BEHOLD! by Jim McGuiggan



If someone asks you what “monogamy” is, don’t go to or quote a dictionary. What you’d find there would be an accurate definition I’m sure, by which I mean, you’d find what the rank and file of us think of when we use the word. There you’d find what our children are taught in school to think when they hear the word. I like dictionaries, I do; I make use of them often and I suppose it’s true that in some ways they share with us the experience of our fellow-humans because speech not only reflects how we live—it shapes it. Still,dictionaries aren’t warm; they’re cold. They record without passion or commitment or shame or affection how the current populace uses the sounds we call words. There’s nothing creative about a dictionary; it lacks imagination, it doesn’t create worlds—it simply defines past or existing worlds; it runs after aging worlds, listening and recording what’s said. Again, a dictionary’s redeeming factor is that it deals with words and words are not dictionaries. Words well used can set an entire world on fire or set a sleepy world dancing. Words can defy an existing world that’s filled with despair and create an imagined world that is free and joyous. (Read the prayer-songs of Hannah and Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus) Words can create new worlds by generating vision but vision is in some ways more more wonderful than words though words and visions keep very close company indeed.
If you had told Harry Emerson Fosdick that monogamy was the conviction that men and women should have only one husband/wife  at a time he would have said something like, That’s not monogamy. Monogamy is a woman and a man, all their lives, wanting to love one another as they love no other person in all the world. That’s monogamy!
If you gave Landon Saunders the dictionary definition he would have said something of this sort, That’s not monogamy. Monogamy is a man or a woman looking into the others eyes and saying, Others may come and go in your life but I won’t. I’ll never leave you. If you’re sick I’ll nurse you, feed you, bathe you, sit with you, read to you, listen to you; if I hurt you I’ll apologize, I’ll ask your forgiveness, if you’re lonely I’ll keep company with you; if you’re happy I’ll rejoice with you, sing, smile or laugh with you. I’ll do anything but leave you. I’ll never leave you. That’s monogamy!
It isn’t that we should ignore the dictionary but we’re blessed if we see more than the dictionary; We hear and feel more than the dictionary. Critic or cynics might well say that talk like that is too sickeningly sweet in the light of the real world; Who lives like that? they might say. It’s a dream world and not the world we live in.
Hmmm, perhaps. Yet, dreams are not all bad and even if we can’t quite make it to the place we dream of, should we not dream of better and finer?
But while dreams and vision are intimately related they’re not quite the same. The dreams we dream as we look at and experience life are shaped, I would suggest they’re shaped, by vision, by whatever it is that shapes our entire worldview.
To be visionary like, for example, GK Chesterton, would mean that while we don’t despise brain-power or intellect we become seers [which is what in the early days of the OT the prophets were called seers].
We’d be less cognitive, less prepositional and rational and more imaginative as we reflect on lovely relationships—yes, and richer because of it.
We wouldn’t take leave of our senses but some new sense of things would be ours. The father is speaking the sober truth when he says to his daughter, about the young man she is now in love with, I don’t know what you see in him! Precisely! She’s in love with him and the father isn’t and love gives the seer new eyes and senses. It doesn’t matter what it is were talking about—life’s realities or relationships. There’s a way of seeing the ordinary, or at least the commonplace, that means it is no longer ordinary or commonplace.
Chesterton saw what millions of us see—we shrug and he was mesmerized. The sun doesn’t rise every morning because the earth spins! Chesterton said it comes up every morning because God every morning says to it, Get up! That’s vision!
Richard Ahler allows us to imagine a fully contented man moving to the close of his life. He’s reflecting on his relationship with his beloved who is now deceased and he says this:
When I think how soon we run out of time,
Lookin’ back at what I’ve done in my time,
My accomplishments are few,
But for my days of loving you!
If I’ve never gone too far in this world,
When I might have made my mark in this world,
I had better things to do,
I had my days of loving you!
Let the others go their way, 
Seeking more and more, 
Give me just one yesterday, 
Filled with love like yours! 
I have nothin’ to regret in this life,
I’ve had all there is to get in this life,
Once I lived a dream come true,
I had my days of loving you!
That’s monogamy! Well, yes, but it’s more—it’s vision! We who are badly hurt or sour or cynical can’t and won’t share such a vision and that’s tragic.
Anna Louise de StaĆ«l [it’s very probable that Nietzsche didn’t say it] said something like this: “Those who were seen to dance were thought to be insane by those who couldn’t hear the music.”
God bless us more and more with His way of seeing and hearing and feelings things. God bless us with men and women who can wide-eyed and sincerely use the word Behold! and not just look! and point, point at something that only a moment ago or a day ago or a year ago or a sad lifetime ago was too familiar and by his/her bright vision it has been transformed into something wondrous and new. And maybe if we’re blessed their way of seeing will become ours and yhen our children’s and then their children’s.
(Please, Father of grace and goodness. This prayer in Jesus name.)

Hell, The Abode Of The Lost By Steve Miller


Hell, The Abode Of The Lost

By Steve Miller

  1. One positive step we can take toward motivation for righteousness, and abstaining from sin is: To consider what the Bible teaches about eternal punishment.
  2. The greatest and deepest tragedy of hell is banishment from the presence of God, and the eternal relationship with the Son.
  3. Everyone needs to know that the suffering in hell will be intensified by the kind of people who will be there.
  4. Many do not believe that a loving God could send anyone to an eternal hell.
  5. First we must consider the character of God.

  6.      a. How can we know the character of God? - 1 Corinthians 2:11-13.
         b. Matthew 19:17 - Jesus said “One there is who is good.”
         c. “God is love” - 1 John 4:8.
         d. “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” - Luke 6:36.
         e. We conclude that God is good, loving, just, holy and merciful.
  7. There are other characteristics of God.  Consider His wrath!

  8.     a. Romans 1:18; 2:5, 8-9.
        b. Romans 5:9.
        c. Because of sin, man deserves punishment.
  9. God does not force anyone into eternal punishment.
  10. It is a matter of choice with each of us.
  11. “Choose ye this day” (Joshua 24:15) has always been God’s call to man.
  12. God “would have all men to be saved” - 1 Timothy 2:4.
I. Inquiries About Hell
    A.  What word describes the final and eternal abode of the lost?
    1. Hell is rendered gehenna in twelve passages in the N.T.; 11 times the word is used by Christ himself.
    2. The original application of gehenna related to the fire that was used in sacrificing children to Molech -  2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6.
    3. Jesus perpetuated this element by describing the final, eternal hell as a place of fire.
    4. He twice called it “the hell of fire” - Matthew 5:22; 18:9.
    5. He twice referred to it as “the furnace of fire” into which the evil will be cast after the judgment – Matthew 13:42, 50.
    6. He twice called it a place of “unquenchable fire” – Mark 9:43, 47-48.
    7. Revelation 20:10, 15; 21:8.
    B. Will those in hell have memory and conscience?
    1. Memory and conscience will produce shame – Daniel 12:2.
    2. Rich man in Luke 16.
    C. Will hell be for eternity?
    1. The punishment of those in Gehenna is unending.
    2. The fire is “unquenchable” (that which cannot be extinguished) – Matthew 3:12.
    3. The worm dies not – their punishment after death will never cease – Mark 9:48.
    4. The punishment is eternal – Matthew 25:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:9.
    5. Gehenna is one of only two places in which the eternal soul of an individual will find himself.  The other is heaven.
    6. “Eternal damnation” – Mark 3:29.
    7. “Everlasting chains” and “eternal fire” – Jude 6-7.
    8. The fire of hell will never die.
A. Assigned lesson “Hell, The Abode of the Lost”
  1. Who are the lost?
  2. Does the Bible reveal who will be lost?
  3. “We must not permit ourselves to be sidetracked by the question of who will be consigned to hell.  That judgment does not belong to us” (Gregory Alan Tidwell, Gospel Advocate, September, 1997, p. 13).
  4. We can, without playing God, identify those who will be cast into hell.
B. Devil and his angels – Matthew 25:41.
C. Those who do not know God, and…those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” – 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9.
D. Revelation 21:8.
  1. “fearful” or “cowardly” - They do not have a strong faith to overcome -       Revelation 21:7; John 12:42-43.
  2. “Unbelieving” are those who never obey the gospel.
  3. “abominable” - Their conduct and life is disgusting and offensive to God - Titus 1:6.
  4. “murderers” - Hell will be their home - Abortion - Proverbs 6:17.
  5. “whoremongers” - sexually immoral.
  6. “sorcerers” – Caters to the flesh.  Exalts man above God. It is a lie! – Malachi 3:5; Acts 13:10
  7. “idolaters” - Worship something other than one true God.
  8. “all liars” - Those who are false, they lie to themselves, to others, to God. No liar shall escape the lake of fire and brimstone.
  9. Revelation 22:14-15.
E. 2 Peter 2:9 – “the unjust”
  1. The unjust are those who are “not in conformity with right”
  2. False teachers are in the context of  2 Peter chapter 2. (See 2 Peter 2:1).
F. Those who fall away from the truth.
  1. 1 Corinthians 10:12; Hebrews 3:12.
  2. Hebrews 6:4-6.
G. Those who sin willfully – Hebrews 10:26-27.
  1. We must strive to avoid all sin – 1 John 2:1.
  2. 1 John 1:9.
  3. To sin willfully is to keep on sinning, one who does not allow guilt and conviction to produce repentance.
H. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
I. Galatians 5:19-21.
J. The lawless.
  1. Matthew 7:23.
  2. Lawlessness or iniquity is the condition of one without law or without authority.
  3. 2 John 9-11.
  4. Where will these transgressors end up if they neglect repentance?
A. Lake of fire – Revelation 20:15.
B. A bottomless pit – Revelation 20:1.
C. A horrible tempest – Psalm 11:6.
D. A devouring fire – Isaiah 33:14.
E. A place of sorrows – Psalm 18:5.
F. Where they wail – Matthew 13:42.
G. A place of weeping – Matthew 8:12.
H. A furnace of fire – Matthew 13:41-42.
I. A place of torments – Luke 16:28.
J. Everlasting burnings – Isaiah 33:14.
K. A place of filthiness – Revelation 22:11.
L. Where they curse God – Revelation 16:11.
M. Where they have no rest – Revelation 14:11.
N. A place of outer darkness – Matthew 8:12.
O. A place where people pray – Luke 16:27.
P. A place where they can never repent – Matthew 12:32.
Q. A place where they scream for mercy – Luke 16:24.
R. A place of everlasting punishment – Matthew 25:46.
S. A place where they gnaw their tongues – Revelation 16:10.
T. A place of blackness and darkness forever – Jude 13.
U. A place where they scream for one drop of water – Luke 16:24.
V. A place where they will be tormented with brimstone – Revelation 14:10.
W. A place where there are dogs, sorcerers and whoremongers – Revelation 22:15.
X. A place where they do not want their loved ones to come – Luke 16:28.
Y. They are away from the face of the Lord – 2 Thessalonians 1:9.
Z. It is the second death – Revelation 20:14.
In the forward to John Blanchard’s book, “Whatever Happened To Hell?”, J.I. Packer wrote: “What should we do with this teaching?  May we water it down because we find it uncomplimentary, and embarrassing, and contrary to the spirit of our age?  Surely not: it is as divine, and as authoritative, as anything else in the New Testament, and the fact that it jars with today’s humanistic unbelief makes the declaring and defending of it all the more important” (pp. 9-10).

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" Persecuted For Righteousness' Sake (16:16-25) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

             Persecuted For Righteousness' Sake (16:16-25)


1. Jesus spoke of being persecuted for righteousness' sake... - Mt 5:10
2. The apostles of Christ certainly suffered much persecution...
   a. As Paul alluded to in his epistles - 1Co 4:9-13
   b. Paul especially endured much suffering for Christ - 2Co 11:24-25

[Such persecution came as a result of trying to live godly or righteous
lives (cf. 2Ti 3:12).  At this point in our study of Acts, we find an
example of Paul being "Persecuted For Righteousness' Sake"...]


      1. She possessed "a spirit of divination" - Ac 16:16
         a. The Greek speaks literally of a "python spirit."
         b. The python was the symbol of the famous Delphic oracle and
            represented the god Apollo, who was believed to render 
            predictions of future events. 
         c. The serpent had thus become a symbol of augury, and anyone
            who was seen to possess the gift of foretelling the future 
            was described as led by the "python." 
         -- Polhill, J. B. (1995). Vol. 26: Acts. The New American Commentary
      2. She brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling - Ac 16:16

      1. The possessed girl followed Paul and his companions on the way to prayer - Ac 16:17
      2. She would cry out "These men are the servants of the Most High
         God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation." - Ac 16:17
      3. This she did for many days, which annoyed Paul - Ac 16:18; cf.Lk 4:34,41
      4. Why was Paul annoyed ("grieved", KJV)?
         a. The acclamations may have been true in one sense
         b. But they were open to misunderstanding by pagan hearers
         c. The term "Most High God" was commonly applied to Zeus, and
            "the way of salvation" could also be misconstrued by Gentiles- Polhill, ibid.
      5. "The course pursued by Paul was the same with that of Jesus,
         who invariably stopped the mouths of demons when they attempted
         to testify to his claims. The propriety of this course will be
         apparent upon observing:
         a. "First, That to have permitted demons to testify for the
            truth would have convinced the people that there was an 
            alliance between them and the preachers.
         b. "Second, This supposed alliance would have caused all the
            good repute of Jesus and the apostles to reflect upon the 
            demons, and all the evil repute of demons to reflect upon them.
         c. "If Christ and the apostles had given countenance to demons
            while telling the truth, they could have used their 
            endorsement to gain credence when telling a lie; and thus,
            believers would have been left to the mercy of seducing 
            spirits, fulfilling, with the apparent sanction of Christ, 
            the prophesy of Paul that, 'In the latter times men shall 
            depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and 
            teachings of demons, speaking lies in disguise, having the
            conscience seared with a hot iron.' (1Ti 4:1-2)
         d. "To guard against this result, it was necessary to exorcise
            all demons who ventured to speak in favor of the truth."
         -- McGarvey, J. W. (1872). A commentary on Acts of Apostles
      5. So Paul commanded the spirit to come out, and it did that very hour - Ac 16:18

[In exorcising the spirit, Paul was doing the slave girl a kindness, an
act of righteousness if you will.  But as Jesus implied, righteousness
can often lead to persecution...]

      1. The slave girl's masters motivated by loss of profit - Ac 16:19-21
         a. Seized Paul and Silas, dragging them to the marketplace and the authorities
         b. Accusing them as Jews troubling the city, teaching customs 
            not lawful for Romans
      2. The magistrates (normally two per colony) motivated by the multitude - Ac 16:22
         a. As the multitude rose up together against Paul and Silas
         b. The magistrates tore off Paul and Silas' clothes, commanded
            them to be beaten with rods 

      1. Beaten with rods - Ac 16:22-23
         a. Probably by lictors; lit., rod bearers (the "officers") - cf. Ac 16:35,38
         b. With many stripes; likely one of the three times Paul mentions - cf. 2Co 11:25
      2. Imprisoned with stocks - Ac 16:23-24
         a. Securely in the inner prison
         b. With feet fastened in stocks

      1. Despite pain of beaten skin, discomfort of fastened feet - Ac 16:23-25
         a. They prayed, likely with thanksgiving - cf. Php 4:6-7
         b. They sang hymns to God (hymns are songs of praise and joy) - cf. Ep 5:19
      2. Thus Paul and Silas rejoiced when persecuted for righteousness' sake!
         a. As Jesus told His disciples to do when persecuted - Mt 5:11-12; Lk 6:22-23   
         b. As other apostles did they were persecuted - Ac 5:41

1. By precept, we're told how to respond when persecuted for righteousness' sake...
   a. Jesus:  "Rejoice...be exceedingly glad; leap for joy!" - Mt 5:12; Lk 6:23
   b. Peter:  "Rejoice...glorify God" - 1Pe 4:12-16

2. By example, we're told how to respond when persecuted for righteousness' sake...
   a. Pray, as Paul and Silas prayed to God in prison
   b. Sing, as Paul and Silas sang hymns to God in prison

May the example of Paul and Silas inspire us to keep the precept...!
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2013

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" The Conversion Of Lydia (16:11-15) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                  The Conversion Of Lydia (16:11-15)


1. One of the best reasons to study Acts is to take note of the examples of conversion...
   a. In which the gospel was preached and people responded
   b. Noting what was preached, and how people responded

2. For today, many people in the name of Christianity...
   a. Preach a false gospel of Christ
   b. Or proclaim a false response to the gospel

[We have examined several conversions already in our study of Acts. Now 
we come to "The Conversion of Lydia", perhaps the first convert to Christ
in the continent of Europe...] 


      1. He and his company had been making their way through Asia (Turkey)
      2. The Spirit had limited their options - Ac 16:6-8
      3. In Troas Paul had a vision ("The Macedonian Call") - Ac 16:9
      4. Taking the vision as a call from the Lord, they depart for
         Macedonia - Ac 16:10

      1. Sailing from Troas - Ac 16:11
         a. They sail to Samothrace, a small mountainous (5000+ ft.) island
         b. And then to Neopolis, seaport for the city of Philippi 
      2. Arriving at Philippi - Ac 16:12
         a. Foremost city of that part of Macedonia
         b. Made a Roman colony in 42 B.C.

[Arriving at Philippi, Paul and his companions (including Luke, note
"we") were staying in the city for several days (Ac 16:12).  On one of
those days, they went down to the river...]


      1. Paul and his company go down to the riverside on the Sabbath - Ac 16:13
      2. Paul's custom was to find a synagogue on the Sabbath - Ac 17:1-3
         a. To reason with Jews about Christ        
         b. Evidently there were not many Jews in Philippi, and no
         c. According to Jewish custom, at least 10 male Jews were
            required for a synagogue
      3. But women met at the river to pray, and Paul's company speaks to them

      1. Lydia was a successful business woman - Ac 16:14
         a. A seller of purple (goods, dye), suggesting wealth on her part
         b. From Thyatira, a city of Asia (Turkey) known for its expensive purple dyes
      2. Lydia was a religious woman - Ac 16:14
         a. One who worshiped God
         b. Her name is Greek, so perhaps a convert to Judaism 
      3. She heard Paul, and the Lord opened her heart to heed what he said - Ac 16:14
         a. In what way the Lord opened her heart is not stated
         b. But she "heard" what Paul was speaking - Ac 16:13,14
         c. We know that "faith comes by hearing the word of God" - Ro 10:17
      4. Through the gospel, one's heart can be opened to be receptive
         a. For the gospel is God's power to save - Ro 1:16
         b. It tells of God's goodness, that should lead one to repent - Ro 2:4
      5. Lydia was willing "to heed the things spoken by Paul" - Ac 16:14-15
         a. I.e., to do or obey whatever Paul had said
         b. We can infer that it included baptism - cf. Mk 16:15-16; Ac 2:38
         c. For she and her household (family, servants) were baptized - cf. Ac 8:12,35-38

[At this point, allow me to make some...]


      1. Throughout Acts, the gospel was proclaimed to religious people
         a. The thousands of devout Jews in Jerusalem on Pentecost - Ac 2:1-41
         b. The many Jews gathered on Solomon's Porch at the temple - Ac 3:1-26
         c. The Ethiopian eunuch who had travelled to Jerusalem to worship - Ac 8:26-40
         d. Saul of Tarsus, a devout Jewish rabbi - Ac 9:1-19; 22:1-16; 26:1-13
         e. Cornelius, a devout Gentile who feared God, prayed always- Ac 10:1-48
      2. Without Jesus, religious people are lost!
         a. He is the way, the truth, the life; there is no way to God but through Him 
             - Jn 14:16
         b. There is no other name but Jesus whereby one can be saved- Ac 4:12
         c. He is the only Mediator between God and man - 1Ti 2:5-6
      -- It is not enough to be religious; we need Jesus Christ as our Savior!

      1. In every case of conversion described in Acts with detail, baptism occurs quickly
      2. In most cases, after hearing just one lesson about Christ! - e.g., Ac 8:35-38
      3. Referring to Peter's sermon on Pentecost, a respected Baptist 
         scholar wrote:  "Baptism is here a part of the proclamation of 
         Christ. In an Apostolic sermon it comes as its logical 
         conclusion.  An effort ought to be made to restore this note in our [Baptist] preaching." 
          - Baptism In The New Testament, George Beasley-Murray, p. 393
      -- Indeed, the command of baptism needs to be restored to all gospel preaching!

      1. In asking Paul and his companions to stay with her, Lydia asks 
         "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord..." - Ac 16:15
      2. What evidence was there to determine whether she was faithful?
      3. At the very least, her willingness to be baptized! - Ac 16:15
      -- Would not refusal to be baptized indicate a lack of faithfulness?

      1. Some appeal to "household conversions" as evidence of infant baptism, such as:
         a. The conversion of Cornelius and his household - Ac 10:1-48
         b. The conversion of Lydia and her household - Ac 16:11-15
         c. The conversion of the Philippian jailor and his household - Ac 16:25-34
      2. The argument is that we may assume infants were present, but is
         that the case here?
         a. Lydia was a businesswoman, with no mention of a husband 
         b. She was from Thyatira, possibly in Philippi on business
            (though she did have a home)
         c. We can just as easily assume that her household was made up
            of servants, or at least children old enough to travel
      -- The burden of proof rests upon those seeking to support infant
         baptism, and the evidence in this case simply isn't there (nor elsewhere)


1. With the conversion of Lydia, we have...
   a. Perhaps the first gospel convert in the continent of Europe
   b. The beginning of the church at Philippi, which may have met in her
      home - cf. Ac 16:40

2. We also have an example of the Providence of God...
   a. Leading servants who are prepared to teach, to seekers who are praying
   b. As in the case of Cornelius, and the Ethiopian treasurer

3. Fulfilling the words of Jesus:  
   a. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for
      they shall be filled." - Mt 5:6
   b. "Seek and you will find" - Mt 7:7-8

Such individuals are like the man in The Parable of the Pearl of Great

   "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful
   pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and
   sold all that he had and bought it." - Mt 13:45-46

Lydia was a successful merchant, but she knew there was something much
more valuable than money.  Her worship and prayer gave her the
opportunity to hear the gospel, and she showed her faithfulness to God
by obeying the gospel immediately through faith and baptism (cf. Mk 16:15-16).  

How about you...?
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2013

The Quran, Arabic, and Translations by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Quran, Arabic, and Translations

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Muslims generally have been reluctant, even resistant, to translating the Quran into other languages—a notion known as the doctrine of the inimitability (i‘jaz) of the Quran.1 The usual explanation for this hesitation has been that the meaning cannot be fully transferred from the Arabic into other languages. For example, Islamic scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr referred to the Quran as “the verbatim Word of God in Islam.”2 Consequently, it is claimed, “no translation has been able or ever will be able to render the full meaning and ‘presence’ of the text.”3 Pickthall announced in the preface to his translation of the Quran: “The Koran cannot be translated. That is the belief of old-fashioned Sheykhs and the view of the present writer…. It is only an attempt to present the meaning of the Koran.”4 These declarations betray what J.I. Packer labeled an almost “superstitious regard” for the Quran.5 Indeed, they manifest an unjustified reverence for the Arabic language.
Of course, this claim is unfounded and indefensible—for at least two reasons. While misunderstanding and misinterpretation certainly can occur, all linguists know that the accurate transference of meaning from one language to another is achievable. Millions of people who speak differing languages are able to communicate with each other every day. The United Nations and governments around the world regularly engage in political and economic interaction, fully capable of grasping each other’s intended meanings. The fact that misunderstanding sometimes occurs does not negate the fact that correct meanings may be conferred from one language to another, and that the participants can know that they have understood each other correctly. Was God incapable of providing the world with His Word in such a way that its meaning can be transferred into the thousands of human languages that exist? Of course, He could. If we can understand each other by overcoming language barriers—surely the originator of human language can communicate His message through multiple human languages! The claim that the Quran cannot be fully comprehended unless one reads it in Arabic is a claim that demonstrates ignorance of linguistics and the science of translation.
Additionally, the claim stands in conflict with the nature of God. The one true God would not insist that His Word remain in one language—let alone Arabic. He would not require the whole world to learn Arabic.6 In fact, this claim stands in contradiction to the Quran itself. Since it speaks favorably of the Bible, the Quran implicitly endorses the fact that God previously conveyed His will in three languages (i.e., Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek).7 Yet, no Greek-speaking person was required to learn Hebrew or Aramaic, and no one whose native language was Hebrew was required to learn Greek. Jesus, Himself a Jew, often quoted from the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Indeed, the Septuagint translation--though imperfect--was, in fact, the primary translation of the Old Testament used by the apostles and the early church.
What’s more, the first century phenomenon of tongue-speaking in the New Testament church demonstrates that God does not favor one particular human language or expect His communication to be confined to a single language. On the day of Pentecost, Jewish Arabs were present in Jerusalem who spoke Arabic (Acts 2:11). The apostles did not expect those gathered to give priority to the Arabic language but, in fact, accommodated the wide variety of languages spoken by the pilgrims (vs. 8).8 In the church at Corinth, both the miraculous ability to speak a foreign language as well as the gift of interpretation of other languages is implicitly endorsed by God (1 Corinthians 11-14).
The very nature of God’s communicative activities militates against the notion that He would suddenly lock His Word into one language and then require everyone to learn how to understand and read that fourth language. In fact, the fixation—even obsession—that the Quran manifests toward “Arabic” (Surah 12:2; 13:37; 16:103; 20:113; 26:195; 39:28; 41:3; 42:7; 43:3; 46:12; cf. 41:44) implies a human author—one who was overly influenced by, enamored with, and subject to his restricted, limited linguistic environment.9


1 Fazlur Rahman (1979), Islam (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition, p. 40.
2 Seyyed Hossein Nasr (2003), Islam (New York: HarperCollins), p. 3.
3 Ibid., p. 45.
4 Mohammed M. Pickthall (1930), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor), p. vii.
5 J.I. Packer (1958), “Fundamentalism” and the Word of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1976 reprint, pp. 89-90.
6 In fact, at Babel, God personally authored—not one—but several original proto-languages from whence all other human languages have developed (Genesis 11:1-9). See Dave Miller, et al. (2002), “The Origin of Language and Communication,” Reason & Revelation, 22[8]:57-63, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=532&article=489.
7 Though Muslims now claim the Bible has been corrupted, the fact that God originally transmitted the Bible in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek is not disputed.
8 For a discussion of tongue-speaking in the New Testament, see Dave Miller (2003), “Modern-Day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation—EXTENDED VERSION,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1399&topic=293.
9 NOTE: Though the Quran repeatedly claims to have been given in “pure and clear” (Surah 16:103) Arabic speech—“in the perspicuous Arabic tongue” (Surah 26:195)—the fact is that it contains several foreign, non-Arabic words. For example, Syriac words occur in the Quran, including masih (Messiah) in Surah 3:45, furqan (salvation) in Surah 2:50, and istabraq (silk brocade) in Surah 76:21. Cf. Alphonse Mingana (1927), “Syriac Influences on the Style of the Koran,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, [11]:77-98, available on-line at: http://answering-islam.org/Books/Mingana/Influence/index.htm; D.S. Margoliouth (1939), “Some Additions to Professor Jeffery’s Foreign Vocabulary of the Quran,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (London):53-61; Anis A. Shorrosh (1988), Islam Revealed: A Christian Arab’s View of Islam (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson), p. 199.

Why Seven Days? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Why Seven Days?

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Have you ever wondered why, all over the world, in civilization after civilization, we find people scheduling their lives based on a seven-day week? The origins of other units of time are easy to understand. For instance, a year is the amount of time it takes for the Earth to orbit the Sun. A day is the amount of time it takes for the Earth to make a complete rotation on its axis. A month is the approximate time between new moons. And seasons are determined based on an equinox or solstice. But no celestial, lunar, or planetary movement or system accounts for our seven-day week.
A brief look back into history shows that the seven-day week has prevailed as the paramount routine for humanity in general as far back as historical records can go. Although some societies and cultures did use weeks other than the seven-day week, it still has stubbornly maintained its preeminence. Today, the seven-day week is universally accepted, even though the French attempted a ten-day week during the French Revolution in 1791, and the Soviet Union, as late as the early 1900s, attempted a five-day week—to no avail.
Where did the seven-day week originate? The most plausible explanation comes from the book of Genesis. The first chapter of Genesis explains that God created the entire Universe is six, literal twenty-four hour days. The beginning of chapter two states, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (2:2).
Exodus 20:8-11 gives an explanation as to why God framed His creative activity according to a seven-day week. This passage teaches us that God worked six days and rested the seventh day in order to provide a pattern for the Jewish workweek. Because God worked six days and rested on the seventh day, the Jews were instructed to do the same.
In truth, an all-powerful God could have created the Universe in seven seconds, seven years, seven decades, or seven million years. God’s week of seven days, however, was given purposefully to man as a pattern to follow. This pattern has prevailed for several thousand years. The Sun, Moon, and stars were given “for signs and seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14), but not for the week. The week was instituted specifically by God, based on His creative activity. The seven-day week is yet another testimony to the truthfulness and accuracy of the Genesis account of Creation.

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

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.

The Godhead is One in 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.

The three personalities of God

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” at http://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.

Objections Considered

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.


Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2006), Behold! The Lamb of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Davies, Matt (2009), “God—A Single Entity and Not a Trinity,” The Gospel Truth, http://www.the-gospel-truth.info/bible-teachings/god-unity-or-trinity/.
“Is the Trinity Biblical?” (2011), United Church of God, http://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/is-god-a-trinity/is-the-trinity-biblical.
Lenski, R.C.H. (1961 reprint), The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Lyons, Eric (2006), “Answering Christ’s Critics,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=6&article=578&topic=71.
Miller, Dave (2005), “Jesus’ Claims to Deity,” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=10&article=2465.
“Nature” (2015), Merriam-Websterhttp://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nature.
Olbright, Owen (1999), The Holy Spirit: Person and Work (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
Pearce, Fred (no date),“Jesus: God the Son or the Son of God? Does the Bible Teach the Trinity?” http://www.christadelphia.org/pamphlet/jesus.htm.
“Personality” (2015), Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/personality.
Warren, Thomas B. (1982), Logic and the Bible (Ramer, TN: National Christian Press).

Mary, Catholicism, and the Bible by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Mary, Catholicism, and the Bible

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

One unique feature of Catholicism is the role and status assigned to Mary. The official pronouncements of the Catholic Church are forthright and unreserved in declaring her to be the “mother of God,” and in sanctioning the offering of worship to her and assigning to her an intercessory role (see Miller, 2004). Catholics insist that Mary is deserving of respect that surpasses other fleshly mothers, in the same way that a person has greater respect for his or her own fleshly mother. But the New Testament does not make this analogy. While a person’s own fleshly mother certainly deserves more respect than that given to other mothers, Mary is not the fleshly mother of humanity (cf. Genesis 3:20). She is not deserving of any more respect than any other mother. A child views his own mother as the mother—because she bore him. But Mary did not give birth to anyone living today. She is no more the mother than any other mother.
The Catholic Church confuses Mary’s physical motherhood (which is taught in Scripture—earning for her the surpassing respect of her physical children, including Jesus’ respect for her) with an alleged spiritual motherhood—about which the Bible says nothing. Indeed, to embrace the Catholic view of Mary would require one to repudiate Jesus’ own view of His fleshly mother. This view is accentuated in two separate incidents that occurred while Jesus was on Earth.
On one occasion when Jesus was imparting spiritual teaching to a crowd, Mary arrived with her other children and sought to speak to Him:
While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers? And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50, emp. added).
Observe that while Jesus was not being disrespectful to His physical mother, he was contradicting the very aspect of Mary’s status that is advocated by Catholic dogma. Jesus clarified that while His fleshly mother certainly was deserving of respect (cf. Luke 2:51; Ephesians 6:1-3), nevertheless, Mary was secondary to His higher, spiritual concerns. Those who were attending to the assimilation of the spiritual principles that Jesus was imparting were held up by Him as transcending the physical/blood ties associated with mere human relatives.
Mark’s account of this incident (3:31-35) is preceded by Jesus’ family (identified in vss. 31-32 as his mother and brothers) questioning His sanity (3:20-21). The Catholic translation (NAB) renders the verses: “He came home. Again (the) crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’ ” The critical notes that accompany the text of the Catholic Bible make the following comment on these verses: “There were those even among the relatives of Jesus who disbelieved and regarded Jesus as out of his mind (21). Against this background, Jesus is informed of the arrival of his mother and brothers [and sisters] (32)” (1987, p. 1121, italics in orig., emp. added).
The other incident in the life of Jesus that illustrates His true assessment of His physical mother occurred as He responded to His critics. Some accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub, while others tested Him by challenging Him to produce a sign from heaven. Knowing their thoughts, Jesus gave His usual masterful rebuttal. “And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!’ ” (Luke 11:27). This unnamed woman in the crowd likely did not intend to accentuate the person of Mary, but simply was expressing her wish that she could have produced such a fine son herself, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of Luke 1:48.
Nevertheless, her statement expresses the viewpoint of the Catholic Church in its veneration of Mary. If this attitude and emphasis were proper, one would have expected Jesus to give a response that confirmed, bolstered, and sanctioned her declaration. One would have expected that Jesus would have said something to the effect that—
Yes, you are right. The one who bore Me and nursed Me is the “most holy Mother of God” who will be “honored with special reverence” by the Church throughout the centuries, “venerated under the title of ‘God-bearer,’ ” and the faithful will “pour forth persevering prayer to the Mother of God and Mother of men,” venerate “images of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints.”
Why would one expect Jesus to have made comments along these lines? Because the portions of this imaginary response that are in quotes are taken directly from the official pronouncements of the Catholic Church at Vatican II (Abbott, 1966, pp. 94-96).
Did Jesus give a response to the woman that in any way resembled these sentiments? Absolutely not! To the contrary, He declared: “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28). Instead of “more than that,” the NAB renders it “rather” (cf. ASV, NIV, RSV)—further underscoring the contrast He was making. The NASB makes the Greek even more vivid: “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” As University of Cambridge Greek professor C.F.D. Moule noted, menoun in Luke 11:28 functions as “an introduction to a new statement correcting or modifying a foregoing statement” (1977, p. 163, emp. added). Nicoll was inclined to agree: “Correction probably was uppermost in Christ’s thoughts. Under the appearance of approval the woman was taught that she was mistaken in thinking that merely to be the mother of an illustrious son constituted felicity” (n.d., 1:550, emp. added). Dana and Mantey also agree: “In Lk. 11:28...the expression contains both contrast and emphasis, with the significance of in fact, rather” (1927, p. 261, italics in orig., emp. added). In essence, Jesus was contradicting the woman and pointing her to the correct focus and object of commendation: not the physical mother of Jesus, but those who obey God’s Word.


The premiere passage of Scripture that is offered to sustain the view that Mary was assigned a special role in the practice of the Christian religion is the statement that Jesus made from the cross:
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home (John 19:25-27, emp. added).
The fact that Jesus was referring strictly to the physical care for his earthly mother after His death—and not to an alleged spiritual role that Mary was to fill in Christ’s religion—is evident from the context. Jesus spoke the directive to John—not to everyone else present on that occasion, let alone to everyone since. Jesus simply was turning the care of His fleshly mother over to John, since her husband was already deceased and her other children were likely still unbelievers (Mark 3:21; John 7:5). The very verse that refers to this oral utterance of Jesus regarding care of His fleshly mother contains proof of its intended meaning: “And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:27).
Consider the following three observations: First, Jesus did not entrust the care of His mother to Peter! But if Peter were the first pope, Jesus surely would have linked Mary to Peter in order to establish her official spiritual status for all time. Second, Jesus did not arrange to have Mary circulated to the homes of all of the disciples, but only to John’s home. Jesus knew that the “disciple whom Jesus loved” would see to it that she received adequate care in His absence. Third, John took her to “his own home,” i.e., he was attending to her physical needs! He did not take her to any “Holy Shrine of the Blessed Virgin,” or to any other location that would have confirmed a unique role. Indeed, absolutely nothing in this verse leads the objective reader to think that Jesus was assigning a significance or role to Mary that the Catholic Church has since assigned her—“the Mother of us all”!
Interestingly, if when Jesus said to John, “Behold your mother!,” He intended to call for the veneration of Mary, then the immediately preceding statement directed to Mary pertaining to John, “Woman, behold your son!” (John 19:26), would necessitate the veneration of John by both Mary and everyone since!
The fact of the matter is that the Bible makes no provision for worship, adoration, or veneration to be directed to Mary. The Bible forbids offering praise to any human being. All praise, worship, and adoration belongs to God alone (Matthew 4:10; Acts 10:25-26; 14:14-15; Revelation 19:10; 22:9). To extend veneration to other humans ought to be as horrifying to us as it was to Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:14-15). Indeed, when Herod accepted such veneration, he was struck dead by God and eaten with worms (Acts 12:23).


Abbott, Walter, ed. (1966), The Documents of Vatican II (New York, NY: America Press).
Dana, H.E. and Julius Mantey (1927), A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (Toronto, Canada: Macmillan).
Miller, Dave (2004), “Mary—Mother of God?” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2234.
Moule, C.F.D. (1977 reprint), An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, second edition).
Nicoll, W. Robertson (no date), The Expositor’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
New American Bible (1986), (Nashville, TN: Catholic Bible Press).