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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Is Your Bible Lying to You?

I will use the term Bible in referring to English translations of the Scriptures. I will use the term Scripture in referring to the manuscripts -- written primarily in Hebrew and Greek -- that are based on the original writings that were directed by God. Two of the most popular English translations are the King James Version (KJV) and the New International Version (NIV).

When you or I pick up our Bibles we naturally assume that we are reading what God wants to communicate to us. We trust our Bibles, and there is nothing wrong with that. But do you ever "check" your Bible? How would you check it? I am not a Hebrew or Greek scholar. I have enough trouble with English sometimes. When I do have trouble understanding something in English I use an English dictionary, and I usually find the solution to my misunderstanding there. Likewise, when I don't understand something, or I want more clarity in my Bible study, I go to my Hebrew or Greek dictionary. This usually brings a fuller understanding about the Bible because a lot can be lost in translating from Hebrew and Greek Scriptures to English Bibles.

Recently I discovered that my Bibles (I have many different translations) were telling me lies. One lie in particular drastically affected my perception of God and His plans for mankind. I had believed for nearly seventeen years that God would cast those who reject His Son into hell (or the lake of fire) for all eternity where they would be tormented forever. I no longer believe this.

The Greek word aionion is translated to everlasting and eternal in English, but it does not mean everlasting or eternal. It means perpetual. The adjective aionion is based on the noun aion which means an age. I'll explain the significance of this with the following example from Matthew 25:46, "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment..." (KJV). Jesus is sending these people into judgment. For years, based on the reading of the King James Version, I believed these people were doomed forever. But in light of my new understanding of the Greek behind the English, I now see their judgment will end at some point. It will last for an age, not eternity. This has truly changed my view of God and His plans for the better. I encourage you to get a Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (which contains a Hebrew and Greek dictionary), and research all the uses of aion and aionion in the Scriptures. It's a lot of work, but you'll be blessed as your understanding grows.

Make no mistake, God will deal with all sin. But the judgment of unbelievers will end at some point, and God's plan will be accomplished. He "will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4, KJV). His amazing grace will encompass all people -- the good, the bad and the ugly.

You can learn more about God's plan to save all people in the book Jesus and Hitler: Salvation For The Worst Of Us, Salvation For All Of Us Through The Savior Of The World here for a printed copy (enter promo code FTHZRCLF), and here for Kindle version (free download on 1st and 15th of each month). God bless you as you dig deep into His words. Never stop learning and growing.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Poor Little jesus

He came. He tried. He died. He failed. Poor little jesus (this is not a typo -- little jesuses do not deserve a capital j).

Do the verbs in the opening paragraph describe the real Jesus, or the jesus proclaimed (probably unwittingly) by Mainstream Christianity? I am proclaiming the Biggest Jesus -- the Savior of the entire world -- because that's what the Bible and His Father call Him (1 John 4:14). Mainstream Christianity proclaims a savior of the world who won't actually save the world. Contradiction? I think so. But I don't want to be too hard on the contradicters, because I used to be one. I have repented of my contradictoriness (I just had to use that word since I saw it in the dictionary. Scrabble anyone?).

Jesus left heavenly places and came to earth to fulfill all of His Father's will, which includes the salvation of all people. 1 Timothy 2:4 tells us that God our Savior "will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (KJV). The word will in this verse comes from the Greek word thelo which "denotes the active resolution, the will urging on to action" [Baker Interlinear Greek-English New Testament; p.183 of New Testament Synonyms, George Ricker Berry, copyright 1981]. Is God sitting in heaven hoping and wishing for the salvation of the world? Is He rubbing a giant rabbit's foot? No! He's done something about it, and will continue until the task is fully accomplished. Jesus will not fail. But jesus will fail because TV and radio preachers say he will.

Jesus (the real One) says in Luke 14,

28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest perhaps, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,30 Saying, "This man began to build, and was not able to finish."

Jesus is building a peaceful kingdom -- God's kingdom (Isaiah 9:6-7). He is the cornerstone of the the foundation. Does He have "sufficient to finish it?" Did God do a thorough job of counting the cost of saving the world before He embarked on such a foolhardy mission? Will the world mock the savior of the world as He tries to save all men but is not able to finish the job? Will they shake their heads saying, "Poor little jesus. He came. He tried. He died. He failed." No! He is sufficient. He counted the cost and will finish the job for the glory of His Father and the sake of all people.

God is truly the Almighty, and nothing can stop Him from completing all of His good, pleasing and perfect will.