"The Spirit of the Apostles is not a guide equal or greater than the Lord, thus Paul within his letters does not have as much authority as has Christ." (Carlstadt, Canonicis Scripturis (1520))

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Without Paul, What Does It Mean To Become A Christian?

How do we lead someone to Christ if we no longer have the Pauline formula for salvation which is we must merely believe Jesus is Lord and resurrected? (Romans 10:8-9.) What do we have if the gospel is not merely accepting that Jesus died for our sins? (1 Cor. 15:1-4.)

Listen to Jesus again. When Peter made the confession that Jesus is the “Messiah, the Son of the Living God,” Jesus replied that Peter was the rock upon which Jesus would build his “church,’ i.e., assembly. (Matt. 16:16-18.) If Jesus tells us this particular confession makes you a believing member of His church, then we need to be able to convince someone that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah (King), the Son of God of the Original Testament.

We have ample confirmation that this is a vital step—a step overlooked in modern evangelism. John in the conclusion of his gospel says he could have included many more things about Jesus, but “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.” (John 20:30-31.) This is the believing that makes you a Christian, not the ideas put forth in Romans 10:8-9. It is thus no coincidence that John’s goal is we have a faith that identically matches the statement of Peter in Matthew 16:16-18. The goal of John is to evoke the same response from you and me that Peter gave Jesus: Jesus is Messiah - our King over us -- and the Son of God.

A further example proving this is key is that after Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus’ first effort was to explain the fulfilment of the prophecies about Himself:

And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27) (ASV)

Likewise, Jesus in His ministry explained that true faith in Him comes from believing the prophecies about Him from the Law of Moses. Jesus says “if you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me.” (John 5:46.) Moses gave an account of two highly specific prophecies about the Messiah: the Shiloh prophecy of Genesis ch. 49 and the Star Prophecy of Numbers ch. 24.

Furthermore, in the book of Acts, we also find a vivid reminder that conversion is recognition of Jesus as Messhiach in the prophetic sense. (Acts 8:31-34.) There we read of an Ethiopian eunuch who asks Philip to explain to him a Messianic passage from Isaiah. Philip does so. The Eunuch realizes Jesus is Messhiach in the prophetic sense. The Eunuch is converted and baptized.

This is also the message behind the salvation of the thief on the cross. He publicly confessed that Jesus was the coming king. The thief says “Jesus, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom.” (Luke 23:42.) As we shall see below, the title Messiah was only used once in Scripture in a prophetic sense—in the book of Daniel. Instead, the typical prophecy is about a figure who is a coming ideal king whose kingdom will not end. The thief therefore was confessing Jesus was this coming king. The Rabbis had interpreted this king to be the Prince Messhiach of whom Daniel spoke. Thus, the Rabbis often gave this coming king the title of Messiah. The thief said the right thing under pressure. In response to the thief’s acknowledgment, Jesus says the thief will be with Him that day in Paradise. (Luke 23:43.)

Thus, unless we have these Original Testament Messianic prophecies in mind, how can we make someone confess Jesus is Messiah, the Son of the Living God? Without significant knowledge of these prophecies, any confession that Jesus is Messiah would simply be the meaningless recitation of words.

 

So What Is The Consequence Of This Confession?

So what is the point of proving from prophecy Jesus is the Messiah King to come, the Son of the Living God? The thief on the cross knew the meaning. The Ethiopic eunuch knew. Everyone was waiting for "The Prophet" to come. In Jesus' time, everyone knew this confession above implicated the command of Deuteronomy 18:17-18 -- the single most important passage for anyone claiming to be a Christian to know about (and which Peter in Acts 3:22-26 applied to Jesus).

This psasage says that God will require every man to obey every word of THE Prophet -- that is, the Messiah King. This is because everything this prophet says is directly from God. No divine visions are involved. Such visions, God says in Numbers 12:1-14, are not as clear as the direct mode He will communicate through The Prophet. The quote from Deuteronomy 18:17-18 reads:

17 And the Lord [Yahweh] said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken.18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

For more on this, see The Jesus Words Only Principle Explained.

What Prophecies Do We Need to Study?

So what prophecies should we learn about?

Previously, in my book Jesus’ Words Only, we learned about the Star Prophecy of Numbers 24, the Shiloh-Messiah prophecy of Genesis 49:10 et seq., and the precise prediction in Daniel 9:25-26. You have tasted but a small sample of the many prophecies which a follower of Messiah (Cristos in Greek) should know about and be able to explain.

These exciting prophecies were intended as an objective way to prove who Jesus truly was. Jesus contemplated conversion was not simply an emotional feeling about Him. What passes for faith today is often merely the acceptance that Jesus is an atoning sacrifice. While true, standing alone, it is a merely an abstract hope that Jesus’ death means something to you. Unless you know the reason that Jesus’ death gives you hope, you merely have wishful thinking which you are mistaking for faith. Instead, you must know who Jesus truly was, why His sacrifice means something, and how to explain your hope in Jesus as Messiah - your King.1

In fact, Peter tells us we should know rationally how to prove the basis for our hope: "be ready to always give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you." (1 Peter 3:15.)

Thus, if someone claims to be a convert, our new member screening should ask how they would prove Jesus is Messiah (King), Son of the Living God. If they lack any knowledge of the Law & Prophets sufficient to make the confession, they need to study so they can “give a reason for the hope that is in them.”

Do you know the reason for your hope in Jesus as Messiah? Do you even know what the word Messiah—Cristos—means?

Most Christians think they have the whole story by accepting Jesus atoned for our transgressions. (Isaiah 53:1-12.) That aspect of prophecy, which almost all Christians know, does not by itself prove Jesus is Messiah. Many people have suffered on a cross. That the Messiah would suffer does not prove Jesus is Messiah. So do you know why Jesus fulfills the Messianic prophecies, and they point only to Jesus? And that accepting Jesus as Messiah means accepting Him as your spiritual King?

Direct Prophecies vs. Other Less Persuasive Prophecies

The Original Testament is certainly sometimes entirely enigmatic about the Messiah. You have to pull together disparate verses to make a cogent whole—just as you must do to identify the Benjamite wolf from Genesis ch. 49. Once you do so, then the figure of Messiah clearly emerges, just as the figure of the Benjamite wolf emerges from the same process.

In both Messianic and Benjamite wolf prophecies, the meaning sometimes is direct but other times it is by a metaphorical type. The latter type prophecy is not helpful to convince a skeptic. An example of a metaphorical type prophecy is that King Saul serves as a picture of Saul-Paul later: a Benjamite who after conversion resists giving the House of David its right of control over God’s people. King Saul is a perfect type of Paul, but if you are not already convinced Paul is like King Saul, you remain unpersuaded.

Direct Prophecies vs. Other Less Persuasive Prophecies

Among the messianic prophetic type prophecies, we find Israel is often a type for Jesus. Hosea says “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt” (Hos 11:1). In Matthew 2:15, we find this is cited as prophecy of Jesus—when Jesus’ parents return from Egypt where they took Jesus to protect Him from Herod. But who reading Hosea 11:1 would imagine this is a prophecy about Jesus? Only if you are otherwise aready convinced that Jesus is Messiah would you see the type that Israel served as a foreshadowing of what would happen to Messiah.

Thus, because type prophecies are abstracted from a different context, they will not inspire confidence from a skeptic. Such prophecies are therefore not convincing to a non-believer.

Another form of indirect proof that has no benefit to a skeptic is what I call potentially biased specific details. These are proofs from specific details that a skeptic would easily believe are fabricated as part of the Christian gospel. For example, whether Zecharias prophesied Messiah would be sold for 30 pieces of silver or not cannot convince a skeptic. The only proof it ever happened is in the gospel accounts which easily could be fabrications.

The only proof that can make a convert is direct evidence. Such evidence means direct prophecies from Hebrew Scripture that do not depend on you trusting the New Testament’s accuracy. Rather, you assume a skeptic will read the Gospel accounts provisionally to simply prove to themself the bare fact that some people in the first century A.D. attributed certain words to a man named Yahshua / Yeshua (Jesus). If they are truly seeking God, they will admit the loftiness, sublimeness and brilliant wittiness of Jesus that appears in no other literature before or since.2 Then in light of this, a skeptic can read the Hebrew Scriptures to see if there is prophecy, or a combination of prophecy, that only Jesus could match which simultaneously explains the amazing literary achievement of the gospels themselves.

Even the famous historian Will Durant recognizes the ‘miracle’ of the literary achievement of the gospels apart from whether they are true or false:

That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic, and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the gospels. After two centuries of higher criticism [i.e. unkind criticism] the outlines of the life, character, and teaching of Christ remain reasonably clear, and constitute the most fascinating feature in the history of Western man.3

A non-traditionalist as honest as Thomas Jefferson agreed. The writer of our Declaration of Independence also created a selection of Jesus’ moral statements in what is called Jefferson’s Bible. In describing his goal, Jefferson said Jesus’ words represent “the most sublime of morality which has ever been exhibited to man.”4 Jefferson added that “the moral precepts of Jesus were more pure, correct and sublime than those of the ancient philosophers.”5 And finally, “a more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen.”6

Thus, Christians should take advantage of the greatness of Jesus’ thought to convince people what explains that greatness. We should focus on direct prophecies to convert people who have recognized the gospels represent a virtual miracle by their mere existence apart from any truth they may contain. On the other hand, indirect prophecies are worthless in evangelism. They can nourish you, as a believer, but they will not convince a non-believer.

With these points in mind, let’s explore what direct prophecies Jesus intended you to use to obtain a convert in conjunction, of course, with the bare fact that an extraordinary literary achievement appears in these first century gospel accounts.

The First Direct Prophecies of a Messianic Figure

First, in Genesis 3:15, we see a prophecy that a man would be bruised in his heal but later crush the serpent. This portends a human figure would be injured yet destroy Satan in the end. Then in Genesis 49:10 et seq., we see a prince of peace (Shiloh) one day will come and whose garments will be “washed in the blood of grapes.” He will be a ruler someday over Judea. This would be in the latter days. In Isaiah 63:1 et seq., God speaks of Himself coming with “glorious apparel” but His garments are “red” because of treading the winepress. (Isaiah 63:2.) There is no mistaking this is God Yahweh:

I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yea, I trod them in mine anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my raiment. (Isa 63:3)(ASV).

When we pull these verses together, we see God so far tells us that the slayer of the serpent is a human figure whose heal is initially bruised by Satan. God tells us next that Shiloh (a human prince of peace - Shiloh being a form of Shalom meaning peace) will come to rule Judea / Judah and his garments will be splattered with the winepress. Then God reveals in Isaiah 63 that He Himself is within this human figure with blood on his garments - the Shiloh Prince of Peace. The wine is blood, not real wine. The nature of Messiah is emerging slowly. (Provide a preview to your listener that Jesus said the "father dwells in me." John 14:10.)

Next, David in Psalm 72 speaks of a king that is an ideal king. As we read it, this king goes from being ambiguous on divinity to being more and more certainly apparently indwelled by God Himself. Of this king, David prophesies a universal kingdom: “Yea, all kings shall fall down before him; All nations shall serve him.” (Psa 72:11) All peoples will constantly focus on this King and pray for him. “And men shall pray for him continually; They shall bless him all the day long.”(Psa 72:15).

The Star Prophecy

The Star Prophecy of Balaam of Numbers 24:16-19 now takes on importance. It tells us more about the King of Psalm 72 who will rule the world. This prophecy predicts a star would rise “over Judea” that would signal the birth of one who is destined to rule over the nations.7 There is actual astronomical evidence for such a “star” at the time of Jesus.

This “star” actually was the conjunction of several planets that would appear to humans as a new star—an event occuring every 900 years. The conjoined-planets rose in the morning at crucial junctures from August 12, 3 B.C. to June 17, 2 B.C.8 If you tracked their conjoined-motion from appearance-event to appearance-event (which was sometimes separated by several months), and you lived in Mesopotamia, where the Magi likely came from, then these planets would appear in your eastern sky and be reappearing in a gradual western and southernly direction—directly drawing you toward Jerusalem. (Bethlehem is 6 miles from Jerusalem.)

The correct translation of Matthew 2:2 reveals this is what the Magi were doing. If you are aware of how astronomical events can provide directions, Matthew’s language signifies they were doing morning measurements of the star’s rising point to detect direction. However, the King James version does not make this clear, having the Magi say “we have seen his star in the east.” This misleads some to think the Magi saw it when they were living in the East. (Barnes.) A more accurate translation is “we have seen his star at its rising.” (Robertson Word Pictures.) As astronomers, they were doing morning measurements. This is when stars rise—actually the visible planets rise—but the ancients called them stars. Tracking that way, one would know precisely what direction to follow if one believed the star was directing you toward a place on earth. As the rising point and motion upward changed each time the star was spotted, a direction could be detected. It would be as if the moon rose at a gradually shifting point and moved upward in the sky to the east, west, north or south. Using the motion as a compass, you can find a location on earth corresponding to the star’s location.

Interestingly enough, as Carroll explains, this movement of the “star” eventually stopped at a significant juncture. This conjunction disconnected at precisely December 25, 2 B.C. On that date, Jupiter, the largest of the conjoined planets, and visible to the naked eye, would appear to “stop” in the sky, as long as you now had arrived at Jerusalem. This was Jupiter’s normal stationary position at dawn. (Jesus was already born for some time when the Magi arrived, so this is not a way to know the month and day of Jesus’ birth. Carrol presents the case for an actual birth in September.)

Is this 2-3 B.C. conjunction of planets the star of Matthew 2:2? Yes, for it is corroborated by the fact we know of the census of Caesar Augustus. It was an oath-taking process required of all people in the Roman empire and client kingdoms. This began in the late summer or early autumn of 3 B.C. So if this is the same census spoken about in the gospels, it would bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem by the time Jupiter “stopped” over Jerusalem (6 miles away)— no later than December 25, 3 B.C. (Jesus was likely born in September, for reasons related to Luke's details on the Baptist's father's Levitical service dates, and how far along his mother's pregnancy was when compared by Luke to Mary's point in her term.)

It likewise coincides with Luke saying Jesus’ ministry began in the 15th year of Tiberius. (Luke 3:1.) Using Eastern calculations, Ernest Martin says this would be anytime between Tishri 27-28 A.D.9 Luke likewise says Jesus was “about 30 years old” when He began His ministry. (Luke 3:23.) This means Luke is saying Jesus was born about 3 B.C.

Accordingly, there is astronomical proof to corroborate Luke’s statement. It was in that period of 3-2 B.C. that a new “star” appeared to persons living East of Judea, which if tracked in the morning to detect direction, would lead one directly to Judea and to Jerusalem.

Why were the Magi looking for such a star at this precise time? Why did they seize upon this morning star movement in 3-2 B.C., and then start tracking and following its directions?

The answer makes us turn to the most convincing and undeniable prophecy of Messiah in the Original Testament.

The Prophecy of Daniel

How would the Magi in Matthew 2:1-2 possibly have known of this Star Prophecy and be on the lookout for a star in 3-2 B.C.? The answer is simple: the prophet Daniel was appointed head of the Magi of Babylon (Dan. 2:48) in 604 B.C. The Magi would have learned through Daniel the words of the Law of Moses. This would include the Star Prophecy in Numbers ch. 24.

In fact, this Star Prophecy appears to have had international recognition by the time of Christ even beyond the Magi. Suetonius, a Roman historian, wrote in his Lives of the Twelve Emperors about this prophecy circulating in Christ’s day. Suetonius did not call it the Star Prophecy, but one can readily see its outlines in his discussion. Suetonius wrote:

There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief that it was fated at that time for a man coming from Judaea to rule the world. This prediction, referring to the emperor of Rome, as it turned out, the Jews took to themselves, and they revolted accordingly [in 66 A.D.]. (Suetonius, Vespasian 4.5.)

Yet, why would the Magi be looking for the Star in 3-2 B.C. in particular?

The answer is that Daniel in 604 B.C. gave a precise prophecy on the date for the appearance and death of Messiah, using that title specifically

Up to this point in Scripture, we have seen there were only enigmatic references to a Jewish Messiah figure. He was some amazing king or prince with special qualities. How did the label Messhiach get attached to this figure? Kings were all annointed in those days as part of their installation ceremony. Messhiach means in English annointed one. Thus, ancient Jewish writers began calling this emerging princely or king figure the Messhiach.

In fact, in Scripture, Daniel was the first to specifically use the title Messhiach to describe this prince figure. Daniel was also the first to predict the precise date of the appearance and “cutting off” of this prince Messiah. In fact, this is the only passage in the Original Testament that uses the word Messiah (“Annointed One”) in a prophetic direct sense. All other Messianic prophecies actually only refer to a mysterious ruler / king who is coming.

Daniel prophesied in 604 B.C. that the prince “Messiah” would come and be “cut off” (karath) -- meaning 'killed' --  after 69 periods of "seven" (typically translated as weeks) from the time the order would go forth to rebuild the temple. (Dan. 9:25-26.) The Bible counts "sevens" for days or "years," as the Sabbath rest of the land was every "seven" of years, i.e., a "week" of years. With that in mind, now read Daniel 9:25:

Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the anointed one [Messhiach], the prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore [i.e., 60] and two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times. (Dan 9:25)

And after the threescore and two weeks [i.e., the end of the 69 periods of seven] shall the anointed one [Messhiach] be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined. (Dan 9:26)

One can also see in verse 26 that Daniel prophesies the destruction of the Temple, which took place in 70 A.D. If Jesus was not the Messiah, then we must find someone else prior to 70 A.D. who was the Messiah. We would have to assume we simply have ignored the true Messiah all this time.

Now this prophecy of the appearance and the “cut[ing] off” of Messiah prince has a precise time prediction: it is 69 weeks after the order to rebuild Solomon’s Temple. It laid in ruins when Daniel spoke. Thus, also please realize there is another prophecy in this verse, namely that the Temple had to be rebuilt before Messiah prince came. Then verse 26 prophesies this rebuilt temple would be destroyed soon after the Messiah is cut off. 

So what is 69 weeks? As mentioned before, it is typical to call a seven year period a week due to the Sabbath-cycle of resting the land every seven years. Thus, 69 weeks of years equals 483 years.

When did the order go forth to rebuild the temple? The Jewish Encyclopedia says this order went forth 444 B.C. In the article “Nehemiah,” in The Jewish Encyclopedia of Judaism (1989) at 520, we read that Nehemiah

arrived in Jerusalem in 444 BCE with an appointment as governor of Judah . . . [and his] first action was to rebuild . . . [the Temple of] Jerusalem.

Jews, of course, have no vested interest to assist Christians prove Jesus is Messiah. Thus, if their own reference works say this order was in 444 B.C., or thereabouts, then we can accept this as undisputed fact.

Now what is 483 years after 444 B.C.? Do we use our Julian system of years? Or was a year differently defined in the Bible? The same encyclopedia says:

The Jewish Calendar is based on a lunar year of 12 months, each month of 29 or 30 days [i.e., 360 days]. (Encyclopedia of Judaism, supra, at 145)

The Bible thus is based on a lunar year. Using this 360-day lunar calendar, 483 lunar years after 444 B.C. is A.D. 33. This is because 173,880 days (483 x 360) equals 476 solar years. When you move 476 solar years beyond 444 B.C., you land directly upon the year 33 A.D. Daniel thus said Messiah is to come and be cut off in 33 A.D.

This is the very time in which Jesus lived and his followers claimed He was crucified in Jerusalem. Thus, the Magi could deduce that anywhere within a generation (40 years) prior to 33 A.D. or thereabouts, there would be the Star rising over Judea to signify the birth of the new king. Perhaps they were on the watch as early as 7 B.C.

Daniel’s prophecy is astonishing in detail. The Messiah must come after the Temple is rebuilt but before it is destroyed again. This puts his time frame as between 444 B.C. and 70 A.D. Then Daniel prophesies the precise time of Messiah’s coming and being “cut off” as 33 A.D. or thereabout. One can honestly say that if someone in Jesus’ era was not the Messiah, Daniel’s prophecy never can come true.

Cut Off By Piercing

Even though Daniel is the clearest Messianic prophecy, and incapable of any misunderstanding, we are left with a puzzle. Who is this Messiah? If he can be murdered, how can he rule the world? (Numbers ch. 24.) If he can be murdered, how could he be the divine figure of Psalm 72 who appears to both King and indwelled by the Father? If he can be killed, how will he kill Satan? (Gen. 3:15.) It is through the prophet Zechariah that this quandry is solved.

In Zechariah, we read a prophecy in which God, using a first person direct object me, refers to Himself being pierced. We read:

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born. (Zec 12:10) (ASV)

One can see that after God says He Himself is pierced, He disjoins Himself and says they shall “mourn for him.” The pierced one appears to be distinct from God yet somehow God identifies Himself with Him -- which Jesus's explanation perfectly suits as the solution -- "the father dwells in me." (John 14:10.)

This strange change from me to him compels us to accept Jesus' explanation when one realizes the unparalleled literary achievement found in the gospels. There we find the picture of a man named Jesus whose words are extraordinarily brilliant and lofty—one could say divine if one ‘didn’t know better.’ We are told that He is pierced by a spear. Now the passage makes perfect sense, when we are honest enough to admit the words and life of this man are such an extraordinary literary achievement that we have no better explanation than what Zechariah offers: this person is somehow "me" (God) and "him" - a son who dies and is mourned in death somehow.  The following statement by Jesus perfectly explains Zechariah: the "father dwells in me." (John 14:10.)

While that spear-piercing story could be added as a fabrication in the gospels, we must realize that unless it truly happened, then how do we explain Zechariah saying God Himself will be pierced and then everyone will look on “him” and mourn for him as for an only son? That’s far harder to explain than to believe the gospel account that Jesus was pierced by a spear. The gospel account is the only way Zechariah’s piercing prophecy ever can make sense. It is otherwise totally baffling, which is what makes the gospel account such a non-intuitive fulfilmment worthy of credibility. No one would have conceived solving the puzzle by an elaborate ruse of creating the figure of Jesus.

This Zechariah prophecy continues. It promises that in that day of the piercing of "me" (God) that forgiveness will then flow from Jerusalem. We read:

In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. (Zec 13:1)(ASV)

Somehow this piercing of "me" and mourning for him is the signal of the fountain of living water that will bring cleaning and forgiveness of sin. One might suspect Christians wrote this prophetic work. However, Zechariah is not a Christian work, but an Original Testament prophet to the Jewish people sounding like a Christian would talk.

This day of piercing also signals the end of any new prophets: the him and the me are the last prophet. (Zechariah 13:3-5.) “I will cause the prophets...to pass out of the land.” (Zech. 13:2.) Anyone who thereafter claims to be a prophet, everyone will know to call him a “liar” or “one that speaks lies.” (Zech.13:3.)

Incidentally, if we apply this last prophecy to determine the inspired portion of the New Testament -- of course after John the Baptist who precedes Jesus as a prophet, then only Jesus in Matthew, John and Revelation can be inspired. No one who lives after Jesus is a prophet (unless raised from the dead, which will happen according to the Book of Revelation for the two witnesses—who some believe are Moses and Enoch.) Thus, Paul could not possibly have been a prophet because he came after Christ. Just one more reason to hold tightly to the words of Jesus.

Micah Says A Bethlehemite Shall Be From Everlasting

Next, when one provisionally listens to the claim of Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem, all the pieces fit in light of Micah 5:2.

But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. (Mic 5:2)

Thus, in Micah, God significantly uncloaks His meaning. The human who would be pierced and simultaneously be "me"—God Almighty—would come out of Bethlehem “to me.” This Bethlehemite comes to God, and God comes to Him, and identifies with him, as Jesus says -- "the Father dwells in me." (John 14:10.) The Father's journey is from everlasting—and He will enter the flesh of this Man, like He dwells at the Temple. While the human will grow up and have his heal be bruised (Gen. 3:15) and He will be “cut off” in 33 A.D. (Dan. 9:25-26), his death will serve to provide grace and forgiveness (Zech. chs. 12-13). This same figure is destined to be “ruler in Israel...” He is Shiloh. His garments will be splattered with blood (Gen. ch. 49), but He will reign as the eternal king (Psalm 72). And apparently, this eternal king -- while He visually appears to us as Jesus -- is the Father dwelling in Jesus as His shekinah presence resides in Jesus. (John 14:10.) Jesus explains how this happened: "the Father dwells in me." John 14:10.

Isaiah 53: Another Prophecy of Messiah

Leading up to Isaiah 49, we get a glimpse at a figure who is fufilled prophetically in Jesus:

"It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." Isaiah 49:6

This light will come from the Torah / Law spreading out to the nations. Isaiah 51:4 reads:

"Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations."

Then we come to Isaiah 53.

To avoid any claim of bias, let us rely upon Isaiah 53:1-12 from circa 250 BC in the Dead Sea Scroll Bible (Abegg, Flint & Ulrich)(1999) at 359-60. These modern translators and scholars -- Abegg, Flint & Ulrich -- borrowed from tradition to also not write down YHWH. Instead, they replaced YHWH with "LORD." However, we will note where YHWH appears in the DSS of Isaiah 53. (On where YHWH belongs in Isaiah 53 DSS, see this link.) Thus, Isaiah 53 reads in the DSS from 250 BC:

1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the YHWH / LORD  been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender plant, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no form or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should look at him. 3 He was despised and rejected by others, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. He was despised and rejected by others, and like one from whom people hide their faces, and we despised him, and we did not value him. 4 Surely he has borne our sufferings and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken and struck down by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,  and he was crushed for our iniquities; and the punishment that made us whole was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed. 6 All we  like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, each of us, to his own way; and the YHWH / LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth, like a lamb led to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 From detention and judgment he was taken away. And who can even think about his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living, he was stricken  for the transgression of my people 9 Then they made his grave with the wicked and with rich people his tomb although he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the YHWH / LORD was willing to crush him and he made him suffer. Although you make his soul an offering for sin, and he will see his offspring, and he will prolong his days, and the will of the YHWH / LORD will triumph in his hand. 11 Out of the suffering of his soul he will see light and find satisfaction; And through his knowledge, his servant, the righteous one, will make many righteous, and he will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will alot him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life to death, and was numbered with the transgressors, yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressions.

Isaiah 53 Fulfilled: He Will See The Light (Of Life) - Verse 11

The NIV note to 53:11 says that Isaiah 53:11 in the Dead Sea Scrolls says the Messiah figure, after suffering as the sacrifice of God, will see the "light (of life) [the 'of life' NIV implies]:

he will see the light of life[d] Note D: "Dead Sea Scrolls (see also Septuagint); Masoretic Text does nothave the light of life." See Note D to Isaiah 53:11 in NIV.

Jeff Benner in his article, "Selections from the Isaiah Scroll," reproduces a copy of Isaiah 53:11 from the Dead Sea Scrolls from at least 125 BCE:

Isaiah 53:11

He reports as to the above:

The underlined phrase [in the Dead Sea Scroll] reads "mey'amal naphshoh yireh or vayis'ba." In the Masoretic text this phrase is written as "mey'amal naphsho yireh yis'ba." Without even knowing Hebrewone can see that the Dead Sea Scroll includes some information that is not in the Masoretic text. The Masoretic text translates to "from the labor of his soul, he will see, he will be satisfied". The Dead Sea Scroll text translates to "from the labor of his soul, he will see light and he will be satisfied."

Thus, those who trust the Dead Sea Scrolls as more reliable here find a significant prophecy that the Messiah who after performing the sacrifice for us, shall see "light." This implies the resurrection. But for those who follow Messiah but believe the text preserved in 900 CE by the Masoretes, believe Isaiah only prophesied in verse 11 that Messiah will simply "see." Each believer must decide which manuscript they think is more reliable based upon the available evidence. It is clear that the Masorete text is missing what Messiah sees. It only says "he will see..." but does not say what He sees. I hope that helps believers to consider whether the Dead Sea Scrolls from 250 BC are more reliable than the Masorete text of 900 AD. I think so, and thus Isaiah 53 has an amazing series of prophecies that match the Gospels, which appear historical, and most of all, could not make up a resurrection account unless something happened which the authorities could not defy.

This passage in Isaiah 53 gives each believer an opportunity to explain the fact of the resurrection, and that it was specifically prophesied.

God Tells Us This Branch Is Named after Yahweh

Finally, as difficult as it may be to understand how God could exist in human form, God gave us this picture again clearly in Jeremiah 23:6. Only by someone like Jesus’ coming does this verse finally make sense. We read:

Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. (Jer 23:5)

In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called: Jehovah our righteousness. (Jer 23:6) (ASV)

The ancient Jews understood from this that Messiah must come from the lineage of David. He would be a branch of David’s father Jesse. The Jews identified this verse therefore as a key Messianic prophecy. Importantly, the Jews in ancient times agreed in Midrash Mishle 57a that one of the eight names of Messiah in Scripture is Yahweh Zidkenu (Yahweh Our Righteousness).10

It was only in modern times that some Jewish translators have changed this passage in English translation to read “Yahweh will call him Our Righteousness.” (Keil & Delitzsch.) “But this rendering is rejected by most Jewish commentators as being at variance with the accents.” (Id.)

I would prefer to trust the pre-Christian Jewish view that said Messiah would be called by the name Yahwh Zidkenu. The modern Jewish translation is obviously biased. Once we acknowledge the correct reading, we have a serious dilemma.

How could a human born in the lineage of David be indeed called by the name Yahweh? No doubt prior to Jesus the Jews assumed there was hyperbole in the verse, and the use of a hyphenated name using Yahweh as one part. After the appearance of a person like Jesus whose words are so lofty and who spoke so authoritatively, as if God Himself spoke directly through Jesus, why should we doubt this passage means literally what it says? Jesus is the only person in human history whose words could qualify Him to be named after Yahweh speaking from within the flesh of a true human being named Jesus--  a name that  combines Yahweh and shut meaning salvation, hence meaning Salvation of Ywhawh.

FOOTNOTE 10.Jeremiah appears to also call Jerusalem by the name “Jehovah our Righteousness” in Jeremiah 33:15-16. Some rely upon this to dismiss Jeremiah 23:5. They read Jerusalem back into Jeremiah 23:6 as if Jerusalem, not a branch of Jesse, were named after Jehovah / Yahweh. However, I find it harder to imagine an inanimate city is named after Jehovah / Yahweh than to believe some human heir of Jesse / David could be named after Jehovah. The resolution may be that we find garbled syntax in Jeremiah 33:15-16. Thus, it is not altogether clear that Jerusalem is in view. Nevertheless, if God says a city is named after Himself (obviously dwelling there), then that does not negate God also says a human heir of Jesse is named after Yahweh Himself (obviously dwelling in the human).

What Does Son of the Living God Mean?

There is one more mystery to the confession of Jesus as Messiah. We must confess Jesus is the “Son of the Living God.” (Matt. 16:16-17.) What does Son of the Living God mean? It means the ideal king of Psalm 72. It is also the figure whom Psalm 2 tells us has been given judgment over the world.

Yet I have set my king Upon my holy hill of Zion. (Psa 2:6)

I will tell of the decree: Jehovah said unto me, Thou art my son; This day have I begotten thee. (Psa 2:7)

Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. (Psa 2:8)

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.(Psa 2:9)

****

Serve Jehovah with fear, And rejoice with trembling. (Psa 2:11)

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way, For his wrath will soon be kindled. Blessed are all they that take refuge in him. (Psa 2:12)

The Son of God is the one portrayed as a king to rule the world. He has been delegated to hold God’s wrath. You are to serve Yahweh with fear, but then you are told to fear the anger of the Son for He holds all judgment of God in His hand. Thus, you are told to fear both Yahweh and the Son. While their titles/names are distinct, the fear we are to hold is equivalent.

What about the fact Psalm 2:6 says the Son is “begotten” of God? This does not mean the figure prophesied as from “everlasting” (Micah) and “Yahweh Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah) has somehow become less than indwelled by God because Jesus is God’s “begotten” Son. Some early in Church history thought too narrowly about this. Arius, Bishop of Nicomedia, in about 306 A.D. taught Jesus could not be the dwelling of God because of the “begotten” language we find in the New Testament.

However, Arianism, as it is called, did not realize that if God dwelled in completely human flesh, then in a true sense an eternal being became present in a begotten human at some point. This begotten nature of Jesus is undeniable but it does not mean the eternal God present in Jesus was begotten.

However, this begotten issue raised another problem for the early church. The question was whether this occurred at Jesus’ baptism or His birth. It truly makes no difference.11 However, some thought it did help Arius’ arguments if this indwelling took place at Jesus’ baptism. Unfortunately, opponents of Arius' arguments -- who became the voice of orthodoxy in the 300s -- chose to change the account of Jesus’ baptism to eliminate the begotten language in that context. The pre-Arius original



 

FOOTNOTE 11 Another possibility is that while Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit with Mary, the Holy Spirit did not occupy Jesus until His baptism. This would allow the words “this day have I begotten thee” to be more literally applied. It also gives more significance to the “Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove” on Jesus . This possibility freightens people because then Jesus without the Holy Spirit and prior to being “begotten” as God’s Son had to live with temptation for almost 30 years. Yet, God-the-Father through His angels could have helped protect Jesus. (Matt. 18:10.) While I do not necessarily endorse Jesus became the Son of God at His baptism, I also recognize there is nothing significantly changed about Jesus’ nature if we accept this. For at some point—whether at His baptism or at His human conception, Jesus became divine by God’s eternal Spirit occupying Jesus’ human flesh. What can it matter when this precisely happens?

[Incidentally, the Ebionites were accused in the Fourth Century of believing Jesus was born a human and later became the Son of God. For this, they were accused of heresy.]


 

version clearly said that God-the-Father spoke from heaven the words of Psalm 2:7, which is why we can know Psalm 2 certainly applies to Jesus.

Matthew's Gospel clearly originally had the voice from heaven speak at Jesus' baptism, and say "This Day I have begotten you." The dove physically entered Jesus in the original version. See Hebrew Matthew Baptismal Account. This is proven by numerous quotes of Matthew from the 90s to 300s AD. (In a couple of paragraphs down, we will present some of the evidence.)

Likewise, Luke 3:22 originally said God-the-Father says in a loud voice from Heaven, “Thou Art my Son. This day I have begotten thee.” This language actually appears in old versions of Luke 3:22.12 However, our oldest manuscripts of Luke date to the post-Arian controversy, i.e, post 306 A.D. All these oldest manuscripts were changed completely. They read, “This is My Son in whom I am well pleased.” The original variant—“Thou Art my Son. This day I have begotten thee”— appears only in later ancient manuscripts of Luke. However, this fact proves little, because it is merely a fortuity of what manuscripts survived. Thus, the fact the “oldest reliable manuscripts” are lacking “Thou Art my Son. This day I have begotten thee” does not carry sufficient weight to overcome the facts discussed below which prove an alteration in Luke and Matthew had previously taken place.

While it is perhaps disconcerting to know that pious Christians took such liberties with Scripture, we cannot deny they did so. In our New Testament, the original version of Jesus’ baptism is quoted twice in the Epistle to the Hebrews. In Hebrews 1:5, the author quotes apparently the original version of Luke 3:22 and Matthew's Baptismal Account. In Hebrews 1:5, we read that that unlike anything ever said to the angels, God said to Jesus something unique. “For unto which of the angels said He [i.e., the-Father] at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?” This was mentioned again in Hebrews 5:5: “So also Christ


 

FOOTNOTE 12.On Luke 3:22, it is said: “Other ancient authorities read You are my Son, today I have begotten you.” http://www.hope.edu/academic/religion/bandstra/BIBLE/ LUK/LUK3.HTM (accessed 10/05). This is Hope University’s website. See also, “Some manuscripts ‘beloved Son; today I have begotten you.’” http:// www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=Luke+3 (accessed 10/05). This version of Luke appears in the Greek Western type text known as Codex D. Matthew’s version of the baptism at Matthew 3:17 in the same Codex reads differently than it does today. It mentions the Holy Spirit descending as a dove upon Jesus. It is interesting that Epiphanius says the Hebrew version of Matthew of the Ebionites had that language too. This reading is also present in the DuTillet Hebrew Matthew.


 

glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but He [i.e., the Father] that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.” (Heb 5:5.) Hebrews thus twice alludes to how Luke 3:22 and Matthew originally must have read of what transpired at Jesus’ baptism.

This was again referenced in Acts. “God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” (Acts 13:33 KJV.)

Thus, there is no reason to fear applying Psalm 2:7 to Jesus. The earliest church did not see this as any problem. Only when Arianism arose after 306 A.D., the church thought changing God’s word was the way to defend itself rather than explaining how all the prophecies tie together that a human would be indwelled by God - both are simultaneously pierced in Zechariah - and the true human remains a “begotten Son” in human history. (Psalm 2.)

There is no doubt how the original Jesus’ baptism once read to include the quote from Psalm 2:7. The original version of Luke and Matthew is quoted numerous times in the early ‘patristic’ writings between 125 A.D. and 325 A.D.: First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians; First Apology of Justin; Dialogue of Justin with Tryphon, A Jew; The Instructor; The Banquet of the Ten Virgins; or, Concerning Chastity; Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.13

See our article Hebrew Matthew -Baptismal Account.

God certainly wanted us to know Psalm 2:7 applied to Jesus. He quoted it in a loud voice from Heaven at Jesus’ baptism.

What It Means to Confess the Son Identified in Psalm 2:7

Thus, because Jesus is the King and Son of God from Psalm 2, you can know that by confessing Jesus as Son of the Living God, you are acknowledging He is the judge of the world. Your kissing Him (Psalm 2:6) is a symbolic way of showing submission to a king.


 

FOOTNOTE 13.For a thorough review of all these authorities, see online resources at www.jesuswordsonly.com.


 

(1 Sam. 10:1.) You are subject to His jurisdiction. Therefore, take refuge in Him. If you fail to do so, Psalm 2:12 says you will “perish in the way.”

Barnes says Psalm 2:12 thus means in Hebrew that if you fail to take refuge in this King, “you are lost in respect of The Way.” (Barnes, Ps. 2:12.)

Now you can understand why Christianity was first called The Way, e.g., Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 24:14, 22. The title The Way was meant to harken to Psalm 2:12. This was meant to invoke memory of Jesus’ identification as the Son of God mentioned in Psalm 2:6-7, and our need to Kiss the Son, submit to his Royal Authority and accept Him as our Judge on Judgment Day. If you failed to do so, “you are lost in respect of The Way.”

Since Psalm 2 is the only Hebrew Scripture describing the Son of God as such, we need to recognize its prophetic fulfillment in Jesus. We can now see the many important lessons Psalm 2 has for us when we confess Jesus as “the Son of God.” Such confession is not meant to confess Jesus is simply begotten by God and hence Jesus became His Son in human history. Rather, it means we confess that Jesus is the Divine Son whom God / the Father has made King forever and to whom our homage and allegiance is owed as the king appointed over us. We must Kiss the Son, lest He be angry. We must take refuge in Him or lose our way.

It Is A Personal Struggle To Change the Conversion Message

People are afraid to give up the Pauline approach to conversion. However, we must realize we have to learn a new way to convert people. We are afraid of change. We are afraid to learn the way God intended people to find Messiah. However, it is simple: people need to hear the words of Jesus, realize His brilliant and lofty sentiments qualify Him for recognition as more than just a wise man or ordinary prophet, and then you introduce the prophecies from Scripture about Messiah— that He would be human and have a divine presence indwelling Him. This explains the amazing wit and authority that Jesus had even while talking in the most coherent speech known by then or now. In particular, learn the amazing prophecy from Daniel 9:25-26.

Can A Messianic Faith Come By Reason At All?

Because Paul teaches absent the Holy Spirit no one can confess Jesus is Messiah (1 Cor. 12:3), some claim that faith in Jesus can only be supernaturally bestowed. They insist it cannot be rationally deduced. They think it is unnecessary to teach any of these prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus. The Holy Spirit instead will tell people who Jesus is without our help. 

Yet, Apostle John wrote his gospel so that you realize from sitting and reading his gospel account that Jesus is the “Messiah, the Son of God.” (John 20:30-31.) Furthermore, why do you think Jesus after the resurrection and before the ascension took time to discuss the prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures and how they proved who He was? (Luke 24:27.) Because reason has no role in developing faith in Jesus? Of course not.

Paul has put a fog over your ability to see the obvious. Evangelism is learning how to reason with people from Scripture. As Peter advises, you need to learn how to give a reason to others for what you believe about Jesus.

The First Step To Acceptance of the Messianic Prophecies Is Restored Respect for the Law of Moses

Unfortunately, modern Christians have such disrespect for the Original Testament as abolished, etc., that they spend no time understanding how to defend Moses was a Prophet. If a Christian cannot instill respect for the Law given Moses in a non-believer, because a Christian lacks such respect themselves, then how can a Christian possibly give the conversion message that Jesus intended? Jesus raises this point twice.

Jesus says: “If they hear not Moses, neither will they be persuaded if one rises from the dead.” (Luke 16:31.) Trust in Moses’ words is a reliable way to truly know Jesus was Messiah. Jesus says “if you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me.” (John 5:46.)

Jesus expected that once you learned what the Father teaches in the Law given Moses and the Prophets then you would come to Jesus.

It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me.(John 6:45)

The Father gave us the Law and the Prophets so we could listen to the Father and learn from Him. When Jesus compliments Peter on his confession that Jesus is “Messiah, Son of the Living God,” Jesus says this was revealed to Peter by “my Father who is in heaven,” not the Holy Spirit per se. (Matt. 16:17.) Jesus is talking about the Law and the Prophets given by the Father—for these “speak of me.” (John 5:46.)

Thus, if Jesus says a proper confession arises from the Father’s revelation of who Jesus was in the Law and the Prophets, how can we come to Jesus if we cannot defend the inspiration and validity of the Law and the Prophets? If we did not rely upon such evidence of the prophecies from the Law and the Prophets, how could we possibly convince anyone of Jesus’ messiahship? Without using Biblical proof, we could only convince the emotional, the gullible, and the mentally weak.

Why have we instead created a gospel message that does not depend on reason based on what the Father has revealed about the identity of Jesus? Is it because Paul taught us salvation depends on predestination? That salvation is inherently an irrational experience that is given to us supernaturally by the Holy Spirit? (1 Cor. 12:3.) If so, Paul’s teachings are once more a hindrance rather than guidance on what God wants us to understand on how to evangelize.

If we then agree that proving the Law given Moses as the word of the Father is vital to make someone believe in its prophecies of Messiah, then Pauline Christianity has a real dilemma. How could we possibly convince someone that the Law given Moses is God’s word if we are not following it? How could we do this if we teach we are free to ignore it, and decry anyone who does so as legalistic? Even a nonbeliever is going to know that God does not change. (Mal. 3:6.) Our witness that ignores the Law given Moses is completely contrary to the message Jesus wants us to give. How can we prove to a skeptic that the Messianic prophecies in the Law and Prophets are real when we believe the Law is defunct, a ministration of death, given by angels who are no gods, etc.?

I hate to say this, but it appears Pauline Christianity is a grand illusion. It has asked us Christians to embark on a boat that has put us ashore far away from Christ’s true message. I am not judging individual Christians who largely persevere despite all the false teachings around them. What I am assessing, as God demands all of us to assess, is the teachings of Pauline Christianity against the words of inspired Scripture, in particular the words of Jesus.

It appears our shepherds are hirelings who have abandoned us to the wolf. For the lucre of a pastorate, they rationalize what cannot be rationalized: the alleged compatibility of Jesus’ message with Paul’s message. Then they saturate us with Paul’s teachings at odds with Jesus. They do this week after week.

To be truly evangelical, we need to break free from their false teachings, and give people confidence to believe in the Law of Moses, including its wonderful prophecies of Prince Messiah. Then we will be prepared to make converts who can honestly and in a good heart make the confession that Jesus is Messiah, the Son of the Living God. We too then will rejoice, like Jesus did, that no human revealed this, but God the Father did so to them through His Word.

A Love Relationship Defines A Born-Again Person

Despite such a confession being integral to being a Christian, it is likewise integral that one have love for God. Accepting Jesus as Messiah, Son of God means you accept Him as Your King. That is what these terms synonymously signify.

Thus, a convert is not someone who merely mouths Jesus is Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Because your king commands you love God as the highest command, then there must be a union of faith with love for God. It is like the woman who bathed Jesus feet with her tears. It was both her love and faith, united, that Jesus said caused her sins to be forgiven and for her to be saved. (Luke 7:47; see Jesus Words Only ’s discussion at page 151 et seq.)

Thus, it is only the person who approaches God with sincere love who finds Him and is truly born again. This is the “good and noble heart” that when the word is sewn will bear fruit. John explains the truly born-again person is the one who loves God and the flock. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God.” (1Jo 4:7)

Whether or not you gain eternal life should not matter. Your love of God is what you should seek for the sake of loving God Himself. Consider Apostle John’s more complete message:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and

every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God. (1Jo 4:7)

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1Jo 4:8)

Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God. (1Jo 4:15)

And we know and have believed the love which God hath in us. God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him. (1Jo 4:16) 

Herein is love made perfect with us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, even so are we in this world. (1Jo 4:17)

There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath punishment; and he that feareth is not made perfect in love.(1Jo 4:18)

Notice how in verse 15 confession of Jesus (i.e., He is the Son of God) has a limited meaning in the born-again process. It means Jesus now abides in you. What is the purpose of Jesus abiding in you? Jesus’ prayer after the Last Supper was overheard by the Apostles where Jesus speaks to God-the-Father:

And the glory which thou hast given me I have given unto them; that they may be one, even as we are one; (John 17:22)

I in them, and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that thou didst send me, and lovedst them, even as thou lovedst me.(John 17:23)

Jesus is inside of you once you confess Him as King Messiah, Son of the Living God, i.e., you have transferred authority to Jesus over your life. His presence is to perfect you into one body of believers. This unity of believers will serve as proof God sent Jesus.

Do you think 30,000 Protestant denominations proves to nonbelievers that God sent Jesus? Hardly. We confess Jesus but follow Paul in all different directions—some toward no free-will, others toward predestination, others to faith alone, and others to eternal security. The revival of Paulinism 400 years ago has caused incredible division within the church.14 (I do not mean to suggest that Roman Catholicism is a better alternative merely because it is so monolithic.)

How can Christians develop the unity that Jesus says is a means of evangelism to the world at large? The solution is to rely in the New Testament era upon Only Jesus’ Words as the inspired addition to the prophets that preceded Jesus. If we do this, Jesus promises us that our unity will be a witness to the world that God sent Him. The continued effort to keep Paul’s contradictions of Jesus in our minds, and rationalize dispensations to solve them, will only delay the day of unity that Jesus prayed we should and would enjoy.

Based on Jesus’ prayer, I am confident the lost would come to Jesus en masse if Christians would: (a) learn the validity of the Messianic prophecies from the Law and Prophets; (b) follow the Law given Moses for conscience sake (i.e., to the extent the Law applies to you either as a Gentile or more broadly as a Jew) as well as to avoid looking hypocritcal when quoting prophecies from the Law; (c) witness to others the message of what those Messianic prophecies say; (d) love  God, all those who confess Jesus as Messiah & Son of the Living God, as well as your enemies; and (e) jettison the dead weight that Paul’s unique teachings represent.

I am never concerned about the latter step despite how radical it sounds. We never can have anything to fear if we are devoted to following the words of Jesus.


 

FOOTNOTE 14.Nevertheless, much good has come by the Reformation, and some people have been saved. But not as many as we assume. Look at all the Sinner Prayer formulas, and you will often find missing is any confession that Jesus is Messiah, Son of the Living God. Instead, there is a tautological confession: Jesus, your Son, paid for my sins, and I accept Him as Savior, and I therefore am saved. If Jesus paid for my sins, He is de facto a Savior. But my acknowledging this does not get me anywhere close to intelligently saying I recognize (a) the Hebrew Scriptures identified a Messiah, Son of the Living God and (b) I see Him in Jesus, and confess Jesus as such. Jesus did not ask us to confess He was a Savior. He asked us to confess who He was. Without knowing who He was, in a Sinner’s Prayer you are merely expressing an emotion that Jesus, God’s Son, will save you. That’s not enough.


 

Incidentally, my experience is that most intelligent non-believers who take the time to learn about the NT Scripture resist Christianity because of Paul’s notorious doctrines. There is no hiding the fact Paul says women must keep silent in church—forced to ask their spouse at home their questions. (1 Cor. 14:34-35.) There is no shielding an inquirer from seeing that Paul would not feed a poor person who was not willing to work for it. (2 Thess. 3:10.) Finally, we cannot hide for long Paul’s shameless bragging and boastings. (2 Cor. 11:16-18.)

 

Thus, whatever amazing, brilliant and witty message Jesus provides is unfortunately tarnished by Paul’s repulsive teachings and behavior. The time is now for the Jesus' Words Only principle that Jesus Himself taught to propel Christianity forward.

 


FOOTNOTES NOT MOVED UP INTO TEXT ABOVE

 

1. sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh youa reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear: (1Pe 3:15)(ASV)

2. Wil Durant, Caesar & Christ (N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, 1944) Vol. 3 at 557.

3. Thomas Jefferson, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth (Washington: 1904) at 15.

4. Id., at 13 (Introduction quoting letter to Edward Dowse April 19, 1803.

5. Id., at 16.

7. In ancient texts, it says Gog. In the later Masoretic texts, this says Agag. (John Sailhame, “The Messiah and the Hebrew Bible,” JETS (March 2001) 5, 21. Cf. Ezekiel 37:17 et seq. (God will come to battle Gog).

8. “The first Jupiter/Venus conjunction of August 12, 3 B.C. in the constellation Cancer is what likely alerted the Magi to look for further signs. They found them in the triple conjunction of Jupiter in Regulus in the constellation Leo. But it was the second conjunction, on June 17, 2 BC, in the evening, of Jupiter and Venus, in the constellation Leo, that started the Magi on their way west.” (Susan S. Carroll, The Star of Bethlehem: An Astronomical and Historical Perspective, available online.) The discussion in the text is based on her excellent and extremely detailed study. Incidentally, Carroll provides a plausible explanation of the issue of the date of Herod’s death as it pertains to these issues.

9. Ernest L. Martin, The Star of Bethlehem: The Star That Astonished The World. (Oregon: ASK Publications, 1996).


 Study Notes

After writing this article on July 25, 2010, I found that there is a legitimate question whether Isaiah 9:6 is correctly translated. The Dead Sea Scrolls' multiple versions from 200 BC reveal later manuscripts of the 800 AD era prepared by the Masorete scribes separated parts of a person's name. With this late change, it now reads as attributes rather than as the actual name of a person, leading one to think this is prophesy of a person having these attributes rather than simply having a name with all these essentially hyphenated components, e.g., Mighty-God would just be another component part of his name which is nothing unusual in that era. See our article Isaiah 9:6 which presents all points of view, and has no decisive outcome at this time. Thus I have removed Isaiah 9:6 as a proof. It was never cited in the gospels as proof either.

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