Dear Jehovah's Witnesses...

I was on your official website today, and read the following:

...the Bible teaches that Jesus was created by God.

and

Jesus’ early followers did not view him as being equal to Almighty God.

Admittedly, I knew you believed this before I visited your site.  In fact, previous research had revealed to me that you believe Jesus to actually be one and the same as Michael the archangel.

I can't agree with this.

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Who Was Jesus of Nazareth?

“Jesus of Nazareth is easily the dominant figure in history…the historian disregarding the theological significance of his life, writes the name of Jesus of Nazareth at the top of the list of the world's greatest characters.” ~ H. G. Wells

 

Few can say that they have never heard of Jesus Christ.  In a 2010 TIME Magazine article entitled, “Who’s Biggest? The 100 Most Significant Figures in History,” in which the authors attempted to rank “historical figures just as Google ranks web pages, by integrating a diverse set of measurements about their reputation into a single consensus value,” Jesus came out first1.   Loved or hated, the name of Jesus Christ is a “household name,” and has been for centuries.  Everybody’s heard of Jesus.

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This Low Ground

“He came to this low ground of sin, sickness, and sorrow. . .” Here is a beautiful slice of poetry which a brother incorporated into his prayer. Low ground . . . the world of man; “You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands.”(Heb. 2:7 / Ps.8:5-6) Low ground . . . Jesus’ world; “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”  (Heb. 2:9) Though angels could dine with mortals (as when they met with Abraham at Mamre), they were not made lower than their station.

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Sin Part 3

In the previous two posts we established that everyone has sinned. We also determined that our sin has significant consequences. It leads to spiritual death, and it causes us to be separated from God. The key is that by sinning we have entered into an inescapable situation. We cannot save ourselves! Some claim that a righteous deed will erase a bad deed. But that simply is not true. Isaiah 64:6-7 reads; "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

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In Order to Love

Heb. 13:12 - 14 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. II Cor. 5:14-17 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

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101 Ways to Be an Athenian

Take a moment to think about what defined the culture of the Greeks for hundreds of years. It shouldn’t be an excruciating moment of pondering. You might think about yogurt. That’s good thinking, but a bit too modern. You might think about lots of national debt. That’s true, too, but, again, a bit modern. You might even think about their myriad games that they loved. This, even more, is true and good; however, there is another topic that more inclusively encapsulates their culture. 

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Jesus & the Evidence III

In this third installment, we turn to the question of the gospels’ authenticity and accuracy. Even though the texts of the gospels have come down to us in reliable form, their believability is another question altogether. Is there reason to believe that the gospel accounts were ever true to begin with? Or are they just carefully copied frauds? LOTS could be said on this, and we will have to content ourselves with only scratching the surface.

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Jesus & the Evidence II

Last week, I cited multiple ancient authors who referred to Jesus in their respective works. These individuals, who lived in the same and/or following century that Jesus lived, spoke of him as a real historical figure. None of them were Christians, and at least two of them were quite hostile to Christianity, yet they spoke of Jesus as someone who had impacted their world in recent times. There is no reasonable reason to doubt their testimony on this point, and so the overwhelming majority of scholars don't. But what of those who wrote about Jesus in the first century who were Christians? What about their testimony? In other words, what about the so-called “gospels”—the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? Can we trust their accounts? Is there evidence one way or the other? These are questions worth answering…for the gospel writers not only affirm that Jesus walked the earth, but that he came from heaven to save us from the consequences of our sins against God. If there’s any chance that might be true, we definitely want to give the gospels a fair hearing.

So let’s see where the evidence leads....

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Jesus & the Evidence I

Some doubt that Jesus ever existed. But they’re in the minority. There’s just too much evidence to the contrary: The first century Roman historian Tacitus (born c. AD 55) mentions Jesus in his Annals (15:44). Tacitus’ Jewish contemporary, Josephus (born c. AD 37), references Jesus twice in his Antiquities of the Jews (18.3.3; 20.9.1). Pliny the Younger (born AD 61), the Roman magistrate, mentions Jesus in his letter to the Emperor Trajan (Letters, vol. 2, 10:96). And the second-century satirist, Lucian of Samosata (born AD 125), speaks of Jesus in his work The Death of Peregrine (11-13).

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Signal vs Noise Part II

In the last post I brought up the signal vs noise ratio and how it is used metaphorically to differentiate factual/relevant information from false/irrelevant information. Signal is the factual and relevant info; noise is the false and irrelevant info. I then posed the question, where does someone go to find the “signal” about Christianity? With the endless number of sources on Christianity this seems like an impossible question to answer. One could go to the bookstore, library, internet, friends, family, religious leaders…the list could go on and on. So, where can you reliably go to find factual and relevant information about Jesus, God and the church?

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Signal vs Noise

Have you heard of the signal vs noise ratio? It is a science and engineering ratio used to measure the desired signal being received in a transmission versus the amount of noise in the background. Even if you are unfamiliar with the ratio itself you are certainly familiar with the concept. Ever listened to the radio, talked on cell phone or played walkie-talkie as a kid? Then you are familiar with the concept.

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The Wise Man and The Foolish Man - Part IV

The parable of The Wise Man and the Foolish man clearly teaches us that if we call Jesus Lord we must obey Him. Further, it teaches that we must build our lives on hearing and doing the will of the Lord. What if I call him Lord, and don't do his commands? What if I confess that he is Lord (Romans 10:9) and don't build my life on him? In the Matthew account of the parable Jesus tells us that if we call him Lord but do not follow his will in the judgement he will tell us, "I never new you".

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The Wise Man and The Foolish Man - Part III

In the previous post we examined how Jesus introduces the subject of parable with the question; "Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?" There are many in the world that confess that Jesus is Lord, and yet do not follow his commands. Yet Jesus tells us in the Matthew 7 account that these people are not his and will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

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The Wise Man and The Foolish Man - Part II

In the previous post we gave a brief overview of the parable of the wise man and the foolish man. In this post I would like to focus on the introduction to the parable. Jesus introduces his thoughts by telling us:

Matthew 7:21-23 ESV "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (22) On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' (23) And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

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The Elephant in the Room

Are you familiar with the idea of religious pluralism? Pluralists believe that all religions are essentially teaching the same things and directing their practitioners to the same goal. You may have seen the “Coexist” bumper stickers where the word is spelled with the various symbols of major religions. That’s a pluralist message. Pluralism is best illustrated by the parable of the elephant.

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The Gift of the Holy Spirit

1Cor. 3:16  "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" This, among other similar passages, teach us that the Spirit of God becomes a part of our lives in a unique and living way through salvation in Jesus Christ. Because the Holy Spirit is not of flesh, there is no way to sense His presence in us. It is through faith we know He is there.

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An Ancient Art

Tacitus, a well-respected historian and senator of the Roman Empire, is recorded as saying:

"The breastplate and the sword are not a stronger defense on the battlefield than eloquence is to a man amid the perils of prosecution."

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