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|Is the Father of Jesus the God of
Dr. Timothy George
Among the many distinctive truths Christians proclaim, the one that sets them apart from Islam most fundamentally is this; The God of the Bible is the God who has forever known himself, and who in Jesus Christ has revealed himself to us, as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The Trinity is the basis for the entire Christian life - the basis of everything we believe and teach. And it is something confessed by all orthodox Christians-Greek Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholic Christians, historic Protestant Christians, and others as well.
Ironically, the doctrine of the Trinity may be at one and the same time the most important and the most neglected doctrine we hold. We are baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We often hear that wonderful Pauline benediction, "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (2 Corinthians 13:14). Yet we so often neglect this teaching.
Why? Perhaps because we cannot understand or explain the Trinity. How can one plus one plus one equal one and three at the same time? Isn't this mathematical madness? Someone has said that those who deny the doctrine of the Trinity. may lose their souls, whereas those who try to explain it will certainly lose their minds! Doesn't the Bible warn against pursuing "foolish and stupid arguments" that breed quarrels (2 Timothy 2:23)? What could be more sterile and useless than a dispute over how to reconcile unity and plurality in the being of God? Is the Trinity even mentioned in the Four Spiritual Laws? No wonder many Christians, evangelicals no less than those with more liberal bents, are happy to follow the lead of Friedrich Schleiermacher, who relegated the doctrine of the Trinity to a few lines at the end of his massive systematic theology titled The Christian Faith. The less said the better!
But belief in the Trinity cannot be so easily cast aside in the Christian encounter with Islam. To Muslims, the Christian belief in God as One and Three seems not only inherently contradictory but also inexcusably derogatory - a denial of the unity of God, for which the harsh word kufr (deliberate, truth-concealing, and lying about God) is not too severe. I believe that we Christians need to revisit the doctrine of the Trinity, not only for apologetic purposes, but also to rekindle our love and devotion to the one true God, the God who in Christ was reconciling the world to himself (2 Corinthians 5:18). In this chapter, after looking first at some statements about the Trinity in the Quran, I want to show how the Trinitarian faith is rooted in biblical revelation. Then, in the following chapter, I aim to extend the discussion further by asking what is so decisively at stake in the Christian understanding of the triune God.
There are several places in the Quran where the Trinity sees to be explicitly denied:
» Unbelievers are those who say: "God is one of three? There is but one God. If they do not desist from so saying, those of them that disbelieve shall be sternly punished (5:73).
» Then God will say: "Jesus son of Mary, did you ever say to mankind: Worship me and my mother as gods besides God?' "Glory be to you," he will answer, "I could never have claimed what I have no right to.... I told them only what you bade me. I said: 'Serve God, my Lord and your Lord'" (5:114).
» People of the Book, do not transgress the bounds of your religion. Speak nothing but the truth about God. Believe in God and his apostles and do not say: "Three":... God will not forgive idolatry. He that serves other gods besides God has strayed far indeed (4:171, 114).
These verses are often cited in Muslim polemics against the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. But some scholars have questioned whether this is really a valid interpretation. The question is this: Do these verses oppose a truly Christian concept of God, or do they misconstrue the latter for what is really a heretical caricature of this teaching?
To answer this question we have to go back to the world into which Muhammad was born and in which he grew up. His grandfather had been the curator of the Kabah in Mecca. Today this cubelike block structure is the focal point for Muslim worship, and we often see it portrayed in media stories about Islam. Before Muhammad, however, this famous shrine was the center of polytheistic worship in Arabia. Camel caravans and Bedouin tribes from the desert went there to offer sacrifices and pay homage to the sacred objects and local deities. The Kabah was a veritable pantheon of such deities - 360 in all, one for nearly every day of the year. We know the names of some of these gods. Three of them Allat, Al-Uzza, and Manat - were acclaimed by the pagans of Mecca to be the "daughters of Allah" (53:19-20). The idea that the Almighty God of Creation should cohabit with mortals and produce progeny was anathema to Muhammad. "What! Shall you have sons, and Allah daughters?" he asked in derision (53:21). It was the mission of Muhammad to destroy this kind of idolatry root and branch.
It is important to remember that Muhammad was born less than two centuries after Saint Augustine died. The doctrine of the Trinity had been clarified and defined by Christians only after centuries of controversy and debate within the church. The Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 declared that the Son was of the same essence as the Father. This countered the view of Anus, a presbyter in Alexandria, who believed that the Son had been created by the Father. The meaning of this teaching was further clarified at three other important church councils - at Constantinople in 381, at Ephesus in 431, and finally at Chalcedon in 451 where the incarnate Christ was declared to be one person (the second person of the Holy Trinity) in two natures: the one nature fully human and the other nature fully divine.
These were - and are - complex notions. It is not surprising that, given the ferocity of the debates and the issues at stake, many Christians did not "get it" all at once. Tritheism, which makes a trio out of the Trinity, continued to flourish on the margins of Christianity for several centuries. This heretical view sometimes Appeared in a sophisticated philosophical form-such as that of John Philoponus. More often, however, tritheism flourished in the more crass and literal versions of popular piety.
Apparently Muhammad had encountered certain quasi-Christians of this latter sort who taught something like this: God had sexual intercourse with the Virgin Mary, resulting in the conception of Jesus. Where did such a bizarre idea come from? The early church father, Epiphanius, tells of a fourth-century heretical sect called the Collyridians. Made up mostly of women, they regarded the Virgin Mary as a goddess and sacrificed little round cakes to her called collyris. We have no evidence that Muhammad came into contact with this particular group, but it is not hard to see how an exaggerated devotion to Mary, together with Eastern portrayals of the Madonna and Child, might have reinforced Muslim misperceptions of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
We do know that Muhammad had contact with more orthodox Christian believers later in his life. We also know that one of the wives he married after Khadija's death was a Coptic Christian from Egypt. However, what is rejected in the Quran itself is not the proper Christian doctrine of the Trinity but rather a heretical belief in three gods. Christians believe just as strongly as Muslims in the oneness of God. We can only agree with the Quran in its rejection of a concocted tritheism.
The word Trinity is not found in the Bible, but the Bible itself is thoroughly Trinitarian from first to last. Despite the fact that Islam regards the Bible as corrupted and unreliable, the Quran itself encourages Muslims to read the Law, the Psalms, and the Gospel - as these Scriptures are called. It is thus imperative for Christians to understand the biblical basis of the Trinitarian doctrine of God. In simplest terms, we can say this: The doctrine of the Trinity is the necessary theological framework for understanding the story of Jesus as the story of God. It is the exposition of the Old Testament affirmation "God is one" and the New Testament confession "Jesus is Lord," neither of which can be understood apart from the person of the Holy Spirit.
God Is One: the Unity of God
We begin with a confession that God is one. Christians are just as vehement as Jews and Muslims in affirming what is known in Islam as tawhid - a loyal recognition of the fundamental unity of God, a sentiment enshrined in the first formula of the Shahada: "There is no god but God." This confession goes back to Deuteronomy 6:4 (the famous Shema Israel): "Hear, O Israel: the Lord... our God, the LORD is one." This thought is repeated throughout the Old Testament. Jesus quotes this statement in the New Testament as the first and greatest of all the commandments: "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:29 - 39). Jesus believed and taught the oneness of God as foundational to his own messianic vocation.
How did this belief in the oneness of God arise within the faith of Israel? It was the cornerstone.of God's self-revelation to Moses and the prophets over against the polytheism of the culture around them. Like Arabia in the time of Muhammad, the ancient world of the Jews was filled with numerous competing deities. It was a world in which nature - animals, trees, rivers - was regarded as divine, or at least under the control of various divinities. Out of this setting arose the tradition of idolatry against which the Old Testament prophets blasted again and again with furious power.
Polytheism is the religion of paganism. The Hebrew prophets attacked it as vigorously, and sometimes as violently, as Muhammad did. Why? Because they saw in the worship of the idols a relapse into the world of unreality. This is why Jeremiah scorns the idols of wood and silver made by the craftsmen who painted and covered them in blue and purple clothes - all dressed up but nowhere to go! They are "senseless and foolish," "worthless," "a fraud" "objects of mockery"; they cannot speak or walk but must be carried everywhere, like the dummies they really are, like "a scarecrow in a melon patch" (Jeremiah 10:1 - 16).
By contrast, the God who created heaven and earth is the living God, the eternal King, the Maker of all things. He alone is worthy of worship and praise: "This is what the LORD says - Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God" (Isaiah 44:6). This same message was preached without compromise in the New Testament by Jesus, the apostles, and the evangelists. In speaking to the worshipers of Zeus and Hermes in Lynn, Paul and Barnabas declared, "We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven, and earth and sea and everything in them" (Acts 14:15; see also Acts 17:29-30).
In the Bible, the nature and character of God is not arrived at by philosophical speculation but by looking at the words and acts of God in history. Nothing is more clear in the Old Testament than the fundamental oneness of God. Yet in the context of such an unyielding monotheism, we can recognize foreshadowings of the Trinitarian revelation in the Old Testament. It is there at the creation. In the beginning, God created by speaking his word, and the Spirit of God (the ruach) was also there - hovering over the darkness that was over the surface of the deep. There are the "divine plurals" of Genesis 1:26 ("Let us make man in our own image") and Isaiah 6:8 ("Who will go for us?"). There is the angel of the Lord, who wrestles with Jacob at the river Jabbok, leaving Jacob-blessed but broken - to say, "I saw God face to face" (Genesis 32:30).
All of this points to a living, dynamic, nonstatic oneness - to a God who is characterized by self-distinction, a God who can communicate himself as well as his will to human beings made in his image. When Christians in the early church read these Old Testament passages in the light of Jesus Christ, they saw there vestiges of the Trinity. But the Trinity was not spelled out in clarity and fullness all at once. It took time in God's unfolding revelation to achieve that clarity. Not until Jesus Christ himself came "when the time had fully come," as Paul puts it in Galatians 4:4, were God's children able to see through the veil and behold in the face of Jesus "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God" (2 Corinthians 4:6).
There are many other foreshadowings in the Old Testament as well. For example, in Proverbs, wisdom is frequently spoken of, and sometimes treated as, a personification of God himself. By wisdom God created all things (Proverbs 3:19). In the New Testament, we find wisdom spoken of in the closest association with Jesus Christ, almost as though it were one of his proper names (see 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2:7-8). Then there are all the amazing theophanies and Christophanies (visible manifestations of God or Christ) - the thee mysterious visitors that came to see Abraham (Genesis 18:2), the fourth man Nebuchadnezzar saw walking in the flames of the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:24-25) - events pointing beyond themselves to a fuller revelation yet to come. Saint Augustine expressed this principle well in a wonderful Latin phrase: in vetere testamento novum latet et in novo vetus patet ("In the old covenant the new is concealed, as in the new the old is revealed").
Jesus Is Lord: the Deity of Christ
The unity of God revealed in the Old Testament - and reiterated and reconfirmed in the New - is given a fuller, deeper expo-sition in the light of Jesus' life and ministry. The Old Testament affirmation "God is one" is matched by the New Testament confession "Jesus is Lord." To call Jesus Lord, not just with the lips but from the heart, is to become a Christian, for it is also to recognize Almighty God as heavenly Father, and this can only hap-pen through the power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 12:3). To say "Jesus is Lord" is the New Testament way of declaring the deity of Jesus Christ - of affirming his essential Oneness with the Father.
This theme is woven throughout the entire New Testament, but nowhere is it more explicitly developed than in the prologue to John's gospel (John 1:1 - 18). It is not a coincidence that two key books of the Bible begin with the same phrase:
» Genesis 1:1-"In the beginning God created...." God spoke, and worlds that were not came into being.
» John 1:1: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning."
What "beginning" does John refer to? It is a beginning that antedates the Incarnation. It goes beyond and even before the creation. It is a beginning before all other beginnings. The Greek is simple: en archê, as the primordial first principle of all things and all times - in the beginning that we can speak of only as eternity. In this beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John is speaking about what we must call a relationship. The Word was "with God" (Greek, pros ton theon), which really means, "face to face with God." In the verse that concludes John's prologue (1:18), we read, "No one has ever seen God, but God, the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known." Regrettably, this rendering in the NIV doesn't capture the depth of meaning in the relationship between the Father and the Word. The King James Version gets closer to the sense of the text when it declares that Jesus was "in the bosom of the Father."
"At the Father's side"? You can go to a ball game with someone who walks alongside you. That's a chum, a friend. This is not the concept John wants to get across. No, the Word, the one who was "in the beginning face to face" with God, is the very one "which is in the bosom of the Father" - this connotes an intimacy, a relationship, a unity that a mere "alongside" comes nowhere near. John is saying that Jesus Christ, the one who has come to make God known to us, has shared with the Father an eternal life of intimacy and intercommunion, a life of mutual self-giving and love "in the bosom" of the Father from all eternity.
One verse in John's prologue summarizes the Christian faith more completely than any other text in the Bible: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (1:14 KJV). Some translations read, "And the Word became a human being." But the meaning goes deeper and is stronger than that. The Word became flesh. Flesh is the part of our human reality that is most vulnerable, gets sick, grows tired, and experiences disease, decay, and death. This is the stupendous claim the Bible makes. Allah (the Arabic name for God) became flesh ... God was in Christ.
This was, and is, a scandalous thought, not only to orthodox Muslims but also to Jewish teachers, Greek philosophers, and religious thinkers of all kinds. Christianity stands or falls with the Incarnation, just as it stands or falls with the Trinity. The glory of the Trinity is that God was able to share his life with the world he had made - and to do so without ceasing to be truly God, without compromising his fundamental unity. The wonder of the Incarnation is not only that God could do this, but that he was willing to do this. The wonder is that, in fact, in fleshly fact, he has actually done so.
How was the reality of God recognized in the ministry of Jesus? Not so much by divine assertion as by inference and implication from his words and deeds. These five activities, among others, set Jesus apart from all other prophets and rabbis who came before or after him:
1. Jesus' remarkable freedom to teach with authority and to fulfill the law and reinterpret it according to a higher standard, as seen, for example, in his "but I tell you" sayings (Matthew 5:17 - 48)
2. Jesus' ability to drive out demons and confront Satan (Matthew 11:14-22)
3. Jesus' unique filial relationship with God (Matthew 11:27)
4. Jesus' bestowal of unconditional forgiveness (Mark 2:1 - 12; Luke 15:11-32)
5. Jesus' receiving of worship from others, including the accla-mation of Thomas after the resurrection ("My Lord and my God'" [John 20:28])
As the early church reflected on these and other events in Jesus' life, they realized that they were in touch with a reality and a power that could only be accounted for as the presence of God himself in their midst. And so they remembered one of the names associated with his nativity ("Immanuel - which means, 'God with us'" [Matthew 1:23]).
The Holy Spirit as Personal Reality
These first two Christian affirmations - God is one, and Jesus is Lord - have been doubted and denied and fought over by Christian theologians from New Testament times onward. In the second century, the unity of God was called into question by a heretic named Marcion. He was excommunicated from the church at Rome in AD. 144. Marcion said, in effect, "I like the God of Jesus. He's a God of love; he's a God of mercy and tenderness. But I don't like the God of the Old Testament. He's a mean God, a mad God, a God of war and violence." So Marcion proposed that the entire Old Testament be cut out of the Bible. But the church said, No, we're not going down that road. It was perhaps the single most important decision made in the history of Christian doctrine. The dualism of Marcion would have torn apart the essential unity of God. By declaring that the Father of Jesus is the God of Israel - the God of the Old Testament - the church affirmed a fundamental connection between creation and redemption. More than anything else, this decision saved Christianity from becoming just another mystery religion, simply a private salvation - cult unconcerned with the real world of space, time, and history.
The lordship and deity of Jesus Christ was denied in the fourth century by a man named Arius. His theology was a catalyst for the formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity at the Council of Nicaea, and I'll return to his ideas in the next chapter. When Arius denied that the Son of God was of the same fundamental reality as the Father, the church had to say, No, we can't and won't go that way either. The one whom we adore and worship and love - Jesus our Redeemer - is of the same essence as the Father. We are not talking about two different gods. We are talking about only one God, but this one God has forever known himself as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Edward Cooper puts it this way in his 1805 hymn "Father in Heaven, Whose Love Profound":
Jehovah - Father, Spirit, Son -
Mysterious Godhead, Three in One,
Before Thy throne we sinners bend;
Grace, pardon, life to us extend.
The third central Christian affirmation is that the Holy Spirit is personal. There was a long and bitter struggle over this claim as well. Many thought of the Holy Spirit as a force, an energy, a power - but not God. Over against the Spirit-fighters (called this because they challenged the deity of the Holy Spirit), the church declared that God is one in essence and three in person. The Holy Spirit, no less than the Father and the Son, is fully divine. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit baptizes (1 Corinthians 12:13); he can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30); he groans (Romans 8:26). These are all things a person does. The Holy Spirit is a person and in relation to the Father and the Son - yet one God, forever and ever.
Great Is the Mystery
The difference between Christianity and Islam over the doctrine of the Trinity is not a question about the oneness of God. It is a question about the nature of that oneness. Both faith traditions affirm without hesitation the absolute uniqueness and unity of the one God over against all idolatry and polytheism. But Christians believe that the unity of God can allow differentiation without fragmentation. It remains for us to say why this teaching is so important, why, in fact, it is at the heart of the Christian faith. Beyond all question, Paul says, great is the mystery of our faith (1 Timothy 3:16). At the end of the day, we have to admit that the Trinity remains, ultimately, a mystery. Even in eternity we will never comprehend it. But we are called to confess it and believe it, and live out our lives in the light of the one God who is merciful and mighty - and perfect in power, in love, and in purity. We confess the Holy Trinity with godly humility and awe, the kind of trembling response John experienced on the island of Patmos as he fell at the feet of the risen Christ. In the revelation of the Trinity, God invites us into the innermost sanctuary of his own eternal heart. And we can only respond with surprise and wonder at such grace.
The Trinity leads to humility, and it issues forth in doxology. Sadly, hymns about the Trinity are seldom sung anymore, except for Reginald Heber's majestic "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!" But there is a wonderful hymn by the Latin poet Prudentius, who lived in the fourth century when the struggle for the doctrine of the Trinity was still a matter of life and death in the church. Prudentius's "Of the Father's Love Begotten" invites us to join our praise with that of the angels and the saints above:
Christ, to Thee with God the Father
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
And unwearied praises be.
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore! Amen.
1 Corinthians 1:30; 2:7-8 - It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1 Corinthians 12:3 - Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:13 - For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
1 Timothy 3:16 - Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
2 Corinthians 4:6 - For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:18 - All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
2 Corinthians 13:14 - May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2 Timothy 2:23 - Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.
Acts 14:15 - "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.
Acts 17:29-30 - "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an image made by man's design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
Daniel 3:24-25 - Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king." He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."
Deuteronomy 6:4 - Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
Ephesians 4:30 - And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Galatians 4:4 - But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,
Galatians 4:6 - Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."
Genesis 1:26 - Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
Genesis 18:2 - Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
Genesis 32:30 - So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."
Isaiah 6:8 - Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
Isaiah 44:6 - "This is what the LORD says- Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.
Jeremiah 10:1 - 16 - Hear what the LORD says to you, O house of Israel. This is what the LORD says: "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good." No one is like you, O LORD ; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you. They are all senseless and foolish; they are taught by worthless wooden idols. Hammered silver is brought from Tarshish and gold from Uphaz. What the craftsman and goldsmith have made is then dressed in blue and purple- all made by skilled workers. But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath. "Tell them this: 'These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.' " But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding. When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. Everyone is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. His images are a fraud; they have no breath in them. They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish. He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Maker of all things, including Israel, the tribe of his inheritance- the LORD Almighty is his name.
John 1:1 - 18 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' " From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.
John 20:28 - Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Luke 15:11-32 - Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. ' "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' " 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "
Mark 2:1 - 12 - A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, "Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ." He said to the paralytic, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"
Mark 12:29 - 39 - "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions. Whose Son Is the Christ While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, "How is it that the teachers of the law say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: " 'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet." ' David himself calls him 'Lord.' How then can he be his son?" The large crowd listened to him with delight. As he taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.
Matthew 1:23 - "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" --which means, "God with us."
Matthew 5:17 - 48 - "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, ' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
"It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.'But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
An Eye for an Eye
"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Love for Enemies
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 11:14-22 - And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear. "To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: " 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions." Woe on Unrepentant Cities Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. "Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.
Matthew 11:27 - "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Proverbs 3:19 - By wisdom the LORD laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place;
Romans 8:26 - In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
Taken from Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? by Dr. Timothy George, copyright 2002. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI 49530. You can order Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? for a total of $12 by calling the Issues, Etc. resource line at 1-800-737-0172.
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