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1. The Bible is 100% God’s Word. It is therefore completely reliable and unique.
Unfortunately, there are preachers in mainline churches who falsely teach that there are errors in the Bible and that it is historically unreliable. Reject such false teaching (Psalm 119:151; John 10:35; 17:17).
Watch out for those who teach doctrines which are based wholly or partly upon traditions, writings or visions which are not part of Scripture (Matthew 15:3,6). The Book of Mormon is an example of the teaching which is to be avoided.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses have written a version of the Bible which completely distorts parts of Scripture. (The New World Translation.)
A blatant example of the type of trickery you can expect when dealing with false cults is found in the writings of Mary Baker Eddy (founder of ‘Christian Science’). She appears the epitome of orthodoxy when she claims that the Bible is her only ‘authority’ and ‘textbook’. But, after further examination, you’ll find that she claims that her book should be used as a textbook because God was its author. If you probe still deeper you’ll discover that she teaches that the New Testament alone has 300,000 errors! In contrast to this, she claims that ‘Christian Science’ is ‘unerring and divine!’
2. The doctrine of the trinity
When we examine all the biblical evidence (too vast to mention here), we are forced to conclude that, in one sense, God is three Persons: God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19; Hebrew 9:14) but in another sense God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:2l).
For an example of the complexity of the Trinity, carefully read Romans 8:9-11.
We would not expect God to fully conform to what we normally experience in our physical, finite world. God is spirit. He is eternal. He is infinite.
We must not allow our conception of God to be distorted by our puny intellect and experience. There are things about our Creator which we simply can’t fully understand (Psalm 145:3; Isaiah 55:8,9; Romans 11:33). But just as you don’t have to fully understand how a television works before you can believe in it, and enjoy it, it is not necessary that we fully understand the intricacies of God’s nature.
Jesus spoke of baptizing in the name (singular, not ‘names’) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:l9). The fact that the three are given only one name is an example of the perfect unity which exists in the Trinity. The Bible teaches that God the Father, Jesus and the Spirit were all involved in creation, Jesus’ coming to earth, the coming of the Holy Spirit, our salvation etc. It portrays all three persons as being eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, present everywhere, holy, good, indwelling believers, and so on.
Jesus’ Deity: Jesus is the eternal (uncreated) Son of God
This truth is denied by many false sects, who claim to believe the Bible. Because of this, it’s often a quick way of identifying ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’. Many will use the term ‘Son of God’, but will deny that Jesus is God.
The evidence for Jesus’ divinity is vast. There is space for only a few examples.
Jesus is the Creator and Sustainer of every created thing (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:3).
We are to worship only God (Luke 4:8) but it is proper to worship Jesus (John 9:38; Revelation 5:12-14).
According to Scripture, only God is worthy of the name ‘Savior’ (Isaiah 43:11; Hosea 13:4) and yet the Bible repeatedly ascribes this name to Jesus. For example, in the book of Titus, God is called ‘our Savior’, but just a few words later Jesus is given that same title. This happens twice in the same book (Titus 1:3-4; 3:4-6). Even the name ‘Jesus’ (this name was chosen by God) means ‘Savior’ (Matthew 1:21).
In Hebrews 1:8 we read, that God the Father says to his Son Jesus, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever ...’
See also Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23; John 1:18; 10:30; 14:9; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15,19; 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1.
Jesus is unique. Steadfastly refuse to attribute to anyone any honor which belongs solely to Jesus.
He is the only human who has never sinned (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8; 3:5; Hebrews 7:26).
He is the only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).
He is supreme. Everything and everyone is subject to him. God the Father is the only exception. (1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:20-22; Philippians 2:10- 11).
Although everything that exists was created through him, he was never created (John 1:1-3; 8:58; Colossians 1:16-17). He has always existed. He was living an eternity before he came to earth in human flesh. At most, God used Mary to help give Jesus a human body. Like everyone else, Mary was totally dependent upon Jesus for her life and everything she possessed since it was through him that everything was created and is sustained. Mary owed her existence to Jesus, not vice versa.
Prayer is to be offered in his name (John 16:23-24). Outside of the Trinity, the Bible gives us no other name to pray in and no-one else to pray to.
The personality and deity of the Holy Spirit
This is denied by Armstrong (Plain Truth Magazine).
Although he has abilities far beyond those of man, the Holy Spirit, like the other members of the Godhead, is not a mere impersonal force or power. He is definitely a person. Scripture makes this fact obvious by repeatedly ascribing to him actions which only a person is capable of performing. For example, he teaches and reminds people of things they had forgotten (John 14:26). He convicts of sin (John 16:8), guides, speaks, declares (John 15:26; 16:13,15; Acts 8:29; 28:25), inspires the Scriptures and speaks through them (Acts 1:16; 2 Peter 1:21), calls and sends out workers (Acts 13:2,4), forbids (Acts 16:6,7), intercedes (Romans 8:26), and so on.
He also has the attributes of personality: thought, knowledge, words (1 Corinthians 2:10-13), will (1 Corinthians 12:11), mind (Romans 8:27), and love (Romans 15:30).
He can be treated as a person: lied to and tempted (Acts 5:3,4,9), resisted (Acts 7:51), grieved (Ephesians 4:30), outraged (Hebrews 10:29) and blasphemed against (Matthew 12:31).
In Greek (the original language of the New Testament), the corresponding pronoun to ‘child’ is ‘it’ (not ‘he’ or ‘she’). This, of course, is not because the personality or sex of a child is in doubt. It is simply a grammatical feature of the language. Similarly, the Greek word for ‘spirit’ should always be given a neuter pronoun (‘it’). The Bible sometimes does this. It is just proper Greek grammar and has nothing to do with whether or not the Spirit is a person. However, the startling thing is that sometimes the Greek Bible, in defiance of grammar, refers to the Spirit as ‘he.’ It seems that the writer was so convinced that the Spirit is a person that he went to the extreme of breaking the laws of Greek grammar in order to convey this truth.
The Spirit also has the attributes of God: He is eternal (Hebrews 9:14), omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-10), omniscient (1 Corinthians 2:10,11), holy (Holy Spirit), involved in creation (Genesis 1:2; Job 33:4). Often the words ‘God’ and ‘Holy Spirit’ are regarded as interchangeable (eg. Acts 5:3-4).
Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as his other self (John 14:l6, 17) whose presence will be of greater advantage than his own (John 16:7). To have the Spirit of God is to have Christ (Romans 8:9-11).
3. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty our sins deserved (Isaiah 53:4-12; Mark 10:45, 14:24; Romans 4:25; Hebrews 13:12; 1 Peter 2:21,24).
Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross is the central aspect of the Christian faith (1 Corinthians 1:17-18,23; 2:2; 11:23-25; Galatians 6:14). His death was not merely a display of love. It was essential for the forgiveness of our sins and without that forgiveness we cannot have a love-relationship with God.
The only way to God is through Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; 1 John 5:11-12).
No matter how much good you try to do, it will never remove your sin.
The ‘Christian’ Spiritualists, for instance (besides having seances which are forbidden by Scripture – Leviticus 19:31; 20:6,27; Deuteronomy 18:11-12; 2 Kings 21:6; 1 Chronicles 10:13; Isaiah 8:19-20) falsely teach that Jesus’ death was merely a love offering. They claim that our sins have to be rectified by doing good.
Since they hold these beliefs, it is not surprising that many of them appear to do much good. In reality, however, even their apparent good deeds are disgusting to God (Isaiah 64:6).
We are incapable of doing anything that reaches God’s standard of goodness (Mark 10:18; Romans 3:10; Titus 1:16) until after we have been forgiven and united to God (John 15:5). No matter how many good deeds we attempt, they will never outweigh the eternal consequences of just one sin. Our forgiveness can be obtained by nothing but repentance and faith in Jesus.
If we place some of our faith in the good we try to do, believing that living a good life will help us get to Heaven, then we haven’t placed our full faith in Jesus alone, and so we cannot be forgiven. No matter how much good we try to do, we can never deserve to be forgiven. The only way we can obtain forgiveness is by giving up any attempt to earn God’s approval and simply accept forgiveness as a free, undeserved, gift from God. It is as though we are sinking in quick-sand, and the more we struggle and try to save ourselves, the faster we sink. We must stop trying to save ourselves and place both of our hands in the hands of Jesus, trusting entirely in his ability to save us.
Only repentance and faith in Jesus can cause us to be united to God.
Repentance literally means a change of mind. It means we now want to please the King of kings instead of ignoring or disobeying him. To have faith in Jesus is to rely entirely upon his ability to cause us to be accepted by God, and to place no faith in our own ability to gain God’s approval. It is true that our repentance and faith will become obvious to others by our subsequent actions (Luke 3:8; James 2:17), but our Maker, who knows our deepest thoughts and motives (Hebrews 4:13), doesn’t have to wait for our repentance and faith to be manifested outwardly.
Once we have the right mental attitude, we are instantaneously forgiven, the moment we ask the Lord for it. (For example, the robber crucified next to Jesus, repented and had faith in Jesus only a few hours before he died. Jesus assured him that he would be with him in paradise, even though, due to his predicament, he was unable to be baptized, join a church or start doing good – Luke 23:39-43).
After we are united to our Holy Lord (the only Source of moral goodness) we are then able to do good (Ephesians 2:8-10), but only because it is God working in us (Philippians 2:13). Any true good comes from God, not us, and so we can’t get any credit for any good we do. All the honor and praise belongs to the Almighty alone. See Philippians 3:9; Romans 3:19-22; 9:30-33; Galatians 2:16.
4. Jesus rose from the dead and is now seated with God, interceding on our behalf. (Hebrews 7:24-25; 9:24; Revelation 3:21).
Christ’s resurrection was essential for our salvation from the power and consequences of our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).
5. Our standards of morality must conform exactly with those of the Bible.
Avoid those who don’t treat as sin, things which the Bible says is sin, such as drunkenness, sexual immorality (homosexuality, sex outside of marriage) dishonesty, and so on (2 Timothy 2:1-5).
6. No single church, or group, has a monopoly upon truth.
Probably all mainline churches have some members which belong to Jesus and some members which do not. The true church consists of all true believers, regardless of what church they belong to. It is important to love, and work towards the unity of, all true Christians irrespective of the name of the church they attend.
Be wary of groups which tend to be exclusive or act as though they think they are almost the only ones whom God approves of.
7. The true God is a supernatural God. He performed healings and miracles in biblical times and, of course, he is just as powerful today.
What the Bible records is historical fact – the miracles actually happened. But the Bible is more than an ancient history book. It reveals what God expects from us, in our century, and what we can expect from him.
For instance, Jesus said that if anyone (not restricted to the First Century) believes in him, he would be able to do the things that Jesus did.
Note the similarity between the way Jesus introduced the truths contained in the following two verses, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that be believeth on me hath everlasting life’ (John 6:47). ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father’ (John 14:12).
We must be consistent! Either eternal life and miracles (or ‘the works that I do’ as Jesus called them) are both available to us today, or neither of them are.
8. The dead spend forever in only one of two places – Heaven (a place of honor and joy in God’s presence) or Hell (a place of shame and misery banished from God’s presence).
In this age of permissiveness and calling a spade a spade, there is still one four-letter word so vulgar that when mentioned in seriousness it causes even the most worldly to blush and try to hide their acute embarrassment with a giggle – or a crude remark. In our enlightened society with rapidly expanding knowledge, there is one subject about which ignorance is preferred. It seems to be considered too terrifying to be featured in horror movies. You are likely to hear it seriously discussed only in whispered tones behind monastery walls!
Let’s face facts! Hell is a most unpleasant subject and almost all of us are tempted to bury our head in the sand and pretend that it doesn’t exist, but Jesus repeatedly insisted that there is a literal place of endless torment that is the only alternative for those who ignore Jesus’ offer of eternal life (Matthew 8:12; 13:40-42,49-50; 22:13; 25:30,41,46; Mark 9:43,44; Luke 3:17; l6:23,24,26; 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9; Revelation 14:10,11).
Some false cults claim that people can’t exist forever in Hell because existing forever is eternal life! This type of thinking shows a complete misunderstanding of the Biblical conception of eternal life. The Bible says that all non-Christians on earth are ‘dead’ (Ephesians 2:1,5; 5:14; 1 Timothy 5:6; Revelation 3:1) and that only those who are spiritually united to Christ have ‘life’ (1 John 5:12). In Jesus’ parable, the prodigal son, though physically alive throughout the story, was regarded as being dead or alive, depending upon his relationship with his father (Luke 15:24). (In the parable, the father symbolized God.) It is therefore obvious that when Scripture refers to ‘life’ it means much more than mere existence. The Biblical use of the word ‘eternal’ refers not merely to the quantity of time, but also to the quality of the life. So the fact that non-Christians exist in Hell after death in no way contradicts the fact that only Christians have eternal life.
Once a person is in Hell it is impossible for him to ever go to Heaven (Luke 16:22-26).
Additional resources on the above topic
Not to be sold. © Copyright, Grantley Morris, 1980, 1999.
For much more by the same author, see www.net-burst.net
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