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Thursday, November 3, 2016

My Father

My father died today. He will be sorely missed. While in no joyous spirit (in fact, it seems surreal), this I recall: that he is entrusted to the same One as who was entrusted with the spirit of Christ. Now, Christ has been raised up to glory and will himself raise back the dead, since he has life in himself, given to him by the Father. God, do not delay, but 'yearn for the work of your hands.'

Friday, September 9, 2016

Letter: August 16th, 2016

August 15th, 2016

Dear ,
Recently, I was considering what the most important thing that can be known is, and I arrived at one of two options: (1) that God exists, or (2) God himself. That is, a fact about a person, or the person himself. One is a means to and end, the other is an end in itself. Given that, I asked a question that yields an obvious answer: Which is preferable in the sight of God, that we merely add another proposition about reality to our set of beliefs, or that we form a relationship with Him, as his graciously offers?

Of course, the latter. For, when the Scriptures speak of the restoration of all things, it does not merely say, 'And all will believe that God exists,' or, 'And God will dwell with men in order to make them know that he exists.' Rather it says that, 'God will be all things to everyone,' and, 'God will dwell with men, and he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, pain or mourning; the former things have passed away.'

Mere factual knowledge does not bring such joy. It is the fullness of joy that we await, being described as that which 'eye has not seen, nor ear heard,' and which 'God has prepare for those who love him.' The former knowledge is easily to imagine; even atheists know what that kind of propositional knowledge would look like. But we can only get a meager glimpse at the coming glorious age, toward which Scriptures have just directed our hope.

And what will it mean to know God, and to thus be known by him? Truly, it is the fulfillment of our lives and the greatest state of affairs. It is not merely going to be subjectively great (as even delusions can feel), but it is going to be objectively great, for we will live forever and enjoy many goods, and, above all else, a relationship with God, the greatest good forever. Our (very good and objective) purpose will satisfied as we perfectly mirror the One in whose image we are created, expressing wondrously creativity, goodness and rationality. Forever we will love Jehovah, the only true God who is love.

Is this not the oneness with him, his Christ and all worshippers that which we hope for? (For what else could possibly be worthwhile if we miss out on it?) Or do we keep ignoring it and becoming distracted by trivial concerns which are of no benefit? I fear that in my own case the latter.

That is why it is good to realize that all else that are goods are inferior goods which cannot stand up on their own as places to lay our heart. Take for instance what is perhaps the second greatest relationship one can have apart from God, namely, marriage, a complete bodily, mental and emotional union. It cannot fill the void left by not having that which we can jointly have with the Most High. For no spouse can replace Jehovah and be a God surrogate. And in the end, marriage is a symbol of the union that Christ has with the Congregation; that is, a still higher union, which is what we yearn for, being as it is the unity between ourselves, all other believers, the Son and Jehovah the Father.

Is any token worth as much as that which it typifies or signifies? Or would you trade something of infinite worth for something of merely finite worth? The sensible answer is plain, yet in practice we might act contrary to it. (I know that I have.) In that case, we would be like a parched man, reading the word "water" written on a piece of paper and thinking that his thirst is now quenched; surely, however, he will perish without water. Likewise, anything other than God, who is revealed to us by Christ, in whom all are being built up as one, is not enough to quench our need for spiritual fellowship; only that which Christ, who said, 'I have true drink, and the one drinking will never get thirsty again,' and, 'Come take life's water free,' has can, for he reveals to us the Father, who blessed forever. Amen.

Beyond full comprehension, Jehovah sits enthroned in glory; above the highest heights and lofty angels, he reigns as the Creator Almighty, enduring forever. Yet from long ago he has said, 'I dwell with the lowly.' Yes, most amazingly, he is interested in us; he cares for us. We can know Jehovah. How awe-inspiring! Let this realization never become mundane or worn out. In stead it must be an exalted lodestar, more sure to us than the north star, more radiant than the sun, and more wondrous that the star-lit heavens. God says, 'Seek my face,' let us respond, 'Seek you face, I will' and praise his holy name, for we are assured that 'the pure in heart will see God's face.' And we can trust him, for there is no one else like him, 'not forsaking those trusting in him.'

Sincerely,
Sean Killackey

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Letter: April 16th, 2016

Bellow is a letter I wrote back in April to some of my friends. I figured that I'd post it here for you all.

April 16th, 2016

Dear Friends,
            I was considering the significance of the death and resurrection of Christ recently, and this moved me to write this letter. I hope that you are doing well and enjoy it. There is nothing I want more than this, that your joy might be full on account of the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, and that your confidence in God might keep growing. If I could impart anything toward this end, then I shall be satisfied.
This good news of Christ, his coming, dying and being raised up to the right hand of Majesty, comforts me greatly. It is well attested, as I will go on to relate soon, and it alone is worthwhile. In it my heart rejoices, for I am compelled by the love of God, who, through Christ, reconciles me to himself, though, I was his enemy. Of what virtue shall I speak that Christ lacked? Or of what authority that Jesus did not have as God’s own Son? As a son of Korah said, “O you are the most beautiful of the sons of men and graciousness is upon your lips, and in your splendor and dignity abound!” Yes! he who was so rich became poor so that we who are poor might call on God in spirit and truth.
This good news is vivid in my mind, and its meaning deepens upon reflection; it excels me so much so at this time that I just have to write you, my friends. I must say, as did that son of Korah, “My heart is astir by a goodly matter, my words are about the King, so let my tongue be a skillful scribes stylus.”
Yes, he whose fondness was for the sons of men, he who always rejoices before Jehovah since before the world was, this is he who came for us. God sent his glorious Son to die a death of exceeding shame so that, by that death, we who were clothed in shame and apart from God, might come before the God and see his favor. Who can know this, yet remain silent; who dwells upon it, yet remains unmoved? Truly none, for ‘into all the earth the word has gone out,’ and my heart burns because of this, as did the hearts of those who talked to Christ on the road to Emmaus. Upon that road, Christ explained what the Scriptures said about him, which, if possible, I will try to note in passing in this letter.
Yes, put up with me a little while longer while I go on to express that which exhilarates me so much more than anything else. If only I could move your heart just as mine has been moved then I should be content. And if you find all the more pleasure in Jehovah, what more do I need? Now, let me go on to relate in brief some of the chief facts of the matter that give me the confidence in which I rejoice.
The Scriptures are right to speak of God’s great loyal love, which endures forever. For, in all things God reveals his love, but especially does Jah recommend his love to us in that he sent his Son to die. Even the righteous patriarchs had their errors, as did all of the righteous kings: David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah. So how should we fare any better than them who were not saved by their works were it not for the death and resurrection of Christ? Paul informs us that if Christ had not been raised up, then we are still in our sins and have no hope, but if he was raised up, we are saved. How, then, can we know that Christ was raised up?
Because the tomb was empty, even as the Jews conceded when they said, ‘they came and stole his body.’ And we know that the Apostles were not deceivers; even if they were inclined to be, they wouldn’t risk death and great shame by proclaiming that “for a fact the Lord has been raised up.” However, this very end befell many of them. Additionally, the disciples had appearances of the risen Christ. These were too numerous, occurred to too many people (including non-believers and opposers) at such different times for them to be mere hallucinations; they must have been actual appearances of the resurrected Christ.
However, some try to explain the empty tomb by saying that the body was stolen, not by the disciples, but by thieves. However, this is unlikely on its face, since there were guards there, just as the Jews admitted. Additionally, if the body was stolen, the Jewish leaders would have found this out in order to discredit the followers of Jesus; this they did not do. Others suppose that tomb’s location was lost and the empty tomb was not really Jesus’, but this is not likely, since the women followed to see where Joseph of Arimathea buried him (in one of his own tombs). Further, if the Jews did not know the location of the tomb, they would have said, ‘The empty tomb is not Jesus’ real tomb.’ However, what they said was that ‘his disciples came and stole the body while the guards were sleeping.’ Similarly, while some have supposed that the tomb was not empty, if this was so, the Jews would have said, ‘His tomb is not empty,’ and the Christian response would have been, ‘That is another body.’ But this is not what happened. By these things (and more) we know that that the God of Israel did just as he foretold he would do.
He kept foretelling these things from Eden to Simeon of Jerusalem, who, was told that he would see the Christ of Jehovah before he died. Yes, he spoke in Eden and to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob about a promised offspring. Jacob foretold that Shiloh (he whose right it is) would come through Judah; and Nathan foretold that he’d come through David. Ezekiel and Amos affirmed that, despite the destruction of David’s dynasty, God would fulfill this promise and give the throne to ‘he whose legal right it is.’
As it turned out this is David’s Lord, to whom Jehovah promised great things: that he’d be king-priest like Melchizedek forever, and that all things would be made subject to him. Moses similarly prophecies that a prophet like himself would arise. Daniel also speaks of this great King, who is the “Son of man,” who comes before God to receive a kingdom. This is the one, Gabriel says, who was born to Mary; in Bethlehem, Micah says.
Isaiah, David, Daniel and Jehovah all show that the Messiah would suffer and be crushed for the sins of other, just as Jeremiah affirms when he mentions a new covenant in connection with the doing away of sin, and then he would be raised up to glory. Which is what Jehovah showed would happen to his own Son, when he told Abraham, ‘please offer up Isaac your only son, whom you love so much,’ and Abraham reckoned that God could raise up from the dead.
Yes, this matter is attested to by many witnesses, so that we might be led to Christ. Therefore, we can hold with all confidence to that which was proclaimed since the beginning of the good news, that which Paul believed and which was spoken by the Apostles: “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised up on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelves, then to James, and then to all of the apostles, then he appeared to upwards of five hundred brothers at one time.”
Additionally, though we see only a hazy reflection upon a metal mirror, we know that, whatever the meaning of God’s promises which have yet to take place, they are yes by means of Christ. This all was done by God, “so that those who live might live no more for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised up.” And how readily we want to do this!

Sincerely,
Sean Killackey

Thursday, April 14, 2016

April 14th, 2016

Blog Posts
I've been busy in the last three months, partly because of a new job, partly because I'm learning Russian, so I've had to let the blog take a back seat. I hope to start posting again in August or September, however. In the meantime, I'll repost some old posts, which you might not have seen. I hope that when I come back, you'll come back as well. Thanks.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Twenty One)

Conclusion


            I bid you fare ware until we meet again. For now, though, our time has come to an end, a time I hope that has proven to be of some benefit to you. I have no definite plans to write a further series, for I have other projects I wish to work on, but I do have a desire to do so. Previously, when I had only refuted in writing fifty contradictions, I was daunted by the sheer size of the work needed to refute the entire list (or amalgamation of lists) I possess. But, now I feel that such a task is not as large. I really do wish to expand this work further.
            I hope that if you find this beneficial, then you will serve Jehovah with all the more zeal. I ask nothing from you, but that you keep me in mind as you do all the brotherhood, encouraging one another as the day draws nearer. Look out for the interests of one another, ready to help them, as I hope I have helped your interests.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Twenty)

Was Jesus Without Sin?
            Jesus, we all know is without sin. Nevertheless, we note that he was baptized with the baptism of John; perhaps, then, he needed to be forgiven for sins. (Mark 1:4) This classical argument needs only be refuted in brief.
Wherein, O skeptic, do the scriptures say that Jesus openly confessed his sins when he came to John? (Mark 1:5) Further, was John’s purpose only to preach baptism in symbol of repentance? If so, why did he testify: “Someone stronger that I am is coming after me, the lace of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with holy spirit?” (Mark 1:7,8 NWT) And: “Behind me there comes a man who has advanced in front of me, for he existed before me,” and “I came baptizing in water so that he might be made manifest to Israel?” (John 1:31 NWT) Clearly, John was also to reveal the Messiah to the people who came to him to seek baptism.
John said that Jesus existed before him, so it would make sense that he, while human, was not always such, therefore, he would not have sin. (John 1:3) To that, Isaiah 53 agrees. That is why it is clear that Jesus was not baptized for the forgiveness of his sins, but to dedicate himself as God’s Anointed One.
The skeptic, though is not satisfied, for he spots “clear” sins on Jesus’ part. The Law, Jesus tells us, says to honor your father and mother. (Mark 10:19) Yet, the skeptic asserts that Jesus failed to do so. Luke 11:27,28 (NWT) reports that a woman cried out: “Happy is the womb that carried you and the breasts that nursed you,” yet Jesus said: “No, rather happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!” Apparently the skeptic somehow finds this sinful. But, all that Jesus was highlighting was that greater happiness could be found in serving God, for that is of utmost importance.
The skeptic, going on, cites Mark 10:19, where Jesus said that one must not steal, and Matthew 21:2 where Jesus steals! Mathew 21:2 (WEB) records that Jesus said: “Go into the village that is opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them, and bring them to me.” To the skeptic this is clearly theft. However, two points could be brought to bear against such a notion. First, Jesus simply arranged for the animals to be taken by his disciples for short time; we do not see that Jesus kept if indefinitely. Second, the account in Matthew 21:1-9 does not involve his disciples taking by force, but by the words ‘the Lord needs it.’ So, it is possible that Jesus simply expected the owner to give them to him since he was a prophet and teacher of some renowned – not an uncommon occurrence in those days. Therefore, the idea that Jesus stole is farfetched.
            Now, the skeptic quotes Leviticus 5:1 (NWT), which says: “If someone sins because he has heard a public call to testify and he is a witness or has seen or learned about it and he does not report it, then he will answer for his error,” from which he thinks that Jesus had to refute the charge against him. However, Matthew 27:13,14 (NWT) reports: “Then Pilate said to him: “Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?” But he did not answer him, no, not a word, so that they governor was very surprised.” This, the skeptic boldly asserts, must be a sin! But, what the skeptic (intentionally) ignores is that Leviticus refers to those who have to report the sins of others. So, this does not apply to Christ, thus there was no way for him to sin against it.
            Deuteronomy 6:5 (NWT) states: “You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength.” The skeptic, for some reason, wants us to think Jesus broke this! Why? Because at Mark 15:34 (NWT) he states: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” His inadequate Biblical knowledge notwithstanding, we see that Jesus was literally to some extent forsaken by God, for he did die. Was Jesus, then, meaning this disrespectfully? No, nor was David when that one wrote it about a thousand years before. Psalm 22, a Messianic psalm, was not a rant against God, but a plea to God. It does not end in defeat nor in disrespect. Psalm 22:22 (NWT) states: “I will declare your name to my brothers.” By referencing it, Jesus was respectfully affirming his faith in God.
            The skeptic also goes into a tirade about how Jesus broke the Sabbath. But, he fails to understand that Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, while he breaking the extra-biblical and therefore non-binding prohibitions of the Sabbath, did nothing that was not actually permitted.
Finally, in desperation, the skeptic launches one last attempt to get the Bible to contradict itself: 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that Jesus was made sin. If he expects this to prove that Jesus himself was actually sinful, he is woefully mistaken. The verse itself (NWT) starts off: “The one who did not know sin,” leaving the skeptic dumbfounded at the harmony of the Bible.

Is Jesus the Only Mediator Between Man and God?
            1 Timothy 2:5 (NWT) declares that “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus.” However, Romans 8:26 (NWT) says: “the spirit joins in with help for our weakness . . . [pleading] for us with unuttered groanings.” The skeptic is satisfied that he finally found one that worked, but the reason that he fails is self-evident. 1 Timothy 2:5 does not deal with intercessions (as far as prayers is concerned). Only Jesus mediated the covenant between men and God. He alone “gave himself a corresponding ransom for all,” not the spirit, nor anyone else. – 1 Timothy 2:6 NWT

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Nineteen)

Was Jesus an Ascetic?
            The skeptic cites Matthew 4:1,2, which shows that Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights, Matthew 6:19-25, where Jesus commands us not to store up earthly treasures, but heavenly ones, Matthew 8:20, where Jesus says that he has nowhere to lay his head, and Matthew 10:7-10, where Jesus tells his disciples not to take any material possessions with him, as proof that Jesus was an ascetic. Conversely, he cites Matthew 9:10, where Jesus eats, Matthew 9:14, where he explains why his disciples do not fast, and Matthew 11:19, where Jesus says that he eats and drinks, as proof that he was not an ascetic. One cannot be two different things at the same time, so the Bible contradicts itself.
            That is, unless you are able to read the scriptures! Jesus fasted for forty days once on a special occasion – not because he was an ascetic. Greed has always been warned against – he certainly did not demand that we become ascetics, but he did want us to pursue spiritual things first. Jesus did not lack a place to sleep, but he did lack a place of his own; this he lacked for our sake. Jesus did not always forbade the taking of money, rather, he and his disciples carried a money box around. (John 12:6) Also, his choice for Matthew 9:14 is puzzling, for that is about his disciples, not himself, and he says that they will fast for a time after he is gone. So, you decide if he is an ascetic or not.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Eighteen)

Is Jesus a Shepherd or a Sheep?
            He is both in a figurative sense. For, in regards to his protective role and leadership of his disciples, he is “the fine shepherd” that “surrenders his life in [our] behalf.” (John 10:11 NWT) But, in that he is an offering for sin, he is “the Lamb of God.” – John 1:36 WEB

Does Jesus Change?
            Luke 2:7 is one of many verses that notes that Jesus changed. However, Hebrews 13:8 (NWT) says: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever.” So the skeptic is confident that the Bible contradicts itself. However, he has to define “change” and “yesterday” in a way consistent with his view to make this contradiction work; his interpretation is far for solid, though. The skeptic assumes that “yesterday” means “forever in the past,” but it does not need to mean such. For, certainly Paul, the author of Hebrews, knew that Jesus’ position was exalted due to his faithful service, and that he was also made man. Therefore, we recognize that “yesterday” does not stretch into infinity, but must refer back to now to a certain point, but no further. Similarly, “change” is not meant in an absolute sense, for example, if Jesus changes his view on a person, it does not mean Jesus’ himself has changed.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Seventeen)

Is Jesus the Sacrifice or High Priest?
            Hebrews 8:1 (NWT) reports that we have as High Priest one who “has sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” But, since one cannot be both offering and the one offering the offering, Hebrews 9:26 (NWT), which says that Christ did “away with sin through the sacrifice of himself,” must be in error.
            However, such an assumption is never found in scriptures. The skeptic would like us think that it doesn’t have to be, that the law of non-contradiction forces such a conclusion. Apparently the writer of Hebrews was too ignorant to comprehend such a basic principle, for he sees nothing wrong with writing that Jesus is (but was not always) our High Priest and was our offering. But, O skeptic, why should he? He is referring to different times. He knew Jesus died – that is when he was our offering – and that he was raised up to become our high priest; this is perfectly harmonious.

Is Jesus a Lion or a Lamb?
            He is neither a lion nor a lamb; he was a human. Oh wait! The skeptic is not being that hyper-literal. He is however being quite hyper-literal. It is clear that Revelation 5:5 (WEB), which says: “Behold, the Lion who is of the tribe of Judah,” is not meant to be taken literally. Neither is John 1:36 (WEB), which says: “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Where, aside from such a unique reading, does this contradiction arise? Nowhere. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Sixteen)

Is Jesus Blessed or Cursed?
            Galatians 3:13 (NWT) says: “Christ purchased us, releasing us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse instead of us, because it is written: “Accursed is every man hung upon a stake.” Revelation 5:12 (NWT), however, says: “The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and glory and blessing.” These, the skeptic concludes, cannot both be true.
            However, such a sentiment is not found in scripture. Rather, this statement is: “For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NWT) The curse was not ever meant to last forever. And, in fact, it was due to the fact that Jesus offered himself as our curse that he was able to be worthy of the blessing that followed, a point brought out in Revelation 5:12.

Is Jesus or Men the Foundation of God’s House?
            1 Corinthians 3:11 (NWT) states: “For no one can lay any other foundation than what is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” However, instead of presenting Jesus as the one foundation (or so the skeptic says), Ephesians 2:19,20 (NWT) says: “So you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens of the holy ones and are members of the household of God, and you have been built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.”
            The skeptic is unaware that Paul, writing to the Corinthians, is discussing teachings – all teaching begins on the foundation of Christ; he is not describing what God’s house is built upon. But, in Ephesians 2:19,20, Paul discusses the heavenly citizenship of Christians, that they are built upon the work done by the apostles and prophets. We note that Paul says that Christ is the “foundation cornerstone” in whom “the building, being harmoniously joined together, is growing into a holy temple.” (Galatians 2:20,21 NWT) So, that these passages, while not referring to the same subject, far from contradicting each other actually stress the primacy of Christ.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Fifteen)

Was Jesus Made Higher or Lower Than the Angels?
            Hebrews 1:4 (NWT) states: “[H]e has become better than the angels to the extent that he has inherited a name more excellent than theirs.” However, Hebrews 2:9 (NWT) says: “[W]e do see Jesus . . . made a little lower than angels.” This is “clearly” a contradiction . . . if we ignore the fact that Hebrews 1:4, which, while coming before Hebrews 2:9, describes the glorification of Christ, which comes after the lowering described in Hebrews 2:9a. Therefore, Jesus was both made lower than and then higher than the angels.

Is Jesus the Light of the World?
            Jesus, John 9:5 (NWT) reports, said: “As long as I am in the world, I am the world’s light.” The skeptic, though, foolishly says that this cannot possibly be so, for Jesus said at Matthew 5:14 (NWT): “You are the light of the world.” The skeptic, however, cannot find any scripture that shows that both statements cannot be true; rather, it is clear that Jesus’ followers are also the light of the world on account that Jesus taught them.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Fourteen)

Was Jesus Perfect?
            Jesus was created perfect, but that did not mean he was already suited to be the High Priest. He was perfect as a sacrifice, for, as 1 Peter 1:19 shows, he was without blemish; however, even then, he was not suitable for being our offering until he became the Messiah. Nor, was he suitable as Messiah until he became man.
            The skeptic does not argue concerning those points, but his argument is made along using similar evidence. Arguing on the basis of Hebrews 7:26 (NWT), which says: “For it is fitting for us to have such a high priest who is loyal, innocent, undefiled, separated from the sinners, and exalted above the heavens,” and Hebrews 5:8,9 (NWT), which says: “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. And after he had been made perfect, he became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him,” he asks, “So was Jesus Perfect when he came to earth or not?”
            It does not cross the mind that being a High Priest requires that Jesus be put to the test fully, that he become like his brothers in all respects. Yes, Jesus was created perfect, born a perfect human, perfect as the Messiah, but these things had to precede his appointment as our High Priest. Hebrews 2:17,18 (NWT), which the skeptic should be familiar with, says: “Consequently, he had to become like his “brothers” in all respects, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God, in order to offer a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the people. Since he himself has suffered when being put to the test, he is able to come to the aid of those who are being put to the test.” What further explain do I need? Jesus was perfect in nature and action, which is what Hebrews 7:26 and 1 Peter 1:19 refer to, however, to say that Hebrew 5:8,9 contradict that is ignorant of what “perfection” is being referred to there.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Thirteen)

Was God’s Covenant With Abraham Absolute?
            Citing Genesis 15:18 and 17:7 the skeptic assumes that God unconditionally gave the Promised Land to Abraham’s descendants. Therefore, God’s reminder that if they abandon him (such as is found at Deuteronomy 31:16,16 or Joshua 23:16), he will forsake them is viewed as incompatible. However, the skeptic fails to see that Genesis 17:7 (NWT) says: “And I will keep my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.” This shows that the covenant involved action, God was to keep it and he would be God to his people; this implied that he, as their God, had rights as patron of Israel. Such a principle is explicitly shown in Genesis 17:9 (NWT), where God says: “As for you, you are to keep my covenant, you and you your offspring after you.” Therefore, we see obedience was the condition upon which God’s covenant with Abraham was made; there is no contradiction.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Twelve)

Is God’s Work Perfect?
            Deuteronomy 32:4 confirms that all of God’s works are perfect. But, is not Cain part of God’s work? (Genesis 4:8) God made man, yet “Yahweh saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5 WEB) And, why would God make the tree that he commanded mankind not eat from? (Genesis 2:16,17) These points cause the skeptic to conclude that the Bible contradicts itself.
            We, though, see that the skeptic has not proven that God could not create the forbidden tree and it be perfect. Rather, it was an excellent test; it served to see the heart of Adam and Eve and was simple – it served its role perfectly. Further, the sins of mankind aside, we see that “God made mankind upright,” but it was them that went astray. (Ecclesiastes 7:29 NWT) So, any error on their part is not from God.

Was God Satisfied With His Works?
            Genesis 1:31 (NWT) reports that “God saw everything he made, and look! it was very good.” However, at Genesis 6:6 (NWT) we find that “Jehovah regretted that he had made men on the earth.” The skeptics presses this as a contradiction. However, a key requirement for there to be a contradiction is lacking, for these statements do not refer to the same time, nor does the skeptic understand what it means for God to feel regret, so the skeptic is wrong.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Eleven)

Does God Withhold His Blessings?
            Jesus says: “For everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking, it will be opened.” (Luke 11:10 NWT) Further, James adds: “So if any one of you is lacking in wisdom let him keep asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5 NWT) Thus establishing in the mind of the skeptic: God is a gumball machine – all your whims will be granted!
            Gumball machines give to you regardless if you are righteous or wicked. However, God is not like that. Isaiah 1:15, Micah 3:4 and James 4:3 all readily acknowledge this fact. The solution to this contradiction is laid out in each of these verses. Isaiah 1:15 (NWT) says: “And when you spread out your palms, I hide my eyes from you. Although you offer many prayers, I am not listening; Your hands are filled with blood.” Micah 3:4 (NWT) reports: “At that time they will call to Jehovah for help, [b]ut he will not answer them. He will hide his face from them at that time, [b]ecause of their wicked deeds.” James 4:3 (NWT) reproves us, saying: “When you do ask, you do not receive because you are asking for a wrong purpose, so that you may spend it on your fleshly desires.” So does Jesus contradict these verses?
            Only if you ground down the specifics of both statements, producing two watered down, supposedly mutually exclusive statements. Keep in mind, though, that even gumball machines withhold their product if you turn the knob, but fail to put the quarter in!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Ten)

Is God Partial?
            How could the scriptures say of God: “Jehovah is good to all,” or: “Jehovah your God . . . treats none with partiality and does not accept a bribe?” (Psalm 145:9; Deuteronomy 10:17 NWT) What caused Peter to say: “God is not partial, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him?” (Acts 10:34,35 NWT) For, Jah is clearly biased, accepting Abel over Cain and Jacob over Esau! (Genesis 4:4; Romans 9:13) His angel says to Mary: “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:30 WEB) And he says to his people at Leviticus 26:9 (NWT): “I will direct my favor to you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will keep my covenant with you.” Even Christ said: “Do not go off into the road of the nations, and do not enter any Samaritan city; but instead, go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5,6 NWT) How can these be harmonized?
            Firstly, the skeptic has to read into the account of Cain and Abel that which is not there, favoritism. It is true that little is said about Cain, yet we see that his works were wicked, and why? Because he hated his brother, seeking God only outwardly, but internally consumed in envy. (1 John 3:12) Esau, too, was not a spiritual man, but ‘one who did not appreciate sacred things.’ – Hebrews 12:16 NWT
            What of Mary? She was righteous, so God’s favor was not groundless. What of God’s people? Plainly, he did not treat them with favoritism, for he did not spare them discipline. Further, God “did not leave himself without witness in that he did good, giving [all the nations] rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying [them] with food and filling your hearts with gladness.” (Acts 14:16,16 NWT) And, during this Jewish period, anyone could join God’s people and become part of Jehovah’s nation.
            And, while it is true that Jesus focused his ministry to the Jews – though he did come into contact with non-Jews and taught them from time to time – it was not at the total exclusion of the nations. For, it was Jesus who gave the Great Commission, saying: “[Y]ou will be witnesses of me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the most distant part of the earth,” and: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations.” – Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18 NWT
            So, it can’t be argued that God is partial. The skeptic, though, in most na├»ve fashion, confuses favor with favoritism and hate with arbitrary disdain. He confuses the purpose for Jesus’ mission, that it was directed chiefly toward Jews, with a bias on God’s part, all the while, however, he ignores clear evidence that gives us the complete picture.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Nine)

Does God Sit or Stand to Judge?
            Isaiah 3:13 says he stands, but Joel 3:12 says he sits! Two things can be said in response. Primarily, these verses are metaphoric, God is not physical and with him there is no standing or sitting! Secondly, and not really necessary to mention, these refer to different judgements, given at different times, so we don’t have two different mutually exclusive claims being made about the same instance – a fundamental requirement of contradictions.

Does God Tire?
            Isaiah 40:28 (NWT) says: “Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth, is a God for all eternity. He never tires or grows weary.” But, Jeremiah 15:6 (NWT) reports: “‘You have deserted me,’ declares Jehovah. ‘You keep turning your back on me. So I will stretch out my hand against you and destroy you. I am tired of feeling pity for you.’” The skeptic rashly sees the words “tires” and “tired” and assumes they refer to the same kind of thing, that is, literal tiredness. However, Isaiah 40:28 refers to Jehovah’s great power, but Jeremiah 15:6 refers to Jehovah’s patience and how Jehovah would not tolerate continued rebellion against him. His tiredness in this case is in regard toward his pity, not to his power, for he previously mentions that he will destroy them – can one who is tired do that?

Did God Love Zion?
            Psalm 87:2 and 132:13 tell of God’s love and desire for Zion. However, Jehovah seems to have intended to deny any love for Zion, saying: “For this city, from the day that they built it down to this day, has been nothing but a cause of anger and wrath to me, so that it must be removed from before my face.” – Jeremiah 32:31 NWT
            Yet, the fact remains that Jehovah did not actually intend to deny any previous love for the city, but to make a strong affirmation of his then present anger. Need I again relate how it was a custom to deny a true statement to make a stronger point? He was not lying about his former love for the city.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Eight)

Does God Create Confusion?
            1 Corinthians 14:33 (ASV) states: “God is not the author of confusion.” In fact, according to Proverbs 6:16,19 (NWT): “[H]e that soweth discord among brethren” is “an abomination unto him.” So, how could we justify this with the fact that God diversified the languages of man, an event that caused great confusion? – Genesis 11:7-9
            Firstly, Proverbs 6:16,19 condemns the one who sows discord, not just “confusion.” It is spread by gossip or slander and the like, so it has no real connection to what God did. Secondly, 1 Corinthians 14:33 deals with congregational arrangements, where confusion was to be avoided. The phrase “God is not the author of confusion,” must be understood in that context. When we do so, we see that this does not conflict with Genesis 11:7-9.

Does God Dwell in Eternity or With Men?
            Previously, I have chided the skeptic for pitting two contiguous verses against each other, however, in this case he pits one verse against itself. Isaiah 57:15 (NWT) says: “For this is what the High and Lofty One says, Who [inhabiteth eternity – ASV] and whose name is holy: “I reside in the high and holy place, But also with those crushed and lowly in spirit.””
            Clearly, the skeptic thinks that Jehovah literally inhabits eternity, as if eternity is a place, despite the more appropriate (if not literal) translation: “who lives forever.” Further, he thinks that these two statements are not both true, as if they are set against each other. In some sense they are, but only to highlight that both are true, making God’s humility more remarkable. The very contrast the skeptic highlights serves to disprove his position; there is no contradiction.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Seven)

Does God’s Anger Last Long?
            By reading Psalm 30:4,5 (NWT), which says: “[B]eing under [God’s] anger is only for a moment, But being in his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may come in the evening, but in the morning, there is a joyful cry,” we may – but should not – get the impression that under all circumstances God’s anger is short. So, when we read Numbers 32:13 (NWT), which says: “So Jehovah’s anger blazed against Israel and he made them wander about in the wilderness for 40 years, until all the generation that was doing evil in the eyes of Jehovah came to its end,” we might conclude that God’s anger is not short, therefore the Bible is contradictory. In addition, we may find it hard to reconcile what God says in Jeremiah 3:12 (NWT), namely: “I will not stay resentful forever,” with what he says at Jeremiah 17:4 (NWT), namely: “[Y]ou have kindled my anger like a fire. It will burn for all time.”.
            However, we need to consider the context of each scripture in these contradictory sets. Psalm 30:4,5 is a personal song, so we can say that God’s anger with us due to our sins is not everlasting, but momentary – the effects of the anger may linger on, yet we will have our mourning changed into rejoicing. (Psalm 30:11) Numbers 32:13, however is God’s judgement against an entire nation, who throughout the 40 years of their punishment continued to provoke his wrath. It would be impossible for them to have God’s anger subside, for they had no intention of repenting.
            Similarly, God urges those in Jeremiah’s time: “Return, O renegade Israel . . . I will not look angrily on you, for I am loyal . . . I will not stay resentful forever.” (Jeremiah 3:12 NWT) The duration of God’s anger is therefore dependent on the ones with whom he is angry. In the case of Judah, they had a chance to avert God’s wrath, yet by refusing they forced God to punish them with exile. There, they lived among their enemies, for God’s anger was kindled forever.
            However, it is evident, as has been discussed elsewhere, that “forever” is hyperbole. The generation that went into exile (the targets of God’s hostility) ceased to be alive, and God’s anger with Judah subsided. So, even on a larger scale, God’s anger does not last long, it needed not continue for generation after generation, but the continued provoking of a stubborn people necessitated it; the promise of momentary anger is not unconditional. Still, when their sin had been accounted for, God’s anger faded as he promised.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Six)

Is God a Warrior?
            In two places, the scriptures refer to God as a warrior. Israel sang: “Jehovah is a man of war, Jehovah is his name,” at Deuteronomy 15:3 (ASV). Further, David lauds God at Psalm 24:8 (NWT): “Who is the glorious King? Jehovah, strong and mighty, Jehovah, mighty in battle.” I affirm these points, so what will the skeptic say to move me to declare that the Bible contradicts itself? He cites Romans 15:33, highlighting that God is called “the God of peace,” and also 1 Corinthians 14:33 (NWT), which says of God: “God is a God not of disorder but of peace.”
            Yet, I have not seem him frame these as mutually exclusive options! The first two scriptures deal with literal warfare, however, the latter two have nothing to do with warfare; 1 Corinthians 14:33 deals with order during Christian gatherings! There is no contradiction. And it is impossible that Paul, who wrote both Romans and 1 Corinthians, thought of God as only a God of peace (a term the skeptic has a too simplistic view of). – Romans 2:5

Does God Get Angry?
            Phrases such as ‘my fury shall be poured out’ pepper the scriptures; Jeremiah 42:18 is such an example. “However, if this is the case,” the skeptic asks, “why does God say at Isaiah 27:4 (NWT): “There is no wrath in me?” Or, why could Nehemiah say of Him: “[Y]ou are a God ready to forgive, compassionate and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loyal love, and you did not abandon them?”” (Nehemiah 9:17 NWT)
            The skeptic’s reference to Nehemiah is not valid; the skeptic can pretend that mercy cannot exist with rage, but such an erroneous statement is not incumbent upon us. Neither is his use of Isaiah 27:4 skillful. It clearly is not an absolute statement that God never has anger, nor was its audience all inclusive. It is part of a song that will be sung “in that [as of yet future] day . . . in the land of Judah,” which describes, not pre-exile Judah, but “[a] nation that is keeping faithful conduct.” – Isaiah 26:1,2
            This is, despite the skeptic’s interjection, harmonious with the God of Jeremiah 42:18. This fact is evident by what God himself says: “In that day you will certainly say: “I thank you, O Jehovah, For although you were angry with me, Your anger gradually subsided, and you comforted me.” (Isaiah 12:1 NWT) The lesson learned: God has fury, but it is not all consuming, and does fade; a God of mercy is he, yet not one who excuses without cause.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Five)

Does God Create Evil?
            Against the saying of Moses: “The Rock, perfect is his activity, [f]or all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness who is never unjust, Righteous and upright is he,” at Deuteronomy 32:4 (NWT) is set against Jehovah’s own declaration at Isaiah 45:7 (ASV): “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things,” by the skeptic. But, aside from referring to older translations, the skeptic has nothing to offer.
            Let us first reason the matter out. In Isaiah, Jehovah contrasts two sets of things; light and darkness and peace and evil. However, evil is not the opposite of peace as darkness is for light. Disturbance, calamity or disaster, however, are. Further, the Hebrew word translated in the American Standard Version as evil, rah, can mean, not just “evil,” but also “adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, displeasure, distress” according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Seeing as the context indicates that moral evil is not implied, it would be improper for us to say that God creates such evil. He, however, did bring about calamity upon those who sinned against him, this is in full harmony with his justice, for “they are the ones who have acted corruptly. They are not is children, the defect is their own. They are a crooked twisted and generation!” – Deuteronomy 32:5 NWT

Is it Fearful to Fall into God’s Hands?
            Hebrews 10:31 (NWT) states: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” So, given that information, David must have a different God, into whose hand he desires to fall into – or, the Bible contradict itself. At 2 Samuel 24:14 (WEB), he says: “I am in distress. Let us fall into the hand of Yahweh; for his mercies are great.”
            I am surprised that the skeptic finds these statements to br contradictory! For, Hebrews refers to the hands of God, but David had in mind the hand of Jehovah! Joking aside, however, I am pleased that the skeptic is not more hyper-literal that usual. Still, his understanding of context could use some work. Has it crossed his mind that, depending on the situation, falling into God’s hands could be good for one or fearful?
            The context of Hebrews informs us that those who have no “sacrifice for sins left,” have a “certain fearful expectation of judgement.” To them, God’s hands are fearful to fall into. However, in David’s case, Jehovah did forgive him; so, to David, Jehovah’s hand was merciful.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Four)

Are God’s Wonders Innumerable?
            Psalm 40:5 (NWT) states: “How many things you have done, O Jehovah my God, [y]our wonderful works and your thoughts toward us. None can compare to you; If I were to try to tell and speak of them, [t]hey would be too numerous to recount!” The skeptic takes this literally, thinking that God’s works and thoughts are infinite. So, when he comes across Psalm 26:7, where David says: “That I may make the voice of thanksgiving to be heard, [a]nd tell of all thy wondrous works,” he concludes that there is a contradiction.
            He interprets these statements as literal and having the same intended meaning. However, the point of the former statement is to highlight the sheer number of God’s wondrous works. If we use “countless” in hyperbole, why can’t David? The purpose of Psalm 26:7 was to express David’s earnest desire to glorify God by proclaiming what he has done. The word “all” must be understood in this context, for David wrote both psalms. Once we do so, there is no contradiction.

Is God the Only One Working Wonders?
            Psalm 136:4 (KJV) says of God: “[He] alone doeth great wonders.” So, the skeptic would want us to naively assume that 2 Thessalonians 2:9 (KJV), which says about the “lawless one,” that his “coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,” contradicts this. Unable to comprehend the nuance of language, the skeptic has taken to a misguided rule of the use of “all.” The Hebrews, however, would not deny that demons preformed wonders, for they knew of the dealings of the priests of Egypt. But, they would deny the lesser thing to extol the greater thing; Jehovah’s works outperformed those of his Egyptian rivals and were of greater and lasting impact, for example, so truthfully, albeit not literally, Jehovah alone preforms wondrous works.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Three)

Is God Always Near?
Psalm 145:18 (ASV) states: “Jehovah is nigh unto all them that call upon him.” Upon this verse, the skeptic hangs his first statement: God is always near. He also cites James 4:8 (NWT), which states: “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.” In contrast to these he cites Psalm 10:1 (NWT), which says: “Why, O Jehovah, do you stand at a distance? Why do you hide yourself in times of distress?” Also, Lamentations 3:44 (NWT), which says: “You have blocked approach to yourself with a cloud, so that our prayer may not pass through.” From these, he hangs the statement: God is not always near.
            It is easy enough, however, to see that Psalm 145:18 (ASV) ends with the word: “To all that call upon him in truth.” Similarly, James 4:8 is addressed to “sinners” and “indecisive ones.” Therefore, the need to call to God in truth and out of a clean heart with pure motives is apparent. In this regard, then, Acts 17:27 (NWT) is helpful; it says: “if [men] might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.” Therefore, God is close to us.
            Yet, Jehovah’s being close does not mean that he will be readily found by us when it merely suits our whims, he is not a help readily found by those who repeatedly rejected him.[1] Jeremiah laments the destruction of Judah and how Jehovah had abandoned them to Babylon for seventy years. Those whom Jehovah did not hear were the ones who first abandoned him and paid no heed to his words of warning; of them, God commanded Jeremiah: “[D]o not pray in behalf of this people. Do not cry out or offer a prayer or plead with me in their behalf, for I will not listen to you.” (Jeremiah 7:16) So, we do recognize that there are things that can separate us from God and cause our prayers to be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7) It is our sins that separate us from God, to keep in them will prolong the separation, but a contrite heart and honest repentance can readily restore us to him. (Isaiah 59:1,2) Did not Jeremiah know this? Jehovah was near to him, and he knew how Judah could regain God’s favor, namely: “Let us examine and scrutinize our ways, and let us return to Jehovah. Let us lift up our hearts along with our hands to God in the heavens.” Yes, even when God is “far away,” he is near.
            What of Psalm 10? Did he think that God was far away? Consider that the psalmist says in verse 14 (NWT): “But you do see trouble and distress. You look on and take matters in hand,” and in verse 17 (NWT): “You will hear the request of the meek, O Jehovah,” from which we can conclude that the psalmist, when saying that God ‘stands far away,’ was describing how he felt, how it seemed to be. Outwardly it may seem that God is far away – though this is not the same “distance” as is described by Paul, James or Isaiah – yet the psalm itself concludes with an affirmation of faith that Jehovah sees and will “pay close attention to [the meek].” (Psalm 10:17 NWT) So, the skeptic’s claim that Psalm 10:1 contradicts other scriptures as wrong as his general assumption.




[1] See The Self-Harmony of the Bible, p. 4

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part Two)

Is God Omniscient?
            Proverbs 15:3 (NWT) states: “The eyes of Jehovah are everywhere, [w]atching both the bad and the good.” Similarly, Hebrews 4:13 (NWT) states: “And there is not a creation that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of the one to whom we must give an account.” So, the skeptic asserts that Genesis 18:20-21 (NWT), which says: “Then Jehovah said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is very heavy. I will go down to see whether they are acting according to the outcry that has reached me. And if not, I can get to know it,”” contradicts this – why would God have to get to know something? Further, he alleges that Exodus 12:13 and Hosea 8:4 likewise portray God as lacking knowledge and having to gain it. These (NWT84) respectively read: “And the blood must serve as YOUR sign upon the houses where YOU are; and I must see the blood and pass over YOU, and the plague will not come on YOU as a ruination when I strike at the land of Egypt,” and: “They themselves have set up kings, but not because of me. They have set up princes, but I did not know it. With their silver and their gold they have made for themselves idols, to the end that they may be cut off.”
            We note, however, that Genesis 18:20-21 is set in the context of Jehovah bringing judgement against the five cities of Sodom. In that era a judge was expected to be present during judgment. Jehovah, listening to the outcry felt compelled to go there “himself” and get to know it in this judicial sense. Others, too, have suggested that God has the ability to know everything, but like a strong man, he does not have to exercise his ability at all times in order to be all-knowing.
            Concerning Hosea 8:4, let us ask the skeptic this question: If Jehovah did not know of the princes, how is he now coming to know of it? Is it for no reason that other translations render the phrase in Hosea 8:4: “They have made princes, and I didn’t approve?” (WEB) Yes, the context has to do with Israel’s rebellion in their setting up kings and princes apart from Jehovah, whom he does not recognize, and idols to worship instead of him. Certainly, this has nothing to do with divine omniscience, for how could he mention them if he did not know of them?
            What of Exodus 12:13? I must assume that the skeptic thinks that Jehovah needed a sign to know who was an Israelite. However, the blood on the doorposts was the token to prove obedience, and anyone could do to avoid the impeding judgement – not just Israelites. (So, the supposed thing that Jehovah needed to know, is irrelevant.) He again was “there” when this judgement was performed. By definition, in order to know who obeyed, he had to see proof thereof, but this is no lack in his omniscience. As soon as they obeyed, he knew that they had.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 5 (Part One)

Introduction


            Greetings!
It is with satisfaction that I have prepared this fifth part. In it we’ll examine claims that Jesus’ and Jehovah’s actions, attributes or natures are contradictory.  Some could be taken as contradictions by honest-hearted people; others, however, are so clearly wrong that I feel obligated to include them to discount the skeptic (or, his scruples) and to provide some amusement. All are explainable after sufficient evidence is gathered. Further, the principles that refute easy contradictions are also used in harder contradictions. So, while it is true that the evidence may be different in those cases, we should be confident in the principles gleaned from the easy ones, so that when we come across these harder cases, we will remain unmoved. So, I prepare this work for you, my brothers, with the hope that your appreciation of the Sacred Scriptures is heightened.