Shalom! My name is Adam Pastor

Welcome to ADONI MESSIAH which means
"My Lord Messiah" -
a fitting epithet to who Jesus (or Yeshua) is!

Here, I attempt to present the Apostolic Truths according to the Scriptures, that there is
One GOD, the Father, namely, YAHWEH,
and One Lord, GOD's only begotten Son,
Yeshua the Messiah.

And that one day YAHWEH will send His Son back to Earth to inaugurate the Everlasting Kingdom of GOD



Enjoy!


Monday, October 16, 2017

JESUS’ FAVOURITE BIBLE VERSE

JESUS’ FAVOURITE BIBLE VERSE 


Most of us have a favourite Bible verse, or maybe a few verses that are special to us. Perhaps it is a verse that first brought us to faith in Christ, or it may be a verse that brought us guidance at a crisis point in our lives, or even a verse whose promise has encouraged us throughout our walk with God.

Jesus himself had a favourite Bible verse. It was not only on his lips more often than any other Old Testament verse, but it was later also quoted more often by the apostles of Jesus than any other OT verse. It is quoted either in full or in part or alluded to at least 27 times (possibly as many as 33 times) in our New Testament, so it must be an important verse!

Remember that Jesus had no other Bible than what we call the Old Testament. He referred to it as “the Law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms (writings)” (Luke 24:44). He believed that what was written “proceeded from the mouth of God” and that not a single word of it would fail. Everything the prophets had written was historically accurate, theologically dependable, and prophetically sure. But there was one verse that was particularly poignant for Jesus. It summarised his Father’s assurances to him concerning his calling and ultimate destiny. Through thick and thin this verse inspired Jesus.

By now you may be asking yourself which verse we are referring to. Please don’t feel embarrassed if you don’t know it, because I confess that after decades of seriously reading the Bible and even after my 4 years of theological seminary training, I did not know it either… until … One defining night after attending a home Bible study group the guest speaker by the name of Anthony Buzzard asked me a question that completely torpedoed what I imagined was an unsinkable theology of Titanic impregnability!

He asked, “So Greg, do you know which O.T. verse is the most often quoted in the New Testament?” “No, I can’t say I do.” “It’s the verse Jesus quoted the most, and it’s the verse that his apostles also most quoted. You know it don’t you?” “No.” (I am feeling a little uncomfortable.) Anthony continued, “Well, it’s Psalm 110:1. Now you know what that verse says don’t you?” “Nope, not off the top of my head.” (By now I am feeling a little more than slightly embarrassed. Indeed, I am decidedly uneasy. I had graduated from 4 years of Bible Seminary. I had been a pastor for many years. I had preached in many evangelistic meetings and churches and conventions all over the country. How could I not have known such basic Bible truth so loved by Jesus and so central to the New Testament’s confession about him?)

Anthony tenderly helped me out and quoted the verse: “The LORD said to my lord, ‘Sit at My feet until I make your enemies your footstool.’” (Ps.110:1). Gently but firmly Anthony then asked, “So you see, there are two Lords in the Hebrew Bible, aren’t there?” “Uh huh.” (I am by now sitting there like I had just been hit over the head with a lump of wood.)

Anthony went on, “The first ‘Lord’ is the Hebrew word ... Yahweh, the Lord God.
(In our English Bibles it is written with a capital ‘L’, and most translations such as the NASB, NIV, RSV, KJV etc., 4 write it all in capitals, ‘LORD’, to indicate to the reader that God Himself is in mind.) “The second Lord is a different Hebrew word, Adoni”, Anthony continued. “It’s pronounced Adonee and in all its 195 occurrences in the Hebrew Bible it always refers to a human superior, such as a lord, a master, a husband, a judge or a king, and on a few rare occasions can also refer to an angelic superior. It never ever refers to the LORD God, but only to non-Deity, someone who is not God.

[There is also the title word used for Yahweh, the Lord God, that is: the Hebrew word Adonai, and in the 450 times it occurs, it only and always refers to the One Supreme God of Israel.
Adonai is Yahweh, the Lord God.”
]

The significance of this distinction immediately hit me like a ton of bricks. If there are two Lords in the Hebrew Bible --- and especially in Jesus’ favourite verse Psalm 110:1 --- when we come to the N.T., which ‘Lord’ is Jesus? Is he the LORD God or is he David’s lord, that is, David’s human superior and master? Hmm.

However, before examining Jesus’ favourite Bible verse further, let’s see how the OT differentiates for us the two Lords. This is OT theology 101.

Take Your Highlighter! 

In Appendix 1 of the Second Edition of my book, They Never Told Me This in Church! I suggested that those who are interested to further explore the two Lords distinction should take their highlighter to their Bibles and wherever “the LORD” (YAHWEH) occurs, and whenever the word “my lord” (Adoni) occurs, that it would be helpful to highlight the distinction. Silly me. Although this works in many passages such as the example I gave from 1 Samuel 25: 23-31, I forgot to mention that other passages do not translate Adoni as ‘lord’. So, for easy reference, let me supply another passage where Adoni is translated not as ‘my lord’ (which is still correct) but as ‘my master’. The salient parts of Genesis 24:1f read:
Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the LORD (YAHWEH) had blessed Abraham in every way. And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, ‘Please place your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites … Beware lest you take my son back there! The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house …He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there. 
So the servant placed his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master (Adoni) and swore to him concerning this matter. Then the servant took ten camels from the camels of his master, and set out with a variety of good things of his master’s in his hand; and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia … 
And he said, ‘O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham … and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master … Behold, Rebekah …came out with her jar on her shoulder … and she said … ‘Drink, my lord’ … 
Meanwhile, the man was gazing at her in silence, to know whether the LORD had made his journey successful or not …Then the man bowed low and worshipped the LORD. And he said, ‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His lovingkindness and His truth toward my master; as for me, the LORD has guided me in the way to the house of my master’s brothers’… 
And Laban ran outside to meet the man and he said, ‘Come in, blessed of the LORD! … So he said, I am Abraham’s servant. And the LORD has greatly blessed my master … now Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master in her old age … and my master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites” … And I said to my master, ‘Suppose the woman does not follow me.’ And he said to me, ‘The LORD before whom I have walked will send His angel with you … So I came today to the spring, and said, ‘O LORD, the God of my master Abraham …let her be the woman whom the LORD has appointed for my master’s son… And I bowed low and worshipped the LORD, and blessed the LORD, the God of my master Abraham … “ etc. etc.

Carefully observe the two Lords in the Hebrew Bible, [YAHWEH who is also referred to by the Hebrew word] Adonai (always referring to the LORD God [YAHWEH God], the God of Heaven and the God of Abraham, and never a non-Deity) and Adoni (always referring to a human superior, a human lord or master, and never to the One God)! This distinction is ubiquitous.

Also observe carefully that Abraham’s servant calls his master, “my lord Abraham”. Combine this fact with other OT references to Adoni such as where David is repeatedly called “David our lord”, or “my lord, O king” and where God is always called “the LORD, the God of my lord and king, David” (I Kings 1:11, 13,31,36, etc. etc.) and the picture of two distinct Lords in the Hebrew Bible is blindingly obvious. As Anthony Buzzard factually says, “You can inspect 450 samples of Adonai (the LORD God) and 195 samples of adoni (my lord) to see that consistent difference at work.” [1]

Let’s then burn this Biblical truth into our minds: The difference between Adonai and Adoni is the difference between Almighty God and man, the difference between God and not-God! As Anthony further states, “You can inspect 645 (450 plus 195) samples to see the difference … You have 178 samples of my lord in the OT before you come to Psalm 110:1.” [2].

Yet, the staggering and curious thing is, that when you come to Psalm 110:1, our translations introduce unwarranted confusion and misleading information. The favourite verse of Jesus and the NT writers is carelessly handled. Most --- but thankfully not all such as the RSV and NRSV --- put an unprecedented capital ‘L’ in front of the second lord which gives the impression that David’s messianic lord is also God Almighty. But God is not here speaking to another second person who is also God! If that were the case it would read, “Adonai said to Adonai.” But it doesn’t, for God is not speaking to Himself or to a second member in a ‘plural’ Godhead.

William Barclay understands that Psalm 110 was universally accepted as Messianic and that,
‘the first Lord is God, for God is the Speaker; the second Lord is the Messiah, the conquering liberator and triumphant champion who is to come.” [3]

Precisely! The coming Messiah is to sit as God’s right-hand man exercising all of Heaven’s delegated executive power under the LORD God.

My Own Experience. 


After working on the manuscript for They Never Told Me This in Church! I decided that before sending it off to my editor and publisher I had better be doubly sure of my facts. Once in print there is no going back. So I decided to get an independent check from the principal of a theological seminary whom I knew could read Hebrew and Greek. Knowing that Psalm 110:1 was critical to the book’s thesis I especially asked for confirmation of the two Lords in that verse.

This professor wrote back, “Greg, you are wrong!” Huh? What? Oh no, don’t tell me I have spent all this time building my thesis on error! I had a sick feeling in my gut. So, I wrote back and this time I supplied a list of leading Hebrew lexicons all verifying my facts. (Unlike a concordance, such as Strong’s which fails us at this point, the lexicons are the gold standard authority.) I wrote, “You say I am wrong about the two Lords, but these leading Hebrew lexicons disagree with you, so who do you suggest I believe?” He wrote back that he had to reluctantly agree that these esteemed Hebrew authorities verified my facts were correct, and that he could not dispute such reliable sources. 
However, he warned me that if I pursued this line it would cause me trouble. I decided there and then that I would present the facts and leave the consequences in the hands of the LORD. After all, I did not feel like tampering with Jesus’ favourite verse! The same decision faces us all.

Anthony Buzzard informs us of a similar experience he had with a Paula Frederiksen, Professor of Religious Studies at Boston University. The professor had mistakenly and inadvertently reported the second lord of Psalm 110:1 as Adonai, and he suggested that the mistake be changed. She graciously wrote, ‘Thanks so much for pointing out the error in my reference to Adonai in Psalm 110:1. I grabbed my Tanach [OT] and you are right --- the word is adoni, not adonai. We all need each other!” [4] Not every academic authority is so willing to correct obvious error so graciously, unfortunately.

A PSALM FOR DAVID. 

Take a look at the little caption that appears at the heading of Psalm 110 in your Bible. My NASB says, ‘A Psalm of David’. Most translations say that. Some read, ‘A Psalm by David’. This gives a false impression. The Hebrew letter lamed which is the preposition translated as “by” or “of” David in our English Bibles:
“Always, without exception, in Biblical Hebrew, and in modern Hebrew, indicates “TO,” “FOR,” “TOWARDS” … it never, ever translates to the preposition “OF” or “BY.” The significance of this is that the only possible translation then, is “A Psalm FOR David,” or “TO” David; a Psalm. Why is this important? It is exceptionally important, particularly if we want to establish who is speaking. If the Mizmor (Psalm) is OF David, then David is speaking. But if the Mizmor is TO or FOR David, then David is NOT the speaker. He is listening.” [5]

The significance then of Psalm 110:1 is that God reveals to king David the astonishing fact that one of his sons is to be exalted to the right hand of Yahweh the LORD God as His right-hand man, which is to say, he will be David’s lord. God the LORD is not speaking to another person who is also God. God is addressing David’s superior as his (i.e. as David’s) human master or lord. He is revealing His plan to promote to the second highest position in the created universe – His right hand --- one of David’s sons.

In Psalm 110:1 the LORD God is speaking personally and in prophetic directness to that man outlining his career as the lord Messiah. David’s lord will be God’s executive director, His agent, administering God’s government over all enemies opposed to God’s Sovereignty. That lord is not addressed as Adonai, but rather as Adoni. The bottom line is that no messiah in any Biblical text is referred to as Adonai. Nor is Adoni ever used in the Hebrew Bible as a reference to Yahweh God. It is always used when referring to human judges, human lords, human masters amongst men. Always! 

Jesus’ favourite text does not say that David’s son is the LORD God, but is rather the lord Messiah. Jesus’ favourite Bible verse proposes that Yahweh God and Jesus are not Lord in the same sense. There are two Lords in the Hebrew Bible!

The LORD’S Messiah. 

Let’s turn briefly to the intriguing story of how David spares king Saul’s life in I Samuel 26. The fugitive David calls king Saul, “the LORD’S anointed”. In fact, at least 4 times in that chapter does David call Saul, “the LORD’S anointed”. In the Hebrew Bible that word “anointed” is the word “messiah”. (Yes, there are in fact many messiahs or anointed ones in the Hebrew Bible! The Greek Septuagint for “anointed” reads, “christ”, so if you like, the Old Testament speaks of many “christs”!) So David calls king Saul, “the LORD’S messiah” or, “the LORD’S christ”
[YAHWEH's messiah]
.
To be blunt, Jesus is not God’s first or only Christ, though of course, he is the final and supreme Christ!

LORD God and Lord Christ in the New Testament. 

With this Hebrew background let’s move into the New Testament. It should be no surprise to find that Jesus is called “the LORD’S Christ” or, “the LORD’S Messiah” [YAHWEH's messiah].

For example, get your highlighter out again (does it still have any ink left after the big work-out in the OT?) and see if you can spot the two Lords in Luke’s nativity account. Start in chapter 1 and highlight the word “God” and its equivalent “the LORD” (note now that our translators do not give capital letters to “the LORD” when it clearly refers to the God of Israel or ‘the LORD God’ (e.g. Luke 1: 32) where it is “the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David” or, Luke 1: 68 where Zacharias thanks God for His faithfulness by saying, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel… “). I feel like pleading with our translators, “Ladies & Gentlemen can we please have some consistency? Doesn’t the NT build on the OT revelation?”

Still in Luke chapter 1, note Elizabeth’s glad response to the news of Mary’s pregnancy:
“And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (v. 43). 
Our translators might be confused and put a capital ‘L’ for Mary’s baby, but Elizabeth is a good Jewess steeped in the prophetic Scriptures. Elizabeth knows her Hebrew Bible has two Lords. And she knows the oracle addressed to David in Psalm 110:1. She calls Mary “the mother of my lord” knowing full well that Mary will bear the promised messianic lord … you know … the second lord promised to David in Psalm 110:1 (Luke 1:43)! She is not confused as to the identity of Mary’s baby, even if believers in Jesus are today!

As you continue into Luke chapter 2 take your highlighter and mark verse 11:
“Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.” 
No doubt, out of respect for our Lord Jesus, the translators put a capital ‘L’ here, but which Lord is the angel referring to? Who is going to be born? Is Mary carrying Adonai, the LORD God or adoni, David’s human lord? The answer is obvious. Verse 9 explains, “the angel of the LORD” stands before the shepherds “, and the glory of the LORD shone around them.” Jesus is already in the manger, so it’s not his glory shining on the hills of Judea that night! The angel announces this is David’s physical descendant and human superior, the second ‘lord’ of Psalm 110:1. (Note also how the heavenly host praise “God in the Highest” and acknowledge the miracle which has happened is from “the Lord”, i.e. the LORD God (v. 13-14). 

In verse 26 old Simeon takes the baby Jesus in his arms and calls him the Lord’s Christ which is to say, “the LORD’S Messiah” or, “the LORD’S anointed [one].” [YAHWEH's messiah]  Once again we know that when Simeon “blessed God (v. 28) that he was addressing Adonai, “the LORD …” (v. 29). The picture is consistent and in tune with your OT facts. In good Hebrew parlance, just as king Saul was called “the LORD’S messiah (anointed), so baby Jesus is called “the LORD’S Christ” (anointed; messiah). [YAHWEH's messiah] There are two Lords in your New Testament too!

Jesus Disputes With the Pharisees. 

Fast forward. Towards the end of his ministry Jesus’ popularity with the people was growing. The Pharisees needed a strategy to publicly discredit him as the lord Messiah. They appointed a lawyer to try to expose Jesus as a fake king messiah. This expert lawyer asked Jesus about the greatest commandment in the Law of Moses. Jesus endorsed the first commandment as the greatest, namely that we are to love the LORD our God with all our hearts for He is One LORD (Matthew 22:34f; Mark 12:28f).

At this point Jesus turns the tables and tests them on their understanding of who their Messiah would be and how he would arrive. Jesus launches the awkward question …
‘The Messiah is going to be the son of David, right? In what way does the Psalm composed for David by inspiration call him ‘lord’ saying, ‘The LORD said to my master, ‘Sit to My right, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’?” 
We need to put ourselves in the shoes of these fellows to see just how awkward Jesus’ question was. The Pharisees knew David no longer had a king on Israel’s throne --- except for Herod who was not of Davidic descent, not even a Jew, but worse, was Rome’s Gentile puppet. If Messiah was next in line for the throne, how is David going to put his son on that throne, unless he can prove his right to inherit it by virtue of his lineage?

The huge crowd was listening and waiting for their response, and Jesus had them stuck on the horns of a big dilemma. The Pharisees did not want to admit that David’s descendant could appear publicly, without warning or their approval. They would have been forced to admit that a descendant from the fallen tent of David that God had promised to raise up again, was standing in their midst, and therefore, he was qualified for the throne. That man would have demanded their allegiance, but Jesus did not fit their ideal.

Their silence must have been deafening. They squirmed. They shuffled uneasily. They whispered amongst themselves desperately trying to wriggle out of the dilemma. They had no choice but to either support his claim to ascend to the throne of David as lord and king Messiah of Israel, or to simply remain silent. Either way the Pharisees were firmly skewed on the horns of this dilemma! However they chose to answer, the continued growth of Jesus’ popularity would be assured amongst the common people:
“And no one was able to answer him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask him another question” (Matt. 22:46)! 
Did you get the historical setting and the theological impact of what has just happened here? Let me put it in the words of a modern day Jewish believer in our Lord Jesus Messiah:
“...the focus is centred on the practical challenges of raising up a dynasty that fell hundreds of years before this debate, because in that promise lay the hope of Israel to establish her Messianic king.” 
“Christian teachers, unfamiliar with the nuances of Hebrew, yet hoping to find a hook in the text, on which they might hang their fantasies, produce all manner of senseless banter, built on the half-baked notion that the Hebrew word ‘adon’ [lord] is equivalent to the Hebrew word ‘Adonai’ [LORD], and, on the basis of this altered text, end up butchering it by making David the speaker of Psalm 110 who is reporting a conversation wherein God is talking to Himself, so that it reads in some translations, and in other articles and books, ‘YHWH said to my YHWH, sit at My right hand…’ But nothing could be further from the truth.” [6]
The salient point is this: Jesus’ favourite text does not say that David’s son is the LORD God, but is rather the lord Messiah. There are two Lords in the Hebrew Bible and Yahweh God and Jesus are not Lord in the same sense. On this bedrock definition of Jesus’ status, not as YHWH the LORD God, but as the [human] messianic lord, the entire theology of the NT is built. There is a massive world of difference between the One God who is Adonai and the Messianic lord who is Adoni.

I find it telling to note the link between Jesus’ affirmation in the preceding verses (that God is one LORD and that we are to love Him with all our hearts) and his favourite verse from Psalm 110:1 immediately following --- where that one LORD God whom we are to love plans to install the human son of David as the messianic king and lord. The Bible’s definition of unitary monotheism that “the LORD is One God” is thus preserved.

Peter Preaches Psalm 110:1 at Pentecost. 

After Jesus had been crucified and raised from the dead, the apostles called Jesus, “the lord Jesus Christ”, or “Christ Jesus the lord”. In what sense is Jesus ‘Lord’?

Preaching on the Day of Pentecost the apostle Peter understood the fulfilment of Psalm 110:1 beautifully. After fully quoting Jesus’ favourite verse, Peter applies it to the risen Jesus by saying,
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ --- this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). 
In this foundational sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter who has “the keys of the kingdom”, explains that the exaltation of Jesus as “Lord and Christ” is directly related to his having been “raised up” by God. Peter explains Jesus’ lordship is given to him as a reward for his faithful accomplishment of the LORD’S [YAHWEH'S] redemptive plan. Peter knew Jesus’ lordship was the fulfilment of Psalm 110:1 where Adonai speaks to Adoni. Thus, Peter’s explanation of the meaning of Jesus’ lordship has nothing to do with him being “the second Member of the Triune Godhead”! That is, to be quite blunt, a perversion of the word of God.
Peter makes it clear that Jesus is “Lord and Christ” in terms of Psalm 110:1. Peter thus knew Jesus is not the LORD God. 

When the first Christians said, “Jesus is Lord” they knew it was a title and a status ascribed to David’s ‘master’ and ‘lord’, Adoni. They never imagined the later Nicean creed, “Jesus is the LORD God” (a description by the way, not once found relating to Jesus anywhere in the Bible!).

As James Dunn correctly states,
“…earliest Christian use of Psalm 110:1 does not constitute ‘a Christology of divine identity’, since it assumes some distinction between YHWH (ho Kyrios) and the Lord Christ.” [7] 
On the other hand, God the Father is called “the God of our lord Jesus the Christ” (e.g. Rom. 15:6; 2 Cor. 1:3; 11:31; Eph. 1:3, etc.). The lord Jesus Christ always has the LORD [YAHWEH] God above him. He is next to God the LORD as His right-hand man, but never identified as that One God. When the martyr Stephen looks up to heaven as his breath is departing, he sees “the son of man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).
Stephen addresses Jesus as ‘Lord Jesus’, not “LORD [YAHWEH] Jesus”.

The Gold Thread. 

The all-pervading impact of the two Lords in Psalm 110:1 runs throughout the entire New Testament. James D.G.Dunn, currently one of the foremost Christological commentators, understands the significance of this favourite O.T. verse. He writes that the early Christian believers were convinced Jesus had been taken to or exalted to heaven and Psalm 110:1 was, “a key verse that shed much light for them and that evidently informed and shaped the earliest Christian reflection” on the person and work of Jesus Christ. Dunn observes:
This verse runs like a gold thread through much of the New Testament, and is so interwoven into the language of the New Testament writers that it evidently was a primary starting point or stimulus for the strong strand of New Testament Christology summed up in the confession, ‘Jesus is Lord’. The title (‘lord’) in itself did not necessarily signify any more than the status of a (human) master to his servant or slave...” [8] 
My friend Anthony Buzzard calls Psalm 110:1 the “umbrella text” under which the entire NT understanding of Jesus and his relation to God is sheltered. I simply like to think of Psalm 110:1 as Jesus’ favourite Bible verse! It defined for him Who God is, who he is as lord Messiah, and what God’s redemptive plan through him is all about … bringing about the submission of the entire cosmos to the authority of Jesus so that ultimately Jesus may present to that one God an obedient and joyful creation (Phil. 2: 9-10; I Cor. 15: 28):
“…God here shares his own exalted status with Jesus in a way that does not jeopardize God’s ultimate supremacy … In ancient Judaism, God could empower his agent to wield his full power and authority, precisely because any figure so empowered always remained by definition subject and subordinate to the one empowering him, namely God” [9]

The Connection between Psalm 110:1 and Psalm 8! 

Don’t for a moment think your new understanding of the two Hebrew Lords will be easy. Since Psalm 110:1 is Jesus’ favourite key text, and since it was the foundational text for his apostles in their understanding and interpretation of who Jesus was, guess who hates this verse with a passion? Yes! Satan and all his demonic hordes have devoted particular attention to corrupting this verse so that most of the world fails to catch its critical impact in understanding who Jesus is in relation to Yahweh God, and what God’s plan through His right-hand man are.

The Devil is the master liar and corrupter and specialises in sowing ‘tares’. All he has needed to do in only one place in the OT --- the second Lord in Jesus’ favourite psalm! --- is change the small ‘l’ into a capital ‘L’. That’s just enough to give the impression that David’s messianic lord is the LORD God.

So you ask, why is this such a big deal? Well, perhaps the Devil knows more about God’s saving plan through Christ Jesus than we do. The Devil knows God has a staggering plan to bring many sons into glory and to conform all believers into the image of our risen Lord Jesus Christ
(see Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18; Col. 3:10; I Cor. 15:49).

When the early Christians reflected on Jesus’ favourite psalm, they saw the holy Spirit’s connection with Psalm 8:6;
“You (LORD God) did make him (mankind) to rule over the works of Your Hands; You have put all things under his feet” (Ps. 8:6). 
Ah, the Devil is not stupid. He sees the connection. The early Christians saw it. That is, Psalm 110:1 speaks of the LORD God seating the Psalmist’s lord at His right hand “until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” As Dunn trenchantly remarks:
“Psalm 8’s talk of God having put all things under [humankind’s/Adam’s] feet was evidently too close to Psalm 110’s talk of Yahweh making his enemies a footstool for the Lord Christ’s feet to be ignored… Presumably the implication, for those who understood Psalm 110:1 in terms of Psalm 8:6 [as in I Cor. 15:25-27; Eph. 1:20f and Heb. 1:3-2-8, etc.], was that the exaltation of Christ to the right hand of God was also the ultimate fulfilment of God’s purpose for humankind in creation.” [10]
The Devil fights this plan of the Ages with all his might and mane. He sure is subtle and he knows how to use a cloak of respectable scholarship to keep the glorious truth about our LORD [YAHWEH] God and our exalted Messianic Lord Jesus from the world.

But don’t you be deceived. Be sure you understand Jesus’ favourite memory verse. Treat it with the utmost care, quote it accurately, treasure it, believe it, rest your faith on it because that’s exactly what Jesus did! It was Jesus’ model verse for his own self-understanding and for God the Father’s plan for saving the world through him.

Psalm 110:1 presents the powerful truth that Jesus is God’s right hand man, our mediator, deriving his messianic lordship from Adonai, the one true LORD God, thus subduing all our enemies and saving us for eternity (I Tim. 2:5-6). Why not make Jesus’ favourite Bible verse yours too? It’s gold!

Footnotes 

1. Buzzard, Anthony. Focus on the Kingdom. Vol. 17 No. 12, September, 2015. p. 2.
2. Ibid. p.2.
3. Barclay, William. Jesus as They Saw Him. Amsterdam. SCM Press, 1962. p. 41.
4. Buzzard, Anthony. Ed. Focus on the Kingdom, Vol. 14, No. 5. February 2012. p. 4. 
5. Uriel ben-Mordechai, If? The End of a messianic Lie. Above & Beyond, Ltd., Jerusalem. 2011.
p. 300-301. Emphasis original.
6. Ibid pp. 303-304. Italics and bold emphasis original.
7. Dunn, James, D.G. Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? The New Testament Evidence. Westminster John Know Press. Kentucky. 2010. p.103, footnote.
8. Ibid, p. 102-103. (Italics mine.)
9. McGrath, J.F., The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in its Jewish Context.
 Champaign: Uni of Illinois Press, 2009. p. 49-52. (Italics original).
10. Dunn, J.D.G., Ibid. p. 138-139 (Emphasis original).

The above was taken from
THE BIBLE JESUS

Note: some editing has been done

Sunday, October 08, 2017

“Who Are You, Lord” (Excerpt) by G. R. Davies

It is all about One God and One Man 
The Father and the Son are two entities – two individuals. 
NOT TWO GODS and NOT TWO PERSONS WHO ARE GOD 
The Father is the ONE GOD & Jesus is the ONE begotten HUMAN SON of GOD 


Is the Father a distinct person from the man Christ Jesus? 


Let us now consider David Bernard's statement quoted earlier, "nowhere does the Bible teach a separation of persons in the Godhead."

That statement is true. God is certainly an uncomplicated One. But Scripture also refers constantly to a Father-Son relationship, a distinct twoness, foretold in the Old Testament, demonstrated on earth and continuing eternally.

In John 17:3, Jesus referred to His Father as "the only true God" (John 17:3). This same "only true God" declared in Isaiah 45:5, "I am YAHWEH and there is none else." The word translated "only" in John 17:3 is defined in Strong's Analytical Concordance as meaning "sole", "single" or "alone." Whatever is described as "only" is in a class of its own; it is unique. Such being the case, the question arises just how Jesus himself, although a man, could simultaneously be "the only true God"? Surely the man, Jesus Christ, is differentiating here between himself, the "sent" one, and his Father the "only true God." It is the Father who is "God alone" (Ps. 86:10). Now if God is a solitary "one" and "only" entity who is a spirit , can He retain His oneness, His aloneness, and His intangibility if He is inseparably joined to the man, Christ Jesus?

The term "the only true God" is a title which Jesus reserved exclusively for his Father, but it cannot include the Jesus himself. There is a clear distinction between the two. By addressing his Father as "the only true God" the Lord Jesus surely excluded all others - including himself - from being the one and only true God.

By commencing with the inseparable unity of the Father and the Son, the "oneness" concept becomes fraught with problems. One of these difficulties is that the separate and distinct functions of the Father and His Son seem to become blurred to the point where there is no real Father-Son relationship.

"Oneness" teachers refer constantly to the "humanity" and "Deity" of the God-man. I believe that if the terms "Father" and "Son" were preferred, the separate identities of our Heavenly Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ would be more apparent.

A God-man who plays different roles is difficult to reconcile with those Scriptures that teach the separate functions of a Heavenly Father and His Son, the man Christ Jesus. Bible scholars have calculated that the term "God" (0 Theos) is used around 1,300 times in the New Testament to define the Father as distinct from His Son, the Lord Jesus.

For example, we are told that Jesus, the exalted man appears "in the presence of God for us," (Heb. 9:24), that he is "seated at the right hand of God," (Rom. 8:34), "sat down in his Father's throne," (Rev. 3:21), is "an advocate with the Father," (1 John 2:1), is the "mediator between God and men," (1 Tim. 2:5), and that he "continues ever" (Heb. 7:25). Paul tells us that "the Head of Christ is God" (1 Cor. 11:3).

We have in Hebrews 10:12 the following: "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God." What can this mean except that Jesus is presently still a man, exalted, and appearing in the presence of God for us?

At present, Jesus "lives by the power of God" (2 Cor. 13:4), is totally dependent upon His Father, and Paul adds in that same verse that "we shall live with him by the power of God toward you."

Jesus now "lives unto God" (Romans 6:10), promoting His Father's glory and advancing His Kingdom with his every effort being directed to accomplishing the purposes of God. Since his being glorified, “He has obtained a more excellent ministry" (Heb. 8:6). Although he has become "heir of all things" and maintains and superintends the whole universe by delegated authority, he is wholly submissive to the will of his Father.

Following his ascension, Jesus was glorified by his Father (Acts 3:13) and now he is seated in his Father's throne (Rev.3:21). In Rev. 3:12 Jesus refers four times to "my God": Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

These Scriptures are not teaching a multiplicity of "persons" who are God but they do teach the present separate identities and functions of God the Father and His human Son, the Lord Jesus.

Paul tells us in Rom. 8:17 that believers are "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ." But if Jesus were actually God, can it be said that we are “joint-heirs" of God with him?

We could look now at 1 Cor. 15:24-28. Here we learn that Jesus ... in his Father's Kingdom ... he will continue to reign until the time of the end, when he will put down all opposition to his rule. We are told four times in these verses that God "put all things under the feet" of His Son, a situation that is to continue until the end, when the Son will "deliver up the Kingdom to God" and the Son will be subject to his Father. However, there is no suggestion here, or elsewhere that the Son will ever cease to be the Son. We read in 2 Pet. 1:11 of the "everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Turning to John's writings, we find that in his Gospel, John did not seek to establish the supposed Deity of Christ. Rather his aim was to have men believe that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" (John 20:30-31). That is a truth that Jesus Himself repeatedly affirmed. The fact that John did not aim to prove that Jesus Christ was God, but rather that he was the Son of God should discourage any effort to establish the supposed Deity of Christ from John's Gospel. However, it is common practice for "oneness" writers to appeal to John's Gospel to support their view that Jesus is God.

In John 8:29, Jesus said, "He that sent me is with me, the Father hath not left me alone for I do always those things that please Him." In verses 17 and 18 of the same chapter it reads, "It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bears witness of myself and the Father that sent me bears witness of me." Surely two separate entities are in mind here, the Father and His Son.

In his first epistle, John states in Chapter 1:3 "...truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ." John was in no doubt as to the ongoing duality of the Father and the Son, and he urged a similar understanding for his readers. Further be warned against the heresy of "denying the Father and the Son" which he described as Antichrist (1 John 2:22). This present duality is also expressed in 1 John 2:1 where we read, "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."

John's second letter carries the following greeting, "Grace be with you, mercy and peace, from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and in love (2 John 3).

1 Tim. 2:5 describes the present day mediatorial Father-Son functions as follows, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." Paul explains further the role of a mediator in Gal.3:20 in the following terms, "Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one." Now if God and Jesus are one person, how could Jesus, if he is a "God-man," be a mediator between himself and man? The work of mediator which Jesus is now performing makes it impossible for him to be God. He is the Son of God, a man, mediating between God and men. God is certainly one, altogether and indivisible Deity, but Jesus also is one, altogether and indivisible humanity, but now glorified.

Paul has a further reference to the Father and the Son as separate entities in 1 Cor. 8:6 where he writes, "But to us there is but one God the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we by him." Here we are encouraged to think in terms of a twoness, a Father and a Son. Paul also reminded the believers at Corinth that a faithful God had called them "to the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor. 1:9).

Likewise, the epistle to the Hebrews abounds in references to the separate functions of the Father and the Son, especially in relation to the Lord Jesus as our great high priest, appearing in the presence of God for us (Heb. 9:24), and making intercession. Heb. 7:24- 25 tells us: "This man, because he continues ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them."

This high priestly ministry of our Lord Jesus, interceding for us before God, is of paramount importance, and of inestimable value to the believer. However, this ministry cannot be appreciated unless the Lord Jesus is seen as a separate entity from His Father, presenting to God the merits of His death on our behalf.

On page 106 of his book under the heading "The ending of the Sonship," David Bernard states, inter alia, "When the reasons for the Sonship cease to exist, God (Jesus) will cease acting in his role as Son and the Sonship will be submerged back into the greatness of God."

However, this assumption raises some fundamental problems. God is not "acting in His role as Son." The Father is the Father and the Son is the Son; they are a duality. The ascended Christ, in Revelation 1:18 said "I am he that lives, and was dead and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen." There is no cessation of the Sonship! Further, in Matthew 25:31, Jesus said, "When the Son of man shall come in his glory... He shall sit upon the throne of His glory."

In the book of the Revelation we learn of the eternal ministry of the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, as a separate entity from his Father. The opening verse of Revelation 1 reads, ''The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him--". If, as is claimed by David Bernard, "Jesus now exercises his power as God through a glorified human body," how are we to understand God giving the Revelation to His Son Jesus? We believe that the dependence of the Lord Jesus upon his Father, so often referred to in the Gospels, is seen here as continuing in the Savior’s glorified state. When Jesus was created he was a human being. He is indeed a human being forever. If this were not so, he could not "call us brethren" (Heb.2:11).

Jesus had a will of his own which he could have exercised contrary to his Father's will. He said, "Not what I will, but what you will" (Mark 14:36). Two separate wills demand that the Father and the Son are different and distinct from one another. How else are we to understand the child Jesus "increasing in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52)?

To interpret those words to mean that the human part of Jesus was increasing in favor with the Deity side of Jesus is unfathomable. The simple explanation of this passage is that Jesus the man, God's only begotten Son, increased in favor with His Father and with men.

It seems that by commencing with the hypothesis that the Father and the Son are inseparably one being, a blind spot is created as regards the abundant Scriptural evidence that teaches the separate functions of the Father and the Son.

The above was taken from

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Interview 3: A Letter to a Trinitarian (Hugh Knowlton)


Today Hugh Knowlton joins Restitutio to talk about how to handle important doctrinal differences with other Christians.  ...
In the course of the interview, Knowlton addresses five main questions from a biblical unitarian point of view:

  1. Based on John 1.1, do you believe that Jesus is eternal?
  2. Do you believe that Jesus is the creator?
  3. Does Isaiah 9.6 refer to Jesus when it calls him “God” and “eternal?”
  4. Why does Jesus receive worship if He is not God?
  5. If you do not believe that Jesus is God, who is he?
Here is the text of the letter he sent:
Dear Ben,
As I have mentioned I don’t come from a traditional Trinitarian background and as a result, I have a different paradigm or way of thinking in regards to the relationship of God and His son, Jesus. Even though there is a difference I sincerely pray that what I believe will not bring offense or cause you to think that I am diminishing the Son if I believe, as I do, that he is not exactly the same (identical) as the Father.
You will surely agree that Christology is a massive subject! I don’t consider myself a theologian or a master on this subject but do enjoy studying it occasionally; more so during the last several years when I have been attending an orthodox church where the Trinity is not questioned and alternative beliefs as to who Christ is are not generally welcomed. I am not out to change the Christian world to my beliefs but do like to do “a check up from the neck up” to see if what I hold true still makes sense or whether I need to consider changes.
By fellowshipping with men like you, Larry and many others at PBC I have grown in my respect and understanding of your mindset and beliefs. It is good to gain understanding even if it does not end up with agreement on all points.
Before I address your questions I want to say that my answers are, in my estimation, more of a summary of what I believe; they are certainly incomplete and are not as full an explanation with all the reasoning, historical evidence and scriptural support that I would like to include. I think that would take writing a book, which I want to avoid! I am sure more questions will be raised and if we want to continue a dialog, either in person or by email, we can both share more.
In your email below you express a concern about ‘agreeing on His nature’. I don’t see a similar concern shared by Jesus, Paul, John or the other writers in the New Testament. I am not saying the concern does not exist but I don’t recall scriptures that place an abundant emphasis on it other than what I read in Math 16:13-17 where Jesus asks his disciples ‘Who do you say that I am?’ and Peter’s reply ‘You are the Christ (the Messiah), the son of the living God’. I think this is a great start for having common ground.
And this is where I would like to start by addressing your last question as who I think Jesus is. I believe him to be the son of God, the Christ, the Messiah, the promised seed, my redeemer and savior, the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation, the resurrection, the way, the truth and the life, the bread of life, the living word of God; he declared the Father and reveals Him today.
Jesus has given me access to the Father, [he] is my mediator, my High Priest, my King, forgiver of my sins, given me the new birth of eternal life, has made me absolutely complete in him, has made unto me wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, has filled me to capacity in all the fullness of God’s gift of Holy Spirit, has called me and set me in the heavenlies, and has given me his joy, peace and love. I’m sure there is more that can be added!
I like to think in simple terms and God uses the simplicity of a father – son relationship to communicate family, intimacy, and similarity and, also, distinct differences between himself, who I believe is the Father, and his only begotten son, Jesus. Things that are similar are not necessarily identical.
With your first question regarding John 1:1 the question that can be asked is who or what is the Word? The common answer is Jesus, but I have a problem with that interpretation (that understanding), because I don’t see the word ‘Jesus’ in the verse. It does not explicitly say Jesus but it is commonly supplied by inference.
I told you when we met that I have grown to disdain the phrase “Jesus is not God” because it does nothing to explain the deity connection between the Father and the Son. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” Col 2:9 (NIV). The word ‘deity’ or ‘Godhead’ is a translation of the Greek word ‘theotes’ (used only once in the Bible), which can be translated divinity or divine nature. How is this expressed in Jesus?
The word “Word” as you certainly know is ‘logos’ in the Greek. There is much that can be written about this word; it has a wide range of meanings along two basic lines of thought: products of the mind like reason and logic and the other is expressions of that reason as a ‘word’, ‘saying’, ‘command’, etc. My understanding of logos as it has been previously used in scripture (to mention only a few references: Psalm 33.6,9; Psalm 147:15,17-18; Isaiah 55:10-11) is that it refers to God’s creative self-expression … His reason, purposes, wisdom, and plans, especially, as they are brought into action. Jesus was God’s plan for man’s redemption as foretold in Genesis (the promised seed in Gen 3:15); Jesus was the manifestation, the reality in the flesh of that plan. What the ‘Word’ was, Jesus became. This is my understanding of ‘logos’
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. John 1:14 (KJV)
And [now] in His own appointed time He has made manifest (made known) His Word and revealed it as His message through the preaching entrusted to me by command of God our Savior Titus 1:3 (Amplified Bible, Classic Edition)
I don’t understand incarnation as you do. I do not think that God literally became a man (Jesus). Similarly, I do not share the Catholics belief that we are literally eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus in communion. I believe that the plan of God, the word of God became incarnate in Jesus (he did nothing of his own but only what the Father told him).
I have difficulty understanding if Jesus was literally God how could he die (Philippians 2:8 if God “alone possesses immortality” (I Tim 6:16). Why did he say, “I can do nothing on my own initiative (John 5:30) while God “can do all things” (Job 42:2)? Why doesn’t he know the day and hour when he will return, and yet his Father, God does know (Matt 24:36)? How can he be tempted by the devil (Matt 4:1) when “God cannot be tempted by evil” (James 1:13)? Why should he be in subjection to the Father for all eternity (1Cor 15:28)? If Jesus is God how could he say that “my Father is greater than I” (John 14:28)? If Jesus is literally God how could Jesus call us brothers (Heb 2:11)? I am not asking you to answer these questions, but I simply want to express that orthodox Christology doesn’t make sense to me.
Jesus was a perfect man whose physical lineage was the line of believers as mentioned in Matthew chapter 1. His mother, Mary, believed the word of the Lord as delivered by Gabriel that she would conceive in her womb and bear a son and that she should call him Jesus. ... the second Adam (the son of man), a perfect man with no sin nature.
... Jesus did not have any sin nature but that was not enough. He had to learn obedience (Heb 5:8); he had to study the Word, the scriptures, to learn of himself and His Father’s mission for His life. He was tempted in all things but without sin (Heb 4:15). I believe Jesus could have sinned just like Adam did but (by the freedom of his will) he chose not to. Romans 5:11-21 tells us that by the disobedience of one man death was passed on to all and that by the obedience of one man, Jesus Christ, the gift of grace has abounded unto many.
Jesus had a beginning, a genesis, as told in Matt 1:18. ‘Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on the rise’. The word ‘birth’ is genesis the same root word in Gen 1:1 for beginning.
The personal pre-existence of Christ is fundamental to the doctrine of the Trinity. What needs to be determined is whether that pre-existence was as a person or as an idea or plan in the mind of God. I am not able now to give the subject adequate attention but what I believe is that Jesus existed in the foreknowledge of God as the pre-existent plan and purpose of God. God also foreknew us ‘He has chosen us before the foundation of the world … having predestinated us unto adoption of children …’ Eph 1:3,4. Also, Rom 8:29; 2Th 2:13; 2 Tim 1:9). God calls things that are not as though they are: Rom 4:17 (related verses to that idea are Isa 43:13; Isa 46:9-11; Jer 1:5).
“He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end times for your sake.” 1Peter 1:20. The word translated ‘destined’ literally means ‘to know beforehand’. From it we get the word ‘prognosis’ meaning ‘known in advance’, usually used of doctors in predicting the course of an illness. On the basis of his foreknowledge the doctor can offer a good or bad prognosis about the outcome of the disease. In this passage I believe Peter is telling us that Jesus was known in advance by God in the sense that His plan for him was predetermined and at the appropriate time Jesus was born. Peter does not indicate that Jesus personally existed before he was born. There are verses in John that do apparently indicate Jesus’s pre-existence, which should be examined, but I will need a separate email.
Do I believe Jesus is the creator? No and Yes is my answer. No to the first (old) creation but he plays an integral part in the new creation. There are abundant scriptures that indicate that the Lord God created the heavens and the earth with no explicit mention of Jesus (Gen 1; Neh 9:5-7; Ps 33: 6-9; Ps 104:30-33; Isa 45:3, 5, 8, 12, 18; Mal 2:10; Acts 7:48-50).
God delegated Christ His authority to create. Eph 2:15 (NKJV, NIV) refers to Christ creating “one new man” (his church) out of Jew and Gentile. In pouring out the gift of Holy Spirit to each believer (Acts 2:33,38), the Lord has created something new in each of them, that is the “new man,” their new nature (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Eph 4:24). The Church of the Body of Christ was a brand new entity, created by Christ out of Jew and Gentile. He also had to create the structure and position that would allow it to function both in the spiritual realm and the physical world (Rom 12:4-8; Eph 4:7-11). The Bible describes these physical and spiritual realities by the phrase, “things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible (Col 1:16).
I believe the passages that allude to a creative role for Jesus in Col 1:15-17 and in Hebrews 1:2 refer to the new creation and to a new perfect order on earth when Christ returns to rule on the earth and eventually paradise restored (Rev 21 & 22).
Col 1:15 (NASB) says Christ is “the firstborn of all creation”. I believe him to be the author, the firstborn of a new race of men and women. I believe that we will be the second, third, fourth born, etc. When he returns we will receive a new body fashioned like his glorious body.
Phi 1:20, 21 “For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the savior: the Lord Jesus Christ who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned unto his glorious body according to the working whereby he is able to even subdue all things unto himself.”
In regards to Isaiah 9:6 there is way more that I would like to say than time permits. This verse gives 5 attributes of the son prophesied by Isaiah. I believe it is a basic tenet of the Trinitarian doctrine that Christians should “neither confound the Persons nor divide the Substance” (Athanasian Creed). I do not believe that this prophecy of the coming Messiah, Jesus, is equating him to God, the Father. I believe the phrase is mistranslated. The word translated ‘everlasting’ is actually ‘age’. I believe that Jesus will be called “father of the (coming) age”. Jesus ‘fathered’ eternal salvation. The words ‘everlasting life’ can also be translated ‘life in the age to come’.
I believe the phrase ‘Mighty God’ can also be better translated. The word “God” in the Hebrew culture had a much wider range of application than it does in our culture. English makes a clear distinction between “God” and “god”, but the Hebrew language, which has only capital letters, cannot make a clear distinction. In the Old Testament the original word for God, elohim, is used of God (Ps 19:1; Deut 6:4) but, also, of angels (Ps 8:5; Ps 89:6), rulers, judges, mighty men (Ex 21:6; Psalm 82:1-26. Note: in John 10:34 Jesus quotes Ps 82:6 in a way that confirms that the reference is to mortal men.) and the false gods and idols of the heathen (Ex 12:12; Ex 15:11; Ex 20:3; 1Kings 11:33) and it’s application to the Messiah is, in my opinion, no proof that he is the second person of the Trinity. A better translation would be “mighty hero” or “divine hero”. Both Martin Luther and James Moffatt translated the phrase as “divine hero” in their Bibles.
Regarding your comments concerning question 4 you see worshipping Jesus as a declaration of his divinity. I see worshipping Jesus as someone definitely worthy of worship as Rev 5:12 declares, “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”
The Father and the Son are deserving of equal honor. John 5:23 “That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honors not the Son honors not the Father which has sent him.”
The way I understand Thomas’s words “My Lord and my God” is similar to the way I understand Jesus saying to Philip in John 14:9 “He that has seen me has seen the Father.”
John 1:18 “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.” You can’t see God (God is spirit John 4:24) but you can see Jesus who is the image of the invisible God (Col 1: 15). If Christ is God why doesn’t this verse just say so? The Father is plainly called God in dozens of places and this would have been a good place to say that Jesus was God. Instead it says that Christ is the image of God. If one thing is the ‘image’ of another thing, then the “image” and the “original” are not the same thing.
My understanding is that things that are similar are not necessarily identical. Jesus revealed the father in the senses world; I believe he was the exact representation (likeness, resemblance) of God’s will in a man. Jesus “being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person (Heb 1:3) There is so much more that could be shared on Jesus being the image of God.
You mention, Ben, that Jesus saying “Because you have seen me you believe” as equivalent to him labeling the declaration of his own Deity, belief. After reading the entire section of John 20:24-29 I think that the emphasis in not on his Deity but on Thomas believing that Jesus was alive … that Jesus was resurrected; he had been dead 3 days and nights but was brought back to life. I love verse 29 because it talks about us. We do not have the opportunity today of seeing in his hands the print of the nails or to be able to thrust our hands into his side but we are blessed because we believe without seeing.
My understanding of Christ is today he is the head of the body. He is Lord who has been given all authority and power. I believe that today Jesus functions as God in a relationship similar to what Joseph had with Pharaoh in Egypt, but some day in the future I Cor 15:28 tells us “And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”
I think doctrinally in the Scriptures there similarities and there are differences between the Father and the Son, but on the practical side or the relationship side there is little distinction between the Father and the Son (unless the Holy Spirit indicates otherwise). I John 1:3 says “truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
If you Google “greek prepositions diagram” and click on ‘images’ you will see a handy diagram which helps to explain the prepositions in I Cor 8:6 which says “Yet for us there is but one God, the father, from (ek = out of) whom all things came and for (eis = unto ) whom we live (unto God), and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through (dia w/ genitive) whom all things came and through (dia) whom we live.” (NIV)
I do not believe “all things came through him” is referring to the creation of all things in the beginning; rather, it is speaking of the Church. God provided all things for the Church via Jesus Christ. The whole of 1 Cor is taken up with Church issues. I believe the verse states clearly that Christians have one God who is the ultimate source of all things, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, who is the way by which God provided all things to the Church. In my words Jesus is the ‘user friendly interface’ to God. Everything that comes from God to us comes through Christ and everything we do for God goes to Him through Christ.
Well, in conclusion, my prayer is that you don’t consider this an attack on what you believe but I offer my reply (as incomplete as it is) as a different understanding of Christology than the orthodox view … which believes Jesus is God; whereas, I believe it is God living/working in Christ. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ and the head of the woman is man; and the head of Christ is God.” (I Cor 11:3) “That God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Cor 5:19)
I ask that you honor my request that the things I’ve shared are meant to be confidential between the four of us. This is not because I am embarrassed by what I believe, but I also have a pastor’s heart. I understand my beliefs can be divisive and cause confusion, which is not my intent at all. My mindset has been and will continue to be to place my differences in beliefs and understanding in subjection to His love and Lordship … to think more highly of others than myself. This is why I have kept silent on the subject and plan to continue with body of believers I fellowship with.
All my love in Christ Jesus, our Lord!
Hugh
Here are the books Hugh used in order of reliance:
  • One God & One Lord by Graeser, Lynn and Schoenheit
  • The Trinity: True or False? by James Broughton and Peter Southgate
  • One God: The Unfinished Reformation by Bob Carden
  • “To God Be The Glory” CD Series by Joel Hemphill
  • The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound by Anthony Buzzard and Charles Hunting
Also, look up explanations to commonly misunderstood verses at christianmonotheism.com

Note: some editing has been done 

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

How the Bible View of God Was "Morphed" into a New Definition of God

Few seem to notice the subtle change 


How do you “morph,” cleverly change, one into two or three? And hope that no one has spotted what you are doing?! Churchgoers seem to be so little concerned about where their official beliefs come from. They have politely and tacitly taken on board a lot of tradition unexamined. But did not Jesus warn very severely about the danger of “tradition learned by heart”? Quoting Isaiah 29:13-14, Jesus tried to impress a powerful truth on us all: “Because this people draw near to Me with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, I will once again deal marvelously with them.” The warning is threatening and clear.

Yes, Jesus cited these words in Matthew 15:8 and Mark 7:6. Note also the frustration of Ezekiel (33:31-33, please read) who found his audiences stubborn and unresponsive! The distinguished Bible scholar F.F. Bruce wrote to me many years ago and observed most astutely:

“Evangelical Protestants can be as much servants of tradition as Roman Catholics or Greek Orthodox Christians; only they do not realize that it is ‘tradition.’ People who adhere to sola scriptura [‘the Bible only’] (as they believe) often adhere in fact to a traditional school of interpretation of sola scriptura” (correspondence, June 13, 1981). 

Back to our topic of subtly turning ONE into TWO, hoping that no one will spot the trick. You either omit to say clearly that you are dealing with ONE, or you make the ONE as vague and difficult as possible so that no one sees when you are turning it into TWO or THREE. The morphing then takes place by imperceptible, almost unnoticeable steps and shifts, via waffling language, full of foggy terms, to arrive at 2 or 3! Compare the Church of England bishop, A. H. Newman, who became a Roman Catholic. Here is what he admitted, with refreshing honesty, about the amazingly complex doctrine of the Trinity:

“The Trinity is a contradiction, indeed, and not merely a verbal contradiction, but an incompatibility in the human ideas conveyed. We can scarcely make a nearer approach to an exact enunciation of it, than of saying that one thing is two things
(Sadler’s Gloria Patri, p. 39, A. H. Newman). 

This clever moving from one idea to another, unnoticed, amounts to a conjuring, card shark trick — using misdirection! “Misdirection” is a term used by conjurers when they make you look in one direction so that you do not notice something else which they hope you will not see!

The danger over muddle, fudging or complexity concerning the most basic of all teachings, Who is God, needs our earnest attention, full and sustained concentration. It matters very much to a jealous God, the God of Israel and of Jesus, that we define Him truthfully and biblically with Jesus as our Master rabbi and teacher. That is why Jesus, when asked about the “Greatest Commandment of all” — the one which we really must not get wrong — replied with the monumentally and centrally important Shema (Mark 12:29, citing Deut. 6:4; 4:35): “Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is one.” He is One Person. “He is alone and there is no God besides Him.” He is the “our one Lord” of Daniel 3:17 (in the LXX, Greek). Thousands upon thousands of singular personal pronouns, I, Me, Myself, Thou, Thee, Thyself, He, Him, Himself, My, Thy, His, Mine, Thine, define who God is and how many He is. They define the true God in terms which your young children can understand easily. God did not “mess with us” when He insisted that we define Him accurately. To say that one has to be a learned scholar of languages or philosophy to understand who the true God is, is to imply that the Bible is not for us all!

The Bible is meant to be understood in its most basic propositions and truths. The Trinity is a teaching which most churchgoers cannot explain at all. They have in most cases no idea how the idea of a Triune God came to be the heart of what everyone must believe!

The Trinity took centuries of post-biblical, furious argumentation, before an Emperor finally insisted that the believers stop arguing and settle on the “only right” view. They then called this “orthodoxy,” right belief. Eventually the sword was used to enforce that “right view.”

But was any of this in any way justified? What do you think about these quotations from highly-schooled Bible experts:

“It must be admitted by everyone who has the rudiments of an historical sense that the doctrine of the Trinity formed no part of the original message. Paul did not know it, and would have been unable to understand the meaning of the terms used in the theological formula on which the Church ultimately agreed.” [1] 
“The evolution of the Trinity: No responsible NT scholar would claim that the doctrine of the Trinity was taught by Jesus, or preached by the earliest Christians, or consciously held by any writer of the NT. It was in fact slowly worked out in the course of the first few centuries in an attempt to give an intelligible doctrine of God.” [2]  
 Jesus was perfectly intelligible! 

Here is what happened after the death of the Apostles and the closing of the NT canon of Scriptures. Leadership of the church was transferred from Jewish followers of the Jew Jesus (yes, his father and mother were Jews!) to non-Jews. Under the influence of Greek philosophy, Jesus, the Son of God, who in Matthew and Luke is defined as coming into existence, beginning to exist in Mary, was “read back” into past history. Mary was then supposed to have taken into her womb an already existing Person. This followed a typical Greek idea. This was that the One God was too distant and had to be approached by one or more intervening “emanations” of that One God. This, it was thought, would bring us close to the one distant God. But the Bible does not teach this system of thinking. It was a pagan philosophical system, cleverly called “Gnosticism” (a system of “knowledge”).

What if those early post-Bible philosophically-minded teachers, “church fathers” fell for a deception which became an entrenched tradition and creed? What if the creed which Jesus announced seemed to them too “Jewish”? Did a hidden anti-Semitism take over, moving the Church away from Jesus, the master-rabbi and teacher? Jesus is the one we must always listen to (Acts 3:23).

Believers in a Triune God arrived at crypto-Gnosticism. That is, leaders began to think like this: “We reject blatant pagan Gnosticism, but we welcome it in a modified form at the back door. And this is our excuse: The Greek background and culture in which we are forced to preach necessitated all this!” Thus the “church fathers” unconsciously said, “Greeks will never accept a Jewish God!” The result: Jesus’/Judaism’s Shema (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29, 1 Cor. 8:4-6), unitary, not Trinitarian monotheism, was the inevitable victim and casualty. Polytheism entered the Church camouflaged. [3]

Amazingly, the “church fathers” admitted that they were rejecting Jesus’ Jewish view of God as one Person! It did not seem to trouble them that the creed of Jesus was being made redundant!

Note this carefully from a leading authority on what the church “fathers” did: “The Church Fathers’ conception of the Trinity was a combination of Jewish [i.e. Jesus’] monotheism and pagan polytheism, except that to them this combination was a good combination. In fact it was to them an ideal combination of what is best in Jewish monotheism [Jesus’ creed] and of what is best in pagan polytheism, and consequently they gloried in it and pointed to it as evidence of their belief…The Christian conception of God, argues Gregory of Nyssa [leading Church Father], is neither the polytheism of the Greeks nor the monotheism of the Jews [of Jesus!] and consequently it must be true.” [4]

Show this information to your good friends and invite some reflection on what Jesus called “the greatest of all the commandments” (Mark 12:28-34).

It is standard information in all the big dictionaries and encyclopedias that Judaism, based on its Scriptures, believed God to be a single Person, a single undifferentiated Divine Self. That is what I and many others call unitary monotheism or unipersonal monotheism. This is often referred to as strict monotheism, although this last phrase could be ambiguous for some.

The Bible is turned into chaos if one superimposes non-biblical, philosophical language onto its simple realism. God is said to be a single Self (He calls Himself a nephesh, soul, self) thousands and thousands of times. This is the massive, pervasive and obvious evidence to be dealt with.

Dr. Murray Harris in his intensive study of God and Jesus said this about the Hebrew Bible and its view of God and his personal name YHVH: “Being a proper noun and the covenant name of Israel, God (Yahweh) is invariably the name of a Person who sustains relationships with other persons.” [5]

The Shema (Deut. 6:4; 4:35; 1 Cor 8:4-6) and the whole of Scripture convinced Judaism and NT Christians always to believe in unitary monotheism. Thus at Oxford, the Regius Professor of Theology lecturing on the Trinity said of the OT, “Judaism was always unitarian.”

The major point to be taken in is that Jesus affirmed that unitary monotheism of Judaism (Mark 12:28-34). The Jew who agreed with Jesus showed that Jesus was entirely Jewish in his description of who God is. One single Self. The Jew echoed back Jesus words by saying “there is no other except Him.” It takes no special learning to know that “Him” is one “who” — one Self, one Person! Some would urge that the Shema makes no proposition one way or the other about how many Persons God is! This is not true at all. What good is a creed if it is so unclear? It really impugns the integrity of Holy Scripture (and Jesus said that “salvation is from the Jews”), if we are unable to give a clear meaning to the Shema.

I need only quote four sources which are echoed by many:

  • “Abraham, Moses and Elijah were all equally zealous monotheists and in none of their successors was there any retrogression from the highest and purest form of unitarian belief.” [6] 
  • “The monotheism of the Jews was then, as it is still, unitarian.” [7] 
  •  “Judaism has always been rigorously unitarian.” [8]
  • “Judaism [is] Unitarian.” [9]
Jesus agreed with the Jews in Mark 12:29, and as Dr. Dennis Nineham says in his commentary on Mark, this passage is meant to demonstrate that Jesus was thoroughly orthodox in his description of God. 

These non-complicated facts should settle our discussion, since we are all agreed that our Christian task is to follow the teaching of Jesus. 

Some Trinitarians suggest that in John 10:30 Jesus introduced something new. In this case Jesus was less than honest in his reply to the friendly Jew! But who today in commentary advances John 10:30 as any sort of Trinitarian proof? So the argument is defeated. Jesus did not change his mind on the definition of God. Nor did Paul when he affirms the same Shema in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6. Jesus said that he and the Father were working in perfect harmony as “one thing” in John 10:30. He desired the same harmony exactly for his followers (John 17:11, 22). 

What Jesus did so brilliantly, anticipating no doubt controversy about his own status in relation to the one GOD, YHVH, was to teach them immediately about Psalm 110:1:“The LORD says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’” 

That Psalm, verses 1-4, is alluded to or cited 33 times in the NT and was decisive and should be decisive for us too. In Psalm 110:1 YHVH is still one single self (as 7,000 times in the OT). He directs an oracle to some other self. This of course defeats Modalism, which says that the Father and Son are the same Person. Modalism shows how terribly mired in controversy and unnecessary complexity our subject can become! Surely one does not need a PhD to tell us that a Father cannot be his own Son! Jesus never imagined such a thing, and the Trinitarians agree. 

What Jesus shows in Psalm 110:1 is that the exalted Jesus is not a second YHVH or a second Person “in YHVH.” Rather he, the Messiah, is the supremely exalted man Messiah, my lord, tragically misrendered in many versions (not all) as “my Lord”! The capital letter on the second lord is a stunning mistranslation. Adoni, my lord, occurs 195 times and never means God

Paul said it all very easily in 1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.”
One God and one man Messiah. Two selves. One of them is GOD. The Bible is about God and man, not God and another God! 

The issues we are discussing are simply huge, since billions of human beings deserve to hear who God and Jesus really are. At present the very complex philosophical Trinity smothers good information. And few seem to know that the church fathers, the orchestrators of the Trinity, admitted that they were deliberately eliminating the “Jewish error”! That “Jewish error” was in fact the teaching of Jesus. How much does the public know of what really went on? 

The word God in the NT means the Father 1300 times. “Do we not all have one Father? Has not one God created us” (Mal. 2:10). None of the roughly 11,000 occurrences of the various words for God (Elohim, YHVH, Adonai, Theos) ever means a Triune God. So in the Bible when someone says “God” he never means a Triune God. 

John A.T. Robinson: 

“John saw Christ as also being unique, a distinction he recognizes by reserving the word ‘Son’ for Jesus and ‘children of God’ for Christians. But, unlike later dogmaticians [church fathers], he shows no awareness of a contradiction or even of a tension at this point. ... Jesus can say in the same discourse that ‘the Father is in me and I in the Father’ (10:38) and ‘my Father and I are one’ (10:30), because he is acting as his Father would (10:37), and his deeds are done in His name (10:25). 
“Again he says in a later discourse (14:9-10), ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father because I am not myself the source of the words I speak to you: it is the Father who dwells in me doing his own work.’ He is ‘God’s only Son,’ the very ‘exegesis’ [explanation] of the Father (1:18). Indeed he is himself ‘theos,’ ‘what God is’ (1:1), because as a mere man (10:33) Jesus is utterly transparent to another, who is ‘greater than himself’ (14:28) and indeed ‘greater than all’ (10:29). The paradox is staggering, and it is no wonder that this Christology [John’s understanding of who Jesus is] later fell apart at the seams. But for John there is no antithesis, any more than there is for the author to the Hebrews, between humanity and divinity, the historical and the theological.” [10]


Jesus is fully expressive of God, his Father. But Jesus never, ever claimed to be GOD, which would have contradicted the unitary monotheism of his Hebrew heritage, agreeing with a fellow Jew (Mark 12:28-34). A claim to be GOD would have violated the greatest of all the commandments! Jesus is the man Messiah (1 Tim. 2:5), the “my lord” of Psalm 110:1, a text which will yet change the world.

[1] Dr. Matthews, D.D., D. Litt., God in Christian Experience, p. 180.
[2]  Dr. A. T Hanson, Professor of Theology, University of Hull, The Image of the Invisible God, SCM Press, 1982.
[3]  Paul Schrodt, The Problem of the Beginning of Dogma in Recent Theology, p. 121.
[4] Dr. H. Wolfson, The Philosophy of the Church Fathers, pp. 361-363.
[5] Jesus as God, p, 25.
[6] “Judaism,” Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics.
[7] Leonard Hodgson D.D., Regius Professor of Theology at Oxford, Christian Faith and Practice, 1952, p. 74.
[8] “Deism,” Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
[9] Dogmatics, Vol. 1. p. 205.
[10] Dr. John A.T. Robinson, Twelve More New Testament Studies, SCM Press, 1984, p.151.

The above was taken from
Focus On The Kingdom Vol. 19. No. 3