Epistles of Thomas

May 12, 2008

More on Christadelphians

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thomas @ 10:04

Today’s Logos’ blog post refers to a post by Michael Heiser in which he looks at John 10:30-33 using Logos’ syntax search. He is seeking to undermine the JW and Mormon argument that these verses do not refer to Jesus divinity because of the lack of the definite article. I once mentioned these verses to a JW as a reason why I believe that Jesus is God and he replied it was a Jew who made this statement so of course it was wrong. I protested that Jews are certainly monotheists and therefore they must have understood that Jesus was claiming to be God. His response assured me that JWs have a low opinion of Jews. I have never met a Christadelphian but I did read their online response to John 10:30 and others (Jn 1:1+, Phil 2:6-9, Isa 9:6, Jn 20:28).
Unfortunately they concentrate on Jn 10:30 and ignore the context. Their argument is rather limited: “Even the sentence in its structure indicates two persons: ‘I’ + ‘the Father” equals 2.” If you want to even begin to understand these verses you need to look at the context.
1. Did Jesus claim to be God? Yes = he is God; No = what did he mean?
2. No. Did he mean as the Christadelphians assert: “Christ and his Father were one in the same sense that Christ prayed the disciples would be one (Jn. 17:11), and a man and his wife are one (Mark 10:7-8), and the church is one (Gal. 3:28). One in purpose and thought, not in being”? Yes = he is not God; No = what did he mean?
3. How did his audience respond to his remarks? He claimed to be God (no one seemed to accept that at this time); He was claiming to be one in purpose and thought with God. In other words, he was a prophet or a man after God’s own heart like David. From the response of the Jews in seeking to stone him they clearly thought he was claiming to be God: “The Jews answered him, saying, ‘For a good work we would not stone you; but for blasphemy; and because that you, being a man, make yourself God.'” Christadelphians must therefore conclude that Jesus was totally misunderstood and that although he was claiming one thing his audience wanted to kill him because they thought he was saying something else. Personally, if a group of people wanted to kill me due to a misunderstanding of what I said I would quickly clear up that misunderstanding!
4. The other option is to take the stance that Jesus was a good man and the Jews hated good men so they made up false charges against him. This was the approach of the JW I mentioned above. This makes the argument rather personal and is unnecessary I believe. I would be interested to know what any Christadelphians think of this so please drop me a comment.

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9 Comments »

  1. I happened across your blog today and thought I might leave a comment. I am a Christadelphian, so I thought you might like a little input. I was actually interested to see that you were very clear in stating that the context is extremely important when determining the meaning of a passage. But then I was disappointed that you did not take your own warning and read the following verses. You seem to ignore the evidence of the words of Jesus himself as to what the charge of blasphemy entailed. Jesus does, as you suggested, “quickly clear up that misunderstanding!” It is clear that Jesus is making it quite plain that he was not claiming to be THE FATHER, but that he was (v. 36) THE SON of God. It couldn’t be more obvious. The relationship between a Father and a Son should not have to be explained. They are not, nor can ever be, the same person. The problem that the Jews had, and still have, was the notion that their God would ever condescend to the point of having a child with a human woman. This is the reason they could not answer Jesus’ question in Matt:22:41-46 “If David call him Lord, how is he his son?” The answer which they would not dare to utter had to be that BOTH David (via Mary) and GOD were his Father. 2 Sam 7:14 “I will be his Father and he shall be my son.” This is why they charged him with blashphemy. Their own misunderstanding of the Messiah and who his Father would be. Having said that, I was also disappointed to see that you avoided the opportunity to comment on just what Jesus meant in Joh 17:11. I thought that section might have brought some clarity to this passage had you chosen to enter into it. If we just look at Joh 17:20-23, we can clearly see what Jesus meant when he spoke of the “oneness” he had with the Father. “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be ONE IN US: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; THAT THEY MAY BE ONE, EVEN AS WE ARE ONE:” Even as we are one?! That sounds like he is praying that his disciples might share in the same unity that he enjoyed with his Father. Are we, his disciples, to be one and the same person? I think not. So in what sense are we to be one? I think you already have the answer given above in the foregoing references from John, Mark and Galatians. Oh, and if Jesus and the Father are two parts of the Trinity, did I just read that Jesus was praying that his disciples, in unity of body, would become the FOURTH part of the Trinity? “… that THEY ALSO may be ONE IN US:” I would like you to explain just what he did mean if that is not what he is saying. I noticed from your other entry regarding the Christadelphian Magazine being available via Libronix, that you thought the idea of the Unity, not Trinity, of God was a heretical belief to hold. I really hope you reconsider that comment in light of John 17. I thank you for listening and look forward to any response you might have regarding this or any other subject you might like to discuss with a Christadelphian.

    Comment by Mark — February 23, 2010 @ 15:29 | Reply

    • Thanks for taking the time to explain your Christadelphian interpretation of these verses. I have never had the opportunity to discuss these passages with a Christadelphian before so it is informative. However, any “standard” Christian commentary on these passages will explain the trinitarian nature of these passages so I don’t think I need to enter into a debate over their meaning. I’m an Evangelical but still believe that Church history (dogma and practice) inform our understanding. No trinitarian has ever suggested that Mary had sex with God in order to form Jesus. He was created by the Spirit. Christians have life through union with Christ and one another through that same Spirit. This union does not make us God but without his Spirit we cannot remain in him. What does it mean that the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are heaven’s temple (Rev 21:22) and have a throne together but that they are One (22:1)?

      Comment by Thomas — February 24, 2010 @ 16:04 | Reply

      • I think it is a very dangerous rule of biblical interpretation to allow commentators, church history and dogma to take precedence over clear biblical text. I ask you to think about it for yourself. Did Jesus actually die? That is the question that you have to be able to answer for yourself. If you answer yes, then how can he be God? How can he be “Eternal”? How can he be part of God in the Trinitarian sense? Can your God, or any person in him, actually die? If you answer no, he did not actually die, then we are all without hope and yet dead in our sins. But, could the SON of God and son of MAN actually die? Of course, because as we know from Heb 2, he shared our nature, and was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death. 11* For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are ALL OF ONE (nature): for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 14* Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, HE ALSO HIMSELF LIKEWISE took part of the SAME; that THROUGH DEATH he might destroy him that had the power of death…” How does the belief in a Trinity truly agree with what the Bible teaches? And you are correct, he was formed by the Holy Spirit, THE POWER OF THE HIGHEST, when it overshadowed Mary. This was not God HIMSELF, but his creative power which caused Mary to conceive, with no man involved. (I do not believe God had sex with Mary either, by the way) So if you notice in Luke 1:35, it is the Holy Spirit, not “God the Father” that is credited with causing Jesus to come into existence. Why do Trinitarians call Him “God the Father” if “God the Holy Spirit” actually caused Mary to conceive? If they are 2 persons of the Trinity (one of whom begets the 3rd?), then the Holy Spirit should be called the “Father” and the other person should lose that title. But if we just read carefully we are told that the Holy Spirit is the POWER of the Highest, not a separate, co-equal, co-eternal being. The Father commands, by His power, and his will is accomplished. You very rightly said in your original post that the Jews are MONOTHEISTIC, and being the chosen people of God, instructed by angels from their birth as a nation when Abraham was called from Ur of the Chaldees, I wonder how this Trinitarian view became the accepted view by so many who read the Bible for themselves. “The LORD thy God is ONE.” The Jews were never to forget this fact, and actually were chastised quite severely for believing anything different. Are we to believe any different and think that we worship the same God, or that we will avoid the same displeasure as the Jews did so long ago? They learned that lesson very well. They may have much to learn about their own Messiah, but the ONE God lesson has forever taken root. You say that we have life through the Spirit of God. I say Amen. You say that it does not make us God. I say Amen again. But, you say that it does make Jesus God. I cannot say Amen to that. Your own logic, along with the scriptures, goes to prove the fallacy of the idea.

        You asked about Rev 21:22 and Rev 22:1. I’m glad you did. Do you believe this to be a literal city? Where is this city when John sees it? (21:2,10) It is on earth, not in Heaven. It has come down from Heaven where now God will dwell with men (:3), not the other way around. Men will not ascend to Heaven to dwell with God. One, Jesus the Christ (Anointed as the word means, to be King), ascended to Heaven to the right hand of the Father, awaiting the time that he would return to this earth. Acts 1:10* And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11* Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? THIS SAME JESUS, which is taken up from you into heaven, SHALL SO COME IN LIKE MANNER as ye have seen him go into heaven.” So then, he is to return, but for what reason? What did his Apostles expect? Acts 1:3* To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to THE KINGDOM OF GOD: 4* And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER, which, saith he, YE HAVE HEARD OF ME. 5* For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6* When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time RESTORE AGAIN THE KINGDOM TO ISRAEL?” His own Apostles were waiting for the fulfillment of the Promise of the Father that Jesus, the King of the Jews, would set up again the Throne of his father David(2 Sam 7:12-16) and rule in righteousness from Jerusalem which would be the praise of the whole earth. And as the regent on the throne, imbued with all of the majesty and authority of his Father, he would rule the earth for 1,000 years. We can see this clearly in 1 Cor 15:23*” But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s AT HIS COMING. 24* Then cometh THE END, when he shall have delivered up THE KINGDOM to God, EVEN THE FATHER; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25* For HE MUST REIGN, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26* The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27* For he (GOD) hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that HE IS EXCEPTED, WHICH DID PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIM. 28* 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.” Now we learn a few things here. One, that the Kingdom will only last for a certain period of time (Rev 20:4-7), 1,000 years. Two, that the authority that the Son has to reign has only been GIVEN TO HIM until the end of the Kingdom period, when it is given BACK TO THE FATHER, who will be All in All. This plainly goes against the Co-Equal Father and Son belief within the Triune Godhead. God Himself reigns supreme until he delegates his authority unto the Son for a limited period, for a limited purpose, at a specific time. And not only to the Son, but if you read the Rev 20 references you’ll see that it is the privilege of the redeemed to rule and reign with him as Kings (WHO SIT ON THRONES) and Priests (WHO MINISTER IN TEMPLES). Rev 3:21 tells of the blessing of the redeemed as sharing the throne with the Son, as he shares it with the Father. Surely this does not prove that they are all ONE in the sense that you were suggesting.

        I’m sorry to be writing a book, but I know my opportunity is short to try to get you to see the Truth. God is ONE and His Son is coming to reestablish the Kingdom of Israel upon the earth. That should give us something more to talk about if you like to continue the conversation.

        Comment by Mark — February 26, 2010 @ 19:10

      • Mark,
        Thank you once again for taking the time to answer my post in such depth. You have made it very clear that Christadelphians reject Jesus’ godhood because you see the idea of the Trinity as being implicitly tritheistic no matter how much Trinitarians might reject that notion. I won’t reply to your answers point by point but I will explain why I think your theology defends a God who is too small and a God who is too weak. Let me explain.

        Your God is too small. You have turned from the statements in Scripture about Jesus’ status to human logic. You think that God can’t be xyz because it doesn’t make any sense, therefore God isn’t xyz. You ask about the possibility of Jesus actually dying and you state that if he is God then he can’t have died. Ontologically this may be true but you are limiting God. Who are we to tell God what he/Jesus can and can’t do? I may not understand the death of Jesus in terms of his deity but if the writers of the New Testament witnessed it and yet believe Jesus to be God incarnate (something you debate but I believe John is clear on) then who am I to argue? As you probably noticed my name is Thomas and therefore John 20:24ff is a favourite story. Have you ever wondered why Thomas was so hesitant to believe that Jesus was really alive again? He seems to have understood the full implication of this. If it was true then he had no option but to declare, “My Lord and my God,” (v28) something no monotheistic Jew would say to a man!

        Your God is too weak. You seem to believe in a God who is unable to represent himself. Are you saying that he appointed Jesus to do his work on earth but Jesus did such a poor job of things that most Christians alive today believe that he was actually God-incarnate when in fact he isn’t? Was God not able to protect his revelation? Is God not still at work in the world today ensuring that the Bible is interpreted rightly? You speak against “commentators, church history and dogma” but how is it that God allowed things to go so wrong? Surely God knew the future and knew that by confirming Jesus’ message through the fulfilment of signs, most importantly his resurrection, he was ‘dooming’ the world to believe in the deity of Jesus. Is it logical to for God to affirm a false message when he wants us to worship no other gods?

        I have nothing against your statement about heaven being on ‘earth’ if by that you mean a new earth which is in effect a reinstatement of the Garden of Eden where humans live in eternal fellowship with God and one another. Heaven is too often portrayed as some ethereal place where we float around on clouds and play harps. I expect to have a physical body and enjoy things like eating and skiing and talking with others. I’m really not sure what your references to Rev 20 mean. It isn’t until chapter 21 that heaven is referred to and there is no temple in heaven “because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (21:22).

        Comment by Thomas — February 28, 2010 @ 22:13

      • Good evening Thomas,

        You really have me at a loss for words. You seem to be saying that you are a Trinitarian who does not believe in a Triune God. Is this correct? If not three, then how do you describe Him? I assumed that Tri meant three, but am really curious how you see the nature of God. Or are you not a Trinitarian at all? I hope I haven’t taken that fact for granted. I apologize if I have read something into your comments that wasn’t there, but I haven’t met anyone who thought that Jesus was God that wasn’t a Trinitarian.

        First, God is not too small.
        He is from “EVERLASTING to EVERLASTING.” (Ps 41:13) “In THE BEGINNING, God…” (Gen 1:1) “Then cometh THE END…then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 COR 15:24-28) The problem I have with the idea of God dying has nothing to do with it making sense or not making sense. It is a FACT that God has always been and always will be. The NOTION that God can die is in direct contradiction to the very nature of God Himself. If “Everlasting” and “Eternal” do not connote the idea of “Undying” “Incorruptible” and “Immortal” then the scriptures themselves are in opposition to the “Truth” as I understand you to see it. He has not died, cannot die, and will not die. To be perfectly honest with you, I’m not sure what you mean by “ontologically”, but my scriptures plainly set forth a God who is beyond death itself. He has the power of life and death in his hand. He who created death as the wages of Sin, surely cannot be touched by it. I’m not trying to spin beautifully crafted words, I’m trying to state the facts as plainly as it is laid out before our eyes in the Scriptures. God is not a God of confusion, but has revealed his truth to the simple, the trusting, the poor in spirit and wise in heart. To Fishermen and Tent makers!. If you do “not understand the death of Jesus in terms of his diety”, it is not because it is too lofty an idea for us to comprehend. It is because Jesus was a man who died.

        Second, God is not weak.
        You ask if God is able to represent himself? Absolutely. And again, I’m glad you asked. If Jesus was a “Representative”, a “Representation”, or a “Manifestation” of God, was he in fact the real thing? A representation is not the actual. A representation is sent in place of the true. In this case, Jesus was sent, born of a woman, born under the law, to be a representative of God to his people, AND a representative of his people to their God. He had to come “in the flesh”, to be a true representative of mankind, in order to take away the sins of the world. If he was not “flesh and blood”, if he did not “likewise take part of the same”, he would be no better representative of mankind than would a sheep, goat, bullock or ram. His blood would have been as ineffectual in its atoning work as had been the countless sin offerings and burnt offerings made from the beginning of the world. All of those sacrifices were “shadows” and “not the very image of” the one true sacrifice which could truly purge the conscience of sins. (Heb 10:1-6) That is why he did not come with the nature of ANGELS (Heb 2) because he came to save MEN. If Angelic nature could not effect salvation for mankind, how could one who shared the VERY NATURE OF GOD HIMSELF? Now, having said that, I completely agree that Jesus was a perfect “Representation” of God in the flesh. “He that hath seen me, hath see the Father” (Joh 14:9) But in what respect? Surely he doesn’t mean that he is the Father, because he also says in Joh 6:46 “NOT THAT ANY MAN HATH SEEN THE FATHER, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” But as he says in Joh 17:6, when in prayer to the Father (God praying to God?) that he has manifested the NAME OF GOD to those whom God had given him. God’s name was in him. As it was in other “Representatives” of God in the past: Ex 23:20* “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for MY NAME IS IN HIM.” And the three MEN (Angels) that appeared to Abraham before the destruction of Sodom in Gen 18. TWO of the men went down to Sodom (Gen 19:1) but we are told that “Abraham stood yet before THE LORD”, the Third (Gen 18:22) Now, in both of these cases, and I could refer to more, these Angels or messengers are given the very NAME OF THE LORD and act on his behalf. They are “Representatives” of the Father in the presence of men to speak his words and fulfill his will. Are they the Father? Could you say that if you had seen these “Representatives” you had seen the Father? Could you say that these Angels and the Father are ONE? Yes, because the authority, honor and power of the Father had been placed upon them and at their disposal. Moses was the “Representative” of God to the children of Israel when they asked not to hear the Voice of God, but instead wanted Moses to be their Mediator. The same with Jesus. Deut 18:15-19 “* The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from THE MIDST OF THEE, OF THY BRETHREN, like unto me (Moses); unto him ye shall hearken; 16 According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. 17 And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 18 I will raise them up a Prophet FROM AMONG THEIR BRETHREN, like unto thee, and will put MY WORDS in HIS MOUTH; and he shall speak unto them all that I SHALL COMMAND HIM. 19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words WHICH HE SHALL SPEAK IN MY NAME, I will require it of him.” The words of Moses are clear and simple. God sent his Son as his “Representative.” He put His words in his mouth, placed his power at his disposal, and also gave him the authority to forgive sins and sit in judgement because he is SON OF MAN. (Joh 5:27)

        Third, you seem to imply that because “most Christians alive today believe that he was actually God-incarnate”, that makes it true? Do I understand you correctly? I hope not, because you will remember from reading your scriptures that the majority has always been wrong, and God has had to save for himself a “remnant” from the teaming mass of humanity gone astray. Just a few examples:

        1. Noah and his family – 8 (out of ? thousands,? millions)
        2. Joshua and Caleb – 2 out of entire generation over 20
        3. Elijah and 7,000 – 7,001 who had not turned to idol worship from entire nation
        4. The pitiful remnant to return to the land under Zerubbabel – The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore

        I could continue, but I think these suffice. Large numbers are not an encouraging sign.

        And speaking of the remnant to return to the land, these words are spoken by the prophet Jeremiah 23:3 “And I will gather the REMNANT of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will BRING THEM AGAIN to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD. 5 Behold, THE DAYS COME, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous BRANCH, and a KING shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice IN THE EARTH. 6 In his days JUDAY shall be saved, and ISRAEL shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and THEY SHALL DWELL IN THEIR OWN LAND.” Now this of course is speaking of Israel as a re-united nation, again in their own land, ruled over by a King descended from David. When has this happened since the days of Jeremiah? This is an obvious Messianic prophecy, but when has Jesus, THE CHRIST, ever sat as King upon the throne of David his Father? This leads us to our next point.

        I never said that “Heaven” would be on Earth. I don’t believe in going to Heaven. I chose my words very carefully and I think we should revisit them. “Lord, wilt thou at this time RESTORE AGAIN THE KINGDOM TO ISRAEL?” The Kingdom of Israel (see reference above in Jer 23) is what will be re-established upon Earth. This was the longed-for, promised reward that the fathers and apostles were looking for. A Kingdom has a King (Jesus), a Throne (David’s), a Capital (Jerusalem, Zion Psa 2), a Dominion (The whole earth Psa 72:8-11), a People and a Law (Mic 4:2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.) This is not “Heaven” in any sense that is commonly used among “most Christians.” This is a World-wide Kingdom that will be established shortly after the Return of Christ to the Earth. Daniel paints a picture for us of the 4 phases of the Kingdom of Man (Assyro-Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman) being destroyed and replaced by a great mountain which grows from a small stone, cut out of the mountain without hands in Dan 2:44 “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven SET UP A KINGDOM, WHICH SHALL NEVER BE DESTROYED: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and IT SHALL STAND FOREVER. 45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.” Did history follow the interpretation that Daniel showed to Nebuchadnezzar? Did the dominions rise and fall just as he said? Then, the stone shall surely strike the image and grow into a World-wide Kingdom, just as he said. We await the day that THE STONE, Christ himself, will come to establish it and rule in righteousness for 1,000 years with those who have been faithful to him, the small remnant. These are the ones spoken of in Rev 20 that take part in the first resurrection (:6) which takes place at Christ’s return (1 Cor 15: 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; AFTERWARD, THEY THAT ARE CHRIST’S AT HIS COMING.” This is why I quoted from Rev 20 in my prior post. It is speaking of the Millenial Reign of Christ, when the power of Sin shall be restrained, not destroyed mind you, but restrained for 1,000 years. It is not until the 1,000 years are completed that Death, Hell, Sin, Mortality… are destroyed, and those who remain will dwell eternally with God and his Son. Rev 21 speaks of the gathering together of the redeemed from the 4 corners of the Earth in the picture of a Bride (:9) for the King’s Son, a new Eve as it were for the Last Adam. You asked about a Temple. There would be no need for a Temple at that time, because those who have been redeemed have no need for a building to use as a meeting-place between God and Man. 1 Cor 15:51* “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” Christ is the meeting place between God and Man. When we shall be One with him (Eph 5:31-32), as a Bride wed to her Husband, we will be One with the Father, as he is One with the Father.

        Did you notice the context of John 20:28? If you read down to :31, you’ll see what we are to believe about Jesus. Nothing more.

        I’ve thrown a lot at you tonight. Please, read the references that I’ve placed in the text and think about them for yourself. Just think about them. I’d love to hear what you think.

        Comment by Mark — March 1, 2010 @ 21:15

      • Hi Mark,

        Once again you have provided a lengthy and involved answer to my questions for which I thank you. It doesn’t look like you are at a loss for words ;). It is obvious that we have radically different ways of reading the Bible which result in my reading those verses and seeing Jesus as God-incarnate whereas you read them and see Jesus as representative. He is a representative, of course. I am reminded of the story of the famer and the swallows. He looked out his kitchen window one wintry day and saw a flock of swallows in danger of freezing to death. He decided to save them by opening his barn door so they could fly inside and keep warm. Unfortunately, the birds were unwilling to fly from the bright outdoors into his dark barn and nothing he could do would convince them to follow his desires. He thought, if only I could become a swallow and lead them into the barn. However, I think that Jesus is much more than a representative. In this response I want to respond to the comment you make about the future of earth and then ask you a fundamental question.

        You say that “A Kingdom has a King (Jesus), a Throne (David’s), a Capital (Jerusalem, Zion Psa 2), a Dominion (The whole earth Psa 72:8-11), a People and a Law (Mic 4:2). These days I have been reading Galatians and Paul seems quite explicit in say that we are no longer under the law. Under the new covenant we are to be led by God’s Spirit rather than the Law (Gal 5:18). As you say at the end of your post we are united with Christ and therefore we live by the Spirit rather than law. Acts 2 fulfils Joel 2 and the cry of the Old Testament prophets for God to pour out his spirit on people so the Law will be on their hearts (Ezk 11:19; 36:26) and not just on their lips (Zech 7:12). Those who are in Christ live by the Spirit and fulfill the perfect will of God. Shouldn’t this be the case in God’s Kingdom forevermore? This leads to my fundamental question.

        The fundamental question concerns how we know whether or not someone is “saved” i.e. a member of the people of God. Paul categorises people into two categories in Galatians. There are those who walk according to the flesh (Gal 5:19-21) and those who walk according to the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). In the book of Acts when the Church was wondering if Gentiles belonged in the people of God they concluded in the affirmative because Gentiles had been given the Spirit (10:45-27; 11:15-18). When I talk about the “majority” of Christians I am talking about those I know who demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Do you see a disconnect between right belief and the presence of God’s Spirit? Obviously there are those who cry “Lord, Lord” but do not know Jesus but I can only tell who they are by their fruit. How do you distinguish between who is in and out?

        I have to run but I appreciate your quick, detailed responses.

        Comment by Thomas — March 5, 2010 @ 20:47

  2. Ah Thomas,

    I didn’t say that the inhabitants of this world are now, or will be in the future, under the law of which Paul was speaking when writing to the Galatians. The Law of Moses was “waxing old” and “decaying” even then and was about to come to and end with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans. Those still clinging to “The Law” and demanding that even the Gentiles should have to obey it, even to the “cutting off of the flesh,” needed to be enlightened as to the futility of their belief. If they believed that salvation or true reconciliation could be accomplished by the keeping of the Law of Moses, in addition to, or instead of the atoning work accomplished by Christ’s death and resurrection, they had never learned the principles laid out for them in the Law itself. The Law had been a “schoolmaster” to bring them unto Christ. It was an instrument of correction, guidance and instruction to help a nation in its infancy to grow, just like we lay out rules and boundaries for our own children. “Israel is my firstborn” are the word of God to Moses. The nation was a child and at that point needed to be treated as one. But once that nation had reached the point of maturity, and should have been able to live by the lessons learned in childhood, the laws and statutes and restrictions were removed, and they were to now act upon what they should have learned. Mat 22:36 “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” This is what the Law taught to the thinking, attentive, loving Israelite. Love God, Love your neighbor, in that order. The Law was also there to bring the depravity and darkness of Sin to light. Our flesh needs to be told that “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” is enmity against God. Otherwise, we in our ignorance and our spiritual blindness, carry on in our selfish desires, completely unaware of the will of God, completely unaware that our carnal thinking and carnal actions are sinful and that they will only lead us back to the dust from which we were formed. The Law itself was glorious and just and good. It was only weak in the fact that man’s sinful flesh could not keep it. There was nothing wrong with the law given, but it could only be the “ministration of death” if it did not lead to a higher law. The law of Christ (Gal 6:2)

    Now, where am I going with all of this? When I quote references having to do with the Law going forth from Zion, what is the context of the passage? Mic 4:1″But IN THE LAST DAYS it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and PEOPLE SHALL FLOW UNTO IT. 2 And MANY NATIONS shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will TEACH US OF HIS WAYS, and we will WALK IN HIS PATHS: for THE LAW shall go forth of Zion, andTHE WORD OF THE LORD from Jerusalem. 3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” It is obvious from this reference, as well as others, that when Christ rules from Zion, there will still be Nations of people, teeming millions of people upon this earth who need to be taught the ways of righteousness. They have never known Christ and have now idea how to walk in his paths. There is need for law at that time because they are in exactly the same situation as the people who followed Moses out of Egypt. They are children who need to be taught how to be like their Father. They will not be allowed to continue living as they have up until that point, only for themselves or for some other God. They will be in need of a Schoolmaster. The Israelites were taught by the law to lead them unto Christ, but the rest of the world will need to be taught the same principles (personal sacrifice, responsibility, mercy, forgiveness, justice, obedience, humility, supplication, etc.) so that they can truly appreciate the work of the one who is then enthroned in Glory and Honor. They will not see the humble servant, smitten, rejected, spat upon and crucified. They will have before them the King, the Mighty Prince in majesty. But lest they forget what lead to that exaltation, they will have to learn loving, willing obedience themselves. Zec. 14 even tells us that the Feast of Tabernacles will be mandatory at that time, with the threat of no rain for those who do not make the journey. Now I’m not saying that the actual “Law of Moses” will be re-instituted at that time. But, A law will be instituted for the guidance, instruction and correction of the mortal population of the Earth, to be administered by Christ, his faithful saints, and the Jews themselves whom God will bless in that day. Zec 8:20 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: 21 And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.
    22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. 23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.”

    Just because there is a law in place, doesn’t mean that the people cannot live by the Spirit. David, Hezekiah, Josiah, Isaiah, etc. were under the law, but lived as though that law was written upon their hearts. And conversely, we are not to use our liberty “as an occasion to the flesh, buy by love serve one another.” This is the danger for us today when there is no law and no immediate consequences to our actions. We fool ourselves into a pattern of thought that is completely foreign to the will of God and think that we are walking after the Spirit. We need to be very, very careful to remember the the Spirit of God is also the Power of God. We need to know who HE is, what HE desires from us, and what HE has offered us as a reward for fulfilling his will. We need to know who we serve before we assure ourselves that we are serving properly. Even then, we are only unprofitable servants at best and in need of unfathomable mercy.

    And on the issue of who is “saved,” I am not in any position to judge another man’s servant. As you do, I believe that a tree is known by its fruit, but I think you and I would differ on what is good fruit and what are “naughty figs.” It is very late, but I will try to answer your question in the next few days.

    Comment by Mark — March 5, 2010 @ 22:44 | Reply

  3. Hi Thomas,

    For some reason, my response is posted as point #2 above. I’m not sure why, but look for my response there. I’ll write again soon.

    Mark

    Comment by Mark — March 6, 2010 @ 6:52 | Reply

  4. I’d like to see how the Christadelphians come to the revelation that it was the Satan that went to Job, and Miraculously put boils on Job, some how managed to call down fire from heaven which killed livestock, an all those invaders who managed to do those things to Job & still remain friends with Job, an then somehow twice round, travel so fast around the whole circle of the earth, NSEW & manage to return to Job so quickly like nothing happened, it makes me sound like like Jobs friends had superpowers like the Flash Comic

    Comment by Yisraels Redeemer — July 7, 2011 @ 17:39 | Reply


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