In my many years of life I have have been pro-Christianity, anti-Christianity and ultimately pro-Christianity. In my myriad of conversations on the topics of God, Jesus, Christianity, atheism, agnosticism and other spiritual topics I have argued for and against many different positions more than once.
One thing i have noticed over the years is that a great number of people have defined, on their own terms, how they want to live out the spirituality of their lives. Most have decided that they just need to do more good deeds than bad deeds and everything between them and God will be cool.
They don't want to have their spiritually examined or judged in any way and they don't want to judge anyone else's choices either. They exhibit a sort of a live and let live philosophy. They often resent anyone telling them their way, might not be the way God wants them to relate to Him.
Since we are all free to believe in God or not and we get to choose our own path to a relationship with God (if we believe in Him)
there are a myriad of religious/spiritual traditions available to us.
If we all believe in God, does it really matter which path we choose?
I recently had an ordained man of the cloth in one of the worlds largest Christian traditions say to me, "Don't tell people they need to believe in Jesus Christ as their personal savior. That's judgmental. We're going to see Muslims, Hindu's all kinds of people from non-Christian traditions in heaven with us. Let God handle their enlightenment." Clearly he was accepting the belief that any old path can lead to God. People just need to believe in something "good."
In this essay I'm going to explore that very question.
Many Belief Systems.
If we look at Hollywood movies we can see a multitude of different spiritual choices presented favorably on the screen, sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly. Christianity typically receives short shrift in the movies.
The Star Wars movies talk about "The Force". A religious choice to believe in "a force" not a person called God.
Many Hollywood movies stars and other celebrities have become fairly vocal about their spiritual choices.
In researching this topic I ran across some web listings that mention various celebrities' spiritual choices. Please bear with me; I think you may find the lists interesting.
The Beatles were early adopters of an alternative to Christianity. They met with Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi the leader of the "Spiritual Regeneration Movement", who taught "Transcendental Meditation" as the key to spiritual growth. He proclaimed that we didn't need to be re-generated or re-born though Christ we could follow his path to regenerate ourselves. The Beatles weren't alone. Mia Farrow, Beach Boy Mike Love, movie director David Lynch
and the singer Donovan joined the movement.
At some time after the Beatles were asked to contribute 25% of their income to the Maharishi, they moved on to help popularize the Hare Krishna movement. George Harrison's pop song "My Sweet Lord" was a cleverly disguised worship song to his god Krishna. When it first came out, many Christians were fooled into thinking it was a worship song to God. On a Krishna web site Harrison said of his song, "It was just a little trick really."
Hare Krishna has a number of celebrity adherents including, Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen
, the great grandson of Henry Ford, Alfred Brush Ford
, Tommy Smothers, Norman Mailer and Allen Ginsberg
Buddhism is the belief system of choice for Tina Turner
, Richard Gere, Keanu Reeves and film director Oliver Stone.
Chicago Bulls Coach Phil Jackson found a combination of Buddhism and American Indian Philosophy to his liking and managed Michael Jordan, Scotty Pippen and Dennis Rodman using his newfound thinking
Buddhism is not truly a religion that helps us find God. Buddhist teaching doesn't have a personal God or an after-life as Christians understand it. It is more correctly described as a nihilistic philosophy of self-denial. Nihilism is "the belief that there is no universal truth or underlying reality that undergirds moral values; that ultimately existence is meaningless.
" Buddha taught that self-denial helps one overcome the evil aspects of our nature. When we achieve full enlightenment we escape the cycle of re-incarnation where we are punished or rewarded in our current existence for Karma we collected during our previous existence(s) The punishment or reward does not come from God or any being, it is described as simply being a naturally occurring law of the universe. After full enlightenment our soul enters parinirvana. This term was never explained by Buddha. So while some consider it a religion, in reality it is a way of life created by Siddhartha Gautama who is also known as the Buddha which means, "The Enlightened One."
Kabbalah adherents Madonna, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears, Roseanne Barr, comedienne Sandra Bernhard, soccer star David Beckham and movie director Guy Ritchie are among the more than 50,000 students of Los Angeles Rabbi Yehuda Bergs' version of Kabbalah. His movement finds its roots in ancient Jewish mysticism.
Scientology has proven extremely popular in Hollywood with adherents such as, Tom Cruise, Katy Holmes, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Mimi Rogers, Anne Archer, Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie and Karen Black to name a few of Scientology's 8 million members
The most famous Jehovah's Witnesses are probably the tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams and for a period of time, several members of the Jackson family.
The Latter Day Saints (Mormons) claim a number of celebrities, Gladys Knight
, quarterback Steve Young, Donnie and Marie Osmond, actor Willford Brimley, Mitt Romney, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Orrin Hatch
Islam or possibly an Americanized version of Islam has captured a number of celebrities such as, Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jackson and his brother Jermaine, the late Malcom X, basketball star Hakeem Olajuwan and the boxer Mike Tyson.
This list encompasses only a small number of spiritual belief systems in our world. Of course, if there are belief systems that adherents use to find God, then obviously there can be belief systems that reject any belief in a god of any kind.
Agnosticism and atheism are two of those belief systems.
In my mind agnosticism is the mugwump of belief systems. The word mugwump came out of politics in the late 1800's. A mugwump is fence sitter, who can't make up his mind. His mug(face) is on one side of the fence and his wump (behind) is on the other. Agnostics say there may be a god, there may not be a god. They just haven't made up their mind. Matt Groening
the creator of the Simpsons says he is an agnostic, as well as the billionaires Bill Gates
and Warren Buffet
Atheists have taken a more positive approach. They are positive that there's no god. There is actually quite a long list of self-declared atheists including, Woody Allen, Tour de France cycling winner Lance Armstrong
, billionaire George Soros
, Sir Richard Branson the founder of Virgin Airlines, comedian George Carlin, Howard Stern, the publisher of Hustler magazine Larry Flynt, author of "The Satanic Verses" Salman Rushdie, magician/comedian Penn Jillette, baseball hall of famer Ted Williams, Barry Manilow, Jack Nicholson, and the author Kurt Vonnegut Jr..
There are also some fairly well known former atheists who are no longer with us. However, I'm quite sure that they're no longer atheists. To name a few, the actress Katharine Hepburn, science fiction author Isaac Asimov, Joseph Stalin and how can we possibly forget, the infamous Madalyn Murray O'Hair,
It's a commonly held belief that there are many paths to God. I have named just a few of the well known paths.
In the Barna Group's surveys of spirituality in America, belief in a God to whom you can pray has been steady over the recent years at over 80% of those surveyed
It's clear that the vast majority of Americans believe in some kind of personal god, but it's also clear that we are divided over how we relate to Him.
So, now that we know that more than 80% of Americans are in agreement that there is a God, how can we relate to Him? Do we just get to create any belief system we want? Does God care how we relate to Him?
Why So Many Belief Systems?
The reason we have so many belief systems is because basically mankind wants to be in charge of all personal decision making. It's not in our nature to let someone, even God, tell us what to do. But wait a second, if God is the creator of the universe, who are we to dictate the terms our relationship with Him? Doesn't it just make sense that we should, maybe..., ask Him? Since 80+ % of us pray to God, doesn't that mean we believe someone is there and they're listening? And that if He is listening, that He might respond to our prayer? If He can respond to our prayer, then why don't we try to find out how He wants us to relate to Him?
Ice Cream Religion
Many people believe that spiritual truth is relative. What's good for me, may not be good for you. They think of religious systems of belief to be kind of like chocolate ice cream or vanilla ice cream or cherry ice cream. Different flavors but they're all still ice cream.
God never said our relationship with Him was similar to a flavor of ice cream. He never said, "They're all good, just choose the one that tastes good to you." It was men that have drawn that analogy.
Some Truths are Independent of Our Belief
The truth is the Bible tells us that spiritual truth is more like the Law of Gravity. That Law is true whether you believe in it or not. The Law of Gravity is there, it's up to us to discover how it works. We can't make the Law of Gravity work like we want it to.
Why Did the Bible Become the Christian Guidebook?
Christians have settled on the Bible as being the "manufacturers' handbook" for us. Why do you think that happened? There are several reasons.
The Apostles walked and suffered with Jesus during His earthly ministry. They touched Him. They talked to Him. They knew Him thoroughly. After Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, He returned to heaven. The Apostles began the effort of spreading the truth of the Gospel of Christ to their world. The Gospel they were spreading was as real as the Law of Gravity. Their suffering at the hands of those who refused to believe is recorded in the New Testament.
Judas Iscariot, one of the original 12 Apostles, died by his own hand after he betrayed Christ to His executioners.
The Bible only records the death of James ( the son of Zebedee and brother of the Apostle John) some ten years after Christ. He was apparently beheaded by King Agrippa.
The fate of the remaining Apostles comes down to us from extra-biblical records. John who wrote the Book of Revelation died a natural death. The others were slain for their faith in various ways, crucifixion, being skinned alive and then beheaded, stoned, or struck down with swords. They walked with Jesus and believed He was who He said He was and died trying to bring that truth to the world. How can we ignore the testimony of their sacrifice?
Today secular courts will almost always allow testimony from a person who knows they are dying to be entered into the court record after their death.
The assumption is that a dying man has no reason to lie anymore.
The Apostles willingly died telling all who would listen, the truth of what they left behind in their written record, the New Testament. These weren't deluded men. These weren't crazy men. They didn't allow themselves to die horrible deaths for a flavor of ice cream. They died because they knew the Gospel was truth. They had walked with and touched Truth for themselves. God had revealed to them, the way HE wanted us to relate to Him.
Was Jesus Also God or Was He Simply a Very Good Man?
Several faiths exist today that claim to revere Jesus as a prophet, a good teacher, but still just a man. The New Testament clearly states that Jesus was not just a good man. The Apostles knew he was more than just a prophet and that is how they wrote it down for us.
Paul wrote in the Book of Colossians, a clear explanation that Christ was more than a man. This verse is from the Amplified Bible. The extra explanatory words the Amplified Version translators added are in brackets.
Colossians 1:15 (AMP)
…He is the exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]…
When the apostles saw Jesus they knew they were seeing God on earth.
John wrote in his book, that the WORD WAS GOD
John 1:1 (NASB95)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And in the 14th verse one of the greatest truths of all time was written by John.
John 1:14 (NASB95)
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, ……
The Word …God became flesh and lived here on earth and His name is Jesus Christ.
John also recorded Thomas' cry when he first saw and touched Jesus after His resurrection.
John 20:28 (HCSB)
Thomas responded to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
He just called Jesus, whom he touched, "My God". That wasn't a mistake of speech on his part. He knew who he was touching. John didn't make a mistake recording these words. He knew fully what these words meant.
No wonder the Apostles were willing to die for Him. They knew He was much, much more than a good man or a prophet. They had walked with and talked with God in the flesh.
More than one religion in existence today denies these critical truths. A couple of them claim that an angel revealed "new truth" to their prophet, that these statements in John are not true. That Jesus was just one more prophet and a good man.
Clearly if Jesus was just a prophet or just a man, God might choose to bring an additional prophet to reveal more to us. Since Jesus was in fact God in the flesh, he didn't need to send any more prophets to "correct the record." The facts were complete and fully accurate because God Himself delivered them, not an imperfect human prophet.
He just called Jesus, whom he touched, "God". That wasn't a mistake of speech on his part. He knew who he was touching. John didn't make a mistake recording these words. He knew fully what these words meant.
An excellent video, available on Lee Strobel's site discusses, "Was Jesus' Divinity Merely an Invention of Later Generations"
Are Their Multiple Gospel Truths?
The Apostles knew prophetically from God that angels would come to deceive men with a false gospel.
Galatians 1:8 (AMP)
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to and different from that which we preached to you, let him be accursed (anathema, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment)!
The Apostles also knew that men would come with "new truth" and Paul warned us about them.
2 Corinthians 11:4 (NIV)
For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted,…..
And he told us who they really were in verse 13.
2 Corinthians 11:13 (NIV)
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.
The Apostles knew the truth of how God wants us to begin having a relationship with him. That plan is called the Gospel. That is why they warned us about false teaching from angels and men. They knew that the Gospel had been delivered to them. That it wasn't a flavor of ice cream that could be altered to suit changing tastes. They died spreading that Gospel from God, the Creator of the Universe. They refused to modify it to make their detractors happy. They died to protect the integrity of what God, though Jesus, had revealed to them.
Why Should We Trust the Bible as Revealing the Truth from God?
One reason we can trust the Old and New Testament as God's guide for our lives is the fact that when it is believed and acted upon it works to change lives. The changes are often so profound that we know that they would never have happened, if those changes had been left up the determination and will-power of the individual. New Year's resolutions illustrate clearly the power of humans to change themselves.
My Personal Journey
I was an atheist for over 15 years. I rejected the teaching that I received when I was a church going young man. I compared the things I wanted to do, with what I was told God wanted me to do and decided to do what I wanted to do, anyway. Was it fun? Yes and no. I had fun doing all the things I had felt I had been forbidden from doing. However, I couldn't escape the guilty feelings that I was doing wrong and I became incredibly depressed about my "evil" behavior and my inability to be "good". My upbringing was getting in the way of my "freedom."
I sought help with my depression in the wrong place. A psychiatrist (who later turned out to be an atheist) told me that my problem wasn't with me it was my foolish belief in God. If there was no God I could make my own rules or have no rules if I like. I worked for the next couple of years dispensing with those "old, antiquated notions" of God. When I finally got rid of God in my life, I started making all my choices with no feelings of guilt at all.
I became one of those arrogant atheists who enjoyed verbal jousting with the "unenlightened" people called Christians. I wasn't easy to be around if you didn't agree with my new flavor of ice cream. I had a free and far superior way to live and wanted to convince those I met that it felt great to be in full control of my own destiny. I didn't throw out all morality. I still felt it was best to not rob or kill other people. But I had few other hard and fast rules. Everything became relative to how I felt or what I wanted to do at the moment.
After 15 years or so of "successfully" being the captain of my own ship, my ship hit the rocks. It was during that time that I found out, that in my pre-atheist days, I had
been given an incomplete and inaccurate view of who God was and how I was supposed to relate to Him. Nevertheless, I quickly saw that God was in fact real. I began my journey to see what the Bible had to say about who God was and how I could have a relationship with Him and what that relationship would look like on a day to day basis. That was in 1980 and it was the best decision I have ever made.
My life since that epiphany is a living breathing miracle and a real testimony to the truth of the Gospel. I have met and enjoyed knowing many other "walking miracles" in these years.
Are Their Multiple Christianities?
Are there different flavors of Christianity? I have to say no. There is only one, valid, Christianity, the one that teaches the Gospel as described in the New Testament. Many Bible believing Christians differ on some issues. For instance, whether baptism is by full immersion in water or by pouring water over someone's head or by sprinkling it on their head. That kind of disagreement has caused new Christian denominations to be formed. There are numerous fine points of theology that have unnecessarily divided Christendom. So when is it just a "fine point of theology" and when is the teaching so far off the track that the name Christian should no longer apply?
There are groups out there who say they're Christian, but are they? There is only one way to tell. Compare what they say with what you can read in the Bible. The scripture says we can't follow another God, another Jesus or another spirit other than the how Apostles wrote it down for us.
Is the Bible Still To Be Trusted?
When someone tells you that the Bible is so full of error that it needs another book or another prophet to clarify, correct or update it, watch out! That other book or other prophet will probably tell you that what the Apostles wrote is in error, or out of date, or old fashioned and can be ignored. That simply isn't true.
God himself preserved the Old and New Testament's truths over these past 2,000 years. God hasn't changed and neither have the truths He revealed in the Bible. He is all knowing and knew everything that we would be facing today. He didn't say things in the Bible that we need to throw out because He didn't see far enough ahead to get it right, when he had the Apostles write it the first time. God created DNA, so new genetic discoveries don't change what He said about living our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him.
How We Talk to Others Can Have Eternal Consequences
I had a conversation recently with a young woman that was both interesting and sad at the same time. She had been a part of the United Campus Ministry at our local university. She was searching for answers about how to relate to God and had decided that Christianity was in fact the answer.
She visited more than one church here in Silver City. She began to believe that the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) might be the right version of Christianity for her. She told a local pastor about where she seemed to be heading and he reacted poorly. He insisted strongly that Mormons were not a legitimate version of Christianity. She felt he became abusive to her in the way he attacked Mormonism. He made some claims that later, after she became a Latter Day Saint, she deemed to be completely untrue.
I'm not mentioning this to try to debate Mormonism, I'm trying to make a point about the love we are to exhibit to others when we have discussions about our faith and how it may differ from other viewpoints. This angry attack was instrumental in helping her make her spiritual decision. She never bothered to ask for that preacher's advice again. She is now happy in the LDS church.
We talked about some of the core beliefs of Mormonism versus mainline Christianity as it relates to God and Christ. We parted with her agreeing that there were major differences in how we view who Jesus and God are but she was clearly still comfortable that she was a Christian in a Christian church.
Know What You Believe. Examine. Investigate.
So if who God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Gospel truly are, the core Christian beliefs on which we can't compromise, then what does the Bible have to say on these topics? How can we know when we are hearing about another Jesus or another gospel?
If you someone tells you something about God or Jesus or the Gospel that you have never heard before or that you have a feeling is in contradiction with what you have read in the Bible, check it out for yourself. It doesn't matter if you hear this "odd" fact from your brother, sister, cousin, your mom or dad, your pastor or even an angel, check it out for yourself! Get a concordance and start looking up words to find where you can find the truth in the Bible.
How Do Modern Copies of the Bible Compare to Ancient Versions of the Bible?
Some religious movements will tell you that you can't trust the Bible. It is full of copying errors after 2,000
or more years. They will say they have a new book or new prophetic word that will correct some of those errors. Not true!
Biblical critics have great difficulty in accepting the Bible as being an accurate representation of the original documents written by the Apostles. Yet, they have no questions about authorship or the faithful copying of the works of Plato, Aristotle or other ancient writers who have 2, 3 or at most possibly a hundred copies of their writings still in existence.
We have some 5,255 Greek documents (complete books and fragments) that we base our New Testament on
The Old Testament translations are for the most part based on texts copied by the Massoretes in the 9th or 10th century or since. We don't have the large number of ancient texts for the Old Testament that we have for the New Testament. We have fewer copies because Hebrew scribes tended to bury their old copies to protect the documents from improper use of the material on which the name of God had been inscribed.
Until the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the Caves of Qumran in Israel in 1948 these Massoretic texts were the oldest copies of the Old Testament in Hebrew that we had. Among the many documents found among the Dead Sea Scrolls were two copies of Isaiah. One called Isaiah 'A' is complete except for a few verses and dates to 100 BC. Isaiah 'A' on a single 24 foot long scroll is now displayed in the "Shrine of the Book" museum in Israel. Isaiah 'B' contains Chapters 41-59 and is dated only a few years later. This new and more ancient evidence, by as much as 1,000 years, confirms that the Hebrew scribes copied and recopied the Hebrew text with great accuracy.
Critics often have said that there are 200,000 variants or errors in the New Testament alone. How did they arrive at that number? If a word is misspelled once and then copied 5,000 times they call that 5,000 variants but in fact it is one error or variant. In fact this number 200,000 is actually made up of variants that occur in only about 10,000 locations in Scripture. According to Wescott and Hort, the authors of one of the modern New Testament Greek texts, some 85-90% of these variants are trivial misspellings and such.
To quote Dr. James R. White the author of the book 'The King James Only Controversy', "The reality is that the amount of variation between the two most extremely different manuscripts of the New Testament would not fundamentally alter the message of the Scriptures
Again, on Lee Strobel's site is an excellent video titled "Who Decided What Books Became Part of the New Testament?"
You can trust God. He saw to it that you have an accurate Bible. His plan for how we can have a relationship with Him is accurately revealed in its pages.
How Many Gods Are There?
What if someone says, "Join our church? We'll teach you how to become perfect here on earth and your reward will be that you can be a god just like our God and you can have your own planet in your afterlife!"
First check out Genesis Chapter 3 where Satan, the serpent, tempts Eve to eat fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. Satan offered the first temptation to sin. What was the sin?
Genesis 3:5 (NASB95) "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…"
"be like God" Satan said. Isn't that interesting? The very first sin that Satan came up with was to ask a human if they want to "be like God." That is almost as tempting as wanting to actually become a god isn't it? Yet millions of people are part of a belief system that calls itself "Christian" that offers the chance, however slim, to BE a god.
Are there other gods like our God ruling over other planets? Read 2 Samuel 7.
2 Samuel 7:22 (NASB95)
"… there is none like You, and there is no God besides You,……"
It's not hard to find the truth, still many have been mislead.
We're not going to do an extensive study here, but let's look at the truth of couple of other attributes of God that are disputed by some belief systems.
He is the first God and the last God. He is the ONLY God.
Isaiah 43:10 (NASB95)
"…Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me."
God always existed as God. He never was a man that was elevated to Godhood.
He is eternal, Immortal and invisible.
1 Timothy 1:17 (NASB95) "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."
Again the scripture repeats, He is the only God.
We also know that he is all powerful, and all knowing. He created everything and that it didn't evolve over billions of years with a little guidance from Him. He protected the scriptures and everything in the Bible is still valid today. It is the book that we can rely on when we need to know more about our relationship with God.
What or Who is the Path To God?
What about Jesus? We already read the scriptures that make it clear he was not just a man, just another prophet He is God in the flesh. He is divine. When He speaks His words are completely true. He never misspoke or needed to be updated to reflect "more modern times."
What He said may not set well with those who want to dictate their own special path to God but it is true nevertheless. God has spoken clearly on that topic. The path is clear. We come to God on His terms, not ours. We have access to Him though Jesus Christ.
Acts 4:12 (NASB95)"…there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."
Some people who are on alternate "Christian" paths will say you must work hard to be
and do good. Follow all the rules and you will be saved through your righteous efforts. The Bible says,
Titus 3:5 (NASB95)
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,..."
So who is the Holy Spirit? He is the third person in the Trinity. I know the word Trinity isn't in the Bible. But we had to make up that word to describe something that we see nowhere else on Earth. God is three distinct beings who are in fact one being at the same time. Hard to grasp isn't it? We have never known of such a thing before the Bible revealed it to us.
I've heard people try to explain the trinity by saying it's kind of like water, which can be ice or water or steam. Three different forms but they're all still water. Unfortunately, that isn't the same as the trinity because that example describes water changing from one form to another. God doesn't change from one being to another. He's all three.... at the same time. …… I said it wasn't easy to explain.
We can want God to be something else that's easier to understand and so some of the "alternate" paths to God try to re-write the trinity into something more understandable, based on their earthly experience.
But that isn't what God tells us about himself in scripture. In John 1:1 we saw one part of that concept.
The Word was with God and the Word was God. Jesus, the Word was with God and was God. Not easy to understand but that is how God describes it, not me.
actually critical that we recognize that Jesus is God? Let me illustrate. Gold
is very valuable. Iron pyrite (fool's gold) looks a lot like gold but it's
We can call someone Jesus but if when we examine him closely we find
out that he is just a good man and not God at all, we've been robbed of the
real Jesus that promises us eternal life. The value of the one we know as Jesus
is more than just His name. His value to us is in the reality of who he truly
is. Jesus, God, the creator of the universe has the power to fulfill His promises. A man can only tell you about
someone else who has the power. When we know our Jesus, we know the source of
Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit in an unusual way, in Romans 8.
Romans 8:9 (NASB95)
"However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him."
He refers to the Holy Spirit as being both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ.
In the Book of Acts chapter 5 Ananias lies to the Holy Spirit.
Acts 5:3-4 (NASB95)
But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? "While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."
Verse 3 says Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit and in verse 4 says that the lie to the Holy Spirit was actually a lie to God. Why? Because the Holy Spirit and God are two parts of the trinity.
So what exactly is the role of the Holy Spirit in the trinity? He is our helper and our teacher as we see in John chapter 14.
John 14:26 (NASB95)
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you."
We come to God through only one name, Jesus Christ but we just read in Titus 3 that,
Titus 3:5 (NASB95)
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
It is the Holy Spirit that washes away our sin and regenerates us into that new person that is acceptable to God. Each part of the trinity is indispensable.
So now we have looked at small number of the basics of just who God, Jesus and the Holy
Spirit actually are, as God describes himself in scripture. If you hear about another version of any one of them go back to the one true book and read what God has to say about Himself.
One last item. The Gospel. What is it and when is someone preaching "another" gospel. The gospel is the message of who God really is and how we can come to know Him. It is the gospel of our salvation as we can read in Ephesians 1.
Ephesians 1:13 (NASB95)
"In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,..."
When we understand who God is and that he has bridged the gap between Him and us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and He then seals that promise with the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives; we have the Gospel.
When teachers or new prophets or angels tells us there are alternate, maybe even "better" ways to come to God we must go back to scripture and read for ourselves what God has said on the subject.
The title of this essay is "How Many Paths to God?". Now we know. Many paths to God are being offered in our world today but only ONE actually gets us there. The path though Jesus Christ, who by the way also happens to be God and the Holy Spirit. That is the Gospel Truth.