Category Archives: Bible Study

Scholars Discuss What Is The Origin Of Sin

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Christian’s teach original sin, that sin which permeated all of humanity as a result of the Fall. Jews talk about “The evil inclination” that part of human nature that was present in Eve when she chose to eat the forbidden fruit. Where did these concepts come from and what is the answer to the question, “What is the origin of sin?”

Do we sin because we have a nature inclined towards sin or do we sin because demons are influencing us to do so?

This enlightening interview between scholars, Nehemia Gordon and Miryam Brand, author of Evil Within and Without, The Source of Sin and It’s Nature As Portrayed In Second Temple Literature, will demonstrate to the listener the complexities of understanding such a topic that on the surface may not seem so complex.

Some of the topics they discuss in this 32 minute interview are:

  • Passages from Tanakh, Dead Sea Scrolls, book of Romans and more
  • Jewish and Christian concepts of demons including possession
  • Prayers for dealing with demons

Click here to listen now.

 

 

Do We Need A Mediator?

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It’s been drilled into our proverbial heads as Christians that we need a mediator…we need the blood and we need the great high priest Jesus to intercede on our behalf. Of course Catholics, we are taught have a false doctrine, because they teach that they need the priest to intercede for the people. But as a Christian, I honestly never stopped to think, at least very hard, about how that same concept might apply to Jesus.

Questions are the answers: Did God every say that a sinful person cannot come into His presence to ask for forgiveness or that we need a mediator in order to come before Him? Watch as Deception Unraveled takes us verse by verse through some of the scriptures that address this issue. After searching the scriptures, let us know what do you think God’s opinion is on the subject ? Do we need a mediator? Leave your comments below.

Leave your comments below.

Call Upon The Name Of The LORD And Be Saved?

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Through out my Christian walk I loved studying theology and learning the doctrines of the faith…however I also was aware that sometimes, many times, Christian doctrine and theology just couldn’t pass muster…when it came to what I call “where the rubber meets the road test” that’s where all sorts of circular thinking and hoop jumping seemed to happen. The cliched answers to the doctrinal conundrums always seemed to center around the “just have faith” or “God can do what ever He wants, after all no one deserves God’s favor” line of reasoning.

Let me give you an example of what I mean:

Christianity teaches that forgiveness and a relationship with God are only possible through Jesus Christ. Simplistically, that requires an individual to “turn from their sin and accept Jesus into their heart.”

Now let’s look at a possible real life scenario

Person A just happens to hear or read chapter 45 of Isaiah. They only have the Hebrew scriptures and have heard no other teachings. They embrace with all their heart what Isaiah 45 says about who God is – His name is YHVH, He is creator, He is redeemer, He is Savior etc. They are convicted, repent and respond and follow God’s ways.

Person A essentially calls upon the name of YHVH in the spirit of Joel 2 for his salvation – trusting that what he is reading is true.

Person A has never heard about Jesus and if he has, it never even dawns on him that YHVH and Jesus are the same people.

Does person A…

  • Have a genuine relationship with God?
  • Have salvation from Hell fire?
  • Have forgiveness of sins?

I have asked several Christians (all the way from doctors of theology to seminary students to lay teachers in the “church”) not one christian has been able (or perhaps willing) to give me an answer.

Christian please consider the following…

  • If Person A can enter into a relationship with God this way, that means there is another way of salvation other than Jesus
  • If even one person has salvation through YHVH and not Jesus that means he did not really have to die
  • If you think Person A cannot have salvation through believing in YHVH and repenting of their sin and following Him, what is your reasoning?
  • If you think Person A cannot be saved by calling upon YHVH how complicated is it to attain salvation? Does one need to know theology and doctrine are they saved by their knowledge or are they saved by God who simply calls us to humble ourselves before Him and walk in all His ways.


Let me hear your thoughts. Please leave your comments below.

So you Think You Know What Isaiah 53 Is Really About?

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Coming out of Christianity has made me more aware of the stereotypes and the propaganda that are perpetuated about Jews within the confines of some forms of Christianity…here is one common misconception that is perpetuated by well meaning Christians:

From a pastor responding to learning that one of his congregants was listening to the teachings of a Rabbi about the suffering servant in Isaiah 53:

“You know the Rabbi’s will do every thing they can to point you away from seeing Jesus in those passages. They don’t want to see Jesus in these passages.”

Really, they categorically don’t want to see the messiah in those passages? Why not? That statement/concept suggests Christian’s are judging themselves to be more sincere in heart than Jews…is it not?

The above is a very common misconception about “Jews” in general fueled by Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 3:

But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

 

So all Jews are put into the same box. Not one of them really loves God or else they would see Jesus, right? But this verse states essentially, one can’t see Jesus until one turns to Jesus…hmmmm…that presents a conundrum doesn’t it?

There are 2 points to this conundrum:

  1. I mean, how would the Jews, who read, study and follow the Tanakh (OT) as their holy Bible be able to recognize Jesus as the Messiah unless God had shown them who to look for and how to recognize him in the Tanakh?
  2. How can I put all Jews in the same box, when I’ve not even spoken to one of them nor listened to their understanding of those same presumably “Christological” scriptures?

Many conservative Christians claim that God did show everyone very clearly from the Tanakh that Jesus is the Messiah. In fact I use to read all the christological OT scriptures and think “how could the Jews have missed Jesus so badly. I mean, even the scriptures that pointed to Jesus were capitalized and had little stars next to them.” Of course I had never, until recently, listen to a learned Rabbi speak about Isaiah 53 and other christological scriptures.

Proverbs 18:17 states:

 “In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.”

Consider the video teachings below as a second witness to the Christian teaching of Isaiah 53. Then you be the judge…

One final thought, do you have a thorough understanding of the book of Isaiah? Do you know what chapters 1-66 are about, specifically? If not, how can you be so confident that you understand Isaiah 53?

 

 

Invite Jesus Into Your Heart to Be Saved: Are You Sure?


Do you believe that what you think is real is actually true?

Today’s topic is about whether it is really true that if you, “Invite Jesus into your heart” you will be saved.

But before we get to it just a reminder that if you want to be part of this dialogue and not miss any of our videos, subscribe to our YouTube Channel by clicking here.

Question to contemplate: At what point in time did God flip the switch and require people to “invite Jesus into their hearts” to be saved? Please leave your comments below.

I think this is probably a modern idea, but an idea which may have come from Peter’s preaching on Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2 where he quotes Joel 2:32 and elsewhere. It may also come from Paul’s letter to the Romans in ch 10 where Paul also quotes Joel 2:32.

Since they both quote the same passage it might behoove us to look at that passage in context and see what it actually says…you might be surprised!

“Whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”

Joel 2:32

Let’s dig just little deeper into this passage…Did you notice that the word LORD is in all caps? Whenever LORD is in all caps we have the Tetragrammaton – normally transliterated as YHVH or YHWH – some translators spell it out as Yehovah or Yaweh – the big point here is that the passage does not at all say, Lord, it says, and Joel is quoting God here…so this is straight from the horses mouth so to speak…

“Whoever calls on the name of YHVH shall be saved.” Joel 2:32

Here is another question to contemplate: Is it ok to just plug in the name “Jesus” wherever you read “Lord” or “LORD” in the bible – whether it be in the Old Testament or the New Testament? Wouldn’t it be best to know what the existing manuscripts actually say and mean? Do you think that makes a difference in how one would understand the text?

If we back up to Joel 2 verses 12-13 for some additional context we read…

“Now, therefore,” says YHVH “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” 13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to YHVH your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm.

Clearly this passage from Joel says that those who are saved and forgiven and restored to God are those who repent with a sincere heart and turn back to YHVH.

What do you think? Do the scriptures teach that the way to salvation, i.e. forgiveness and reconciliation with the Father is through “inviting Jesus into your heart.” If you think that is true… please consider at what specific moment in time did God make this a requirement for forgiveness of sins?

Leave your comments below.

Correction: In the video I state that the extant manuscripts have the Tetragrammaton not the word LORD or Lord. Some of the extant manuscripts do use the title Lord (Adonai (Hebrew) or kurios (Greek) in place of the Tetragrammaton.

What About Animal Sacrifices And How Are Jews Forgiven?

It is a common teaching in Christianity that it was animal sacrifices performed in the temple that was the mode and method for “Jews” to be forgiven of their sins. As Christians, we would often ponder, “how do Jews think they are forgiven since they don’t have a temple anymore?” ” Have you ever subscribed to this belief? Is this really what is taught about forgiveness in the Old Testament or Tanakh (Hebrew scriptures)?

To my shame the answer was always as plain as the words on the page of the “Old Testament.” Here are just a few of the passages that declare YHVH’s plan for forgiveness of sins:

  • 2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people who are called by my name (YHVH) will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.
  • Psalm 51 You do not delight in sacrifices or I would bring it, you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God you will not despise.
  • Isaiah 1 – “I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats…stop doing wrong, learn to do right!…though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow…”

Notice that the only mention of sacrifices in the above passages is in the context that, it is not the animal sacrifice that God takes pleasure in, but that God “hears” or takes pleasure in the soul who truly repents and seeks after Him.

Question to contemplate: If YHVH takes no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats…how could he take pleasure in the blood of his only begotten son Jesus? Christian, how do you explain that? Let me caution you not to regurgitate what you have been told, but to seek after OT scriptural validation.

But what About the Need for Justification?

If God says he will forgive on the basis of repentance – defined as turning away from our wicked ways and following his ways of humility, justice and mercy (Micah 6) – then is the doctrine of justification fact or opinion? The doctrine of justification, at least as I learned it from reformed teachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, requires that God’s just wrath be satisfied by the pouring out of the blood of His only son. I was taught that only the blood of a God/man would do, because it had to be a totally unblemished sacrifice in everyway.

But, do the Hebrew scriptures support a need for legal justification to occur in the way the reformers teach it? Many would point back to the “legalism” of the sacrificial system. However, who said this was a “legal” system? Who planted that concept into the minds of Christians? Just as the mode and method of forgiveness of sin was as plain as the words on the pages of the Tanakh, so is the answer to the sacrificial system, what it is and what it is not.

Take some time and read and study Leviticus, not through “Jesus” eyes, but through the context and time in which it was written. Even a brief study concludes that it was not only animal sacrifices that God instituted with the Israelites…but there were fine flour offerings that were also accepted as sin offerings for those who could not afford one of the animals (Leviticus 5:11).

Question to contemplate: If fine flour could be used as a sin offering (i.e. no blood required for the forgiveness of sin) why would YHVH sacrifice His only son in a cruel punishment and death like Roman crucifixion?

So what was the sacrificial system all about? The video below explains more on the meaning and purpose of the temple sacrifices from a Jewish perspective.

Which leads me to my final question: How do YOU know which or who’s perspective is the correct perspective when it comes to Bible interpretation?

Creationism and Genesis 1 – More Than 1 View

Was all of creation  made in 6 literal, 24 hour days? What does Genesis really say in this regard and more interestingly how have the Hebrew scholars interpreted the creation account? What did the ancient Israelites believe about the story of creation? Did they understand it as an account that should be taken “literally.” And, speaking of “literally” what does “literally” mean in the first place? Michael Heiser, in the video below, injects some much needed intellectual honesty into the discussion of Genesis 1 and the creation.

Questions that Challenge Conventional Christian Doctrine

jokerIf individual souls are saved by making a confession of faith in Jesus Christ at what point in time did that transpire?

Some reformers teach that people who were born on “old testament” times are saved by the same faith in Christ as those born in “new testament” times. If that is true, and clearly those born between the time of Adam and Christ had varying degrees of understanding of the Messiah and His purpose. Most, if not all believing that He was to be the King in the line of David who would rule and reign in righteousness and peace according to Zechariah 14 and all nations would stream to Jerusalem to worship Him. Question, WHO exactly were they (OT believers) placing their trust in for salvation?

The reason the time is important is that most Christian Churches teach that salvation is found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you invite Jesus into your heart then you will be saved. My question is…

At what point in time did God flip the switch and require people to “invite Jesus into their hearts” to be saved?

Does anyone else see a slight problem with that? Think world wide. Think Israelites scattered to the 4 corners of the earth by the time of Christ. Think how many people in the time of Christ and say the next 30 years after his ascension had even the opportunity to “know” Jesus…most I submit had never even heard of this God man who was crucified.

So here’s the scenario: Let’s assume there were some righteous, god fearing Israelites (aka Jews) living in the nether parts during the 1st century AD. They are cruising along, acting justly, living humbly, loving mercy etc. They worship the one true and living God YHWH. They are caring for the poor, using accurate weights and measures, giving their tithes and offerings, etc. In other words loving YHWH with all their heart soul mind and strength and also depending on YHWH for their righteousness and salvation.

They think they are accepted by God because this is what the Word of God has taught them all along. But unbeknownst to them a messiah, the heir to David’s throne, has come, died, was resurrected and ascended to the right hand of God the Father. He was crucified and many people who knew him say He is YHWH in the flesh (the Son of God that Daniel prophesied about and Isaiah spoke about). And, by the way, now that he has come you have to believe and understand that this young man (who was crucified, raised from the dead and ascended in to heaven) born of Mary, is fully God and fully man.

You thought you were good with God, and you die and discover that low and behold you had no idea about this Jesus and you are now relegated to an eternity in hell. What kind of a cosmic pulling out the rug from under you, joke would that be?

 

The Lord’s Supper aka Communion

There are many rules, traditions and doctrines surrounding “The Lord’s Supper” – but the question is are they scriptural? Dr. Michael Heiser explores and challenges some commonly held beliefs concerning this church ritual in his Naked Bible Podcast series – The Lord’s Supper

Not all of my questions about the Lord’s supper are addressed by Heiser, questions like:

  • Was the last supper which Jesus held with His disciples “The” Passover dinner commanded by YHWH in Exodus?
  • Was the last supper Jesus had with His disciples actually a traditional dinner (Seudah Maphseket) which was unique to Galalians as Tom Bradford of the Torah Class states in His article The Passover Problem Solved
  • In other words, is “the” Passover meal replaced by this “Lord’s Supper” or did Yeshua/Jesus simply mean to mind us that the bread and wine served at fellowship dinners should be a reminder of His death and thus we should “give thanks” for all He did and remember Him when we gather together.

Heiser does address some great questions in this podcast:

  • What is the warning Paul gives really about?
  • Should unregenerate children be fenced from the table?
  • What does eating meat sacrificed to idols have to do with the Lord’s supper?
  • Is there a special means of grace attached to the Lord’s Supper?
  • Are the bread and the wine Yeshua’s real body and blood?

How to Study the Bible

Michael Heiser’s Naked Bible Blog provides the serious bible student with excellent material on how to really dig in to the scriptures. Reading someone else’s paraphrase or interpretation of scripture is not where its at for me anymore. Of course digging in for ones self takes handwork and discipline…but its the best way to get the word and it’s proper understanding into your heart.

Dr. Michael Heiser, a scholar in the areas of ancient languages, generously shares his resources on his website and podcast…Some of the topics he covers are: