Thor can not save You

W HO COMMITS THE THOR hERESY TODAY ? The Thor heresy continues to be peddled today, thanks in large part to the efforts of Jehovah’s Witnesses. There is not a lick of difference between what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe about Jesus today and what Arius taught 1,700 years ago. You know this to be true if you have ever heard their knock on your door. Looking through the window and seeing a couple of people (usually at least one of whom is a woman—a key to knowing whether they are Mormon or JW) dressed in church attire, you have to make a choice. Do you want to engage them in discussion, or do you want to dismiss them by asking, “Didn’t we take care of you guys back at Nicaea in 325?” 4 If you accept the challenge to engage, it will not be long before the differences in what you believe about Jesus rise to the surface. The Jehovah’s Witnesses/Thor heresy advocates will earnestly tell you that they believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he is to be worshiped. But if you dig into the details, they will quickly tell you that the Son of God was created by the Father and that the Son is a god, but not the God—like Thor. He is, they believe, inferior to the Father. I can see the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ lips moving, but all I can hear is the hiss of Arius. But you don’t have to be a JW to fall prey to the Thor heresy. Christians can unwittingly fall into this deadly way of thinking anytime they think that the Son is inferior in essence to the Father, and that the Father is really the one who is God. How might this happen? Have there been times in your life when your view of Jesus was not as high as what the Bible teaches? Maybe you know that Jesus is your great High Priest and that he sits at the right hand of the Father. But when confronted with the problems of the world, the suffering of others, or just the incredible difficulty in standing up for Jesus in our culture, you might ask yourself, What can Jesus really do? There have been other times when I have considered the gargantuan task of world missions and what it will take to reach the enormous numbers of Muslims, Buddhists, and others across the globe. In my wrong thinking, I have wondered, What will Jesus actually do for them? Is following Jesus worth the high price that conversion would demand they pay? Without realizing it, I have reduced Jesus to little. more than a small tribal deity, someone with some power in the Christian church, but not one who is worth giving up everything for. He might be my god, but is he really the God, the one before whom everyone must and should bow? Such thinking would be true of Thor, but it has nothing to do with Jesus. W HAT THE B IBLE S AYS The Scriptures present a view of Jesus that is much higher than anything described by the Thor heresy. One of Christ’s closest followers, so close that in his Gospel record he referred to himself merely as “the disciple Jesus loved” (John 21:7, 20), described Jesus this way: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:1–4) The teaching here is profound, but it requires a bit of interpretation. First off, who is “the Word”? John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The entire book of John is about Jesus, so we can safely assume that the one who “became flesh,” that is, became human, was Jesus. Few would disagree with that (and by “few,” I mean no one). Second, before the Word became a man, when and where was he? Well, John starts off, “In the beginning . . .” I believe our minds are supposed to go to the other place in Scripture that begins, “In the beginning . . .”—Gen 1:1—the start of the entire thing. And we are told that at the start of the entire thing, the creation of the cosmos and the time-space continuum, the Word was with God. I don’t want to make your head hurt with Greek, but the form of the verb to be used in John 1—was indicates action that had already been going. So “in the beginning,” the Word already was , meaning he already existed. He was already there before the beginning of it all . Now, I am not sure what “before the beginning of time” even means, but we can be sure of this: John was teaching that at the point of creation, when everything started, the Word was already there. Third, how can you be with God and also be God at the same time? Much of this book has been an answer to this very question, and the rest of the book will continue to provide an answer. Whoever the Word is, he is separate from God. That is, he can be with God. But the Word has been and continues simultaneously to be God. Recall our discussion of the Ant-Man heresy in the last chapter. Everything that it takes to be God, both God the Father and God the Son are. But the Son is not the Father. They are both God, but they are different persons. The Word is God and is with God. Now, if a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses (modern-day Arian/Thor heresy advocates) comes and knocks on your door, and you choose to speak with them, it will not take long before the conversation turns to this passage. According to the New World Translation, the Jehovah’s Witness Bible version, John 1:1 should be translated, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” 5 Their translation makes the point that whoever the Word was, he might be a god, but he is not the God. You need to know something: It is a terrible translation. In. fact, no credible Greek scholars, be they Christian, agnostic, or atheist, think that this is a legitimate translation. It is dead wrong, and it was translated by JWs that way to prop up their Thor heresy theology. I have tried to make that point when JWs come to my door. I tell them, “It is a lousy translation that no credible Greek scholar thinks is legitimate.” They say, “No, it isn’t lousy.” I say, “Yes, it is.” They say, “No, it’s not.” I say, “Yes, it is.” They say, “No, it’s not.” I say, “Yes, it is.” And then we repeat ourselves. After that, we repeat ourselves some more. It is frustrating. But let’s read on. In chapter 2 , I claimed that creating the cosmos was something that only God did, and if the Bible taught that the Son of God was responsible for creating, then that would mean that the Son was fully God. John 1:3 teaches precisely that. Verse 3 states, “All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created.” How many things were made through the Word? The Greek word translated “all” means . . . “ALL.” All things—literally everything that was made was made through the Word. If it was made, it was made through the Word. That means that there are two kinds of things in the world, two kinds of things that exist: things that are made and things that did the making. If you are made, then you are not one of the makers. More importantly, if you are one of the makers, you are not one of the things made. Think of it this way: If you took a sheet of paper, drew a line down the middle, and put things that are made on one side and things that did the making on the other side, you would have to put “The Word” on the side of things doing the making. He can’t be on both sides. If all things were made through him, then he cannot be one of the things that was made. And if you are one of the things doing the making, then you are God. Not just a god, but the God. It is as simple as that. And strangely enough, the New World Translation even translated 1:3 correctly. Their own translation does not support what they purport to believe , that the Son was created first, and then everything else was made through him. Next, what about the claim that the Bible teaches that Jesus was the firstborn of the Father? Perhaps some of you memorized John 3:16 from the King James Version or the old NIV, which used the term “only begotten” to describe the Son. Doesn’t “only begotten” mean that Jesus was born of the Father, and does that not imply that there was a time when the Son did not exist? And what about Col 1:15, which states that Jesus was the “firstborn over all creation”? Let’s go back to making our heads hurt with Greek. The Greek term that is sometimes translated “only begotten” is the word monogenes . Within Christian scholarly circles, there is some disagreement about the best way to translate this Greek term. Some believe that the best translation of monogenes is “unique” or “one and only.” Look at Heb 11:17, where Isaac is referred to as the monogenes son of Abraham. We know that Isaac was neither the firstborn nor the only son of Abraham. Ishmael was the firstborn of Abraham, and there were many other children born after Isaac. But Isaac was the son of promise, which is what the verse affirms. In the same way, Jesus is the unique Son of promise of the Father. Others believe that “only begotten” is the best way to translate monogenes and that John 3:16 teaches, among many other things, the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ. fact, no credible Greek scholars, be they Christian, agnostic, or atheist, think that this is a legitimate translation. It is dead wrong, and it was translated by JWs that way to prop up their Thor heresy theology. I have tried to make that point when JWs come to my door. I tell them, “It is a lousy translation that no credible Greek scholar thinks is legitimate.” They say, “No, it isn’t lousy.” I say, “Yes, it is.” They say, “No, it’s not.” I say, “Yes, it is.” They say, “No, it’s not.” I say, “Yes, it is.” And then we repeat ourselves. After that, we repeat ourselves some more. It is frustrating. But let’s read on. In chapter 2 , I claimed that creating the cosmos was something that only God did, and if the Bible taught that the Son of God was responsible for creating, then that would mean that the Son was fully God. John 1:3 teaches precisely that. Verse 3 states, “All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created.” How many things were made through the Word? The Greek word translated “all” means . . . “ALL.” All things—literally everything that was made was made through the Word. If it was made, it was made through the Word. That means that there are two kinds of things in the world, two kinds of things that exist: things that are made and things that did the making. If you are made, then you are not one of the makers. More importantly, if you are one of the makers, you are not one of the things made. Think of it this way: If you took a sheet of paper, drew a line down the middle, and put things that are made on one side and things that did the making on the other side, you would have to put “The Word” on the side of things doing the making. He can’t be on both sides. If all things were made through him, then he cannot be one of the things that was made. And if you are one of the things doing the making, then you are God. Not just a god, but the God. It is as simple as that. And strangely enough, the New World Translation even translated 1:3 correctly. Their own translation does not support what they purport to believe , that the Son was created first, and then everything else was made through him. Next, what about the claim that the Bible teaches that Jesus was the firstborn of the Father? Perhaps some of you memorized John 3:16 from the King James Version or the old NIV, which used the term “only begotten” to describe the Son. Doesn’t “only begotten” mean that Jesus was born of the Father, and does that not imply that there was a time when the Son did not exist? And what about Col 1:15, which states that Jesus was the “firstborn over all creation”? Let’s go back to making our heads hurt with Greek. The Greek term that is sometimes translated “only begotten” is the word monogenes . Within Christian scholarly circles, there is some disagreement about the best way to translate this Greek term. Some believe that the best translation of monogenes is “unique” or “one and only.” Look at Heb 11:17, where Isaac is referred to as the monogenes son of Abraham. We know that Isaac was neither the firstborn nor the only son of Abraham. Ishmael was the firstborn of Abraham, and there were many other children born after Isaac. But Isaac was the son of promise, which is what the verse affirms. In the same way, Jesus is the unique Son of promise of the Father. Others believe that “only begotten” is the best way to translate monogenes and that John 3:16 teaches, among many other things, the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ. lots of options out there, a veritable smorgasbord, where you can sample religious entrees according to your tastes. In our postmodern world, religious commitment has been reduced to a matter of personal preference or what works best for individuals. And if Jesus were like Thor, a god but not the God, such thinking would be accurate and proper. But you can have confidence that Jesus Christ has a claim on your unbelieving friends and family. Jesus is not some local tribal deity or family god. He is Lord and Creator of all. That does not mean that everyone will choose to follow Jesus, but it does mean that everyone should. Because Jesus Christ is the God, and not simply a god, you can be sure that those who do not know Jesus would be better off serving him. You can be sure that Jesus Christ is just as relevant to the 12-year-old girl in Papua New Guinea as he is to your 70-year-old next-door neighbor in Portland. You can be sure that the deepest legitimate desires of all your unbelieving friends and family are truly met in Jesus Christ. No Thor-like Jesus can make that claim. But the Jesus Christ of the Bible can. The Lord of the Universe Is Lord of the Church. So Jesus Christ is not just Lord of those who happen to follow him. He is the Lord of the cosmos, and he deserves and desires the allegiance of everybody. But it is not as though the church is an afterthought or an annoying add-on to his already full list of God-responsibilities. For Jesus Christ, being Lord of the church is his passion; it is his priority, a vital aspect of his identity. Look again at Col 1:15–20. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (vv. 17–20) In this passage, Paul piled up the affirmations of the majesty and greatness of Jesus Christ. We have already looked at several of those affirmations: image of invisible God, firstborn of all creation, Creator of all things, the one in whom all things in the cosmos are reconciled to God, and so on. But I want you to notice that in the midst of these grand statements, we find this: “He is also the head of the body, the church” (1:18). Paul made the exact same point in the same way in Eph 1:20–23, extolling the wonder of Jesus Christ before stating, “And he subjected everything under his feet and appointed him as head over everything for the church, which is his body.” Yes, Jesus is God incarnate. Yes, Jesus is the Savior of the world. And yes, Jesus is the head of the church, which Paul identified as the very body of Christ. As Paul penned these words, I am sure his mind went back to the day he first met Jesus, the account of which is recorded in Acts 9:1–19. Paul did not meet Jesus on a particularly good day. I suppose that any day that one sees Jesus and is saved is a good day, but if you were able to plan the perfect day to meet Jesus. day, but if you were able to plan the perfect day to meet Jesus for the first time, you would probably want to be doing something godly, or at least not immoral. You definitely would not want to meet Jesus as you were on your way to persecute his followers. But that is precisely what Paul was doing. Armed with official letters from the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem, Saul (Paul’s Hebrew name) was on his way to Damascus to arrest Jewish Christians when he first encountered Jesus. To make matters worse, Paul discovered that by Jesus’s way of thinking, to attack one of his followers is to attack him. Jesus takes such abuse very personally. His first words to Saul make this clear: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4). Saul rightly asked the name of this authoritative figure and had to be terrified at the response: “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting” (v. 5). Gulp! What was horrifying at the time, Paul came to understand to be a fantastic truth. The Lord of the universe identifies himself with his people. And that is wonderful news. The very one who is King of the cosmos is simultaneously the ruler and nurturer of the church. All the resources of God Almighty are at Jesus’s disposal to lead and grow the church. In the comics, Thor was often chided by the Asgardians for his strange devotion to the human Jane Foster. In their minds, Thor was neglecting his greater duties as a god of Asgard by wasting his time on Earth in his dalliance with the earth woman. But Jesus’s commitment to the church is no illegitimate preoccupation. The King of history, the one who holds the keys of life and death, understands himself to be Shepherd of his people, a people he loves. In fact, he refers to the church as his bride. The church is that special to him, that much of a priority. He came to establish a kingdom, to create a people for that kingdom, and then to nurture, guide, and grow them along the way. That is his mission. And he is simultaneously the sovereign Lord. At times it seems as though things are spinning out of control, going from bad to worse. As international terrorism escalates, natural disasters devastate, racial tensions rise, economic injustices grow, and so-called political solutions appear to be more and more counterproductive, it can be tempting for Christians to wonder if the Lord truly has his hand on the wheel. But the biblical testimony is sure: The very one of whom it is said, “He is before all things, and by him all things hold together” (Col 1:17) is the same one who said, “I will build my church” (Matt 16:18). He is managing the cosmos, and he does so as head of the church. That means that in the good times and the bad, Jesus is building his church. Even when things look darkest, Jesus is on mission. When tsunamis and earthquakes strike, Jesus Christ is still saving and caring for a people. When the countries in North America and Europe struggle with Islamic terrorists, Jesus Christ is not taken by surprise, nor is he nervous. Is there evil in the world that violates Jesus’s clear commands? Yes. Are there events and people that Jesus will judge when he returns to establish his kingdom? Absolutely. But even in the midst of the worst, Jesus is in control and is keeping his word. The headlines in New York and London, Tokyo and Sao Paulo may bemoan world calamities and conflicts, but the headlines in heaven consistently proclaim, “Jesus Is Lord, and He Is Building His Church!”

(Superhero’s can not Save You Todd Miles)

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