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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!