Jesus did die. He was executed. He was nailed to a cross by Roman soldiers and died gasping for air. He died the death of a criminal. He should have been forgotten by history. But his followers understood his death differently. This was not the last disgrace of a failed prophet. This was the turning point of history. When God’s representative on earth made the ultimate sacrifice to so that people could be forgiven for the things they’d done wrong and start a new life.

So that’s what Jesus claimed about who he was and what he would achieve. But is it true? Was Jesus a future king? Was Jesus God’s representative on earth? And did Jesus’ death provide a way for us to change our relationship with God? Well there is one more thing that the early Christians claimed about Jesus: that he rose from the dead – that he stopped being dead and came alive again. And if that is true then we’re no longer dealing with the claims of a human man but with a moment when God intervened in history to change the world.

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 Preceding: Why think that (1) … Jesus existed?

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Related articles:

  1. Prophets making excuses
  2. Written to recognise the Promissed One
  3. Patriarch Abraham, Muslims, Christians and the son of God
  4. Story of Jesus’ birth begins long before the New Testament
  5. Jesus begotten Son of God #3 Messiah or Anointed one
  6. Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:13-17 – Jesus Declared God’s Son at His Baptism
  7. Servant of his Father
  8. Slave for people and God
  9. People Seeking for God 5 Bread of life
  10. The Anointed One and the first day of No Fermentation
  11. Anointing of Christ as Prophetic Rehearsal of the Burial rites
  12. Atonement And Fellowship 5/8
  13. Atonement And Fellowship 6/8
  14. Entrance of a king to question our position #2 Who do we want to see and to be
  15. How is it that Christ pleased God so perfectly?
  16. Wishing to do the will of God
  17. For the Will of Him who is greater than Jesus
  18. Imprisonment and execution of Jesus Christ
  19. Marriage of Jesus 7 Impaled
  20. A Messiah to die
  21. Death of Christ on the day of preparation
  22. In the death of Christ, the son of God, is glorification
  23. 14 Nisan a day to remember #1 Inception
  24. Days of Nisan, Pesach, Pasach, Pascha and Easter
  25. After the Sabbath after Passover, the resurrection of Jesus Christ
  26. The Song of The Lamb #6 Revelation 14
  27. Jerusalem and a son’s kingdom
  28. Kingdom Visions of a Man, Throne and Great crowd
  29. Signs of the Last Days
  30. Getting out of the dark corners of this world
  31. The Immeasurable Grace bestowed on humanity
  32. Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26
  33. A Living Faith #6 Sacrifice
  34. Self inflicted misery #7 Good news to our suffering
  35. Miracles of revelation and of providence 1 Golden Thread and Revelation

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  • Sunday (August 24): “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (shechina.wordpress.com)
    At an opportune time Jesus tested his disciples with a crucial question: “Who do the people say that I am and who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13). Jesus was widely recognized in Israel as a mighty man of God, even being compared with the greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah. Peter, always quick to respond, exclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.
  • Jesus is the Messiah (darnellbarkman.wordpress.com)
    ‘Christ’ in early Christianity was a title, and only gradually became an alternative proper name for Jesus. In practice ‘Messiah’ is mostly restricted to the notion, which took various forms in ancient Judaism, of the coming King who would be David’s true heir, through whom YAHWEH [The Creator God’s proper name] would rescue Israel from pagan enemies.
  • Christianity Fast Facts (wdsu.com)
    Followers of the Christian religion base their beliefs on the life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ.Christians believe in one God that created heaven, earth, and the universe.
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    On the third day after his crucifixion, Jesus Christ arose from the dead.
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    The first Christians were Jews who came to believe Jesus was the Messiah. Gentiles (non-Jews) also made up a large majority of its followers, as is the case today.
  • Secular Israel vs Biblical Israel: Are they the Same? (endtimesprophecyreport.wordpress.com)
    With the Gaza War resuming in earnest, now seems to be the time for a few observations about the secular state of Israel, biblical Israel, Jews, the synagogue of Satan and the deliberate Corporate (and other) Media smokescreens which obscure these subjects.
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    Of course, the largest mistake–and there are quite a few in the linked piece, which is relatively short–is that one cannot separate the Jews as a people from the actions taken by the leadership of the secular state of Israel.  But we know that is a lie.
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    We’re commanded to warn about deception; that deception includes the secular, man-created state of Israel which is NOT biblical Israel. There are observant Jews in Israel.  They are often the victims of violence. God promises He will save His remnant–and He will.  However, make no mistake: secular Israel is not biblical Israel.  Those who confuse the two will reap the unfortunate harvest of deception.  The Christian ignores Jesus’ clear warnings in Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 at his own risk.
  • Matthew 1-7 (apologistmike.wordpress.com)
    The gospel of Matthew was written by an eyewitness to the ministry of Jesus. He was Jewish, which accounts for his emphasis on the Jewish scriptures in the work, and he was a tax collector for the Roman government. This would have enabled him to write effectively. Many early fathers such as Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian and Origen recognized Matthew as the author of the gospel.
  • FFOZ TV Review: Messiah (mymorningmeditations.com)
    The term Christ is one of the most important terms in all of Scripture and yet is seldom fully understood by followers of Jesus. In episode two we will explore the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures and learn about the Jewish people’s expectation of the coming messiah. We will study the Hebrew Scriptures and learn that they speak of a coming anointed one, a king who will come to redeem mankind, defeat Israel’s enemies, and set up his kingdom.
  • Simple Truth: Jesus is not the Messiah (leavingjesus.wordpress.com)
    “Christ” is the Greek word for “Messiah”
    “Messiah” is the transliteration of a Hebrew word that means “anointed”
  • “The Christ is the Son of David” (worryisuseless.wordpress.com)
    Why did Jesus question the Jews on the claim that their Messiah or Christ would be the son of David? After all the New Testament makes clear that Jesus himself is a direct descendant from the line of David’s throne (Romans 1:3, 2 Timothy 2:8, Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38). Jesus posed the question to make his hearers understand that the Messiah is more than the son of David. Jesus makes his point in dramatic fashion by quoting from one of David’s prophetic psalms, Psalm 110: The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I put your enemies under your feet. How can the son be the lord of his father?
  • Michele Bachmann Waiting to be Annointed Messiah (politicususa.com)
    What’s in a messiah, you ask? Like many terms it is problematic. Contrary to what many people may think, despite the origins of our word messianism is not unique to Judaism. In fact, in historical terms we can’t even speak of “Judaism” singular because there were in fact many Judaisms with different ways of life and different worldviews.[1] So not only is there not one Jewish idea (or Christian idea) of what a messiah is but not all ideas of messiahs are Jewish (or Christian).