Friday, January 30, 2009

Thank You, Jehovah

"I will exalt you, O my God the King. And I will bless your name to time indefinite, even forever. All day long I will bless you. And I will praise your name to dime indefinite, even forever. Jehovah is great and very much to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. Generation after generation will commend your works, and about your mighty acts they will tell. The glorious splendor of your dignity and the matters of your wonderful works I will make my concern."-Psalm 145:1-5

Just sit back for one moment and think about Jehovah. Think about our wonderful. Thank our wonderful God. We turned to Him and He removed the veil from over our eyes. He is our Wonderful Maker. He will protect us when are in danger. He will comfort us when we are afraid. He will always be there for us. "For I, Jehovah your God, am grasping your right hand. The One saying to you, "Do not be afraid, I myself will help you."-Isaiah 41:13

We spend so much time in our busy days and barely give a thought to our wonderful God. I love you Jehovah. Help me to be a better Christian. Help me to rely on you. Help me to be the type of person that invites your spirit into my life. I know that Jesus Christ, my savior, loves me so much that he died for me and I can always rely on that sacrifice to carry me through. Thank you for all of the spiritual food that you provide and thank you for your sustaining power. Help me to never forget that you care for me and help me, please, to always draw close to you.-1 Peter 5:7; James 4:8

Jehovah God, thank you. Thank you for being so powerful. Thank you for being our wonderful Owner. "Behold, to Jehovah your God belong the heavens, even the heavens of the heavens, the earth and all that is in it." (Deuteronomy 10:14) "God thunders with his voice in a wonderful way, doing great things that we cannot know." (Job 37:5) "Everything He has made pretty in its time. Even time indefinite He has put in their heart, that mankind may never find out the work that the true God has made from the start to the finish."-Ecclesiastes 3:11

"Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters." (Revelation 14:7) Yes, like Jesus my savior, "I love the Father."-John 14:31

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Moving Mountains With a Word

"Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it." (Hebrews 11:1, New Century Version) We today have never seen Jesus Christ. However, the words in the Bible are so powerful that we cannot help but "see" him in a spiritual sense nor can we help but love him. Our sentiments match the words of the Apostle Peter: "Though you never saw him, you love him. Though you are not looking upon him at present, yet you exercise faith in him and are greatly rejoicing with an unspeakable and glorified joy."-1 Peter 1:8

Peter saw Jesus Christ. He knew him intimately and loved him. We do not have the privilege but we still love our Lord and Savior. The same goes with Jehovah God. We have never seen Him and yet we still love Him. Our faith is what keeps that love for both of them intact. We know that the Bible is God's Word and that everything it says is true. It, like our God and like our Lord, has proven itself many times.

Yes, faith is powerful.

How powerful, though, is faith? Jesus Christ said, "Truly I say to you, If you have faith the size of a mustard grain, you will say to this mountain, 'Transfer from here to there,' and it will transfer, and nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20) Was Christ being literal here? How can we truly know? Has anyone ever moved a mountain before? We can confidently say no. Perhaps, too, Christ was trying to make a point as to how powerful faith actually is.

One reason that we can possibly take that statement seriously is found in an account where the power of faith was made manifest.

"[Jesus] compelled his disciples to board the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he sent the crowds away. Eventually, having sent the crowds away, he went up into the mountain by himself to pray. Though it became late, he was there alone. By now the boat was many hundreds of yards away from land, being hard put to it by the waves, because the wind was against them. But in the fourth watch period of the night he came to them, walking over the sea. When they caught sight of him walking on the sea, the disciples were troubled, saying: 'It is an apparition!' And they cried out in their fear. But at once Jesus spoke to them with the words: 'Take courage, it is I; have no fear.' In reply Peter said to him: 'Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you over the waters.' He said: 'Come!' Thereupon Peter, getting down off the boat, walked over the waters and went toward Jesus."-Matthew 14:22-29

Faith is a powerful thing. It enabled a man to walk on the water. Yet, notice something further about Christ's statement in Matthew 17:20. He said, "If you have faith the size of a mustard grain..." The mustard seed was the smallest known seed in that area of the world at that time. This is an excellent point.

To illustrate: Imagine yourself on an airplane. Across the aisle you see a businessman who is very calm, perhaps typing on a laptop. You can tell that he has been on many flights. Next to him is a little old lady who has never been on an airplane before. You can tell that this old lady is very scared. You realize that she must have had a small amount of faith that the plane would not crash or she would have never gotten on. Just then the plane takes off and you make it to your destination safely. Although the businessman had more faith then the little old lady, both were carried through. Their faith got them to their destination because, if they had no faith, they would have never gotten on the plane.

Now, if Jesus' words are literal, and if you even have the smallest amount of faith to move a mountain, then what is keeping you from it? Well, a lack of faith. You know Jesus' words and you even believe them. Somewhere, though, there is something in the back of your head that doubts. If you remove all doubt, you may find that you can move mountains.

And really, is moving mountains with a word so hard to believe. Faith made a man walk on water. When he lacked that faith, he could no longer do it. (Matthew 14:30-31) Further, any amount of faith that we have can work wonders through us. The Apostle John said, "This is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith." (1 John 5:4) Think about it. Because of our faith, no matter how big or small, we conquered the world! We conquered Satan and the demons, we conquered opposition, persecution, materialism, governments, and the spirit of the world! If we can conquer this with our faith, is moving mountains with a word really so awesome?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What About...John 8:58?

"'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!'"-John 8:58, New International Version

The way that the above verse is supposed to be translated has been argued for many decades with no one coming off the clear victor. Many say that Jesus was alluding to God's words at Exodus 3:14-15 where Jehovah calls Himself, "I AM." However, the evidence suggests that translating the last two words of the sentence, "I am" at John 8:58 word-for-word from the Greek "ego eimi" literally is not proper. Many will ask why that is the case.

The reason is that when translating from one language to another, if a phrase is translated word-for-word, it will not always make sense. For example, if I said, "el casa de blanco" in Spanish and translated it word-for-word, "the house of white", it would make very little sense. If I translated it properly, though, "the white house" it would make sense. Likewise, although Jesus said, "ego eimi", it should not be translated so literally because it makes no sense. Jesus was not trying to equate himself with God, he was only talking about being alive before Abraham. How can we draw this conclusion? First of all, from the context.

"Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad."
"You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!"
"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"
At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds."-John 8:54-59

Now why, someone may ask, would the Jews get so worked up over Jesus' claim of being older then Abraham?

The answer is found in the Jewish view of Abraham. Abraham was so important to them that he was the equivalent of Christ for us. Abraham was so important to the Jews because they claimed that being children of Abraham was a special title reserved for them. For Jesus to claim that he was older then Abraham was sacrilegious to the Jews. When someone is older, they have more power and authority. In short, they are better then a younger person. To any Jew, Abraham would have been better then Jesus mainly because Abraham was older. For Jesus to say that he was alive before Abraham was alive would mean that Jesus was better then Abraham.

Proof of this thought process, older being synonymous with greater, is found in another account in the Bible.

"John answered them, saying: 'I baptize in water. In the midst of you one is standing whom you do not know, the one coming behind me, but the lace of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.' These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

"The next day he beheld Jesus coming toward him, and he said: 'See, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said, Behind me there comes a man who has advanced in front of me, because he existed before me. Even I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing in water was that he might be made manifest to Israel.'"-John 1:26-31

John would have been considered greater then Jesus because John was born about six months before Jesus. But since Jesus was alive in heaven before his birth then Jesus was better then John, or "advanced in front of [him]." Since the Jews did not accept the pre-human existence of Jesus Christ, these words would be weird to them but they wouldn't throw them into a blind fury like it did with Christ's statement about Abraham.

Many scholars also agree with this, that Jesus was simply saying that he existed before Abraham. Look at some of the ways different Bible's translate John 8:58.

"I was in existence before Abraham was ever born." (The Living Bible)

"Before Abraham was, I existed." (New Living Translation, 1995 Edition)

"Before Abraham was, I already was." (Bible in Worldwide English)

"Before Abraham was, I have been." (New American Standard Bible, Footnote, 1960 and 1973 Edition)

"From before Abraham was, I have been." (The New Testament, by G. R. Noyes.)

"I existed before Abraham was born!" (The Bible—An American Translation, by J. M. P. Smith and E. J. Goodspeed.)

"Before Abraham was born, I was already the one that I am." (Das Neue Testament, by Jörg Zink.)

"I was alive before Abraham was born!" (The Simple English Bible)

A well-known Greek New Testament Scholar and Professor [1] said that in John 8:58, the words "I AM" are not the proper translation for the Bible text. In fact, his preference of the verse is how the Living Bible renders it. "I was in existence before Abraham was ever born." This professor-scholar, Dr. Jason BeDuhn, says that this carries the real meaning in translation. He prefers it over the rendering in the New World Translation for only one reason.

He says that in a sentence like this one in Greek, the words "I am" should actually be moved to the front of the sentence. He also says that the way the sentence is written makes it necessary for the words "ego eimi" to be translated "I have been" or "I was" and then moved to the front of the sentence, thus making the sentence read "I have been before Abraham was born" or "I was before Abraham was born."

Furthermore, Jesus was not quoting Exodus 3:14 at all. The original word for "I AM" in the Old Testament was "hayah". Literally, "I am". That was a title that God applied to Himself. That is probably why His name is Yahweh, it is a derivative of "hayah" which, while literally translated "I AM" actually carries the meaning "to exist or to be or become." God, in Exodus 3:14-15, is telling Moses to tell the Israelites either that He does indeed exists or that He will indeed become the One who releases them from bondage in Egypt. He is, therefore, telling them to have faith.

Now, there has been a realization that this word, "hayah" should not actually be translated "I am". The idea of what it should be translated is still being argued. However, some popular translations say something like, "I shall prove to be what I shall prove to be" or something similar. Further, while many claim that this is a name or title that God is applying to himself, that is not the case.

Sure, right after Moses asked for a name to give the Israelites God responded with, "tell them I Am who I Am" has sent you. But in the next verse He says, "Jehovah...has sent me to you. This is my name to time indefinite, and this is the memorial of me to generation after generation." God said that His name was Jehovah, not "I AM." "I AM" was not even used as a title, but a description.

Again, when a little more research is done with this verse, we can see that this can be used to prove Jesus' pre-human existence and not that he was God.


[1]"Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament" by Dr. Jason BeDuhn

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What About...John 10:30?

"I and the Father are one."-John 10:30

With these simple words, Jesus Christ gave something for Trinitarians to cling to--as long as they take the words out of context. First, however, we will look at other verses that give a satisfying explanation to this verse and then use the context to close the matter.

First of all, look at John 17:20-22. "I make request, not concerning these only, but also concerning those putting faith in me through their word; in order that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us, in order that the world may believe that you sent me forth. Also, I have given them the glory that you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are one."-John

Jesus asked that his Apostles and other disciples be one in the same way that Christ and his Father are one. The idea that these Apostles and disciples make up a Trinity or multiple Trinities is just absurd. So, digging deeper, we need to learn what Christ meant by this.

First of all, turn to 1 Corinthians 1:10. Paul says, "Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought." The brothers in Corinth were plagued with divisions within the congregation. Paul was telling them that they were to be of the same thought and mind. One way in which they were divided is mentioned a little later in the letter.

Paul, attempting to silence people who were putting too much emphasize on him and another Christian, Apollos, continued: "What I mean is this, that each one of you says: 'I belong to Paul,' 'But I to Apollos,' 'But I to Cephas,' 'But I to Christ.'" (1 Corinthians 1:11) He then continues, and finally says, "What, then, is Apollos? Yes, what is Paul?...I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making it grow; so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes it grow. Now he that plants and he that waters are one, but each person will receive his own reward according to his own labor."-1 Corinthians 3:5-8

Paul and Apollos, and all true Christians, are one in that they have the same interests and desires. That is what 1 Corinthians 1:10 is speaking of. That is what Jesus is speaking of in John 17:20-22. When Jesus said that he wants all of his disciples to be one, we see that Paul explained exactly what the Lord meant. And in the same way that all of the disciples are one, in thought, word, deed, and work, God and Christ are one in that same way.

So, when we read John 10:30 in the future or that objection is raised by a Trinitarian, we can use Biblical reasoning to show what the Bible really teaches.

Now, let us look at the context.
"Therefore the Jews encircled him and began to say to him: 'How long are you to keep our souls in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us outspokenly.'Jesus answered them: 'I told you, and yet you do not believe. The works that I am doing in the name of my Father, these bear witness about me. But you do not believe, because you are none of my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them everlasting life, and they will by no means ever be destroyed, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is something greater than all other things, and no one can snatch them out of the hand of the Father. I and the Father are one.'"-John 10:24-30

First off, the Jews were not asking if Jesus was God, if he and the Father were one, or if he was part of a Trinity. They simply wanted to know if he was the Messiah. Christ then told them that he had told them the answer to that question and began speaking about his sheep. He says that those Jews are not sheep because they would have listened to him. And then he says that the sheep that he has actually belong to the Father and were given him by the Father. They belong to the Father and the Son and that makes them one.

"Once more the Jews lifted up stones to stone him. Jesus replied to them: 'I displayed to you many fine works from the Father. For which of those works are you stoning me?' The Jews answered him: 'We are stoning you, not for a fine work, but for blasphemy, even because you, although being a man, make yourself a god*.' Jesus answered them: 'Is it not written in your Law, "I said: 'You are gods'"? If he called ‘gods’ those against whom the word of God came, and yet the Scripture cannot be nullified, do you say to me whom the Father sanctified and dispatched into the world, ‘You blaspheme,' because I said, 'I am God’s Son'? If I am not doing the works of my Father, do not believe me. But if I am doing them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, in order that you may come to know and may continue knowing that the Father is in union with me and I am in union with the Father.' Therefore they tried again to seize him; but he got out of their reach."-John 10:31-39

Christ begins to say that he "making himself a god" was not so far-fetched because the Bible calls humans gods. Jesus then quotes Psalm 82:6, which says in part, "I myself have said, ‘you are gods." He acknowledges that the Bible calls mere humans gods. The Bible also calls angels gods and Satan the devil a god and even calls Moses a god.-see Psalm 8:5 and the quote at Hebrews 2:7; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Exodus 7:1.

From what we have seen, John 10:30 does not prove the Trinity as being correct.

*Many Bible translations say "God" here instead of "a god", but really the next few verses support the rendering "a god" because Christ begins talking about humans as gods and not humans as God. The defense of humans being gods would not be appropriate if he was trying to explain that he was equal to the Father.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Scholarly Quotes on the New World Translation

*"Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth."-John 17:17"*

Jason BeDuhn: "While it is difficult to quantify this sort of analysis, it can be said the NW[T] emerges as the most accurate of the translations compared."
-Greek Scholar in his book: "Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament"

Steven T. Byington: Of the NWT, "If you are digging for excellent or suggestive renderings, this is among the richer mines."
-Christian Century, "Review of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures"

Frederick Danker: "Not to be snubbed is the New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, Rendered from the Original by the New World Bible Translation Committee."
-"Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study"

Alan S. Duthie: The "Jehovah's Witnesses' NWT, certainly not 'filled with the heretical doctrines'...even though a few aberrations can be found...but the percentage of the whole Bible thus affected... does not reach even 0.1% of the whole, which is very far from 'full'.
-"How To Choose Your Bible Wisely"

Rolf Furuli: "I read the English text of the NWT against the Hebrew text, word for word...the translators of the NWT have been extremely faithful both to their own translation principles and to the Hebrew text."
-Lecturer in Semitic Languages at Oslo University

S. Maclean Gilmore: "The New Testament edition was made by a committee...that possessed an unusual competence in Greek."
-Andover Newton Quarterly

Edgar Goodspeed: "I am...much pleased with the free, frank, and vigorous translation. It exhibits a vast array of sound serious learning, as I can testify."
-Scholar and Bible Translator

Samuel Haas: "This work indicates a great deal of effort and thought as well as considerable scholarship."
-Bible Scholar in "Journal of Biblical Literature"

C. Houtman: "The New World Translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses can survive the scrutiny of criticism."
-"Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift", [Dutch Theological Magazines]

Benjamin Kedar: "I find my feeling repeatedly confirmed that [the OT] reflects an honest endeavor to achieve an understanding of the text that is as accurate as possible....Giving evidence of a broad command of the original language...I have never discovered in the New World Translation any biased intent to read something into the text that it does not contain."
-Professor of Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has a Ph'd from Yale

Robert M. McCoy: "The translation of the New Testament is evidence of the presence in the movement of scholars qualified to deal intelligently with the many problems of Biblical translation."
-"Andover Newton Quarterly"

Dr. Bruce Metzger: "On the whole, one gains a tolerably good impression of the scholarly equipment of the translators."
-Professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and Scholar in Greek, OT Studies and NT Studies in "The Bible Translator"

James Parkinson: "The Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation offers a relatively accurate translation from a different theological perspective."
-Author of "How To Choose a Bible Translation"

J. D Phillips: "Last week I purchased a copy of your New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures of which I take pride in being an owner. You have done a marvelous work...but you have made a marvelous step in the right direction, and I pray God that your Version will be used to His glory. What you have done for the Name alone is worth all the effort and cost!"
-J.D. Phillips was a Church of Christ Minister who knew Hebrew and Koine Greek

Charles Francis Potter: In "the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures...the anonymous translators have certainly rendered the best manuscript texts...with scholarly ability and acumen."
-The Faith Men Live By

William Carey Taylor: The NT of the NWT contains "considerable scholarship."
-"The New Bible Pro and Con"

Alexander Thomson: "The translation is evidently the work of skilled and clever scholars, who have sought to bring out as much of the true sense of the Greek text as the English language is capable of expressing."
-in "The Differentiator" (a private, published journal)

Allen Wikgren: It is "independent reading of merit."
-Scholar on the NRSV committee, as well as on the committee which produced the UBS Greek text

Thomas N. Winter: "The translation by the anonymous committee is thoroughly up to date and consistently accurate...In sum, when a witness comes to the door, the classicist, Greek student, or Bible student alike would do well to place an order."
-Professor of Koine Greek at the University of Nebraska

Scholarly Quotes on John 1:1

William Barclay: "Theos [in John 1:1c] becomes a description, and more of an adjective than a noun...[John] does not say that Jesus was God"
-Scholar, "Many Witnesses, One Lord"

Hans-Jürgen Becker-"Ein Gott war der Logos (a god was the Logos)
-Bible Translator, Das Evangelium nach Johannes

Jason BeDuhn-"The bottom line is that 'The Word was a god' is exactly what the Greek says. "The Word was divine" is a possible meaning of this Greek phrasing. "The Word was God" is almost certainly ruled out by the phrasing John uses."
-Scholar in his book: "Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament"

Lant Carpenter LL.D-“a God”
-Scholar, in "Unitarianism in the Gospels"

C.H. Dodd-"A possible translation. . . would be, 'The Word was a god’. As a word-for-word translation it cannot be faulted."
-Professor; director of the New English Bible project

S.G. Green-"'The Word' of John 1:1 is not the same god as the God with whom the Word is said to be. Hence, the omitting of the article in the predicate of the simple sentence is shown to be only a general rule, and not one that holds in every case. One such case where that general rule does not hold true is John 1:1. The definite article "the" was there omitted, but not according to that general rule; it was not omitted with the idea that it should be understood by the reader."
-Scholar, "Green's Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek Testament"

Ernst Haenchen-"In this instance, the verb ‘was’ ([en]) simply expresses predication. And the predicate noun must accordingly be more carefully observed: [the·os´] is not the same thing as [ho the·os´] (‘divine’ is not the same thing as ‘God’)
-"Das Johannesevangelium. Ein Kommentar, John 1". (Gospel According to John, A Commentary on John 1)

Murray J. Harris-"From the point of view of grammar alone, [John 1:1c] could be rendered 'the Word was a god'"
-Scholar in his book: "Jesus as God"

Herman Heinfetter-“a God”
-Scholar in his book: "Rules for Ascertaining the Sense Conveyed in Ancient Greek Manuscripts"

George Horner-"[A]nd (a) God was the word."
-Scholar in his book, "The Coptic Version of the New Testament"

A. N. Jannaris, Ph.D-"a god”
-Scholar and Lecturer on Post-Classical and other Greek dialects and author of "An Historical Greek Grammar"

Felix Just-"and god[-ly/-like] was the Word."
-Professor, Loyola Marymount University

William Loader-"a god”
-Scholar, New Testament Lecturer for the Perth Theological Hall and teacher at Murdoch University

Jon Madsen-"the Word was a divine Being"
-"New Testament A Rendering"

Julius R. Mantey-"Instead of translating John 1:1, and the word was deity, this Grammar could have translated it, 'and the word was a god.'"
-Scholar, "A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament"

John L. McKenzie-John 1:1c "should rigorously be translated 'a divine being'"
-Scholar, "A Dictionary Of The Bible"

James Moffatt-"the Word was divine."
-Bible Translator and Scholar, from Moffatt's New Translation of the Bible

Thomas Belsham-"and the word was a god"
-Bible translator in association with Unitarian Bible Translation Committee

Andrews Norton-“a god”
-Scholar, "A Statement of Reasons For Not Believing the Doctrines of Trinitarians"

A.M. Perry-"John 1:1 indefinite with qualitative force...’a god”.
-Theologian, "Journal of Biblical Literature"

Joseph Priestley-“a God”
-Greek Scholar, "A Familiar Illustration of Certain Passages of Scripture..."

Robert Harvey Strachen-"divine, a divine being"
-Scholar, "The Historic Jesus in the New Testament"

Johannes Schneider-"Und Gottlicher Art war der Logos." (and godlike sort was the Logos.)
-Scholar, "Das Evangelium nach Johannes (The Gospel of John)"

Siegfried Schultz-"Ein Gott (oder: Gott von Art) war das Wort." (and a god (or, of a divine kind) was the Word.)
-Scholar, "Das Evangelium nach Johannes (The Gospel of John)"

Vincent Taylor-"Here, in the Prologue, the Word is said to be God, but as often observed, in contrast with the clause, 'the Word was with God', the definite article is not used (in the final clause). For this reason it is generally translated 'and the Word was divine' or is not regarded as God...In neither passage is Jesus unequivocally called God."
Scholar, "Does the New Testament Call Jesus God?"

C.C. Torrey-"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was god."
-Scholar and Bible Translator

J. W. Wenham-"As far as grammar alone is concerned, John 1:1c could mean either, 'The Word is a god', or 'The Word is the god.'"
-Scholar, "Elements of NT Greek"

Paul Wernle-“a God”
-Professor Extraordinary of Modern Church History at the University of Basil, The Beginnings of Christianity

Benjamin Wilson-"and a god was the word."
-Scholar and Bible Translator

Robert Young-"a God”
-Scholar, "Concise Commentary on the Holy Bible"

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Holy Spirit Helps God's People

Jehovah's spirit was moving through King Cyrus of Persia. The King was moved by Jehovah and His spirit to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah and send the people of Israel home to rebuild to temple of Jehovah. (Isaiah 44:28; 2 Chronicles 36:22) Cyrus wrote this proclamation:
"All the kingdoms of the earth Jehovah the God of the heavens has given me, and he himself has commissioned me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all his people, may his God prove to be with him. So let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of Jehovah the God of Israel—he is the true God—which was in Jerusalem."-Ezra 1:2-3

However, some years after this, fierce opposition from opposer's of Jehovah disheartened the Israelites and eventually made them stop the building of the temple by a royal decree from King Artaxerxes himself. (Ezra 4:1, 4-6, 17, 22-24) However, Jehovah was not going to let this happen for long. We are told:
"And Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the grandson of Id´do the prophet prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and in Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. It was then that Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jehozadak got up and started to rebuild the house of God, which was in Jerusalem; and with them there were God’s prophets giving them aid."-Ezra 5:1-2

These four servants of God, Haggai, Zechariah, Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, were instrumental in getting the temple rebuilt. The use of holy spirit in their time is of interest to us today.

God's Spirit Helps the Jews

"And the angel who was speaking with me proceeded to come back and wake me up, like a man that is awakened from his sleep. Then he said to me: 'What are you seeing?' So I said: 'I have seen, and, look! there is a lampstand, all of it of gold, with a bowl on top of it. And its seven lamps are upon it, even seven; and the lamps that are at the top of it have seven pipes. And there are two olive trees alongside it, one on the right side of the bowl and one on its left side.'"-Zechariah 4:1-3

Why is any of this important? The importance of it lays in the symbolic meaning of the objects mentioned.

The lampstand has seven lamps, seven showing heavenly perfection or completeness. Each lamp had seven pipes which were continuously pouring oil from the bowl into each lamp to keep them burning. The oil from the bowl into the lamps is Jehovah's spirit. The lamp itself is symbolic for the temple. The two olive trees, from which the oil was produced, represent two men, High Priest Jeshua and Governor Zerrubabel.-Zechariah 4:14

The prophetic ministry of Haggai and Zechariah would move Jeshua and Zerrubabel to encourage the people to complete the temple. However, how would they do it when the king put a royal ban on the work and hostile peoples were keeping an eye on the Israelites every move? The continuous oil, or Jehovah's holy spirit would be instrumental in helping them. The Bible helps us to see that this is the meaning of this vision. After Zechariah admitted that he didn't understand what this vision meant, the angel told him.

"This is the word of Jehovah to Zerubbabel, saying, ‘Not by a military force, nor by power, but by my spirit,' Jehovah of armies has said. 'Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a level land. And he will certainly bring forth the headstone. There will be shoutings to it: "How charming! How charming!"' And the word of Jehovah continued to occur to me, saying: 'The very hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his own hands will finish it. And you will have to know that Jehovah of armies himself has sent me to you people. For who has despised the day of small things? And they will certainly rejoice and see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel. These seven are the eyes of Jehovah. They are roving about in all the earth.'"-Zechariah 4:6-10

Zerubbabel was not going to amass an army and fight against the Persian empire so the temple could be rebuilt. He was not going to fight with the nations around him. No, Jehovah's spirit would handle the situation. This mountain-like task in front of him will level out and become a level land easy to traverse. What happened?

Zerubbabel got the temple started again. Immediately, "Tattenai, the governor beyond the River and Shetharbozenai and their colleagues came to them" and said, "Who put an order through to you to build this house and to finish this beam structure...what are the names of the able-bodied men that are building this building?" (Ezra 5:3-4) However, Jehovah's protection was on the Israelites. His spirit moved the opposer's to send a letter to the king to find if he had lifted the ban. When the letter got to the king, he made an investigation of the records in Babylon.-Ezra 6:1

After searching the records a scroll was found that said, in part, "In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king put an order through concerning the house of God in Jerusalem: Let the house be rebuilt as the place where they are to offer sacrifices, and its foundations are to be fixed." (Ezra 6:3) This decree made the building work final. The Jews would finish. Why? "For a writing that is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring it is not possible to undo." (Esther 8:8 compare Daniel 6:8, 12, 15) By law, they could not halt the building work. Jehovah's spirit, symbolized by the oil, accomplished this.

God's Spirit Helps the Christians

"He blew upon them and said, 'Receive holy spirit.'" (John 20:22) At this time, the Apostles were not anointed with the holy spirit. That wasn't to happen until a few weeks later. At this time, Jesus evidently gave them enough to endure until that time. However, it wasn't enough to make the bold preachers of the Good News for we read just eight days later, "His disciples were again indoors...Jesus came, although the doors were locked and stood in their midst." (John 20:26) The disciples spent a lot of time indoors out of fear of retribution at this point.

A few weeks later, though, things changed. It was Pentecost, 33 C.E. and the holy spirit was poured on 120 disciples who were meeting together. "Suddenly there occurred from heaven a noise just like that of a rushing stiff breeze, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting. And tongues as if of fire became visible to them and were distributed about, and one sat upon each one of them, and they all became filled with holy spirit and started to speak with different tongues, just as the spirit was granting them to make utterance." (Acts 2:2-4) This changed things immensely.

Due to Pentecost, Jews from the diaspora and proselytes from many different countries had converged on Jerusalem. This was a perfect situation. (Acts 2:5-13) Since the disciples were baptized with holy spirit only moments before, they were given a courage that made them act in completely different ways then previously. They showed a new boldness--a confidence--that they had originally lacked.

Since the apostles now had copious amounts of holy spirit, they were able to stand up and give a wonderful speech. They spoke of the prophecy at Joel 2, they spoke of Jesus and his sacrifice, spoke of the prophecy at Psalm 16, and spoke of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This was in front of many people whom they were originally hiding from. (Acts 2:14-36) Their speech was so moving that three thousand people were baptized. This is the power of the holy spirit!

The holy spirit was able to help the apostles accomplish many things. One account is particularly interesting. It goes like this:

After Peter and John gave a heart-rending speech, we read, "Now when they beheld the outspokenness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were men unlettered and ordinary, they got to wondering. And they began to recognize about them that they used to be with Jesus." This was a new development and so they decided to consult each other on it. They decided to threaten them.-Acts 4:13-17

This did not stop the apostles from preaching. On another occasion the apostles are arrested for preaching again and so this is what happens:

They brought them and stood them in the Sanhedrin hall. And the high priest questioned them and said: 'We positively ordered you not to keep teaching upon the basis of this name, and yet, look! you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you are determined to bring the blood of this man upon us.' In answer Peter and the other apostles said: 'We must obey God as ruler rather than men.'" (Acts 5:27-29) For this, the apostles were flogged and sent on their way--but they kept preaching.-Acts 5:40-42

We can see the holy spirit working in the lives of the apostles and other disciples throughout the book of Acts. Stephen was given a special vision right before death. (Acts 7:55-56) Philip was led to interested people all over Israel. (Acts 8:39) Peter was able to resurrect a woman by holy spirit. (Acts 9:40) Cornelius was given holy spirit to prove that the Gentiles were being called by God. (Acts 10:44-45) Agabus was given warning of an approaching famine on the land. (Acts 11:28) Elymas the sorcerer was struck blind by the spirit. (Acts 13:8, 11) Yes, the spirit was at work this entire time. In fact, the holy spirit was so powerful in these days that Paul could say, "the good news...was preached in all creation that is under heaven." (Colossians 1:23) Thank Jehovah for His spirit!

God's Spirit Today

The promise that Jesus made to the Apostles way back then is just as applicable today in our service. Christ told us: "You will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you, and you will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) The preaching work is not something that man can do on his own. Many religions have tried it and failed. The ones that were able to do a small type of international ministry can only get a small percentage of their members to do it only a short period of time. Surely, Jehovah's Witnesses have God's holy spirit helping them in their lives.

Another way that holy spirit helps Jehovah's Christian Witnesses today is by changing their very personalities to match the fruitage of the spirit. They are able to manifest such attributes as love, long-suffering, kindness, faith, self-control and others.-Galatians 5:22-23

As third way that holy spirit helps is connected to what Jesus Christ said, "But when they are leading you along to deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand about what to speak; but whatever is given you in that hour, speak this, for you are not the ones speaking, but the holy spirit is." (Luke 13:11; John 14:26) Yes, the holy spirit will help us in any way that we need it as long as we are acting loyal to Jehovah God and His Son, Jesus Christ. However, we need to keep asking for that holy spirit.-Luke 11:9-13

The holy spirit is so important to Jehovah that anyone saying anything against it is promised not to receive everlasting life. (Matthew 12:31) The reason this is so important is because this spirit is Jehovah's power. The Bible likens Jehovah's spirit to His finger, indicating His ability to accomplish things. (Matthew 12:28, compare Luke 11:20) Faithful Elihu likened the holy spirit to God's breath.-Job 33:4

Yes, Jehovah's spirit is important for all of God's followers everywhere. We need to rely on that holy spirit and let it manifest itself in our lives. May we always rely on this spirit for the "power beyond what is normal."-2 Corinthians 4:7

Friday, January 9, 2009

What Jehovah's Witnesses Believe

The Almighty God has a name which is Jehovah. (Exodus 3:15; 6:3) Jehovah is our Father. (Isaiah 63:16; 64:8) When the Bible says “LORD” in all capital letters, that is a replacement for the name Jehovah. We call upon Jehovah’s name because that is the name upon which men are saved out of certain distressful and dangerous situations. (Joel 2:32) We are made in God’s image, His likeness, having His qualities.-Genesis 1:26

"God is a spirit." (John 4:24; 2 Corinthians 3:17) He is a God of love and cares about you deeply. (1 John 4:16; 1 Peter 5:6, 7) He gave us His inspired Word, the Bible, to live by, thus finding the greatest happiness. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) He also sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die for us so that we could live forever. When we repent in the name of Jesus we will be saved.-John 3:16, 36

God has given us the Scriptures to apply in our lives so that we may get to know Him. He is a loving, merciful God who created the universe. (Exodus 34:6, 7; Genesis 1:1) His Word is a guidebook on how to live our lives.-Romans 15:4

At one time, we were separated from God due to sin which we inherited from "the first man Adam" but through the death of His son we can now become "reconciled to God." (Romans 5:8-12; 1 Corinthians 15:22) One thing that should always be remembered is that although there is much suffering in this life, God is never the cause of your suffering. The chief causes of your suffering are the role Satan plays in this world, "time and chance", and our own sinful tendencies. (1 John 5:19; Ecclesiastes 9:11; Genesis 6:5) It hurts Jehovah when bad things happen. (Psalm 78:41) One day, however, He is going to undo all the evil and badness in the world. (Proverbs 2:22; Revelation 20:10, 14) At that time, God has planned for man to live on a perfected Earth forever, restoring it to its beauty in the Garden of Eden.-Psalm 37:11, 29

Of course, there are things that we must do to remain here. We do not just get a free ride. We first have to learn about God and Jesus. This is best done by consulting God’s Word of Truth. (John 17:3, 17) God wants everyone to turn around and come to know Him. Therefore, He has allowed this wicked world to continue so that others have time to be saved. (2 Peter 3:9) But one day it will all be over and God will surely reward us for our faithfulness.-Revelation 21:4

For Further Reading
Official Website of Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses--Who Are They? What Do They Believe?

Scenes from My Christian Walk

*Look! How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!-Psalm 133:1*

My Wife and I (While We Were Dating)

Grandfather (deceased) and Grandmother at Convention in '06

Group of Brothers and Sister at Our Quick Build in '06

My Best Friend Derrick and Me (Quick Build '06)

A Sister and Me Right After My Baptism (She Knows English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Albanian)

Bro. Nelson and Me After My Baptism

At the Old Kingdom Hall at Age 3 With My Grandfather

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Worship the Father; Follow the Leader

"[The Man of Lawlessness] is set in opposition and lifts himself up over everyone who is called 'god' or an object of reverence, so that he sits down in the temple of The God, publicly showing himself to be a god."-2 Thessalonians 2:4

If a Christian does research on this Scripture, we find that "The Man of Lawlessness" is the clergy of Christendom. Some have taken to doubting this truth given by the "Faithful and Discreet Slave." (Matthew 24:45) Why is this? I cannot say. Maybe they cannot find how the assertion fits with the facts. And yet, after reasoning on the text and how the clergy views itself, I could see how this is very factual.

First of all, a statement made by Jesus Christ is very revealing. He says, "But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers.Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called 'leaders,' for your Leader is one, the Christ." (Matthew 23:8-10) Christ made it clear that we were not to elevate ourselves or other people above anyone. Special titles that are only reserved for Jehovah and Jesus are not to be used for any human. And yet, that is the case.

If we were ever part of Christendom, the terms "Pastor", "Minister", and "Bishop" are recognizable to us as they were used as special titles, setting someone above us. This gave them special positions of authority that are not for one man to either have or handle.-Exodus 18:13-14, 17-22; 1 Timothy 3:1-2, 5, 8-10

Further, the title "Father" for a man is extremely disrespectful to our only Father, Jehovah. Jesus said that we have only one Father and so, logically, if we apply that title to anyone else we are elevating them to Jehovah's position.

Further, by being the only teacher of an entire congregation, religious "leaders" are actually taking the glory from Jehovah. Through His prophets Jehovah said, "all your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah." (Isaiah 54:13) Men on earth that are "teachers" in the congregation are actually instruments that Jehovah uses. The glory for our knowledge and what we learn from God's Word actually comes from Jehovah.-Genesis 40:8

Jehovah getting the glory that is due Him is very important. He says, "I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory." (Isaiah 42:8) The Christ, yes, was a great teacher, but he never took glory for himself. He always gave it to Jehovah God, at one point saying, "I do not accept glory from men." (John 5:41; Mark 10:17-18) How unlike the clergy Jesus Christ was! How unlike the clergy the Faithful Slave is! They do not refer to themselves with any special titles but they simply refer to themselves as "brother so-and-so" and refer to us likewise.

Another special title reserved for Jehovah in the Bible was told us by the psalmist, "He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name." (Psalm 111:9, King James Version) The New World Translation has the word "reverend" as "fear-inspiring." To call a religious "leader" by the title reverend, as many are called, is again taking glory from Jehovah and His Name, the one alone who is fear-inspiring. The clergy do not inspire righteous fear in our hearts and should never claim that this is their privilege.

Another way in which the clergy elevate themselves to the position of Jehovah is by saying that they have the power to forgive sins. The standard statement in Catholic confession is "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned" and then the priest will say that they are forgiven. In contrast, look at what the Bible has to say on this subject:

"However, after some days he again entered into Capernaum and he was reported to be at home. Consequently many gathered, so much so that there was no more room, not even about the door, and he began to speak the word to them. And men came bringing him a paralytic carried by four. But not being able to bring him right to Jesus on account of the crowd, they removed the roof over where he was, and having dug an opening they lowered the cot on which the paralytic was lying. And when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic: 'Child, your sins are forgiven.' Now there were some of the scribes there, sitting and reasoning in their hearts: 'Why is this man talking in this manner? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins except one, God?' But Jesus, having discerned immediately by his spirit that they were reasoning that way in themselves, said to them: 'Why are you reasoning these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up and pick up your cot and walk"? But in order for you men to know that the Son of man has authority to forgive sins upon the earth,'—he said to the paralytic: 'I say to you, Get up, pick up your cot, and go to your home.' At that he did get up, and immediately picked up his cot and walked out in front of them all, so that they were all simply carried away, and they glorified God, saying: 'We never saw the like of it.'"-Mark 2:1-12

In an alternate account the Bible record tells, "the crowd...glorified God, who gave such authority to men." (Matthew 9:8) While on earth, Jesus was given authority to forgive sins. No other man has had that privilege except Jesus. For a priest or anyone else to take that privilege for themselves is setting themselves up as equal to God. And this shows them up to be the "Man of Lawlessness", just as the faithful slave has told us.

So may we follow our only Reverend and Father, our "heavenly One" and our only Leader, "the Christ".

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Is Jesus Coming Back?

On the island of Patmos, the Apostle John, nearly 100 years old, saw a vision from God, given to Jesus, transmitted to John through an angel. (Revelation 1:1) At the very end of his apocalyptic book, he faithfully repeated the words of Jesus Christ. "Look! I am coming quickly, and the reward I give is with me, to render to each one as his work is,...Yes, I am coming quickly." (Revelation 22:12, 20a) John, as confidant as ever in his old age, replied, "Amen! Come Lord Jesus."-Revelation 22:20b

That begs the question: Is Jesus going to come back one day? Well, since Revelation is a book inspired by God, the answer has to be yes. "However", many may say, "Revelation is a complex and hard-to-understand book. Even those phrases may be open to interpretation." If that is true, then we cannot rely on just this book. Is there another book that even mentions this momentous event?

There is! The return of Jesus Christ is a very important subject in the New Testament. Paul, an enemy of the Christ but later a faithful believer, wrote many times on this subject. One that is worth consideration is in one of his letters to the congregation in Thessalonica. After speaking of tribulation that we as Christians must endure, Paul spoke of "relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire." (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8)

So, we can see that the return of Christ is a certainty. However, when looking at this Scripture, it brings up another question. Is the return of Christ something that we as Christians should fear? We are told that Christ is coming "with his powerful angels in a flaming fire" and that sounds a little scary. A little background as to the return of Christ is probably in order.

Going back to the days of the prophet Ezekiel we read, "This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: 'Will it not be in that day when my people Israel are dwelling in security that you will know it? And you will certainly come from your place, from the remotest parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great congregation, even a numerous military force. And you will be bound to come up against my people Israel, like clouds to cover the land.'" (Ezekiel 38:14-16a) What is going to happen? Ezekiel goes on to explain further, quoting Jehovah God. "And it must occur in that day, in the day when Gog comes in upon the soil of Israel...that my rage will come up into my nose. And in my ardor, in the fire of my fury, I shall have to speak. Surely in that day a great quaking will occur in the soil of Israel...And I will call forth against him throughout all my mountainous region a sword...And I will bring myself into judgment with him, with pestilence and with blood; and a flooding downpour and hailstones, fire and sulphur I shall rain down upon him and upon his bands and upon the many peoples that will be with him."-Ezekiel 38:18-19, 21-22

Satan, as Gog of Magog, is going to come against the anointed remnant, "the Israel of God" and their companions, the Great Crowd. (Galatians 6:16; Revelation 7:9) After that, Jehovah is going to stop His people from being completely destroyed. How? He is going to use Jesus Christ as his military commander. (Revelation 19:11, 15, 19-21) Christ will use his position to defeat Satan, his demons, and their human followers. Then the prophecy in Proverbs 2:21-22 will find fulfillment. "For the upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it."

Are there any developments that are going to take place before all of this comes about that will reveal any signs that the return of the Messiah is imminent? Let us look in the Bible for the answer.

At Matthew 24 (and the alternate account at Luke 21) the Apostles speak to Jesus Christ about an important event, asking him, "What will be the sign...of the conclusion of the system of things?" (Matthew 24:3) Jesus tells them that there is a possibility in that time period for people to be mislead by false Christs. (Matthew 24:4-5) He then warns them that there will be wars and rumors of wars. He even says that "nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom". Then he says that there are going to be "food shortages and earthquakes". (Matthew 24:6-7) Luke, in his account, says that there are going to be pestilences and "fearful sights and from heaven great signs." (Luke 21:11) Both Matthew and Luke then talk about persecution against the true followers of Jehovah God.-Matthew 24:9-12; Luke 21:12-17

After all of this, Jesus points to good things that are going to happen. He says that "this good news of the kingdom will be preached" in the entire earth for a witness. Until then, the end will not come. (Matthew 24:14) During all of this, something miraculous is going to happen. We now turn to the book of Revelation to find out what it is.

In the book of Revelation at chapters 17-18, we find a prophecy about Babylon the Great. Through holy spirit and intense Bible study, Jehovah's Witnesses have found that Babylon the Great is the world empire of false religion. We are first warned to "get out of [Babylon the Great] my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins...For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind." (Revelation 18:4-5) Part of the reason Babylon the great is so guilty is because she has had a hand in politics, commercial business, and other ungodly practices.-Revelation 18:9-19

How is Jehovah going to accomplish this? He is going to use the wild beast, or the United Nations (see Revelation 13:1, 14-15 and Revelation 17:8, 11) to destroy her. Jehovah says, "And the ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire. For God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought, even to carry out their one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast, until the words of God will have been accomplished." (Revelation 17:16-17) Jehovah will make the nations turn against religion. What will this start?

Going back to Jesus' prophecy we read, "For then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again." (Matthew 24:21-22) After another warning about my false prophets and false Christs, the conclusion: After those signs in the sky that Luke talked about we read: "And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity."-Matthew 24:30-31

Obviously, Jesus is coming back. Many books of the Bible besides Matthew, Luke, 2 Thessalonians, and Revelation discuss it. If we are not on the side Jehovah you are not going to survive. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Will there be any blessings for those who do survive? Will anything change?

"But there are a new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise and in these righteousness is to dwell." (2 Peter 3:13) In the Bible, we are given a glimpse as to what life will be like after the wicked are destroyed. It will be a good time. Just think of these blessings that the Bible promises.

1. No one will be sick.-Isaiah 33:24
2. The lame, mute, blind and deaf will be healed.-Isaiah 35:5-6
3. There will be enough food for everyone.-Psalm 72:16; Revelation 7:16
4. Death will be abolished.-Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:4
5. The dead will be raised back to life.-Isaiah 26:19; John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15
6. War will be gone forever.-Psalm 46:9; 72:7; Micah 4:1-5
7. Animals will live in peace with humans and one another-Isaiah 11:6-9
8. There will be adequate housing for everyone.-Isaiah 65:21-22
9. We will live under a righteous government.-Daniel 2:44; 1 Timothy 1:17
10. We will live forever!-Psalm 37:11, 29

There are many reasons to learn the truth about all of this. It means our everlasting life. (John 17:3) If you would like to live in peace under a perfect government that will bring many blessings, Jehovah's Witnesses will be happy to help you! Please accept our invitation to have a study and learn about our God, Jehovah, and our King, Jesus Christ.

Remember, the Lord Jesus is coming. Will you be ready?

A Letter to a Dear Friend

*Below is a letter that I wrote to a good friend of mine, begging him to receive the Truth that I was presenting him from God's Holy Word, the Bible.*

Dear S___,

You know, we talk and argue but neither of us really get a word in edge-wise because we're thinking about the next thing we're going to say instead of listening to what the other person has to say. Therefore, I figured that it would be more efficient to communicate what I have to say with a letter.

My goal in writing this letter is to not really push my beliefs on you. That is done very well at other times when we have personal conversations. Now, if I do mention things that are my beliefs after my studies of the Bible, that should be understood as bound to happen.-Luke 6:45

Anyway, there are really three things that have to be done with people for them to see the Truth. They are:

1. John 6:44-"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day."

Yes, you can show someone anything you want from the Bible, but it is not their own power that helps them to accept what they are learning as Truth. All humans are imperfect sinners, and because of that we are all separated from God. We cannot become true followers of God unless He brings us to Him. No amount of Scriptures will help someone to see the Truth without God helping them. It is exactly as Jesus says, "while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven." (Mark 4:12) Again, as the Apostle Paul says, people in our days will be "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."-2 Timothy 3:7

Unfortunately, you are one of those people, S___. You see and don't perceive. You hear and don't understand and you are always learning but not able to come to a knowledge of Truth. That makes me sad. I have shown you so many things that prove that what I am saying is the Truth. In fact, I am disheartened that you said that if ever I convince you that Jesus Christ isn't God, that you would become agnostic. This tells me that you don't really want to know the Truth. If that is the case, though, why would I continue coming to talk to you? The Bible says, "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."-Matthew 7:6

I am "throwing [my] pearls before swine" by continuing to go back and go back to you when you have really no interest in what I have to say and no real intention to actually change your beliefs to synchronize with the what I am showing you the Bible teaches. Clearly, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 applies to you, which says, in part, "our gospel is those who are perishing [because] the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel." I am very sorry to apply that to you, but it is the truth.

2. Acts 16:14-"A woman named Lydia...was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul."

The next step is that God has to open your heart so you can accept the things that are being spoken with you. Remember, 2 Corinthians 4:3 says that the Truth is veiled. A veil, while not completely obstructing your vision, does skew it so that you cannot see clearly. This spiritual veil works the same way. You can see some of what the Bible is telling you, but the whole Truth cannot be seen through that veil. I want so badly to help remove that veil but God hasn't opened your heart. I cannot remove the veil for you, you have to do it yourself with God's help. You don't want to accept that help.

No matter how many times I come to you, you will not change. It reminds me of the man in Jesus' parable at Luke 16. Luke 16:31 says that "If [someone does] not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead." In this, if you don't listen to what the Bible has to say, even an angel could not convince you otherwise. Simply, the Lord hasn't opened your heart.

3. 1 Corinthians 12:3-"No one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit."

Here is the last step. After God has drawn you to the Truth, then He has opened your heart, the holy spirit has some work to do. You cannot confess Jesus as Lord, in other words, be saved by putting faith in Jesus Christ death, unless your are moved to do this by God's spirit. How do we know this? Romans 10:9-10 says, "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."

This really sums up everything I have said. First, you have to believe with your heart. Then you can say Jesus is Lord. 1 Corinthians 12:3 lets us know that the spirit does this for us.

Acts 17:30 says, "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent."

Jehovah God has said that it is okay that you were ignorant of the Truth at one time. In fact, Paul even said, "Even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief." (1 Timothy 1:13) He then goes on to explain that God saved him anyway despite what he had done.

The same can be said for you, my friend. If you decide right now to soften your heart and let God draw you, the holy spirit will help you to be saved. You know what Jesus did for you, dying so that you might live. Accept that Truth. Do it now. Do not let Jeremiah 5:23 apply to you: "But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and departed." After I have shown you what I have shown you throughout the years, why do you refuse to believe what you have seen in your own Bible (and do not worry, every Scripture quoted here is from the New American Standard Bible)? Is it stubbornness? If it is then your future is guaranteed.

We are all sinners and need God's forgiveness

Acts 2:38-"Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." We are all sinners. Many people think that even after they are "saved by grace" by bringing Jesus into their hearts, that sinning is an inevitable part of life--and that is true.

"If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us...if we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us." (1 John 1:8, 10) "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) As I said, sinning is an inevitable part of life and many in Christianity, therefore, reason that we can sin as many times as we want to and still be in God's grace. What does the Bible say on this matter? "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?"-Romans 6:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

In fact, Paul said in the book of Hebrews: "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins." (Hebrews 10:26) If there are things that we do that are wrong after coming into the Truth and receiving the forgiveness God offers, we can lose our salvation. Are there things in your life that you are doing that you know are wrong? Ask yourself: "Why I am doing these things?" The Bible says, "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh."-Galatians 5:16

God promises us that if we keep walking by the holy spirit, you will not carry out your fleshly desires. If you do commit sins willingly, are you truly walking with God? Why isn't God's promise working with you? Remember, the Bible says that the spirit is what enables us to be saved through Christ's ransom. If you keep sinning after you have been saved you must ask if the holy spirit really helped you to attain to repentance in the first place. And if it didn't, then you don't have the Truth.

The end is coming. Praise God that it hasn't come yet. And why hasn't it come? 2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." You still have time. Use it. Find the Truth. Repent.

Your future with God; your future for accepting the Truth

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4) God originally created the earth with the plan for Adam and Eve to populate it and make it into a world-wide Garden of Eden. God told Adam and Eve that if they would obey him they would never die. His plan was for them to live on earth forever. We both remember that Satan the Devil thwarted that original purpose. (Genesis 1:28; 2:16-17; 3:1-5) God has said that his purposes never change. He wanted man to live in a paradise earth forever and he still wants man to live on a paradise earth forever. Isaiah 55:11 says, "So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." One day humans will live on the earth forever. The wicked will be destroyed and the righteous will inherit it. "Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity...the righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever."-Psalm 37:10-11, 29

"And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea."-Isaiah 11:6-9

"No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days...They will build houses and inhabit them; they will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They will not build and another inhabit, they will not plant and another eat; for as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of my people, and my chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands. They will not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they are the offspring of those blessed by the LORD, and their descendants with them. It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear."-Isaiah 65:20-24

The future will be, oh, so good for people who serve the true God, Jehovah. God wants all people to be there to partake of the wondrous benefits for serving him. Just think:

1. No one will be sick.-Isaiah 33:24
2. The lame, mute, blind and deaf will be healed.-Isaiah 35:5-6
3. There will be enough food for everyone.-Psalm 72:16; Revelation 7:16
4. Death will be abolished.-Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:4
5. The dead will be raised back to life.-Isaiah 26:19; John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15

You can be here, S___. All you have to do is learn about Jehovah God and Jesus Christ because, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3) Once you have come to know them you must obey them. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36) Your everlasting life depends on this. If you don't do it, the consequences are much more horrifying.

Your future without God; your future for not accepting the Truth

Referring to those who heard the Truth over and over and over again and didn't accept it, Proverbs 1:22-30 says, "How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded and scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge? Turn to my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; and you neglected all my counsel and did not want my reproof; I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but they will not find me, because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD. They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof." This will have a major fulfillment at Armageddon.

Yes, in that day you will learn the true meaning of Hebrews 10:31: "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God." You will remember everything that we have talked about, all the chances that you were given to learn the Truth and accept it. One of the warnings that Jehovah gives in the book of Ezekiel is this: "And they shall know that I am Jehovah: I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them."-Ezekiel 6:10, American Standard Version

God's name is Yahweh (Jehovah). The Bible mentions that name 6,855 times in the Old Testament. Many modern Bibles have taken it out. We've had extensive conversations about that. You know it to be the Truth. One thing that you do not know that you should know is that taking God's name out was wrong. God put his name there for a reason and who are we to remove that? You will know, though, in the end, if you don't figure it out right now that God was telling the Truth when he said, "You shall have to know that I am [Yahweh]." (Ezekiel 6:7) Remember, S___, God says this over 60 times in the book of Ezekiel alone that you will know that He is Yahweh (Jehovah). There will be no denying it. I pray that you figure it out before it is to late.

I have done what I can

I have fulfilled my responsibility. "When I say to the wicked, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself." (Ezekiel 3:18-19) My job was to warn you about what God plans for the future. If I had not and you had died, I would have been responsible. Now, though, I am not responsible.

The outcome can be different for you, as the Bible says further in Ezekiel 3. "However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself."-Ezekiel 3:21

I know that you want the Truth because you search the Bible constantly. That is commendable. Now, I have opened the Truth up to you. I am sorry that I was so blunt with you but the Bible doesn't sugarcoat anything and neither should I. God would not want that of me. You are in my prayers, S___. Don't be afraid to take the next step. Have a Bible study with me. I ask for nothing more. The Bible says that we received the Truth free and now we should give the knowledge that we have to others for free. (Matthew 10:8) Listen to the Bible's clear exhortation: "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come' And let the one who hears say, 'Come' and let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost."-Revelation 22:17
God is speaking to you, listen. "Your ears will hear a word behind you, " 'This is the way, walk in it.' "-Isaiah 30:21

Shawn L____