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This is my first comment to your blog. Below is what I posted today on the One Year Bible site my church is using this year as we read through the Bible together(as you are doing). Would appreciate any replies.

Fellow Seekers,
The story today of Jesus' resurrecting Lazarus from the dead (John 11) has triggered many thoughts regarding miracles:
1. Did Jesus really resurrect Lazarus after he was dead for 4 days (see verse 39)?
- If so, this event is definitely the most amazing miracle that Jesus ever performed (aside from His own resurrection of course).
As such, then why is Lazarus's resurrection excluded from the other 3 gospels?
- John states in verse 54 that this was Jesus' last event in His public ministry before His own betrayal, death, and resurrection. This appears to contradict the other 3 gospels which make Jesus' throwing the money-changers from the temple the final catalyst before He is arrested.

2. Did Jesus really heal the man that was blind since birth (John 9)?
- If so, this healing miracle is the most amazing healing miracle that Jesus ever performed. As such, then why is it only told in John and not the other 3 gospels?

3. Why is it that 2 of the most amazing miracles attributed to Jesus are told only in John? If they are true, they are so fantastic that they certainly would have been widely known and would have been more
than worthy for inclusion in the gospels of Matthew and Mark and Luke. Is it possible that John is stretching the truth in these 2
stories?

4. The other aspect of John's gospel that I am having trouble reconciling with the other 3 gospels is his concept of Jesus and God being the same (see John 1:1-2 and John 10:30 for example). In the other 3 gospels isn't Jesus seen more as having been created by God
(e.g. the "Son of God"). Question: Excluding the gospel of John, does the rest of the Bible primarily support the trinitarian concept of Jesus as God incarnate or was Jesus created by God?


P.S. I'm not asking you for definitive answers to these questions because I realize they are very involved. But I would appreciate any thoughts you might have on these topics.

Thanks folks.

The writer of Hebrews states, Now faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. If we were able to explain everything that Jesus and God did, there would be no reason the have, worship or need God.

The witness of one event by several people, even a crowd, will not elicit the same explanation or descriptive narratives by every one who saw the event, just ask any policeman or detective, People write what they think is important. Each one of the writers of the Gospels wrote for very different reasons and it is from their motivating factors that gave birth to what they focused on with the help of the Holy Spirit.

From my own experiences there are two kinds of knowledge. There is knowledge that comes by way of empirical science and the five senses, that kind of knowledge needs no faith. Then there is “revelation” knowledge and that is what I believe and know for myself, it takes to understand the Bible. When we get further into the book of John, Jesus addresses this kind of knowledge.

Hope this was helpful. I am not a theologian and my own experience in The Faith has come through “revelation” knowledge.

Grace and peace,
Ramona

Thanks. Yes, that was helpful. Nevertheless, I'm still an inquisitive human that seeks to understand the Bible as completely as possible so that what I believe (i.e. my faith) is as true as it can possibly be.
If I had to depend solely on revelation to receive answers to my questions, I fear my knowledge would be very limited and the truthfulness of that knowledge very, very questionable.
Anyones thoughts or insights on the following would be sincerely appreciated:
The other aspect of John's gospel that I am having trouble reconciling with the other 3 gospels is his concept of Jesus and God being the same (see John 1:1-2 and John 10:30 for example). In the other 3 gospels isn't Jesus seen more as having been created by God
(e.g. the "Son of God"). Question: Excluding the gospel of John, does the rest of the Bible primarily support the trinitarian concept of Jesus as God incarnate or was Jesus created by God?


Jeff - Good questions!

Bible.org has a great overview of the Trinity - and even opens this commentary with this first sentence, which gets at your question - "Because the word trinity is never found in the Bible some wonder about whether this is a biblical doctrine or not, but the absence of a term used to describe a doctrine does not necessarily mean the term is not biblical." Check it out here -

http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=215

Bible.org also has a great discussion called "Major Differences Between John and the Synoptic Gospels". This will dive into some of your questions of why some things are just in John or vice versa. Check it out here -

http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=1151

Hope these help. Glad to see you asking these questions. God will lead you to answers.

Grace,
Mike

Some believe that it is too unlikely for the incident involving the opportunity to kill Saul in 1 Samuel 24 to be repeated so closely in 1 Samuel 26:1 and conclude the two narratives are only differing perspectives of the same event. The incidents are similar, but the differences are sufficient to establish that the events are in fact separate. But the much bigger questions are 1) how Saul could turn to black magic when he had already exiled all of the witches and wizards by God’s command (Ex 22:18 and Deut 18:10-11), and, 2) does this suggest that the existence of fortune tellers is biblically supported and that the Spirit of Samuel that was with God actually returned to talk with Saul? What is the difference between a fortune teller (bad) and a prophet (good)? First is the source of the knowledge and second is the purpose (one is to allow you to control the future and the other is to b you change to prepare for it). Clearly the Lord “stirred” (1 Sam 26:19) things up by sending an evil spirit to trouble Saul as punishment for his sin (1 Sam 16: 1, 14). Saul is so consumed by anxiety and fear (specifically opposite to how “real” believers are “free” from sin) that he purposely sins with only confirmation of what he already knows (the spirit of Samuel only tells Saul what he told him while alive). Samuel asks Saul what can anyone do for a person God has left as a consequence of wrong actions. This is similar to Jesus’ parable when Abraham tells a rich man that it would be futile to send the dead Lazarus to warn his bothers (Luke 16:27-31). Anyone not willing to believe Moses will likewise not believe a voice from beyond the grave.

David tells Saul that by seeking God’s pardon and offering a sacrifice that he could ask for removal of the evil spirit. Similarly, David says he could offer an atoning sacrifice to God if there was any offense on his part (but if evil men making false accusations were the cause of Saul’s hostility, they would be judged). David, however, placed no value in Saul’s blessing in v 26:25 (as addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, violence, or food are not just examples of poor choices but of choice and fidelity having been surrendered) and sought refuge with the king of Gath (who no doubt hoped to encourage the split between David and Saul and welcome hiring David’s 600 skilled fighting men as mercenaries). It is important to remember in our darkest moments that there is always a way back to a relationship with God. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, God explains that when His children are tempted, He always provides a means of escape in order to replace wrong behavior with right behavior. We are reminded that the faith of even the greatest saints can falter and that we may need to prove steadfast to the right things while waiting on God timing. We must stay close to the Lord so that when we need His help most, it will be available.

David is successful not by his own efforts and skills but by his faith in God. David trusted that God was in control so that even when he faced his greatest challenges, he always had the greatest confidence, “the battle is the Lord’s.” God’s sovereignty is not only to be believed but to shape our behavior. David’s killing of every person of the old enemy nations does help to ensure that his lying about raiding Judah is not discovered, but it is also continued fulfilling of God’s holy war to drive these doomed people (whose religious practices have been shown by archeologists to include cult prostitution and child sacrifice) from the land (see Ex 23:24 and Josh 13:2-3) to protect Israel from temptation. The OT national covenant provided the payoff for obedience of health and long life (Ex 23:25-26) as the NT individual covenant provides for spiritual health and survival. Even if wise to shun pubic notice, it is never wise to be idle. David doesn’t outright agree to join Achish in war among the Israelites, but he also dares not to outright refuse.

Saul, on the other hand, living under the Zadok rival priesthood to Abiathar, unable to get guidance from God, was in a panic (terrified to despair, he is still not humbled) with the Philistines posed at Shunem with superior weapons (Israel without the technology of iron as it had be banned for so long). Why should God answer a king who had shown he will not obey? Saul calls for a retired medium of necromancy (consulting the dead to determine the future), an art specifically forbidden by the law (Lev 19:31). The medium shrieks with surprise and fear when Samuel actually appears from Sheol or “the place of departed spirits” hints that the woman truly believed God had permitted the spirit of Samuel to speak and announce Saul’s imminent death (Saul faints – the wicked always fear death) and that she understood the potential personal consequences for being involved. Saul’s recognition, the accurate prediction, and revelation for the woman of Saul’s identity all suggest that validity of the apparition (this is one OT example of many supporting conscious life after death that makes it difficult for me to understand why all my Jewish friends, like the Sadducees, fail to believe in an immortal soul). Sheol (the place for both the righteous and the wicked – Samuel tell Saul that he and his children will soon be with him) is said to have gates which prohibit the normal escape of a spirit and this is the only instance recorded in the OT of someone making it out (even if only temporarily) – the NT describes total escape in the first and second resurrections of Revelation.

Mike is very correct in stating that mediums, fortune tellers, and their tools are no joke. We often think of spiritual games as being very old, but these are actually only measurements of our recent moral decline. For example, Weegee (Ouija or talking) boards is the second most popular board game in America that even those knowledgeable in “The Craft” often consider too dangerous to use, and never play with themselves, only goes back about 150 years. Tarot cards are less than 500 years old but only picked up a dark association again in the mid 1800’s (when there were more free-sex communes than in the 1960’s as the basis for many American companies, like Hershey and Oneida). Wiccans similarly like to think of their religion as very old, but it is a potpourri of elements from as many ancient religions as possible only in the past 50 years (there are very few witches whose parents were Wiccan) and should not be confused with biblical witchcraft. Popular films and television programs, such as The Craft (where spells were intentionally done with mistakes to keep viewers from real powers), Practical Magic, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harry Potter, Blair Witch Project, Free Spirit, The Worst Witch, Teen Witch, Sorceress, Witchcraft 1-8, The Witch’s Daughter, Sleepy Hollow, Teen Sorcery, Simply Irresistible, and Charmed, are aimed at attracting children (especially girls, as most characters are very pretty young females) to this growing religion. In these portrayals, being a witch is akin to being a superhero (or "naturally born" witch with gifts everyday, ordinary “Muggles” lack) as expressed in the Wiccan story, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: “There is no good and evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it.”

I did a search (in 2002) and found 2,904 different Wiccan Yahoo newsgroups to share spells to control and more spells to free one from the first spells. Control seems to be a very big draw for Wiccan believers. Countless sites even outright state that evil can be transmuted into good in a similar fashion to medieval alchemy (clearly making the religion about using “dark” power for “good”). Most of the newsgroups contain online stores where you can buy books about every religion, except, of course, Judo-Christianity because Judo-Christianity (besides Satanism) is the only major world religion that formally recognizes witches (in both in the Old and New Testaments). Popular Wicca book titles in the first few of those newsgroups included, "Nice Girl's Book of Naughty Spells," with spells that teaches women how to have it all: sex and money while dumping the useless boyfriend and "Power Spells" on how to get the upper hand in any situation. Other highly marketable items include candles, incense, herbs, staffs, rattles, wands, drums, crystals, pentagrams, and a lot of porn (because forced ritual sex is very important to the religion - "a gift from the Goddess"). And since lying, forced control over others, casual sex, drugs, and disobedience are encouraged by the religion, its hard to imagine what Wicca followers might consider an evil deed to be (there seems to be a lot of support for the idea of victimless crimes – a concept I find most objectionable). One of the major differences, however, with pagan concepts of morality is that they are based on Don'ts. For example, many sites posted the Wicca golden rule as stating the negative, "don't do to others what you don't want them to do to you" rather than the more positive and proactive Christian version of, "do to others what you would hope them to do to you." Most sites suggested that there's no difference between the two. "Real" morality, however, can only be found exactly in the empathetic responsibility for others that comes from that difference. Being "good" is not about not harming, but about proactively providing assistance for other's needs. It is also the key difference between selfish and selfless individuals and cultures. Practicing witchcraft or playing such games actually makes one a Christian except with the associated value system turned upside down (just as Darth Vader is a Jedi knight except for an opposite set of values). Wiccans "do not seek any repentance" (Wicca, I guess, means never having to say you're sorry – it’s certainly about never asking for forgiveness or accepting grace). The core belief is one of a low differentiation pantheism where there is little difference from person to person, person to god, or good to bad. Low differentiation, however, is specifically referenced by psychiatrists to identify poor mental health.

A key part of New Age and Wiccan beliefs is that we are leaving the Age of Pisces that began about the time of Christ and are now entering a new world order of one government, one language, and one religion where everyone will be recognized as gods as we enter the Age of Aquarius during this century – which is very similar to Christian end-time predictions. The Key of Solomon is one of the most famous of all magical Wicca textbooks. It is supposedly written by the Biblical son of David – again noting the close tie between Biblical and Wiccan identities. The Key of Solomon provides lessons to students of the craft in using the positions of Jupiter for acquiring all that one can desire, Mars to cause “ruin, slaughter, cruelty, discord, to wound, and to give death” and summoning souls from Hades (especially those of violent deaths), Sun for wealth, favor of princesses and (with Jupiter and Venus) for invisibility, Venus for joyous undertakings, poisons and provocation of madness, Mercury for fortune telling, thefts, deceit, and merchandise, Moon for envoys and nocturnal visions, Saturn (with Mars and the Moon) for summoning Spirits and stealing back what has been stolen by others and experiments of hatred, enmity, quarrel, and discord, and Mercury for experiments in raillery and jests. Such use of the stars is not uncommon in the Bible as the three Magi wise men bearing gifts for Christ were likely members of a priestly class of Persians who had occult knowledge and power, adept at astrology, dream interpretation, fortune-telling, and mediation with the spirit world.

John 11:35 is my favorite biblical verse (for one thing, it’s short enough even for my feeble brain to remember – although 1 Thess 5:16 is shorter in the Greek). A doctor who sees death and pain day in and out eventually becomes immune to the effects. Christ, on the other hand, knew that Lazarus would die and had seen death a trillion times before and knew that his soul and body would be reunited as personal evidence to His great claim, “I am the Resurrection and the Life,” a lesson of the result of sin, and so dangerous (v 10:31) to eventually end in His own death (v 11:50-53) but was overwhelmed by the sadness of the family and moved to tears (imagine, a God that cries). Every pain we feel, God feels right along with us, as if it was the very first feeling. Every sunrise is seen by the Lord as if it was likewise the very first. In Michelangelo’s rendition of creation for the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, God should be depicted as the hoping child and man as old and weary. What kind of person would force a young child to watch someone else sin, but this is exactly what every Christian does to God when we choose to sin. It is Jewish custom (called “shivah” for seven days) to morn for the death of a family member with friends at home for a week, abstain from adornments for three weeks, and common pleasures for a year. Preparation of the dead was done the very day of death and by women, and thusly done here by Lazarus’ sisters. Luke (v 10:38-42) adds some information on the two sisters, Mary (the placid woman who later pours perfume with her hair on the Lord’s feet) and Martha (the active one, of course, it the one to greet Jesus). These sisters had assumed that Jesus would immediately respond to their message about Lazarus’ illness (as if He didn’t already know), but he had instead waited on his Father’s time. Jesus spoke about the danger of going to Bethany but that one who lives by the will of God will always be safe. It is living in the realm of evil that is truly dangerous. John marks the growth of the hostility step by step (5:16; 7:1, 32, 45; 8:59; 9:22; 10:39) – it is ironic that these men believed they could put to death permanently One who could raise the dead. Compare Jesus’ compassion with Caiphus’s statement that the death of one person meant nothing for the safety of the nation (suggesting concern over the Roman fear of rivalry when it was really the Sanhedrin’s fear of rivalry that was the problem). “For he loves us with unfailing love; the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!”

Dear Jeff, Here is a man dead and buried, bound tightly, and Jesus “wakes” him four days later. Is one miracle greater than any other (except when He took God’s wrath for our sins on His shoulders and overcame death through His resurrection) when no sin is greater than any other (ALL warrants death)? Each of the Gospels are from four very different people, Matthew the evil tax collector, Mark who knew Jesus as a nine-year old child, John the most-beloved, and Luke who never met Him but was the first Christian historian speaking from first-hand witnesses. Each also had a different purpose and so it is reasonable that they each tell the good news in different ways, but in all four Gospel Jesus has the power to forgive sin, miracles from God, power over evil, know our thoughts, to calm nature, and the authority to teach us how to pray (and so forth and so on). Remember His baptism in Luke when the word of God identified Jesus as His Son. Jesus claimed in many places outside of the Gospel of John to be the Son of God (such as Luke 22:70), but OT scripture confirms it as well (some of which I’ve listed previously). I cannot understand your problem “reconciling” the other three Gospels as I don’t see where they are in conflict. I would suggest that you take this in earnest prayer to Jesus directly. You are right to assume that answers must come from more than one just revelation and that faith comes first from reason – “Let us reason together, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 1:18), “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14), and “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you - unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). God has no need for yes-men and yes-woman (that’s Satan, duh). Scripture demands, in fact, that anyone claiming to have spiritual gifts or messages from God must submit to public and objective rational testing before employing by multiple accepted authorities (“let two or three prophets speak, and let others pass judgment.” – 1 Cor 12:29). Nothing disgusts God more than lukewarm blind-faith Christians that he vomits, in Revelation, out of His mouth.

But faith (a spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit so it is not something anyone can build but only develop) is more than critical thinking based on the facts (although salvation isn’t). Do parallel lines meet at infinity? If you say no, you get a valid mathematics, and if you say yes, you get a valid mathematics. The only situation in which you do not get a valid mathematics is if you refuse to answer because of being angry over how could anyone know for sure. What kind of stubborn person (the agnostic), though, would live without mathematics simply to be “right?” You have to choose. In addition, however, how can you claim to love another without seeing more in that person than you have experienced already (can’t you love a completely useless infant without any justification) – how can you have love without faith (you can’t have math). Have you never known another’s faith (not just trust) in you? Truth, love, and God all require faith and any verse of the Bible can exchange any of these three words and mean the same thing. People in failing relationships usually complain that the other person is controlling, condemning and judgmental, always angry, untrustworthy, and unable to listen. God has had similar complaints about us by complaining that His people are “far away” (Isaiah 29:13), “unfaithful” (Joshua 22:16), “proud and perfectionistic” (Deuteronomy 8:14; Palms 36:2), “unloving” (1 John 4:20), and “judgmental” (Romans 2:1). God reaches out to us for relationships as the object of His love and is clear on who He is. He is for honest relationships based on truth and love and against oppression, injustice, sin, and evil. While all religions involve mankind reaching up to God, only Jesus was really about how God reaches down to us. Jesus demonstrated relationship needs when he asked the disciples to stay and keep watch while he prayed and by his great pain when they failed him. People with relationship barriers usually don’t recognize internal problems, leaving those who do care (such as Jesus) feeling discouraged and distant (usually, in fact, with far greater pain and discomfort than the person with the problem). One of the most surprising facts about the bible didn’t require me to read the book but I only got after doing so. The Moslems take Jesus (as well as all the leaders from every religion) as one of their 250,000 to 2.5 million Islamic “prophets.” Jesus is the only one I know of, though, that didn’t feel he needed to dictate or write anything directly to us (Mohammed and Buddha, for example, were prolific authors) – there is no book in the Bible entitled, “Jesus.” He seems to be the only one of history’s religious leaders who believed enough in a personal relationship with God that he didn’t think we would get it wrong on our own (no being “good enough” required, thank God). The Bible is good, but IMHO the relationship comes first.

How would you like to be going to the moon and have the navigation system shut down for 20 minutes, because the first astronauts had to normally suffer through exactly that more than a half dozen times during each flight. This was because the 4k of memory in the computer was not big enough for all of the navigation requirements and it took 20 minute to boot the next code segment (yes, computer hardware back then was so slow it took 20 minutes to load 4,000 characters!). NASA could have spent their money (and capsule space) on more memory but instead installed three computers so that when any one system disagreed with the other two it could be shut down or rebooted. This was because the wrong answer scared them more than no answer! The Church’s biggest problem has always been a lack of fear about wrong answers while exhibiting an unhealthy indiscriminate fear of debate (causing them to be anti-science). God provides three sources of truth (or computers) through His Word, the experiences from a direct relationship along with our own intelligence, and community within the body. Many people have heard silly things from God, misinterpreted the Bible, or gotten bad advice from a friend, but most could have gotten quickly straighten out if they had only looked harder at the other two for confirmation. Isaiah 30:21 says, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” Thus, God will speak, and you can hear His voice, but you must be careful (especially when you are a young Christian) that you objectively confirm that you are following the Holy Spirit and not another voice. “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14) and “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed” (Matthew 18:16). I want you to know that your experience and input is certainly valuable to this group and our learning experience and I look forward to your continued involvement after this first posting. While you don’t want to rely “solely on revelation,” however, it would seem that at this time you may be missing some. In other words, what has God told you when you went to Him directly with these questions? For your question on how we know The Son is the Father is the Holy Spirit (that three separate beings are also one), I would ask that you first start with some simple research, say, with a Google search on the question on “how one God can be three persons” and report back on what you learn.

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