Problematic Christianity Fails Test
Some modern free paraphrase translations make it quite clear that the Yeshua they wish to proclaim preexisted his birth and is fully God. The Living New Testament (now in 47 languages and millions of copies) paraphrases John 1:1-3: "Before anything else existed, there was Christ with God. He has always been alive and is Himself God. He created everything there is -- nothing exists that He didn't make." The Living New Testament adds this comment: "The magnificent truth -- for each of us who really cares to find out -- is that the person who masterminded all creation was once breathing, sleeping, and eating on this planet Earth, just as you and I are -- and we can get acquainted with Him. The creator God Himself invaded our planet. We had a 'visitor from outer space,' the second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ ...God came here in physical form ...Jesus Christ, the awesome Creator God"
Those who produced this very distorted rendering of the Greek text of John 1 would have done well to consider the words of systematic theologian Dr. Brown, general editor of The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology: "It is a common but patent misreading of the opening of John's Gospel to read it as if it said: `In the beginning was the Son and the Son was with God and the Son was God.' What has happened here is the substitution of Son for Word, and thereby the Son is made a member of the Godhead which existed from the beginning."
A leading evangelical of our time, Charles Swindoll, shares the misleading view of The Living New Testament when he approves the words of Max Lucado: "Angels watched as Mary changed God's diaper. The universe watched with wonder as the Almighty learned to walk" (C.R. Swindoll, Jesus: When God Became a Man, p. 10). Roman Catholics hold the same notions about Yeshua when they declare (as was heard on TV recently): "God came to Mary and said, `Mary, will you please be My mother?"'
All "orthodox" commentaries make it clear that belief in "God become man" (Incarnation) is the first principle of Christianity. Yet dissenters from the traditional view maintain that Yeshua the Messiah was fully human -- not God and man at the same time. Yeshua's "history" is essential for our knowledge of him. If he brought with him a consciousness of having been alive since eternity, he seems to have forgotten about this in Matthew, Mark, and Luke's accounts of him. Luke sees Yeshua as descended from Adam, who was "son of God" (Luke 3:38). Mark relates that Yeshua fully upheld the strict Jewish monotheism of the Old Testament (Mark 12:28-34). Luke 1:35 says that the Son of God came into existence in the womb of his mother. You cannot come into existence as Son if you have already been in existence as Son.
The Old Testament predicts a Messiah who will be born a descendant of David (2 Sam. 7) and who will arise in Israel as a "prophet like Moses" (Deut. 18:15-18). A Messiah who was God before he became man would not fit this prediction, and would therefore be a false Messiah. A Yeshua who was alive before he was born would be another Yeshua (2 Cor. 11:4). The whole point of the Messiah in the Bible is that he must be a member of the human race originating within the human biological chain. And yet many current commentators insist that if you deny that God became man, while not ceasing in any way to be God, you put yourself outside the Christian church.
Commentators are right to point out that "Gnostics rejected the Old Testament and denied that the Christian Savior was the Jewish Messiah" (Century Bible on 1 John 2:22). They admit that "John's epistle was written to combat errors about the Person of Christ" (Ibid., p. 78) and "that a sharp struggle for the control of the churches had broken out between the Christians who were faithful to apostolic teaching and those who opposed them" (p.88). Gnosticism "professed to give its approval and patronage to the Gospel," but taught that the universe "must have been created by some inferior power" (Pulpit Commentary, Epistles of John, p. iv).
Is Gnosticism a relic of the past? Was it successfully overcome in mainstream Christianity? The crucial question is whether modern Gnostics, now calling themselves "orthodox, " continue to deny the full humanity of Yeshua while accusing the original Truth about Yeshua of being the error. Thus the Pulpit Commentary: "The denial of Jesus as the Christ means the denial of Jesus as the eternal Non of the Father, and the consequent denial of the Incarnation"' (Ibid., p. 44). But who in the Bible ever said that Yeshua was the "eternal Son of God"?
That Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God (not God the Son) is a revelation given as a supernatural enlightenment by YEHOVAH God the Father (Matt. 16:17). Yeshua's church is founded on the bedrock (NASV margin) of Peter's confession about Yeshua's Messiahship. Belief in Yeshua as the Messiah is the cornerstone doctrine of the whole of Scripture.
Appropriately John writes, "There is no falsehood so great as the denial of the Messiahship of Jesus. The man who denies that is the real Antichrist, because with that falsehood he denies both the Father and the Son. No one can deny the Son without denying the Father also ...This is how you can distinguish the Spirit of God: every utterance that proclaims Jesus to be the Messiah in actual flesh and blood is of God, and every such utterance that denies the statement is not of God. This latter is the spirit of Antichrist, about whose coming you have heard. It is now already here in the world" (1 John 2:22, 23; 4:2, 3, New Testament Letters Paraphrased by J.W.C. Wand, D.D., 1946).
John does not "drive down the middle of the road," unable to decide which side is statutory. He makes an absolute distinction between Truth and Lie. John's test must be applied rigorously. John insists that a proper understanding of the identity of Yeshua the Messiah is essential for genuine faith. Does your understanding of who Yeshua is measure up to the standard provided by John and the Bible?
Hope of Israel
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