When our 8-year-old daughter asked how old Jesus was a few years ago, I was shocked when my husband answered about 2,000 years old. I knew he’d been studying the term, “Son of God” in the Bible for a while but didn’t fully realize he’d come to think of Jesus as “only” human until this answer. That started 6 months of discussions with each other. I dug into the Scriptures and prayed, including for him as I’d done for all our family daily for years. That year’s verse I’d been praying for him was 2 Thes. 3:5,16 that God would “direct his heart to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ and grant him peace in every circumstance.” It bothered me that the verse differentiated between God and Jesus the Christ, but I wasn’t going to change verses as it was Scripture, and so I continued to pray it for him daily as I studied.
As I searched the Scriptures and prayed, I had a strong sense to be quiet and not speak bad of my husband. Job’s wife left a big impression on me. She wasn’t taken away with all the other belongings and family of Job. We don’t even know her name and the only thing recorded of her is one harsh comment against her husband, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die. But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:9,10). She spoke foolishly. The Scripture says Job didn’t sin in what he said but not her. I kept thinking she probably regretted that one harsh comment years later (or even before) when all his fortune was returned to him. So, it was best to keep my mouth SHUT. Proverbs 21:23 was strong upon me also. “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.” I had enough troubles brewing, and by keeping my mouth shut I could prevent more!
I never thought to leave my husband, as marriage was for better and for worse, so now I expected “the worse” part was coming. I tried to give him a 20% listening ear to what he was saying about the deity of Christ issue but was happy when went days or even weeks went by without him talking about it. I hoped he’d forgotten about it. Also, it was surprising to me that he was happy (happier even than normal), embraced ALL Scriptures, and now was resigning from his teaching job after 23 years of working for the school, since he could no longer sign their doctrinal statement with the Trinity in it.
About a week before he left Israel for the States to have meetings with people the school wanted him to meet with, he asked me if God can die? I knew God cannot die and said no. Then he asked me who died on the cross if God can’t die, was it the human or divine side of Jesus? I thought if God can’t die then it can’t be the divine side but the human side, but it sounded funny splitting Jesus into two different beings. Those questions “cracked” me and from then on, I started to think perhaps he was right, but the Scriptures would have to prove it.
The school handled it much differently than I expected. After the school instructed my husband to meet with a friend on the opposite side of the USA, most the meetings at the school were cancelled, except for a meeting to dismiss him. The falseness and lies being said about him not only hurt me but also many others we loved and knew well. I’d been at my mother’s deathbed and funeral and knew pain and grief, but this was worse than that as it involved so many loved ones that I couldn’t reach, including my own husband, who was 7000 miles away in a different country.
So, while I was shocked at the school’s reaction, I was also shocked at his reaction. He texted me, “Don’t mind about them. Acts 5:41 I’m rejoicing that I am found worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus.” Acts 5:41,42 says, “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” Ironically, the next verse is what he’s continued to do… not ceasing to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah!
During those roughest hours the verse that encouraged me the most was 1 John 3:16, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” I kept thinking of this verse. This is what real love is, that Jesus laid down his life for us. And now I’m laying my life down for the brethren. The school didn’t show proper love, but Jesus did. Jesus was mocked, spit on, whipped, and people even took his clothes from him, though he hadn’t done anything wrong. He was wrongly accused more so than my husband, and even put to death on a cross.
One of my friends had told me there’s a verse that will test if one is of God or not. She showed me 1 John 4:2, “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.” My husband passed this test. That’s what he was saying, Jesus the Messiah was a human being. The test wasn’t to believe God had come in the flesh or that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh and yet was fully God. That would be changing Scripture. I thought for a school that gives tests they should have properly tested him with this test, which he passed.
I continued to read all of 1 John for answers. The school terminated him (although he first told them he was resigning), but I had to continue to live with him and needed to know if he was right or wrong. I knew a big change and international move was ahead for our family, and that I’d go with him. Although I wasn’t sure if I could attend a church that also believed this. I needed answers in the Scriptures, my only authority. Ironically, the school used two verses from 1 John to prove him wrong – except those verses didn’t (1 John 2:2; 5:20). In fact, 1 John was showing me my husband was right:
1 John 4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him.
1 John 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God
1 John 5:5 Who overcomes the world, he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Nowhere does it say one must believe Jesus is God. Rather, to believe that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) and Son of God, like my husband was saying.
Then I read the book of Acts as my husband had suggested to see what the apostles and early church believed about Jesus. Did they ever claim that Jesus is God as they preached? No, their message was that Jesus was the Messiah who had been put to death, but who had been raised from the dead by God (e.g., Acts 2:22-36).
Also, I noticed how all the epistles had greetings from both God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes the greetings are from the God of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As I kept reading in the Book of Acts, I also kept reading Philippians 3:7-14 for encouragement. “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…10 that I may know him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death,… but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Those verses really encouraged me, and I kept reading them and laying down “my life” to gain the real Christ (Messiah), Jesus, as I pressed forward.
It was a time of refining fire to test the genuineness of our faith (1 Peter 1:3-9), pruning (John 15:2), power washing (Ephesians 5:25-28), and log removal. My husband took the log out of his eye so he could see clearly to take it out of his wife’s eye (Luke 6:42). There were (and still are) things we needed to unlearn and learn. It was humbling and yet the Scriptures became clearer than ever, and we were gaining in understanding since so many Scriptures now made much more sense. To use a computer metaphor, we were refurbished and updated with some major bug fixes for better performance. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57). And thanks to my husband for loving the praise of God more than the praise of men (John 5:44, 12:43)
Since I’d been quiet during my time of unsureness, in the end I only had to apologize to one lady friend that I was wrong as I’d found out from the Scriptures that what my husband was saying was right. Now our marriage was in the “better” part after 25 years. And now I LOVE our church of one God and one Lord Jesus Messiah believers and the weekly Bible studies. The fellowship with other sisters and brothers in Christ is very dear to me.
It was a big change in our lives and marriage, and now I can honestly say it’s been for the better. The Scriptures make so much more sense now. I’ve come to accept the changes as God’s discipline for us, which although it hurt and was unpleasant, it was for our best interest. “For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son he delights.” (Proverbs 3:12) “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” 2 John 3
(Writen in 1924) Time and space practically are annihilated, and we are in instantaneous communication with men in all parts of the world. To live twenty-four hours without the telegraph, telephone, or wireless telegraph would be a calamity to the world. Still a great many so-called Christians seem to get along without the family altar, private prayer chamber, thanksgiving at meals and the church prayer meeting, which are the offices of the telegraph, telephone and wireless telegraph, keeping us in constant communion with our Father which art in heaven, the source of all good and infinite love.
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Stephanie Schlegel was born and raised in small-town Indiana but lived
most of her adult life (25 years) in Israel while her husband taught
college students Bible geography, history and Hebrew. Their five
children were born and raised in Israel. Besides raising the
children, Stephanie helped with women's Bible studies, prayer groups,
and was a “mom” for the students overseas. She taught in their
congregation's Shabbat school children classes (in Hebrew). Her family
now lives in Tennessee with the two youngest children and two in-laws.
She loves being a homemaker and studying the Bible.