Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What's Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?

The prosperity gospel is very popular today in America.  Everyone wants to be rich.  I am not advocating poverty or saying all Christians should take a vow of poverty.  But the test of prosperity is even harder than the test of poverty.

The prosperity preachers say that wealth is evidence of godliness.  Yet Jesus taught that we cannot serve God and wealth.  We have two 6:24 verses, which record His warnings about this in the gospels of Matthew and Luke:

"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (Mat 6:24)

"But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full." (Luk 6:24)

And Jesus [also] said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."  (Mat 19:23-24)

The eye of a needle was the gate into a city.  When camels returned from abroad, loaded with merchandise, they had to get down on their knees outside the city gate, so that all the merchandise could be unloaded from their backs, so they could enter through the narrow gate. 

Jesus said we must "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it." (Mat 7:13)

Jesus said riches are deceitful.  This deceitfulness and desire for other material things chokes the Word, making it unfruitful. He said, "but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." (Mar 4:19)

"So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions." (Luk 14:33)

The apostle Paul said, "For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1Ti 6:10; cf., 1Ti. 3:3; Heb. 13:5).

Some of the prosperity preachers are living in luxury, in multimillion dollar homes, often flying in their own private jets.  I know of one Christian couple that run a non-profit Christian ministry, and own his-and-her mansions one street apart in a gated community.  I know of another preacher who built a three million dollar home for himself, paid for by the church he pastors.  Don't they read these same Scriptures?  What men value highly is detestable in God's sight (see Luke 16:15).  If you want to know where their heart is, then just look at where their treasure is.  "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Mat 6:21)

The Lord commanded us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." (Mt 6:19). He gave this same command to the Hebrews regarding their future king, when He said, "He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold." (Dt 17:17b, NIV). We who have been made by Christ to be a kingdom and priests must be careful to heed this warning.

The psalmist said of the wicked, "Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth." (Ps 73: 9).  And at one point he envied the prosperity of the wicked.  But after the Lord revealed to him their final destiny, he said of himself, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." (Ps 73:25).  Let me encouraged you to read the entire Psalm 73.

The apostle John put it like this: "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1Jn 2:15)

The apostle Paul described himself and his ministry team as "poor, yet making many rich" (2 Co 6:10), just as our Lord Jesus Christ, who "though he was rich, yet for your sake He became poor" (2 Co 8:9b).

Paul said, "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed." (1Ti 6:17-19)

James said, "Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court?" (Jas 2:5-6)

He said God chose the poor of this world to be rich in faith, which is A Biblical View of the Poor. And it is true that the poor are still more open to the gospel than the rich.  Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.” (Luk 4:18) James said that it is the rich who oppress you and drag you into court.

James also said, "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! ...You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter." (Jas 5:1-3, 5)

I feel sorry for those Christians who live like this, especially the preachers, because they are storing up treasure on earth, which our Lord warned against.  And they seem to avoid the teachings in Scripture about The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer.

The spirit of the wealth lovers
I would like to show you from Scripture how the love of money causes people to harden their hearts to the gospel.

Luke 16:13-14 - The Pharisees were lovers of money, so they scoffed at Jesus teachings on wealth.  Out of envy they falsely accused Him and had Him crucified.

Luke 16:19-31 -  The rich man who lived in luxurious splendor every day did not care for Lazarus, the beggar at his gate, who lived in poverty and misery.  He hardened his heart to the needs of Lazarus, and only took care of himself.  The same way that he hardened his heart to the poor, he also hardened it to the Scriptures.  Just as he would not listen to the cry of the poor, he would not listen to the Law and the Prophets, so he ended up in hell. But the poor beggar was comforted after he died.

Acts 16:16-24 - The masters of the fortune-telling slave girl saw that their hope of making a profit was gone, due to Paul's actions, and they proceeded to have the apostles beaten and imprisoned.

Acts 19:23-34 - The silversmith Demetrius and workmen of similar trades felt that their prosperity from their business of making silver shrines of Diana was endangered by Paul's preaching against false gods.  So they reacted angrily and started a riot to oppose the apostles.

John 2:14-21 - The money changers were angry because Jesus took away their ability to earn money selling sacrifices in the temple, so they retorted to Him, asking who gave Him the right to do that to them.

Mt 8:28-34 - The herdsmen and all the people of their town, who heard about Jesus sending the legion of demons into their pigs, implored Jesus to leave their region.  They did so, probably because of the negative impact it had on their pig business, and the financial loss they took, when all the pigs drowned in the sea.

1 King 21:1-16 - Jezebel used spirituality (a fast) as a ruse to have Naboth falsely accused of evil, in order to get him executed, so that her husband could take his inheritance (assets), because Naboth would not give or sell his inheritance to her evil husband Ahab the king.

The same way these people hardened their hearts because of wealth, people today reject the gospel for it.  They may not even think they are rejecting the gospel.  Perhaps they think they already believe the gospel.  But if someone preaches the truth of God's Word to them, such as the verses I shared at the opening of this post, they may disregard it.  And if someone speaks to them about God's standard of righteousness and holiness, they might actually become angry with that person.  If a Christian becomes angry with another believer for proclaiming in Jesus name that we must live holy lives and seek God's righteousness, this reveals their spirit.

I believe God blesses His children and prospers us.  I don't believe He wants us to live in lack of anything.  In fact, in Christ, we possess all things.  But in my opinion, the so-called "prosperity gospel" that is being preached today is not the true gospel.  It causes people to wander from the truth.  And in the end they pierce themselves with many griefs.

The Secret of Contentment
We must be content, as Paul was, whether living in plenty or in want.  He said, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Phil 4:12).  He not only knew what it was to have plenty, he knew what it was to be in need.  They key was that he had learned the secret of contentment in any and every situation.  He said that godliness is great gain, when it is accompanied with contentment (see 1 Tim 6:6).

The Pattern
The prosperity preachers are preaching self-ism, the fastest growing religion, which they have disguised to look as if it is Christian.  Their teachings make it seem as if God existed for us and not the other way around. They talk as if God is our trained seal who has to jump through our hoops. They speak only of blessings and not about the need to suffer.  In fact, they don't believe in martyrdom. As Leonard Ravenhill once said, “The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.”

Being Rich Yet Very Poor in God
Unfortunately the Church of the western world in these last days has become like the wealthy Laodicean church. Jesus said to the messenger of that church, "Because you say, 'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see." (Rev 3:17-18)

The messenger of that church said, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing." But the Lord said, "you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked." They were not cold toward God!  They considered themselves disciples.  But they were not hot either.  The Lord said they were lukewarm. "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. o because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth." (Rev 3:15-16)

They thought they were wealthy, but in God's sight they were not.  Rather, they were just the opposite.

Howard Pittman's Testimony
On August 3, 1979, Howard Pittman, a Baptist minister for 35 years, died while on the operating table during surgery.  He appeared at the gates of heaven, and believed that he had served God faithfully for many years.

Howard said, "God proceeded to tell me just what kind of life I had really lived. He told me what He really thought of me and even others who did as I had. He pointed out that my faith was DEAD, that my works were NOT ACCEPTABLE, and that I had labored in VAIN. He told me that it was an abomination for me to live such a life and then dare call it a life of worship. Furthermore, He said to those who do it, they are in danger of experiencing His everlasting wrath."

He continued, "I could not believe He was talking to me in this manner! I had served Him for years! I thought I had lived a life pleasing to Him! As He was enumerating my wrongs, I was sure He had me confused with someone else. There was no strength left in me to even move, let alone protest, yet I was panicking within myself. No way He could be talking about me! All of these years I thought I was doing those works for God! Now He was telling me that what I did, I did for myself."

"God told me that He would not accept this kind of worship in the day of the Pharisees and He certainly was not about to accept it now in this the Laodicean Church Age. He put it to me as plain as words and actions could make it."  

In the end, Howard was given another chance to live for the Lord. He went all over the world, testifying about this experience. He said, "For those who call themselves Christians, this is the Laodicean Church Age in which we live. A high majority of so-called Christians are, in fact, living a deceived life. They talk Jesus and play church, but do not live it. They claim to be Christians and then live like the devil. They have bought the great lie from Satan who tells them that they are alright. He tells them that it is alright to go to church on Sunday and attend mid-week services but as far as the rest of the time is concerned, they are to get all they can out of life. As far as their Christian life is concerned, they believe they are comfortable and have need of nothing and as a result, they are only lukewarm Christians if Christians at all."

I encourage you to listen to his entire testimony on the video below or read Howard Pittman's testimony here.



Prosperity Preachers Headed for Hell
As I wrote in my article Ibrahim's Experience in Hell, brother Ibrahim saw the present condition of lost ministers who are going down to destruction.  I recommend reading that article about his experience, in which many of the lost ministers he saw were prosperity preachers, including Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and T.B. Joshua, as well as Joel Osteen, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Rod Parsley, Myles Munroe, Mike Murdock, Paula White, Donnie McClurkin, Duncan Williams, and many others!

Putting it All Together 
As we have just seen in God's Word, you cannot serve God and wealth. We are commanded not to love this world or the things of this world. It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, and the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil. Therefore, to be a disciple of Jesus, a man must first give up all his own possessions.  You need to learn the secret of contentment in any and every situation.

Jesus and Paul both became poor, and were not like the prosperity preachers of today.  God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom. Truly the kingdom of God belongs to the poor (Luk 6:20). Sadly, miseries are going to come upon the rich in these last days.

Beware of "people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain" (1 Timothy 6:5).  If you are caught up in the teachings of the "prosperity gospel," please consider what you have just read in God's Word today, and amend your ways.

Take care, brethren, that you are not like the Laodicean church.  And if you are, then buy from the Lord gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.  The Lord said, 'Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent." (Rev 3:19)

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Rev 3:13)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Other passages taken from the Holy Bible New International Version (NIV).

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading my articles, A Biblical View of the Poor, Wisdom for Wealthy Preachers and Prosperity TeachersIbrahim's Experience in Hell, Exposing Heresy, The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught, Better a Little, All Things Handed Over to Jesus Christ, The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer, Holy Fire BaptismAvoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, and Godly Attire & Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations. I also recommend Kenneth Hagin’s Forgotten Warning by J. Lee Grady.  You may access more of my articles on the Main Directory of this blog, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tradition vs. Truth

I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, which I came out of when Jesus Christ came into my heart and set me free from sin.  The Roman Catholic Church places a great deal of emphasis on traditions.  In fact, their own catechism teaches that equal devotion and reverence must be given to tradition and Scripture.

However, in that religion, tradition is actually placed above the Word of God.  In other words, if there is a question about something in the Bible, they follow tradition, rather than the Bible.  Some examples include the veneration of Mary, her "immaculate conception" and her bodily "assumption into heaven." There is also the apocrypha, transubstantiation, praying to saints, the confessional, penance, purgatory, and more. This is not to single out the Catholic Church, but it serves as an example of what many of the traditional religions do.

Yet Jesus taught that the commandments of God take precedence over man-made tradition.  Any religion that does not put God's Word above tradition is in direct contradiction to the words of our Lord Jesus.

The Pharisees and teachers of the Law were concerned about His disciples breaking their tradition.  They kept many traditions, which you can read about in the Mishnah, the Talmud, and the Midrash. These were oral traditions that were written down.  They asked Jesus about it, saying: "Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." (Mat 15:2)

But Jesus responded by asking them why they broke the command of God for the sake of their tradition.  In order to follow their traditions, they had to break God's commands.

Here is a chart showing the difference between how these people viewed themselves and how God viewed them:

Their perspective God’s perspective
They were teachers of God’s Law, experts in it. They were teachers of mere man-made rules and traditions (Mt 15:9)
They worshipped God They worshipped God in vain, in other words, to no purpose (Mt 15:9)
They honored God with their lips Their hearts were far from God. They were a great way off and kept themselves distant from him (Mt 15:8)
They were sincerely devoted to God They were hypocrites or mere stage players (Mt 15:7)
They kept the traditions of the elders They broke God’s commands (Mt 15:3)
They ceremonially washed their hands before eating and only ate with clean hands, so that nothing unclean ever went into their mouths.  They were undefiled. Their hearts were full of unclean things like evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and slanders. They uttered these things from their mouths and defiled themselves.  Washing their hands did nothing to keep them from being defiled (Mt 15:10, 17-20)
They taught people the path of righteousness They were blind guides, leading the blind into a pit (Mt 15:14)

This was like another conversation Jesus had with a group of Jews, which is recorded in John 8.  Once again, there was a sharp contrast between how they viewed themselves and how God viewed them.  The following chart shows the differences:

Their perspective God’s perspective
They were children of God (Jn 8:41) They were children of the devil (Jn 8:41, 44)
They heard God’s Word They did not hear God’s Word spoken by His Son (Jn 8:43)
They honored God They dishonored the Son of God, who honored the Father (Jn 8:49)
They were of God They were not of God (Jn 8:47)
They were Abraham’s descendants (Jn 8:33) They were not children of Abraham (Jn 8:39-41)
They were free (Jn 8:33) They were slaves (Jn 8:34-36)
They believed in Jesus (Jn 8:30-31) They would only be His true disciples if they continued in His Word (Jn 8:31)

Likewise, many religious people today see themselves as children of God.  They consider themselves free and feel like they honor God.  They think they worship God, and with their lips they do so.  They consider themselves sincerely devoted to God.  They avoid eating things that would defile them. They teach the importance of their religious traditions and they also teach from the Bible. They feel like they are teaching the path of righteousness.

Multitudes of people in so-called Christian religions, as well as non-Christian religions see themselves this way.  Yet God calls them hypocrites, those who honor Him with their lips, but whose hearts are far from Him.  He says they worship Him in vain.  He says they teach mere, man-made rules, yet break God’s commands.  He says their hearts are still full of evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and slanders. He calls them blind guides, who are leading blind people into the pit.  He says they are slaves and still children of the devil.

The Lord has warned those practicing the traditions of men.  Those who attend festivals in the name of worshiping idols or in remembrance of anything, He shall crush them and cast them into the lake of fire (Mt 15:1-28).  In fact, to those worshiping idols in any way, especially the Roman Catholics, the Lord says you should stop doing that or else He will crush you and cast you from His sight into the lake of fire, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, and their smoke shall rise forever.

My friend, please check yourself to see if that is you.  Are you following after religious traditions, yet breaking God’s commands?  Be sure these things are not true of you.  Make sure that your perspective of yourself is consistent with God's perspective of you.  And if God's perspective of you is one of those listed above in the right-hand column of these charts, then please repent and make it right with God.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the Father except by Him (Jn 14:6).  Your traditions are not what matters to God.  Jesus said that if you continue in His Word, then you would truly be His disciple.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

References: Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 77, 88, 82, and 97.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotation taken from the NASB. The "I Am the Way" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note You may also see Roman Catholicism, the Bible and Tradition, by Matt Slick, as as well my own article, Unbiblical Practices of the Catholic Church. Don't miss Angelica Zambrano's First Visit to Hell and Angelica Zambrano's Second Visit to Hell. I also suggest visiting Jack Chick's page on Catholicism. . You may access more of my articles on the Main Directory of this blog, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master. Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What is Truth?


Two thousand years ago, a politician asked a very poignant question.  Governor Pontius Pilate asked, "What is truth?"  For him this was a foreign concept, since he viewed all things as relative rather than absolute, therefore he was confused.  Through his question, he seemed to infer many things.  He incorrectly inferred that the truth itself is a myth, a lie, and does not exist, except in someone's imagination.  He also inferred that there was no such thing as truth. This is because he himself had never come to know the truth.  Little did he realize that the Truth is a Person and he was speaking to Him.

You see, unless you yourself are of the truth, you cannot hear His voice.  You can be looking right at the Truth and not see it.  Jesus had said to Pilate, "Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." (Jn 18:37b).  The truth is not just information.

God Cannot Lie
Jesus is the Truth! When the apostle Thomas wondered about the way to heaven, Jesus said to him, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (Joh 14:6).

God cannot lie! The apostle Paul wrote to Titus, “Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,” (Tit 1:1-3)

Paul was saying that he was an apostle for the faith of God's chosen people. He was an apostle for the knowledge of the truth.  He said the truth is according to godliness.  Godliness is possible when you have the hope of eternal life.  How do you have the hope of eternal life?  Paul said that God promised it long ages ago, and that's where God's chosen people need to have faith.  You've got to believe it's true.

Let's look at the premise of Paul's statement and what he inferred:

God (cannot lie) --> promised --> eternal life --> godliness --> Truth --> knowledge

I would have preferred to make this a pyramid with God at the base and knowledge at the top, but you can still get the basic idea here.  If you follow my little diagram, you will see that the basis of everything Paul inferred here is the fact that God cannot lie.  Our knowledge of the Truth is based on that.  The Truth itself is based on that.  Eternal life is based on that.  You see, God promised it, and since it is impossible for God to lie, you can be sure the promise will be fulfilled.  God is bound by His own nature to keep all His promises.  Not one word of all His good promises has ever failed. 

The apostle John wrote to the disciples who already knew the truth, "I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. (1Jn 2:21)

You need to understand that no lie is of the truth!  These days men lie so much about everything that they don't even realize it, and it clouds their understanding of truth.  The truth contains absolutely no lies.  It's one hundred percent genuine reality.  And reality is found in Christ.  And reality is more real than the things of this world, which are here today and gone tomorrow.

Many people today say that nothing is absolute.  They can believe that 2+2=4, but they cannot believe in absolutes.  They would admit that it's ridiculous to try and say that 2+2=5 or 2+2=10.  But they fail to realize that just as there are absolutes in mathematics, there are spiritual absolutes.

The apostle John continued, "As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him." (1Jn 2:27)

An anointing in the natural sense is when you pour liquids like oil over someone.  When you lather up your head with shampoo you are anointing it.  When you splash on after shave you are anointing your face. When you receive the Holy Spirit, then in the spirit you are anointed. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth, and He will lead you into all Truth. His anointing is true and is not a lie.

Jesus said, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come." (Joh 16:13)

Jesus also said, "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me," (Joh 15:26)

The Spirit of Truth proceeds from the Father, who cannot lie, and always testifies about Jesus, who is the Truth.  That's why you need His help.

Don't make the same mistake the rest of the world makes.  They cannot receive Him, simply because they don't see Him or know Him.  Jesus said, "That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." (Joh 14:17)

You've got to receive Jesus into your heart and receive the Holy Spirit. "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (Joh 4:24).  Young people these days are searching for authenticity, and so is God.  He's seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and Truth.

There's No Truth in the father of lies
On the other hand, many people believe in Jesus and call themselves His disciple, yet don't worship in spirit and truth.  They consider themselves children of God, yet they are children of the devil.  This was the case with many of the Jews who believed in Jesus.

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (Joh 8:31-32)

He had this whole conversation with these people, who thought they were children of God, but weren't.  He said that if you continue in His Word, then you are really His disciple.  He said if you continue in His Word, you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free!

Since they were not of the truth, like Governor Pilate, they could not understand what He was saying.  They insisted they were children of God, and Jesus corrected them saying that they were children of the devil:

"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (Joh 8:44)

Yes, be very careful, because it is possible to think you are a child of God and yet be a child of the devil.  You need to make sure you are really continuing in Jesus' Word by faith in Him, obeying His commandments.

I want to show you what was inferred here in this statement Jesus made, in contrast to the other diagram above:

devil (finite father of lies) --> desires/nature --> speaks lies --> no truth --> murder --> death

The devil had a beginning, since he is a created being, so he is finite.  He is a liar and the father of lies.  He has a nature and evil desires that spring out of that nature.It's out of that nature and those desires that he speaks.  Whenever he speaks, he always lies.  There is no truth in what he says.  This leads to murder and ultimately results in eternal death. 

Do you see the difference between this diagram and the one above about God?  They are quite the opposite of each other.  With satan, everything is inverted.  The reason for death is ultimately because of the devil.  He has used the fear of death for millenia to hold people in slavery to himself and to sin.  But through Jesus' death on the cross, He conquered hell and death.  Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Now Jesus holds the key to death:

The apostle John saw Him after He rose from the dead and said, "And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, 'Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." (Rev 1:17-18, KJV)

Putting it All Together
Everyone is on a ladder of inferences of some sort.  They start by climbing the first rung of the ladder when they infer something to be true, based on something else they assume is true.  Then from that first rung, then climb to the second rung, making another inference.  And as they continue to climb, they ultimately reach a conclusion, which figuratively is the top of the ladder.  You need to be sure your ladder of inference is leaning against the right wall.

Regarding inference, Noah Webster said, "From the character of God, as creator and governor of the world, we infer the indispensable obligation of all his creatures to obey his commands. We infer one proposition or truth from another, when we perceive that if one is true, the other must be true also."

I have diagrammed for you the inferences about God and about satan above.  I have tried to show you where each set of inferences leads to, and what each set of inferences is based on.

Some of you reading this today may be like Pilate.  You may be saying, "What is truth?"  I'm here to tell you that Jesus is the Truth!  He cannot lie.  Believe Him and do what He says.  You need a personal relationship with Him, and you need to continue in His Word.  Then you will actually know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.

Others reading this today may be like those Jews who had believed in Jesus, yet they were children of the devil.  If you'll be honest with yourself, you know you're living a lie.  You're not living a holy life of godliness, righteousness, and truth.  You may have put your faith in Jesus, and you believe the facts about Him, but your not yet a child of God.  You must be born again.  It's not enough to be part of a Christian religion.  You need your own relationship with the Lord.  You need to invite Him into your heart.  You need to believe that He died on the cross for your sins, not just the sins of the world.  You need to repent of your wicked ways, and ask God to forgive you, based on the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.  You need to continue in His Word, and then you, too will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.

Many of you reading this may have been born again at one time, and you say you love the Lord, but the religion you are part of is breaking God's commandments.  Your religion is idolatrous.  There are many idols, objects to pray to, and a lot of adulation of men.  You need to repent and come out from among them.  Be separate and the Lord will receive you.  Don't settle for anything less than the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth.  Jesus is the Truth and no man comes to the Father except by Him.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Author's note: You may also like the other posts in this blog, such as Accurately Handling the Word of Truth, Tradition vs. Truth, and Pope Frances Supports Homosexuality. You may access more of my articles on the Main Directory of this blog, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Holy Trinity

The word "trinity" is not found anywhere in the Bible.  So does that mean it is a false teaching? Throughout the years, there have been many errors regarding the triune nature of God, and many of those errors still persist today.  I will not attempt to define or elaborate here on the erroneous teachings.  But I would like to show you what the Bible says about the Trinity.

The Heavenly Father
Many passages in the Scriptures refer to the Father in heaven, who has a face, a will, reveals things to man, loves children, and even feeds the birds.  Here are just a few:

"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?" (Mat 6:26)

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." (Mat 7:21)

But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted." (Mat 15:13)

And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." (Mat 16:17)

"For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS." (Mat 16:27)

"See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven." (Mat 18:10)

"So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish." (Mat 18:14)

"Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven." (Mat 18:19)

"My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart." (Mat 18:35)

"Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven." (Mat 23:9)

"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Mat 25:34)

"But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." (Mat 26:29)

The Son of God 
Just as there are many passages about the Father, the Scriptures are also full of many references to His Son, known as the Son of God. Let me cite a few examples:

Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Mat 16:16)

But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus *said to him, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN." (Mat 26:63-64)

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." (Mar 1:1)

"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; (Luk 1:32)

The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. (Luk 1:35)

And they all said, "Are You the Son of God, then?" And He said to them, "Yes, I am." (Luk 22:70)

"I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God." (Joh 1:34)

Nathanael answered Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel." (Joh 1:49)

"He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (Joh 3:18)

But when Jesus heard this, He said, "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it." (Joh 11:4)

She *said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world." (Joh 11:27)

"but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name." (Joh 20:31)

"who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord," (Rom 1:4)

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Gal 2:20)

"until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ." (Eph 4:13)

"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession." (Heb 4:14)

"the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil." (1Jo 3:8)

"Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God." (1Jo 4:15)

"Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1Jo 5:5)

"The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son." (1Jo 5:10)

He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1Jo 5:12-13)

"And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this:" (Rev 2:18)

This is not just a Christian concept from the New Testament. It's found in the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures as well. One example is Psalm 2, which says, "I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 'Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. 'You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.'" Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!" (Psa 2:7-12; cf., Heb 1:5)

The thirtieth proverb says, "Neither have I learned wisdom, Nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One. Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name or His son's name? Surely you know!" (Pro 30:3-4)  I would like to ask you, my dear reader, to tell me the name of the Son of the One who established all the ends of the earth. Surely you know!

Jesus is God   
Not only is Jesus God's Son, He Himself is God. I have already written at length about this in another post, called "Is Jesus God?" so I will not elaborate on this much here.  Two or three verses will suffice to prove the point:

Isaiah prophesied, "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." (Isa 9:6).  That term “Mighty God” in the original Hebrew is “El Gibbor.”

The Hebrew word “El” means God.  In the five instances in Isaiah, where El is used to mean an artificial, man-made god of wood, silver, or gold, which cannot save, the context makes it clear that it does not mean the Lord.  For example, “Who has fashioned a god or cast an idol to no profit? (Isa 44:10)

In the other seventeen instances where the Hebrew word “El” is used in Isaiah, it always means the one, true, holy and righteous God of Israel, the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who gives breath to the people on it And spirit to those who walk in it.  The Lord calls Himself “El.” (see Isa 43:12; 45:22).

And the exact same term, “El Gibbor”, which Isaiah used in 9:6, is used in Isaiah 10:21, where it says “A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God.” The Hebrew word “Gibbor” means “powerful; by implication warrior, tyrant: champion, chief, giant, man, mighty (man, one), strong (man), valiant man.”  So the term “El Gibbor” could be translated literally “God-Man,” “God Champion,” “Warrior God,” “Strong God,” or “Valiant Man-God.”

So I ask you, my friend, to whom does the term “us” refer in this passage, where it says, “a child is born to us” and “a Son will be given to us”?  Is it the prophet and his wife? Is it the nation of Israel?  Who do you think had a Son called “El Gibbor”?  Only One Person is worthy of that name, and that is the Son of God Himself.  Jesus Christ is the “God-Man,” the “Mighty God!” So the term “Us” in this passage refers to the triune God-head, just as Elohim spoke in the first person plural at the creation, saying, “Let Us make man in our own image.” (Gen 1:26).

Prior to His becoming flesh, Jesus, the Word was with God at the dawn of creation. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God...And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Joh 1:1-2, 14). The Word was God!

And, of course, the term “us” in Isaiah 9:6 referred in part to Joseph and Mary, the earthly parents of Jesus. "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated, means, "GOD WITH US."  (Mat 1:23).

Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"  (Joh 20:28)

Exact representation of God 
Jesus is the exact representation of God's nature.

"And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high," (Heb 1:3)

Jesus the Image of God 
While man is made in God's image, Jesus is the actual image of God.

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven."  (Col 1:15-20)

The original Greek word for “image” here is eikon, from which we get the English word icon.  It means, “a likeness, that is, (literally) statue, profile, or (figuratively) representation, resemblance: image.”  If you want to know what God looks like, just look at Jesus.  He takes after His Father, and resembles Him exactly.

Jesus at right hand of God
Not only is Jesus the image of God, He also sits at God's right hand, in the place of highest honor and power and authority, ruling the universe.

"So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God." (Mar 16:19)

"Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear." (Act 2:33)

and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." (Act 7:56)

But to which of the angels has He ever said, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET"? (Heb 1:13)

"Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens," (Heb 8:1)

Jesus presents us to the Father 
The Bible teaches that Jesus will present the saints to the Father, making us to stand in His presence blameless, because of His atonement.

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." (Jud 1:24-25)

The object of this sentence is "the only God our Savior," whom Jude refers to as "Him."  When Jude gives glory to "Him," the only God, he is referring to the Father in heaven. We know this for certain, because Jude says that we give this glory to God "through Jesus Christ our Lord."  We give the glory "to" God, and we do so "through" Jesus Christ our Lord. This shows a clear distinction between the Father and the Son.  And it is in agreement with the words of Jesus Himself, who said, "no man comes to the father except by Me." (Jn 14:6).

Jesus also said, "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven." (Mat 10:32-33).  All of these verses together indicate that Jesus will one day present us in the Father's glorious presence and confess us before Him.

Father and Jesus Christ distinct Persons
By now it should be evident that the Father and Jesus Christ are distinct Persons of the Godhead. But if not, just look at the way many of the New Testament epistles begin.  There you will see the Father and Jesus Christ named separately and distinctly, which would be pointless, if they were the same Person:

"Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:" (Jud 1:1)

"Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love." (2Jo 1:3).  The use of the conjunction "and" here indicates two distinct Persons.

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;"  (2Pe 1:2)

"what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." (1Jo 1:3)

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort," (2Co 1:2-3)

"James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings." (Jam 1:1)

"Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen." (Heb 13:20-21)

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Eph 1:2)

Jesus Himself indicated that while He was one with the Father, He was distinct from the Father. He prayed, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (Joh 17:3).  Eternal life is knowing the the Father in heaven, only true God, and Jesus Christ.

"And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?'" (Rev 6:16-17)

“And they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” (Rev 7:10)

“Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.’"  (Rev 11:15)

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.’” (Rev 12:10)

“So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (Rev 12:17)

“These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.” (Rev 14:4)

“Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” (Rev 14:12)

“Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” (Rev 20:6)

“I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (Rev 21:22)

“And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Rev 21:23)

“Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,” (Rev 22:1)

“There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;” (Rev 22:3)

cf., 1Co 1:3; Rom 1:7; Philemon 3; Titus 1:4; Philip 1:2; 1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2; 2 Thes 1:2; 1 Thes 2:16; 1 Thes 1:1; Gal 1:1,3

The One "Who is and Who was and Who is to come"
As I have just proven, the Father and Jesus are distinct Persons.  This is very clearly evident throughout the entire book of Revelation, including John's greeting, which makes explicit reference to the Trinity.

He writes: "John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood--" (Rev 1:4-5).  Here John conveys a blessing of grace and peace to the seven churches in Asia.  The grace and peace are from 1) The Father, whom he refers to as "Him who is and who was and who is to come," 2) "and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne," which explicitly refers to the Spirit of God, 3) "and from Jesus Christ."  Each of these references are separated by the word "and" (Greek: "kai"), indicating that they are each distinct.  If they were not distinct Persons, then it would make no sense for John to use this expression the way he did.

Therefore, it seems quite clear to me that the Father is the One Who identifies Himself by declaring, "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." (Rev 1:8).  He refers to Himself as "the Almighty," and John refers to Him as "the Lord God."  This is consistent with the distinction made throughout the book of Revelation, where only the Father is referred to as "God," or "the Almighty," or "the Lord God Almighty," and Jesus is referred to as "Christ," "the Son of God," "the Word of God," "the Lamb" and "The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God." (Rev. 1:1,2,6,8,9; 2:7,18; 3:1,2,12,14; 4:5,8,11; 5:6,9,10; 6:9; 7:2,3,10,11,12,15,17; 8:2,4; 9:4,13; 10:7; 11:1,11,13,16,17,19; 12:5,6,10,17; 13:6; 14:4,7,10,12,19; 15:1,2,3,7,8; 16:1,7,9,11,14,19,21; 17:17; 18:5,8,20; 19:1,4,5,6,9,10,13,15,17; 20:4,6; 21:2,3,7,10,11,22,23; 22:1,3,5,6,9,18,19).

That is why I am convinced it is the Father once again to Whom John was referring when he wrote: "And He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' And He said, 'Write, for these words are faithful and true.' Then He said to me, 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.'" (Rev 21:5-6) This was spoken by Him who sits on the throne, and all throughout the book of Revelation, the Father is consistently referred to as He "who sits on the throne," (Rev. 4:9,10; 5:13; 6:16; 7:10,15; 19:4; 21:5).  You can find the description of the Father, sitting on the throne in Revelation 4, and the description of Jesus the Lamb standing between the throne and the elders in Revelation 5.  Jesus is also depicted at the center of the throne (Rev 7:17)

Therefore, whenever you find expressions of worship to the One "who was and who is and who is to come," and to "Him who sits on the throne," they are referring to God the Father.  Here is one great example of such a praise:

“And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.’ And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.’” (Rev 4:8-11; cf., 19:3-7)

The Alpha and the Omega
The term Alpha and Omega means First and Last, just as the letters alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The term "first" comes from the Greek word, protos, meaning – foremost (in time, place, order, or importance); before, beginning, best, chief, first (of all), former.

The term "last" comes from the Greek word, eschatos, meaning – farthest, final, end, lowest, uttermost.

As I have just proven with certainty, it is the Father Who calls Himself "the Alpha and the Omega" in Rev 1:8 and 21:6. However, as with other names or titles for the Father, His Son Jesus shares many of the same ones.  This is also true of the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  Jesus said, "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Rev 22:12-13).  Here we know it is Jesus speaking, because He says, "I am coming quickly," and in the same context, "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star." (Rev 22:16)

Jesus refers to Himself as the Alpha and Omega.  Not only does He exist now, but He was and He is to come. Jesus is the beginning and the end. Jesus took the lowest place. He became the lowest during his passion and crucifixion. He was farthest from God when He prayed, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” No one has ever been farther from God than Jesus was. Now He is in the highest place! (see Phil 2:5-11). He declares the end from the beginning (see Is 46:10). He is exalted above all else! 

Jesus calls Father “My God” 
One of the most interesting things to me about the Godhead is that Jesus calls Father “My God.” That's right!  Even Jesus, Who is Himself God, has a God -- the one true God, which His Father.

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" (Mat 27:46). 

Jesus *said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'" (Joh 20:17)

Jesus said, 'Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God." (Rev 3:2)

Jesus said, "'He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.'" (Rev 3:12)

Finally, the apostle John also referred to the Father as the God of Jesus: "and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father--to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen." (Rev 1:6)

The Father's relationship with Jesus
There are many passages that show the beautiful relationship that Jesus and the Father have with each other.

At that time Jesus said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. "Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him."  (Mat 11:25-27)

At the baptism of Jesus, while He was praying to the Father "...a voice came out of heaven, 'You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.'"  (Luk 3:22b)

And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will."  (Mat 26:39)  If Jesus and the Father were the same person, the this prayer would not make any sense.  Jesus would have said, "Not as I will, but as I will."  However, their wills are separate and distinct from one another, which indicates two persons.

He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done." (Mat 26:42)

"Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (Mat 26:53)

"The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand." (Joh 3:35)

Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. "For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. (Joh 5:19-20)

"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out." (Joh 6:37)

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. "It is written in the prophets, 'AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me." (Joh 6:44-45)

So they were saying to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also." (Joh 8:19)

"I and the Father are one." (Joh 10:30)

"Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God," (Joh 13:3)

"...I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me." (Joh 17:8b)

Jesus *said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." (Joh 14:6-7)

"You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (Joh 14:28)

"...then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet." (1Co 15:24-25)

The Father knows things Jesus does not
Something else I find fascinating is that the Father knows things that Jesus does not.

For example, the Father knows the day and the hour when Jesus will come back to the earth.  But Jesus does not know.

Jesus said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." (Mat 24:36). 

The book of Revelation begins with the words, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John," (Rev 1:1). Put differently, God gave this revelation to Jesus ChristIf God had to give the revelation to Jesus Christ, then the Father is the source of the revelation.  Just as Jesus only said what He heard the Father saying during his earthly ministry, in the same way after his resurrection and ascension, He received a revelation from the Father, which He delivered to the saints.

Pray to the Father 
Jesus always prayed to the Father in heaven.  A perfect example was in the garden after He ate the last supper with His disciples.  Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You," (Joh 17:1)

If Jesus was praying to Himself, why would He lift His eyes to heaven and address God as "Father?"

And His prayer was for the Father to glorify Him, so that He may glorify the Father.  Again, this prayer would not make any sense if Jesus were praying to Himself.  He would have to say, "I now glorify myself, so that I may glorify Myself."

When Jesus was asked by His disciples how to pray, He taught them and us to pray to the Father in Heaven.

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come." (Luk 11:2)

"You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you." (Joh 15:16)

Jesus taught us to pray to the Father in Jesus' name.  Consider this fact in relation to the distinction between the members of the Godhead.  It is consistent with the evidence throughout Scripture that the Father and Jesus Christ are two distinct Persons.

The Father Has Given Jesus Authority
In His high priestly prayer on the night He was betrayed, Jesus prayed to the Father, saying, "Even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life." (Joh 17:2)

After His resurrection, Jesus came up and spoke to [His disciples], saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." (Mat 28:18)

If the Father were Jesus, there would be no need to give Himself authority.  Likewise, there would be no need to give Himself the disciples, as Jesus said in this prayer the Father had done: "to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life."

The Father and Jesus Have the Same Name
As I mentioned already, Jude referred to God the Father as the only God our Savior (Jud 1:25).  This is consistent with the Scriptures written before Christ, in which God was referred to as Savior (2Sa. 22:3; Psa. 17:7; 106:21; Isa. 19:20; 43:3,11; 45:15,21; 49:26; 60:16; 63:8; Jer. 14:8; Hos. 13:4).

And Jesus was named after His Father, for the very name "Jesus" means "Savior."  "Jesus" in Hebrew is "Yeshua," which means "Yahweh [the Lord] is Salvation."  The angel of the Lord told Joseph, "...You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." (Mat 1:21)

Jesus said, "I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him." (Joh 5:43)

Jesus prayed to the Father, saying, "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. (Joh 17:6).  What name did Jesus manifest?  He manifested or displayed the name of the Father, which is the same as His name, Jesus.

Again in His prayer to the Father, Jesus said, "I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are." (Joh 17:11)

Once more He prayed to the Father, "I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them." (Joh 17:26)

Isaiah prophesied, "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." (Isa 9:6)

Jesus also equated Himself with the "I AM" title God gave Himself in Exodus 3:14, when "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.'" (Joh 8:58). In Hebrew, this name that we translate "I AM" in English is "YHWH," the tetragrammaton for Yahweh, meaning approximately "he causes to be" or "he creates".  The Hebrews understood the holiness of this name, and did not write it out in full, preferring to use only the four consonants.  Rather than pronounce it, they preferred to say instead, "the Lord."

These passages and others make it clear that the Father and Jesus have the same name, as well as the same title.  It is part of the ancient Hebrew culture for a son to be named after his father, which is why it was so surprising to everyone when Zechariah named his son John (Lk 1:59-63).  We still do the same thing today, naming sons after their father.  The son always carries the father's family name, or surname.  For example, I have the same "Lacroix" name as my father, which is French for "The Cross." And sometimes a son also carries the father's given name.  For example, a father named "Charles" sometimes names his son, "Charles."

The heavenly Father did this when He named His Son Jesus.  However, having the same name does not mean they are the same person.  For more on this topic, see The Name of Jesus.

The Father gives the Spirit 
Many Scriptures teach that it is the Father who gives the Spirit:

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luk 11:13)

"And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." (Luk 24:49)

"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;" (Joh 14:16)

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." (Joh 14:26)

"When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me," (Joh 15:26)

The Spirit of God
The Word of God is full of references to the Spirit of God.  In the Old Testament, He was called the ruach, meaning "wind" or "breath.  In the New Testament, He is called the pneuma, meaning "spirit," "current of air" or "breath."  The Old Testament revealed long ago that not only is God the Father, He also has a Spirit.  

He was present at the dawn of creation: "The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." (Gen 1:2)

There are many other Scriptures in the Old Testament about the Spirit of God.  But here are just a few examples: Is 11:1-2; 61:1; 42:1; Ps 51:11; Ez 11:1.  The prophet Isaiah prophesied that the Spirit of the Lord would be upon Messiah.  King David asked the Lord not to take the Holy Spirit from him.  The prophets, like Ezekiel, said the Spirit lifted them up. Now let's look at some from the New Testament.

"And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit," (Eph 5:18)

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law." (Gal 5:16-18)

"Do not quench the Spirit;" (1Th 5:19)

Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. (1Co 12:3-5)

"They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia;" (Act 16:6)

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed." (Luk 4:18)

c.f., Ac 4:25-31; 1 Co 2:10-16; Jn 20:22; Mt 10:20; Lk 1:15; Rom 8:1-27 (Spirit raised Christ from dead);

For more on this, see The Person of the Holy Spirit.

Outpouring of the Spirit 
Even in the Old Testament book of Joel, the prophet foretold the outpouring of the Spirit that would happen in these last days.

"It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days." (Joe 2:28-29)

For more about the fulfillment of this prophetic promise, see Baptized with the Spirit.

Sevenfold Spirit 
We know there is only one Holy Spirit, since He is referred to in the singular form throughout Scripture, including the book of Revelation.  Yet another very amazing aspect of God is that the Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as the seven-fold Spirit, which is sometimes translated as "the seven Spirits of God."

"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.'"  (Rev 3:1)

"Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God;"  (Rev 4:5; cf., 5:6)

Trinity 
Lastly, I would like to point out some of the Scriptures where the inspired Bible writer referred explicitly to all three members of the Holy Trinity at once:

First of all, when Jesus was baptized, we see all three Persons of the Godhead manifested at once.  Luke wrote in his gospel: "Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, 'You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.'" (Luk 3:21-22).  Jesus was in the water praying to the Father, who was in heaven speaking to Jesus about how pleased He was with His Son, and the Holy Spirit was descending upon Jesus in bodily form.  This is undeniable evidence that the three Persons of the Godhead co-exist simultaneously.  They are not three manifestations of God that occurred at different points in time.

Jesus said, "For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Act 1:5, 7-8)

Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…” (Mat 28:19)

The apostle Peter said to the high priest and his associates, "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him." (Act 5:30-32)

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure."  (1Pe 1:1-2)

"There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." (Eph 4:4-6)

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all." (2Co 13:14)

Then God [Elohim, a plural form of "God"] said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." (Gen 1:26)

Jesus said, "'He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" (Rev 3:21-22)

Each of these passages above refers to the three members of the Trinity separately yet concurrently (cf., Joh 14:16, 26; 15:26).

The Elders' Creed 
The twenty-four elders in heaven gave to a man named Seneca Sodi their creed regarding the Triune God, as recorded in the book by Elwood Scott, called “Forty Days in Heaven.”   If you have not read this account of Seneca Sodi's forty days in heaven, which occurred near the end of the nineteenth century, I encourage you to read it.  You can find it at Insights of God where you can find both PDF and Word formats of the book at this link. Here's an excerpt from the elders' creed:

“The eternal God has revealed Himself to men as Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  The Son of God is and always was divine.  He is the express image of the Father.  There have been many errors and heresies in the church in past ages.  But we worship one Triune God neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substances of the same.  For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is one God.”

 The Prophet Elijah's explanation
One of my favorite people in the Bible is Elijah the prophet.  In John Bunyan’s Vision of Heaven, the holy prophet Elijah, who is apparently one of the twenty-four elders, told him:

“We clearly see here that from eternity God was sole existing, but not solitary, that the Godhead is neither confused in unity, nor divided in number. We see that there is a priority of order but no superiority among the persons of the Trinity, but that they equally have the same excellency and power, and equally are adored.”

This revelation was given to John Bunyan by Elijah in heaven, who is one of the same elders that gave the creed to Seneca Sodi around 1900 AD.  Notice the similarities between A) the Elder's Creed, and B) the prophet Elijah's explanation to John Bunyan:

The Elder's Creed Elijah's explanation to John Bunyan
“neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substances of the same.”  “the Godhead is neither confused in unity, nor divided in number.”
“there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is one God.” “there is a priority of order but no superiority among the persons of the Trinity.”
“we worship one Triune God.” “the persons of the Trinity…equally are adored.”

Putting it All Together
Both the Old and the New Testament Scriptures clearly teach that the Divine Godhead is a Holy Trinity, although the term "trinity" is never used in the Bible. 

Surely the eternal God is One God.  As Moses taught, "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" (Deu 6:4).  We are strictly monotheists.  Nevertheless, He is one Triune God in perfect unity of three Persons -- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  In fact, many times the three Persons of the Trinity are referred to concurrently in Scripture.  They are simultaneous and co-eternal.

Therefore, we should not reject the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, as if it were a form of tritheism.  On the contrary, we should guard against error regarding the Holy Trinity, and believe the truth of God's Word.  Jesus is not only the Son of God, He IS God!  He is the exact representation of God, the perfect image of God.  He sits at right hand of God, reigning in majesty on His throne, and calls the Father “My God”.

The heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are distinct Persons.  One day, Jesus will present his bondservants to the Father.  And just as He prays to the Father, He taught us to pray to the Father as well.  It's the Father who gives the Spirit in the name of Jesus.  And the Holy Spirit is being poured out in these last days, just as the Father promised.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The "Trinity" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note Also see the following posts:

The Person of the Holy Spirit
Baptized with the Spirit
Holy Fire Baptism
Is Jesus God?
The Name of Jesus

You may access more of my articles on the Main Directory of this blog, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master.  Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.