Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Insights into Awarenness Final Essay

Awareness Final

What sense of awareness can be gained by adopting the first insight into your present lifestyle?

The first insight it will start with coincidence, hunch or intuition.  We will start to see things happening in our lives, like things falling into place or a subject that you were talking about in the past.  All of a sudden that thought or an incident happens and you wonder if it was a coincidence that it happened.  According to the first insight there are no coincidences.  The awareness that we can adopt is to pay attention to what is happening all around us, like the people we meet, to thoughts coming to us.  We need to look around and see everything, not just physical, but spiritual as well.  A person must also meditate to open and calm the mind in order to hear or get in touch with high source to gather the energy needed.  If this is done every day, along with taking the time to meditate, one will see an increase of coincidental happenings in their life—from people coming into our life to objects as well.
 
When I was growing up I used to listen to the stories my grandfather and uncles talked about when they were growing up.  A lot of their stories were about spirits and strange things that happened.  Some of the stories I would take to heart and others I would not think twice about.  Being raised Catholic, there wasn't a belief in the kinds of stories that they told.  As I am writing and thinking about this, the priest in our Catholic Church treated the parishioners like non-believers, or ignorant, and he would try to use fear to instill the message of God.  The Catholic Church did not encourage the reading of the Bible, so I never read it until I was in my twenties; of course I had heard of the stories in the Bible, but had never read them.  Once I started to read the Bible I began questioning the beliefs of the Catholic Church, regarding God.  I then began to go to other churches, such as Pentecostal and Apostolic, to learn what their beliefs were about God.  As I grew older, I started looking around and noticing the area around me, and where I lived.  I always believed the Earth to be a living planet, and that things are done according to nature.  I started realizing that the words I read in the Bible was that God is a spirit, which was more in-tune to my original belief system about God.  I learned in church that we live within God and he lives in us.  What is a spirit, I pondered?  I started to research spirits, and one thing in particular that got my attention was that spirit is made up of energy. In the early seventies, I remember watching a TV show about strange facts where plants could feel.  Scientists hooked up electrodes on plants, and the readings showed that the plants were calm, however when the scientists placed shrimp in boiling water, (they were not in the same room as the plants), the plants reacted, according to the readings from the electrodes.  I always thought that was amazing how the plants reacted.  Things like this keep coming back to me and confirming that there is energy all around us.  We are in this energy, with all this information about divine source, divine energy, and God the spirit; this is what changed my view on traditional religion.  I do not believe in organized religion, because it teaches fear and God is pure love.   When I would question traditional religious views some people would take offense to it and even get argumentative about it and of course I would too, thinking that I was right, one of us was trying to control the situation. 
 
The Fourth Insight is about taking energy or controlling.  By controlling others we feel more powerful and dominate over the other person, which is caused by having controlling or dominate parents.  If parents are dominating, then as we become adults, we become dominating until we or our children are tired of it and strike back, which is usually in a violent manner.  In order for insecurity and violence to end, we must experience an inner connection with divine energy.  The way to do this is that we must see the beauty in life, such as plants, trees, and people.  We need to sit and look at a tree and see its beauty so that the love can flow.  Not a physical love, but a deep spiritual love, and by showing this love you will receive the tree energy.  With people, we need to see features on the person and appreciate them to show love so that person is receiving your energy.  Thus, the energy will reciprocate. 
 
Engaging the flow is what the seventh insight is all about.  To do this, we must take in the energy and have the flow of love.  When we do this, coincidences, dreams, daydreams, and intuitions will lead us to answers.  With this knowledge as a minister, I will be guided to people with answers to my questions, plus I will help them with answers as well.  The spiritual intent and meaning of life is to become one with God.  As for the meaning of life, we are to evolve to a high vibration.  We are to expand the physical world into the spiritual being so that we can walk into heaven, in our same form.
 
Learning what spirituality is and the signs that go with it help me form a clear understanding.  Why people are feeling the restlessness, the control of energy, the control drama, and the loss of energy or disconnect from the divine.  These lessons finally gave me the meaning of what my life is supposed to be.  It also reinforced what and who God is to me.  God is a spirit energy that flows to us and we are in God as he is in us.  If I want to hear God, I have to spiritually get in-tune with him by meditating and taking in all the energy I can, and maintain it.  I have had a lot of coincidence in my life that have guided me and protected me as well.  This lesson has awoken me, spiritually.  Therefore, when things happen like a coincidence, a hunch, or intuition, I know now to pay attention to it.  As for working with people, if or when they come to me, I can at least explain to them what is going on, and help them to understand what spirituality really is.

What I have learned from these lessons is that God is always with us and us with him. 
 
According to the Bible, God has been trying to show and tell us about his energy throughout.  I have also learned that trying to control other people can take their energy from them and how we can become addicted to other peoples' energy instead of divine's.  I have learned to look at the world in a different light and that love is not what we see in the movies, but how divine looks at it; how we need not fear, because fear can suck our energy.  I have also learned how to get energy from plants and trees.  People today are looking for the true meaning of God and what and who he/she is. 
 
I thank you for a wonderful lesson.  Blessings to all!
Rev. Michael Guzman

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Michael Guzman <guzmanmp@yahoo.com>
To: "amy@ulcseminary.org" <amy@ulcseminary.org>
Sent: Sunday, June 24, 2012 10:29 PM
Subject: Insights into Awarenness Final Essay



Monday, June 25, 2012

Final Essay Master of Spirituality


I found this course easy to understand, it leads you right through the historic thinking of man, on the subject of is there, or isn't there? Rev Bynum set this course up following the progression of thought as it happened, as a list of great thinkers, that shaped the way we think today!

As I studied these discourses more, and more, I realized how correct the instructor was when in his first discourse said
"it is designed to aid in your ministerial abilities". Following these discourses, I was able to see how modern thought was shaped, so many centuries ago! Understanding how the scientific mind works, and their thought processes has been an enlightening, and rewarding learning experience. It's helped aid in my ability to spot these different philosophies in people, and use the appropriate technique while ministering to them (still a work in progress).

The first homework assignment blew me away, observing the two different types of people, the heart driven, and the mind driven. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to distinguish between the two when you really pay attention. It's something you always knew about different people, but that lesson brought more thought into why we are, the way we are, and wet my appetite for more!

I had never compared religion and science. I guess I always saw the differences between the two, and it never occurred to me to look for the similarities, and how closely related they really are. How both of them incorporated into ones life makes for such a rich existence of health, and learning ( mental, spiritual, physical) it transcends any former philosophy in my opinion.

How is it possible to go backwards once you see the limitations we put on ourselves for so long with closed minds? :thumbsup:

Rev C Watson
Enjoy your next 24, PEACE!           


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Re: Book of John Part One


Grace be unto you,and peace, from God our Father,and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

John begins his Gospel by speaking about the WORD-but he does not explain at first who or what the WORD is. A word is a unit of speech by which we express ourselves to others. But John is not writing about speech but rather about a Person. That Person is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. God has fully expressed Himself to mankind in the Person of the Lord Jesus. By coming into the world, Christ has perfectly revealed to us what God is like. By dying for us on the cross, He has told us how much God loves us.

Chapter One
In the beginning was the Word. He did not have a beginning Himself, but existed from all eternity. As far as the human mind can go back, the Lord Jesus was there.He never was created.He had no beginning, The Word was with God. He had a separate and distinct personality. e was not just an idea, a thought, or some vague kind of example, but a real Person who lived with God. The Word was God.He not only dwelt with God, but He Himself was God. The Bible teaches that there is one God and that there are three Persons in the Godhead-the Father, the Son,and Holy Spirit. All three of these Person are God.

The life was the light of men. The same One who supplied us with life is also the light of men. He provided the guidance and direction necessary for man. It is one thing to exist,but quite another to know how to live, to know the way to heaven.  The same One who gave us life is the One who provides us with light for the pathway we travel. That was the true light. By His coming into the world as the perfect Man, He has shown how imperfect other men are. When a room is in darkness, you do not see the dust on the furniture. But when the light goes on, the room is seen as it actually is. In that same sense, the shinning of true Light reveals man as he actually is.

The next day after the visit of the Pharisee from Jerusalem, John looked up and saw Jesus coming toward him. "Behold! The Lamb of God who bears the sin of the world! The lamb was a sacrificial animal among the Jews. God had taught his chosen people to slay a lamb and to sprinkle its blood as a sacrifice. The lamb was killed as a substitute and its blood shed so that sins might be forgiven, however, the blood of the lamb slain during the Old Testament period did not put away sin. Those lambs were pictures or types, pointing forward to the fact that God would one day provide a Lamb who would actually take away the sin.

God had revealed to John taht the Messiah wa coming and that when He came, the Spirit would  descend upon Him and stay on Him. Therefore, when this happened to Jesus, John realized that this was the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.The Holy Spirit is a Person, one of the three Person of the Godhead.He is equal with God the Father and God the Son. On the basis of what he saw at the baptism of Jesus,john testified positively to the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God who was foretold as coming into the world.

By faithful preaching, John lost two disciples, but he was glad to see them following Jesus. So we should be more anxious for our friends to follow the Lord than to think highly of us. When a person find Jesus, he usually wants his relatives to meet Him too. Salvation is too good to keep to oneself. So Andrew went quickly to his own brother Simon with thrilling news, "We have found the Messiah!" What an astounding announcement this was! For at least four thousand years, men and waited for the promised Christ, God's ANOINTED One.  Andrew brought his brother to the right  place to the right Person.He did not bring him to the church, the creed, or the clergyman. He brought him to Jesus. What an important act that was! Because of Andrew's interest, Simon later became a great fisher of men, and one of the leading apostles of the Lord.

It never was  Christ's way to demand a full-fledge faith for a beginning. it never was his way to hold men back from discipleship on the ground of an incomplete creed. And quite certainly that is not his way today.He puts Himself alongside his brethren. He bids them attach themselves with the faith that they can offer him. He is content with that as a beginning; and from that He leads his friends on, as he led the first group on, step by step, to the inmost secret of who He is and to the full glory of discipleship.

Chapter Two
 The expression 'what does your concern have to do with me occurs several times in the Bible. It means, what have we in common." The answer is nothing. David uses it twice with respect to his cousins, the son of Zeruiah.How impossible it was for them to have anything in common with him in the spiritual life! Elisha uses it in 2 King 3 to express how deep was the gulf between him and Jehoram the son of Ahab. Three times the demons, by using the same expression, reveal how Satan had nothing in common with Christ, or Christ with Satan. And lastly the Lord used it to the Virgin Mary so to show how impassable is the gulf between His sinless Deity and her sinful humanity, and that only One Voice had authority for His ear.

What should be the attitude the attitude of Christians toward wine today? Wine is sometimes prescribed for medicinal purpose, and this is entirely in according with the teaching of the  New Testament. Regarding its use at the table, Christian ought to act prudently in all situations and in all cultures, seeking before all the glory of the Lord and not the selfish gratification of their own desires.Finally the saints should refrain from any behavior that would cause someone else to stumble. Changing water into wine was a sign, that is, a miracle with a meaning. It was a superhuman act with a  spiritual meaning. These miracles also were designed to show that Jesus was indeed the Christ of God. By performing this sign, He manifested His glory. He revealed to men that He was indeed God-manifest in the flesh.

The Son of God cleansed His Father house. In all ages, God has warned His people against using religious services as a means of getting rich. There was nothing cruel or unjust in any of these actions. Rather, they were simply an indication of His holiness and righteousness. We should remember that the Christian's body is the  temple of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Lord Jesus was  anxious that the temple in Jerusalem be kept pure, so we must be careful that our bodies be turned over to the Lord for continual cleansing.

Many profess to believe in Christ. This does not mean that they actually committed their lives to Him in simple trust, rather, they professed to accept Him. It was similar to the condition which we have in the world where many people claim to be Christians who have never truly been born again through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Although many believed in Him, yet Jesus did not believe in them. He did not commit Himself to them. He realized that they were coming to Him out of curiosity. They were looking for something sensational and spectacular. He had full knowledge of what was in man and why man behaved as he did.

Chapter Three
The story of Nicodemus contrasts with what had just gone before. Many of the Jews in Jerusalem professed to believe in the Lord but He knew their thoughts were not genuine. Nicodemus was and exception.  Jesus recognized  an earnest desire to know the truth.

 Nicodemus was recognized as teacher among his people. Perhaps he came to the Lord for instruction,so that he might return to the Jews with this additional learning. The Bible does not say why Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. The most obvious explanation is that he would have been embarrassed to be seen going to Jesus,s ince the Lord had by no means accepted by the majority  of the Jewish people. He was like so many today who say that Jesus was a great man, a wonderful teacher, an outstanding example. All of these statements fall very far short of the truth. Jesus was and is God.
 
The expression born again may also mean "born from above." In other words, Christ's kingdom can only be entered by those whose lives have been changed. Since His reign will be a righteous one, His subjects must be  righteous one also. He could not reign over people who were going on in their sins. Nicodemus insisted on taking everything literally. He could not  understand how a grown-up could be born again. He pondered the physical impossibility of a man entering his mother's womb again in order to be born. In further explanation, Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born of water and the Spirit. Many insist that literal water is intended, and that the Lord Jesus spoke of the necessity of baptism for salvation. Throughout the Word of God we read that salvation is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Baptism is intended for those who have already been saved, but not as a means of salvation.
 
That born of the Spirit is spirit. A spiritual birth takes place when a person trusts in the Lord Jesus When a person is born again through the Spirit, he receives a new nature,and is made fit for the kingdom of God. The Lord Jesus then understood the infallibility of His teaching,and yet man's unbelief concerning it. From all eternity. He had known truthfulness of this and had only taught what He knew and had seen. But Nicodemus and most of the Jews of his day refused to believe His testimony. God so loved the world  The world here includes all mankind, God does not love men's sin or the wicked world system, but He loves people and is not willing that any should perish.
 
The extent of His love is shown by the fact that He gave His only begotten Son. God has no other Son like the Lord Jesus. It was an expression of His infinite love that He would be willing to give his unique Son for a race of rebel sinners. This does not mean that everyone is saved. A person must receive what Christ has done for him or her before God will give them eternal life. When the church comes to understand the love with which od loved the world, she will be restless and ill at ease, until all the great empires have been captures, until every coral island and been won.
 
The ministry of John the Baptist. The John referred to in this text is John the Baptist.He was still preaching a message of repentance in the region of Judea and baptizing those Jews with were willing to repent in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. John also was baptizing in Aenon because there was much water there. This does not prove conclusively that he baptized by immersion, but it certainly implies as much, If he baptized by the sprinkling or pouring, there would have been not necessity of having much water. Some of John's disciples became engaged in a dispute with the Jews about purification.What does this mean? Purification here probably refers to baptism. The argument was whether the baptism of John was better than that of Jesus.John reminded his disciples that he had pointed out time an again that he was not the Christ, but was simply sent to prepare the way for the Messiah. The entire object of John's ministry is summarized here: He labored ceaselessly to point men and women to the Lord,and to make them realize His true worth. In doing this, John realized that he must keep himself in the background. For a servant of Christ  to seek to attract attention to himself is really a form of disloyalty.
 
So today.When people accept the message of the gospel, they take sides with God against themselves and against the rest of mankind. They realize that if God has said something, it must be true.  Whoever believes the testimony of Christ acknowledge that God is true. This is just another way of saying that the testimony of God, and to receive the one is to receive the other also. God does not give the Holy Spirit by measure. Christ was anointed by the Holy Spirit of God in a way that was not true of any other person. Others have been conscious of the help of Holy Spirit in their ministry, but no one else ever ahd such a Spirit-filled ministry as the Son of GOD.The prophets received a partial revelation from God but the Spirit revealed in and by Christ the very wisdom, the very heart of God to man with all its infinitude of love.If we receive Him, God gives us eternal life as  free gift.If we reject Him, we will never enjoy everlasting life,and not only so, but God's wrath already hanged over us, ready to fall at any moment.
 
Chapter Four
By leaving Judea and journeying to Galilee, Jesus would prevent the pharisees from being successful in their efforts to cause divisions. But there is something else of significance  here.Judea was the headquarters of the Jewish religious establishment, whereas Galilee was known as a heavily Gentile region. Sychar was the Old Testament Shechem. The Samaritains had intermarried with Gentiles during the Assyrian captivity. They acknowledge only the Penteuch as Scripture,and around 400 B.C built a temple. The living water refers to the Holy Spirit.
 
John gives three descriptions of God. He is a Spirit, love,a nd light. God is a spiritual being who is invisible and without a body; He is a divine person who reveals Himself in perfect intellect, emotion,and will; He is the source and personification of all material an spiritual life; He is self-existent; He is eternal in relationship to time; He is the unity of all existence; and He is consistent in His being-that is, He corresponds in actual fact not His nature and attributes as they are revealed to us.
 
Jesus may have pointed to the multitudes who came from Sychar to see Him because of the testimony of the woman at Jacob's well. At first they believed because of the woman's testimony.But to people of this culture, this was not adequat. They would have to hear for themselves, Jesus acceptance of the woman in her new role shows that He did not share this condescending attitude toward woman.
 
From this nobleman learned that it was not necessary for the Lord Jesus to be physically present to work a miracle or answer prayer. This should encourage all Christians in their prayer life. We have a mighty God who hear our request and who is able to work out his purposes in any part o the world at any time. God loves to see families untied in Christ. It is not His will that  to have divided families in heaven. He takes care to record the fact that the whole household believed in His Son.
 
Chapter Five
As chapter five opens, the time had come for one of the Jewish feast. Many believe this was Passover, but it is impossible to be sure. Born into the world as a Jew,and obedient to the laws which God had made for the Jewish people, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the feast.
 
Around the pool there were five porches or large open spaces capable of holding a number of people. Some Bible teachers think that these five porches represent the Law of Moses and speak of its inability to help man out of his deep trouble. Apparently the pool of Bethesda was known as  a place where miracles of healing occurred.  Surrounding the pool were large number of sick people who had come with the hope of being cured. These people, suffering from the effect of sin in their bodies, were  waiting for the moving of the water.
 
They lingered around that uncertain, disappointing water, though the Son of God was present. Surely there is a lesson for us in this. The pool thickly populated, and Jesus by unheeded! What a witness  of man religion! Ordinances, with all their complicated machinery, sought after,and the grace of God slighted.
 
The opposition of the Jews. This incident marks one of the great turning points in the public ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because He performed this miracle on the Sabbath, He stirred up the anger and hatred of the  Jewish leaders.They began to pursue him and to seek his life. It seems clear that the man sickness had originally come to him as a result of some sin in his life.This is not true of all sickness. Many times illness in  person life has no direct connection with any sin he has committed. Infants, for instance, may be sick before they are old enough to sin knowingly.
 
Jesus defends His claim to be equal with God. Many people claim to worship God, but deny that Jesus Christ is God. They say that He was a good man or more godlike than any other man who ever lived. But this verse puts Him on an absolute equality with God, and requires that men  should give Him the same honor which they give to God the Father. It is useless to claim a love for God if one does not have the same love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
To hear the word of Jesus means not only to listen to it, but also to receive it, to believe it,and obey it. Many people hear the gospel preached, but do nothing about it. he Lord is saying here that a man must accept His teaching as divine, believe that He is indeed the Savior of the world. Everlasting life is the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not  only life that will go on forever, but it is higher quality of life. It is the spiritual life received when a man is born again, in contrast to the natural life which he received at his physical birth.
 
 
The lord Your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren.Him you shall hear...I will raise up for them a Prophet and put my words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all I command Him. The Lord allusion is, of course, to the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses-the portion of the Bible that has been more savagely attacked than any other; and, strangely enough, the portion which,so far as our records go, the Master quoted more than any other. As if, long before the attacks began, he would set his own imprimatur upon them.
 
Chapter Six
The expression after these things means that a period of time had elapsed since the events in chapter 5 took place. Just how much time we do not know, but we do know that Jesus had traveled from the area around Jerusalem up to the Sea of Galilee.
 
Great crowd of people followed him, not necessarily because they believed on Him as the Son of God, but  rather because they saw the miracles which HE had some for those who were diseased. A faith founded on miracles is never as pleasing to God as that which is founded on His Word alone. God Word should not require miracles to verify it. Anything that God  says is true.It cannot possibly be false. That should be enough for anyone.
 
The Lord was going to teach Philip a very valuable lesson and test his faith. Jesus Himself knew that He would perform a miracle to fed a great crowd of people. But Philip realize that He was able to do this? Was Philip faith great or small? Andrew was Simon Peter brother. They lived in the vicinity of Bethesda, along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Andrew also decided that it would be difficult to feed such a throng. He noticed a little boy with five barley loaves and two small fish, but he felt that these would be almost useless in attempting to satisfy the hunger of so many.
 
In the bread of life discourse, our lord began with fairly simple teaching. But as He progressed, it was apparent that the Jews were rejecting His words. The more they closed their hearts and  minds to the truth, the more difficult his teaching became.  Finally He talked about eating his flesh and drinking His blood. That was too much! They said, this is  a hard saying; who can understand it? and they quit following him. Rejection of the truth results in judicial blindness. Because they would not see, they came to the place where they could not see.
 
 Chapter Seven
There was a lapse of some months between chapter 6 and 7. Jesus remained in Galilee. He did not want to stay in Judea, which was headquarters for the Jews, because they sought to kill Him.. Feast of Tabernacles: Jesus visit to the feast (Feast of Booth, approximately early October) was debated by his half brothers,about six months prior to the Crucifixion. During this feast, for six consecutive days a procession of priest carried water in golden vessels into the temple area. On the seventh day, the great day, no water was carried.  It was then that Jesus stood and taught of the rivers of living water, an especially significant reference to the Holy Spirit. The advice of Jesus unbelieving half brothers was to go to feast. Mary had other children by Joseph, but they whereas yet unbelievers.
 
Jesus had probably received the normal synagogue training of Jewish boys, when Jesus was 12 years old at the temple. But He had not attended a school for rabbis in Jerusalem, as Paul did under Gamaliel. Jesus claimed that His ability to teach should prove the divine origin of His message. Obedience will help to determine true doctrines. Unfortunately,most people seek to reverse this order. They want to know more than is necessary before they act. There is no question in the minds of His listeners about His claim, which He made clear to them. But their response is confused and divided. There were three very good reasons for accepting His claim the hesitancy of the rulers to stop Him, the miracles He did,and the excellence of His speaking. However, they found three reasons for rejecting His claim : It was commonly believed that the messiah would coe ina spectacular fashion throne of David and therefore must be a Judean from Bethlehem, the city of David, but they thought Jesus was born in Galilee. The Messiah was to be a defender of the law-yet Jesus seemed indifferent to it by healing on the Sabbath.
 
Chapter Eight
Women caught in adultery were not normally brought to Jesus. The scribes and Pharisee were seeking to trick Him to see He would uphold the law- or defend the sinner. The eldest left first, admitting they were sinners. Jesus was the only one who could have condemned her- but He did not, partly because such cases demanded two or more witnesses. Also, He knew repentant, which explains why she did not flee when her accusers left. Jesus did not take her sin lightly; rather He commanded her, sin no more Neither do I  condemn: The prerogatives to  forgive sins is a divine one,so in this instance Jesus demonstrates His Deity. Jesus claimed to be the light of the world but the Pharisees disputed his authority because He witnessed to Himself. Jesus said His own witness agreed with the witness of the Father, satisfying the law requirement of two witnesses.
 
The Jews' spiritual preparation is inadequate. They could not become his disciples because they are of this world they do not believe in Jesus and they do not understand. Jesus identifies the true disciples as those who believe in Him continued in His word, unlike the Jews will be freed from sin  by He truth. They will not be blameless-free from the power of sin. He shows that discipleship depends on having the right Father. They claimed to be sons of Abraham, but Jesus shows this to be false. They are Abraham physical seed, but he is not their spiritual father.  They also claimed to be sons of God, which Jesus shows to be false. When you love the parent, you will not hate the SON .Finally, Jesus says they are sons of the devil, the father of lies, for they were knowingly doing his works.
 
Abraham saw the promise Christ from a distance. This probably refers to the universal scope of the Abraham covenant. This clear statement of deity caused the Jews  to try to stone him. before Abraham was historical, I am: Abraham had a beginning-Jesus is eternal.
 
Chapter Nine
he controversy arose during the Feast of Dedication. There was Jewish belief that all suffering was punishment for sin. But how could a person have sinned before birth? The Jews considered human life to begin at conception. Thus, they thought one could theoretically sin even before birth. Light of the world means as long as I am in the world, When he is no longer in the world, then believers become the light of the world. Faith to go and wash in the pool of Siloam is required before the healing. Once again the issue of healing on the Sabbath arises. Surely Jesus healed on other days as well- but John chooses to record healing that dramatize the conflicts between Jesus and the Jews.
 
The confusion of he Pharisees is shown by  their handling this case in  group,and by heir repeated questions: How did He do it? What do you say of Him? How does he now see? What did He do to you? and Are we blind also? Jesus could not work miracles if He was a sinner as they said. Jesus confirm his deity once again.
 
Chapter Ten
This text is closely linked with the latter part of chapter 9. There the Lord Jesus had been speaking to the Pharisees,who claimed to be rightful shepherds of the people of Israel. It was to them, in particular,that the Lord Jesus referred.
 
Door is the one who stood in the opening of the stone fold. The thieves and robbers were the Pharisees. Sheep knows only their own shepherd' voice. In Near East several flocks belonging to different shepherds any be in one fold a fenced in area.But only a shepherd' own sheep will follow him out of the fold. Cattle can be driven, but sheep must be led. Good shepherd when Jesus uses this terminology, thoughtful Jews remember Psalm 23. The Lord is my shepherd, and even understood Jesus claim to be God. The other sheep are Gentiles who will be saved later. Jesus does more than predicted His crucifixion and resurrection.He also shows hat he has the power to lay down his life and take it up again, once more asserting His deity.
 
The Jews accused Him of making himself God. He does not deny that in so speaking He made Himself God. But does deny that He blasphemed,and this on a ground that might fully justify Him even in claiming the honors of deity; namely that He was the Messiah , the Son of God, Immanuel. That he Jew did not consider Him as in the least withdrawing His lofty claims, is evident from the continued enmity that was manifested. If I do the work of my Father, then though ye may not be convinced by what I say; be convinced by what I do. Though ye resist the evidence of my words, yield to the evidence of my works. In this way learn to know and believe that I and my Father are indeed one, he in me and I in Him, and that in claiming to be His Son, I speak no blasphemy.
 
Chapter Eleven
O love, stronger than death! The grave cannot separate Christ and His friends. Other friends accompany us to the brink of the grave,and then they leave us. Neither life nor death can separate from the love of Christ.
 
This is a marvelous admission. Even our Lord worst enemies confess that our Lord did miracles,and many miracles. Can we doubt that they would  have denied the truth of His miracles, if they cold? But they do not seem to have attempted it. They were many, too public,and too thoroughly witnessed for them to dare to deny them. How, in the face of this fact, modern infidels and skeptics can talk of our Lord  miracles as being impostures and delusions, they would do well to explain! If the Pharisees who lived in our lord time,and who moved heaven and earth to oppose his progress, never dared to dispute the fact that He worked miracles now, absorb to begin denying his miracles now,after eighteen centuries have passed away.
 
Christianity endangers business, undermines profitable but wicked trades, steal way customers from the devils shrines, attacks vested interests,and turns the world upside down. It is a tiresome, annoying, profit-destroying thing. According to Caiaphas,, the chief priests and Pharisees were wrong in thinking that the Jews would die on account of Jesus. Rather, he predicted that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation.He said that it was better that Jesus would die for the people, rather than that the whole nation. Official orders had gone out from the chief priests and the Pharisees for the arrest of Jesus. Anyone who knew of His whereabouts was commanded to notify the authorities so that they might seize him and put Him to death.
 
 


Master of Religion essay



     What I have learned in studying these wonderful courses is that although there are many different religious denominations to be found within the Christian faith, all agree that there is only one true God, that being the Lord Jesus Christ. As children of God, we as Ministers have certain duties to fulfill within our Ministry, one such duty is being a Christian Counselor. Many are in need of receiving guidance and instruction from the teachings of God, and we as Ministers are certainly qualified to do so. Many seek guidance on such subjects as divorce and abortions and know not of what the bible says and of what is moral concerning these things. Divorce is acceptable, we are taught in the word of God, if ones spouse commits adultery. That is of course, to say, if ones spouse cheats on the other. While God wants only the best for us, we are not to do any harm to our body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we are not to use illegal drugs or to do anything which may be harmful to ourselves. This would most definitely include suicide as well.

     Much like the family of the Holy Trinity, our own family should be regarded as sacred too. Our marriage should be served with reverence to the Lord, for he has commanded us to not only love one another, but to remain true and faithful to our spouse. Out of respect for the Lord, and also as he has commanded it so, we are to pay tithing. In the time of Christ people paid ten percent of their earnings toward the Minister for his services and out of respect for him as well. Tithing is not only a respectful thing to do, but it also shows our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as he has commanded us to do. We are told through the word of a God, that if we tithe, then the Heavens shall rain blessings down upon us for our continued faith in the Lord.

     It doesn't matter where we come together to worship the Creator, merely that we are serving him and gathering in his name. Likewise, it matters not how we worship, as he accepts the worship of all, in whichever forms we feel we should worship him.  One of the ways which we pay tribute to a God and serve him is through our services of the Holy Sacraments and the Eucharist, commonly called communion amongst the Protestants. The Lord Jesus Christ set the example during his lifetime, in which how we are to serve him. One of which ways is through baptism, as he himself was baptized by John the baptist. I find this amazing for the Lord Jesus Christ to be so humble as to graciously allow a mere man, a mortal man, to baptize him. Though John the baptist was called by such, he was definitely a Minister by today's standards even though he may not have been referred to as such back then.
   Though we have many different titles we give to our Ministers today, they are the Men of God and should be looked upon great respect, as they were chosen by God to not only serve, but to administer the Holy Sacraments to his people as they have need of it. So in conclusion I have found these courses to be tremendously enlightening and inspiring. I would recommend these courses to anyone seeking to further there knowledge of the Christian Faith. Thanks once again for these courses.




Master of Religion Essay by Rev. Jack Anderson


By Reverend Jack Anderson
 
The Bible is the sacred text of all Christians. Although there are differences between the bibles of some Christian denominations, essentially all Bibles are divided into two parts – the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament gives the history of the Israelites, God's chosen people. It's filled with myths, stories of love and hate, peace and war, adultery, murder, victory and loss. It also includes stories of Prophets, messengers of God, who came to remind the people of how God expected them to act, but more importantly to foretell the coming of a Messiah who would be a savior to the people. After years of compilation these stories and messages of prophets now make up the Old Testament.
The New Testament is the story of the growth of Christianity, and the coming of the long awaited Messiah. This covers the time shortly before this coming, the birth of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, as well as his life and the lessons he taught during his time on earth. The New Testament also recounts his death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. The rest of the New Testament tells how his followers dealt with his absence, how they carried on his work and spread his message, and waited for the promised "Second Coming" of the Lord.
The New Testament begins with four books called Gospels, which means "Good News". They are (in order as in the bible): Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John . Although all four gospels recount events of Jesus' life, the Gospel according to Mark is unique among these four. It is the shortest of all four gospels; however, one of its most important features is that (according to the Two-Source Hypothesis) it is thought that the gospels of Matthew and Luke took much of their information from Mark. There are large sections from these two gospels that are word-for-word exactly as the same as sections are in Mark. This is significant because Mark was believed to be written first, therefore, it is considered to be a "cornerstone" for which the other gospels were built. Although the book does not officially have an assigned author, and it is officially labeled the "Gospel According to Mark", the author is traditionally thought to be John Mark, a follower of Jesus some time after Jesus' death and resurrection (most likely between A.D. 55 and 70, since this is the date that the book is thought to be written). John Mark traveled with Jesus' apostles Peter as well as worked by his side in Rome. It is because of John Mark's relationship with the apostle Peter that the gospel of Mark is categorized as having apostolic origins, meaning that it was written by either an apostle of Jesus or someone who had a close connection with an apostle. John Mark is also mentioned in some of Paul's epistles, because he traveled with Paul and Barnabas (who was his cousin). Because of his close relationship with these influential figures in Christian history, particularly Peter the apostle, it is no wonder that the gospel of Mark is a narrative, and even a lot like a biography of Jesus, recounting very detailed events of his life and exact lessons that he taught. While working with Peter he must have been privy to all kinds of stories of the man whom he was so devoted to and for whom he and all other Christians sacrificed so much. He, of course, also heard many stories of Jesus' teachings, which he and other apostles, disciples, and missionaries were teaching others. One of those stories of Jesus' message, recounted in the Gospel According to Mark, 12: 28-34, is commonly referred to as "The First Commandment and Greatest Commandment".
In this narrative gospel of Mark, Jesus is preaching when a scribe ventured to ask him which commandment was the first, or in other words, which one was most important to follow. His response to "love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mk. 12:30) and to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mk. 12:31) is what this passage centers around. At hearing Jesus' response, the scribe who initially questioned him responded by stating that he knew these things were important above all other things, particularly, "burnt offerings and sacrifices required by the law" (Mk. 12:33). The importance that Jesus sees in understanding and abiding by these commandments is emphasized by the author, John Mark, by writing that when Jesus saw that the scribe understood he told him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God".
The location of this passage in the Bible is not surprising because it is surrounded by passages (particularly in chapters 11 and 12) which are similar in that Jesus' authority to teach and beliefs are being challenged by the authority figures in the Jewish faith, particularly those who run the Jewish Temple. It is important to notice that Jesus answered by stating not one, but two commandments, that had been given to Moses and the Israelites many years ago – found in Deuteronomy 6:5, as well as in Leviticus 19:18. These passages are in not only what Christians refer to as the Old Testament, but are in the Torah (the sacred scripture of the Jewish faith), which Jesus would have been very familiar with as a practicing Jew. Equally important, is the fact that these passages are based on the core idea of love. As a result of these two details which cannot be overlooked, I think that the message of "The First and Greatest Commandment" is to establish Jesus as the new lawgiver with the message to love God and to love others. We must know and understand these commandments, as well as apply them to our lives, and it is when we are able to do these things, that we may fully enter into the kingdom of God.
When reflecting on Jesus' answer to the scribe, one must notice that Jesus states two passages from the Old Testament. This may seem insignificant; however, it is highly significant. Also notice that in the surrounding passages, as well as in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, the books surrounding the Gospel of Mark, Jesus authority is constantly being questioned and he is being put to the test by Scribes and Pharisees. The Jewish leaders were uncomfortable with Jesus' practices because he did not follow the Mosaic Law, or Covenant (the set of rules and regulations that strictly guided the Jews "religious and community life and acted as their 'constitution", which also includes the Ten Commandments) as strictly as they believed he should. Jesus healed the sick on the Sabbath and ate with sinners and lepers, things that the scribes and Pharisees would never dream of doing. In quoting the sacred texts of the Jews, it was established that Jesus was a devoted, and practicing Jew, something the Scribes may have been confused by, because with his teachings Jesus made a statement to the Jews that he was the new covenant, the new lawgiver. The thought of something with more authority than the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament was highly disturbing to the Jewish leaders because they neither knew, nor wanted another way. The Old Testament can also be referred to as the "Law of Fear and Servitude" because it focuses primarily on rules, laws, and punishments. Jesus came to preach a very different message - one of hope and love, which he summed up in two sentences. That is why the New Testament is referred to as the New Law, or the "Law of Love and Liberty". As Sullivan explains, this is why St. Thomas Aquinas considered the New Law to be infused, to come from within. The Old Testament was about outwardly appearance, while the New Testament was about individual intimate relationships. Although Jesus certainly taught the importance of obedience to God, he taught that instead it is better to obey the Lord because of love, not fear of punishment. As a result of that love for the Lord, we are inclined from within ourselves to follow the law of God because we love him (thus, the title "Law of Liberty"). And with that same love, it is only logical that we would treat our neighbors with that same love, as we would want to be treated. Because the New Testament is a reflection on Jesus and his teachings, this passage in Mark is a perfect model of Jesus' different form of teaching, and how he established himself as the new lawgiver, or new covenant to the people with his message to love God and to love others.
As previously mentioned, the surrounding Gospels of Matthew and Luke also include this same passage; however, they differ greatly, as Agnes Norfleet notes in, Between Text and Sermon. In the other gospels, the environment in which Jesus is questioned is very tense, accusatory, and unreceptive. The individuals questioning (more so challenging) Jesus are not questioning in order to receive answers, they are searching for a way to catch Jesus saying something that could be taken in an offensive way to the Jewish faith and tradition, in hopes of convicting him on a charge of blasphemy or another related crime. After hearing Jesus' response his questioners are merely more aggravated and set on his conviction than before. The same passage, but in Mark, is a great contrast! The environment in Mark is pleasant and accepting.
More importantly, the scribe who questions Jesus reflects on the answer he is given and finds that he agrees. When he states he thinks these commandments must be "more important than the burnt offerings and sacrifices required by the law", he expresses understanding because he is able to apply Jesus' message to his own life. Unlike the Jewish leaders in the surrounding books and passages, he is able to see the big picture and look past the "Law of Fear and Punishment" and sees the message of "Love and Liberty" that Jesus preaches. This is exactly what Jesus wants all of his followers to do! He wants his followers to take his message and not merely accept it, but to judge for themselves and if in accord, to apply it to their lives! The importance Jesus places on this, as well as the desire he has for us to understand and act on his love is sealed when he tells the wise scribe, "You are not far from the kingdom of God".
The Gospel of Mark 12:2-34 can be interpreted and debated hundreds of ways, but I believe that the theological message of the passage was to establish Jesus as the new lawgiver, as well as to preach his message: to love God and to love others. Once able do this, his followers would be able to realize that they could live out his message by understanding and applying it to their everyday lives. When his followers could fully live out this "First and Greatest Commandment" they, like the scribe, would be in a place in which they longed to be, and Jesus longs for all of humanity to be, and that is "not far from the kingdom of God" (Mark 12:34).
 No discourse on religion in general would be complete without a glimpse into Christianity and Islam.
Historically Jesus & Mohammed are very important religious figures, and still remain important religious figures today. Jesus Christ (also known as Jesus of Nazareth) is the central figure of Christianity. Mohammed is considered to be the founder of Islam. Muslims regard Mohammed as the last and most important profit.
Christian views of Jesus are both diverse and complex. Most Christians believe that Jesus is simultaneously the Son of God and God made incarnate, sent to provide salvation and reconciliation with God by atoning for the sins of humanity. Nontrinitarian Christians adopt various other interpretations regarding the divinity of Jesus. Most Christians believe that Jesus was born from the virgin Mary, than later crucified and buried in a tomb. They also believe that he was resurrected on the third day of death, also know as Easter and ascended into Heaven where he resides with God the Father until the Second Coming. Most Christians also believe that Jesus performed miracles and fulfilled biblical prophecy. In Islam, Jesus is considered one of God's most beloved and important prophets, a bringer of divine scripture, and also the Messiah. Furthermore, the Virgin Birth of Jesus is an article of faith. Muslims, however, do not share the Christian belief in the crucifixion or divinity of Jesus. Islam teaches that Jesus was raised to heaven. Most Muslims believe that Jesus will return to the earth as Messiah in the company of the Mahdi once the earth has become full of sin and injustice.
This information shows just how important Jesus was and still is today. Many people still view Jesus in these same ways.
Mohammed was historically very important to his followers as well, According to Islam Pakistanway (2007)[The main sources of information on Muhammad's life are the Qur'an, and the traditional Muslim biographies of Muhammad and quotes attributed to him (the sira and hadith literature). These sources are part of the oral traditions, the compilation of the Qur'an was completed early after the death of Muhammad and while the earliest surviving written sira dates to 150 years after Muhammad, and the compilation and analysis of the hadith literature took place even later. Thus, historians as well as Islamic scholars (Ulema) have attached varying degrees of skepticism to these accounts. Most historians agree that Muhammad lived during the 7th century and adopted various monotheistic traditions in an effort to replace the common polytheistic religions of the Arabian Peninsula, eventually gaining wide acceptance as a prophet.]
Modern historians do not really accept the medieval western conception of Muhammad; they feel that he is an imposter. Academic scholars such as Montgomery Watt, Sprenger, Noldeke, Weil, Muir, Koelle, Grimme and Margoliouth agree that Muhammad was sincere and had a profound belief in himself and his mission as nothing else could explain Muhammad's readiness to endure hardship and persecution during the Meccan period when from the secular point of view there was no prospect of success. There are differing views as to whether he remained sincere later in the Medinian period. Several scholars hold that Muhammad's ideas developed gradually: Some traditions were taken from the Bible and included in the Qur'an in order to have followers from Christianity and Judaism convert to Islam.
The death of both Jesus and Mohammed had significant impact of their followers. The death and resurrection of Jesus are still the most important events in Christian history. This it's self is what formed the entire Christian religion. This showed that God himself has the power over life and death, also showing that he has the ability to give people eternal life. Most Christians accept the New Testament story as an historical account of the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is center of their faith. Some liberal Christians do not accept a literal bodily resurrection, seeing the story as richly symbolic and spiritually nourishing myth. Almost all non-Christians do not accept the bodily resurrection of Jesus. They therefore either deny the resurrection as a form of myth, or agree with liberal Christians that the resurrection was a devoutly held, powerful myth.
As we can see the death of Jesus split his followers. Some people believed the story of his death and resurrection; other passed it off as a myth or never believed he was human at all. Within a few decades after his death, his successors had united all of Arabia under an Islamic empire, which essentially became the successor to the Sassanid, Byzantine, and ultimately Roman empires. Islam today is the faith of 1.3-1.7 billion people all over the globe, and is now the second largest religion after Christianity by the number of adherents.]
The teachings of both Jesus and Mohammed are still carried out today in much the same ways they were before they died. The story of both Jesus and Mohammed is being taught by people all over the world to kids of the next generation. Jesus and Mohammed are both still being worshipped around the world. People still gather together to warship, pray, and listen to the teachings of both Jesus and Mohammed. Special days are set aside for the worship of both Jesus and Mohammed. Called Holidays, Christmas and Easter are days sent a side for Celebration of Jesus birthday and the day of his resurrection. Mohammed's followers have days sent aside as well.
In conclusion this glimpse at Islam and Christianity allow us as students to look at their parallels and make us better for them. Jesus and Mohammed were very important people in religion and still remain very important today. I have several friends who are of the Islamic faith and this prompted me to do this research.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this chance to reset my own basic tenets and re-establishing my belief system. I would not change anything in the course.
 
Bibliography
The International Student Bible for Catholics: New American Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1987.
The Zondervan NIV Bible, Zondervan Publishing, 2008
Norfleet, Agnes W. "Mark 12:28-34." Interpretation: Between Text and Sermon 51, no. 4 (October 1997): 403-406. ATLA
Arikah Encyclopedia (2007) Retrieved June, 2012 from
http://www.arikah.net/encyclopedia/Jesus
Islam Pakistanway (2007) Retrieved June, 2012 from
http://islam.pakistanway.com/ShowTopic.aspx?topicid=230&typeid=24
Life of Christ (2007) Retrieved June, 2012 From
http://www.lifeofchrist.com/life/lifescan/death.asp