In this world of treachery and dishonesty, the necessity for Bible studying cannot be over emphasized. There is no safety in assuming that God approves of those in one’s Church Leadership. There is need to carefully compare what they teach, with what Jesus taught. Checking whether on track, or not, requires analyzing what pleases God against what displeases God.
Engaging in any project in good faith, only to later discover having been duped, has never been pleasant. This is similar to those women falling victim to treacherous men who approach them with fantastic promises, but with hidden agendas. It takes a good-hearted man to understand what most of those women go through, in their encounter with dubious characters.
Men can also be victims of treachery. But, I suppose, being impregnated and later dumped to then fend for children whose father refuses to take responsibility, can be more traumatizing. However, such deceptions are of physical nature, and could be legally handled in courts. Before leaving the scene, Jesus warned:
“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:5) (KJV). The problem with deception is that it always appeals to the person’s sensual desires. One can actually, fight at the corner of the deceiver. This is why Christ’s advice is to surrender everything before following Him.
Most of the known suicidal cases are associated with deceptions and treachery. Certainly, there may not be any more serious calamitous impact affecting humanity? When Jesus gave a prophecy, stating that some would be deceived, He implied those departing from His word. It could be anyone, especially those assuming to know God, more than others.
The person avoiding deception cannot, necessarily, be the skeptic who rejects everything without evaluation. Skepticism is, actually, designed for those, unwilling to confront issues in life. Honest people reject things, based on candid evaluation. They do not dismiss matters before examining all sides. “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13) (ESV).
The greatest obstacle to learning has always been the idea that one knows it, already. This is a test that the religious leaders of Pharisaic devotion, dismally failed on. They could not evaluate the words of Jesus, due to taking positions, based on their current understanding. A careful student opens up to anything—as desiring to dismiss matters, based on knowledge.
I cannot think of any other form of wisdom that surpasses this principle. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) (KJV). Others assume that faith is blind. But there is nothing like blind faith, in this world. Faith is about being sure of what one understands. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) (KJV).
The only person who learns, is the one willing to examine all things. “These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” 1 Corinthians 2:10) (ESV). This is different from selecting favorable scriptures—as benchmark, to ratify one’s dogma. Searching everything includes reviewing, even the unbelievable viewpoints since birth.
The name of Jesus is most favorable to Christians. But believing in Jesus, implies believing what He said, more than hallucinating on belief, without facts. This includes believing what He said before leaving the scene: “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:5) (KJV).
Being deceived on Spiritual matters is more deadly than deception on physical matters. It seems many people—including my own close friends—cannot fathom the seriousness of taking the Lord’s name in vain? It causes sleeplessness, when observing many people being unable to perceive the magnitude of deception, as implied by Jesus.
The starting point, is need for taking God’s word, verbatim, rather than what Church leaders say, based on orthodoxy. As mentioned, the only obstacle to learning is assuming to know—based on collective viewpoint. Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3) (ESV).
The poor in spirit are the humble ones, always willing to listen, before evaluation. Such people are different from those boasting about PHDs in theology. These are people who, through their willingness to evaluate everything, possibly receive the grace of our Lord. This is serious, as nothing compares with the Lord’s voice. This requires discernment, coupled with evaluative analysis, as if hearing God’s word for the first time.
A three-pronged approach to Bible studying is necessary. Truth leaves no room for uncertainty. There is no shadow of doubt, in truth. This implies willingness to clearly separate the known against the unknown, using Biblical references. Highlighting great scholars, is unnecessary. Jesus is stable datum, when desiring to be clinically guided and certain about God’s truth.
First Prong: God revealed Himself, through the Israelites, as being the only Creator (Exodus 20:2-3). Through the order of creation, there is no doubt about God’s eternal existence. Nevertheless, God is outside time and space—not likened to anything created by Him. Physically, humans can, therefore, not speculate, or conjure ideas according to human imaginations (Exodus 20:4-7). But humans were created in God’s image. If God is outside time and space, humans should also, be assumed as being outside time and space.
This datum, can be confusing to those claiming to be theologically informed, when fantasizing ideas about God’s image. Humans, are created beings, according to Genesis 1:26-27. But, the most important datum is that humans were created in God’s image. If God is not physical, humans are also not physical, though currently identified physically. Several Scriptures can be cited as proving this reality. But, what John said, should suffice:
“We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:16-20) (ESV).
The most interesting phrase, in John’s rendition is: “We know,” mentioned three times, on this short passage alone. John’s words are similar to what Jesus also said—when attesting to His knowledge of God? John’s assertion is not different from what Jesus also asserted to. Initially, Jesus was the only Son of God. But this changed after His death and resurrection. More people became God’s children. Having attained that understanding, John declared:
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother (John 4:20-21) (ESV).
Nothing else trashes the idea of Trinity, more than this one? One cannot adulate Jesus, as to confer the triune identity on Him, yet not doing the same to John? Such a person would be a liar, according to John. If this does not disturb the Trinitarians, then there would be deliberate insincerity.
Second prong: Who was Jesus? Trinity is the central doctrine for most Christians. But, there is no truth in Trinity, because Jesus never said He was a member of Trinity. Peter accurately described Jesus as ‘Christ, the Son of the Living God’ (Matthew 16:16). While worshiping the only true God, the Israelites became aware of the prophesied Messiah. Being one who would establish God’s Kingdom—to replace all kingdoms of this world.
Humanity forfeited the privilege of Son-ship to the Living God, at the Garden of Eden. Christ, as the only Son of God came to replace that privilege. But what does “Son of the Living God,” mean? Instructing His disciples Jesus also declared: “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9) (ESV).
The term “Son” implies an offspring, from a Fatherly source. A Son can be at one with His Father. But, certainly, a son cannot be Father—being an offspring of His Father. The term “Father” means source. Jesus became the only Son—having come directly from the Father. But that does not take away the fact that all humans are God’s Children, having been created in God’s image.
Our brother, Jesus, paved the way for humanity to reconnect with their Father. Jesus insinuated having no beginning or the end. Nevertheless, humans had also eternally existed, before succumbing to sin. They had been children of their eternally existing Father. Like their Father, the children ought to also be eternally existing. To understand Jesus, one does not need theologians.
One may only need to appreciate that it was the Jews who held the canonical Scriptures before Jesus came. The Jews had a better understanding of the term “Messiah.” But, I suppose the story of the prodigal son, could somehow, help those stuck in traditional Trinitarian viewpoint. Certainly, one cannot degrade the prodigal son, without degrading his Father?
Third prong: Our relationship with God can only be tested through God’s word. When listing everything that made Jesus angry, does one also become angry? Where Jesus was compassionate, is one also compassionate and merciful with other fellow humans? In other words, the things that please God, should also please a true Christian. And those things that displease God, should also displease a true Christian. As God lives, similarly, true Christians should live.
The only way to evaluate one’s position, whether pleasing to God or not, is by either conforming to God, or conforming to worldly systems. Being loved by those of this world, confirms that one is of this world. There would be some possibility of treachery, when assuming to be related to God, under those circumstances.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12) (ESV).
There are those who are Christians for what they can get, in this life. I suppose God understands them. This is just as Jesus understood those who followed Him for what they could get. But Jesus did not regard those people as His true followers. It would be treacherous for such people to continue calling themselves Christians. Jesus never intended that Christianity should be taken casually. He made this point clear, to help people understand this reality:
“Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple’” (Luke 14:25-33) (ESV).
“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:5) (KJV). Let it be by choice that one disregards the Lord’s teachings, rather than by deception. This is a matter of life and death—when imagining anyone succumbing to destruction through mere deception. All humans are God’s children, gone astray. Jesus came that they might have life. God’s program continues, even as Jesus is coming again, according to His promise. But it should be borne in mind that pretenders remain as His worst enemies.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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