The 3D Gospel is a short book about missions and culture that attempts to teach how Christians can reach the lost in cross-cultural settings by better understanding the other’s worldview and communicating the gospel appropriately. To do so, Jayson Georges lays out a system of how people respond to sin: guilt, shame, or fear. This leads to cultures which emphasize one or two of these responses to sin more than the others. While there are some helpful ideas in the book, it fails as a system of explaining either culture or the Bible.
The explanation of culture types can be useful. However, this tool or spectrum to look at values is not based on anything in the Bible. If these are three points on a diagram in which all cultures belong at some point, all three types must always have existed. However, it seems that the modern West is the de facto example of guilt/innocence, while all pre-modern cultures and the modern majority world outside the West fall closer to the other ends of the diagram. If this so, where were the guilt/innocence cultures before 1800? Why does the Bible emphasize this so much if it didn’t have any prominence for the first several millennia of human existence?
Many of the guilt/innocence examples have much more to do with technology, stability of government, and development of business than they have to do with the culture’s worldview.In the Bible, the Israelites were a very legal society if the Pentateuch is any indication of reality, yet the author repeatedly portrays them as an honor/shame society.
The real problems come in the supposedly biblical theology of each worldview and how each would explain the gospel. The guilt/innocence presentation of the gospel is generally on point, but would be better served by including some aspects of the other two presentations, especially the ideas of living in God’s kingdom and following Jesus.
The honor/shame evangelism presentation is considerably flawed. It talks about Adam and Eve as “disloyal to God. They forfeited divine honor to pursue a self-earned honor … We inherit their original shame … Sin … is largely the false attempt to cover shame and fabricate honor.” Discussing what the Jews did to Jesus, he says, “They responded by shaming him, publicly and gruesomely.” However, it is very clear that the Jews were much more interested in condemning Jesus as a criminal for blasphemy and Sabbath-breaking than any supposed interest in shaming Him. Most of the “shame” was a product of the Roman punishment.
The fear/power presentation is equally problematic. It minimizes the importance of sin and the inherent guilt it brings in favor of emphasizing the struggle between God and Satan. It presents Adam and Eve not as disobedient, but “wooed … from God’s kingdom into (Satan’s) domain.” It emphasizes the power that the prophets displayed, but says nothing of their main message: the call to repent! It also focuses on a change in allegiance, from Satan’s kingdom to God’s. In all of this, there is little place for personal responsibility for sin or the need for repentance.
3D Gospel continues in an examination of each problem – guilt, shame, fear – in the context of the story of the Fall. While this story clearly teaches about guilt, shame, and fear resulting from sin, only one of these was mentioned before the Fall: “the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Gen. 2:17 NASB) Adam and Eve certainly experienced shame and fear. Genesis is explicit on these points. However, these are consequences of their guilty state before God, not a threefold consequence of sin. Otherwise, why did God only warn them about their impending legal punishment (guilt) when He gave Adam the command? Shouldn’t God have also warned them about their shame and fear that would result?
More appropriate ways to divide culture would be on a spectrum from individualistic to communal, from transactional to relational. Each of these has significant basis in the Bible and can help to explain cultural differences without negating the one truth of the gospel.
Three different views on the atonement of Jesus are discussed from the point of view of the worldview that might adopt such a theory. Fear/Power cultures are said to adopt the Ransom Theory of the atonement. While some may hold to a version of this theory, Georges explicitly affirms the validity of those who see Christ’s death as payment to Satan so that he would release humans. While Georges does not claim this as the only way to understand the atonement, he approves of this unbiblical doctrine as a valid option for those in fear/power cultures.
Shame/Honor cultures are said to espouse the satisfaction theory of the atonement. The focus in this section is on God’s honor. “Jesus’ death, in essence, saves God’s face.” This and other statement about honor in the atonement are left without any significant biblical backing. They are based on the idea that humans have dishonored God and that the cross somehow gets God his honor back.
When Georges addressed the Penal Substitution Theory as it relates to guilt/innocence cultures, he uses extremely biblical ideas and language. It seems much easier for him to clearly explain the cross of Christ in these terms; I believe that this ease comes from the theory’s close relationship to biblical teaching. He simply doesn’t have to make the theory fit the Bible if it’s drawn straight out of the Bible, which significant parts of the previous two theories were not. In addition, he claims that this is the “dominant atonement theory in Western Christianity, perhaps since it uses the language and values of Western law.” Georges is asserting that modern Westerners are drawn to this theory because if fits their worldview and legal system. However, since the West has been so strongly influenced by Christianity and the Bible, it is much more likely that our Western systems of law and government are shaped by the teachings of Scripture than that we are reading penal substitution into the Bible because of our culture. Is there really any claim that this is not the basis of the true gospel? “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:23-26 NASB)
In short, Georges appears to be doing exactly what he says he is combating: reading a system into the Bible instead of reading the Bible for what it already teaches. He often inserts his three-dimensional system into Bible passages in which it simply does not fit. For example, this passage on a contextualized form of witness: “In Acts 26:18, Paul describes his mission to the Gentiles in 3D terms—“to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God (power), so that they might receive the forgiveness of sins (innocence) and a place among those who are sanctified by faith (honor) in Jesus.”” While the 3D system seems to work, it misses something significant here. There aren’t three dimensions of salvation, but four! He highlights three, but ignores “open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light.” This aspect highlights truth and goodness as opposed to lies, confusion, and evil. If he had included this part, it would have had to fall into the guilt/innocence worldview, the same one he is showing to only be 1/3 of the gospel.
In all, the book provides some very helpful insights on the Bible and culture while at the same time presenting an extremely flawed system for looking at the world and the gospel. In Georges attempts to explain the gospel, the explanation from the point of view of the guilt/innocence worldview were simply more clear and more biblical. Surely the gospel addresses our fear and shame (results of our sin) and offers us hope in these areas. However, it does so as God forgives us of our sin which had separated us from Him and brings us into His kingdom in a right relationship with Himself. Gospel presentations that focus on this without trying to separate out fear and shame or read these paradigms into biblical texts will surely be more faithful to the Bible, which has much more power to save than any contextualized presentation.
- What is the main purpose of people?
- The main purpose of people is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
- How do we learn how to glorify God and enjoy Him?
- God gave us the Bible to learn how to glorify and enjoy Him.
- What does the Bible teach?
- The Bible teaches what people must believe about God and what God requires from people.
- What is the Bible?
- The Bible is the book that contains the Word of God.
- Who is God?
- God is the Creator of the universe. His name is YHWH.
- What is God like?
- God is Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. He is perfect and holy. God is love.
- What does the Trinity mean?
- God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are one God, the same in essence, equal in power and glory.
- Who is Jesus?
- Jesus is God the Son.
- How many Gods are there?
- There is only one God.
- How did God create people?
- God created people, male and female, in his own image and gave them dominion over the animals.
- What did God prohibit from Adam and Eve?
- God prohibited them from eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and told them they would die if they ate it.
- Did Adam and Eve obey God?
- Adam and Eve disobeyed God and believed the lie of the snake instead of believing God.
- What is sin?
- Sin is disobedience to God.
- Who has sinned?
- Every person except Jesus has sinned. All of us are like our first parents, Adam and Eve.
- What is the punishment for sin?
- The punishment for sin is death, eternity in hell, and separation from God.
- Did God leave people alone to die in their sin?
- God chose in eternity past to save some from their sins.
- What did Jesus do to save people?
- Jesus became a man and was born to Mary when she was a virgin. He lived a perfect life and died on the cross.
- Why did Jesus die on the cross?
- Jesus died to forgive us our sins.
- Is Jesus still dead?
- Jesus is alive! He rose on the third day, conquering death and offering us salvation and eternal life.
- How can a person be saved?
- A person can be saved by repenting of their sins and following Jesus in faith.
- What are the two places where people can spend eternity?
- People can spend eternity in heaven or hell.
- Why do people go to hell?
- Hell is a place of punishment for sin. The only way to escape going to hell is by knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Adapted from Spurgeon’s Catechism with Scriptural Proofs
I think my friends have fantasy sports all wrong. They have this idea that all transactions are zero-sum. If we do a one for one trade and one guy does better than the other for the rest of the year, then the owner who got the better guy wins, right? Wrong.
There is so much more to a trade than who does better afterwards. There’s position scarcity and the needs of the owners. And let’s face it, most trades aren’t one for one, each guy at the same point in their career with the same rest of season schedule. Half my fantasy leagues are keeper leagues, so that throws in a whole new dynamic. Let’s look at some examples.
The most surface example is in football. My starting QB just got hurt and my backup is Ryan Fitzpatrick. The good news is that I have four good RBs. So what do I do? Trade for Big Ben who’s sitting on the bench behind Tom Brady or Matt Ryan and give up someone like Jordy Nelson. It doesn’t matter if Jordy Nelson or Big Ben is better the rest of the way. As long as neither is just terrible, we both win.
Did you know that two teams can both get younger in a keeper league in the same trade? It’s true! But who gets older if both teams get younger? The available player pool gets older. For example: Chris Sale for Michael Conforto, Dylan Bundy, and Brian Dozier. You can debate about the equality of the returns, but let’s look at getting younger. The team getting three guys gets younger because they’re getting three keepers, two of which are younger than Sale and one who is the about same age. So how is the other team getting younger? By keeping Sale instead of keeping a guy like Max Scherzer or Robinson Cano. Sure, he doesn’t get to keep Bundy or Conforto, but maybe they wouldn’t be good enough to be keepers on his team anyway. It’s definitely quantity for quality, but it’s also getting both teams younger.
If none of this makes any sense, you’re probably a communist and need to read this book: https://tinyurl.com/n52csj6
When you’re done, come propose a trade to me!
I walked into one of my pastor-friends churches and saw the creepiest painting of Jesus ever – it totally freaked me out. I think about the hilariousness of 21 Jump Street and Korean Jesus not having time for the white people’s problems because he was busy with Korean problems. I watch Talladega Nights and think about Jesus singing lead vocals for Lynyrd Skynyrd. And then I hear Megyn Kelly announcing that we all know that Jesus was white.
Megyn Kelly brought to light recently the issue of what Jesus looked like, and a recent Christianity Today article took the opportunity to propose the idea of even eliminating pictures of Jesus from Nativity scenes.
Truth is, Jesus wasn’t white or black or Sioux or Korean – he was Jewish. How tall was he? I haven’t the slightest idea. I guess we could do some archaeological digs and find the median height of males in the first century Middle East, but what if he was taller or shorter than the average guy? We could depict him with curly sideburns, but what if he cut his off?
My point in all of these questions is that we do not know what Jesus looked like, and any attempt to depict him is going to go wrong somewhere. But what if we did know what he looked like – if we could know for certain exactly what color skin tone and precisely what kind of facial structure he had? I still think we’re off base trying to depict God.
We could depict him as a little baby, but is he? We could put him on the cross, but is he still there?
Every time we depict Jesus, we are selling him far short. When we make him a little baby in the Nativity scene, we can carry him around the house and put little baby Jesus in the manger and maybe even drop him on the floor. If you have an inside dog, you might run the risk of something awful happening to Jesus. Isn’t that why the story of Dagon is so funny and informative? (1 Sam. 5:1-4) The simple truth that we can all recognize is that that little baby Jesus isn’t Jesus at all. But what do the kids say? Or for that matter, what do the parents say? “Bring little baby Jesus in here and put him next to Mary and Joseph.” So if we’re going to talk about him that way in real life, it’s hard for me to say that he’s not a little idol.
I’m fine with making statues of the rest of the Nativity scene or art that depicts whatever other Christian figure. I don’t mind having two white magi and one black one. Because I don’t care if we get that wrong. They’re not God, and making mistakes about them is fine. But selling God short is wrong.
And we will always sell God short when we make art or figurines out of him. That helpless baby in the manger cast out demons as a grown man. That sad, sullen man on the cross rose again three days later – he’s not suffering there anymore, he’s reigning in heaven, ready to come back soon.
One of my friends said that we should think of Jesus as a baby during this Christmas season. I don’t totally disagree, but I disagree with the wording. We shouldn’t think of him as a baby, we should think of him as having been a baby. We shouldn’t think of Jesus as being on the cross, we should think of him as having been on the cross. If we think of him as a baby right now, if we think of him as being on the cross right now, we think about him incorrectly. He’s neither of those. Jesus was born as a baby, Jesus was on the cross, but he’s neither of those now – He’s reigning in heaven.
Another issue I have is something that I have encountered here in Latin America. Latinos talk about “Diosito” (Little God or God in the diminutive) and ask for things from “niño Dios.” They’re not just talking about that time long ago when Jesus was a baby – they’re talking about Jesus now as if he were still in diapers. As if he were some sweet little helpless babe throwing up on Mary. I’m not saying he didn’t do those things, I’m saying that he’s not doing them now. We need to read and hear the stories in their gory detail for sure, but we do not need to turn Jesus into a cuddly little baby that we can carry around the house. The Nativity scene and the crucifix only play into this idea even more.
This all comes back to the commandment though. I doubt I would have ever even considered this idea if I hadn’t read the 10 commandments and what happened in the story of the golden calf. We are commanded not to make or worship any image or idol to worship on things in heaven or earth. I think that includes both God the Father as a spirit and Jesus as the man on earth. And when did Israel disobey? In Exodus 32, Aaron made a golden calf for the people and said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” He didn’t make a calf and ask the people to worship the God of another nation, he made a wrong image of the God who is real. That calf didn’t lead them out of Egypt, the God of heaven who is spirit did that.
Not only is the issue about what we are commanded not to do, there is also the example of the whole Bible. I have seen no positive examples of images of God in the Bible but only stories of the sin of false idols. Even Gideon’s ephod turned into sin for the people.
With clear prohibitions against making idols and no positive examples of images of God, I simply cannot see any reason why we should incorporate them into our worship or even our decoration. Sure, there may be plenty of philosophical reasons why it would be helpful, but are there any biblical justifications for depicting God? Until I see more than human reasons why we need to see him, I’m going to keep trusting in the Jesus I read about in the Word.
Too often, we fall into the trap of reading the Old Testament like a first-century Jew. I’ve even had seminary professors promote the idea as the proper method of understanding it. However, what we often forget is that the Old Testament is not the end of the story, that there is more of God’s Word to help us understand it, and that reading the OT like the average first-century Jew might just lead us to reject the Messiah. Is there a better way to read it?
In Acts 7, Stephen defended himself against the Jews and in the process teaches us about the true meaning of the Old Testament. Some Jews out of jealousy for the miracles he was performing and the wisdom with which he explained the Scriptures had accused him of speaking against the holy place, the law, and Moses. His defense has a great deal to teach us about how we should read the Old Testament and understand these fundamental ideas.
Stephen answered the accusation of having spoken against the holy place in two ways – speaking of the land of Israel and of the temple. In defending his theology of the land, he explained how God had met and spoken with the patriarchs outside of the Promised Land and the God was not confined to a certain country. His treatment of the temple is even more illuminating in helping us to read the Old Testament better.
The Jews of Jesus’ day held the temple in extremely high esteem. They were beside themselves when they thought that Jesus or anybody else said something against it, as if saying something against the temple were blasphemy. But the question isn’t “How did Jews view the temple” but rather “How should we view the temple?”
In order to view the temple rightly, we have to understand that God never asked for it to be built. God had specifically told Moses and the Israelites to build the tabernacle (or tent), but the temple doesn’t come on the scene until much later in the time of David. David loved God and didn’t want to see the house of God humiliated by being in a lowly tent while David lived in a nice house, so he asked to build the temple, or a house for God. The importance to biblical interpretation of God’s answer to David can hardly be understated.
The Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. … And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever. 2 Samuel 7:11-16
As Stephen explains in Acts 7, while Solomon built the temple, God does not live in houses made by human hands. Solomon and his temple are not the fulfillment of the promise to David. The promise of God building a house, establishing a kingdom, is only fulfilled in Jesus. David’s earthly kingdom was never “established forever.” Instead, God always had in mind his Messiah, the coming one that had been promised to Eve, Abraham, Moses, and Judah. This was not a new idea to Stephen, but was exactly what God had promised in David in Samuel and explained in Isaiah 66:1-2.
We simply cannot understand what God or the writer of Samuel meant in the promise to David apart from the Messiah. The Old Testament leads us through many people and events that at first appear to be the fulfillment of promises about the Messiah. But what we eventually find out is that all of these “partial fulfillments” are really indications that the promise has not yet been fulfilled but is waiting on the Messiah. When we read the story of Solomon building the temple, we might at first think that he is the fulfillment of this promise. But as we continue to read the Old Testament, we find out that God had something bigger and better than Solomon in mind the whole time.
Moses and the Law
They had also accused Stephen of speaking against Moses and the Law. Once again, though, it was the unbelieving Jews who were wrong about both. They were trying to understand Moses apart from the One that Moses wrote about. Stephen explained to them that it was actually the general practice of the physical sons of Abraham to reject Moses and the Law. They rejected him in Egypt, in the wilderness multiple times, and they continually rejected the Law during their time in Israel.
God had promised to bring Israel a prophet like Moses who would know God face to face. God told Israel that they needed to listen to and obey that prophet. But just like they had rejected Moses, the majority of Israel rejected Jesus as the Messiah.
The Law is filled with prophecies of the coming Messiah, from Genesis 3 to the end of Deuteronomy where it tells us that even after Joshua (who some might have assumed was the prophet like Moses), there still had not been a prophet like Moses. In order for us to understand the Law and the rest of the Old Testament, we have to be looking forward to Jesus.
They accused Stephen of speaking against the temple and Moses, but Stephen showed them (and Acts shows us) the true meaning of both. The temple was not something to be worshipped, but rather the God who sanctified it. Moses was not the savior, just his forerunner. Neither of these was the end – God had always intended these to point toward Jesus.
If we want to understand the Old Testament, we can try to read it like a first century Jew, or we can read it like Jesus, Paul, and Stephen read it. We need to know that God’s plan was always Jesus – and He told us all about it in the Old Testament.
I’m a long ways away from home right now, but I am truly hurt by the devastation from the tornados in Oklahoma this week. I wish I could be there to help and comfort and put life back together. I wish I’d done more when this happened in ’99. I hurt that my friends and family hurt.
As I was praying for the people of Oklahoma last night, I wished God had never allowed this to happen. I wished that the world was a better place where people didn’t have to go through things like this. But then I remembered that this world is not my home. I realized that this life will always be filled with suffering and sadness, but that there is something better waiting for me. I took comfort in two things: knowing that God is still good and in control, and that I have a true home, a better home, a pain free home in heaven awaiting me.
I don’t want to try to explain God’s reasoning for this. I know He has them, and I know they are good. What helps me most in times like these is knowing that it won’t always be this way. Bad things happen, but God works them for good to those who love him. (Rom. 8:28) In Revelation, things get worse and worse at the end, but the end of this world is not the end of the story.
I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Rev. 21:1-5)
There is hope in dark times. There is eternal life that we are looking forward to. That’s the greatest news ever – believers have eternity in the presence of the Creator waiting for them after death, no matter how tragic their death may be. That’s why I’m so excited to see people reaching out in Oklahoma to rescue and take care of those in need – many of them are doing it in the name of Jesus. We have been rescued from our sin, and now we will do whatever we can to serve our Savior and rescue those who are just like we were.
For those of you non-sports fans, Tim Tebow was released yesterday and NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay. I’ll save the Tebow trouble for another day.
Collins is the first active professional men’s athlete in the States to come out of the closet before his playing days were over, and he has been widely praised for his heroism and standing up for the gay community.
But then some crazy fundamentalist went and started spewing hate speech on Fox News. He said that he despised Collins and wished America would just get rid of all the gays.
Oops, that’s not what happened at all. An ESPN NBA commentator shared his views about where homosexuality fits with Christianity on a show designed to discuss topics about sports and athletes not directly tied to the score of the game. It’s called Outside the Lines, and its designed for discussions just like this. Check out the video here http://tinyurl.com/boeu8vp .
Broussard shared a gentle but firm Christian stance calling homosexual sex sin, just like any other form of sex outside of a one man-one woman marriage. He then went on to say that anyone who would continue in any lifestyle of sex outside of marriage would be living in open rebellion to God. By their fruits you will know them, and anyone displaying these fruits is showing that they are not a Christian. Is this any more intolerant than what our Savior said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”? “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
All in all, Broussard said that anyone who is living a homosexual lifestyle or any other lifestyle that encourages sex outside of marriage is showing that they are not a Christian. Nothing groundbreaking, but certainly not anything that should be said on TV. People are even wondering if the guy should be fired for this outlandish talk.
Broussard is getting killed in the media, and ESPN issued a short apology for his statements. Check this out on Yahoo! Sports. They have shown very clearly that there is plenty of room for tolerance on “alternative lifestyles” but not on biblical Christianity. The media in general has applauded a man for openly declaring his sin and shunned another for saying that to be a Christian the sinner would have to repent.
Sinners need to repent?!? I guess that’s the real problem. Anything is acceptable until it gets to that. But here’s the good news for me, Jason Collins, and every other sinner out there: “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” God is in the business of saving sinners. I’m so glad He saved me – who do we all know that needs this salvation?
I had a Jehovah’s Witness come over to my house the last two weeks to talk with me. I wish this was the story of how he got saved, but we’re still going to be praying for Gilberto. His visit prompted my sermon in church last week about Jehovah’s Witnesses and how we as Christians can know that Jesus is truly God. He’s not part God, He’s not God’s first creation. He is God, YHWH, the Great I AM.
But how can I be so sure of this? There are tons of Witnesses, Mormons, and Muslims that thoroughly disagree. While I’d love to address the others at some point, this post is focused on showing Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jesus is truly God because that is exactly what the Bible clearly teaches.
What’s really unfortunate is that this is not what the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Bible teaches. Their Bible has been altered to include the same books as the Protestant Bible but with several important changes in the wording. These could be chalked up to translation differences were it not for the systematic and intentional nature of the changes related to the divinity of Jesus.
Before we get to who Jesus is, we have to understand what the Bible says about God. In Exodus 20, we are instructed to have no other gods but God. In Deuteronomy 6, God tells Israel that YHWH is God, and that He is one. There are not many true gods, only the one true God who created the world. In Matthew 4, Jesus was being tempted by the Devil. The last temptation was that Satan would give Jesus power over all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would bow down and worship him. Jesus answered Satan, “Worship the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve.” There is one true God, and He alone is worthy of our worship.
Just a few chapters later in Matthew 14, Jesus walked on the water with Peter. After seeing this miracle and Jesus calming the storm over the lake, the disciples in the boat worshiped Jesus. They did the same thing again in chapter 28 just before Jesus ascended into heaven – they worshiped Him. “But I thought we were only supposed to worship God?” – says the astute listener. This is exactly the point. God is the only one worthy of worship. It would be a sin to worship anyone else. Therefore, if Jesus is worthy of worship, then he must be God. He cannot be a lesser God, because he would not be worthy of the worship that only the one true God deserves, and that would also violate the teaching of Exodus and Deuteronomy.
While that may seem like a slam dunk case right there, with Witnesses it’s a bit more difficult. They have Bibles that use different words when worship is directed at God the Father than when it is directed at Jesus. (See v. 33 here where worship is changed to “did obeisance.”) The only solution I know of in this situation is to go to the source – the Greek text. I don’t usually like this option, but with a Bible that has been intentionally altered to hide clear teachings, I don’t see a lot of other options. The Greek word for all three of the Matthew passages is proskuneo (προσκυνέω). It’s not necessary for you or the witness to study Greek to look at one of their interlinear Bibles and show them that we are forbidden to proskuneo to anyone other than God and that the disciples did proskuneo to Jesus and He accepted it. Now back to English.
Other passages where people worship Jesus are the visit of the Magi and Jesus healing a blind man. I would also look at passages like John 5:18, where Jesus is persecuted for claiming to be equal with God (which the Jehovah’s Witnesses say He is not) and John 10:28-30, where Jesus says that He and the Father are one. One last but very important place to look is John 1:1, where the Bible very clearly states that the Word (Jesus) is God. In this passage once again the New World Translation changes the wording to make Jesus a god and not simply God Himself. This presents problems theologically with multiple gods and the commands of Exodus and Deuteronomy, as well as being completely against the clear understanding of the original Greek text. I’m not here to give a Greek lesson, but if you have any questions, let me know.
What I really want in writing this is for my Christian friends to not fear Jehovah’s Witnesses but rather to engage them and share the good news with them. There is truth that they desperately need. Let’s love them and bring them the gospel that God loved us enough to come to earth and die for our sins. He didn’t just make another son and send him to die – He loved us so much He did it Himself!
*Special thanks to Ronny Rogers for his work at Trinity Baptist Church of Norman, OK for presenting much of this material and so much more to all of us. May God bless him for his ministry.
Ayer vino a mi casa un evangelista – pero él no tenía el evangelio. El vino con algo que parecía una Biblia, pero era una Biblia cambiada. El tenía una Biblia que su iglesia había cambiado – La Traducción Del Nuevo Mundo. Como muchos falsos profetas, el no creía que Jesucristo era Dios verdadero. Hablaba del conocimiento de Dios, pero él no conocía al Dios verdadero, porque estaba equivocado sobre Jesucristo.
El era parte de la iglesia de los Testigos de Jehová. Ellos son muy áctivos como evangelistas. Ellos les asombran a los evangélicos que no están listos con todos los versículos que han memorizado, y tratan de confundirles con muchas cosas que no son importantes. Les hablan de fiestas, de un cielo y un infierno diferente. Pero la cosa más importante es esto – ¿Quién es Jesucristo?
Su literatura que se llama La Atalaya habla de Jesucristo como una creación de Dios. Dijo que sí era Hijo de Dios, pero también así Adán era Hijo de Dios.
Muchas veces, ellos confunden los cristianos, y les causan dudar. Pero no tenemos que dudar. Cuando decimos “Jesús es Dios verdadero,” no estamos equivocados. Vamos a buscar dos historias bíblicas para contestar la pregunta “¿Quien es Jesús?”
Jesucristo es el ejemplo perfecto. En todo esto, Jesús no pecó. Cuando el diablo lo tentaba, el siempre respondió con respuestas de la Biblia. Y nosotros podemos hacerlo también.
¿Que hizo Jesús cuando el diablo quería que Jesús lo adorara? El respondió que solo hay uno quien debemos adorar y servir. ¿Quién es? Dios, nada más. Solo adoremos y nos postramos ante Dios. No adoramos el diablo, ni un espíritu, ni un hombre bueno. Adoramos a Dios, nada más.
En esta historia, Jesús andaba por el agua con Pedro. Pedro empezó a dudar, pero Jesús lo salvó y después calmó la tormenta. Despues de haber visto eso, ¿que hicieron los discípulos? Lo adoraron.
¿Qué mostró Jesús en este historia? ¿Qué tipo de poder tiene Jesús?
El tiene poder sobre este mundo. No solo es un hombre bueno. El es más que un profeta. No solo hablaba de Dios. El es Dios. Y por eso, no necesitamos más. No necesitamos otros profetas con otros evangelios. Conocemos Jesucristo, quien es Dios verdadero.
Cuando Pablo empezó a caer en el agua, ¿Qué le dijo Jesús? “¡Hombre de poca fe! ¿Por qué dudaste?” No hay que dudar. Confiamos en Jesucristo, y el si puede porque él es todopoderoso.
¿Qué hicieron los discípulos después de que Jesús había caminado sobre el agua? Le adoraron y le dijeron: “Verdaderamente eres Hijo de Dios.” Los que encuentran a Jesús encuentran a Dios, y por eso le adoran.
Solo Jehová es digno de nuestro adoración. No debemos adorar a los otros. Pero los discípulos adoraron a Jesucristo, porque Jesús es digno de nuestro adoración. ¿Qué muestra esto sobre Jesús? Nos enseña que Jesús es Dios verdadero. Solo Jehová es digno de adoración, Jesús es digno de adoración, y por eso aprendemos que Jesús es Jehová y es Dios verdadero.
Y esto no es el único pasaje en que ellos adoraron a Jesús. ¿Conocen ustedes la historia de los reyes magos? Ellos vinieron a ver al niño Jesús y a ofrecerle regalos. Pero también hicieron otra cosa. Ellos vinieron a adorarlo. Después de haber sanado a un ciego, el ciego lo adoró también. Y después de la resurrección de Jesús, cuando él les mostró su poder sobre la muerte, los discípulos lo adoraron. Muchísimas veces recibió Jesús la adoración del hombre. La Biblia dice que debemos adorar solo a Dios. El solo es digno de recibir nuestras alabanzas. ¿Y que dicen todas estas historias de Jesús? Que él es digno de recibir alabanza. Que él es Dios verdadero. Y como el salvó a Pedro en el mar, él nos puede salvar por fe en su nombre.
*A veces es muy dificil hablar con los testigos de Jehova porque quieren buscar pasajas en sus Biblias, las cuales son cambiadas. Hay otros metodos para compartirles el evangelico. Seria necesario buscar pasajes del Antiguo Testamento que hablan de Jehova y mostrarles los lugares en que el Nuevo Testamento aplica estos pasajes a Jesucristo. No es facil testificar a un testigo, pero son seres humanos con almas que necesitan a Jesucristo. Por eso, hagamos lo que sea necesario para su salvación.
I was talking to a missionary in Mexico the other day and he mentioned that Catholics use a different set of 10 commandments than we use. I was shocked (and didn’t believe him really) because I have been around Catholics all my life and had never heard anything about this. I went home and did some research, and in fact he was right. While most Protestants describe the first two commandments as “You shall have no other gods before me” and “You shall not make an idol to worship it,” Catholics since Augustine consider these to be one commandment and split the final Protestant commandment about coveting into two different prohibitions against coveting.
We could sit and argue all day about the numbering, but what really concerns me is the results. I don’t care which is the historic numbering or whether some people think that Catholics are trying to hide something by “changing” the second commandment. What I’m most worried about is the effect on obedience to the commandments, and especially how our Spanish-speaking Catholic friends are attempting to obey them.
I am not an expert on what Hispanic Catholics believe, but I have found two things very troubling when it comes to the 10 commandments. The short form (I would assume the one that most people know) does not prohibit making graven images or bowing down and worshiping them. If this exact thing were not a problem in Latin America, I wouldn’t care so much about the short form. However, making idols, bowing down and worshiping them are extremely prevalent in Southern Mexico. We can quibble about whether these people are paying homage to a saint or whatever other words you would like to use, but the truth is that many Catholics here are worshiping, praying and offering sacrifices to wooden images, all with the support of the Catholic Church. I’m afraid many of them have never been told the long form of their first commandment, and therefore their religious practice plays out in what appears to be idol worship.
The other troubling item in the 10 commandment only applies to Hispanics. That’s because the English version found online is significantly different (and much more biblically faithful) than the Spanish version. Here’s the difference, straight from the Vatican: “Remember to keep holy the LORD’s Day” vs. “Santificarás las fiestas.” Most Americans can probably tell the difference between these two after our two years of high school Spanish. The short form of the 10 commandments in Spanish completely loses the idea of Sabbath rest in favor of keeping the fiestas holy.
This may not seem like that big of a deal until you understand what a Southern Mexican or Guatemalan thinks of when he hears “Santificarás las fiestas.” The church’s holy days may be a great reminder of a real biblical celebration in some countries, but around here it’s a little different. A fiesta is likely to be for one of the apparitions of the Virgin or an extra-biblical saint. And I have had Hispanic Catholics tell me straight from the horse’s mouth that they felt uncomfortable at the fiesta because they were forced to drink more alcohol than they wanted to. They live with the idea that if they don’t get drunk enough, they are not good members of their community and are disobeying the church. And the church promotes this idea through the blatant changing of the command to show that the Bible says that fiesta participation is mandatory. That’s right – Catholics around here believe it is their religious duty to get drunk on holy days. If they don’t, they’re violating the 10 commandments.
I’m not here pretending that I can reform the Catholic Church and get them to change their numbering of the commandments. I do, however, see how the Spanish version of the 10 commandments is helping to support a system that keeps Hispanics in bondage to drunken fiestas and idol worship, all the while distracting them from the saving grace through faith in Jesus Christ. After all, He’s in their Bibles too.
I have been working on putting together sets and lessons for Bible storying recently, and I had to make the decision about what to do with the creation of Satan and the angels. The traditional story that I grew up believing went something like this: God created the angels, and three of them were archangels. One of those, named Satan or Lucifer, wanted to be like God. His pride caused his fall, and God cast him out of heaven along with a third of the angels who followed him. Lucifer then was the mortal enemy to God, who was more powerful, but His ultimate victory over Lucifer seemed in doubt at times.
I remember one time in high school I was preparing a Bible study (scary thought) and went looking in the Bible to find the passages that talked about Lucifer so that I could retell the story that I knew with some proof-texts. I was really surprised when I couldn’t find anything in my Bible about Lucifer. I did some searching on the ancient internet and found out that there were a couple of passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel that talked about the history of Lucifer. I read the passages for myself and had absolutely no idea how they were talking about the Devil. I was glad that I had the internet there to explain to me why these two passages that I thought were about a king and a prince were really about Lucifer. I would have never figured that out on my own, and I happily took the internet’s advice and taught my lesson about the history of Satan.
I have several problems with the traditional story and with my own horrendous Bible study that even I didn’t understand. I’ll start off with my most basic problem:
1. The word Lucifer* is not in most people’s Bibles. That’s right, if you read your NIV or NASB or ESV Bible through in a year (a very good idea) you will not once encounter the name Lucifer in the text of Scripture. Your study notes may say something, but if you go straight by the Bible searching for Lucifer, you’re coming up empty. The only English Bibles I have found that use Lucifer are the King James and New King James Bible. The reason this is such a big deal to me is because it confuses Christians and discourages them from reading their Bibles. They go looking for God’s mortal enemy in the Bible and simply can’t find him! When we use the term Lucifer, we are creating an unnecessary barrier between people and God’s Word.
2. The traditional story gives Satan far too much credit. Truth is, there’s not a whole lot about Satan in the Bible, and even less about his life story. You’re never going to see him called an archangel, and the Bible is very clear that God never lost authority or control over Satan. The Devil may think he has a chance at winning, but the Bible consistently describes him as being accountable to God. In Job, he presents himself before God and attacks Job’s character, but can do nothing unless God sends him to do it. In Revelation he is bound by God until God wants to let him back out. He is certainly powerful, and clearly the leader of other powerful demonic beings. But he never has any mention of being better or more powerful than other angels. More importantly, he is nothing close to God.
3. Telling the traditional story of Satan makes us interpret our Bibles poorly. We have this preconceived notion about the way that the story is supposed to go, and we interpret all these passages in light of that overall story. The problem with this is that if we were to go into the Bible knowing nothing about this story, most of us wouldn’t come up with it from Scripture. If we didn’t have a KJV, we’d never come up with the name Lucifer (unless we were reading from a Latin text, which I don’t suggest). We would lose the idea of Satan’s fall from heaven, since this idea is based on several passages which have no indication that they are talking about something that happened thousands of years earlier. Instead, we would have the consistent picture of Satan as being stronger than our flesh, but sad and weak in the presence of God, who has to give him permission and consistently makes him look foolish. We wouldn’t see him as God’s mortal enemy, but the sinner for whom Hell was designed as punishment. If we just read the Bible, we’d know that Satan is the loser, and he always will be.
When I have to teach on Satan, I have fewer passages to teach on than some other people. I have a less complete story to tell, less details, less biographical information. But in truth, I think that’s okay. If I’m going to teach someone about the Bible for an hour, Satan doesn’t deserve 30 minutes. He probably ought to get about a minute, with the emphasis being on God and his perfection, man and his sinfulness, and the good news of Jesus Christ. Satan’s real, but he’s not that great.
Isaiah 14 – The text specifically says that it is addressed to the king of Babylon, a real historical person in a real historical place. There are several indications that this is talking about a man, with no indication that a non-human spirit is in view. Verse 12 calls the king the Hebrew word heylel, meaning day star. The first Latin translation translated this lucifer, meaning either star or shining one. This was then taken as a proper name, hence one of our English names for Satan being Lucifer. However, we should not use this term since we are not generally in the habit of speaking Latin. Using Hebrew terms for the Old Testament or Greek for the New is one thing, but Latin for the Old Testament just doesn’t make sense.
Ezekiel 28 – The primary reason to take this text as referring to Satan is that it refers to the king of Tyre as having been in Eden. The only ones in Eden were Adam, Eve, and Satan in the serpent, so the logic is that it must be calling him Satan. However, a better understanding is that God is comparing the king of Tyre’s destruction to Adam being cast out of Eden. The multiple references to pride in his trade (Tyre was a major shipping port) and the fact that he is called a man, a prince, and a king all point to this not having a hidden reference to Satan, but rather being simply about a historical person like all the prophecies around it.
Luke 10 – This is often taken as Jesus describing the prehistoric fall of Satan. While this could be true, we have no textual reason for the disciples to talk about what happened last week and Jesus to answer randomly with what happened 4,000 years before. Instead, Jesus is saying that as the disciples preached and healed, He saw Satan’s kingdom being defeated.
Revelation 12 – Once again, Satan is being thrown down from heaven. Revelation is generally talking about what happens in the end times, except for the first couple of chapters written to individual churches about their current situations. In chapter 12, there are three possibilities. 1. This is referring to Satan’s prehistoric fall from heaven 2. This is talking about a battle yet to come in the end times 3. This is a timeless, symbolic word picture of Satan’s defeat. I don’t know whether 2 or 3 is more likely, but they are both far more reasonable exegetically than 1.
Había un hombre de los fariseos que se llamaba Nicodemo, un principal entre los judíos. Este vino a Jesús de noche, y le dijo: Rabí, sabemos que has venido de Dios como maestro; porque nadie puede hacer estas señales que tú haces, si no está Dios con él. Respondió Jesús y le dijo: De cierto, de cierto te digo, que el que no naciere de nuevo, no puede ver el reino de Dios. Nicodemo le dijo: ¿Cómo puede un hombre nacer siendo viejo? ¿Puede acaso entrar por segunda vez en el vientre de su madre, y nacer? Respondió Jesús: De cierto, de cierto te digo, que el que no naciere de agua y del Espíritu, no puede entrar en el reino de Dios. Lo que es nacido de la carne, carne es; y lo que es nacido del Espíritu, espíritu es. No te maravilles de que te dije: Os es necesario nacer de nuevo. El viento sopla de donde quiere, y oyes su sonido; mas ni sabes de dónde viene, ni a dónde va; así es todo aquel que es nacido del Espíritu. Respondió Nicodemo y le dijo: ¿Cómo puede hacerse esto? Respondió Jesús y le dijo: ¿Eres tú maestro de Israel, y no sabes esto? De cierto, de cierto te digo, que lo que sabemos hablamos, y lo que hemos visto, testificamos; y no recibís nuestro testimonio. Si os he dicho cosas terrenales, y no creéis, ¿cómo creeréis si os dijere las celestiales? Nadie subió al cielo, sino el que descendió del cielo; el Hijo del Hombre, que está en el cielo. Y como Moisés levantó la serpiente en el desierto, así es necesario que el Hijo del Hombre sea levantado, para que todo aquel que en él cree, no se pierda, mas tenga vida eterna. Porque de tal manera amó Dios al mundo, que ha dado a su Hijo unigénito, para que todo aquel que en él cree, no se pierda, mas tenga vida eterna. Juan 3:1-16
Este pasaje nos ayuda mucho para que entendamos como podemos ver el reino de Dios y como podemos obtener la vida eterna. Pero al principio de esta historia, también nos dice de las personas que no entrarán al reino de Dios.
Nicodemo era un hombre de los Fariseos. Es decir, era un hombre religioso. El creía que la Biblia era la palabra de Dios. Pero ¿Qué le dijo Jesucristo? ¿Le dijo que entrara en el paraíso? No, Jesús le dijo que necesitaba un cambio, un cambio de alma, un cambio de corazón. “El que no nace de nuevo no puede ver el reino de Dios.” Jesús no lo alabó por su religiosidad, ni sus diezmos, ni su asistencia al templo. Jesús le contestó que era necesario un cambio. Le dijo que era necesario que fuera hombre nuevo. Y cuando Jesús le salva, es lo que pasa. El crea un hombre nuevo, un alma justificada que puede conocer a Dios.
En versículo 5, Jesús le dijo a Nicodemo que era necesario nacer de agua y el Espíritu. En este versículo, Jesús mira detrás al Antiguo Testamento, al libro de Ezequiel. En el capítulo 36 de Ezequiel, el profeta habló de este nacimiento de nuevo. Dios nos prometió que nos daría su Espíritu Santo, que nos limpiaría de todos nuestros pecados. Jesucristo le dijo a Nicodemo que sí Dios no le limpiara y no le diera su Espíritu, la persona no vería el paraíso.
Pero ¿Cómo podemos ser nacidos de nuevo? Es una cosa que hace el Espíritu, y es por medio de la cruz de Jesucristo. “Es necesario que el Hijo del Hombre sea levantado.” Es por nuestra salvación, por nuestra vida que necesitaba Jesucristo venir al mundo e ir a la cruz. Y porque Jesús pagó el precio de nuestros pecados, nosotros podemos estar en la familia de Dios, amigos de Dios. Merecemos la ira de Dios, pero Jesús la tomó cuando sufrió en la cruz. Y por eso podemos ser perdonados de nuestros pecados.
Pero, ¿Qué es necesario que yo haga? Leímos otra vez los versículos 14-16.
Y como Moisés levantó la serpiente en el desierto, así es necesario que el Hijo del Hombre sea levantado, para que todo aquel que en él cree, no se pierda, mas tenga vida eterna.
¿Quien tendría la vida eterna? Los que creen en Jesucristo. La Biblia no dice que todos que tienen el nombre “cristiano” van al cielo. No dice que los que son muy religiosos, como Nicodemo, van al cielo. Dice que los creyentes en Jesucristo que han nacido de nuevo obtienen la vida eterna.
Y usted, ¿qué va a hacer? ¿Va usted a seguir rezando, asistiendo la iglesia para aumentar a sus hechos buenos? No vale nada sin el nacimiento de nuevo. ¿Va a creer en sí mismo, en sus propios hechos para ir al cielo? No hay persona que merezca la vida eterna. Dice el libro de Romanos capítulo 3 que todos pecamos y estamos destituidos de la gloria de Dios. El único en el que debemos confiar es Cristo Jesús. “Porque de tal manera amó Dos al mundo, que dio a su hijo unigénito, para que todo aquel que cree en él, no se pierda, más tenga vida eterna.”