Chapter 1: Who Should Read This Book?

The typical Christian attends a church meeting on most Sundays, where he (if you are female, please read every ‘he’ as ‘she’) listens to the pastor’s sermon with various levels of attention, participates in the singing to some degree, puts some money in the offering box that is passed around, greets a few friends after the meeting is over, and then heads back home for lunch or dinner.

On a weekday, he may participate in a small group meeting, where he meets with a group of 10-20 people who study some portion or topic of the Bible, or some book on some Christian or related topic, answers a few questions posed by the group leader, listens to the answers of the other group members, chats a little after the group meeting is over, and then heads back home.

He additionally may volunteer in some church related activity for a few hours each month. It will look good when applying for the job as doorkeeper in Jesus’ mansion.

At home, he may or may not spend some time in prayer, and may or may not open the Bible and read from it. When he reads, it is not usually with intent to study or understand or apply, but more often than not, to quell the conscience. Rarely does he compare and contrast one Scripture with another. Rarely does he think critically about what he reads. Rarely does he ask himself questions about what he reads, and eagerly set out to find an answer.

If he does need to research a question in theology his first recourse is to pick up a commentary or theology textbook, not the Bible. He hasn’t realized that just like how the scribes and Sadducees and Pharisees (the religious leaders of Jesus’ time) misunderstood Jesus (the Word) in Jesus’ time, so also, the typical theology book writer and seminary professor and pastor can potentially misunderstand the Word (Scripture) in our times. If he did realize that, he would first go to the Bible (in its plain meaning) and to the Holy Spirit, remembering that when Peter correctly recognized who Jesus was, Jesus said that it was His Father in heaven who revealed it to Peter, not a scribe or Sadducee or Pharisee (Mt 16:15-17)!

Mt 16:15-17 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven."

The typical pastor is only slightly different. He has spent a few years in seminary. While there, he gets acquainted with theology. Rarely does he come away with a different opinion from that of his teachers. Once he graduates and becomes a pastor, his professional time is filled with ministry – organizing, administrating, fund raising, solving people problems, preaching and teaching. The preaching and teaching is concerning standard stuff – Jesus loves you, accept Jesus so that you can go to heaven, pay your tithe, get more people to come to church, read your Bible, pray, fellowship, do a mission trip, donate at Christmas and Easter, have a great Thanksgiving, come to the Halloween party (oops, did I say ‘Halloween’? I meant ‘Harvest’), and be a generally good person. It is rarely original. Indeed, I would be surprised to find a pastor today (who is not working on a Ph.D. in Theology) who spends time studying God’s word in detail, without referring to commentaries or theology textbooks, or external texts. When it comes to theology, he believes what his teachers taught him, and gets very uncomfortable when confronted with a different position on what is considered fundamental in Christian theology.

In one sense, this book is not written for such people. It would be a waste of their time to read what I have written.

Yet, in another sense, this book is written for such people because no one needs to read it more than them!

A typical Christian or typical pastor is easily convinced to believe a specific theology in four steps: first, show him your badge of authority (i.e. your seminary degree); second, show him a verse or more in the Bible to support your position; third, tell him that everyone in the church believes it; and fourth, tell him that this ‘truth’ is fundamental i.e. if you don’t believe it you are not an evangelical Christian but a heretic. The third and fourth steps usually carry the most weight. Let’s examine each of these four steps…

First, the badge of authority lends credibility to what you say. Nobody likes to argue with an ‘expert’, right? But Jesus wasn’t like that. He didn’t swallow what the Pharisees and scribes and lawyers (i.e. the leaders of His day) said just because they were the ‘experts’. Instead, He pointed out flaws in their arguments again and again. They didn’t like that at all, but that didn’t stop Him. He was more interested in truth than in harmony. Jas 2:17 tells us that the wisdom from above is first pure (i.e. without falsehood), then peaceable.

Jas 2:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

Second, since the typical Christian is not very familiar with the Bible, he won’t question you when you show him a verse or two to support your position.

But Jesus wasn’t like that. When the devil tempted Him in the wilderness using what was written, Jesus came back with, "It is also written…"

Mt 4:7 Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST’."

Similarly, the Bereans were not so gullible either. When the apostle Paul (who was the top theologian of his day) told them things about God, they examined the Scriptures themselves to see if what he said matched all of Scripture. They didn’t simply believe Paul because he showed them some Scripture, or because he was an apostle. For this reason the Holy Spirit called them noble-minded. Would the Holy Spirit call you noble-minded today?

Ac 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

Third, we love the security that comes with being part of the crowd. If everyone around us believes what we believe, we feel that the chances of being right are greater. That feeling is simply not true. For example, there was a time when no one believed that the earth was round, but they still were all wrong.

The Bible says that the gate that leads to life is small, and the way to life is narrow, and few find it. The truth is hidden to most people, and if you must have the security that comes with being part of the crowd then you will never embrace the truth.

Mt 7:13-14 "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."

Finally, just because some so called expert says that something is fundamental that doesn’t make it fundamental. Can he show you the Scripture that says that it is fundamental?

Nobody loves to be called a heretic. But if you are following Jesus, you shouldn’t forget that, in His time, Jesus was called a heretic too. And further, He said that if you follow Him you too will be called a heretic.

Mt 10:25 "It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!"

The ‘they’ over here were not the Gentiles but the religious people! In our case, they are not the Hindus and the Muslims and the atheists, but the church leaders of our day.

So you have a choice to make. Do you want to follow Jesus all the way, even up to the point of being called a heretic by the religious people (and I mean Christian religious people, not the non-Christians) of your day? Or, do you want to play it safe and be one of the group, thinking what the group thinks, believing what the group believes, and doing what the group does, and being totally wrong?

My suggestion to you is: follow Jesus all the way! He is the Truth, and you will do well to love the truth. Don’t be afraid to be called a heretic by men, just because you think differently from them. Be more afraid to be called a heretic by God. Your life will be more interesting on earth. And your reward in heaven will be great – that is what Jesus said!

Mt 5:10-12 "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

I point these things out so that you will read this book, and meditate on what is written in it, with an attitude of willingness to be persecuted.

This book derives an understanding of the nature of Christ from a straightforward interpretation of the Bible only, and not from theology textbooks or seminary teachings.

If you are a person who is willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of knowing and following the truth then this book is definitely for you. But if you would rather find security in numbers then you may not want to read further.


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