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W.H. Griffith Thomas scourged Christians this way, “There is no greater foe to Christianity than mere profession. There is no greater discredit to Christianity today than to stand up for it, and yet not live it in our lives. There is no greater danger in the Christian world today than to stand up for the Bible, and yet to deny that Bible by the very way we defend it. There is no greater hindrance to Christianity today than to contend for orthodoxy, whatever the orthodoxy may be, and to deny it by the censoriousness, the hardness, the unattractiveness with which we champion our cause. Oh this power of personal testimony ?with the heart filled with the love of Christ, the mind saturated with the teaching of Christ, the conscience sensitive to the law of Christ, the whole nature aglow with grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.?(Listening to tthe Giants, 149-50, Warren Wiersbe, Baker 1980)
Sermon Central Staff
ATHANASIUS CONTENDS FOR THE DEITY OF CHRIST
If Jesus is something less than God, he has no right and no power to forgive our sins. If Jesus can’t forgive our sins, we have no hope.
Yes, the doctrine of the deity of Christ is worth contending for. And there is nobody God used more to contend for this biblical truth than Athanasius.
Athanasius was born in the year 298AD in Egypt. In his early twenties he was a deacon in the church in Alexandria (North Africa). During that time, the doctrine of the deity of Christ came under attack by a highly influential pastor named Arius. Arius taught that Jesus was a created being, that he had a beginning, and there was a time when Jesus was not. Therefore, according to Arius, Jesus is the son of God, but not God the son. His heresy was later known as the Arian heresy (named after Arius). It sparked a flame throughout the empire, that would dominate the church for 60 years. It was a 20 year old young man by the name of Athanasius, 40 years younger than Arius, that God would use to contend for the doctrine of the deity of Christ (good word to 20 year olds here today, you don’t need to wait to have a huge impact in the kingdom. God can use you now).
Athanasius would endure decades of persecution, banished from the church, sent into exile five times, framed for murder, threatened with death, slandered by emperors and bishops, all for standing firm to the doctrine of the deity of Christ. In the end he prevailed, truth was preserved, and the church has stood on his shoulders ever since.
(From a sermon by Mark Connelly, The Deity of Christ, 8/24/2011)
George Hunter contends that the first characteristic of a secular person in the modern world is that he or she is ignorant of basic Christianity. It has been said of the Baby Busters, those born between 1963 and 1977 and the first generation to grow up in a postmodern context, that they lack even the memory of a hope-giving gospel. Today many people outside of the church struggle with the concept of Christ’s deity. They think he was a good man, perhaps even a prophet, but not God in human form. Further, 72 percent of Americans now deny the existence of absolute truth, and few have confidence in the historical accuracy or ethical authority of the Bible. Two-thirds of the population does not know what John 3:16 refers to, and less than four out of every ten Americans have any idea what the term gospel means. Ten percent believe that the name of Noah’s wife was Joan of Arc.
James White, Rethinking the Church, p. 41
AND – do you know what is really sad – this lack of prayer in the church that we see today – this putting not just on the back burner, BUT in the garage the POWERFUL weapon of prayer – has been a problem in the church for a very long time…hundreds of years…
Fenelon a French writer of the late 1600’s writes;
“Of all the duties enjoined by Christianity, none is more essential and yet more neglected than prayer. Most people consider the exercise a fatiguing ceremony, which they are justified in abridging as much as possible. Even those whose profession or fears lead them to pray, pray with such languor (lethargy, sluggishness) that their prayers far from drawing down blessings, only increase their condemnation.”
E.M. Bounds writes in his book, “Purpose in Prayer”
“When we calmly reflect upon the fact that the progress of our Lord’s kingdom is dependent upon prayer, it is sad to think that we give so little time to the holy exercise. Everything depends on prayer, and yet we neglect it – not only to our own spiritual hurt, but also to the delay and injury of our Lord’...
Norman Cousins was diagnosed as having an incurable disease. He was bedridden & the doctors gave him no hope at all. So he decided on his own treatment. His family got a movie projector & rented all the Charlie Chaplin & Abbott & Costello movies that they could find - movies where you just sit back & laugh because they are genuinely funny.
He ran one movie after another, & the more he watched the more he laughed. The more he laughed, the better he felt. First thing you know, the doctors could find no evidence of the incurable disease.
Last week, on the editorial page of the Valley Morning Star, Paul Harvey stated that for the last 10 years Norman Cousins has been on the staff of the UCLA School of Medicine & is pioneering a new medical discipline: "pyschoneuro-immunology."
The article states, "Carefully controlled experiments conducted by Cousins & his associates demonstrate that you - just by controlling your mind set - can alter your temperature, your blood pressure & your blood chemistry in a matter of minutes."
It goes on to say, "There is now evidence that cancer patients - liberated from depression - can actually activate the anti-cancer capability of the immune system. ’The human body,’ contends Cousins, ’is far more robust than people have been led to believe. A strong will to live, along with the other positive emotions - faith, love, purpose, determination, humor - boosts disease-fighting immune cells.’"
So the proverb is true. If you’re joyful in your heart, then that is good medicine. But if you’re not joyful, if your spirit is broken, then it dries up your bones. You become old & tired, & a person no one wants to be around.
BRINGING THE OLD LIFE WITH YOU
The motor home has allowed us to put all the conveniences of home on wheels. A camper no longer needs to contend with sleeping in a sleeping bag, cooking over a fire, or hauling water from a stream. Now he can park a fully equipped home on a cement slab in the midst of a few pine trees and hook up to a water line, a sewer line and electricity. One motor home I saw recently had a satellite dish attached on top. No more bother with dirt, no more smoke from the fire, no more drudgery of walking to the stream. Now it is possible to go camping and never have to go outside. We buy a motor home with the hope of seeing new places, of getting out into the world. Yet we deck it out with the same furnishings as in our living room. Thus nothing really changes. We may drive to a new place, set ourselves in new surrounding, but the newness goes unnoticed, for we’ve only carried along our old setting.
The adventure of new life in Christ begins when the comfortable patterns of the old life are left behind.
“An Ever-Rolling Stream!” Genesis 6: 1-3 Key verse(s): 3: “Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for hie is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.’”
“It can wait until tomorrow!” Despite that old adage, “Never put off to tomorrow the things that you can do today!” , the fact is that there are many if not most things when examined with the critical eye that could always wait for another day, another better time, another opportunity to offer completion or execute disposal. Take doing your taxes, for example. Many has been the time that I, prompted by a striving to be efficient and on top of my game, have tried to complete my taxes before the middle of January had arrived. And, how often have I found that, once completed early, I only had to go back and change something any way since W-2’s had not yet arrived or a certain interest statement had not yet arrived from the bank. Doing taxes in an efficient and timely manner usually requires waiting for just the right tomorrow and then setting out to get the work done then. If you think about it, there are probably a lot of things in this life like that. Jumping the gun and trying to complete projects and tasks before they are ready can cause a whole lot of trouble. In fact, trying to save time in this manner can often result in the opposite, losing the time you had striven to save. When you come right down to it, perhaps there is nothing wrong with procrastination as long as you end up “winning” at the end. I’ve often heard it put this way: “A successful procrastinator puts off his work so long that by the time it’s finished, there’s no time not to like what he had done.”
What about the old adage “Everything comes to him who waits?” Doesn’t that mean that the longer I wait to plan something, initiate something or complete something, the better the odds that the waiting will result in a better product, a higher achievement and a more rewarding outcome when I finally do decide to address the issues? It would, of course, be great if this were the way all things were accomplished in this life. In a way it would be like just sitting back and letting things sort themselves out and then getting down to business. In a perfect world things would probably work that way. I have often felt that this was the method for accomplishment that Adam and Eve must have used. Things just happened when they were supposed to happen. Time, in essence, had as little meaning for them as it does for God.
But, in this imperfect world we live in, it is highly more likely that the longer we wait to do things, the harder and more unpleasant they will seem to be to start. Perhaps it’s the way we look at time that causes all the problem. We divide things into yesterday, today and tomorrow. Since we live in today and want to enjoy the moment and yesterday is beyond our reach, poor tomorrow so often gets the nod for the “to-do’s” in our lives. Yet, when you think of it, tomorrow and today are so inextricably linked that waiting for tomorrow is like waiting for the next minute to pass on your watch. There is always another minute; there will always be another tomorrow. Clarence Macartney writes, “At the threshold of a new year, we stand today at one of those divisions of time which man has established for his own convenience. The division is altogether imaginary and arbitrary. This day is no more the beginning of a new year than yesterday or the day before.
“THEOLOGY IN THE PEW”
“A large share of people who attend Protestant or Catholic churches have adopted beliefs that conflict with the teachings of the Bible and their church, according to the latest release from the Barna Research Group (www.barna.org).
There are some fundamental Christian precepts that most Americans have held on to:
Three-quarters of all adults believe in the Trinity.
Seventy-nine percent accept that "every person has a soul that will live forever, either in God’s presence or absence."
Seventy-six percent reject the pre-Reformation perspective that "the Bible can only be correctly interpreted by people who have years of intense training in theology."
On other issues, the research found disturbing trends:
Six out of ten Americans (59%) reject the existence of Satan, calling him merely a symbol of evil, a view common among Catholics.
More than one-third (35%) believe that it is "possible to communicate with others after they die."
Forty-two percent believe that, when Jesus was on earth, he committed sins.
Half of all adults arg...
"A research laboratory is not simply a building that contains apparatus for conducting experiments. I contend that it is a state of mindThe research man ought to be thought of as the fellow you keep up in the crows-nest to see beyond your horizon, to tell you where there is another prize ship to be taken or a man-o-war to be avoided."
"We should remember that it is no honor or profit merely to appear in the arena, but the wreath is for those who contend aright."