Is Jesus Divine?

December 31, 2011 by  
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By Warren Mueller –

In John 14:28, Jesus says “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you. If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” The divinity of Jesus is sometimes questioned based on the meaning of “the Father is greater than I.” These meanings were the subject of a debate about the divinity of Jesus known as Arianism. Arius was an elder in the church of Alexandria who lived between 250-336AD. Arius wrote that the Son “is a perfect creature, yet not as one among other creatures; a begotten being yet not as one among other beings.” From this it appears that Arius thought that Jesus was a special creature compared to humans. A key controversial concept about Jesus being a creature versus God revolves around the term “begotten.”

John 3:34-37 says that Jesus is one sent from God who speaks the words of God and has been given the spirit of God without limit. The Father has given Jesus authority over everything such that Jesus has the power to reconcile sinful men to God. The prophets spoke the words of God and were considered to be filled by the spirit of God while doing so but nowhere does the Bible say that anyone received the spirit of God without limit.  This implies that Jesus has all of the spirit of God which would not be possible for a creature to attain.  Also, the Jews were offended by Jesus and considered it blasphemy when he claimed the power to forgive sins as this was something only God could do (Luke 5:22-24 NIV).

In John 10:30 Jesus claims to be “one” with the Father. The Jews present pick up stones to kill Jesus because they clearly understood that Jesus claimed to be God. In verses 33-38, Jesus says he is the Son of God; that he has been sent by the Father and that the miracles he performs prove that “the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” He says that even though there are other humans that are sons of God, he clearly distinguishes himself as unique which further enrages them because they understand him to say that he is God.

Jesus knew his purpose was to die on the cross; that he and the Father would be glorified by his death; that the power of the devil or prince of the world would be broken by his death and that the Father accepts and honors those who follow Jesus.  Jesus is God and offered him-self as a sin sacrifice once for mankind. If Jesus is a creature, he would have to make innumerable offerings as did the Jewish priests. Hebrews 10:10 says that “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

In John 14:10, Jesus is astounded by Philip’s request for Jesus to show the Father to the disciples.  He tells Philip that “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.  So how can you say, Show us the Father?”   He then again says that the Father is living in him and that he says and does precisely what the Father is doing.  This only makes sense if Jesus and the Father are one God.

Christians worshipped Jesus as God for over two hundred years before Arius questioned his divinity. The evidence for Arianism is limited to verses that use the words “begotten” and that the Father is “greater” than Jesus. There are multiple meanings for the Greek words “begotten” and “greater” that can support either view so we must look to other verses in the Bible to help us decide the best meanings of these words. There are many verses in the Bible that support the view that Jesus is God while there are none that clearly support the idea that Jesus is a creature so it is apparent that the Arian view is false. Therefore, Jesus must have meant that, while Jesus was on earth, he was lesser in position not different in essence with the Father.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness and found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”  (Phillipians 2:5-8 NIV).

What Is Temptation?

May 24, 2011 by  
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By Warren Mueller –

Have you ever wondered about the temptation of Jesus by the devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-10)? The Bible says God does not tempt anyone and cannot be tempted (James 1:13).   Furthermore, Jesus was tempted “in every way just as we are—yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Since Jesus is both God and human, how can these verses be reconciled?

Webster’s Dictionary defines tempt as to test or to try to persuade, induce, entice, allure, especially to something sensuously pleasurable or immoral; to provoke. The Greek word peirazo used in the previous verses means to test, entice, examine, prove or test. In both of these definitions, there is the dual sense of a trial and enticement to do evil. Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness before the devil tempted him three times. The first time, the devil enticed him to turn rocks into bread which appealed to his hunger. The second time, the devil tried to use Scripture to trick Jesus and so tested his knowledge of the word. The third time, the devil offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if he would worship the devil which was a spiritual attack to short cut God’s plan of redemption. The devil tempted Jesus physically, mentally and spiritually to put his needs first instead of choosing the path set before him by God the Father. Thus, the actual underlying temptation was whether Jesus would assert his will or be obedient to that of his Father. This is the essence of the trial aspect of the temptation.

The enticement to do evil involved: 1) appeasing the flesh in replacing his hunger pains with the pleasure of food (and a full stomach); 2) appealing to his mind to assert himself as king by commanding angels to save him from a fall; and 3) worshipping the devil in exchange for being king of the world would be an enticement to short cut God’s plan of redemption and avoid the cross (i.e. spiritual separation from the Father as sin bearer).

This explains how Jesus could be tempted or tested yet without sin. In other words, he was tested but not persuaded to sin.  Jesus said and did what the Father commanded (John 5:19). Thus, I believe that Jesus could recognize temptation as soon as he was confronted with it because he had a higher view. When we are tempted, we tend to focus on the pleasure (immediate gratification) to be had and rationalize what we know is wrong.  Temptation tends to narrow our view in that we think mainly of ourselves. James says that our desire to do evil leads us to sin which results in death (James 1: 14-15).  Therefore, temptation is a trial or test that has some enticement for self-gratification.   Temptation begins as a test that has some appealing aspect that if entertained and acted on, results in sin. Temptation in and of itself is not evil but it ends in sin when we choose immediate pleasure despite the consequences and choose self rather than God. Jesus was tempted or tested but he did not allow the temptation to progress to sin.

Lord Jesus please help us to see you in everything we think, say and do so that we will not focus on ourselves and our desires.  Help us to run the race of life with our eyes fixed on you and always ask, “What would Jesus do and how can I please you?”

When Prayers Seem To Fail

February 25, 2011 by  
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By Warren Mueller –

Have you ever felt like you are talking to yourself when you pray or that your prayers don’t seem to go any further than your ceiling? What causes this? There are several reasons. First is the belief that the quality of our prayers depend on how we feel about them. When we are hopeful and optimistic, we tend to think better of ourselves and that God is listening. When we are depressed or worried, we are more likely to become frustrated, give up or wonder where God is.  However, the Bible says that we are to pray without ceasing which means that God expects us to pray whether we feel like it or not (1 Thessalonians 5:17). God is ever present and unchanging so he is not influenced by how we feel.

God may not answer our prayers because they are not in accord with his will and plans. Isaiah 55:8-9 says that God’s thoughts are not like those of mankind nor are his ways like those of man, but rather just as the heavens are higher than the earth so are God’s thoughts, view and ways beyond ours. Therefore, God may choose not to answer our prayers or he may answer them in ways that are different than what we prayed.

God may not answer our prayers because we are holding onto sinful ways. Psalm 66:18-19 says that when we cherish or hold onto sin God will not listen to our prayers. When we choose to hold onto sin, we rebel against God and evil rules in this part of our lives. Therefore, we must confess our sins and forsake them if we expect God to listen to our prayers (2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 John 1:9).

Sometimes God says yes, but the answer is delayed or slow in coming. One possible reason for this is that God wants to teach us to trust in him and learn dependence upon him so he can direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). Finally, we need to remember that spiritual warfare is raging throughout this world. Satan and his demons are inciting rebellion and exerting their will. They do this through evil temptations of this world such as the pride of life which is excessive focus on getting more and better things or money. Also, evil can ensnare us through the pursuit of power and influence at the expense of relationships as well as through the weaknesses of our human nature such as selfishness, lust, greed and envy.

Daniel fasted and prayed for twenty-four days before he received an answer to his prayers (Daniel 10: 2-6). An angel appeared to him on the twenty-fourth day and told Daniel that, from the first day that he prayed, the angel was sent from God with the answers. However, the angel was held up by a demon called the prince of the Persian kingdom. This angel could not get through until help arrived in the form of the angel Michael, presumably because Daniel continued to persist in prayer (Daniel 10:12-14). This is challenging and encouraging because it shows the importance of persisting in prayer until answers are realized. How many times have we stopped praying because we have not seen any results? I wonder how many angels are stuck battling opposing demons because we do not persist in prayer.

Lord Jesus forgive us when we give up praying because it seems like you are not listening or answering. Help us to trust that you have heard our prayers and do respond to them. Help us to persist with humble dependence and hope in our prayers until your angels deliver your answers.

The Feminine Side of God

October 22, 2010 by  
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By Warren Mueller –

Is there a feminine aspect to God?  Most references to God in the Bible generally use masculine terms such as Father.   However, Genesis 1:27 says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  What does this mean?  First of all, we must attempt to remove the idea of human sexuality from the terms masculine and feminine as they might apply to God.  Jesus said that there are no sexual relations in heaven but that people will be like the angels (Matthew 22:29).  Although Jesus is masculine in His humanity, we must realize that God is described as a consuming fire and a spirit being (Hebrews 12:29; John 4:24).  Thus, God is more complex than our concepts of masculine and feminine.  Also, the Bible clearly teaches that God is Triune or three persons in one being.  There is no credible support to suggest that there is a female being that is God.

I believe that there are qualities and roles shown by God in the Bible that can be best described as feminine.  The Greek word for wisdom frequently used in the Bible is sophia.  This term is used to describe the wisdom that comes from God and has feminine connotations.  It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that sinners are born-again and become children of God (Titus 3:5; John 3:3-6).  Not only does the Holy Spirit do the birthing change of sinners to saints, but He also nutures them by living within believers (1 Corinthian 3:16).  Thus, the Holy Spirit is the most intimate and personal being of the Trinity in that He dwells within believers and is their Counselor (John 14:16).  Among humans, this nurturing behavior is something that is most strongly associated with mothers.  Believers can grieve the Holy Spirit by rejecting his counsel and being disobedient which seems similar to what mothers experience with wayward children (Ephesians 4:30).

In Christian households, husbands are thought of as the head but wives are the heart for they are typically at the center of relationships between husband and children. This is why in many families, the ultimate insults are those directed towards the wife. I believe this is the basis for the statement made by Jesus that insults against Him could be forgiven but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would never be forgiven (Matthew 12:31-32).  Finally, the creation story itself can teach us about how feminine traits are embedded within masculine.  Eve was taken out of Adam and it is God’s plan for woman to complement and complete man in marriage (Genesis 2:22-24).  Similarly, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son saving sinners and builds up the family of God.

It is my prayer that this will help you to better understand that God is more than a Father figure or Jesus incarnate.  It is from the awesome complexity of God that He created humans, male and female, to reflect a small part of his infinite being.

Warren Mueller is a Christian author of books and articles based on what the Bible teaches as well as fictional books with Biblical themes.   Among his books are Truth Seeker: Straight Talk From The Bible and The Past And Future King which are both published by American Book Publishing.  The former is a concise guide to what the Bible says on over 30 theological and practical living subjects with questions useful for small groups or Sunday School.  The latter is a Lord Of  The Rings style tale and the first of a trilogy.  You can learn more about Warren and his writings by going to his web site at www.warrenmueller.com

The Illusions of Life

August 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Warren Mueller –

While watching the science fiction movie The Matrix, I was struck by the similarity of our lives to this movie. The main character, Neal, discovers that his life is an illusion created by a super computer. Neal’s mind wakes up and he sees himself and other humans being controlled by machines. It is a shocking shift in perspective regarding who he is and what the world is really like outside of the illusion created by the computer. Read more

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