Conclusion

Truth or Dare (Intro)

Cup 1 In this study, called Truth or Dare, we have been examining the various chalices that mankind may choose to drink from while searching out eternal life. We have explored seven of the more poisonous libations found in the world’s chalices, and compared them to the life giving liquid that exists in the cup of Christ.

The first three chalices were filled with three very similar toxicants:

Physical Wealth

Physical Power

Physical Pleasure

These three particular vices, we discovered, are very closely linked because any one of them will aid us in acquiring any one, or all, of the others listed.

In other words, if I were to suddenly become a billionaire, and had access to more physical wealth than any one person could spend in a lifetime, then I could use my money to acquire positions of power over others and enjoy any physical pleasure my mind could conceive. Also, if I managed to gain a position of power first, then I could begin to use my influence to gain the monetary wealth I desired and consume the pleasures of my worldly heart. Then again, if one intently chased after the numerous pleasures that this world has to offer, that overwhelming desire to find satisfaction in such things could goad one along until they were wealthy enough or powerful enough to access them.

Physical wealth, power, and pleasure — all three available to humanity. All three are a part of our human condition, but all three can be very toxic and deadly if consumed from Satan’s chalice. As each of these three articles showed, it’s only when we quench our thirst for physical wealth, power, and pleasure from the “cup of Christ” that we can really be satisfied and escape their harmful side effects. Poison 3 Why? Well, just like with any hard drink if you don’t regulate how much you consume (either by drinking very little of it or by “watering” it down) the potency of that beverage will eventually overtake you. In Christ’s cup, all of our natural, physical desires become mixed with spiritual living water — God’s divine “fruit of the vine” — the holy, blameless blood of Jesus Christ. Consuming this recipe ensures us of life; life filled with an abundance of real joy.

In the three articles that followed physical wealth, power, and pleasure, we discovered that there were other dangerous drinks awaiting our consumption. The three additional toxicants examined were:

Religion

Philosophy

Knowledge

Within these three special vices we saw traces of the first three toxins, but also examined some very dangerous ideologies specific to each of these issues.

For example, from within religion, philosophy, and knowledge you can find traces of our desire for physical power. Humanity’s lust for control will drive mankind to abuse their search for spiritual guidance, mental peace, and understanding of all things spiritual and physical. Thus the resulting concoctions reveal a variety of poisonous drinks, as false or legalistic religions appear, worldly ideologies that promote self-centeredness become our focus, and empty teachings that lack the wisdom of God ultimately destroy our lives.

Then our final article disclosed the main ingredient, the base substance, mixed into each drink served up in the chalice of Satan. What’s this staple element of potency? Selfishness. No matter what drink Satan chooses to tempt you with, it will always be heavily lined with a huge portion of selfishness.

Selfishness is the one ingredient certain to remove our gaze from God and His statutes, and place them inward towards our own desires and wants. As long as we continue to over indulge in the libation of selfishness, then Satan knows we will never successfully surrender our lives over to God (Proverbs 18:1; Romans 2:8; James 3:16). Yahweh will never be respected as our sovereign Creator, Jesus will never truly be our Lord, and the Holy Spirit will never really be our guide.

Humanity, as we stated in our introductory article, has a choice. We can embrace the dares that Satan dictates to us, and then experience eternal death, or we can choose to embrace God’s truth, and live forever.

Drunkeness 1 By drinking from Satan’s chalice, our spiritual senses become dulled, forcing us to look death in the face and act as if nothing is wrong; as if all is right and normal. Those that make this choice act on the lie that truth is relevant to their own wants and desires. They accept Satan’s lie that says absolute truth is really the biggest falsehood of the ages. The one really big problem with that — you can’t make the truth go away, and escape it’s consequences, by simply choosing to not believe in it. Famed American science-fiction author Philip K. Dick acknowledged this when he said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

Merriam-Webster defines the chalice as a: (noun) a drinking cup — goblet. Wikipedia says a chalice is “a goblet or footed cup intended to hold a drink. In general . . . it is intended for drinking during a ceremony.” Most chalices are formed from a precious metal or made of crystal, then they are lined with precious stones and jewels. The reason is they are meant to “wow” and impress people. These aren’t cups for every day use. These are special vessels meant to be used for special occasions.

The term “poisoned chalice” exists, because somewhere in human history someone figured out that the glitz and the glamour of these goblets, used during a celebration or feast, is so distracting that no one would ever consider questioning the liquid being served in it. Today this term is applied to a thing or a situation which appears to be good, at first, but when it is received or experienced it becomes, or is eventually found to be, dangerous. This is why I refer to the lies humanity receives from Satan as a “chalice filled with poison.”

Scripture also compares the truth of God and the lies of Satan as drinks to be consumed by us. Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too.” (1 Corinthians 10:21a) Real truth can only be consumed from the “cup of Christ.” Why? First, because Jesus spoke of Himself as being real truth (John 1:17, 14:6, 18:37) and second, because Christ calls us to consume His truth from His cup (John 4:1-26, 6:53, 7:37-38; 1 Corinthians 10:16).

People cannot find the way to experiencing everlasting life by partaking of any old drink from within any old vessel. Not even if the world decorates their vessels with precious metals, stones, and jewels. No matter how much gold and silver is shaped and formed; no matter how many fine and rare stones or jewels adorn the chalice, it won’t make the poison in it any safer for our consumption.

Cup 9 Christ’s cup appears simple. It’s not adorned with fancy jewels and other distractions. The “cup of Christ” is plain, understated, and accessible to all. Christ’s cup is absent of fancy decor, because it’s not the drink of selfish, pious, and pompous people. Christ’s cup is to be consumed by the selfless, sincere, and humble human. Men and women capable of surrendering their lives to God, in exchange for the substance that grants them eternal life — the blood of Christ. It’s only by drinking in the sufferings of Jesus — now, in this physical world — that we can be allowed access to the wondrous inheritance of God’s Son.

I’ll close with this thought concerning mankind’s endless search for truth and eternal life. It will require us to return to the chamber of the Holy Grail, that we spoke of in our introductory article. As we all stand there, contemplating the various chalices we could drink from, remember this phrase — low probability verses high impact.

No matter how many religions, doctrines, philosophies, ideologies, and studies perk your interests and pleasure your spirit, consider the probability of their being true verses God’s Word being true. Consider the impact these religions, doctrines, philosophies, ideologies, and studies will have on your eternal soul verses the impact that God will have on your soul. If you believe there is at least a one percent probability that, when you die, you will be judged by this holy God spoken of in the Holy Bible, and in this series, then you had better seriously consider the cup of Christ. It only requires that you look past the glitz and the glamour of all the other chalices in the chamber, and (as the guardian said) choosing your cup wisely.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article IV, part 2

Truth or Dare (Article 4)

In our last post we began to look at the three largest religions: Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. We quickly looked at the ideals, philosophies, and theologies of these three dominant belief systems. In this article we will examine why no other religion, but Christianity, is one-hundred percent truth. robe & thorns

It’s obvious that this blog, as others on this site, are focused on the truths of Christ. I’ve made no attempts to state otherwise. So, how is it that I am so confident that the teachings of Christ are true? For many reasons, actually, but for the purpose of this article we will focus on the person, character, and deity of Jesus Christ. Why? Because, if Jesus didn’t exist, and wasn’t perfect, and wasn’t God, then Christianity is all a lie. All three have to be true.

History never doubts the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, so I’ll not linger on this point, and as far as His perfection is concerned — well, there is not a single religion that doubts Jesus’ good and perfect nature, and Scripture is full of statements concerning His spotless character (Leviticus 22:19; John 1:19; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Even “non-believers” will tell you Jesus was a good man, but was Jesus of Nazareth deity? Was Jesus Christ, God? Yes, Jesus is God incarnate, and there is plenty of evidence to back this statement up.

Before doing so, though, I must reiterate the fact that humanity is flawed. All religions agree on this very key point. The “non-religious” even know that people are in need of improvement; that mankind lacks perfection. However, it’s only Christianity that proclaims time-and-again that humanity cannot save its self (Romans 5:12). It’s this teaching, found only in Christianity, that people need a savior to help them reconnect to God, that causes all aspects of Jesus to be so vital (Romans 5:15). For if mankind can save its self, as all the other religions teach, then Christ’s existence and death was for nothing, and God wasted His time and effort.

Would an all-knowing, always existing, deity of perfection allow Himself to be caught in an act of waste, and futility? After all, this all-powerful being created all that we can behold, and experience, and more. Right? Would this deity not have the intelligence, and understanding to know that sacrificing a being of perfection is unnecessary, if people can just cycle through the reincarnation process and work their imperfections out on their own, as the Hindus believe? Would this super-being allow His flawed creation to just flounder around pursuing “jihad,” giving them only a fifty percent chance of working their way back to Himself and into His presence, as the Muslims teach?

God is indeed the maker of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 48:13; Colossians 1:16), and He is truly the only being that is all-knowing (Psalm 147:5b; 1 Samuel 2:3b; Isaiah 55:9), self existing (Exodus 3:14-15; Isaiah 48:12; Revelation 4:8b), perfect (Deuteronomy 32:3-4; Psalms 5:4; 1 John 1:5), and all-powerful (Psalm 62:11b,89:8, 147:5a). Nothing can escape God’s sight — nothing (Psalm 139). It’s because of God’s perfection that He cannot allow within us imperfection. Just as darkness flees from light, so too will our sinfulness keep us from God’s perfection.

You see, laws exist to expose what is wrong with humanity. Anarchy allows all kinds of activity to go unpunished, but laws do not. Religion exposes us to a higher law; a higher morality. God’s law, the Ten Commandments, was given to mankind to expose our unrighteous acts, and guide us to know that we cannot escape our just punishment without divine help (Romans 6:23; Galatians 3:10; James 2:10). God cannot help but demand perfection, as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Therefore, all aspirations of perfection that any other religious faith may wish to achieve can never be reached. All that remains for mankind is the hope of Christ, the only perfect person to have ever lived and offer Himself up as a sacrifice for our sins (Romans 8:3-4). So now that we have laid out the reasoning behind why humanity needs Jesus to be its savior, let’s examine the proof of His deity.

First, Jesus Christ knew His purpose and understood His destiny from the beginning. clouds 6 You see, unlike any other religious founder that ever lived, it’s only Jesus of Nazareth who possessed a clear vision of His calling. You can see God’s calling being exhibited in the life of Christ as early as twelve years of age (Luke 2:41-52) in Scripture. All other religious founders painfully sought to know their purpose and calling, in life. This evidence can be found in a book, by Robert E. Hume, entitled: The World’s Living Religions.

Second, Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the exclusive “door way” to eternal life (John 10:7-9, 14:6). No other religious founder ever made such a bold, and selective, statement. Hindus don’t have any one founder for which to enter into enlightenment. Their teachings refuse to say that any one way is the only way into eternity, but Jesus taught: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13)

Islam doesn’t teach that heaven is obtained through their founder, either. They see the prophet Muhammad as an example for how to live a life that is pleasing to Allah, but the Apostle Paul, after encountering the resurrected Jesus, taught that: “He [Jesus] saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” (Titus 3:5) If Jesus was not God, then He could not state that: “No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Third, Jesus Christ claimed that He could make right the flaws of humanity, by forgiving the sins of mankind. No Brahman avatar ever made this claim, and the prophet Muhammad refrained from such statements, as well. Jesus, however, never avoided the subject (Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 23:39-43).

Fourth, Jesus of Nazareth over came death. No other religious founder has ever raised the dead (Matthew 27:52; Luke 7: 11-16, 8:41-56; John 11:1-44), and certainly none of the religious founders from history has ever died, been buried, and then three days later returned to life (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-10; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18). Only a deity could accomplish such a task. Skeptics will claim the resurrection story is fictitious and part of Christian folklore, and lacks evidence, but that isn’t so.

The fact that the resurrection story was included in the New Testament writings, and the fact that these writings were taken down within a few years from the actual event (which was widely accepted as fact) is significant evidence for the authenticity of this happening. Why? Because the witnesses in and around Jerusalem, at the time of the resurrection, would still have been alive when these writings began to circulate. Any one of the over 500 witnesses could have began to discredit the accounts, had there been any ounce of falsehood recorded.

And what of these 500 plus witnesses? Could they not have all made this event up or shared in an elaborate mass hallucination? Well, if these 500 plus individuals were to share a hallucination they would have to have experienced it at the same time and in the same way, but that was not the case. There was the woman who saw Jesus at the tomb (Mark 16:9-10; John 20:11-18). Christ’s disciples saw Him in the upper room, where they had been hiding (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-31). Two men saw Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-35). Several hundred saw Christ resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:3-6). The Apostle Paul saw the resurrected Lord on the road to Damascus, well after Christ’s ascension (Acts 9:1-20). This theory of a shared hallucination is absolutely ludicrous.

Then there’s the devotion of Jesus’ disciples. These timid men went from hiding in the shadows to dying for their Lord. If they had been a party to any type of lie, they would have abandoned it at the first threat made against them. These were not brave warriors out to perpetrate a lie, for a false god. James, the half brother of Jesus, abandoned his belief that his brother was crazy and died preaching Christ’s Gospel message. The Apostle Paul had once been a persecutor of the Christian fanatics, and was considered a Jew-of-Jews. Why would he have abandoned his duties to the Synagogue, and his faith, had he not really experienced an encounter of a divinely kind? None of the apostles abandoned their Lord, when death came knocking — none. And all of them died very painful deaths, according to documented historical accounts.

There’s also the fact that Jesus’ tomb was found empty, Empty Tomb 1 and history records this to be true (Matthew 28:5-6; Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-3; John 20:1-9). The disciples could not have stolen the body from a tomb guarded by Roman soldiers, as the Jews claim happened (Matthew 27:62-66, 28:2-4 & 11-15). Again, these eleven men were timid, scared, and hiding. They were in no frame of mind to understand what had just happened to Jesus, much less take on a dozen or more Roman guards in a fight for Christ’s body. Besides none of these eleven men had military training, and none of them really even paid attention to the fact that Jesus told them He was going to have to die, and return from the grave to accomplish His mission. These were simple, uneducated fishermen, for the most part, and they weren’t clever enough to create a lie of this magnitude in the midst of such grief.

Then there’s the “swoon” theory, that claims Jesus never died but passed out and later awoke from within the grave. This theory states that this nearly dead Jesus, somehow loosed Himself from His death-wrappings and pushed away an extremely heavy rock. There by enabling this horrifically wounded man the chance to walk past the dozen or so Roman guards and into the night air a free religious rabbi. This one is so ridiculous I’m not even going to take the time to explain the medical reasons that prove just how absurd it is, but again — just as with the previous theories — it would have been up to the “witnesses” to maintain the story or abandon it. No one will die for a lie, not knowingly. Jesus of Nazareth’s tomb is empty because Jesus Christ, is the living Creator.

Jesus also promised to one day return to earth and judge its inhabitants (Mark 13:23-26; John 5:20-30, 14:1-3), our fifth proof of His divinity. Only a madman would make such a claim. Only God, Himself, could promise it. No other religious founder has ever attempted to make such a promise. No Hindu Vishnu ever made this claim, the prophet Muhammad didn’t, nor did Buddha, or any other religious leader. Only Christ made such a vow. Which brings us to point number six — Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh.

You see, no religious founder ever had the audacity to claim to be God in the flesh, except for Jesus of Nazareth. Brahman’s many Vishnu’s never claimed to be the actual “Universal Spirit.” The prophet Muhammad never claimed to be Allah, incarnate. It’s only in the person of Jesus Christ that we find the Creator of heaven and earth existing in human form, by His own admission (Matthew 26:63-64; Mark 2:1-12; John 8:56-58, 10:11-18 & 24-30, 18:33-37) — Jesus is God.

If Jesus had simply come to earth as a good man who taught us a better way to enlightenment, or if He had simply modeled a better way to live for God, then Christianity would have never lasted past the first few followers. Again, as the death threats would have increased the followers would have certainly decreased. But Christ’s claim to deity, and His proof by way of His miracles and the resurrection account, gave strength and veracity to His followers, as does His Holy Spirit (John 14:15-20). This is why Christianity grew and why Christianity gives a sure path to restoring mankind to God.

Author, and former atheist turned theologian, C.S. Lewis explains Christ’s account this way:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the real foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say.

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell.

You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a mad man or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, You can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

What kind of good, moral man would live a life teaching of truth, and yet lead people to put their faith in a lie? What kind of good, moral man teaches about peace and love, and yet allows people to be slaughtered in his name because he lied about being God? No! Jesus had to be the promised Messiah. He had to be the perfect “Son of Man,” come to sacrifice Himself for our sins. Christ had to be Immanuel, God with us — the incarnate Word [Davar] of God — the one, the only begotten Son of God, or else nothing moral and good would have existed in His name. It’s all a devilish lie unless Jesus is Yahweh, and over four-hundred fulfilled prophecies prove that Jesus IS.

I’ll close with this thought from author, teacher, and former agnostic Josh McDowell. Josh McDowell 1 In this post from TRYJESUS.COM Mr. McDowell tells of a group of people hiking into a forest, but after a while they became lost. Fearful for their lives, these people begin to look for a way out. In the distance some of them spot a split in the trail, and at the edge of the split there appears to be two human forms. The group makes a run towards these two people, in hopes of receiving their help. As they draw near they come to realize that one is alive and wearing a park ranger’s uniform, the other man is dead. Josh McDowell writes: “Now which of these two are we going to ask about the way out? Obviously, the one who is living.

When it comes to eternal matters, we are going to ask the one who is alive the way out of the predicament. This is not Muhammad, not Confucius, but Jesus Christ. Jesus is unique. He came back from the dead. This demonstrates He is the one whom He claimed to be (Romans 1:4), the unique Son of God and the only way by which a person can have a personal relationship with the true and living God.”

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

“The World’s Living Religions” © 1997 by Robert E. Hume

All rights reserved. Published by MacMillan Publishers, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010; www.us.macmillan.com.

Josh McDowell‘s study entitled “Why is Jesus the Only Way to Get to God?,” Copyright © 1993 by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, from the book “Answers To Tough Questions,” can be found at: http://www.tryjesus.com/QandA/questionJ3-print.htm

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article IV, part 1

Truth or Dare (Article 4)

We have discussed the dangers of worshiping wealth, power, and pleasure as Satan, and the world, would have us do. We have also looked at how drinking from the cup of Christ gives us access to real wealth, true power, Religion 1 and deeply satisfying pleasure, but we haven’t really discussed why the cup of Christ is the only drink that will satisfy our minds, bodies, and souls. We haven’t really analyzed why Christ’s cup is right and Satan’s, and the world’s, chalices are wrong. So, allow me to restate the premise of this series and to delve deeper into why the cup of Christ is the only choice for consuming and knowing the truth.

In our introductory article, we stated that we would be examining the various chalices that mankind may choose to drink from while searching out eternal life. We noted that each of these chalices would be full of deadly lies, save for one. You see, truth (contrary to popular opinion) is not relative, but very definite. It’s in this one single cup of absolute truth that, if found, will lead humanity to abundant, and eternal, life. Christ’s cup is the vessel we have to drink from for this truth, and in this article we will divulge how you can know this is so.

Mankind, since the fall, has been worshiping various deities in a whole variety of ways. This practice of worshiping an infinite higher power, or even just worshiping another person with a supreme importance, has always been apart of humanity. We call this practice of worship “religion.” Religion is what has developed from our primary reason for existence — worship. The fact that mankind, and all of creation, was made to glorify and worship our Creator (Colossians 1:16) is the reason religion is such a huge part of the human experience. Satan, knows this too.

Lucifer was, himself, made for this same reason. Yes, the Devil was made to worship and glorify God, but he has not only refused to worship his Creator — he has also been an intricate part of seeing mankind embrace atheism or some other religious belief system. But, before we get any further into this truth, let’s take a moment to examine three of the largest religious belief systems in the world, today. Religion 2 These three religions are identified as:

Christianity — which makes up about thirty-three percent of the world’s population.
Islam — which makes up approximately twenty-one percent of the world’s population.
Hinduism — which makes up close to thirteen percent of the world’s population.

Hinduism actually comes in behind a slightly larger group of people identified as “non-religious,” but as we will be dealing with this “non-religious” group in another article (Article Six) I have chosen to exclude them for the time being.

Hinduism, one of the oldest existing religious belief systems, was established in about 1300 B.C. God, or Brahman, to a Hindu is an eternal being; he is the one supreme and universal spirit who created all things. Brahman is infinite, devoid of form, impersonal, and everything is Brahman. For a Hindu to be able to approach the impersonal, divine creator, other forms of Brahman have been created. One such divine form of Brahman is Vishnu.

Brahman’s avatar, Vishnu, comes to earth from time-to-time as a wise teacher. This human form of the divine brings to humanity enlightenment. A Hindu recognizes Buddha, Rama, Krishna, and even Jesus Christ as avatars of Brahman. You see, Hinduism accepts a broad belief system for reaching out to, and becoming one with, the divine. The holy writings of Hinduism teach of this broad road which can lead to humanity’s enlightenment and salvation. These holy writings are partly known as the <em>Vedas, and the Upanishads.

The Vedas, and the Upanishads, are vast and consist of several documents that teach the Hindu about their rituals, mantras, history, philosophies, and spiritual disciplines. The Hindu’s religious teachings tell them that humanity’s goal in life is to realize its own connection to Brahman. This divine connection will allow mankind to detach from worldly desires and allow them to gain freedom from reincarnation. Reincarnation occurs when enlightenment and salvation are missed and the soul must remain on earth in other forms until enlightenment and salvation are achieved.

With Hinduism you have no one founder, no one theological structure, and no central religious organization. Most Hindus are polytheists, worshiping many gods, but they are pantheists according to their doctrines. In other words Brahman, the “universal spirit,” manifests himself as many gods and in all things.

Islam, is one of the newer religious belief systems. It has only been in existence since about 622 A.D., and the name “Islam” means “submission to Allah’s will.” Allah, is Islam’s supreme and eternal spirit. Allah is unimaginable and unapproachable; he is distinctively individual and cannot be revealed to humanity. Thus, Allah cannot be known personally by mankind.

Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim, also known as the prophet Muhammad, is credited as the founder of Islam. The prophet Muhammed, was a pious, political, and military leader who unified Arabia into a single religious belief system when he claimed to have received revelations from Allah. The prophet Muhammed recorded these revelations into a book, known as the Qur’an.

The Qur’an, is the very words of Allah given to mankind through the prophet Muhammed. In these writings Muslims are commanded to spend their entire lives in “jihad.” Jihad is the struggle all Muslims are commanded to actively pursue, as they strive to live in the ways of Allah. This “faith by human deeds” is the only hope of salvation for Muslims, and consequently is also the reason they have no assurance of their salvation.

There are two primary sects that comprise Islam, the Sunnis and the Shiites. The Sunnis live under a more liberal interpretation of the Qur’an, and believe that a “greater jihad” should be pursued by Muslims. They seek the greater struggles of life from within the human soul, and choose to eradicate evil from within themselves. The Shiites, however, are traditionally the more militant. These Muslims have interpreted jihad as being a literal “holy war.” A war in which every Muslim is called to destroy all of Allah’s enemies. Their goal is to establish Islamic theocracies throughout the world.

Christianity, is the largest religious belief system in the world, today. It is also the oldest, and yet relatively one of the newer, religious belief systems in existence, too. How is that? I’ll explain. Christianity, which simply means “one who follows the teachings of Christ,” was recognized by the world as a religion in approximately the year 33 A.D., but these teachings of Christ, for which the Christian adheres to, are based upon the teachings of the Creator of heaven and earth, Yahweh, and are found in the writings of the Holy Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments.

In Article One, of the series His Name Is . . . , we learned that Yahweh’s name means “I AM,” or the “Self-Existing One.” By declaring this name to Moses, in Exodus chapter three, verses thirteen and fourteen, God was establishing the fact that He was, and is, the always existent deity that created the heaven’s and the earth. Then in Article Seven, of the same series, we learned that Yahweh made all things by His Word — Davar — and that holy Word became a man, and lived, and died for man’s evil deeds (John 1:1-14). That man is Jesus Christ, and by this teaching Jesus, and Yahweh, are established to be the same God. Therefore, the teachings of Christ are not a newer religious belief system, but rather the original religious belief system. One that the Hebrews lost sight of, and moved away from (theologically) in about the year 200 B. C.

Christianity teaches that because mankind sinned against Yahweh, in the beginning (Genesis 3:1-19), they could no longer hope to approach the presence of their Creator for all of eternity (Romans 6:23a). Yahweh, out of the loving kindness of His divine character, shows grace to all of humanity by sending His incarnate Word, in human form, to be the sacrifice that would restore mankind to Himself (John 3:16-17). It’s this unique message of redemptive hope, through Christ’s sacrifice, that makes Christianity unlike any other religion. All other faiths teach that mankind can become righteous by his own efforts, but not Christianity (Romans 3:10). All a person must do to become a Christian (a true worshiper of Christ) is to simply confess Christ, and believe (Romans 10:9-10).

We have examined the basic religious belief systems connected to the three largest religious groups. In part two of our study, we will reveal the truths of Christ’s teachings and expose the false doctrines connected to the other religious belief systems.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article 5

Have you ever heard or sung a song and wondered about how it came to be? What burned inside the songwriter’s soul so intensely that it just had to be written down on paper? I know I have — often, too.

Maybe it’s just my curious nature, mixed with my own musical bent, that causes me to think along these lines. Then again, music does move, manipulate, and touch people; no matter our background, education, status in society, or talents. Especially the music that represents our faith; music that calls us to worship the one true, living God.

Recently, I looked into the life of hymnodist Reginald Heber (1783-1826), who was the second Bishop to represent the Church of England in Calcutta (a.k.a. Kolkata). Reginald was born the son of an Anglican rector, and it has been said that he was an incredibly gifted child. Some accounts of Reginald’s childhood even state that, by the age of 5, he had read the entire Bible and comprehended its meaning. Consider that for a moment.

Later in life, while attending Brasenose College, Mr. Heber proved to be a scholar of theology, Latin, Greek, and an exceptional poet. In 1807, Reginald was ordained and began his quest to improve the congregational singing taking place in the Church of England. His dream was to write and collect a group of hymns that would follow the liturgical calendar, thus moving the Anglican’s away from simply singing the Psalms. Of the known 14 hymns still in circulation today, none have crossed denominational lines like the timeless hymn Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.

Written in India, in the year of Bishop Heber’s death at age 43, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty was heralded by Alfred Lord Tennyson as the finest hymn ever written. What moved Reginald to write it? No one knows the whole story behind this hymn, but its obvious reference to Scriptures found in both Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8 are certainly the hymn’s foundation. In these verses of Scripture, as in the Bishop’s hymn, we read of a call to worship that is so overwhelming that the two author’s, Isaiah and John, can’t help but absorb the moment — like a dry, brittle, thin sponge that can’t get enough water and, once it does, just continues to expand and expand until it can hold no more and overflowing begins. Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD (Adonai) God, almighty (El Shaddai)! Let’s look at the word “holy” a bit more deeply to understand why the Creator, Elohim, is called by this title.

The word “holy,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is defined as:
(adjective) dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; divine, sacred: the Holy Bible.
• (of a person) devoted to the service of God: saints and holy men.
• morally and spiritually excellent.

I want to point out the last statement in the above definition, “morally and spiritually excellent.” In other words, morally and spiritually perfect! When God is called “holy,” or “kaddosh” in the original Hebrew, He is being called perfect, flawless, pure. God is without blemish, without anything that is considered wrong, both morally and spiritually. You and I can’t even begin to fathom the depth of what this word “holy” means because we are a fallen race, so far from perfection. Yes, it is true that through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ we, as believers, are made holy (a.k.a. set apart, consecrated, sacred, purified, etc.), but to truly know holiness as God is holy — until we are truly in the presence of Elohim we will always fall short of just what “holy” is.

I’m amazed every time I read an article, blog, or book, or hear a song, or some statement where people pass judgment on God because of something they misread, or misunderstood in the Bible, or because of some tragedy that occurred in their life, or in history. As if somehow humanity affords enough holiness or self-righteousness to do so. It’s ridiculous enough that there are people in this world who believe they can somehow attain enough holiness, enough perfection, on their own merit to somehow achieve a place in heaven with God or even achieve godlike status, themselves, in the here after. But seriously, people — judgement of God!? Really!? What is it that makes humanity think we have the authority to judge the Creator of all things physical and spiritual? That is one of the greatest lies Lucifer ever passed off on mankind. Such foolishness!

Read these lyrics, penned by Bishop Reginald Heber, with me and let’s ponder them together; verses one and two are as follows:

Holy, holy, holy, LORD God, almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee.
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty; God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee; casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea.
Cherubim and Seraphim, falling down before Thee, which were, and art, and evermore shalt be.

In these first two verses we see Bishop Heber painting a word picture, direct from Scripture, that depicts what should happen daily when physical creation acknowledges the holiness of its Creator. Depicting, plainly, what does happen and what will always happen when spiritual creation enters into the presence of the Masters, three-in-one — true worship!

I defy anyone to come close to understanding the pure holiness of God and not worship Him! I defy anyone to begin to grasp the awesome perfection of God, and the depth of our fallen state, and still choose to pass judgement upon Him, who IS! Read with me the final two verses of Reginald’s hymn:

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee, though the eye of sinfulness Thy glory may not see.
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee, perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy, LORD God, almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty; God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Here in these final two verses we see truth laid out in “plain English.” God, in His triune perfection, cannot be seen by us, in our imperfection. Our sin nature blinds us, prevents us from seeing and knowing El Hakkadosh — the Holy God! Why? Because sin separated us from God. Not because God pushed us away, but because the natural cause and affect of perfection and imperfection is that they cannot coexist. It’s just like light cannot coexist with darkness. The moment light hits darkness, the darkness flees. You see? The moment God’s holiness hits sin, the sin must flee. Imperfection can’t remain in the presence of perfection without consequence of death (Romans 5:12-21; 6:1-23).

Were it not for God’s merciful sacrifice of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, we would never have the hope of returning to Him as the true worshipers He created us to be. Only the covering of Christ’s holy blood can remove the imperfection from our souls and allow us to return to the presence of El Hakkadosh. So stop ignoring the fault inside yourself, and begin the process of allowing God to deal with that fault. Cease trying to foolishly “shop around” for a version of God that fits what you think a god should be. God (Elohim) is LORD (Adonai), because He IS — despite what humanity wants to think.

Modern day Judaism isn’t the answer, and neither is the destructive teachings of Islam! The Mormon’s and the Jehovah’s Witnesses teachings of Christ and the triune God are nothing more than perversions of the truth! Also, don’t allow yourself to remain in the lie that you can somehow achieve perfection on your own. Sitting on a mountain top, all of your life, meditating does nothing for you except remove you from reality. It’s time western culture and the rest of the world woke up to the false philosophies of Buddhism and Hinduism! Lastly, evolution and atheism are probably the most ridiculous lie of all the lies spoken to humanity by Satan. The Creator, IS God, and always will be God whether you choose to believe in Him or not! What humanity thinks is not of importance, what God says IS — period! After all, when considering all the wonderful things God has created, what significance does mankind really hold? None, when separated from God.

Humanity’s significance, our glory and honor, comes only from achieving God’s original purpose; that purpose is to be true worshipers of the Holy God (El Hakkadosh). When we are able to see God as holy and ourselves as unholy, apart from Him, then we can begin to realize our significance and cease being foolish in believing we can pass judgment on God or “shop around” for a god of our own liking.

I’d like to leave you with this last reading from Psalm chapter 8. Meditate with me on verses 3-9, which states:

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Ponder these verses. Reflect upon what is being said here, and begin to allow yourself to experience God as He really is — El Hakkadosh — The Holy One.

His Name Is . . . by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty lyrics by Bishop Reginald Heber and music written by John B. Dykes. Public Domain. Copyright contingent upon arrangement and publishing company rights.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.