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Can You See The Invisible?

Can You See The Invisible?

Jesus came from heaven to earth so that the INVISIBLE God can be VISIBLE to man.

That is why when one of His followers requested for Jesus to show them God, Jesus simply said, “How can you still not understand who I am after all this time I have been with you? When you see Me, you have seen God!” (John 14:9, paraphrased)

Notice that Jesus did not say, “If you want to see God, look at His Word in the Scriptures.”

Jesus did not say, “If you want to see God, look at the prophets.”

Jesus did not say, “If you want to see God, follow your religion faithfully.”

He said, “If you want to see God, LOOK AT ME!” Did any prophet or messenger dare to say this?

This does not mean Jesus existed in the form of a human being in heaven. He didn’t posses a human body before His incarnation as a human being on earth. He existed eternally as the Word of God. This Word became flesh as He added an earthly human nature to His heavenly divine nature and consented to come to be born as human baby from a womb, and named Jesus, which means ‘Yahweh Saves’.

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in BODILY form.” Colossians 2:9

“..through whom (Jesus), He (God) made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, upholding all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:2-3

Jesus is the Living Word of God who came so that we can be saved by God through our faith in Jesus. (That is what the very name ‘Jesus/Yeshua’ means!)

Through Jesus alone we can have salvation; and we can now know God and relate to Him in a personal way that is otherwise impossible.

I AM…Before Abraham

I AM…Before Abraham

Jesus said, “Before Abraham was born, I AM.” John 8:58

What did He mean? Abraham had lived thousands of years earlier and YET Jesus was affirming His existence and putting Himself as being present BEFORE Abraham was alive.

Why Abraham? Because Abraham was the topic of the conversation He was having with the religious leaders.

What if the topic had been about Noah?
Jesus would probably have said, “Before Noah was born, I AM.”

What if it had been about Adam?

“Before Adam was created, I AM.”

The point is Jesus has always existed. He was uncreated. He was the eternal Word of God.

And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. John 17:5

Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!
Jesus Christ, Revelation 1:17-18

What Did The Disciples of The Apostles Teach?

What Did The Disciples of The Apostles Teach?

What did the apostles of Jesus go around teaching and preaching after Jesus ascended to heaven?

Peter preached for around 35 years, and was martyred around 68 AD.
John preached for more than 60 years, before he died in exile in Patmos.

Well, we have the writings of the New Testament as a record of their testimony about what their Master Jesus taught and preached and how they carried on the mission He gave them, with John closing the writing of the New Testament at the end of the 1st century.
However, there are skeptics who refuse to accept their writings. They say it has been changed or manipulated.

What about the DISCIPLES of the apostles? What did the followers of Peter, John and the rest of the apostles of Jesus Christ learn from them? Did they receive the same message we Christians have today? Or did the message get lost somewhere?

Let’s find out.

Let’s go to those who knew the apostles of Jesus Christ personally and see what THEY wrote and taught. We have a ton of resources. In this article, we will look at just one.

In 107 AD, Ignatius of Antioch, was one of the last bishops alive who had known the apostles personally. Ignatius, together with Polycarp, were disciples of John, the apostle of Jesus Christ.

Under Emperor Trajan, Ignatius was arrested, and in chains was taken 1500 miles over land and sea to Rome to be executed. During this arduous final journey on earth, he wrote seven letters to various churches and one to his old friend Polycarp and passed it through believers who had gathered in various cities, ports and towns to bid him farewell for the last time as he passed through.

His letters have survived to this day and are an important testimony to the way in which the teaching of the apostles was remembered and taught and passed on.
The letters witness to a common apostolic source of teaching as understood and lived, probably only a decade or so after the death of the last apostle, John.

 

What do you think the letters say?

First, what did Ignatius believe about Jesus? Was He divine or just a man?

SIXTEEN times in his 7 letters, Ignatius explicitly refers to Jesus as God.

Here are some excerpts:

“To you, then, sincerest greetings in Jesus Christ, our God, for you cleave to his every commandment–observing not only their letter but their spirit–being permanently filled with God’s grace and purged of every stain alien to it.”

 

“You have been granted light both by the will of Him who willed all that is, and by virtue of your believing in Jesus Christ, our God, and of loving him.”

“Christ is the invisible, Time­less one, incapable by nature of suffering, who becomes visible and capable of suffering through his human birth in time.”

 

ignatiusdivine

Do you see that 200 years BEFORE the Council of Nicaea, Ignatius teaches that Christ is eternal, above time and all creation, and IS GOD, in the full sense of the term.

One of the CORE teachings of the gospel is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Did Ignatius believe this?

“That is whom I am looking for–the One who died for us. That is whom I want–the One who rose for us.”

 

“Make no mistake, my brothers: adulterers will not inherit God’s Kingdom. If, then, those who act carnally suffer death, how much more shall those who by wicked teaching corrupt God’s faith for which Jesus Christ was crucified. Such a vile creature will go to the unquenchable fire along with anyone who listens to him.”

 

“In one faith and in union with Christ, who was descended from David according to the flesh and is Son of man and Son of God.” – St Ignatius of Antioch

 

Keep in mind that these letters were written while on his way to his execution in the Coliseum of Rome, where he will be devoured by lions.  There is no reason for Ignatius to make things up or lie in his writings.

You can get an understanding of early Christian teachings from the 1st century, including his thoughts and emotions as he marches to his death, first-hand from Ignatius, disciple of John, the apostle of Jesus Christ.
You can read the full text to two of his letters here:
Ignatius’ letter to the Ephesian church:
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/richardson/fathers.vi.ii.iii.i.html

Ignatius’ letter to the Roman church:
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/richardson/fathers.vi.ii.iii.iv.html

 

Besides the letters of Ignatius of Antioch, we also have the letters of others who have become known to us today as the ‘Apostolic Fathers’, the successors of the apostles.

For example:
i. Clement (the third successor to Peter as Bishop of Rome)
ii. Polycarp (disciple of John the apostle for nearly 20 years, according to Eusebius)
iii. Irenaeus (trained and discipled by Polycarp)

“Christ is our savior; for through his grace we are righteous, not by works; for our sins, he has even taken death upon himself, has become the servant of us all, and through his death for us our hope and the pledge of our righteousness. The heaviest sin is unbelief in Christ; his blood will be demanded of unbelievers; for to those to whom the death of Christ, which obtains the forgiveness of sins, does not prove a ground of justification, it proves a ground of condemnation. ” – Polycarp, (69AD – 155 AD)

 

 

Who Did Jacob Wrestle With?

Who Did Jacob Wrestle With?

There is a very weird account in the Bible in Genesis 32, where it says that Jacob wrestled with Someone.

What does this strange story mean?

Who was Jacob?

If you read about his life, you will see that Jacob was a cunning, devious man who lived most of his life cheating, fighting, struggling against everyone, just so that he would get his way.

God had actually promised to bless him but Jacob could not grasp God’s assurance. Instead he schemed and struggled to grasp for the “blessings” himself.

He deceived his own aged and blind father, Isaac. He deceived his older brother, Esau, on at least two occasions and then, fearing for his life, Jacob fled from him. He went far, far away, got married and later, he deceived his father-in-law and fled from him.

In fact, the name Jacob means “supplanter”, meaning one who wrongfuly or illegally takes something. A name that aptly describes his character. His whole life, Jacob’s life was characterized by struggling with people to cheat them and run away.

In Genesis 32, Jacob is finally about to come face to face with his long estranged brother, Esau. More than twenty years earlier, when Jacob ran away, Esau had vowed to kill him someday.

Now there was nowhere else to run anymore. No more room to struggle and deceive. He was sure his brother was going to kill him when they see each other in the morning.

That night, he sits alone, by a river, perhaps crying to God for help. He was like a drowning man and he could not save himself. Only God can do that. And God, in His great mercy comes to meet him. In the form of a Man!

Will the “struggler” stop struggling and finally quietly submit to the Savior and allow himself to be rescued and blessed on God’s terms?
But Jacob was a stubborn man. Instead of submitting, he now struggles with God!

Of course, God could have destroyed him with one word. However, God was still patiently teaching him like a father works with his son, disciplining him.

You, who are sons, have you ever wrestled with your dad in bed when you were a kid? Doesn’t dad always allow you to win? You were not aware, were you, that he could have crushed your little skull with one bash against the wall? No, he allows you to prevail over him in loving affection, bonding, relationship, even as you thump your little fists on his strong body.

But poor Jacob was like a stubborn little, refusing to learn. He kept struggling, wrestling, fighting.  Can a drowning man who is struggling be rescued?

When the Lifeguard comes, you have to stop struggling and give in to your rescuer and allow him to pull you to safety. He cannot help you if you keep fighting him!

Aren’t we like that? We “wrestle” against God in our rebellion, in our disobedience, in our sin, thinking we are strong enough and that we can work things out our way instead of His will.  don’t we sometimes push Him away when He comes near lovingly wanting to help.

In the end, the Lifeguard may have to knock you out cold so that you stop fighting in the water and submit to his rescue. And this is what He finally did to Jacob.

“He TOUCHED Jacob’s hip and it was dislocated out of its socket.” Just one touch. Then Jacob stopped struggling. He could not even stand up.

Now, with his handicap and weakness exposed, he finally submits and asks to be blessed; something that God had always wanted to to do for him from the beginning. All he had needed to do was learn to trust God and submit to Him in faith instead of fighting or deceiving or running away.

God does bless him. God gives him a new name, Israel. He is no longer Jacob, the deceiver. He is now Israel, the prince.

In a sense, Jacob is reborn as a new man with a new identity after his night encounter with God.

What happens next when he meets Esau in the morning?
Does Esau kill him? Or does Jacob continue struggling with Esau?
Maybe they re-unite and embrace as long lost brothers?

It’s all there in the Bible. Go ahead and read it.

Who Were The al-Nasara (Nazarenes)?

Who Were The al-Nasara (Nazarenes)?

I have often wondered how is it possible that the Quran’s teachings about Christianity differ from what the Bible teaches and what we Christians actually believe.

Sura 5:116 is a prime example.
And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah ?'”

Whose belief is this?

Where does the Quranic picture of “Christianity” come from?

There were two parties of Jewish Christians in the early years of church history.

Jerome (beginning of fifth century) records that he is aware of two groups of Jewish Christians distinguished by certain unusual similarities, whom he names respectively Nazarenes and Ebionites. Both groups claimed to follow both Jewish AND Christian teachings and sought to affiliate themselves with both Judaism and Christianity.

“What shall I say of the Ebionites who pretend to be Christians? To-day there still exists among the Jews in all the synagogues of the East a heresy which is called that of the Minæans, and which is still condemned by the Pharisees; [its followers] are ordinarily called ‘Nasarenes‘;……..But while they pretend to be both Jews and Christians, they are neither.”

– Jewish Encyclopedia, Jerome’s Account”

Who Were The Nazarenes?

The Nazarenes were a small sect in numbers, whose main region of influence was in Syria.

It struck me that when Muhammad was a boy, he frequently accompanied his uncle on his business trips to Syria.

Could it be that his early exposure to what he believed was “Christianity” was contact with the Nazarenes? Did he sit with with his uncle and the Syrian Nazarene traders in the evenings as he listened to their teachings about their beliefs?

Remember there was no Islam yet at this point. He was from a community that worshipped hundreds of idols including Allah. Did their stories from the scriptures about the One God embarrass Muhammad about his own people? Did their devotion to Jesus captivate him?

You don’t find the word Christian in the Quran. Instead the word used for the followers of Christ is “al-nasara” ~ nazarenes!

Muhammad grew up thinking the Nazarenes were Christians, the followers of Jesus Christ!
The Nazarenes had a gospel called “Gospel of the Hebrews.” (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/gospelhebrews.html)
Here is the interesting bit. This apocryphal book was in Aramaic! (Dated around 80AD – 150AD.)

Is this why Muslims insist the gospel must be in Aramaic? Could this be their missing “Injeel”? Could Muhamamd have seen this book in the hands of the Nazarenes when he was a kid and believed it to be the Injeel given to Jesus and handed to his “followers”, the Nazarenes?

Unfortunately, the date for this gospel is long after Jesus had ascended and also after the entire NT had been written and completed.

The Nazarenes and this “gospel” do not exist today but we have a window to their beliefs through the quotations from the writings of Jerome, Clement and others.

What were the beliefs of the Nazarenes?

They believed they were under obligation to keep all the laws.
They believed Jesus was the Messiah. They regarded that he was born of the virgin Mary.
and that he was filled with God’s Spirit in a special way.

No surprises. All these are taught in the Quran. The al-nasara are praised and promised rewards, as in Sura 2:62.
The Nazarenes also believed that Mary was the Divine Mother and embodiment of the Holy Spirit!

Could it be that Muhammad after he grew up and came in contact with other so-called “Christians” (Waraqa ~ a Nestorian priest…) learnt that this was wrong?

Is this why the al-nasara is praised in some verses, and condemned in other verses? Is this why they were presumed to have corrupted their book?

Coming back to the ayah I quoted at the beginning, Sura 5:116.

And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah ?'”

This is not Christian belief. This was the belief of the Nazarenes, al-nasara.

The author of the Quran could not distinguish what was actual Biblical beliefs of Christians, attributing to them, what were heretical teachings of some obscure sect that no longer exists. No one even knows when they disappeared in history and yet in Allah’s eternal books, they are given a prominent place but there is no mention of Christians, the true followers of Jesus Christ, who for 2000 years form the largest body of believers in history!

Were The Followers Of Jesus Called Nasara Instead of Christians?

Were The Followers Of Jesus Called Nasara Instead of Christians?

Do you know why Muslims are so obsessed with finding the word “Christian” or “Christianity” in the Bible?
Because these words do not appear in the Quran.They believe the correct name given to the followers of Christ is “Nasara”, as in the Quran.
‘Nasara’ is the Arabic word for Nazarene.

What Muslims have failed to realize is that the name ‘nazarene’ was given by Jews to Jewish Christians as an insult.

In fact, in Acts 24:6, there is reference to the “sect of the nazarenes”.
SURPRISE!

So the Bible does indeed mention the name nazarene (nasara) associated with Christians!
Except that, it was the Jews who gave the Jewish Christians this label as a badge of dishonor because they were followers of Jesus of Nazareth. They were already known as Christians!

But what was so insulting about this name, nazarene?

The word nazarene comes from the name of the town, Nazareth, where Jesus hailed from.

Nazareth was a a primitive, shabby, dirty slum, about 3 to 5 days journey from the glorious city of Jerusalem. The people of Nazareth were looked down upon and despised by the whole nation. They were like the ‘country bumpkins’ of Judea.

Even Nathanael, before He became one of the Apostles of Jesus, laughed sarcastically: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)

Why didn’t the author of the Quran know that the word “nasara (nazarene)” was a derogatory slang used by the Jews as an insult to the Jewish Christians?
How and when was the author of the Quran influenced by those sarcastic Jews to use this word in his book?

Now, let’s look at why the word “Christian” does not appear in the Quran.

The English word “Christ” comes from the Greek word Χριστός (Christos) which means Messiah (Masiach in Hebrew).

It is THIS word, Masiach, that is found in the Quran translated as “al-Masih”, which means Christ!

So, it is false to say that the word Christ/Christian is not found in the Quran. These are English words! Of course you will not find it in the Quran’s arabic text.
(Yet, if you look at your English translated Qurans, your revered translators do use the word Christian! see Sura 2:62 for example.)

The Arabic word al-Masihi is the English word Christ!
From the word “Christ” come the words Christian and Christianity.

Just as from the Arabic word al-Masih come the words Masihi and al-Masihiya.

masih

 

Why Did Jesus Say: My Father Is Greater Than I

Why Did Jesus Say: My Father Is Greater Than I

“My Father is greater than I.”

Muslims think that this statement means Jesus is denying that He is God.

Why did He say this and what did He mean?

Had someone asked Him: “Who is greater, you or the Father?”

No.

The very fact that Jesus is making such a comparison is mind-blowing, if you think about it.

Has any prophet ever needed to affirm to his followers: “Please, please make sure you all understand very clearly that God is greater than I” ?
Did Moses or David or Elijah, anyone?

Do human beings like you and I need to go around saying: “I want you to know something, God is greater than I”.

This is ridiculous. For you to think it might even be necessary for you to make such a statement is like a dog needing to assert that, “My master is greater than I.”
Isn’t the distance between God and man even greater than a man and his dog?

It would be silly for a mere man or even an angel to say, “God is greater than I”

In what sense is it any kind of a revelation? Duh.

No man need to make such a statement.

For Jesus to even make such a comparison, shows that the comparison has validity in ways that may not be immediately apparent.

Note that Jesus did not say, “GOD is greater than I.”

He said: “My Father is greater than I”. So the comparison has to do with Father and Son.

When Jesus said, “My Father is greater than I”, He is saying the Father is greater than the Son, in regard to the incarnation.

The Father is infinite and invisible. The Son who WAS also infinite and invisible, came to the earth in a finite and visible way, as a human being, named Jesus.

Which is greater? The Invisible and Infinite OR the visible and finite?
Hence, the statement: the Father is greater than the Son.

This does not mean the divine Son ceased being God in essence.
If Jesus was NOT divine in essence, it would be absurd for Him to compare Himself to the Father.

Why Was Jesus so Angry?

Why Was Jesus so Angry?

In Mark 11:15-18, we see Jesus driving out the traders doing business in the temple.

He overturned their tables and chairs and chased them out!

We always have in mind Jesus as being calm and peaceful.

Have you ever wondered what made Jesus so furious and angry on this occasion?

Obviously, the unscrupulous traders were doing business in the grounds of the holy Temple and desecrating it. Not only that, these traders were cheating the poor.  Jesus told them to stop making His House a den of thieves.

Profiteers, in cooperation with the priests, were robbing the pilgrims by forcing them to purchase “approved” sacrificial animals and currencies at inflated prices. (Guzik).  A pair of doves could cost as little as 4p outside the Temple and as much as 75p inside the Temple.” This is almost 20 times more expensive. (Barclay)

That was not all. There was something else that upset Jesus.

“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations…” Mark 11:17

[Please note carefully the words PRAYER and ALL NATIONS.]
The traders were doing business in the area of the temple known as the “outer court”.
This was area where the Gentiles could come to pray!

It wasn’t just commercial desecration of the holy temple. It was hindering Gentiles from praying to God! And this made Jesus very angry.

“My house shall be called a house of PRAYER for ALL NATIONS…”

He didn’t say: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for the Jews.”

It was for Jews AND Gentiles. All nations.

Jesus, the Jew, was defending the Gentiles access to prayer in the temple and denounced the Jewish traders under the patronage of the Jewish priests!

That was a dangerous thing to do. Not only was he disrupting their business activities but He was also FAVORING the Gentiles over the Jews!

“And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.” Mark 11:18

The Life of Muhammad Before The Revelations

The Life of Muhammad Before The Revelations

Have you ever wondered about Muhammad’s life before 610 AD when he first encountered the being in the cave?

For the first 40 years of Muhammad’s life, he never heard of Islam or the word Muslim. He never heard of Quran. Never recited the shaadah or prostrated in prayer 5 times a day. For 40 years of his life, he did not live as a Muslim or a prophet of Allah or even as an adherent of Allah’s religion.

He sort of loitered around in caves.

The only Allah he knew was one of 360 idols that had sat quietly in the kaabah for generations. His family looked after the kaabah. They probably had a schedule for cleaning and polishing the Allah statue together with Allah’s 3 daughters ~ al-Lat, al-Manat & Uzzah as well as making sure all the rest of statues of the 360 pagan idols were in order for the tribes to worship and and pray to.

The only prophets he had heard about were told to him by the Jews and Christians he came in contact with in his trade. None of those prophets had ever spoken of 360 idols but Muhammad and his father, Abdullah (meaning: servant of Allah) and his entire tribe worshipped and served those pagan idols.

Forty years of his life, Muhammad was a pagan. Muslims like to deny this but there is no portrayal or evidence of him rejecting the pagan practices of the jahiliyah in those 40 years until the day he declared he was the first Muslim and a religion was invented with it’s recitations and rituals and practices and instructions and pillars.

For 40 years, he never performed salat. Rather, he performed meditations in dark caves inhabited by demons.

What was he meditating on since he never heard of Islam or Quran?  Was it acceptable to Allah?

Where Do Islamic Rituals Come From?

Where Do Islamic Rituals Come From?

God never gave any command to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, John the Baptist or any of the prophets to PRAY 5 TIMES A DAY.

God never gave any command to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, John the Baptist or any of the prophets to PEFORM WUDHU.

God never gave any command to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, John the Baptist or any of the prophets to RECITE SHAADAH.

God never gave any command to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, John the Baptist or any of the prophets to FAST FOR 30 DAYS FROM SUNRISE TO SUNSET.

God never gave any command to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, John the Baptist or any of the prophets to WEAR A WHITE CLOTH AND CIRCUMAMBULATE A BLACK STONE.

I could go on and on but it is obvious that Jesus, whom muslims say is one of the greatest prophet and whom they claim to love and obey, never said to do any of these things either.

The question is where did these Islamic rituals originate from and when did it come into Islam?

The answer: from the Sabians.

WHO ARE THE SABIANS?

The Sabians were a pagan cult group from the 2nd century AD that worshipped the moon god. Muhammad was greatly influenced by the Sabians that he even names them in the quran as being acceptable by Allah! (2:62)

According to Dr Rafat Amari, in “Occultism in the Family of Muhammad”, Waraqa was an important leader for the Sabians.

Yes, THAT Waraqa! Khatijah’s cousin, who convinced Muhammad that he was a prophet! Now we understand how Muhammad was influenced in the early days!

Ibn al-Nadim wrote in his book, “al-Fahrisit”, about various religious sects in the Middle East. He says in the month in which the [Sabians] fasted for thirty days, they honored the god Sin, which is the moon.

They observed the festivals of Fitr (breaking the fast at the end of the month) and Hilal (new moon), in such a way that the festival of Fitr occurred when the sun entered Aries. And they used to honour the House of Mecca (Kaabah).

According to Dr Rafat Amari, the Sabians look toward Yemen and pray 5 times a day.

Muhammad simply picked up these pagan rituals and adapted them to his new religion while claiming they were instructions from Allah.

Even the shaadah was plagiarized from the Sabians.

Islamic scholar Abd al-Rahman Ibn Zayd wrote in the 8th century AD:  The polytheists used to say of the prophet and his companions, “These are the Sabians,” comparing them to them, because the Sabians who live in Jaziartal-Mawsil (i.e., Iraq) would say “La ilaha ila Allah.”

Other sources for Islam:
The wudu, miswak and ghusl ritual cleansing were copied from Zoroastrianism.

Read more:
Original Sources Of the Quran