Who was ruling the universe when Jesus died?

Posted by on 08/30/2016 in: ,

The following excerpt is taken from the newly released book
No God but One:  Allah or Jesus? By Nabeel Qureshi

nogodbutone

In the summer of 2012, I spent eight weeks in Oakland, California, studying Arabic through Middlebury College. I had just graduated from Duke University, where I had focused on the Gospels and the Quran for my master’s degree. Even though my mother had taught me in my childhood how to recite Arabic, I could not use the language to communicate, so I knew that greater familiarity with Arabic would go a long way in my future graduate studies. I entered Middlebury just beyond the introductory level, which meant I would be prohibited from communicating in any language other than Arabic for the entire eight weeks. The program was so serious about this rule that we had to sign a contract the day we arrived. No English whatsoever, at any point, for two whole months. Not even during the evenings and weekends!

Until that time, I had not realized just how important language is for relieving stress. No jokes, no storytelling, very little fellowship—just a lot of hand gestures and listening to upperclassmen jabber away. It was a very trying time, but it forced us to quickly learn how to get by. Within a month, we were able to communicate with one another in what I am sure was horribly poor Arabic.

Thankfully, I had a friend near Oakland who was also a student of Arabic, and she regularly reached out to immigrants in the area. She asked me if I would be willing to meet a Muslim friend of hers from Saudi, and I gladly agreed. Anything to spend time with a friend and get away from the campus! That afternoon, I met a lively young student named Sahar. She told me about life as a woman in Saudi, including that the government required her to get her younger brother’s permission so that she could study in America. When I asked what would have happened if he had refused, she replied, “He knows better than to say no to me!”

Soon the conversation turned to religious matters. Sahar indicated that she was resolutely Muslim and was not considering conversion, but she had questions about what Christians believed. After asking many questions, she at last asked me one that seemed to have been the most problematic for her. “How can you believe Jesus is God if he was born through the birth canal of a woman and that he had to use the bathroom? Aren’t these things below God?”

This question is a very common one, but we should now be able to see why Muslims ask it: Allah does not enter into this world in Islam, whereas Yahweh has repeatedly done so. Allah remains behind a veil and sends messengers, whereas Yahweh is intimate and walks among us. When we remember that Yahweh is different from Allah, and that Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, the answers to many similar questions become readily apparent.

How Can God Die, And Who Was Ruling the Universe When Jesus Died?

These two questions were the first ones I asked David about Jesus’ deity when I was a Muslim, and they are the most common ones that Muslims ask me now. Since Islam does not have a concept of divine incarnation, these are understandable questions. Truly, they are ques- tions that Christians should ask themselves at some point, but they are not difficult to answer when we keep in mind what we have learned in this chapter.

 When someone asks me, “How can God die?” I ask for clarification, because the question can be asked from multiple angles. Almost always the questioner says something along the lines of, “God is immortal, so he cannot die.” To that, I respond with a question in turn. “I see what you mean, but let me ask you a question: When humans die, do our souls stop existing?” Of course, Muslims respond, “No, our souls do not die,” to which I respond, “So even when we die as humans, it is the body that dies. It is not that we stop existing altogether. So it was with Jesus: He was killed with respect to his earthly body, but God did not stop existing.”

Sometimes, though, by asking, “How can God die?” Muslims are essentially asking, “Who was ruling the universe?” There are many possible responses to this question, but the one I prefer is the simple one: the Father. This is why, if Muslims wish to engage in these kinds of questions, it is essential that Christians adequately explain the Trinity to them. The Father is not the Son, and the Father did not die on the cross.

IT IS UNJUST FOR GOD TO PUNISH JESUS FOR THE SINS OF MAN

This leads to another kind of question, one which even well-informed Muslims will ask. During the closing statements of my 2015 debate, Dr. Shabir Ally used the most caustic terms I have ever heard to challenge the gospel. He said that if the Father sent the Son to die for the sins of the world, then this was “cosmic child abuse.” What kind of a Father is God if he punishes his son for the sins of others?

By this point, we should be able to readily see the problem with this assessment: Christians do not believe that God is punishing a random victim. Jesus is God. The Judge is himself voluntarily paying on behalf of the criminal. Against Dr. Ally’s caricature, a more apropos illustration is shared by Brennan Manning in his book Ragamuffin Gospel.1 In 1935, Fiorello LaGuardia, the mayor of New York, presided over a court case in which an old woman had been caught stealing bread to feed her grandchildren. Although LaGuardia wanted to offer her mercy, the shopkeeper demanded justice. LaGuardia judged her guilty and imposed a fine of ten dollars, but in the same moment he took ten dollars from his own wallet and paid the fine on her behalf. Acknowledging the woman’s guilt, the judge himself paid the penalty and let her go free. This is a beautiful illustration of mercy and justice, but if we tweak one minor detail it will accord better with the gospel: if LaGuardia had not just been the judge but also the shopkeeper from whom the woman stole. When we sin, we sin against God. He has to judge us guilty, but then he pays for what we have done. It all makes sense when we remember the Christian view of Jesus: He is God.

NO ONE HAS SEEN GOD

Many Muslims have asked me how Jesus could be God if the Bible says “no one has ever seen God” (1 John 4:12). It makes sense that Muslims would ask this question, interpreting John’s epistle in light of tawhid, a monadic view of God. But John the disciple, the man through whom God authored this Bible verse, is also the author of the Gospel of John, and he interprets it for us in John 1:18: “No one has ever seen God; the only begotten God, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (my trans.). In other words, when the Bible says “no one has ever seen God,” it is referring to God the Father. Jesus, who is God and at the Father’s side, has made him known. That is why Jesus is able to say to his disciple Philip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Seeing Jesus is seeing God, tantamount to seeing the Father. So although no one has seen God the Father, people have seen God the Son. This means that every time someone in the Bible saw God, they were seeing the second person of the Trinity, Jesus. When we remember that Jesus is the second person of the triune God, this otherwise problematic verse is easy to understand.

 

THE MAJESTY OF A KING

Sahar’s question to me that summer afternoon in Oakland intuitively captured a sentiment that I think many Christians can learn from: God is King of the universe, unimaginably holy, and it is far beneath his majesty for him to be born on this filthy earth. So I affirmed her question, but then asked her one in turn. “Sahar, let’s imagine that you are on your way to a very important ceremony and are dressed in your finest clothes. You are about to arrive just on time, but then you see your daughter drowning in a pool of mud. What would you do? Let her drown and arrive looking dignified, or rescue her but arrive at the ceremony covered in mud?”

Her response was very matter of fact, “Of course, I would jump in the mud and save her.”

Nuancing the question more, I asked her, “Let’s say there were others with you. Would you send someone else to save her, or would you save her yourself?”

Considering this, Sahar responded, “If she is my daughter, how could I send anyone else? They would not care for her like I do. I would go myself, definitely.”

I paused for a short moment before continuing, “If you, being a human, love your daughter so much that you are willing to lay aside your dignity to save her, how much more can we expect God, if he is our perfectly loving Father, to lay aside his majesty to save us?” She considered this for a moment, and the conversation moved on. As the dinner ended, my friend returned me to my immersion Arabic program, where the idea of drowning was perhaps a bit too real for me.

During my last week in Oakland, as the program was coming to a fruitful and merciful end, I received another text message from my friend inviting me out to dinner, this time to meet a new Christian from a Muslim background. When I arrived, I was met by a beaming Sahar! The message of God’s selfless love had overpowered her, and she could no longer remain Muslim. A few days after our dinner, she had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Now it was time to rejoice with her, share stories about our amazing God, and point the way forward for her discipleship.

Taken from Chapter 11 of  No God but One:  Allah or Jesus? A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam & Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi
Copyright © 2016 by Zondervan. Used by permission of Zondervan.

Continue Reading

Over 10,000 Titles!

Posted by on 08/29/2016 in:

From our beginnings as a Bible app on some of the first mobile devices our mission at Olive Tree has always been to connect people to God’s word, enabling people to read the Bible wherever they are. As technology changed we began to offer additional resources to aid people in their study of the Bible such as commentaries, maps, and eBooks. Just recently we crossed a significant marker that we wanted to share with you.

We now have over 10,000 titles available to use in the Olive Tree Bible App!

10000graph

As you can see we actually have over 11,000 titles. Once we hit 10,000 we were so excited that we just kept going.

What does this mean for you?

Over 10 years ago we started adding different types of resources to aid you in your understanding of God’s word. As digital books began to be more readily available and widely used, it was our desire to make them available to help people grow in their understanding of God’s word and by extension their faith.

10000Table

Today within the Olive Tree Bible App you can access devotionals, maps, dictionaries, Bible commentaries, Christian eBooks and more. With your smartphone, tablet, or computer you can have access to a library of resources wherever you go. We’re committed to continue to provide the best Bible reading and study experience and are excited about the months and years ahead!

With so many titles available browse by category or use the search button HERE.

As part of our celebration we’ve also put over 230 titles on sale!

Continue Reading

Look Inside: NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible

Posted by on 08/23/2016 in: ,

36460_large

You’ve heard many Bible stories hundreds of times, but how many behind-the-scenes details are you missing? Sometimes a little context is all you need to discover the rich meaning behind the stories of Scripture. That’s what the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible provides. Every page is packed with expert insight into the customs, culture, and literature of Bible times. These fascinating explanations will serve to clarify your study of the Scriptures, reinforcing your confidence and bringing difficult passages of Scripture into sharp focus. Discover new dimensions of insight to even the most familiar Bible passages as you take a behind-the-scenes tour into the ancient world.

Watch the video below for a quick glimpse at how NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible looks in the Olive Tree Bible App.

For more information or to add this title to your Bible study library go HERE!

Continue Reading

Look Inside: Reese Chronological Study Bible

Posted by on 08/16/2016 in:

The KJV Reese Chronological Study Bible  is a new release for the Olive Tree Bible App. It features the KJV text laid out in a linear fashion that’s easy to read and navigate through. At the start of each section, there are links allowing for quick access forward or backward in the Bible’s timeline.

Screenshot1

The table of contents allows for either the default Olive Tree grid verse chooser, for navigation to specific verses, or a list layout to navigate based on time period. You can quickly go from what the Bible has to say about a particular time period, to a specific verse, in a matter of seconds.

Screenshot2

Screenshot3

If you have another Bible open in the main window of your Olive Tree Bible App, you will have access to nearly 300 study notes throughout the KJV Reese Chronological Study Bible, which will show up in the Resource Guide under the “Commentary” section.

Screenshot4

The KJV Reese Chronological Study Bible also contains additional features, like a year-long reading plan that can be followed either in this or your favorite Bible translation.

Screenshot5

Get the KJV Reese Chronlogical Study Bible for the Olive Tree Bible App today!

Continue Reading

Accidental Test Push Notification

Posted by on 08/11/2016 in:

You may have received a test push notification titled “Olive Tree Notification Test: Please Ignore this.” This test push notification was part of our going QA process in our efforts to make the Olive Tree Bible App faster and more reliable. We are constantly testing our apps and functionality to better serve our Olive Tree community. This involves testing and checking our features and functionality like our push notification system, to make sure they are performing smoothly and how we can make them better. Sometimes we make mistakes in that process and things don’t go as planned.

We sincerely apologize for this error and any confusion it may have caused. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by emailing us at support@olivetree.com.

Continue Reading

Eight Years on the App Store

Posted by on 08/01/2016 in:

8years-in-app

The Apple App store first launched in July of 2008 and our Bible App was available for iOS devices the following month. This month we celebrate 8 years of being in the App Store and look forward to continuing on for many more years to come. As a part of our celebrating we’ve discounted select titles that we hope will be a blessing to you and empower your continued growth and understanding of God’s word!

Go here to see them now!

Continue Reading

Parallel Bibles in the Olive Tree Bible App

Posted by on 07/27/2016 in: ,

Parallel Bibles are a very useful way to compare two different Bible translations. In print you can often find parallel Bibles that have the English language on one side and another language on the other side or possibly a more literal translation one side and a more dynamic (sometimes called paraphrase) version on the other. With our Bible App you can easily setup your own customized parallel Bible and in this blog we’ll show you how.

books-on-table edit

The screenshots below are from an iPad Mini but the process works almost identically on Android devices. The options described below require the split window to be open and assume a Bible is already open in the main window.

Option #1: Library View

The first way to create a parallel Bible is through the library view. If your split window is currently open to Resource Guide or Notes you can return to the library view by tapping the more button (circle with 3 dots) found in the upper left in the split window. Tapping Open Library will open a list of your available resources.

IMG_0853

Now select a different Bible translation to open in the split window. In the screenshot below I already had the NIV opened in the main window and I’ve selected the ESV to have open in the split window.

IMG_0854

With both Bibles now open, you can read the Bible in your main window and your secondary Bible will stay in sync and follow along.

Option #2: Resource Guide

If you’re someone who frequently uses Resource Guide, this second method is quick and easy. With Resource Guide open, scroll to your Bibles section. Here you are presented with a list of all the Bibles in your library that contain the passage you currently have open in the main window. Select the Bible you want to read and it opens to the same location as the main window. Like in the first method, this Bible will stay in sync as you scroll through the Bible in the main window.

IMG_0149

IMG_0150

Bonus Option: Even More Bibles on Desktop

Do you use our Windows desktop or Mac app? If so, we have a bonus method that allows you to open multiple parallel Bibles simultaneously. First, access your first parallel Bible by using one of the methods outlined above. Once you have your Bible open in the split window, you can then click the Popout Window button. This will open a copy of the Bible (or any resource) in a popout window that you can resize and move anywhere on the screen.

resource-guide_popout

Now go back to the split window and choose a different Bible. At this point you will have three different Bibles open to the same location that sync with the main window. Repeat these steps to open up as many translations as you would like. Below is a screenshot with four different translations open.

parallel-desktop

Why Multiple Translations?

Now that you know how to create a parallel Bible in Bible App, why would you want to use one?
Here are some ideas:

  • Read a more literal translation (KJV, ESV, NASB) alongside a more dynamic one (NLT, Message, TLB) to get a better idea of what the text says
  • Have an English translation open alongside the a different language text
  • Compare commentaries or dictionaries by having those resources open instead of a Bible

See available Bibles for the Olive Tree Bible App here!

Continue Reading

Look Inside: NIV Beautiful Word Bible

Posted by on 07/25/2016 in:

Woman scroll down screen of digital tablet. And smartphone is on

The NIV Beautiful Word Bible features five hundred familiar verses chosen from every book of the Bible. Verses from beloved stories, prophecies, and promises are artfully illustrated in full color to enhance your devotional experience in God’s Word, and perhaps even inspire you to take up your art pad and colored pencils and create your own unique Scripture artwork.

image1

To read the text and view the illustrations in the Olive Tree Bible App, simply select the NIV Beautiful Word Bible as your preferred Bible translation in the main window. Tapping on any of the images will bring it up in its own window, where you can pinch to zoom in. The Bible text has been designed for viewing in a single pane. This allows you to scroll up and down to see the images inline and in context with the verse from which they are drawn. Or use the Verse Chooser to go directly to any Bible chapter and verse you like. And as with any Olive Tree Bible text, you can add your own notes, highlight words or verses, and bookmark your favorite passages.

image1[1]

And the visually appealing illustrated Bible verses from the NIV Beautiful Word Bible are available for you in the Olive Tree Bible App, even if you have a different Bible text open. Just tap and drag the split window to access the Resource Guide in the App.

image3

Whenever the NIV Beautiful Word Bible has an illustration for a verse in your main window, that illustration will appear in the Resource Guide (under Images). Just tap to view it in the Resource Guide.

image4

Add the NIV Beautiful Word Bible to your library today!

Continue Reading

Look Inside: Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible

Posted by on 07/21/2016 in: ,

By Olive Tree Employee: Genny Gager

Bible commentaries and study notes are great tools for understanding what the Bible has to say to us today. Often overlooked, however, is the value that using scripture to understand scripture can bring. God’s inspired word is a complex tapestry of themes all woven together, and the development of those themes can provide us with insight into the relevant message of the Bible for today’s readers.

Finding our way around these themes can be a daunting task, especially given the variety of subjects covered in the Bible. A word search can be helpful, but it can give an incomplete picture due to the complexity of language and the context in which words are used. The great news is that Olive Tree offers the Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible, which links various themes together as they are touched upon and developed throughout Scripture. The very heart of this product is the thematic chains that number in the thousands, and people at all stages of learning about the Bible have used it in the 100 years since its initial release. The Thompson Chain resource is also a great study Bible, offering cross references, book outlines, book introductions, maps, and harmonies to aid us in our study.

We’ve put quite a bit of attention into converting the rich topical content so it can be used in the Bible Study app. Our goal was to make navigating the famous topical chains easy and intuitive and to allow quick access to the additional materials as well.

We’re going to walk through a quick example of how the Bible Study App can make navigating the Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible enjoyable and easy. The example uses and refers to the iPad version of our software. We’ve designed this resource to work seamlessly with the built-in resource guide.  Although we’ll be relying on the iPad version in our example, other versions of our app will have similar functionality.

If you want to follow along with the example, bring 1 Samuel chapter 17 up in your Bible. With everything set up, the screen will look similar to this (your screen may look a little different depending on what resources you have and how you have your resource guide set up):

To activate the chains, tap the name of the Thompson Chain under the commentaries section of your resource guide. Your split-window view will change to a listing of verses directly related to your location:

Choose the verse you want by tapping on it in the split window. In this example we’ll choose 17:4:

You can now choose the theme you want to explore in the list under that verse, for instance choosing 1409, Giants, results in the following:

Now it’s as easy as tapping on each verse reference to get a popup where you can read the appropriate Bible text.

When you are done with this chain, you can tap the back arrow at the upper left corner of the split screen to return to the verse menu.

The wealth of other information in the Thompson Chain resource is easily available as well. Return to the base screen of the resource guide by tapping the back arrow until your screen looks similar to this:

Notice the entries for the Thompson Chain located in the Introductions and Outlines sections. Just tap on an entry to quickly access the information.
Finally, some other gems are available but a little less obvious. For this example, tap the David entry under the People section. After you’ve tapped on it, the screen will look like this:

The Resource Guide automatically shows you that there is an article on David available in the Thompson Chain resource. Tap on the article to read it.

There is also an image on the Journeys and Life of David under the Images section that you can open.

Tap the “double arrows” to make the image full screen, and pinch and zoom to make the image larger:

We hope that this quick example will help you explore and learn about the Bible with the Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible, a trusted resource that has been used by generations of Bible enthusiasts. When used in combination with the Bible Study App, you are just a few taps away from unlocking the themes of the Bible as they weave in and out of the entire text.

Right now you can get the Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible for 40% off the regular price.

Continue Reading