From Mark Copeland... "OUR LIFE TOGETHER" An Intimate Household

                          "OUR LIFE TOGETHER"

                         An Intimate Household


1. In our previous lesson, we...
   a. Brought up the question as to whether churches today are engaged
       in the type of fellowship  practiced by churches in the NT
   b. Asked questions as to whether churches today:
      1) Are communities of believers expressing a sense of concern for
         one another
      2) Or if they are simply groups of "anonymous" worshippers
   c. Considered:
      1) Factors in our society which tempt us to be self-centered
      2) How an attitude of self-centeredness is foreign to the very
         basics of Christ's teachings

2. In this lesson, I wish to examine more carefully...
   a. The teaching of Christ concerning the nature of the church He 
      said He would build
   b. And how His teaching ought to shape the type of fellowship He 
      wanted the members of His church to experience

[As we begin, let's consider some contrasting views of the church...]


      1. As an "institution", as an "organization"
      2. Terms which are analogies of some business or corporation
      3. Thus we find terms frequently used like:
         a. "Associate Minister"
         b. "Superintendent Of Education"
         c. "Director Of Music"
      -- While the church was divinely instituted by God, and does have
         some organization, it seems that many have molded the local 
         church into a business-like structure

      1. He viewed it as a "family" who would be doing the will of His
         Father in heaven - Mt 12:46-50; cf. 7:21
      2. Indeed, both Jesus and His apostles often used the "family" 
         motif in speaking of the church
         a. Jesus would speak of...
            1) God as His Father - Jn 2:16
            2) His followers as family relatives
            -- And teach His disciples to address God as our "Father" 
               - Mt 6:9
         b. The apostles referred to the church...
            1) As a "brotherhood" - 1Pe 2:17
            2) As the "house (family) of God" - 1Ti 3:15; 2Co 6:17-18

[And so the church Jesus established was to be "An Intimate Household",
allowing a closeness not usually found in "organizations" or 

In fact, every aspect of the life of God's people is to manifest the 
closeness of family intimacy...]


      1. We are to be like little children - Mt 18:1-4
      2. Not striving for dominance over each other
         a. But with humility, showing submissiveness
         b. And with dependence upon one another

      1. Concerned with protecting the members of our family from harm
         (esp. spiritual harm) - Mt 18:5-7
      2. As concerned with the one who strays, as we are with the one
         who continues in the fellowship - Mt 18:10-14

      1. We are to remember that we are "brethren"
         a. Follow a procedure that utilizes to the full advantage our
            relationship as a family - cf. Mt 18:15-17
         b. Treat the one disciplined as a brother - 2Th 3:6-15
      2. If the brother in error is not responsive...
         a. We are to take advantage of the family relationship which 
            we have enjoyed
         b. By depriving the erring brother of it!
      3. Indeed, the failure of much discipline is due to the lack of
         proper fellowship to begin with!

      1. Realizing the value of this intimate, family relationship...
         a. Forgiveness is to be automatic upon repentance - Mt 18:
         b. We are not to keep a tally of our offenses, for such would
            hinder our relationship as family
      2. We are to keep in mind...
         a. How our Father has forgiven us
         b. That our forgiveness by God is contingent on our 
            forgiveness of our brethren! - cf. Mt 18:23-35

      1. Our "older brother" came to serve - Mt 20:25-28
      2. So we are to serve one another as we would in our physical 
         family (as the saying goes, "He ain't heavy, he's my 

[All these things are emphasizing an important spiritual truth:  The 
church is to be such a fellowship of believers that it can be rightly 
considered as:

   1) A home away from home!

   2) A home which is our true home!

Allow me to expand upon this last thought...]


      1. For some, it may even mean forsaking their earthly family
      2. Cf. Mt 10:34-39

      1. Whether it be:
         a. The cost of putting Christ before family
         b. The cost of leaving family to serve Christ (e.g., going to
            missionary fields)
      2. Christ has promised a hundredfold in replacement - cf. Mk 10:

      1. Especially for those away from home (e.g., college students)
      2. Especially for those who never had a family at all, or an 
         incomplete one (e.g., orphans, or those with single parents)
      3. Especially for those from a "dysfunctional" family (e.g., 
         those abused, neglected)

[But for the church to be the home Christ intended, the family 
"members" must do their part.  And for some that might mean making some


      1. For some, it may mean being more faithful about attending the
         services ("mealtimes") of the church
      2. For others, it may mean widening our circle of fellowship to
         include others
      3. For all of us, it means...
         a. Being less self-centered!
         b. Being more willing to become involved with the concerns of

      1. For our task is not just to create some sort of "social club"
      2. But a "family of believers" who are active in doing the will
         of their Father in heaven, including...
         a. Saving souls
         b. Restoring the erring
         c. Edifying the saved
         -- Indeed, reconciling all with the Father and His family!
      3. So we need to provide the appropriate service, which in turn 
         builds intimacy:
         a. Preaching and teaching
         b. Exhorting and restoring
         c. Ministering to the needs of the family, both spiritual and


1. What are we doing to see that the church is fulfilling its design to
   be "An Intimate Household"?

2. If we are doing nothing, or if we are depriving others from trying
   to become close to us...
   a. Then we are depriving ourselves of one of the greatest blessings
      found in Christ!
   b. And, we are also giving the impression that we may be false 
      disciples of Christ! - cf. Jn 13:35

Brethren, let's all work harder at being the kind of family God would
have us to be!  If becoming a child of God is your need today, consider
what Paul wrote about how we become sons of God - cf. Ga 3:26-27...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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From Mark Copeland... "OUR LIFE TOGETHER" A Call To Fellowship

                          "OUR LIFE TOGETHER"

                          A Call To Fellowship


1. In Ac 2:42, we have this account of the early church:

   "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and
   fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers."

2. Today, many churches place great importance to being true to the 
   Word of God, observing the Lord's Supper, and being fervent in 

3. These things are certainly important, but what of "fellowship"?
   a. Do we properly understand this facet of the Lord's church?
   b. Are we practicing it in a way consistent with the example of the
      early church?

4. Beginning with this lesson...
   a. I want to examine the subject of "fellowship" in the light of the
   b. With the objective in mind of ensuring a proper understanding and
      application of this Biblical subject

[Let's start by first noticing...]


      1. What if an observer came to make a careful analysis of the
         church's life in reference to fellowship?
         a. Someone who was a specialist in studying how groups work
         b. Who intended to compare us with other groups that have some
            sort of interaction among its members (like civic clubs,
            garden clubs, etc.)
         c. Who would examine such things like:
            1) How we relate to one another when we assemble for 
            2) How we interact with each other away from our assemblies
            3) Our group loyalties
            4) Our willingness to support each other in time of need
            5) The amount of time we spend in the company of others in
               the church
         d. I.e., seeking to learn how well those who sit by each other
            during the assembly Sunday after Sunday really know each
         -- What would we expect him to discover?
      2. Several years ago, some churches allowed themselves to be
         analyzed in this way; here is what was discovered:
         a. The great majority of members knew a very small percentage
            of the people
         b. Those who gathered for worship were mostly an anonymous 
            group of worshippers
         c. They were not a genuine community of souls prepared to bear
            one another's burdens
         d. They expressed little interest in becoming more involved in
            each other's lives
         e. I.e., they came to worship only for the sake of their own
            spiritual life and personal salvation!
         -- "Many go to church as they would go to the movie theater"
      3. The bottom line was this:
         a. The churches that were analyzed consisted of members who 
            were "self-centered"
         b. Therefore, very little fellowship of any sort was taking

   [Please do not jump to conclusions.  I am not suggesting that the 
   same condition exists here.  For the most part, I think it does not.
   But as we grow in number, the potential is there for losing the kind
   of fellowship we should experience.  The purpose of this study is to
   ward off the kind of "self-centeredness" which can destroy the 
   spiritual fellowship God would have us experience in the church.]

      1. Most of us lived through the "Me Decade"
         a. The 1970's, viewed as being distinguished by self-centered
            attitudes and self-indulgent behavior
         b. A time in which there was...
            1) A rapid rise of crime against others - rape, theft, 
               assault, murder
            2) An increased use of drugs and alcohol as a way of escape
            3) A turn to philosophies and religions which involve
               preoccupation with SELF:
               a) "Looking Out For #1"
               b) Transcendental Meditation (TM) and Yoga
            4) An emphasis on consumerism and materialistic gain
         c. A decade followed by the "Greed Decade" (the 1980's)
         -- Such cultural trends have produced many self-centered 
      2. We live in a highly mobile society
         a. New families move in, and others move away
         b. Many live great distances from the place of worship and 
            from each other
         c. These facts do not prevent us from having proper 
            fellowship, they just make it easier to become isolated
            from the fellowship unintentionally
      3. Technology designed to bring us closer together, can easily 
         move us apart
         a. Phones, email, etc., greatly increase our ability to 
         b. But we can become stretched out so thin through such 
            technology that we do not develop any meaningful 
      4. A failure to appreciate the Biblical teaching about "Our Life

[It is this last point that I want to expand upon in this lesson. While
societal trends may be nourishing the spirit of self-centeredness, I 
believe God has designed the church to point us in a different 


      1. We are to be hospitable to one another - 1Pe 4:9
      2. We are to have a care for one another - 1Co 12:26
      3. We are to pray for one another - Jm 5:16
      4. We are to restore one another - Jm 5:19-20
      5. We are to teach and admonish one another - Col 3:16
      6. We are to serve one another in love - Ga 5:13

      1. By the church in Jerusalem - Ac 2:42-46
      2. By the church in Antioch - Ac 11:27-30
      3. By the churches in Macedonia - 2Co 8:1-5
      4. By the churches in Achaia - Ro 15:26

      1. The kingdom consists of those who love both God and their 
         brethren - Mk 12:28-34
      2. Thus the fellowship we are to enjoy in the church is both 
         "vertical" and "horizontal"
         a. With God...
            1) We enjoy a "vertical" relationship - cf. 2Co 5:20
            2) An overemphasis on this aspect can cause insensitivity
               to the needs of others
         b. With fellow Christians...
            1) We enjoy a "horizontal" relationship - cf. Ep 2:14-16
            2) Of course, an undue emphasis on this aspect may cause 
               one to neglect God


1. Lessons to follow will define further...
   a. The fellowship that is to be enjoyed by those in the church
   b. The spiritual activities designed to nurture fellowship in the
      body of Christ
   c. Elements necessary to preserve our fellowship
   d. Biblical limitations on the extent of our fellowship

2. But in this lesson I have sought to stress...
   a. The importance of fellowship in the local church
   b. The danger of allowing "self-centeredness" to disrupt our 

3. For now, here are some practical suggestions that will enhance our
   ability to provide the proper fellowship:
   a. Learn the names of EVERY member (make use of the church 
   b. Take notice of the cares and the joys of fellow Christians
      (listen to the announcements!)
   c. Pray for those with special needs, mentioning them by name in 
      your private prayers
   d. Allow yourself to have...
      1) An "approachable personality" (where people feel comfortable 
         in your presence)
      2) A "transparent lifestyle" (where you are not afraid to let 
         others know the "real you")

NOTE:  In preparing this series of sermon outlines I have borrowed 
rather heavily from a book and resource kit called "OUR LIFE TOGETHER:
A Fresh Look At Christian Fellowship", by James Thompson, published by
Sweet Publishing Company and distributed as part of the "Journeys
Through The Bible" series.

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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Does ISIS Represent True Islam? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Does ISIS Represent True Islam?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

A mass beheading of 21 Egyptian/Coptic Christians by ISIS militants is the latest outrage perpetrated by those who claim to represent accurately the teaching of Islam (“Video Purports…,” 2015). Despite insistence from several sources that such atrocities do not represent Islam, the Quran contains a number of passages that clearly advocate violent action against those who reject Islam.
For example, within months of the Hijrah, Muhammad claimed to receive a revelation that amply clarifies the issue (Pickthall’s translation):
Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain (Surah 47:4, emp. added).
In his popular translation of the Quran, Muslim scholar Abdullah Yusuf Ali offered the following comment on this verse: “When once the fight (Jihad) is entered upon, carry it out with the utmost vigour, and strike home your blows at the most vital points (smite at their necks), both literally and figuratively. You cannot wage war with kid gloves” (1934, p. 1315, parentheses and italics in orig.). ISIS Muslims are simply following the teaching of the Quran regarding both their practice of beheading their enemies as well as their warfare.
In a section dealing with, among other subjects, jihad, the Quran is equally forthright in its sanction and promotion of violence:
Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors. And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. But if they desist, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrongdoers. The forbidden month for the forbidden month, and forbidden things inretaliation. And one who attacketh you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is with those who ward off (evil) (Surah2:190-194, emp. added).
Later in the same surah, Muhammad is chided by Allah for not fully embracing the necessity of warfare:
Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not. They question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: Warfare therein is a great (transgression), but to turn (men) from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship, and to expel his people thence, is a greater with Allah; for persecution is worse than killing. And they will not cease from fighting against you till they have made you renegades from your religion, if they can (Surah 2:216-217, emp. added).
These, and several additional verses (see Miller, 2005), from the Quran verify that the ISIS militants are merely following their reading of the Quran. Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi even called upon ISIS followers to unleash “volcanoes of jihad” (Cunningham, 2014). In view of such facts, and in light of the fact that Islamic armies over the centuries conquered nations across North Africa, into Europe, east to India, Southeast Asia, and Indonesia, north to Turkey, and northeast deep into Asia and Russia, one must engage in considerable theological and hermeneutical gymnastics in order to whitewash Islam as a “religion of peace.” [NOTE: We are not implying that everyone who calls himself a Muslim is a terrorist. In reality, there are many kind, peaceful people around the world who consider themselves Muslims. However, peaceful Muslims are not following the Quran faithfully, because the Quran teaches its adherents to take up the sword and fight and kill non-Muslims.]
NOTE: For more on Islam and the Quran, see our DVD titled "Islam, the Quran, and New Testament Christianity" as well as our book titled The Quran Unveiled.


Ali, Abdullah Yusuf (1934), The Meaning of the Holy Quran (Beltsville, MD: Amana Publications), 2002 reprint.
Cunningham, Erin (2014), “Islamic State Leader Al-Baghdadi Calls on Followers to Unleash ‘Volcanoes of Jihad,’” The Washington Post, November 13,http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/defiant-message-from-islamic-state-leader-but-silence-over-airstrike-injury-reports/2014/11/13/a19f4d9e-6b54-11e4-9fb4-a622dae742a2_story.html.
Miller, Dave (2005), “Violence and the Quran,” Apologetics Press,http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=1491&topic=47.
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (no date), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
“Video Purports to Show ISIS Militants Beheading Christian Hostages” (2015), Fox News, February 16, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/02/16/video-purports-to-show-isis-militants-beheading-christian-hostages/.

Controversial Orthodox Jews Call for Renewal of Sacrifices by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


Controversial Orthodox Jews Call for Renewal of Sacrifices

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

Judaism, as a modern religion, exists in four general forms: Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed, and Messianic (Ridenour, 2001, p. 67). An Orthodox Jew is one who claims the Mosaic code of the Old Testament, along with certain non-biblical Jewish documents, as his religious authority. At February’s end, CNN reported that certain “extremist rabbis” (Orthodox Jewish leaders) in Jerusalem wanted to “resume the biblical practice of animal sacrifice” despite the absence of the Levitical priesthood (“Extremist...,” 2007). Since the Romans destroyed Herod’s temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70, the ritual of animal sacrifice has ceased there (see Ridenour, p. 67). Now, a new group that calls itself the “Re-established Sanhedrin” is trying to reinstitute the practice at the Temple Mount (“Extremist...”).
Some Jews are against restoring animal sacrifices. Doniel Hartman, of the Shalom Institute in Jerusalem, said of the A.D. 70 destruction: “Around that time, animal sacrifice, as a mode of religious worship, stopped.... Moving back in that direction is not progress” (quoted in “Extremist...”). Muslims also are protesting the move to renew animal sacrifices. Jerusalem’s senior Islamic cleric, Mohommed Hussein, said: “Regrettably, there are many extremist Israeli groups who want to carry out their plans.... Let them say what they want, Al Aqsa [formerly the site of Herod’s temple—CC] is a Muslim mosque” (quoted in “Extremist...”). Jewish leaders have conceded that the sacrifices will not be renewed anytime soon.
The Sanhedrin was “[t]he Jewish court in Jerusalem from the Persian through the Roman period; it had both religious and political powers and comprised the elite (both priestly and lay) of society” (Moulder, 1988, p. 331, parenthetical in orig.). Though the Sanhedrin was a manmade institution, absent any divine mandate, these modern Jews are reviving it to add perceived authority and significance to their movement.
Of course, the Bible plainly teaches that the Old Covenant between God and Israel was removed and replaced when Christ provided the single, perfect sacrifice for the sins of humanity. Consider these biblical passages:
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt...” (Hebrews 8:7-9; cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34).
But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter (Romans 7:6).
[H]aving wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:14; cf. 2 Corinthians 3:2-11).
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace... (Ephesians 2:14-15; cf. Galatians 4:21-31).
The prophets foretold the coming of a new covenant, and the Lord established it in the New Testament age; the theme of the entire Bible centers around God’s plan to redeem mankind through His Son and the church that Christ would establish. So, persisting in the Jewish faith in the Christian age is out of harmony with both Old and New Testaments.
However, consistency demands that modern Jews keep Old Testament sacrificial policy. As it stands now, the only religious rite on which all Jews seem to agree is the observation of the Sabbath (Korobkin, 2004; Ridenour, 2001, p. 68). While the Bible makes it plain that Christians must not observe the Sabbath as a holy day (Colossians 2:16; see Wright, 1977), it seems unthinkable that any religionists would adhere to one portion of Mosaic legislation and dismiss hundreds of other regulations as being non-binding for those alive today. The Seventh-Day Adventists are eager to develop this dichotomy, but the Bible makes no such distinction (“Fundamental Beliefs,” 2007; seeLyons, 2001).
Non-orthodox Jews have attempted to justify their piecemeal application of the Old Covenant by arguing that that God “has no delight in sacrifices, and that the sacrifice He has chosen is a contrite spirit” (e.g., Morris, 1984, 7[1]:170; see Psalms 34:18; 51:17; etc.). While the Bible certainly teaches that the follower of God must be contrite, he also must keep God’s commandments. To teach otherwise is to ignore multiple Old Testament passages that reflect how God insisted that Israel keep every statute of the Covenant.
But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise my statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break my covenant, I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart.... I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies.... And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins (Leviticus 26:14-18, emp. added; cf. 19:37; Deuteronomy 5:29; etc.).
And you shall have a tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God (Numbers 15:39-40, emp. added).
We could list many similar passages from the Mosaic law. We may never understand fully why some Jews are trying to revive sacrificial practices, or for that matter, any portion of the Old Testament. Perhaps is it largely because of what Ahlstrom noted: “In addition to these domestic confrontations, secularization, increased social mobility, and the decline of anti-Semitism tended to erode the Jewish sense of particularity” (1973, p. 984). It could be that modern Jews feel a need to authenticate, bolster, and/or justify their religion by restoring ancient practices, starting with animal sacrifices and ultimately, logically culminating in a rebuilt temple (see “Extremist...”).
Because modern Jewish faith is based squarely on a rejection of the best-attested historical fact in antiquity, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, one might expect the Jewish religion to exhibit striking confusion and contradiction (see Butt and Lyons, 2006, pp. 135-168). Those of us at Apologetics Press will continue to stress that the evidence proves that “we have found the Messiah,” the only Son of God, Jesus Christ (John 1:41; see Butt, 2002). Man gains access to the Father only through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:6-7).


Ahlstrom, Sydney E. (1973), A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press).
Butt, Kyle (2002), “What Did You Expect?,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1780.
Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2006), Behold! The Lamb of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
“Extremist Rabbis Call for Return of Animal Sacrifice” (2007), The Associated Press, [On-line], URL:http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/02/28/israel.animal.ap/index.html.
“Fundamental Beliefs” (2007), Seventh-Day Adventist Church, [On-line], URL: http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html.
Korobkin, Daniel N. (2004), “Lost in Translation: Parshat Beher-Bechukotai (Leviticus 25:1-27:34),” [On-line], URL: http://www.jewishjournal.com/home/searchview.php?id=12238.
Lyons, Eric (2001), “Which Law Was Abolished?,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1659.
Morris, Joseph (1894), “Note by the Author of ‘The Ideal in Judaism’,” The Jewish Quarterly Review, 7[1]:169-172, October.
Moulder, W. J. (1988), “Sanhedrin,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Ridenour, Fritz (2001), So What’s the Difference? (Ventura, CA: Regal).
Wright, Gerald N. (1977), Sabbatarian: Concordance and Commentary (Fort Worth, TX: Star Bible Publications).

Christians Should Examine Islam by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Christians Should Examine Islam

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

With the advent of 9/11, our world, and the way we view it, has been forever altered. As you well know, Islam has not only captured international attention, it is expanding its influence and making extensive encroachments into American culture. Almost on a daily basis, the average American is stunned, even shocked, to hear of the concessions being made to Islam in America. From permitting the construction of a mosque near ground zero, to building taxpayer-funded prayer rooms for Muslims on college campuses, Islam’s encroachments are steadily increasing. Over 1,200 mosques dot the American landscape—most built within the last two decades—and more being built every day. Influential American authorities—from politicians to public school educators—are promulgating the equal acceptance and promotion of Islam in public life.

Now is the time for Christians to be informed. Now is the time for Christians to prepare themselves to help Muslims to see the truth. Five years ago, Apologetics Press released The Quran Unveiled, a volume intended to provide readers with an analysis of the fountain head of Islam: the Quran. Indeed, the authenticity of Islam rests on the credibility of the Quran. If the Quran is from God, it must possess the self-authenticating attributes and characteristics of divine inspiration. If it is not from God, though it may possess certain positive, even valuable, qualities, it must be rejected as disqualified to legislate human behavior in an absolute and ultimate sense. The primary purpose of The Quran Unveiled is to examine Islam’s holy book with a view toward ascertaining whether it is, in fact, of supernatural origin.

Apologetics Press continues to surge forward to maintain its cutting edge articulation of New Testament truth to current culture. Responding to the upsurge of Muslims into America is a part of this effort to teach the truth for Christ. We dare not ignore what is happening to the country. We must prepare ourselves to “make a defense” (1 Peter 3:15). In this month’s edition of Resources (insideR&R), you’ll find an advertisement with order information regarding how to purchase a copy of the book. Additionally, a DVD set of the live Islam Seminar is available. We urge you to take advantage of these tools in your evangelistic efforts to point people to Jesus Christ.

An Interview With Israel Finkelstein by Dewayne Bryant, M.A.


An Interview With Israel Finkelstein

by Dewayne Bryant, M.A.

For the May/June 2010 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review editor Hershel Shanks interviewed Israel Finkelstein, professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University and co-director (with archaeologist David Ussishkin) of the excavations at the biblical site of Megiddo since 1994. Finkelstein is a prominent Israeli archaeologist who has authored or co-authored several books that are highly critical of the traditional reading of Scripture. These include The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts and David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition.
Finkelstein has a well-deserved reputation as a critic of the Bible. He has long been accused of being a biblical minimalist, someone who believes that only a bare minimum of the Bible is historically trustworthy. Prominent minimalists in modern academia include Thomas Thompson, Philip Davies, and Niels Peter Lemche, all of whom have authored works highly critical of the historical accuracy of the Bible. Finkelstein is not as radical as the minimalists, who approach the Bible with a level of skepticism that borders on outright hostility. At the same time, Finkelstein expresses his belief that the story of David contains mere “historical germs” (Shanks, 2010, p. 51). He admits that there was a group of people called “Israel” as early as the late 13th century B.C. and that Solomon built a temple in Jerusalem, but disagrees that the Bible is historically accurate.
Although Finkelstein is not as extreme as the minimalists, he is often guilty of using the same unwarranted skepticism when reading the Bible. In the interview with Shanks, he says that he believes that he is “in the center” (p. 48) and is “more critical” (in the sense of reading the Bible with a greater level of scrutiny and discernment, p. 51) without venturing into pure minimalism, but denies that the history of major biblical events occurred as they are presented in the pages of Scripture.
Finkelstein is highly critical of those who take the Bible at face value. He says, “I do think we are in a process of liberation from an antiquated reading of the Biblical text… [Some archaeologists] still interpret the Bible very literally…. We tend to give it a more sophisticated reading. This is not to say that the Bible has no history. It means that we need to look at the Biblical material more carefully, in a more sophisticated way (p. 58).
From Finkelstein’s comments throughout the interview, it seems that by having “greater sophistication” in reading the Bible he really means “greater skepticism.” Unfortunately, this seems to be a common way of looking at the Bible. For many critics, it is read not to be understood, but to be condemned. Modern critics assume they are more advanced than the ancient authors, and approach Scripture with an air of chronological arrogance. In reality, those archaeologists and scholars who read the Bible “very literally” are in many ways interpreting Scripture just as the ancient authors intended. They are also interpreting the Bible just as scholars would interpret texts from other cultures. The biblical authors intended their work to be read so that the reader understands that their work is presenting facts that took place in real time. Few scholars in other areas of ancient history would read ancient texts with the same skepticism as Finkelstein and others view the Bible.
It has long been the case that those who read the Bible hold it to a much higher standard—it would not be unfair to call it a double standard—than other sources of information. For instance, when archaeologist Eilat Mazar discovered and identified what she considered to be the palace of David in Jerusalem based partially on her reading of the Bible (Mazar, 2006), Finkelstein and several colleagues disputed her findings (Finkelstein, et al., 2007). When the Khirbet Qeiyafa inscription was discovered, Finkelstein warned against the “revival in the belief that what’s written in the Bible is accurate like a newspaper” (Friedman, 2008). In other words, he argues that we cannot expect the Bible to report factual details with any great degree of certainty. For the last two hundred years scholars have mined ancient texts, including mythological texts, for details that might help with locating ancient sites. Finkelstein apparently believes that this cannot be done with the Bible.
Finkelstein has a brilliant mind, and is witty, engaging, and humorous in his interview with Shanks. At the same time, he also possesses a level of skepticism that finds no place among mainstream scholarship. Experts usually approach the ancient evidence with a degree of confidence, assuming that the literary and material evidence are generally trustworthy unless there is reason for suspicion. Minimalists approach the biblical evidence with an extreme degree of skepticism that they often do not employ elsewhere. They hold the biblical text to an extreme double standard, and disregard the Bible unless incontrovertible extrabiblical evidence is found that corroborates the text. If the same method were applied to reading the daily paper, minimalists would never get past the first paragraph of the lead article.
The minimalists’ approach, which Finkelstein’s resembles closely, is decried by many scholars, both theistic and atheistic. An example of the former is Kenneth Kitchen, one of the world’s foremost Egyptologists. In his book On the Reliability of the Old Testament, he spends considerable time examining the biblical minimalists and their history in the last two hundred years of biblical scholarship (2003, pp. 449-500). Specifically of Finkelstein’s book The Bible Unearthed (coauthored by Neil Asher Silberman), he says, “[A] careful critical perusal of this work—which certainly has much to say about both archaeology and the biblical writings—reveals that we are dealing very largely with a work of imaginative fiction, not a serious or reliable account of the subject” (p. 464). Concerning their treatment of the patriarchal period, which the two describe as a virtual fiction, Kitchen comments, “our two friends are utterly out of their depth, hopelessly misinformed, and totally misleading” (p. 465). Finkelstein’s and Silberman’s discussion of the exodus prompts Kitchen to remark, “Their treatment of the exodus is among the most factually ignorant and misleading that this writer has ever read” (p. 466).
As for non-Christian scholars, there are several who would oppose Finkelstein’s treatment of the Bible. One of these is William Dever, who has often described himself as an agnostic at best. Dever’s battle with Finkelstein is well-known to those in archaeological circles, as well as to readers of Biblical Archaeology Review. The two have feuded publicly in print, although Dever generally commands more respect than Finkelstein. [NOTE: In a personal conversation, a Canadian archaeologist from the University of Toronto told me in 2006 that not only does Finkelstein have a reputation for criticizing other archaeologists’ conclusions without examining their evidence, but other Israeli archaeologists have been critical and almost dismissive of him and his methods.]
Both believers and nonbelievers view Finkelstein’s approach as unwarranted. His point of view has won very few converts in archaeological circles. His skepticism borders on extremism not only because of the way he approaches the biblical text, but also because of the way he treats other scholars who disagree with him. In the end, Finkelstein may be a respected archaeologist in some circles, but he is spectacularly incorrect in his conclusions about the historical accuracy of the Bible.


Finkelstein, Israel, et al. (2007), “Has King David’s Palace in Jerusalem Been Found?” Tel Aviv, 34[2]:142-164.
Friedman, Matti (2008), “Archaeolgist Says He Found Oldest Hebrew Writing,” http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2008-10-30-424395593_x.htm.
Kitchen, Kenneth A. (2003), On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Mazar, Eilat (2006), “Did I Find King David’s Palace?” Biblical Archaeology Review, 32[1]:16–27,70, January/February.
Shanks, Hershel (2010), “The Devil is Not So Black as He is Painted,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 36[3]:48-58, May/June.

An Inspiring Glimpse into the Text of the Dead Sea Scrolls by Thomas Tarpley, B.S.


An Inspiring Glimpse into the Text of the Dead Sea Scrolls

by Thomas Tarpley, B.S.

Thanks to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we are able, with greater confidence, to believe in the Bible, knowing beyond any doubt that it is authentic. The significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls, in relation to biblical studies, can be separated into different areas. In this article, I would like to examine specifically the matter of the Old Testament text. As we study that text, we find that, prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, witnesses of the Old Testament text and canon were confined mainly to the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible.
For many years, scholars doubted that extremely ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament would ever be found. Sir Frederick Kenyon, in the 1948 printing of Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts,stated: “There is indeed, no probability that we shall ever find manuscripts of the Hebrew text going back to a period before the formation of the text which we know as Masoretic. We can only arrive at an idea of it by a study of the earliest translations made from it.…” Ironically, as his book was being printed, evidence that would invalidate such statements was being uncovered (see Pfeiffer, 1969).
Until the year 1947, the earliest manuscripts we possessed dated back to only around the tenth century A.D. These manuscripts composed what is known as the Masoretic Text, which was put into a fixed form in approximately A.D. 500. In the year 1947, a significant-yet-unexpected event occurred that would help document the authenticity of our present-day Bible. This special event took place in the northwestern corner of the Dead Sea, at a place known as Qumran. In a cave at Qumran, a young Bedouin boy accidentally stumbled upon a treasure trove of clay jars containing several ancient manuscripts—a find that proved to be one of the greatest discoveries of all time. These manuscripts take us back 1,000 years earlier than the Masoretic Text, to the first century B.C. The manuscripts, which are part of the Qumran library, are known collectively as the Dead Sea Scrolls. There are several lines of evidence that have put to rest the question of how old they are. This evidence was confirmed by paleography (the study and interpretations of ancient writings), orthography (the study of letters and their sequences in words), and archaeology.
Because these manuscripts have been proven to be so old, some initially questioned their quality (Geisler and Nix, 1986). Admittedly, there is indeed a scarcity of very ancient Hebrew manuscripts, due to the mere fact of how old and fragile, by necessity, they would be. Such documents would have to survive for two to three thousand years—a very long time considering the destructive nature of the elements (and man). Exactly how good, then, are the surviving manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls?
The quality of the Old Testament manuscripts from Qumran is actually very good, because there are relatively few variants in the texts. After the Masoretes copied manuscripts, they destroyed the old copies. The documents from which the Masoretes copied were handed down from two ancient sources. The first was the work of a man called Rabbi Akiba. He was a leader in the movement of biblical interpretation who, toward the end of establishing an official text, was assisted by a man named Aquila. This process of establishing an official text was completed in Palestine between the years A.D. 132-135, which was fairly close to the time the Qumran texts were written (Pfeiffer, 1969). The second source was the work of the sopherim. The term sopherim, as used in the second and third centuries, referred to the rabbis. In studying early rabbinical writings, we can see a clear picture of their work. While studying the text of Scripture that had been passed on to them, they attempted to “set” the pronunciation of certain words, and remove what they deemed insignificant pieces of the text. In the margins of the Scriptures, they made notes, indicating changes they felt should be made, and they placed points above letters or words that they thought were unneeded. Scholars are not always in agreement with the rabbis’ judgments, but the traditions they represent are helpful in the study of textual problems.
The Jews possessed a great reverence for the Bible, and as a result, they laid down numerous exact specifications for the process of copying the Scriptures. These specifications related to the kinds of skin that were to be used, the types of ink, the size of columns, the spacing of words, and the fact that nothing could be written from memory. There also was a ritual that had to be performed before they could write the name of God. The lines, and even the letters, were counted methodically. If a manuscript was found to contain even one mistake, it was systematically destroyed. This scribal formalism accounts for the extreme care in copying the Scriptures (Geisler and Nix, 1986).
In accordance with scribal formalism, the extreme care for the Scriptures was carried over to the Masoretes. The work that is associated with Akiba and the sopherim was placed into its final form by the Masoretes, whose work was completed about the tenth century. They strove diligently to preserve the text that had been handed down to them. The traditional pronunciation was indicated by a system of vowels and accents. Hebrew (along with other Semitic languages) is written with a consonantal alphabet. Numerous precautions were taken by the Masoretes to ensure the purity of the text, including such things as counting the verses, the words, and even the letters of the books of the Old Testament. The Masoretes recorded how often the same word appeared at the beginning, middle, or end of a verse. They also recorded the middle verse, middle word, and middle letter of each book. The corrections suggested by the sopherim were carefully noted in the margins, but the integrity of the text itself remained basically unaltered. We today owe a great debt to the Masoretes for their strictness and care in safeguarding the text of God’s Word so carefully for so many centuries.
Another line of evidence that supports the innate quality of the Qumran manuscripts is the duplication of passages within the Masoretic text itself. Several psalms occur more than once; much of Isaiah 36-39 is also found in 2 Kings 18-20; Isaiah 2:2-4 is parallel to Micah 4:1-3; Jeremiah 52 is a repeat of 2 Kings 25; and large parts of Chronicles are found in Samuel and Kings. When examined, these passages not only show textual agreement but, in many cases, there is word-for-word identity (see Geisler and Nix, 1986).
The nature of the Dead Sea Scrolls is crucial to the establishment and confirmation of the true text. Because the Dead Sea Scrolls contain countless fragments of every book in the Old Testament except for Esther, there are plenty of samples with which to make comparisons to the Masoretic Text. But why would we need to compare the Dead Sea Scrolls with the Masoretic Text? What would such a comparison reveal? The purpose in making such a comparison is to determine if the Dead Sea Scrolls are similar to the Masoretic Text, and if so, in what ways. The evidence of these comparisons actually ends up providing an overwhelming confirmation of the fidelity of the Masoretic Text. Millar Burrows, writing in his book, The Dead Sea Scrolls, concluded: “It is a matter of wonder that through something like a thousand years the text underwent so little alteration. As I said in my first article on the scroll, ‘Herein lies its chief importance, supporting the fidelity of the Masoretic tradition’ ” (1955, p. 304).
Other scholars have noted that the differences between the standard text of A.D. 900 and the text from 100 B.C. are extremely minor. Gleason Archer, in his work, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, observed that two copies of Isaiah from cave 1 of Qumran “proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95% of the text. The 5% of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling” (1974, p. 44). Further studies have supported the conclusion that the Dead Sea Scrolls are very similar to the Masoretic Text, which leads us to conclude that today’s Hebrew text faithfully represents the original as was written by the authors of the Old Testament.
There are other lines of evidence that I will not have the space to discuss in this brief article, such as support from archeology, the close parallel between the LXX and the Masoretic Text, and the agreement of the Qumran manuscripts with the Samaritan Pentateuch. As a result of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars now have access to ancient Hebrew manuscripts that are 1,000 years older than the Masoretic Text manuscripts, which has enabled scholars to confirm the incredible accuracy of the Hebrew Text. In fact, a comparison of the standard Hebrew texts with that of the Dead Sea scrolls has revealed that the two are virtually identical. The variations (about 5%) occurred only in minor spelling differences and minute copyists’ mistakes. Thus, as Rene Paché noted: “Since it can be demonstrated that the text of the old Testament was accurately transmitted for the last 2,000 years, one may reasonably suppose that it had been so transmitted from the beginning” (1971, p. 191).
By way of conclusion, we may observe that all the thousands of Hebrew manuscripts (in whole or in part), with their confirmation by the LXX and the Samaritan Pentateuch, as well as the numerous cross references from without and within the text, give overwhelming evidence for the reliability of the Old Testament text. Therefore, it is safe to conclude, as did Sir Frederick Kenyon, that “the Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation throughout the centuries” (1948, p. 55).


Alexander, David and Pat Alexander, eds. (1973), Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible (Oxford, England: Lion Publishing).
Archer, Gleason (1974), Survey of Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody), revised edition.
Burrows, Millar (1958), The Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking).
Geisler, Norman L. and William E. Nix (1986), A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Kenyon, Frederick (1948), Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts (New York: Harper).
Paché, Rene (1971), The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Pfeiffer, Charles F. (1969), The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

The Trinity by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


The Trinity

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Article in Brief
Throughout the centuries, the nature of God has been at the center of many heated debates. Entire counsels have assembled to discuss whether God is composed of three personalities having one nature, whether Jesus is a part of the Godhead, how the Holy Spirit factors into the equation, and a host of similar questions. The answers to these questions can have far reaching theological and practical consequences. It is the purpose of this article to prove the thesis that the Bible teaches that the Godhead is three personalities—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—in one nature.


As in all discussions dealing with a proper understanding of truth, an agreed upon and acceptable, sufficiently precise definition of the major terms must be set out in the beginning.
  • Godhead or Divinity: A description of the totality, both of nature and personality, of the supernatural Creator of the world (see Lenski, 1961, p. 98).
  • Nature: “The inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing; essence” (“Nature,” 2015).
  • Personality: A recognizable, distinct entity that has mind and desire. As described by Merriam-Webster: “The complex of characteristics that distinguishes an individual….The totality of an individual’s behavioral and emotional characteristics; a set of distinctive traits and characteristics” (“Personality,” 2015).
While most words that will be discussed concerning the Trinity, such as “personality,” “nature,” and even “divinity” or “Godhead,” are fairly easy to define, that does not mean the aspects of God that they describe are easy to understand. In fact, the Godhead is so complex and beyond human capability to fully understand, that any attempt to discuss God quickly reveals the limitations of the human mind. We can never fully understand the Godhead. As the apostle Paul so eloquently wrote about God’s revelation of the Gospel: “Oh, the depth and the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out” (Romans 11:33). We should not conclude, however, that nothing can be known of God. Were that the case, to have any discussion about Him, say His name, or even to identify the concept of God, would be impossible for us. On the contrary, while we may not be able to understand fully all that the term “nature” of God entails, and while we may not be able to define the concept of a “personality” so that we comprehend everything about it, we can know enough about the terms “Godhead,” “nature,” and “personality” to say that the Godhead is three personalities in one nature.


The basic argument for the Trinity proceeds as follows:
  • Premise one: the Bible teaches that the Godhead is one in nature.
  • Premise two: the Bible teaches that God the Father is one personality of the Godhead.
  • Premise three: the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is one personality of the Godhead.
  • Premise four: the Bible teaches that Jesus the Son is one personality of the Godhead.
  • Conclusion: Therefore, God is composed of three personalities in one nature.


Various Scriptures demonstrate that the Godhead is one in nature. One of the most well-known passages that relates this truth is Deuteronomy 6:4, which states: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” A similar passage is found in Ephesians 4:4-6, which reads, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” In addition, Malachi 2:10 says, “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” The fact that God is one is clearly stated in the Bible.
The clear statements of God’s oneness lead some to deny that God is composed of three personalities. They suggest that if God is one, then He cannot be three in any way; so His oneness excludes the possibility that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all God. As M. Davies wrote: “We have seen how that, throughout the Bible God is only described as being one being…. So it is to the Bible we must turn, and when we do, we do not find any evidence to suggest that God is made up of three beings” (2009). Thus, the critics of the doctrine of the Trinity do not differentiate between the concept of nature and that of personality. This idea will be expanded upon in the section dealing with common objections. It is included here simply to set up the argument for God’s oneness being in nature, and not personality.
The Bible says that “one God” created us (Malachi 2:10). A closer look, however, at the Creation of man shows that some type of multiplicity was involved. Genesis 1:26-27 states, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.… So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” The Hebrew language used in this passage cannot be definitively used to prove a multiplicity, but it is written in such a way that certainly allows for the one God to have some aspect of multiplicity or plurality. A better understanding of this plurality is gained by looking at the verses in the Bible that discuss the Creation. John 1:1 explains, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Later in the first chapter of John we learn that the Word “became flesh and dwelt among us.” Thus, the Word refers to Jesus, who was with God and was God and created all things along with the Father (John 1:14). We can see, then, that the oneness of the Creator must allow for at least some aspect of God to have a multiplicity of something.
In logical form, we could arrange the argument as follows. There is one God who created man. The concept of oneness either means that nothing about God can have any type of plurality, or that some aspect of God is completely unified but at least one other aspect of God can have multiplicity to it. It cannot be the case that nothing about God can have any multiplicity since the Bible gives at least one aspect of God (the Father and the Son) that has multiplicity. Therefore, some aspect of God is completely unified, but at least one aspect of God can have, and has, multiplicity.
Once we determine logically that at least one aspect of God has to be “one” and completely unified without multiplicity, we need to identify what that concept is. We see several ideas that are applied to God in His entirety. God is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:2; Deuteronomy 33:27). God’s eternality applies to the Father, as well as to God the Son, as is evidenced from the fact that Isaiah 9:6 describes the Messiah (Who is recognized in the New Testament as Jesus) as being called “Everlasting Father.” The concept of eternality equally applies to the Spirit, as the Hebrews writer stated, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God” (Hebrews 9:14, emp. added). Since the concept of eternality equally applies to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, then we have successfully determined at least one aspect of God that is completely unified and applies equally to every aspect of God. Such qualities compose the nature or essence of the being of God. And while it is true that we cannot know or understand all of the aspects of God’s essence, we can compile a list of ideas or attributes that make-up this unified whole that applies equally to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • God’s essence is immutable, or unchangeable (Psalm 103:17; Hebrews 13:8).
  • God’s essence is morally perfect (Habakkuk 1:13; 1 Peter 2:22).
  • God’s essence is founded on justice (Psalm 89:14; Matthew 23:23).
  • God’s essence is love (1 John 4:8).
  • God’s essence is eternal (Psalm 90:2; Deuteronomy 33:27; Isaiah 9:6).
The Bible provides a much more exhaustive list of the attributes of God’s nature or essence. This short list is provided to make the point that all three personalities of God (i.e., the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), share one unified nature that applies equally to all of them.


Having established the fact that God is one in essence or nature, we can now move to dealing with the idea that God is three personalities. The burden of this portion of the article will be to establish that the three personalities of God are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

God the Father

The premise that one personality of the Godhead is the Father is one of the least disputed and easily proven concepts in this discussion. In fact, many people and religious groups consider the Father to be the only personality of God (which we will show is not the case), but very few who accept the Bible as the Word of God argue that God the Father is not God. This is the case because there are so many verses in the Bible that identify God in the personality of the Father. Let us examine a few of those. In 2 Peter 1:17, the text states that Jesus “received from God the Father honor and glory.” Jude 1 is written to those “who are called, sanctified by God the Father.” When Jesus was instructing His disciples to pray, He taught them to say, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9). Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you” (1 Thessalonians 3:11). As with other aspects of the argument, a much longer list could be compiled showing that the Bible refers to God the Father as being part of the Godhead. Thus, as our argument proceeds, we have now established that the Godhead has one unified nature, and has at least one personality, namely, God the Father.

God the Holy Spirit

Because of the way many people view the term “spirit,” it has often been the case that the Holy Spirit is misidentified. He is often referred to as an “it,” and some do not recognize the fact that He is a personality of the Godhead. The Scriptures, however, are clear that the Holy Spirit is a personality of the Godhead in the same way as the Father and the Son. First, recall that the Bible explains that the Spirit is eternal (Hebrews 9:14). That means that He is not a created being, but has always existed. In argument form we would say, God is the only being that is eternal. The Holy Spirit is eternal. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is God. In addition, we read that just as God knows all things, the Spirit does as well. First Corinthians 2:10-11 states, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God…. Even so, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”
The book of Acts contains a memorable story about two early Christians named Ananias and Sapphira. These two sold a piece of property, gave the money to the church, but lied about the price of the land. When the apostle Peter rebuked them for their sin, he said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit.... You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:3-4). Notice that Peter stated that by lying to the Holy Spirit, Ananias had lied to God, equating God and the Holy Spirit. In addition, 1 Peter 1:2 says that the Christians there had participated in the “sanctification of the Spirit.” In 2 Thessalonians 5:23, the Bible says, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely.” Again, we see that the work of sanctifying the Christian is accomplished by God, but is attributed to the Holy Spirit. This line of reasoning can be extended to other aspects of God’s action. In 2 Timothy, Paul states that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (3:16). Peter explains that the Scriptures were produced when “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). We then can reason that God inspired the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures, thus the Holy Spirit is God.
Once we establish that the Holy Spirit is God, we next need to show that He is a person, not simply a nebulous force. We have defined the word “person” as a recognizable, distinct entity that has mind and desire. The Bible paints a consistent picture that the Holy Spirit, like the Father, is a person. First, the Scriptures state that the Holy Spirit can, and has, talked to people using language that those people can understand. In Acts 8:29, we read that “the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.’” This was not a nebulous, impersonal force, but a recognizable voice used by a person to communicate His desire to a man named Philip. The apostle Paul explained that “the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1). Once again, the Spirit speaks in understandable language. In Revelation, the text says that “the Spirit and the bride say ‘Come!’” (22:17). Only a person with a will and identity could offer such an invitation. In addition, consider that the Holy Spirit can be blasphemed (Matthew 12:31-32), lied to (Acts 5:3), insulted or despised (Hebrews 10:29), and grieved (Ephesians 4:30) (Olbright, 1999, p. 25). The Holy Spirit is God, and has all the traits of a person. We therefore conclude that the Father is one personality of God, and the Holy Spirit is another personality of God, proving that the one God has a multiplicity of personalities.

God the Son

In addition to the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Bible mentions another person Who composes the Godhead—Jesus Christ the Son. In fact, the Bible mentions these three together. Matthew 28:19 quotes Jesus as saying that His followers should baptize disciples in the name of the “Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Peter wrote that Christians were “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus” (1 Peter 1:2). A straightforward reading of these passages seems to put the three on equal footing. Some have contended, however, that even though Jesus is the Son of God (which the Scriptures teach in numerous places; see Matthew 14:33; 16:16; Mark 1:1; Luke 8:28; John 3:16-18; 2 Corinthians 1:19), that does not mean He was equal to God or had/has the same nature as God. Fred Pearce, who denies that Jesus is God, wrote: “But he is God’s Son, because he has been ‘begotten.’ The ruler is not God; he is the Son of God; and he began to exist on the day he was ‘begotten.’ Like all sons, he is preceded by his Father” (n.d.). Some have contended that God created Jesus first, and then Jesus created everything else. Thus, they would argue that Jesus is not God, but only the Son of God, a creation of God, or an elevated angel. Others would argue that Jesus was only a man and never claimed to be God or even an angel. The Bible, however, denies both of these positions, and presents a thorough and consistent picture of Jesus Christ the Son of God as God in nature and as a third personality of the Godhead. Consider the following three affirmations:

I. Jesus the Son is Referred to as God

The prophet Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would come in the form of a Child. That Messiah was going to be known as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Notice specifically that the coming Child would be called Mighty God. In the New Testament, we see that Jesus was that Child, the anointed Messiah, the Son of David described in Isaiah 9:6. In John 4:25, the woman with whom Jesus talked at the well stated, “I know the Messiah is coming” to which Jesus responded, “I who speak to you am He” (John 4:26). When we put the premises together, the argument looks like this: The Messiah is Mighty God. Jesus Christ the Son of God is the Messiah. Therefore, Jesus Christ is Mighty God.
In the first chapter of John, the text says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Again, notice that the Word is called God. Just a few verses later, the text explains that the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us” and that John “testified of Him” (John 1:14-15). In John 3:22-36, the person John testified about is Jesus Christ the Son of God. Putting the pieces together, we arrive at the following argument: The Word is God. Jesus Christ the Son is the Word. Therefore, Jesus Christ the Son is God. The apostle Thomas added his voice to this conclusion when he saw the wounds in Jesus’ body and proclaimed to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

II. Jesus the Son is Worthy of and Accepted Worship

Matthew wrote a detailed account of Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness. During that temptation, the devil enticed Jesus to fall down and worship him. Jesus responded by saying, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Matthew 4:1). Jesus’ argument went as follows: All people are morally bound to worship only one being, that is, God. The devil is not God. Therefore, no one should ever worship the devil. From this line of reasoning, it is clear that anyone who is faithful to God will not encourage the worship of any being other than God. We see this truth played out in a number of episodes in the Bible. In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas were in the city of Lystra when they healed a crippled man. The residents of the city were so enamored with the two, they began to worship them. Paul and Barnabas rushed in among the crowd and tried to stop their worship, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men with the same nature as you” (Acts 14:15). Their argument was similar to the one Jesus made. All people are morally bound to worship only one Being, that is, God. Paul and Barnabas are not God. Therefore, no people should ever worship Paul and Barnabas. The same thought process is used in Revelation 22:6-9. In that passage, the apostle John is introduced to an angel. The apostle “fell down to worship before the feet of the angel” (Revelation 22:8), but the angel said to him, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant…. Worship God” (Revelation 22:9). The angel’s argument can be laid out in the following way. God is the only Being any person should worship. I, an angel, am not God. Therefore, no person should ever worship me.
When we consider how Jesus responded to being worshiped, we can see that He readily accepted it as a proper response to His personality and power.  On numerous occasions, the Bible records that people worshiped Jesus Christ. Matthew 14:33 says that his disciples “came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” Jesus accepted the worship and did not rebuke them. In John 9:38, Jesus healed a man who had been born blind. Jesus then instructed the man to believe in the Son of God. The man responded by saying, “Lord, I believe!” then the text says, “And he worshiped Him” (see also Matthew 2:11; 28:9; John 20:28). As we analyze this argument, we see that Jesus said all people are morally bound to worship only God, and Jesus accepted worship as the proper attitude of people toward Him. Either Jesus violated Scripture and accepted worship contrary to the Bible’s teaching, or Jesus is God. Jesus never violated Scripture (Hebrews 4:15; John 8:46). Therefore, Jesus is God.

III. Jesus the Son is Equated with Jehovah

In the Hebrew Bible the special name for God is called the Tetragrammaton. It is composed of four Hebrew letters and is transliterated Jehovah or Yahweh. The actual pronunciation of the name has been lost since the original Hebrew did not have vowels. This name is used only to describe the eternal Creator God of the Universe. In Isaiah 6, the prophet records a time when he saw God in a vision. The angelic beings who stood around God’s throne addressed God as “Jehovah” of hosts in Isaiah 6:3 and used the same name (the Tetragrammaton) in verse five. There is no doubt that Isaiah was describing a vision of the eternal God. When we turn to the New Testament, we see the apostle John describing this scene from Isaiah. John writes that although He (Jesus) “had done so many signs before them, they did not believe” (John 12:38). He then references Isaiah 6:9-10, and says, “These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him” (John 12:41). The fact that the pronoun “Him” in verse 41 is referring to Jesus is verified by the use of the pronoun to describe Jesus in verse 37 and verse 42. Thus, the argument can then be made as follows: Isaiah saw the glory of Jehovah God in Isaiah 6. John says that Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus and references the episode in Isaiah 6. Thus, John equates Jesus with Jehovah.
Additionally, other passages reference Jesus as being Jehovah. Isaiah 40:3 explains that a messenger would be sent as the forerunner of the Messiah. This messenger would be “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” who would “prepare the way of the Lord (Jehovah); make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3). The New Testament applies this prophecy to John the Baptizer (John 1:11) and declares that John prepared the way for Jesus, thus equating Jesus with Jehovah. Again, the argument is as follows: Isaiah said the messenger would prepare the way for Jehovah. John was the messenger Isaiah predicted. He prepared the way for Jesus. Thus, Jesus is equated with Jehovah.
From these passages and the arguments they present, the Bible student is drawn to a concrete conclusion about Jesus the Son. Not only is Jesus directly called God, He accepted worship that is reserved only for God, and the holy name of Jehovah is applied to Jesus; thus Jesus is God. The idea that Jesus is a person who has a personality is undisputed. Therefore, Jesus is one personality of the Godhead [NOTE: For more information on the deity of Christ, see Miller, 2005 and the entire section of the Apologetics Press Web site dedicated to that topic under the heading “Deity of Christ” athttp://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10.] We have now established that the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Son are three personalities of the Godhead, and they are composed of one nature. Let us turn to some common objections to this conclusion.


As with any subject pertaining to God and the Bible, an exhaustive list of objections and responses to them would be so extensive it would take hundreds or thousands of pages to complete. With that in mind, we will have to content ourselves with responses to a few of the more common objections to the thesis we have presented.

Objection 1:
       The Word Trinity is Not in the Bible

The concept that the Godhead is three personalities—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—in one nature is often summarized as presenting a triune God. The term triune denotes a trinity of personalities in one unified nature. The noun form of the adjective is Trinity. The term Trinity is used by the vast majority of Christians, and others who accept the thesis of this article, to describe the nature and personalities of God. One primary objection to the use of this word, and the conclusion that it is used to describe, is that the term is not even used in the Bible. For example, one critic of the idea of the Trinity wrote:
But did you realize that, even though it is a common assumption among many sincere religious people, the word Trinity does not appear anywhere in the Bible? In fact, the word Trinity did not come into common use as a religious term until centuries after the last books of the Bible were completed—long after the apostles of Christ were gone from the scene! (“Is the Trinity...?” 2011, italics in orig.).
Supposedly, because the Bible does not use the term Trinity to describe God, then the idea of a Trinity is an extrabiblical idea that was forced into the text.
In truth, the objection that the term Trinity is not used in the Bible can be refuted by showing that there certainly are words used today that describe concepts in the Bible, but those words or terms are not in the text. For instance, the Bible never uses the term “atheist” or “atheism.” Can we argue from that fact that the Bible does not deal with the concept of a person who does not believe in God? No, since we can see that Psalm 14:1 states, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Our modern term “atheism” accurately describes a person who says, “There is no God,” even though the term is not used in the text. In addition, the Bible never uses the word “Sunday,” yet we use that word today to accurately describe the day the Bible calls “the first day of the week,” which came after the Sabbath. Incidentally, we use the word “Saturday” to describe the Sabbath, even though “Saturday” is never used in the Bible. These examples show the logical inconsistency of claiming that a concept is not taught in the Bible if the word we currently use to describe the concept is not in the Bible.

Objection 2:
       If God is One, He Cannot Be Three

Another often heard objection to the thesis is the idea that if God is one, there is no way that He can be three. Those who use this argument quote verses such as Deuteronomy 6:4, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” and Ephesians 4:6 which says there is “one God and Father of all.” They argue that if God is one, as these verses say, then He cannot be three at the same time, because this would be a violation of the law of logic known as the Law of Contradiction.
In responding to this argument, it is helpful to review what the Law of Contradiction actually says. Warren states the law as: “Nothing can both have and not have a given characteristic (or property) in precisely the same respect” (1982, p. 23). Another way to state the law is that nothing can both be something, and not be that same thing at the same time, in the same way. The pertinent aspect of the Law of Contradiction as it relates to the Trinity discussion is the idea of a person or thing having a certain characteristic “in precisely the same respect” or “in the same way.” For instance, we could say that a person named Bob is very rich and very poor. While it seems contradictory at first, we could mean that he is physically and financially prosperous, but he is very shallow and spiritually poor. So, in one sense he is rich (monetarily) and in another sense he is poor (spiritually). Therefore, it can be true that he is both rich and poor at one and the same time. In the same way, God can both be one and be three at the same time precisely because the terms “one” and “three” apply to different aspects of God. When we use the word “one” we are discussing God’s eternal nature or essence. When we use the word “three” we are describing the personalities of God, not His nature. Thus, it is important to understand that the Godhead is three personalities in one nature. This statement does not violate the Law of Contradiction and accords with what the Bible says.

Objection 3:
       Jesus Denied That He is God

Some who argue against the Trinity claim that Jesus did not view Himself as God, and on several occasions denied His deity. One of the passages most often used to bolster this claim is Mark 10:17. In this passage, a wealthy young man ran to see Jesus and asked Him, “Good teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded by saying, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” According to the skeptical view, Jesus is denying that He is God. But a closer look at Jesus’ comment reveals just the opposite to be the case. Notice that Jesus never denies that He is the “good teacher.” He simply makes the comment that there is only one Who is truly good, and that is God. Thus, if the young man’s statement is true that Jesus is the “good teacher” (and it is), and there is only one Who is “good,” and that is God, then Jesus is acknowledging His deity, not denying it. As with all discussion of Scripture, it is important to look at what the text actually says and not what other people claim the text says [NOTE: For a more complete list of answers to objections to Christ’s deity see Lyons, 2006; in addition, for a thorough case for the deity of Christ, see Butt and Lyons, 2006.]


A discussion of the nature and personalities of God is important for several reasons. First, if God includes information about Him in the Bible, then He must want humans to study and learn that information. Second, a misunderstanding of God’s personalities could result in a spiritually catastrophic conclusion that is at odds with God’s Word. If a person misunderstands that Jesus is the eternal God on par with the Father and Spirit, that person may never grasp the significance of the fact that God in the flesh came to Earth to die for his or her sins. Such a misunderstanding may also cause that person to fail to honor Christ as the Bible commands. Jesus stated “that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23). Only if a person understands that the Son is God just as the Father is God can that person honor the Son “just as” he or she honors the Father. Thus, a discussion of the Trinity is necessary to sound Christian doctrine and practice.
If a person approaches the sum of Scripture motivated by an earnest desire to know the truth about the Godhead, that person can, with complete confidence, infer from the biblical premises and implications that the Godhead is three personalities—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—in one nature.


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