Posts Tagged ‘mike oppenheimer’
By Philip Gray
Free-lance writer and contender of the faith
What Do Hitler, Alice Bailey, and Replacement Theology Adherents Have in Common? Basically, the answer to that question is that in all three cases, they reject the Jews as God’s chosen people. Those who embrace Replacement Theology probably don’t realize that the thinking behind Replacement Theology is some of the thinking behind occultist Alice Bailey as well as Hitler when it comes to the Jews. Now we are not saying that people who adhere to Replacement Theology would want to kill the Jews as Hitler did; but Replacement Theology adherents need to understand that behind this view of the Jews lies a far more sinister aspect. Satan hates the Jews (partly because he knows God will use them in the culmination of things in the last days to end Satan’s days). That view of the Jews can start “innocently” by saying the Jews and Israel are no longer significant with regard to Bible prophecy. But it is not a far step from that thinking to anti-Semitism. Let’s just take a brief look at Alice Bailey and then Adolph Hitler and see what they thought about the Jews:
Consider these statements by Alice Bailey in her book The Externalization of the Hierarchy.
The force emanating from that section of humanity which is found in every part of the world and which we call the Jewish people. What I say here has no specific reference to any individual; I am considering the world problem, centering around the Jews as a whole. . . The Jew, down the ages, has insisted upon being separated from all other races but he brought over from the previous system the knowledge (necessary then but obsolete now) that his race was the “chosen people.” The “Wandering Jew” has wandered from System One to this where he must learn the lesson of absorption and cease his wandering. He has insisted upon racial purity . . . this insistence has been carried down the ages . . . When humanity has solved the Jewish problem (with the understanding cooperation of the Jew) and overcome ancient antipathies and hatreds, it will do so by fusing the problem in one vast humanitarian situation. When that happens, the problem will be rapidly solved and one of the major difficulties will disappear off the face of the earth. Racial fusion will then be possible. Our earth humanity and the group of human beings who are far more ancient in their origin than we are, will form one humanity and then there will be peace on earth. . . . .
The solution will come, as I said, when the races regard the Jewish problem as a humanitarian problem but also when the Jew does his share of understanding, love and right action. This he does not yet do, speaking racially. He must let go of his own separative tendencies and of his deep sense of persecution. (p.40-42, 1998 edition, Lucis Trust)
As for Hitler, we know without a doubt that he did not consider the Jews God’s “chosen people.” Rather, he wanted to eliminate them from the face of the earth. But where did he come up with this demonic evil idea? While there are different factors involved in the answer to that question, Mike Oppenheimer provides the documentation to show what was perhaps the greatest influence on Hitler and his views about the Jewish people:
Hitler’s ideas about the Aryan race came from the Thule Society. Thule was supposedly a lost island inhabited by an ancient race that were “masters of wisdom” (much like the mythology of Atlantis or Lemuria and the spiritual hierarchy, the White Brotherhood today). Though unseen, they are a superior highly intelligent beings working behind the scenes (as Benjamin Crème states). Hitler believed he was in contact with them and that they gave him power and energy. Through his alleged contacts with this mythical superior race, he believed he was destined to lead the Aryans to rule the world. Hitler’s vision of the world was that Germany would unite the world under his leadership which would last for 1,000 years.
Contance Cumbey, in her book The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow, summarized Hitler’s path to being Germany’s messianic figure: “While still a very young child, Hitler was initiated into the finer mysteries of the occult. He attended a Benedictine monastery school near his German home. “The occult interests Hitler gained in this school, stayed with him all of his adult life and helped to shape his future spiritual philosophy.” . . .
Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels were Catholic in their background before they indulged themselves into a new spiritual worldview. Occult books were some of Hitler’s favorite reading. It was in the early 1920s Dietrich Eckart introduced Hitler to The Secret Doctrine, by [Helen] Blavatsky. He was taught its secrets by Professor-General Karl Haushofer (Suster), who was a member of the Berlin Lodge of the Vril Society. One of the primary qualifications for one to be admitted to the Vril Society was to have a minimum ability in Blavatsky’s “Secret Doctrine.” Karl Haushofer was alleged to be a master of the secret doctrines espoused by Blavatsky, and it was he who initiated prisoner Adolf Hitler at Landsberg Prison. . . .
Cumbey notes: “Hitler rightly believed he had established communication with Lucifer, from whom he openly coveted possession” (Secrets of the Rainbow p.101). It should not surprising to find that he was led to The Secret Doctrine that glorifies Lucifer.
The “Secret Doctrine” held that they originated in Atlantis and that one of the seven Atlantean races was that of the Aryans.” The Aryans were the master-race or supermen of the Atlantean races.” The myth of Aryan superiority was the basis for Hitler’s Nazism and ethnic cleansing of the Jews. . . .
Hitler seemed to have favored Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine above other books he had. We do know that U.S. Army historians catalogued Hitler’s personal library and found numerous occultic volumes heavily annotated in Hitler’s fancy handwriting. Among the books was one that Hitler often kept by his bedside, the occult standard The Secret Doctrine by Madame Helen P. Blavatsky (Kubizek). (Adolf Hitler, The Occult Messiah, Gerald Suster, 1981).
Blavatsky not only claimed these masters were directing the work of the Theosophical Society but were also guiding the evolution of the human race throughout history. Thus Hitler found his place in the grand scheme of these masters. (“Hitler’s Spiritual Master – Maitreya,” Let Us Reason Ministries)
We can easily say that Helen Blavatsky shared a similar view about the Jews as Alice Bailey. In fact, Bailey probably got at least some of her anti-Semitic views from Blavatsky. In Blavatsky’s book The Secret Doctrine, she wrote:
Judaism, built solely on Phallic worship, has become one of the latest creeds in Asia, and theologically a religion of hate and malice toward everyone and everything outside themselves. (Blavatsky, H.P.. The Secret Doctrine (Kindle Locations 20502-20503). Chios Classics. Kindle Edition)
Blavatsky also said the Jews were “degenerate in spirituality” (Ibid. Kindle location 15961).
The point of this commentary is to show Christians, especially adherents of Replacement Theology, that occultic influences have worked their way into the church and altered the way Christians think about the Jews, Israel, and the Word of God. It’s tragic to think about Martin Luther and how he turned against the Jews in a most vehement manner; then Hitler, centuries later, used the sentiments of Luther to convince the German people that the Jews were an inferior people so that he could more easily commit the horrendous atrocities against them. (Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, LT edition, endnote section)
At a time when a clear and biblically sound understanding of Bible prophecy is most important, we find the church, paradoxically, having less knowledge of it, especially as it relates directly to Israel. Most evangelical Christians throughout history have supported the Jews and the modern state of Israel, but things are changing. The church, from its infancy, believed God had a future plan for Israel based on Scripture (Acts 3:19). This plan included the national restoration of Israel to the same land from which they were eventually dispersed. As time went on and the church drifted further and further away from her Jewish beginnings, many began to erroneously believe the church had replaced Israel. But in this day and age when we see biblical prophecy being fulfilled on such an unprecedented and unparalleled scale—with God’s continual protection and restoration of the Jews to their land, there should not be those who walk in disbelief with regard to God’s promises. But there are! . . .
God says that we are to bless them and not curse or turn against them. Of the Jew, Paul stated “unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2). Jesus Himself said that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). And though they have been dispersed throughout the world, God has blessed and prospered them wherever they went. We, therefore, owe a great debt to the Jewish people; and Israel is still Israel and will continue to have a special place in God’s heart and significance in the future of our planet. Remember, God has said of the Jew: “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye” (Zechariah 2:8).
Thanks to people like Neale Donald Walsch (Conversations with God author), who said in his book that sold millions of copies that Hitler did the Jews a favor by killing them, or people in the emergent church like Tony Campolo and Brian McLaren, who reject the notion that the Jews and Israel have any significance in the present day or the future, people’s (including many evangelicals and other Protestants) views of the Jews and Israel are fast changing. When you consider how anti-Semitism is growing throughout the world, as Christians, let us ask ourselves, “Are we to think as the world thinks? Are we to think as occultists think?” God forbid.
In life, we come across certain people who are extraordinary in character. Ray Yungen was just such a person.
It was Ray who first made us aware of the Catholic contemplative mysticism and certain New Age practices becoming popular and entering the church. He did more than point them out, he explained what they were and why a Christian should not participate in this kind of spirituality. As he explained about centering prayer, also: contemplative prayer was a means for all to find the God within by attaining oneness with self. This is the basis for Eastern religions from which mystical traditions originate.
Ray did not parse the truth, but he was considerate in the way he presented it to those caught in deceptions. A ministry is validated by a person’s example of being a servant, willing to help others, and not just by what they know. His knowledge did not surpass his caring, and his passion was genuine in helping others who were deceived by contemplative and New Age practices. Ray was always pleasant to speak with and be with.
I remember several years ago when we got together to film an Emerging Church DVD. We were sitting at the dinner table waiting for the food when Ray pulled out the book, The Shack, and read some quotes, asking us what we thought. He wanted our input before he voiced what his own concerns.
Another night, we decided to visit the local secular bookstore in town, and he immediately grabbed a few books off the shelves showing us the very same practices that the church was contending with. Ray was always animated about his ministry work.
I spoke with Ray a year ago on the phone as he was concerned about his health, especially his immune system. We discussed what could and could not be used to boost his immune system, which was very low at the time, avoiding any type of New Age medicine or techniques. Neither of us had any idea that this could later become cancer.
Being in this camp of apologetics, Ray was on the front line as a watchman who spoke on the changes of the church from inside influences of what we call the New Age teachings.
It is those who realize what is at stake who speak out. There is no doubt that Ray had his share of enemies, those who were willing to fight against him, not understanding what he was saying—they were just reacting to the things he said were wrong and dangerous. But he also had many friends who benefited from his friendship, his research, and his writings. Ray will be dearly missed. He leaves a legacy of research and writing that will be referred to by many in the years to come.
Ray is now, by the grace of God, able to rest and enjoy his rewards.
LTRJ Note: The following is a video of Ray Yungen and Mike Oppenheimer having a discussion about the things Mike was referring to in this tribute:
By Mike Oppenheimer
Let Us Reason Ministries
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). Paul warns us that at the end of the age, inside the church, there will be teachings of demons—quite a serious charge. That it will be a time that is extremely dangerous to believers who do not know the Word correctly and do not watch what they are being taught.
The Devil has tailor-made deceptions for every church in every age; he knows the people’s weaknesses and propensities to do wrong in certain areas. He will use whomever he can in whatever capacity he can to bring confusion, falsehoods, and destruction—especially if he can target a church’s pastor. Contrary to popular teaching, the Devil, who is the greatest of angelic creatures, is of the highest intelligence, has power, and is often underestimated in his scheming by those who think they can bind him.
Some people are deceived by not having the knowledge of the truth to discern what is being introduced as false, and they do not care to hear a different view that may challenge them because they are following a man or woman instead of Christ Jesus by his Word. How do you tell the difference? It is how they respond to the Word. They will either ignore what the Word says and continue listening to the false teacher of their liking and stay in the falsehood they hear as willing subjects to be manipulated to their own destruction, or they will react by acknowledging they were wrong and repent, getting right with God and abandoning the falsehood. This is how we know if someone is yielding to the Holy Spirit in his or her life.
For example, there are those who teach we as spirit had a per-existence with God before we came to earth.
1 Corinthians 15:44-49 explains that the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. “The first man [Adam] is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.” In other words, only Jesus is like God, not Adam. We are told that He alone came from heaven to become man
vs. 47: It is Jesus who is The Lord from heaven. He is the creator and giver of life, not Adam. vs. 49: “And as we have borne the image of the earthy [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”
It is when we are transformed into the new man in the resurrection that we become incorruptible, sinless, immortal (1 Corinthians 15:50).
Some teach we are little gods because we are reborn into His image, that we are an exact replica of Him now.
Colossians 1:15: “[W]ho is the image of the invisible God,” “who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3). Why? Because Jesus is unique, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). Jesus is the only man who revealed the image of God perfectly, being God Himself in human form.
The BIBLE says:
John 1:4-5: “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” The key: darkness does not understand the uniqueness of Christ Jesus.
John 5:26: “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.”
Only the Son has life in Himself; so look out when you hear we can speak things into existence as word-faith promoters claim. Word-faith interpretations distort the Scripture that says “give life to the dead and call things into existence that are not.” This verse does not say this about us but about God alone who has this ability. Romans 4:17: “God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.”
The BIBLE says:
Isaiah 40:25: To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.”
Isaiah 46:5: “To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal and compare Me, that we should be alike?”
Those who are in the truth confess – Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”
John is saying Jesus is the only God/man. There is no other man that is God come in flesh. If they are teaching contrary to this, they have the spirit of ANTICHRIST.
To call oneself or another human being God is what the Bible labels as blasphemy.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4: “that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
The spirit of iniquity mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 states, “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” The Holy Spirit in the believers, in the Church now restrains (hinders, prevents) the Antichrist from revealing himself. Paul says the mystery – the spirit was already at work in his day, and will one day reach its zenith in a single man, a man who claims to be God. For this to be accepted, the idea that man can be god must be well circulated.
God instills humility in us, not pride. The Antichrist does not come as some Devil but as a lamb – “he had two horns like a lamb and spake like a dragon” (Revelation 13:11-12). He has words to exalt you, that is the antichrist spirit, to exalt man. Listen carefully to what the word-faith teachers speak on man and you will know what the Antichrist will be like. It is the same voice that was heard in the garden to Eve.
This contains such audacity and pride, to exalt man to be as the Creator. It is what New Agers, theosophists, and occultists speak. When a church no longer resists infiltration of non-biblical New Age practices, they will be carried away quickly by having opened the door to lies.
Why would any church allow men to teach what occultist’s and theosophists teach? Something that was never said in the Bible or church history? It is an antichrist spirit that has someone confess he is a little god or has God’s unique abilities (e.g., speaking things into existence).
We are currently bound in our sinful flesh, being conformed to be like Christ who is our Master and Lord. As soon as we lose this perspective, we allow pride to have us boast in what we do not possess. What a deceptive trap!
What is the antichrist and the spirit of antichrist? “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; 2 Thessalonians 2:4: [the antichrist] . . . so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1). Paul warns that inside the church will be teachings of demons. Nothing is more obvious than calling ourselves god. Satan’s goal is to teach self-deification to man just as he offered to Adam and Eve. How many gods are there if we are each little gods?
But doesn’t it say in Psalm 82:6 that we are gods . . . is God confused what He says on this, or are YOU?
What does the true God say to those who want his title, power, and ability, who want to be as equals.
Deuteronomy 4:35: “Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him.”
Deuteronomy 4:39: “ Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.”
Isaiah 43:10: . . . “that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.”
Isaiah 44:6: “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”
Isaiah 45:5: “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.”
God says He knows of no other Gods— do you believe God?
Isaiah 45:22: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”
No word-faith gods or messiahs in training. There is no other God but the actual ONE True Eternal God, and He wants to save you from your deception. If you claim to be a god, then you have forfeited salvation because the first act of true worship is acknowledgement that the real eternal God saved you and you worship the only true God.
Jeremiah 10:11: “The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.” Anyone who claims to be a god, (little g or not) knows they have not created heavens and earth. They have no power to create anything with their words.
The one who started this LIE that man is a god and is now in the church must be dealt with harshly as the liar who first spoke this is coming to gather his little gods.
By Mike Oppenheimer
Let Us Reason Ministries
When a Gentile becomes a believer in Christ, he becomes part of the body of Christ, not Israel. He is a spiritual Gentile, not a Jew. Israel is a nation consisting of Jews; Hebrews are an ethnicity who are from the linage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (the twelve tribes). A Gentile (both believer and non-believer) is from Abraham, not Isaac and Jacob.
Being Abraham’s seed does not make one Jewish; this is where people have been taught wrong. Its Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, (from whom came the 12 tribes); otherwise the Arabs are Jewish too. Selah.
John 18:35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me.”
Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
It is written “that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:23). Two groups of people. Later it was Saul who was specifically called to this other group while the original apostles worked among their people, the Jews. Paul was also going to the Jews first as his priority, but they rejected the message from him and said in Acts 28:28 “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”
Romans 11:12-13: “Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry.” He spoke of himself as “a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (1 Timothy 2:7).
Paul made the distinction between Gentiles and Jews before their salvation and continued this distinction afterwards in Romans 2:9,10.
Romans 10:12-13: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
He is not saying Jews and Gentile are no longer valid or erased, but that both call upon the Lord for salvation.
Under the new covenant.
Romans 2:28-29: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”
In other words, one must have faith to be a Jew, not just in their lineage. It was also a matter of the heart.
Speaking to the Gentiles, Galatians 3:29: “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” He refers to one being of the seed of Abraham as one exercising faith.
Paul had to rebuke Peter:
Galatians 2:14: But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?
Clearly, there were distinctions; yet he also said of those who were in the body of Christ to not see each other as they did before.
Colossians 3:10-11: “and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.”
Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
What he is saying is that as the body of Christ we are all children of God and that any differences should not be used to divide (2 Corinthians 12:13). Jew and Greek is a more specific substitute for the distinction of Jew and Gentile. There were still slaves and masters existing at the time just as there were still men and women. But this was to be overlooked in defining a person who is now in Christ.
In the same way Matthew 19:6 says: “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh.” This does not mean one literal person, but speaks spiritually.
Jesus says in Revelation 2:9: “and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”
Clearly there were those who claimed to be Jews but were not believers and were against the Messiah (as in Acts 14:2).
The Gentiles as said to be called by His name (Acts 15). Acts 21:25: “Gentiles who believe.”
Paul never said Gentiles were Jews after they believe.
Romans 15:10-11: And again, he says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!” And again: “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!”
Galatians 3:14 says that the “blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
Ephesians 3:6 explains that “the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.”
Acts 17:17: “Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.”
Just as Gentiles were not called Jews when they worshiped God in the synagogue, they are not called Jews when they believe in Messiah Jesus. Rather, they are fellow heirs; they become believers, spiritual Gentiles. this distinction continues through the Scriptures.
“Ed Silvosos’ paradigm is no different than many others who have come into the church before basically “rethinking everything into a new strategy.” Using the magic word of ‘transformation’ (a word originally found in theosophy of the New Age movement), it has found itself as one of the many new platforms for ‘mission strategies’ now being employed by the New Apostolic Reformation.” – Mike Oppenheimer
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
Do you know anything about Dr. Ed Silvoso who, from this announcement below, is coming to Tulsa? Someone sent me this announcement and I did some Internet research on him re: his bio, etc. Can you tell if his “transformation” is anything like Rick Warren’s?
While we don’t have anything about Ed Silvoso on our site, we are familiar with the transformation movement. It’s not exactly like Rick Warren’s agenda. It is more along the lines of the NAR movement and the redeeming the cultures movement. Silvoso and other leaders in the transformation movement may have good intentions, but they are kind of like the salesman who promises miracles with his product, and people buy it because of all the hype, but in the end, the product doesn’t deliver. Since the 1980s, the transformation movement leaders have promised that entire cities were going to be changed dramatically and violence would be reduced throughout our society if Christians followed their ideas on unity and prayer. But look where we are today in this world. Cities are not being transformed, and society is growing darker and more violent, just as Scripture tells us it will because men’s hearts will grow colder and further away from Christ.
Here are a few articles that will provide information on Ed Silvoso and the transformation movement:
The Global Transformation of Redeeming Cultures by Mike Oppenheimer
Transformations or Re-transformation? A Paradigm Shift for Evangelism by Mike Oppenheimer
Ed Silvoso & Transformation Africa by Herescope
Many stand behind the pulpit who should not be there. So many teach extra-biblical or non-biblical nonsense, stories that are not the focus of the Bible or the Gospel. Often these teachings are laden with the pastor’s experiences. Either these teachers were not called, or if they were called to ministry, they did not allow the time for training and education and have found themselves neglecting the call.
Jesus picked regular men who had enough Bible knowledge of Judaism, and he personally trained them for three years. They were not Pharisees who memorized all these extra laws invented by man so they were eager to learn the truth. Later when they were given the Holy Spirit to empower them for the mission, Jesus sent them out – to preach, evangelize and disciple.
Preach the Word Paul told Timothy. Yet today we hear people at the pulpit often give a Scripture or two and then launch into various stories that may or may not have anything to do with the Scripture or biblical truth. Going through the Bible systematically teaches us the character of God. It helps understand completely what the writer meant in his book. It uses the Bible as the authority – which takes the emphasis off man. The Scripture has less of a tendency to be manipulated when the basis of our preaching is founded in the Scripture, book by book.
Hearing the word preached preserves us from sin’s influence; it changes our affections from being attracted to sin to obeying God. When the Gospel in the church is not accurately taught or explained, people end up not understanding the message of sin, repentance, and their response—saving faith. This affects their daily walk with the Lord. So the answer is to get back to the basics and really know them as a foundation to build upon.
Once a church gets a certain size and becomes popular, the danger is things become automatic, and they become very busy just to keep the machine they’ve created going.
Samson got a haircut and did not notice the Spirit of the Lord had departed. He looked basically the same, but he found out what was missing when he needed his strength. The sheer size of a church has a great influence over others who desire growth. But we forget that God works with us as individuals, and there is no other methodology but that which is given in Scripture—“they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, in fellowship, breaking of bread and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). They practiced the Christian life separately and together. Those who believed the Gospel were brought into the church, and “all that believed were together, and had all things common . . . continuing daily with one accord in the temple . . . And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (vs. 42-47). Notice doctrine comes first. Paul instructed the young pastor Timothy to “give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13). “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16). In 2 Timothy, he is told to hold to sound doctrine (1:13), teach sound doctrine (2:2), continue in sound doctrine (3:14), and preach sound doctrine (4:1-2). Doctrine forms the framework of our Christian walk and faith; from this knowledge comes good works. From the apostles teaching, their instructions kept the church in spiritual unity to meet the needs of others, fulfilling the law of Christ. One of the reasons the early Church had power was that they followed what was instructed. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth, Thy Word is truth.” And so they were one.
But we are constantly pressured to abandon biblical instruction and do things another way (a “new” way), man’s way. As we read the Bible or hear sermons that are biblically based, we learn to live the Christian life, grow in our relationship with God, and are equipped to do good works. Deuteronomy 8:3 exhorts “that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live”
NEW BOOKLET TRACT: Did Jesus Identify Himself as God? by Mike Oppenheimer is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 16 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Did Jesus Identify Himself as God?, click here.
Did Jesus Identify Himself as God?
No prophet, other than Jesus, could have said with authority, “he that believeth on me shall never thirst” or “he that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (John 6:35 & 47). No one but Jesus could have said with that same authority, “follow me” (Luke 18:22). Nor could any other prophet state, with signs and wonders proving his authority, that there are eternal consequences for not believing He is just who He claimed to be. When Jesus said, “for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24), it was the definitive statement of His very being. In fact, this declaration of His is the crux of the entire Christian faith.
It is recorded in the Gospels 23 times that Jesus said, “I am,” seven of which are specifically stated to identify His deity.
In fact, if one were to truly seek to understand the deity of Christ in the Gospels, John’s is the perfect place to start. It is here we begin to fully understand what Jesus meant when He applied to Himself the name “I AM,” the name that God revealed to Moses at the miracle of the burning bush, recorded in the Book of Exodus.
The Distinctive Nature of the “I Am” Statements
In the Book of Exodus, where God first appeared to Moses when he turned aside from tending his flock to see the miracle of the burning bush, Moses asked the LORD:
Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. (Exodus 3:13-14)
God’s own name for Himself—I AM—means the self-existent One. This I AM in the Hebrew is YHWH, where we get the name Yahweh. The Hebrew of Exodus 3:14 is hayah asher hayah, meaning, I AM THAT I AM. The name is stated as ego eimi in the LXX (Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament).
In the New Testament, Jesus applied to Himself the name I AM to demonstrate His claim to deity. The I AM statements are made with a predicate, and the Greek words ego eimi used by John are distinct and applied only to Jesus.
It is crucial to an understanding of the New Testament to realize that the Jewish audience to whom Jesus spoke knew immediately that His “I AM” statements referred directly to the name of God revealed to Moses in the Book of Exodus. They understood fully that He was appropriating the name I AM because He claimed to be the God of the Old Testament. This, specifically, was why the Jewish leaders accused Him of blasphemy and picked up stones to stone Him to death—“. . . that thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (John 10:33).
John 8:56-59 contains perhaps the most direct reference to Jesus’ deity. In this confrontation with His Jewish listeners recorded immediately after He forgave the woman caught in adultery, Jesus said:
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him.
In this passage, it would be a massive mistake, both grammatically and theologically, to take Jesus’ words as meaning merely that He existed from or before Abraham’s time. This was not the meaning at all. Here, Jesus is directly saying, “Yahweh is my name.”
Jesus made a definitive statement that before Abraham came into existence or was born, He (Jesus) already was. His “I AM” reference could have been plainly and accurately translated as, “I have existed before all ages, before anything was created. My existence is eternal, without respect to time. I AM THAT I AM.”
In our day of cafeteria theology, self-indulgence and denial of absolute truth are well in vogue. Leaders of an ever-growing list of cults, heretical sects, and religious fads promote themselves as masters who “have arrived.” But the Bible speaks sternly of those who “. . . promise them [their followers] liberty, [while]they themselves are the servants of corruption” (2 Peter 2:19).
But Jesus made an absolute claim to be God and confirmed it by His resurrection. Hence, only He is the Savior of the world (John 4:42).
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:4-5)
Christ Revealed Himself as Our Eternal Food
“I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). This is the first of the “I AM” proclamations contained in the Book of John, said in the discourse which followed the feeding of the multitude. During the discourse, Jesus told the crowd:
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. (John 6:27).
As He sought to elicit faith in Himself, He was met with a challenge to “demonstrate His credentials,” so to speak. They asked him, “What sign showest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee?” To this they added, “Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat” (v.30-31). With this verse, the people referred to the Book of Exodus, where God rained down manna from heaven to feed them.
But Jesus corrected their misunderstanding when He stated:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. (John 6:32-33)
With this, Christ reminded them to think in spiritual terms, not earthly one as they were doing, having just recently come from the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. In fact, they were not asking for the bread from heaven, which is how Jesus was offering Himself. They wanted an earthly king and were overjoyed to have one who could perform miracles to their earthly benefit. In response to their request of “Lord, evermore give us this bread” (vs. 34), Jesus made the claim:
I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)
In their long sojourn with Moses, the Israelites had two constant complaints—hunger and thirst. But in the Book of John, Jesus is not speaking of the physical but the spiritual, referring to Himself as the answer to the needs of the human heart. He alone is our source of spiritual nourishment. Since bread is a basic food, His statements claim that He came to fulfill this role for everyone. He is the “Saviour of the world” (John 4:42) and gives life to the world (John 6:33). Jesus alone is the bread of life. All other bread satisfies earthly hunger, and that only temporarily. Physically, one will hunger again; like the manna in the wilderness which was good for the day it was given but not for the next day. It would sustain them for a day, but did nothing for them long-term. With Christ, however, the salvation He provides is everlasting, and once tasted, those receiving it will be eternally satisfied. As Jesus said in verse 51:
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.
Jesus identified Himself as the sustenance man needs to survive in order to be preserved from eternal death and separation from God. When Jesus said to the people, “I am the bread of life,” and “the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven,” He is making His heavenly origins known.
Christ Revealed Himself as Our Light
In the beginning of his Gospel, John introduces us to Jesus as both the light and life, declaring in chapter one, verses 3-5:
All things were made by him: and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.
Darkness in the above verse is representative of what is fallen and what is ignorance or sin.
The apostle wrote to us that Jesus is the revelation of truth and salvation for everyone, John 1:8-9:
He [John the Baptist] was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
In His second “I AM” statement, Jesus once again picks up the light metaphor and expands on what had been previously written, affirming that He is the true light, the light of all men. John 8:12 states:
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
John tells us Jesus made this claim at the Feast of Tabernacles in the Temple courts. The backdrop to the Feast of Tabernacles is important, as two major symbolic ceremonies took place. The first was the outpouring of water on the steps by the Levitical priests, as the choir sang the Great Hallel (Psalms 113-118). The second was the lighting of several large candelabra (menorahs) in the Temple area, which lit up the Temple with a light that could be seen for miles. Jesus took the opportunity of using these two ritualistic symbols to illustrate His teachings and person (7:37-38; 8:12).
In the eighth chapter of the Book of John, where Jesus spoke of Himself as the light of the world, He taught in the Court of the Women, which was the most public part of the temple. Four golden candelabra stood there, each with four golden bowls, each of which was filled with oil. These were lit on the first night of the Feast of Tabernacles (in reference to the memory of the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night). The figure itself was familiar to all, drawn from prophecy and tradition. According to Hebrew tradition, God is light, and Light was one of the names of Messiah, as well as a reference to His work among His people (Isaiah 9:2, 42:6, Malachi 4:2; Luke 2:32; John 8:12; John 9:5; 1 John 1:5).
God is described as light or being clothed in light. Isaiah 60:19 reminds us that “the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.” Psalm 104:2 states that God is the One who “coverest thyself with light as with a garment.” In 1 Corinthians 2:8, the apostle Paul declares Jesus to be the “Lord of glory,” a term denoting His deity because it refers to God’s shekinah, His light.
With this as the background, Jesus’ exclusive claim of being the light of the whole world was, in effect, a proclamation that He was the fulfillment of their Jewish faith, a very exclusive faith given to them by God.
The light metaphor is also found in Old Testament events and typology. The glory (the presence of God) in the cloud led the Hebrews to the Promised Land (Exodus 13:21-22) and protected them from their enemies (Exodus 14:19-25). The Israelites sang, “The LORD is my light and my salvation” (Psalm 27:1). Isaiah the Prophet tells us that the Servant of the LORD (Messiah) was given as a light to the Gentiles, that He might bring salvation to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:6). The coming Millennial Age will be a time when the LORD Himself will be the light of His people (Isaiah 60:19-20; Revelation 21:23-24).
Jesus’ declaration at the Temple made it clear who He is. He is not the light of the Jews only, but “the light of the world.” His reference to being the light of every man bespeaks that those who reject Him reject God, and that a person’s eternal destiny depends on his acknowledgment and acceptance of who Jesus claims to be.
In light of all these Scriptures, it is evident that one cannot praise God in truth, and yet deny the deity of Jesus, the Son of God.
Christ Revealed Himself as the Door
“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9).
To “be saved” means “to have eternal life,” which only God can give. Jesus, in His third “I AM” statement, is therefore saying, “I am the Door” or “the way in,” referring to His deity.
Within Jesus’ statement reside a number of figures of speech (v.6), which consist of some prominent metaphors. For example, “sheepfold” (10:1), “shepherd” (v.2), “porter” (watchman) (v.3), “door,” or “gate” (v.7). The door is the entry into a house or a place of safety.
A shepherd in charge of his flock has to be constantly vigilant. In biblical times, he would lay himself down in front of the only way in or out of the sheep pen, in order to guard the flock. Anything approaching the sheep’s place of safety would first have to pass over him. In reference to this, Jesus begins His discourse by saying in verse 1:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
So we see that Jesus is saying that only He, and no other, is the means by which the sheep (those who accept Him as Lord and Savior) may enter into the promised fullness of life. To emphasize this, He continues in John 10:10:
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Christ Revealed Himself as Our Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). In His fourth “I AM” statement, Jesus shows the depths of His love for us. He adds an adjective to the word shepherd, and that is the word “good.” Here again Jesus is contrasting Himself with the religious leaders to whom He is speaking. Such leaders demonstrated that they were not good shepherds, but rather, they are called in this chapter “hirelings,” a derogatory term. A hireling is a shepherd who works only for pay and cares nothing for the actual health of the sheep (vs. 12-13), and who will, in fact, run away at the first sign of danger.
When Jesus used the term “the good shepherd,” He was speaking of His intrinsic goodness, His moral nature and beauty. The word shepherd demonstrates a position of authority over the sheep—that is, the people who come to Him in faith. He rules over all, of course, believer and unbeliever alike, but in this passage, He shows His goodness toward those who are His own. As the Good Shepherd, He protects, warns, leads, guides, and nourishes the sheep in His charge. In turn, we (the sheep) admit our utter defenselessness and total dependence on Him.
King David made the allusion to this concept beautifully in his 23rd Psalm when he said in the first verse, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
In modern terms this means that David said, “I have everything I need in You, Lord. I shall have no lack whatsoever.”
In His Good Shepherd analogy, Jesus is also referring to His mission. In at least three verses (15, 17, and 18), He speaks of “laying down” His life for the sheep, meaning that He protects them to the point of death, which was accomplished literally at His crucifixion. His wonderful love encompasses all who come to Him in faith, whether Jew or Gentile.
The shepherd of the Old Testament was found to be both a leader and a companion to his sheep. First Samuel 17:34-37 is a remarkable example of the young David, who is an Old Testament prefigure of Christ protecting his sheep. The shepherd knows his flock and is gentle with them (Proverbs 27:23). The Shepherd carries the lambs in his arms (Isaiah 40:11), rescues them from those who abuse them (Ezekiel 34:11-22), and seeks them out when they wander away (Isaiah 53:6).
In New Testament references, Matthew11:28 reveals the heart of our Shepherd for those who belong to Him, promising rest for the weary. One of our Lord’s most famous parables is of the shepherd who seeks after the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7).
In John 10:16, Jesus states that He builds His flock, and they shall be one flock with Him as the Shepherd over them. This He speaks concerning His salvation, words which would mean nothing had He not shown Himself repeatedly to be the Son of God. John the Baptist referred to Christ as the only sacrifice for sins when he declared, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). So, by His sacrifice, once for all, has salvation come to all who receive Him. Again, presenting Himself as the sinless sacrifice, Jesus shows clearly His deity.
In addition to the John 10 discourse, Jesus is called, “the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25), the “Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4), and the “Great Shepherd” (Hebrews 13:20).
The mercy of the Great Shepherd is exemplified in Matthew 9:36:
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
As the Shepherd of the sheep (Christians), Jesus has declared Himself the One whom the sheep are to follow. He makes it perfectly clear that those who refuse to follow Him refuse to follow God; and if they do not follow Jesus, then they are not His sheep. As He said in John 10:27-30:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.
The response to these words by His pharisaical listeners is startling—“Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him” (John 10:31).
Unrepentant sinners and mockers can weave all the lies and confusion they want, denying that Christ ever called Himself God, but their denials are meaningless in light of the Jews’ response to Jesus. The Jews of Jesus’ time knew perfectly well what He meant in His “shepherd’s” discourse. They knew He was identifying Himself with the character and nature of God.
For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God (verse 33).
There is only one Shepherd from the Old Testament continuing into the New Testament (Ezekiel 34:23, Zechariah13:7). Christ’s declaration of exclusivity as the Shepherd sent by God demonstrated that He was the fulfillment of these prophecies (John 10:8, 11, 14).
In the magnificent context of His salvation for those who receive Him, Jesus is not only the Shepherd, but the Lamb, God’s one sacrifice for sin forever:
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes (Revelation 7:17).
Christ Revealed Himself as the Resurrection and the Life
“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26).
The one main hope of mankind is that physical death is not the end, that the grave is not the final statement of man’s futility, but rather that life is eternal, continuing forever. In John 11:21-26, Jesus stood before a weeping Martha, whose brother Lazarus had died four days earlier. He told her that her brother, who was also Jesus’ friend, would rise again. She misunderstood, thinking He meant the final resurrection at the Last Day. But with the assurance only God gives, Jesus replied:
I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
Here, in this astonishing declaration, Jesus states that He not only imparts life, but that He is Life. His being the Resurrection means that even if death lays claim on a believer, it will not be a permanent death, but one which will be swallowed up by eternal life.
This is not the first time in John’s Gospel that Jesus spoke of His authority over death. After He had cleansed the Temple, driving out the moneychangers and cattle with a whip of cords He had made, the irate Jews demanded a sign of His authority to do so. He declared:
Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up . . . But he spake of the temple of his body. (John 2:19-21)
And again, in His Good Shepherd discourse, Jesus made clear His absolute authority over death when He said:
Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10:17-18)
In this scriptural passage, Jesus declares Himself Lord over even death, not just the death of others, but over His own physical death which would be accomplished on the Cross. None but God could make such statements and verify them by doing what He said He would do.
Jesus Revealed Himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life
In the fourteenth chapter of John, Jesus reveals Himself more fully to those closest to Him—the remaining eleven disciples with whom He just celebrated the Passover feast, prior to His suffering and death. Foretelling His leaving them by way of the crucifixion, Jesus reminds them that “whither I go ye know, and the way ye know” (vs. 4).
Thomas, unfairly known as “the doubter,” desires further explanation, and Jesus replies, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
In this further, three-part declaration of His nature and earthly mission, Jesus reiterates that only through Him can men be saved, thus again declaring Himself to be God.
Jesus’ reference in John 14:2 to His Father’s house indicates a very specific place—one only for believers in Him. The way of salvation is the only way that leads to the Father, and receiving His Son for the forgiveness of sins is the only way to be taken to His Father’s place of dwelling (His “house”). This entire biblical passage speaks again of Christ’s exclusivity, a term much derided in our politically-correct society but one which is nonetheless accurate. Contrary to popular unbelief, the so-called “many paths to God” do not exist. Jesus said, “narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, Lao Tzu, and innumerable other religious prophets lead their devoted, but lost, followers away from “the Way,” the salvation which Jesus assured us comes through Him only. It is only through humbly receiving Him and believing in His death and resurrection that sinners can be reconciled to God. This is what is called the Gospel. When Jesus said, “I AM the way, the truth, and the life,” He also explained, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Jesus is not one of many ways to God that we can choose from, but the only way for all time.
Speaking of Himself as “the Truth” means that His words, hence His character and His deity, are unalterable. Whatever the Father gave Jesus to do and to say, He did perfectly, and His revealing of the Father to us can be trusted without reservation. Not only because He tells the truth but because He is truth incarnate (John 1: 1,14), His word is settled in heaven forever (Psalm 119:89). The complete revelation of God is declared in Him (John 1:18), and the Bible properly calls Him God.
Jesus’ declaration of Himself as “the Life” reaffirms what He said about Himself in previous chapters, indicating that He is able to give life to those who are both spiritually and physically dead. He said it would be His voice the dead would hear and respond to on the Last Day (John 5:28-29). Showing Himself to be God, He stated:
For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth [gives life to] them, even so the Son quickeneth [gives life to] whom he will. (John 5:21)
This, then, is yet another statement of exclusivity, a position reserved for Jesus alone. He alone is the way to God; and through His historically documented resurrection, He has proven Himself completely reliable. He stands in a relation to truth that no one else does.
Again, when Jesus used the “I AM” construction by itself or attached to an Old Testament example, He was indicating His divinity. John communicates this in various manners to show who the Messiah is from the Old Testament background.
Jesus Revealed Himself as the True Vine
Many Old Testament analogies relate to the vine and the vineyard. The vine was often used as a symbol of the nation of Israel, and God is depicted as the vinedresser who both planted the vine and tends it. This can be seen in the following passages of Scripture:
Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land (Psalm 80: 8-9).
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant. (Isaiah 5:7)
In His teaching to His disciples just prior to being arrested, Jesus spoke also of the vine and vinedresser, an Old Testament analogy of which they would have been well aware. He told them:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman (vinedresser). Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth (cleanses) it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (John 15:1-2)
There is an intimacy here—the final, loving, encouraging words to His remaining disciples (Judas had already left to betray Him). He tells them to cleave to Him, to hold onto Him in unshakable faith, to “abide” in Him as He said in verses 4-5:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
There again is His exclusive declaration of His deity. Without Him, we can do nothing of spiritual significance.
In the Old Testament, the “vine” was Israel. All who wanted a saving relationship with God had to be “grafted,” so to speak, into Israel—physically by circumcision and spiritually by adhering to the Law. But as Israel repeatedly rebelled against the commands of the LORD, it was judged, often with consequences disastrous to the nation, but always with the intent to bring straying hearts back into right relationship with God (Psalm 80:15-16).
But with the appearing of Jesus, He declared Himself to be, now, the “vine,” and commands that all who would henceforth come to God, must come through Christ and abide in Him as closely as branches abide in the vine to which they are attached. He being the true vine means He is our lifegiver and the One who enables us to bear “fruit” as we abide in Him. This fruit, which glorifies God (Matthew 3:8, 7:20; Romans 6:22; Galatians 5:22-23), shows that we belong to Jesus, and assists us in the faithful proclamation of the Gospel.
The transformation of the believer into Christ-like character takes place by the work of the indwelling Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). This “I AM” saying in John chapter 15, like the others, indicates Jesus’ deity, for only God can indwell all people who receive Him.
In this unbelieving, mocking age, it seems almost everybody likes Jesus, so long as He can be made in their image. Two main stumbling blocks to most people’s acceptance of the truth of the Gospel accounts are:
1)Jesus’ deity—that He is, in fact, God; and
2)the exclusivity of Himself as the way of salvation
We live in an ungodly time that glorifies relative “truth” and shuns claims of exclusivity, even if these claims are uttered by God Himself. Political correctness demands that everyone gain admittance to literally any group he or she desires, whether on earth or in heaven. It insists that each person is good enough on his or her own merits to earn salvation. If grace is even considered at all, it is a human construct whereby everyone is granted forgiveness of sins. “After all, we’re only human.” “And what kind of God would punish forever those who have no interest in accepting Christ as the only way to salvation?” “Rather narrow-minded, isn’t it?”
The hard fact is that the Christian path is narrow and difficult (Matthew 7:14), and comparatively few find and live by it. The Christian way is one of taking up a daily cross, as Jesus took up His (Luke 9:23), and following Christ no matter what the earthly cost. In our pleasure-oriented society, most simply are not interested in pursuing the truth of the One who maps out that difficult kind of lifestyle for His followers.
For believers in Jesus, the truths He presents, while infinitely deep, are simple to grasp by childlike faith (Matthew 18:3). Unbelievers must convince themselves otherwise only through their own exhausting efforts, which rest wholly on their ability to perform immense theological contortions. They wrest Scriptures from context, apply contrived methods of exegesis, and fit their own image of Christ into a convenient spiritual compartment, one that allows them a false comfort, and one, unfortunately, big enough to include all manner of false prophets. But for all their efforts, they are left standing before the looming, unalterable Word of God, which continues to state for all time that—
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. (John 1:18)
For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? (John 5:46-47, also referencing Deuteronomy 18:15-19)
. . . he that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. (John 12:44-45)
. . . ye believe in God, believe also in me. (John 14:1)
. . . he that hath seen me hath seen the Father. (John 14:9)
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1 Timothy 2:5-6)
. . . who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:3)
It is the way of this present age to encourage every people group to choose whatever gods, idols, or “masters” to which they would like to give allegiance. The world has always loved its false prophets, who speak comfort to the rebellious who indulge sin. And it shuns, often with derisive laughter, the cost of faithfulness to our Lord. Yet, through unbelievers’ stubbornness, they incur to themselves a cost beyond their imagining. To the unbeliever in heart, Jesus leaves a terrifying promise:
I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. (John 8:21)
Jesus then gave His reason for rejecting them:
Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. (John 8:23-24, emphasis added to “I am”)
In the italicized portion above, the word “he” does not appear in the original (Greek) text but was added later for readability. Again, Jesus was identifying Himself as the I AM that Moses encountered at the burning bush.
But to believers in Christ—those who come to Him in faith and hold fast His testimony—He leaves to us, as He did to the grieving Martha, this everlasting promise from John 11:25-26:
I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
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Mike Oppenheimer is the founder and director of Let Us Reason Ministries and the author of several Lighthouse Trails booklets.