Category Archives: Reasons to Believe

Jesus, the Rabble, and Me a Saducee

Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ 

Mark 11:17

____________________________________________

I would tell you my name, but I don’t want my constituents to know who I am, particularly those of the ruling class here in Jerusalem. You will understand after you hear all my story.

The following happened on the 2nd day of the week before the Passover

Based on Matt. 21:12-16, 23-46; Mark 11:15-19, 27-33; 12:1-12; Luke 19:45-48; 20:1-19

_____________________________________________

The Rabble call Him Jesus.  I watched this stinking Rabble follow the false prophet into our city.  The palm branches, the donkey, the praises were disturbing to me. The timing could not have been worse.  The Passover is near and there are many people from all over the country in our fair city. Jews, converted Gentiles, and the merchants I hired.  This is one of the biggest festivals of the year and it is my responsibility as one of the Sadducees to make sure the event is profitable.

The temple yard is full of the merchants selling the sacrificial animals required by  the Torah or law of Moses.  There are sheep, goats, bulls, and doves.  I must admit, the sound is loud in the temple yard with all the commotion of the bleating sheep, cows mooing, and all the other sounds of bargaining and  people doing business, but the tinkling of the money tells me this year is going to be a very good for the Temple and our religion. I will also get a share of the profits too.

 The Rabble are more than willing to sacrifice their money to buy one of the animals.  Because of the demand, we can charge what we wish.  They will pay it.   The prices are the highest they have ever been!  Yes, business is good!  We need to take advantage of the short time available to those of us in the business.

There is a sudden hush over the crowd. It has gone dead quiet.  Even the animals have stopped their pitiful sounds.

“What is going on?”

As I say this to a man standing next me, my eyes fall on a figure near the entrance to the temple and behind the money-changers’ tables.  His eyes meet mine and I see  anger and pity combined.  I have never seen such a face so calm and assuring, but also powerful and regal despite his well-traveled clothes.  He is obviously not part of the leaders in the city.

Then it occurs to me, this is the man…the false prophet….That Jesus that everyone was honoring yesterday!  He has some cords in his hands and he raises them above his head and strikes the tables and all the coin goes flying.  He then takes hold of the tables and flips them quickly as if he is judging my friends selling the animals.  Who is He to judge my friends in such a harsh way?

Then in a loud voice,  He says,

“Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ 

The crowd, particularly the money changers go running out of the Temple yard trying to grab a few of the remaining reachable coins as they hastily and fearfully retreat.  Even the animals flee! The sheep and goats run with a certain joy as would a man escaping from prison.  Jesus opens the cages and lets the doves fly away.  There goes the money we planned on making today.  Who is this Jesus to do such a thing?  We are just trying to make an honest living….Well, some of those money changers are sinners and probably are not honest with the buyers, but what is that to me?

In a matter of moments, the Temple area is quiet and all that remains is Jesus, the Rabble, and me. But,  I decide to leave with the animals as His eyes again penetrate mine.  I feel uncomfortable and feel the strange metallic fear in the back of my throat.  But, as I quickly leave, I see some of the Rabble coming in.  They have their children.  Soon the Temple area has a new sound of  praising and children laughing.

In the streets, I see my other Sadducee brothers, the chief priests , and the elders coming towards me with a perplexed look on their faces.   The Pharisees are not too far behind. They ask me what I had just asked a man near me,

“What is going on in the Temple?”

I give them a brief description and we all head into the Temple to encounter Jesus.  He can’t do this and get away with it!  I seem to recall that He did this three years ago! What authority does He have to do such a thing?  Anyway, we need to get our business back up and running quickly.

As we enter temple area, we can hear men and women singing and the children are saying the same thing as yesterday,

“”Hosanna to the Son of David!”

People are praising God  and crying with happiness for their eye sight and ability to walk again.  The children are sitting upon the knees of Jesus and everyone is in a joyous and attentive mood.  Not very proper for the religious atmosphere of the Temple!  It makes me uncomfortable hearing the sound of children saying , “Hosanna to the Son of David.” So I say to Jesus,

“Do you hear what these children are saying? “

“Yes,” He said “have you never read,“‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise?”

I remember reading this in the book of Psalm.  He seems to be a teacher.  His voice is soft but strong.  He seems like a King.  I walk back to my friends and constituents for comfort from those eyes!

We walk in together and I ask Jesus:

“By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”

I expect my question to trap him because He is going against all the tradition and the strength of these important leaders! But, He immediately responds by asking me a question!

I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me:  The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men?

All of us huddle together to discuss how we will answer.  But, we soon find there is not easy response.  We must be careful not to trap ourselves!

“If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.”  

We don’t know how to answer so I say,

 “We do not know.”

Maybe this answer is a good one, because He will then have to tell us by what authority He takes over the temple area.  Instead He says,

Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

As we turn to leave, He asks for our opinion about a story of two sons,

 But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’  He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went.  Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?

This is easy, so I answer,

“The first.”

But, His point cuts to my heart and makes me angry,

Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.

How dare Him say that the Rabble is better than me!

Just when I am about to turn and leave with my constituents,  He engages us again,

Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them.Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.

Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?

Again, an easy answer, but because of my anger, I answer before I think it through,

“He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.”

Then Jesus rouses the anger of my highly-esteemed religious leaders by referring to the book of Psalms and saying to us,

the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.

These parables are referring to us! He thinks our great nation will be given to another?  What nerve!  He is a false prophet! My anger boils as I listen to this…this….man.  We can’t take it any longer.

We all walk outside the temple area confused about how to handle this situation.  Since no one can come up with a suitable answer that would not rouse the anger of the people, we agree to meet later to discuss what we should do about Jesus and His Rabble.  We will call it a day, but we will take up the matter again tomorrow.  Something must be done about this false Prophet.  He is stirring up the people and is a threat to our business and religion. The death of one man to save our nation seems to be the only answer!

A few of us hang around to listen to Jesus talk…hoping to use His own words against Him.

Later, we learn Jesus has retired to Bethany for the night.  Tomorrow we will deal with Him and get this matter settled once and for all.  After all there are many of us who are well established in the community.  We have been to all the good schools, we can out think Him.  We will expose Him for who He is!

___________________________________________________

Author’s note:

Some are good at religion, but have a poor knowledge of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus came to reclaim that which was taken by the merchants, traders, and those who occupy the Temple.  Does Jesus need to overturn and clean our minds so He may bring praise and singing back to our hearts-the Temple of the Spirit? Indeed, one Man’s death would spare not just one nation, but many people around the world.  In Him we all find life.

Will The Real God Please Stand-Up? Conclusion-Eternity

One day, the true God will stand up for His People:

And at that time shall Michael (Jesus) stand up…. and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

Daniel 12:1

And …every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:11

 _____________________________________________

We have been discussing the differences between the two largest religions.  We have let the word of their holy books speak for themselves.  When compared, the truth becomes clear.  The comparison has been stark. One man named Muhammad  wrote the Quran over a 23 year period and The Bible written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by 39 men written over a period of 1,500 years.

We now turn to the last topic in this series.  The place of eternal life called, heaven, paradise, or “the Garden” (an Islamic designation for the place of pleasure for the ones who occupy it)

It does not take long when studying the Quran and the description of paradise to see the diminished role of a woman, even in paradise, as an object to satisfy the carnal desires of men. It seems to be all about sex for the believer of Allah. Following are just a few examples:

At-Tirmizi, vol. 2, states on page 138:

The Prophet Muhammad said “Every man who enters paradise shall be given 72 (seventy-two) houris (gazelle-eyed woman); no matter at what age he had died, when he is admitted into paradise, he will become a thirty-year-old, and shall not age any further. A man in paradise shall be given virility equal to that of one hundred men”.

“gardens and vineyards; and girls with swelling breasts of the same age as themselves, and a brimming cup;” S. 78:32-34 Palmer

Could we not say that the prophet Muhammad’s description of paradise appeals to men only  who will be given “virility equal to that of one hundred men.”  They are given women of the same age with “swelling breasts.”

Women in the Quran are described as  of less value than males and only objects of the males’ sexual desires.  This is demonstrated likewise in the Islamic culture to this day.

Virgins await those who enter paradise. 2:25

“Pure companions, and contentment from Allah”
Virgins await those who enter paradise. 3:15

But the single-minded slaves of Allah will enjoy a Garden filled with lovely-eyed virgins. 37:40-48

But, the Lord Jesus and the Holy Bible described the abode of the saved much differently.

________________________________________________

As mentioned in previous studies, the Quran was written by one man (Muhammad).  He appeals to the sex drive of fighting age men and promises unending sex as the reason to defend the faith. The Bible on the other hand offers to man and women a more fulfilling and happy life.

The Scripture says:

“No eye has seen,
    no ear has heard,
        and no mind has imagined
            the things that God has prepared
                for those who love him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9

While it is true we cannot begin to understand what heaven will be like, we are given enough descriptions from God’s word to know that it is for both male and female who are equal in the sight of God:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free,nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

While the Quran is an appeal to the carnal nature of the male ,  the Bible tells us that we will be changed when Christ returns. When are we changed?  At death? or at the resurrection?

 Listen, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed  in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory

1 Corinthians 15:51

This mystery is made clear that when Jesus returns (last trumpet) and the dead in Christ have been raised, then we are changed from perishable to imperishable; from mortal to immortal THEN AND ONLY THEN can we say death has been eliminated through the victory Jesus provided us through his own resurrection as the “first fruits” of resurrection

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 15:20

But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

1 Corinthians 15:23

Being with the Lord begins when Jesus returns, this is the hope of the Christian who dies in Christ:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18

The Bible specifically tells us to “comfort one another with these words.”  The words are that Jesus will come again and raise us from the dead and change us!  The comfort does not come from thinking our loved ones are already in heaven and looking down on a sinful world.

The beauty of the truth is that all of us will meet the Lord at the same time.  What a reunion day that will be!

This reward of eternal life is with Jesus when He comes back.

And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.

Revelations 22:12

But, the Bible reveals something many people look over when they talk about heaven.  It is the new heaven and the new earth.

Let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about the abode of the saved beyond the second coming and throughout eternity.

___________________________________________________________________

How is do you visualize this place called heaven?  How would you describe it in your own words?  Is it a place of clouds and the redeemed floating on a cloud playing a harp?  Is it old uncle George smoking his favorite cigars and fishing with Peter?  Is it doing all those things you enjoyed while on earth? Are you a wispy spirit with not body? What does heaven look like? What is going on there?

We can find from scripture a mountain of information on this topic.  It is all tangible. Things we can see, touch, and feel!

_________________________________________________________

Jesus made a promise to His followers:

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

John 14:1-3

Heaven is where God dwells:

“Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive.”

1 Kings 8:30

Jesus said this is where Jesus was going to prepare a place for us:

You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, “I am going to the Father,”

John 14:28

Look closely at these verses in John 14. Jesus promised to “prepare a place” for us, but also notice that we won’t be there until Jesus returns.  Also, notice that Jesus is there already doing a work of “preparing a place.”

Is Jesus building a mansion for us? Is His work the work as a carpenter?

Hebrews tell us something that helps us visualize heaven and the city God occupies now.

For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Hebrews 11:10

This passage tells us that Abraham was looking forward, by faith, to a time when he would not be living in tents, but rather a city with foundations built by God Himself as the architect and builder. We can know that this city and its  mansions have already been built, because Jesus spoke in present tense. “In my Father’s house, there ARE many mansions”

The work of  preparing a place for us appears to be described in Hebrews:

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through (ascended to) the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession…Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 4: 14, 16

So Jesus role is not an architect, but as a priest.  We need no other priest upon earth, because we have Jesus as our High Priest now in heaven.

His work of preparing a place is a spiritual preparation of our hearts and minds to inhabit such a wonderful place.  Every day, we have the honor of approaching the throne of grace to find mercy when we need it and call up God’s grace (power) to keep us from giving up and turning back into the wilderness of sin.

Heaven a literal place that is not “wispy” and cloud-like that we have seen in pictures by well meaning artists.  It is a city!

'No! No more harps! I can't take it anymore.'

The book that reveals (Revelation) describes the city and its foundations.  John was allowed to see the city.  He described this city  as follows:

1.) It was bright with the Glory of God and appeared like a precious jewel:

It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

Revelation 21: 11

2.) It had high walls with 12 gates and names on the gates on each side:

 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Revelation 21: 12-14

3.) The City is huge!

And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.  Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.

Revelation 21: 15-17 (NKJV)

A furlong is 5.268359 yards.  12,000 furlongs = 1,500 miles.  The city is 1,500 miles on each side.  It covers 2, 250,000 square miles or (3,621,024 Kilometers)!

There is no city on earth that comes close to the size of this city! Something this large is considered a country!

This is the dwelling place of God Himself:

4.) It is colorful

The 216 foot thick wall is made of all kinds of precious stones and metals.  The city itself is gold!

The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones

Revelations 21: 18-19

5.)  By faith, Abraham looked forward to this city whose architect and builder is God Himself!

for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Hebrews 11:10

6.)  The city has a name! It is called, New Jerusalem

Then I, John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Revelation 21:2

7.) This city that God built and where He, Jesus, and the angels dwell will come to this earth one day!

 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

Revelation 21: 2, 10

____________________________________________________________

We have seen in previous studies that after Jesus comes to redeem the people who are alive when he comes and those who have died in Him, He will take us to where he is.  He is now in that big city.  So we will be moved from this sinful world to the pure city into the presence of God.  But, we do not stay there forever as strange as that may sound, we come back to the earth!

This city is coming back to this earth! Zachariah describes this day to us:

And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west,Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south.

Zachariah 14:4

But when does this happen?

From Revelation 20, we get a clear picture of this earth void of people being the abode of Satan for 1,000 years before he is loosed out of his prison of circumstance

All the redeemed have been taken to heaven (the city called New Jerusalem).  All the lost are in their graves.  Some killed at the brightness of his coming  and the others from centuries past remained dead.

 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them,,,they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Revelation 20: 4

There awaits the lost for their own resurrection.

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Revelation 20:5-6

The two resurrections are separated by 1,000 years.  At the end of that period, the New Jerusalem returns to the earth that Jesus promised to His followers:

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:5

Before the meek inherit the earth, God must put a final end to rebellion and sin.  When the masses of the sinful history are resurrected, Satan convinces the multitude to attack the Holy City. Because, like in the garden of Eden, the tree of life is inside.  If they can get to it, they will live forever.  But they are stopped and death and the grave are cast into the lake of fire.

And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are…

 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20: 9-10, 15

Then God begins to make a new heaven and a new earth:

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Revelation 21: 1-3

What will this new earth be like?

Death and all the mental and physical ailments will be gone!

 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Revelation 21:4

Who will we see?

And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 8:11

But equally important we will see the ones we loved and we will recognize each other.

 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

1 Corinthians 13:12

Who will we be like?   We will be like Jesus!

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

1 John 3:2

In Jesus resurrected glorified immortal body, he was real, but had abilities to suddenly appear or travel at the speed of thought.

Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have

Luke 24:39

In this glorified body, he also had an appetite:

He said to them, “Have you any food here?” So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence.

Luke 24: 41-43

What will be do in heaven?

Remember, we can not know everything, but God has revealed two important aspects of our lives today that will give us great joy to do.  It is work and worship:

They shall build houses and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
They shall not plant and another eat;
For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people,
And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

Isiah 65: 21-23

This new earth free from poisons and dangers will become our source of practical happiness.  We will work with our hands and enjoy it!  We will build vineyards and a beautiful home to our liking.

Then each week and each month, we will gather back in the city for a Sabbath worship service that will exceed any service we have ever attended, because God Himself will be there!

“For as the new heavens and the new earth
Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord,
“So shall your descendants and your name remain.
 And it shall come to pass
That from one New Moon to another,
And from one Sabbath to another,
All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord.

Isaiah 66: 22-23

The Sabbath is important because the redeemed will watch as God creates a new heaven and a new earth.  This verse indicated that, perhaps, the Lord gives us a eye-witness account of the creation week and (again) He will rest from His work of creation and redemption.  We will all worship and admire the works of His hands.

Our name and our decedents will remain.  Our remembrance of this old earth and our journey through rebellion and sin will forever keep us from choosing sin a second time.

Our differences created by divisions of nationality and race will be healed as we come to the city to worship and eat from the tree of life that perpetuates eternal life

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 21: 1-2

This earth will become the dwelling place of God and the redeemed. The true God has stood up for His people:

“The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.”

Great Controversy, page 678

 

Will the Real God Please Stand Up-Part 5-Jehovah or Allah

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

1 Peter 3:15

___________________________________________________

Jehovah and Allah.  Are they the same?

The two largest religions in the world (Christianity and Islam) claim to serve the only true God.  However, some followers of the Christian faith often conclude that both religions serve the same God.  Is this right?

It is has been reported by the Barna Group (California-based research and polling firm) at least 40% of Christians believe Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

Further, a great number of Christians believe either Allah or Jehovah can be followed into eternal life: ” According to the Barna analysis, 43 percent of Americans in general agreed with the following statement:

“It doesn’t matter what religious faith you follow because they all teach the same lessons,”

Statistics like these reveal that a large percentage of “Christians” have a  lack of understanding and knowledge about the character and teaching of both Jehovah and Allah.

No doubt there are similarities between Jehovah and Allah.  The Bible and Quran  each claim to hold universal truth and are similar in some ways, but vastly different on the points that reveal the genuine. Here are a few similarities:

CHRISTIANITY ISLAM
God: Only one in all existence Affirm Affirm
God: Eternal, no beginning or end Affirm Affirm
God:  *Transcendent Affirm Affirm
God:  **Omniscient, ***Omnipresent, ****Omnipotent Affirm Affirm
*refers to the aspect of a god's nature and power which is wholly independent of the material universe, beyond all physical laws.
**knowing everything. ***present everywhere at the same time.  ****having unlimited power; able to do anything.

To further confuse the matter, leaders and preachers in the Christian faith proclaim from the pulpit and example this great error.  For example, the pope in his great desire to be the leader of the world’s religion has gone about to appease the followers of Islam, by bowing in the direction of Mecca and showing homage to Allah and his leaders.

Pope and Turkish

Pope and Turkey

 “You shall have no other gods before Me.

Exodus 20: 3

In a 2007 interview with Al Arabiya TV, President George W. Bush said this in response to the charge that the Arab world sees the president as anti-Islam:

“Well, first of all, I believe in an almighty God, and I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God. That’s what I believe.”

___________________________________________________________

Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,

Isaiah 46:9

God (Jehovah) has made it clear in many such verses that there is no other (All others are false) and those who claim to be God are not “like (Him).”

In this study, we will look at several things about Allah that are “not like” Jehovah.

One who  has studied the Bible and had a personal relationship with the true God will understand the vast differences between Jehovah and Allah.

The intimacy factor is  a good place to start to demonstrate the differences.

________________________________________

Difference #1-Jehovah is personal. Allah is not

Allah is not truly personal, knowable, or approachable. The Quran depicts him more judgmental than gracious. He exists as a singular entity who has no “partners.” In fact, to call Jesus the Son of God is to commit the unpardonable sin, or shirk according to Islam.

Of the 99 names for God in the Quran, Father is not one of them. In Islam, it is considered blasphemous to “presume” that one can know God or claim any sort of close, personal fellowship with Allah. He reveals his will, not himself.

“The end result of the knowledge of the `arifin [- a term denoting “the knowers”] is their inability to know Him, and their knowledge is, in truth, that they do not know Him and that it is absolutely impossible for them to know Him.” 

F. Shehadi, Ghazali’s Unique Unknowable God, p. 37

Yahweh (Jehovah), the God of the Bible, also is depicted as is the transcendent Creator. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere present. He knows us; but more than that, He is knowable and approachable. He invites us to know Him. He created us in His image – with personality, thought, and will – for the purpose of enjoying an everlasting, unbreakable, intimate relationship with Him. He exists as a Trinity in eternal relationship as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In fact, God, desires us to know him so much that He came in the flesh as Jesus or Emanuel  (God With Us)

I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord. They will be My people, and I will be their God because they will return to Me with all their heart.

Jeremiah 24:7

No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying: Know the Lord, for they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them”-the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sin.”

Jeremiah 31:34

And each person will not teach his fellow citizen,and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them.

Hebrews 8:11

Then they asked Him, “Where is Your Father?” “You know neither Me nor My Father,” Jesus answered. “If you knew Me, you would also know My Father.”

John 8:19

This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent-Jesus Christ.

John 17:3

As seen in John 17:3 above, eternal life is for those who “know the only true God and the one He sent-Jesus.”  If a “Christian” doesn’t know Him, it is possible they will be lost even though they look like a Christian by their works:

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you.”

Matthew 7:22, 23

As we have seen in previous studies in this series, Jesus is God and part of the eternal Trinity.  Long before we existed, God knew that freedom of choice would give way to the slavery of sin and avarice.  Sin would blur the picture of the true God.  So, when the time was right or “full” (the time that was prophesied by Daniel), Jesus came on the scene.  It was through His life, that the picture of God was focused so all mankind could see through the sin and error because of the life, death, resurrection, and current mediator position of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary.

Jesus proclaimed:

He who has seen Me has seen the Father;

John 14:9

This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.

John 6:39

God the Father sent Jesus to demonstrate both the character of the true God and how we should relate to Him.  Notice too, that the hope of the Christian is the resurrection, both Jesus’ rising and our own  in the “last day.”  As we have seen in previous studies, it is the resurrected Christ that provides hope for us. Muhammad was not resurrected.  He died June 8th 632 AD from a high-fever. He died in the arms of his wife, Aisha.

For more information on the importance of the resurrection, click here:

How Important is the Resurrection?

________________________________________________________

Difference #2-The Origin of the Bible and the Quran

The Muslim believe Muhammad wrote the Quran through dictation from the angel Gabriel (Jibril) over a 23 year period.  The Holy Bible was written over a 1,500 year period by 39 men who wrote 66 books….all inspired by spirit of God and verifiable by history and historians.  All were eyewitnesses of what they wrote and heard along with others who were not writers of the canon of Scripture, but confirmed the events of the Bible.

“for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

2 Peter 1:21

 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty

2 Peter 1:16

How many witnesses are reliable?  1 or 66+?

________________________________________________________________

Difference #3-Fulfilled Prophecy

God (Jehovah) provided  hundreds of prophecies in the Bible.  It is a study of these prophecies that convinced me that God’s word is true.  Many prophecies have been fulfilled and there are many yet to be fulfilled. This is a verifiable testimony to the omnipotence of God (Jehovah)

Allah has made no direct verifiable clear  fulfilled prophecy in the Quran, therefore there is no testimony to his omnipotence….only Muhammad’s word alone.  The followers of the Quran will often cite something  vague and interpret it to mean something today.  Here is an example of where followers force an interpretation on unclear language:

Muslims claim *Allah foresaw Generic engineering and plastic surgery in this passage from the Quran:

“They will alter Allah’s creation.” (4:120)

Another strange interpretation comes from the following statement: *…”centuries before the invention of dynamite, the holy Quran prophesied the blowing up and moving of the mountains.” Their source is from this passage:

“And when the mountains are made to move.” (81:4)

According to the Muslims “Air Traffic Systems were “prophesied.”  It is said, “*While prophesying about modern transport systems, Quran also foretold the air-traffic system which is an essential part of aviation.  A person living in desert 1400 years ago cannot talk about such advance technologies unless revealed to him by God Almighty.” Where is the prophecy for this?  Here it is:

“And by the heaven full of tracks (51:8)

There were other so-called “prophecies” by Allah about technology such as fingerprints, pollution, etc. (See reference and link below).  Just like the followers of Nostradamus, the passages are vague and the interpretations are forced out of very short passages

*Fulfilled Prophecies of the Quran-Ansar Raza, Canada

But, the true God Jehovah stated,

I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,

Isaiah 46: 9,10

“When all this comes true—and it surely will—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

Ezekiel 33:33

The Lord challenged the false gods to:

“Present your case,” says the Lord.
“Bring forth your strong reasons,…“Let them bring forth and show us what will happen;
Let them show the former things, what they were,
That we may consider them,
And know the latter end of them;
Or declare to us things to come.
 Show the things that are to come hereafter,
That we may know that you are gods;

Isaiah 41: 21-23

Allah and the Quran fail miserably on their claim of omnipotence as demonstrated through clear verifiable fulfilled prophecies, while Jehovah had hundreds of accurate prophecies interpreted within the Holy Scripture itself.

…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,

2 Peter 1:20

One of the most simple proofs of God’s ability to predict the rise and fall of kingdoms is the Daniel 2 prophecy.  This is a very basic prophecy we studied before.  Click below to see how God has predicted both the rise and fall of nations (confirmed by history and archaeology) and the 2nd coming of Jesus.

God Reveals the Future

The accurate and clear predictions of Jehovah are so numerous, one does not know where to start.  For continued reading on this topic, read:

Prophecies for our Time

 The Lord through holy men inspired by the Holy Spirit showed us the future long before it happened on topics that matter and not such things as air traffic controllers.  He laid out the details and time lines for the birth and life of Christ.  In fact, most of the Old Testament writers wrote about Jesus.
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Luke 24:27 
Our God has promised that he would do nothing until he has revealed it through His Prophets
Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
Amos 3:7
________________________________________________
Difference #4-Jehovah’s love for sinners.  Allah’s hatred for sinners
The Bible is clear, that the Lord loves the sinner, but hates the sin.  Allah hates (does not love) the sinner:
“Allah loves not those that do wrong,” says the Quran (Surah 3:140)

 

Other types of people Allah hates or does not love:

Transgressors (2:190).

Ungrateful and wicked creatures (2:276).

Those who reject faith (3:32; 30:45).

Those who do wrong (3:57, 140; 42:40).

The arrogant, the vainglorious (4:36; 16:23; 31:18; 57:23).

Those given to excess (5:87).

Wasters (6:141; 7:31).

Treacherous (8:58).

The most powerful evidence of Jehovah’s love for all mankind is:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:16
 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8
Allah never demonstrated His love for mankind like this!
God not only saves a person from eternal death, but saves them from their sins; unlike Allah who bribes believers by a promise of indulgence in carnal activities in paradise (aka Garden)
Notice in the following verse.  God describes those who were once controlled by all types of sin.  Because of these sins, they would not inherit the kingdom of God, but they were given a new heart that gave them victory over their sins.
And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:11
This verse tells us what some of the people “were,” but they had been washed, sanctified, justified by Jesus and the Spirit.  Here are the things they were as found in verse 9 and 10
fornicators
idolaters
adulterers
homosexuals
 sodomites
thieves
covetous
drunkards
revilers
extortioners
Allah does not transform people like Jehovah does through His Spirit and Jesus.  The born again experience is foreign to the teaching of Allah.  In fact, in Paradise (according to the Quran) some of the carnal pleasures of this life are transferred into  the “Garden”

“In them will be (Maidens), chaste, restrah aining their glances, whom no man or Jinn before them has touched.” (55/Al-Rahman,56)

And large breasted [companions] of equal age. (78:33)

All types of flesh will be consumed in paradise according to the Quran, “And the flesh of fowl such as they desire.”  while the Lord says, there will no more death nor dying including animals:
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea…The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,” Says the Lord.
Isaiah 11:9, 65:25
Difference #5-The Names

In the beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

The two primary names of God in the Tanakh (The Old Testament) are ‘elohiym and Yĕhovah These names or some descriptive variation of these names were used most by the people of God in the Old Testament long before Muhammad and the appearance of Allah.

 The name used for God in the very first verse in the Bible is ‘elohiym.  For those of us who are English speaking, it is pronounced:  el·ō·hēm’

‘elohiym is used 2,606 times.  This name for God is in every book of the Old Testament except for Song of Solomon. .

 But, Yĕhovah, pronounced yeh·hō·vä  is used 6,519 times.  It means, “The Existing One.”  Yĕhovah or Jehovah is the Jewish national name for God. The name is so sacred that they felt they should not say his name using the vowels. So it became YHWH. Later vowels were added and it became the name many are familiar with today: Yah·weh

‘elahh (Aramaic). Pronounced el·ä’   Syrian dialect eventually  became the language of the Jews and then it (Aramic) was replaced by Arabic in the 7th century AD   Aramic shows up first in Ezra 4:24 Aramic is the language Jesus spoke while on earth as a man.

Jesus referred to Jehovah as His Father and taught his followers to refer him as such, thereby demonstrating the close relationship of redeemed man with His Creator.

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

Matthew 6:9

But there was another name that God preferred.  It was an important name demonstrating his omnipotence.

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’

Exodus 3: 14-15

I am the Lord (Jehovah), that is My name;
And My glory I will not give to another,

Isaiah 42:8

______________________________________________

Allah was the god of the local Quraish, Muhammad’s tribe, before Islam was invented to lead his people out of their polytheism..  Muhammad smashed the idols but kept the black stone which is still kissed today by Muslims.  He kept, too, the name Allah for the god of Islam (its sign was the crescent moon) in order to appeal to his own tribe..

According to the Encyclopedia of Religion,  Allah corresponded to the Babylonian god Baal that the followers of the true God were instructed to avoid, and Arabs knew of him long before Mohammed worshiped him as the supreme God. Before Islam the Arabs recognized many gods and goddesses, each tribe had their own deity. There were also nature deities.

Allah was then known as the Moon God, who had 3 daughters who were viewed as intercessors for the people into Allah. Their names were Al-at, Al-uzza, and Al-Manat, which were three goddesses; the first two daughters of Allah had names which were feminine forms of Allah. Hubal was the chief God of the Kaaba among the other 360 deities. Hubal was a statue likeness of a man whose body was made of red precious stones whose arms were made of gold. (Reference Islam George Braswell Jr.)

“Historians like Vaqqidi have said Allah was actually the chief of the 360 gods being worshiped in Arabia at the time Mohammed rose to prominence. Ibn Al-Kalbi gave 27 names of pre-Islamic deities…Interestingly, not many Muslims want to accept that Allah was already being worshiped at the Ka’ba in Mecca by Arab pagans before Mohammed came. Some Muslims become angry when they are confronted with this fact. But history is not on their side. Pre-Islamic literature has proved this.” (G. J. O. Moshay, Who Is This Allah? (Dorchester House, Bucks, UK, 1994), pg. 138).

The name Allah is not found in the language of the people of God in the Bible.  Allah is the name of the god of the Quran.  Many people, including Christians, assume Jehovah and Allah are the same God. But, this is both incorrect and misleading.

___________________________________________________________

Difference #6 -The Trinity

The Bible teaches that God is one, and yet there are three persons in the Godhead: God the Father, God the Son, who came down to earth as Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit. The three are described in both the old and new testaments. This is  topic in itself.  Here are a few verses that point to the trinity:

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”

Genesis 1:26

Notice the application of the plural. Let’s re-read the verse above with Genesis 1 and use the Hebrew words for God.

“In the Beginning, Elohim (plural) created (singular) the heavens and the earth…And Elohim (plural) said, Let us (plural) make (plural) man in our image (singular),

Genesis 1;1 and Genesis 1:26

The Trinity occurs in the very first chapter of the Bible, which was written by Moses shortly after creation and long before the advent of Islam!

Later in the New Testament, we find that Jesus is identified as the Creator.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men…And the Word became 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: 1-4, 14

Notice the names given to Jesus:

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

The writers of the Bible had no problem accepting the trinity of God.

T he Quran teaches against the Biblical teaching of the trinity.  It states that Allah is “above having a son.”

“O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.”

Surah 4:171

A fair conclusion is Jehovah logically can be love as the Bible claims in 1 John 4:8, but Allah cannot. Love is a transitive verb. Allah had no one to love in eternity past (and he was not troubled by his lack of company), and therefore, love cannot be his fundamental attribute.

So we can see there is a distinct difference in the teaching of the Bible and the teaching of the the Qran on the trinity.

_________________________________________________

 Difference #7 Heaven or Paradise

Next time, we will talk about the vast difference between what the Christians call Heaven and the Muslims call Paradise or the Garden.  As we will see, the Garden appeals to the carnal nature and seems to be a bribe for men e.g. virgins, wine, servants, and all the meat they can eat.

This has been a difficult post to write.  As stated in the opening verse, I am instructed by the Lord to give the hope that is within me, but to do it with gentleness and respect.  As I read the Quran, I thought of the many gentle Muslims who are faithful to their religion.  But, faithfulness to something that was conjured up is not as important as seeking truth regardless of where our heritage might have landed us.

I also thought of the beauty of the opening chapter of the Bible with the creation of the world and the introduction of a God that loves His creation.  The opening chapters of the Quran is all about threats and judgments to the unbeliever.

The great stories of Moses, Jacob, David, Samuel and the journey of the people of God is missing in the Quran.  It is mostly a book about religion while the Bible is about the character of God and His great desire to save his people from the tragedy of sin.

Blessings my friends until next time.

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

2 Peter 1:16

Will The Real God Please Stand UP-Part 4 (Who do you think He is?)

Jesus is God…….

 Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?”

Mark 8:27

The disciples had just witnessed the healing of a blind man and had seen many other miracles of Jesus.  They would see more. They heard him teach.  They would hear more. The disciples had seen how loving and gentle he was with people.   His words were wise and penetrating.  They came with power and in a way that no other man had ever spoken.

“So they answered, ‘John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”

Mark 8:28

Of course these perceptions did not come from anything other than speculation and faulty human reasoning by those who were not with Him everyday as were His disciples.

“But who do you say that I am?”

Mark 8:29

Peter spoke fast and first,

“You are the Christ.”

Mark 8: 29

The Christ is the One whom the nation of Israel had long-awaited.   Many Jews today still look for the Messiah.  Most have given up and now subscribe to the nationalistic view of their existence.  Their religion has been reduced to holidays and traditions.

Being the “anointed one” (Christ) was only the beginning of Jesus’s identity.  He was much more!

They would find out that He had the power over life and death:

“I am the Resurrection”

John 11:25

He had all knowledge

I am the Truth;

John 14;26

He could forgive sin and grant pardons:

When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

Luke 5:20

Ultimately, after his death and resurrection, they would discover that He was God, as Thomas proclaimed:

And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

John 20:28

Which of these can Muhammad or any other person claim?

_____________________________________________________________________

There is another reason Jesus is far superior than Muhammad and confirms that Jesus is God:  Jesus preexisted before coming to this earth.  Muhammad did not make this claim.

What does this pre-existence mean?  Why is that so important in knowing that Jesus is everything He claimed and everything the writers of the Bible described He would be?

__________________________________________________

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”

Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” 

Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

John 8: 56-59

In this passage, the religious leaders took up stones to stone Jesus because not only was He claiming to have existed before Abraham, but Jesus was claiming to be God by taking the name “I AM.”

 Erroneously, they thought Jesus was blaspheming the name of God.   Because they did not believe Jesus, they could easily  justify stoning Him to death.  According to scripture anyone who blasphemed God’s name was to be put to death immediately:

“Then you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: … And whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death.

Leviticus 24: 15-16

But, Jesus was telling the truth.  Surprisingly, many Christians do not know that it was Jesus who instructed Moses to deliver the children of Israel.  Not only did Jesus pre-exist, but He took the claim of being God.

Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

Exodus 3:14

I AM means to exist, to be present.  God did not come into being, He simply exists and has always be present.  The concept of no beginning and no ending is practically impossible for the finite brain of man to comprehend.

_______________________________________________________

The disciples later proclaimed Jesus as God, but at first their view was that Jesus was the Messiah only.  Although partly correct, they would discover the ultimate identification of Jesus:

John, the beloved disciple, who wrote both the gospel and Revelations, as well as 1st, 2nd, 3rd John confirmed Jesus’ claim of divinity and Creator by writing the following under the guidance of the Spirit of God:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

John 1: 1-5

In this passage, John identifies a being he refers to as “the Word.”  He goes on to describe “the Word” as being with God in the beginning and he says that “the Word” was God!

Further, “the Word”  made everything and there is not anything you can describe that was not made by Him.  In Him was the light of men (the truth).

Notice that “the Word” is described with a personal pronoun (Him).  This is not some comic concept or fancy philosophy.  This is the true and personal God who made everything and is truth.

In a few verses later, John makes it clear that “the Word” is none other than Jesus Himself..

And the Word became 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 bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”

John 1:14-15

Knowing this, we can replace “the Word” (object) and Him (personal pronoun) with Jesus so there is no mistaken identity for Jesus:

In the beginning was JESUS, and JESUS was with God, and JESUS was God.  JESUS was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through JESUS, and without JESUS nothing was made that was made.  In JESUS was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

John 1: 1-5

Who else but Jesus can fit this description?  Jesus came, as predicted by the prophets hundreds of years before His birth.  He was proclaimed as Immanuel (God with us).  The prophet John identified him and proclaimed Him to the people who gathered to watch John baptize Jesus.  This was the beginning of Jesus’ 3 1/2 years of proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God or Heaven.

___________________________________________________________

Thomas

For eight days after the Resurrection of Jesus, the doubts of Thomas persisted.  He did not understand the need for Jesus to die and was not only surprised, but perhaps quite disappointed at how Jesus died.

It is comforting and interesting that Jesus gave the disciples lengthy Bible Studies on one topic:  Himself!  He showed from scripture that He was the fulfillment of all the prophets hopes for the coming Messiah.  But, he showed why he had to die and be raised again.

These Bible studies and their effects on the disciples are explained in two previous blogs:

Now I Understand-He’s Alive

and

A Substitute for The Resurrection?

When Thomas was able to see Jesus, touch His side and feel His hands, Thomas proclaimed this:

“And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”

John 20:28

____________________________________________________________________

This is difficult for many to accept and confusing even in Christian churches.  It is much easier to believe that Jesus was either a great prophet or the Messiah.

But Jesus is God and there is something more!  He is our God who will one day judge us.

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

John 5:22

Claim #1-Jesus is God.  He made everything.  All Judgment is given unto him.

_________________________________________________________________________

Before someone can believe Jesus is God, they must first understand He is the Messiah as predicted from the Old Testament.

Below are just 44 of the hundreds of prophecies concerning Jesus as the Messiah.  Some have demonstrated that there are at least 352 prophecies fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  The possibility of one person fulfilling only 8 of these prophecies is 10 to the 17th power.  That is 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.  Now add 348 more prophecies and the number becomes astronomical!

The point is this:  Jesus is all that he and the prophets claimed.  No other can make this claim.

“…there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved!”

Acts 4:12

Check out this chart and meet me on the other side of it.  One last point before we end this study.

44 Prophecies Jesus Christ Fulfilled
Prophecies About Jesus Old Testament
Scripture
New Testament
Fulfillment
1 Messiah would be born of a woman. Genesis 3:15 Matthew 1:20
Galatians 4:4
2 Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 Matthew 2:1
Luke 2:4-6
3 Messiah would be born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:22-23
Luke 1:26-31
4 Messiah would come from the line of Abraham. Genesis 12:3
Genesis 22:18
Matthew 1:1
Romans 9:5
5 Messiah would be a descendant of Isaac. Genesis 17:19
Genesis 21:12
Luke 3:34
6 Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob. Numbers 24:17 Matthew 1:2
7 Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. Genesis 49:10 Luke 3:33
Hebrews 7:14
8 Messiah would be heir to King David‘s throne. 2 Samuel 7:12-13
Isaiah 9:7
Luke 1:32-33
Romans 1:3
9 Messiah’s throne will be anointed and eternal. Psalm 45:6-7
Daniel 2:44
Luke 1:33
Hebrews 1:8-12
10 Messiah would be called Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:23
11 Messiah would spend a season in Egypt. Hosea 11:1 Matthew 2:14-15
12 A massacre of children would happen at Messiah’s birthplace. Jeremiah 31:15 Matthew 2:16-18
13 A messenger would prepare the way for Messiah Isaiah 40:3-5 Luke 3:3-6
14 Messiah would be rejected by his own people. Psalm 69:8
Isaiah 53:3
John 1:11
John 7:5
15 Messiah would be a prophet. Deuteronomy 18:15 Acts 3:20-22
16 Messiah would be preceded by Elijah. Malachi 4:5-6 Matthew 11:13-14
17 Messiah would be declared the Son of God. Psalm 2:7 Matthew 3:16-17
18 Messiah would be called a Nazarene. Isaiah 11:1 Matthew 2:23
19 Messiah would bring light to Galilee. Isaiah 9:1-2 Matthew 4:13-16
20 Messiah would speak in parables. Psalm 78:2-4
Isaiah 6:9-10
Matthew 13:10-15,34-35
21 Messiah would be sent to heal the brokenhearted. Isaiah 61:1-2 Luke 4:18-19
22 Messiah would be a priest after the order ofMelchizedek. Psalm 110:4 Hebrews 5:5-6
23 Messiah would be called King. Psalm 2:6
Zechariah 9:9
Matthew 27:37
Mark 11:7-11
24 Messiah would be praised by little children. Psalm 8:2 Matthew 21:16
25 Messiah would be betrayed. Psalm 41:9
Zechariah 11:12-13
Luke 22:47-48
Matthew 26:14-16
26 Messiah’s price money would be used to buy a potter’s field. Zechariah 11:12-13 Matthew 27:9-10
27 Messiah would be falsely accused. Psalm 35:11 Mark 14:57-58
28 Messiah would be silent before his accusers. Isaiah 53:7 Mark 15:4-5
29 Messiah would be spat upon and struck. Isaiah 50:6 Matthew 26:67
30 Messiah would be hated without cause. Psalm 35:19
Psalm 69:4
John 15:24-25
31 Messiah would be crucified with criminals. Isaiah 53:12 Matthew 27:38
Mark 15:27-28
32 Messiah would be given vinegar to drink. Psalm 69:21 Matthew 27:34
John 19:28-30
33 Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced. Psalm 22:16
Zechariah 12:10
John 20:25-27
34 Messiah would be mocked and ridiculed. Psalm 22:7-8 Luke 23:35
35 Soldiers would gamble for Messiah’s garments. Psalm 22:18 Luke 23:34
Matthew 27:35-36
36 Messiah’s bones would not be broken. Exodus 12:46
Psalm 34:20
John 19:33-36
37 Messiah would be forsaken by God. Psalm 22:1 Matthew 27:46
38 Messiah would pray for his enemies. Psalm 109:4 Luke 23:34
39 Soldiers would pierce Messiah’s side. Zechariah 12:10 John 19:34
40 Messiah would be buried with the rich. Isaiah 53:9 Matthew 27:57-60
41 Messiah would resurrect from the dead. Psalm 16:10
Psalm 49:15
Matthew 28:2-7
Acts 2:22-32
42 Messiah would ascend to heaven. Psalm 24:7-10 Mark 16:19
Luke 24:51
43 Messiah would be seated at God’s right hand. Psalm 68:18
Psalm 110:1
Mark 16:19
Matthew 22:44
44 Messiah would be a sacrifice for sin. Isaiah 53:5-12 Romans 5:6-8

 

Jesus in the Bible

To further solidify the fact that Jesus was all He claimed to be is this fact:

The prophets knew when the Messiah would appear!  We get hints of this in passages like this:

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

Galatians 4:4

Notice the expression “fullness of time”  Jesus ministry, it’s length, and the crucifixion came on a schedule set by God.  The Message Bible seems to understand this and expresses the phrase “fullness of the time” as this:

when the time arrived that was set by God the Father

Galatians 4:4 (MSG)

In the Book of Daniel, we find the exact time Jesus was to appear on the scene.  It was 483 years after the commandment for restoration of Jerusalem as found in the Book of Ezra.

This prophecy along with an easy to read chart is found in the blog called:

Part 3-Second Coming Predictions (7 years of tribulations?)

_________________________________________________________________

My friends, there is so much to learn about Jesus.  I hope you will continue with me on this “Jesus Journey.”  As we continue to get our answers from scripture your faith in Him will increase and you will find peace for your soul.

Next time, we will talk about the difference between Allah and Jehovah.  Many Christians think they are the same.  We will see there a big difference between the true and the false.  Finally, we will end with the real God standing up as we have asked in this series.  Until then, let us be comforted by the words of the Lord Himself:

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 14:27

Will The Real God Please Stand UP-Part 3 (Jesus or Muhammad)

“How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. “

1 Kings 18: 21

The two largest religions in the world today are Christianity and Islam.  There is some similarity, but without a doubt there is a vast difference between the theology, teaching, and example of its two leaders:  Jesus and Muhammad.

__________________________________________

In the time of Elijah, there came a point when the real God “stood up” in a demonstration of power, Jehovah made it clear that He was the One and only true God and that the false gods were the creation of man’s mind and hands.

In the days of Elijah, the false gods  of Baals and Asherah were very popular and growing.  The true God, Jehovah, was sadly declining.  To acknowledge the true God of  Elijah was often met with ridicule and even death.

During this dangerous time for the true believers, the true God (Jehovah) sends Elijah to the wicked king Ahab.  This story is interesting because the differences between the popular gods of Ahab and the God of Elijah were not only very stark, but there is a subtle story behind the drama that helps us understand the true and the false.

__________________________________________________________

The meeting of Elijah and the false prophets (850 of them) on a mountain top demonstrate the power of the true and only God and it has a message for us today.  As we see the works of the false gods in our world.  It is true, that

“You will know them by their fruits.”

Matthew 7:16

Just as a tree can be recognized by its leaves and the fruit it produces,  the character of a teaching of a god or philosophy can tell us whether it is true or false.   There are other ways to tell the truth from the lies.  This will be our topic in the coming blogs.

We will see in the story of the false prophets of Baal and Asherah more than one way to tell who is the true God and which is the true philosophy.  It is not just about the powerful way the prayer of Elijah is answered or the dramatic way the soggy sacrifice is licked up by the fire sent by God himself, but there is something more.  It is  often missed in this story..

Let’s take a moment and review the event found in 1 Kings 18.  But, before we get there, let’s set up the story from previous chapters 16 and 17.

________________________________________________________

Ahab the Israelite king, the son of Omri  was an evil king.

” (He) did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him.

1 Kings 16:30

Omri his father was also evil and  the same is said about him as his son Ahab:

Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse  than all who were before him”

1 Kings 16:25

Both of these kings were kings of Israel (God’s chosen people), but they sinned greatly by…

“(setting) up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a wooden image.”

1 Kings 16: 32, 33

Like Father like son.   They both provoked the true God of heaven to anger. Then there came a day God sent Elijah, the true prophet of God,  to Ahab and proclaimed,

“…there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”

1 Kings 17:1

Then Elijah disappeared from the wicked king’s presence.

A drought, as predicted overtook the land.  During this terrible period, God feeds Elijah and provides water for him.  Later, Elijah is cared for by a widow and her son.  Her son falls ill and dies, but Elijah prays earnestly for him to be brought back to life. Despite no answer after two prayers, Elijah continues to plead with God to bring back the young boy.

On the third prayer, the life comes back to the young boy and the mothers admits this,

 “Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is the truth.”

1 Kings 17:24

She was convinced by the power of the true God to bring back to life her dead son.  Another example of the importance of resurrection.  In the long run, it is resurrection that separates the true from the false.

Anyone can claim to be a prophet or a god, but their actions and their fruit must demonstrate that they are true.

______________________________________________________________

Now we come to chapter 18 of 1 Kings.  Elijah is being hidden from Ahab, but God tells him to go present himself before Ahab. Elijah obeys and begins the journey to Ahab’s palace.

At the same time, Obadiah (a righteous believer in the true God) and Ahab leave the city and split up looking for grass to feed their mules and horses.  During this search, Obadiah comes upon Elijah and is surprised to see him and falls down to pay him homage.

Elijah instructs Obadiah to go and tell Ahab that

“Elijah is here.”

1 Kings 18: 8

Elijah like Jesus has returned after disappearing.  During this absence, things got worse and worse; dryer and dryer until the vegetation and water was gone.

Obadiah is reluctant to tell Ahab  Elijah was back, fearing Elijah will disappear again and the king will be angry.  But, Elijah gives him his word and Obadiah demonstrates faith and sets up a meeting with them both.

The first words from Ahab’s mouth to Elijah is accusatory:

Is that you, O troubler of Israel?”

1 Kings 18: 17

Elijah responds quickly and boldly,

“I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals.”

1 Kings 18:18

This time of trouble was over the leadership forsaking the law of God.  God’s law is not be ignored, changed, or explained away.

Elijah makes it clear that the trouble brought upon Israel was because Ahab was disobedient to the law of God and followed after false gods.  Elijah then instructs the King to:

“….send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.””

1 Kings 18:29

The king not only calls for the false prophets of Baal and Asherah, but also the children of Israel.  He is so convinced that his 850 prophets will be shown to be true and powerful.  It will be a big defeat for Elijah and his God.

Ahab is depending on the majority numbers of his prophets, the vast number of believers, and his own intense belief in something that is false.

After everyone is gathered, a simple test is proposed by Elijah.  There are to be two alters built and a sacrifice placed upon both.  One sacrifice is for the false gods and on for the true God.

Whichever prayer is heard and that god sends fire to consume the sacrifice  will be proclaimed the true God.

The people, the prophets, and Ahab were agreeable and up for this test.  They went into it confident their god would do as they prayed.  But they had been deceived.  So much so that they didn’t know it.  This gave them a false sense of faith in their god.

The 450 prophets of Baal went first.

From morning to noon, they prayed,

“O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made.” 

I Kings 18:26

But there was no response.  All was quiet

Elijah gave them all the time they needed.  He also could not resist having a little fun with them.  So he said,

“Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.”

1 Kings 18:27

They became desperate and began to cut themselves so that blood gushed out.  They leapt into the air around the altar so Baal would pay attention to them.  Their sincerity of blood and leaping produced no response.

Being sincere is not evidence of truth.

Even though they were getting no attention from Baal, they prophesied or preached until the evening.  Their false words were all they could produce.  It is highly likely that their preaching were filled with excuses for their false god.  They may have used Elijah’s own sarcasm as an excuse.  Baal is busy with something more important perhaps.

Excuses and rationalization will never justify lies.

“But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.”

1 Kings 18:29

__________________________________________________

Then it was Elijah’s turn.  He called the people to come close so they could see there was no trickery, but also to see and feel the silent story  he was telling by slowly and deliberately rebuilding the altar.

 Elijah’s actions of carefully rebuilding the altar was meant to soften the hard hearts of those who had been tricked by false prophets.  The people of God were to be reminded of their heritage and God’s love for them.  They would find in the true God mercy, forgiveness, and power to be obedient.

Elijah chose 12 stones, that represented the 12 tribes of the sons of Jacob, to restore the altar.  This act was to remind them that Jehovah is the same today, tomorrow, and forever.  He was also the God of the Fathers.  They had a Godly tradition rooted in the word of God.

Godly tradition rooted in truth is the only acceptable type of tradition.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

2 Thessalonians 2:15

Jesus went as far to say that traditions and teachings of men was vain worship.

And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men

Mark 7:7

_______________________________________________________

Once the altar was built, Elijah made a trench to hold water.  The sacrifice was laid upon it, and Elijah called for water to be poured upon both the sacrifice and the altar.  The wood would become soaked.  This was repeated three times so that there was so much water that it began to pour out over the trench.  Try lighting a match to that!

Then Elijah prayed a short and simple prayer for God’s people Israel:

““Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.””

1 Kings 18: 36, 37

This prayer reminded them that he was praying to the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.  They same God who had delivered them many times and was gracious towards them.

It was a prayer to demonstrate that this same God is real.  It also demonstrated a great contrast between the false god who required cutting of the flesh and desperate dancing. This did nothing, but make the prophets look foolish and liars.  When their god did not answer them, they thought their lying prophecies would continue to deceive the children of Israel.

Then God came down in great power.

“Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench”

1 Kings 18: 38

Everything was consumed by the breath of God!  Nothing was left! The people’s response was a one might expect:

Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”

1 Kings 18: 39

One might be tempted to say, why doesn’t a prophet like Elijah show up and have the same test between Jesus and Muhammad.  Between Jehovah and Allah

To be honest, I don’t know.   Such a demonstration might be very effective to convince people of the true God. But, this I do know.  There are plenty of “tests” in this story that go unrecognized.  It is not just the dramatic fire falling from heaven.  It it is the contrast between the real God and the false gods and their prophets.  It is the fruits of each religion and the prophets’ demonstration of who is the true God.

It is a gracious God compared to a figment of the false teachers mind.  It is the written history of how God has dealt with His people over time.  This information written in God’s word produces the touch stone for determining truth from error…truth from false.   His  word is

“…the same yesterday and today and forever.”  

Hebrews  13:8

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

Isaiah 40:8

Today, we have the same touchstone preserved for thousands of years.  If false prophets speak today, we can know the truth by comparing it to His word.

The people were lured away from the true God and led by the false teachers to break God’s law, especially the two about building and worshiping idols.

They should have known and embraced Isiah’s council:

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

Isaiah 8:20

Today, many people do not know God’s word.  Because of this, confusion grips the land.  Because of this ignorance of God’s word, they are fed and accept the word of their teachers and ignore plain teachings from God’s word.  There is no basis for them to know the truth except through a show of force.

One day, the true God will stand up and everyone else will go down on their knees:

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2: 9-11

Until that day, there are many ways to know that Jesus is all He claimed to be.  Next blog we will begin to explore the many ways we can know that Jesus is true and all else is a lie.

________________________________________

Below is a chart  produced by Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry and its founder Matt Slick.  It shows the difference between Muhammad and Jesus.

As you look at this, consider the character of each.  By their fruits you shall know them….

Jesus Muhammad
Death Jesus died and rose from the dead. Muhammad died and stayed dead.
Fighting Jesus never fought. Muhammad fought many many times.
Hearing from God When Jesus heard from God, he went to the desert to be tempted and began his ministry with boldness. (Mark 1:14-15). When Muhammad heard from God (supposedly through an angel), he cowered, was uncertain, and wanted to commit suicide. (Quran 74:1-5)
Identity Jesus claimed to be God (John 8:24;8:58) as well as a man.
Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6).
Muhammad claimed to be a man.
Instructions Received From God the Father (John 5:19) Allegedly from an angel
Killing Jesus never killed anyone. Muhammad killed many.
Life Jesus had the power to take life but never did. He restored it. Muhammad had the power to take it, but he never restored it.
No one ever died in Jesus’ presence. Many people died in Muhammad’s presence–he killed them.
Marriage Jesus never married. Muhammad had over 20 wives and even married a nine-year-old girl.
Ministry Jesus received his calling from God directly. (Matt. 3:17).Jesus received his commission in the daylight. Muhammad allegedly received it from an angel (Gabriel).Muhammad received his words in the darkness of a cave.
Ministry Length Jesus taught for 3 1/2 years. Muhammad taught for more than 20 years.
Miracles Jesus performed many miracles including healing people, calming a storm with a command, and raising people from the dead. Muhammad’s only alleged miracle was the Quran.
Prophecy Jesus fulfilled biblical prophecy about being the Messiah. Muhammad did not fulfill any biblical prophecy except the ones about false teachers (Matt. 24:24).
Sacrifice Jesus voluntarily laid his life down for others. Muhammad saved his own life many times and had others killed.
Sin Jesus never sinned. (1 Pet. 2:22) Muhammad was a sinner. (Quran 40:55; 48:1-2)
Slaves Jesus owned no slaves. Muhammad owned slaves.
Virgin Birth Jesus was virgin born. Muhammad was not virgin born.
Voice of God Jesus received and heard the direct voice of God. (Mark 1:10-11) Muhammad did not receive or hear the direct voice of God. It was an angel instead.
Women Jesus spoke well of women. Muhammad said women were 1/2 as smart as men (Hadith 3:826; 2:541), that the majority in hell will be women (Had. 1:28,301; 2:161; 7:124), and that women could be mortgaged.

Will The Real God Please Stand UP-Part 2 (Creation and Resurrection)

Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;  for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:

TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:  God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.  Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.

Acts 17: 22-25

When Paul visited Athens, he was moved by the many idols and the gods they represented.  The council of elders (Areopagus) having itching ears and desiring to hear some new philosophy invited Paul to speak at Mars Hill.  It is here that Paul attempts to reveal to the these men the true creator God from among the many false ones.  His “sermon” was effective until he begins to talk to  about the resurrection.

And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Acts 17:32-34

Isn’t it interesting that the topic of the resurrection divided the people into three groups:  Unbeliever (mockers),  Apathetic (Will hear later), and Believers (they joined him and believed)

Click here to read the blog from Answer From Scripture called “Resurrection-How Important is it?”

The reality of the resurrection of Jesus is what separates Jesus from all the other religions,  gods, and philosophies.   Yet it is easy to understand why these Greek  elders would not believe in the concept of resurrection.   It is something that is difficult to understand.  But, without the resurrection, Christianity is like any other faith.

As we look at the multitude of other gods, religions, and philosophies let’s watch for the other unique and powerful characteristics of Jesus.

________________________________________________

Below is a summary of the 21 different religions and their gods.  Also included is a quick snapshot of their philosophy or teaching.

As I reviewed I noticed some common things  among them and many things unique about Jesus.

Take a moment to look over this information and I will meet you on the other side of the table.  🙂

Religion God Philosophy/Teaching (Snap Shot)
Christianity Jesus Jesus became a human and died to pay for the sins of the world started by the rebellion of Satan.  Jesus died on a cross and arose on the third day. He is mediating for the ongoing sin of man until he returns.  Jesus will come again and put an end to all sin and give those who trust Him eternal life. Salvation is offered as a free gift to those who will, by faith, accept it and follow Jesus.  He will create a new heaven and a new earth for the redeemed.  The new earth will become the home of the redeemed and the place where God will reside with His creation through eternity.
Islam Allah.  His prophet is Mohammed There are six articles of faith in Islam. These are the basic beliefs that one must have in order to be considered a true Muslim. They are belief in: A) the One God. B) all of the true prophets of God. C) the original scriptures revealed to Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad. D) the angels. E) the Day of Judgment and the Hereafter. F) destiny.These practices must be undertaken with the best of effort in order to be considered a true Muslim:A) Declaration of faith in One God and that Muhammad is a prophet of God.B) Formal prayer five times a day. C) Poor-due “tax” – 2.5% of one’s excess wealth given to the needy once a year.D) Pilgrimage to Mecca at least once, if physically and financially able.E) Fasting during the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan.
Hinduism Brahman (Various forms)  The concept of the transcendent and immanent ultimate reality of the One Godhead or Supreme Cosmic Spirit in Hinduism; the concept is central to Hindu philosophy
Chinese traditional religion Various religious philosophical traditions:4 Main traditions:1.) Chinese folk religion,2.) Confucianism,3.) Taoism, and4.) Buddhism Traditionally Taoism and Confucianism provided ethical guides to the proper behavior of individuals and officials. Taoism sought to promote the inner peace of individuals and harmony with their surroundings. Confucianism, based on the teachings and writings of the philosopher Confucius, is an ethical system that sought to teach the proper way for all people to behave in society. Each relationship–husband-wife, parents-children, ruler-subjects–involved a set of obligations which, if upheld, would lead to a just and harmonious society. Following his teachings would also promote a stable, lasting government.
Buddhism Buddha.  Takes refuge in Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha Elaboration and explanation of the delivered teachings of the Buddha as found in the Tripitaka and Agama.  Its main concern is with explicating the dhamas constituting reality. A recurrent theme is the reification of concepts, and the subsequent return to the Buddhist middle way.  Do not believe that this world is created and ruled by a God.
African Traditional & Diasporic Believe in a supreme being, as well as in spirits and other divinities, veneration of ancestors. The indigenous religious beliefs and practices of African peoples include various traditional religions. While generalizations of these religions are difficult, due to the diversity of African cultures, they do have some characteristics in common. Generally, they are oral rather than scriptural, include belief in a supreme being, belief in spirits and other divinities, veneration of ancestors, use of magic, and traditional medicine. The role of humanity is generally seen as one of harmonizing nature with the supernatural.
Sikhism The concept of God in Sikhism is uncompromisingly monotheistic, as symbolized by “Ik Onkar”(one Creator), a central tenet of Sikh philosophy. The philosophy of Sikhism is covered in great detail in the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy text. Detailed guidance is given to followers on how to conduct their lives so that peace and salvation can be obtained in this life, rather than the afterlife. The holy text outlines the positive actions that one must take to make progress in the evolution of the person. One must remember the Creator at all times – it reminds the follower that the “soul is on loan from God, who is ever merciful”, and that the follower must dedicate their life to all good causes – to help make this life more worthwhile.
Juche Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s first dictator who died in 1994  Juche Idea into a set of principles that the government uses to justify its policy decisions. Among these are a strong military posture and reliance on Korean national resources. Juche has been accused of being a form of political religion despite North Korea’s formal commitment to state atheism.
Spiritism Recognizes all prophets Spiritualism is a religion that is not based on a relationship with a particular savior. Any attempt to personalize the idea of God only limits the totality of that Intelligence, which is the reason that Spiritualists sometimes refer to that idea of God as “Infinite Intelligence” or “Infinite Spirit.”
Judaism YHVA. The common pronunciation is “Jehovah.” More accurate pronunciation is “Yahweh” Jewish tradition teaches that the true aspect of God is incomprehensible and unknowable, and that it is only God’s revealed aspect that brought the universe into existence, and interacts with mankind and the world. In Judaism, the one God of Israel is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who is the guide of the world, delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt, and gave them the 613 Mitzvot at Mount Sinai as described in the Torah.
Baha’i God (Supreme Being) The Bahá’í belief in one God means that the universe and all creatures and forces within it have been created by a single supernatural Being. This Being, Whom we call God, has absolute control over His creation (omnipotence) as well as perfect and complete knowledge of it (omniscience). Although we may have different concepts of God’s nature, although we may pray to Him in different languages and call Him by different names–Allah or Yahweh, God or Brahma–nevertheless, we are speaking about the same unique Being.
Jainism None  Jainism rejects the idea of a creator deity that could be responsible for the manifestation, creation, or maintenance of this universe. According to Jain doctrine, the universe and its constituents (soul, matter, space, time, and principles of motion) have always existed. All the constituents and actions are governed by universal natural laws and an immaterial entity like God cannot create a material entity like the universe. Jainism offers an elaborate cosmology, including heavenly beings (devas), but these beings are not viewed as creators; they are subject to suffering and change like all other living beings, and must eventually die.
Shinto Indefinitely large number of deities Shinto today is a term that applies to the religion of public shrines devoted to the worship of a multitude of gods (kami) suited to various purposes such as war memorials and harvest festivals, and applies as well to various sectarian organizations. Practitioners express their diverse beliefs through a standard language and practice, adopting a similar style in dress and ritual, dating from around the time of the Nara and Heian periods.In modern scholarship, the term is often used with reference to kami worship and related theologies, rituals and practices. In these contexts, “Shinto” takes on the meaning of “Japan’s traditional religion”, as opposed to foreign religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and so forth.
Cao Dai Cao Caodaists accept the idea of âm (yin) and dương (yang) duality constituting the harmonious balance of the universe. Before the creation of the universe there was the Tao, the infinite, nameless, formless, unchanging, eternal source. The negative and positive principles of the universe are the components of the eternal nature.
Zoroastrianism Ahura Mazda Basic three principals:  good reflection, good word, and good deed
Tenrikyo God, known by several names including Tenri-O-no-Mikoto Followers of Tenrikyo believe that God, known by several names including Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, expressed the divine will through Nakayama’s role as the Shrine of God, and to a lesser extent the roles of the Honseki Izo Iburi and other leaders. Tenrikyo’s worldly aim is to teach and promote the Joyous Life, which is cultivated through acts of charity and mindfulness called hinokishin.
Atheists None Do not believe in God. Atheism can be narrow or wide in scope.  The narrow atheist does not believe in the existence of God (an omni- being).  A wide atheist does not believe that any gods exist, including but not limited to the traditional omni-God.  The wide positive atheist denies that God exists, and also denies that Zeus, Gefjun, Thor, Sobek, Bakunawa and others exist.  The narrow atheist does not believe that God exists, but need not take a stronger view about the existence or non-existence of other supernatural beings.  One could be a narrow atheist about God, but still believe in the existence of some other supernatural entities.  (This is one of the reasons that it is a mistake to identify atheism with materialism or naturalism.)
Neo-Paganism Some believe in a supreme being. Many believe there are countless spirit beings, gods and goddesses Contemporary pagan religious movements are diverse, sharing no single set of beliefs, deities, creed, ritual practices, or texts; nor do any claim to be absolutely authoritative. However, there is a great deal of overlap amongst pagan movements and there are a number of beliefs commonly shared by many pagans, including pluralism, pantheism, polytheism, and a general belief that divinity is found in mind and nature.
Unitarian-Universalism Some are Atheist and others use the term “God” to convey different ideas. The theology of individual Unitarian Universalists ranges widely, including Humanism, Atheism, Agnosticism, Pantheism, Deism, Christianity, Judaism, Neopaganism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and many more.
Rastafarianism Haile Selassie  At the core of their belief is the re-interpretation of the Hebrew Bible with a focus on Blacks as God’s chosen race, and the belief that the true Messiah comes to us as Emperor Haile Selassie I  (Ras Tafari) of Ethiopia.   Through extensive spoken discourse, the Rastafarians aim to clarify the Western misinterpretation of the Bible, so as to spread the true word and fight against the unjust hierarchy of Western culture (collectively called Babylon).  In the meantime, Rastafarians await a time of repatriation of Blacks and a return to Ethiopia, qua Africa, of its rightful ruling status.
Scientology A concept of God with no set dogma. Believer reaches a relationship to the Supreme Being at the Eighth Dynamic (infinity) Scientology teaches that people are immortal beings who have forgotten their true nature.Its method of spiritual rehabilitation is a type of counselling known as auditing, in which practitioners aim to consciously re-experience painful or traumatic events in their past in order to free themselves of their limiting effects

 

Here are are a few of my observations:

1.) Some have many different gods and/or philosophies.

2.) Almost all are nationalistic.  The religions have their origin and purpose for primarily their culture only.

3.) Most appear to be created by individuals in a relatively recent time. The newest religions are the last three on the list.

4.) Most religions focus on the “worshiper” and not on others.

5.) Many have no absolute truths.  The believer is able to believe as their mind choose.

Here is a quick list of things I saw unique to Jesus:

1.)  He claims to be God and the creator (We will look at this in depth when we talk about the 10 things every Christian should know about Jesus and the Trinity)

2.) Grace and sacrifice of God

3.) The Resurrection

4.) A literal return to create a new heaven and a new earth

5.)  While Christianity has its roots in Judaism, its mission is for everyone.

6.) The Old Testament contains hundreds of prophecies about the 1st and 2nd coming of Jesus.  This study is the one that convinced me that Jesus was all that He claimed to be.

In our next study, we will continue our comparison and look closely at the similarities  and differences of the two biggest religions: Christianity and Islam.  We will also attempt to  answer the question of why their is so much confusion.

“for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:12

Click here for a worship song my Robin Mark.  Have a great weekend!

Will The Real God Please Stand Up? Part 1

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.

Isaiah 46:9

The God who claims to have created all claims exclusivity.  He says there is “none like me.”  Those who have had an experience with Him acknowledge His exclusivity.

“Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.”

Psalm 114: 13

Elijah gave the people a choice between  a false god and the true God:

 “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.

1 Kings 18:21

________________________________________________________

Anyone can claim to be God.  Anyone can claim to “know the truth”  even non-believers, i.e., Atheists.   Some may say there is no such thing as “truth” or “truth” is whatever you want it to be.  Further, there have been many who claim to be Jesus.

For the next several blogs,  we will explore the world of gods, those claiming to be  a god and those claiming to have the truth.  Our objective is to ask for the real God to stand up.   We want the real God to give us some reason to believe he is the real God.

This is such a massive topic, that I am not sure how long this series will last.  I do not plan on it being an exhaustive study, but I want to make sure the topic is carefully explored with proper and fair use of resources. So hang on, here we go.  Let start by asking,

How many gods are there in the world?  How many religions? How many groups are there claiming to have truth?  In other words, what is the scope of all this?

Below  is a ranked listing of the major religions and the estimated number of followers according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

I am  including Atheists as a religion.  Like some of the religions listed below, they do not believe in any god, but they have a belief system and a faith in their philosophy and world view.   Like many churches, Atheists are evangelical in their belief and often try to proselytize  others through campaigns, books, meetings, merchandise, etc.  They claim to have the truth!

The less biased researches regarding the  number of Atheists vary, but several sources  put the number at about 1. 4 million or 2%  of the population worldwide.  It is very complex identifying an unbeliever or an Atheists, but even the higher numbers put them at a low percentage of the world’s population.   Based on these numbers, they would rank about  #17 on the list below.

World Religions and Approximate Number of Followers:

  1. Christianity: 2.1 billion
  2. Islam: 1.3 billion
  3. Hinduism: 900 million
  4. Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
  5. Buddhism: 376 million
  6. African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million
  7. Sikhism: 23 million
  8. Juche: 19 million
  9. Spiritism: 15 million
  10. Judaism: 14 million
  11. Baha’i: 7 million
  12. Jainism: 4.2 million
  13. Shinto: 4 million
  14. Cao Dai: 4 million
  15. Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
  16. Tenrikyo: 2 million
  17. Atheists: 1.4 million
  18. Neo-Paganism: 1 million
  19. Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand
  20. Rastafarianism: 600 thousand
  21. Scientology: 500 thousand

__________________________________________________________

Within each religion are thousands of “denominations,”  “factions,” or “sects”

World Christian Encyclopedia estimates there are 33,000 Christian denominations alone! (World World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett, Kurian, Johnson Oxford Univ Press, 2nd edition, 2001).

As I write this, the two major factions of Islam (Shiites and Sunnis) are battling it out for control of Iraq.

In the Christian world, there is a split between the Roman Catholic church and those churches who “protested” against the tradition and misuse of the Bible and power.

The atheists like to use these numbers as “proof” that “God is imaginary.”  The inference is that if God were real, there would be only one religion and one truth.  In a perfect world without any enemies, this might be so.    I must admit that all their claims about God and truth is a difficult argument to address.

Other arguments by unbelievers start with the same type of reasoning. “If” God were real, then why is there so much suffering in the world?  “If” God is real, why are there so many wars and death?   Again, the implication is that God would not allow any suffering or death at all and again this is a difficult question to answer.

We have a couple of options  in the address of such difficult questions.  We can put our head in the sand and just enjoy life as it comes to us and be put in our grave after our time on earth.  Such is the philosophy and the battle cry of the Atheist, “Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.”

The more aggressive evangelical atheistic view is to convince others, that because mankind is in such an emotional need of a higher power that they create God in their own image.  Their fervent dedication to atheism is to destroy religion which they see as harmful to society.  Certainly, they have a good case as you consider the many wars, death, and destruction caused over “religion.” Many believers are confused by the terror on this earth, but I am not sure embracing their philosophy would make the world a better place and stop war.

To them, the concept of God is a crutch for the weak-minded.  It is about men controlling other men and wealth.  It appears to make sense.  Their formula for the existence of life is simple:

No one + nothing = everything (Evolution) which means:

No god + no purpose = no meaning to life (Enjoy while you can.)

After many years on this earth and many experiences, I have discovered people with no answers can make themselves look intelligent by asking questions that have no easy answer.  Example:  A young man doesn’t have an answer to why the country fell into a recession,  so he asks the question, “Is this really a recession or have the numbers been manipulated by the government for political reasons?”  This type of question or suspicion  brings doubt and no real answers. It only adds to the confusion.

Just as the Atheist does not have an answer for the many religions their question brings doubt about the reality of a Creator God, but no real answers or proof of the no-God theory.  They only have circumstantial evidence with their twist on its interpretation.  But the same is true for the believer.

No doubt, there is an element of deception in the world of religion and philosophy.  However, the atheist believes all religion is false and it has deceived all men.  But, what if one of these gods is the real God and how would you know?  This is what we will explore.

___________________________________________

A scientific  approach to the discovery of the real God would be to seek evidence and the claims of those claiming to be gods.  Interview them  all and their followers to see if the real God is there.  But, what criteria would you use to determine who is true and who is false?  What would be your basis for truth?  This we need to consider in our search.

There was a popular TV show back in the 60’s  called, To Tell The Truth.  Three contestants would be introduced and all three would claim to be a certain person who had performed some unusual feat.  For example, the show would start with all three contestants saying, “Hello my name is John Smith, I swam the English Channel with my hands tied behind my back.”

telltruth

The celebrity panel of four would ask questions of each contestant, observe their body type (typically swimmers are athletic looking), and evaluate the answers to the questions.  The contestants’ motivation was to deceive  the four celebrities.  The more celebrities guessing incorrectly, meant more money.  Of course they had to lie or make up an answer some of the time.  However, the real John Smith could not lie.

When the celebrities were finished asking questions, they would vote on who was the real John Smith.  Sometimes it was unanimous; other times the votes were split.  After all the questioning, the moment would come when the Emcee would ask,

“Would the real John Smith please stand up?”

Imagine the surprise of the celebrities in being deceived by the best lying contestants!  This was a lot of fun, but it has a simple basis for the answer our question about the real God.

First, if we really want to know the truth about God, we need to be willing to ask some questions and seek some answers. rather than just guessing without some basis.  Many people don’t want to know the truth or have no motivation to seek for it.  They are comfortable with their head in the sand.

Is it possible, unlike the TV show, that the real God wants us to know the truth?

Also, in our search are we willing to accept things that cut across our own philosophy, set of beliefs or world view?

__________________________________________________

A good place to start is to examine the claims of each god.  As mentioned above, there are a few religions whose leaders do not claim to be God, but rather promote a particular philosophy about living and life.  Philosophies are extremely subjective.   Many are a nice sounding string of words, but would be difficult to examine and test for truth.

Let’s try to start with the  claims of each god or philosophy. We would need to study the answers to our common questions and compare.   Also, we would need to see if there is anything they have done that would demonstrate god-like qualities or evidence of truth

We must be willing to submit to the idea that there are some liars among the group.  There is truth and there is error.  We will talk a little about absolute truth next time.

Perhaps only one is telling the truth.  But keep in mind the law of non-contradiction.  Two who contradict each other can’t both be right.  The claim that all are right and there are many paths to eternity cannot be right, because of the contradiction of the claims on how to get there.  Of course, the atheists take the simple way out and  claim all are liars, but we won’t take this lazy approach.

Many unbelievers would also ask, “Why is there a need to do such a complicated time-consuming search?” Why doesn’t God just show up at the World Cup Soccer matches and say,

“Hello everyone!  I am the real God and to prove it, I am going to predict the winner, the score, and other facts you can’t possibly know.”  Even this would not convince many because they would claim mind manipulation.  So how does someone become convinced they are following he real God?

______________________________________________

For the purpose of this writing, I am going to take the “To-Tell-The-Truth approach to finding the real God.  The question as to why a search is needed is again typical of the person who has no answers and is not willing to do an honest research or keep an open mind.  So, they ask a difficult questions with no easy answers to bring doubt and get the seeker off course, because they are trying to protect their own philosophy.  So, for now, we will ignore those types of questions.

___________________________________________________

Why are people a member of a particular religion or denomination?

Could we assume that people in these different religions are of that faith because they studied and selected that religion due to their research or because they were born into it?

 If you are born in the middle east, you are likely to be Islamic.  If you are born in the southern states of the US, you are likely to be Protestant Christian. If your parents were Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, etc., it is very likely you will be the same.

It would be safe to assume that our religion and denomination is determined mostly by our ancestry, location, and environment.  Family roots and race is the most powerful reason for someone’s religion.  I have heard people say, “if it was good enough for grandma, it is good enough for me.”

______________________________________________________________

Of our 21 “religions” listed above, how many claim to have a god?

Some of the religions such as Hinduism, Shinto have many thousands of gods.  Some have no gods, but are either led by gurus, teachers, philosophers, or politicians such as Buddhism, Sikhism, and Juche, Jainism

Many are recent “religions” such as Spiritism, Baha’i, Cao Dai, Tenrikyo, Neo-Paganism, Rastafarianism, Scientology which just started in the last couple hundred years.

Some are very nationalistic such as:

Zoroastrianism

They attempt to reason their way to a conclusion rather than search the evidence.

___________________________________________________

We will start our next blog with a summary/comparison of each of the top “21” religions.

My desire is to eventually compare the top two religions in the world and their leaders.  We will look at the claims of Jesus, Muhammad, and Allah.

__________________________________________________________