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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
In 1957, Lieutenant David Steeves walked out of the California Sierras 54 days after his Air Force trainer jet had disappeared. He related an unbelievable tale of how he had lived in a snowy wilderness after parachuting from his disabled plane. By the time he showed up alive, he had already been declared officially dead. When further search failed to turn up the wreckage, a hoax was suspected and Steeves was forced to resign under a cloud of doubt. His story was confirmed, however, more than 20 years later when a troop of Boy Scouts discovered the wreckage of his plane.
Another “survival story” from centuries ago is still controversial. A man by the name of Jesus Christ walked out of the wilderness making claims a lot of people found difficult to believe. he was later executed and pronounced dead. But 3 days later, He showed up alive. And there have been skeptics ever since.
But consider the facts of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. His integrity is well-founded.
▸ Prophets foretold His coming.
▸ Miracles supported His deity.
▸ Eyewitnesses verified His resurrection.
▸ And today the Holy Spirit confirms that Jesus is alive to anyone who is seeking to know the truth.
Yes, you can believe it! Do you? THE RESURRECTION IS A FACT OF HISTORY
THAT DEMANDS A RESPONSE OF FAITH
We don’t seem to want to worship a God who’s too big, too authoritative. We seem more comfortable with a deity who’s more ma...
There was a wealthy man who was shopping with this 16 year-old son. His son saw a new computer system and showed his dad. The wealthy man said, “Why son, that costs $2,000?” The son said, “Yeah dad, but we’ve got the money.” To which the dad says, “We? Who said anything about we having anything? I know that I’ve got the money, I know that you don’t.” You see, the son misunderstood the nature of the relationship with his father. He thought that He could choose whatever the father spent his money on, while the father wasn’t so careless. God owns it all and we must be careful about how we treat his possessions
What’s the main idea?
On his many caravan rides along the trading route between
Syria and Arabia, a merchant named Muhammad observed people of
all kinds of faiths. He became increasingly concerned that
people were straying from ethical and moral responsibility. In
A.D. 610, when Muhammad was 40 years old, the angel Gabriel
allegedly commanded him to become a prophet, calling people
back to the truth. The foundation of Islam was laid.
Islam is the second-largest religion in the world (after
Christianity), claiming one billion followers, called Muslims.
The religion hangs on the phrase, "There is no god but Allah
and Muhammad is his prophet." Allah (Arabic for "God") is
alone to be worshiped. So it’s a big mistake to think Muslims
view Muhammad the same way Christians view Jesus. Muhammad was
not a deity to be worshiped, but the last and greatest
prophet -- someone who brought a perfect message from God.
Muslims aren’t concerned as much about the right beliefs as
they are about the right actions. In "submitting to the will
of God" (that’s the meaning of the word "Islam"), they stick
to the Five Pillars, a set of important requirements that
includes regular charity, praying five times a day, and making
at least one hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca (Islam’s holy city).
In addition to this, most Muslims devoutly refrain from
alcohol, drugs, gambling, and certain foods such as pork. The
Qur’an (or Koran), which Muslims believe is the written
recollection of the visions Muhammad received, is the most
important text, although our Old and New Testaments are also
significant in Islam.
ANY COMMON GROUND?
Christians and Muslims share a lot of similar beliefs. For
instance, Moses, Jacob, and David are influential in both
faiths. And Muslims have enormous respect for Jesus, seeing
him as the second-greatest prophet. Muslims also believe in
Jesus’ virgin birth and his miracles, even saying he’s the
WHAT SETS US APART?
Muslims don’t believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection, and
they consider the Christian claim of Jesus’ divinity
blasphemous. In Islam, Muhammad is the greatest and most
authentic prophet. While they think highly of the Bible,
Muslims think the Qur’an is the true Word of God. Most
significantly, the Christian concept of grace is completely
absent in Islam. Allah is relatively cold and removed, and the
principles of right and wrong, do’s and don’ts, form the
foundation of the faith.
Dr. James Lewis, Associate Professor of World Religions at
Wheaton College and Campus Life.
June 26, 2002
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail th’incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus our Immanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
‘Glory to the newborn King.’
- Charles Wesley
A friend of mine pastors in the Bloor West village in Toronto and runs a "God at the Pub" where he holds open discussions on the Christian faith in a bar setting. He told me the other day that he has all sorts of people there who are not people of faith, but who have told him they want to model their lives on Jesus.
They find in Him the highest good, the most perfect relating to others, the noblest and most admirable kind of existence they can imagine for themselves. They are perhaps finding their way to faith in Jesus without knowing it.
But what about us...do we see Jesus as He is in the Scriptures? Do we appreciate the beauty of His humanity?
We focus a lot, rightfully, on His deity...the fact that He is God in the flesh. Nothing wrong with that. But what do we do, really...with His humanity.
Clearly, others...others even who are lacking in their unde...
Donald Walker, Jr.
Listen to this song of praise about the incarnation written by Graham Kendrick:
Meekness and majesty, human and deity, in
perfect harmony the one who is God.
Lord of eternity dwells in humanity, kneels in
humility and washes our feet.
Wisdom unsearchable, God the invisible, love
indestructible in frailty appears,
Lord of infinity, stooping so tenderly lifts our
humanity to the heights of his throne.
O what a mystery. Meekness and majesty. Bow
down and worship, for this is your God.
(Graham Kendrick, "Meekness and Majesty" found in Seasoning the Season, Mainstay Church Resources, p. B.146)
Because Jesus was God, He could not sin. He could sin as a man, but He could not as God. It would be like taking a hollow cane pole and a steel rod that is small enough in diameter to fit through the pole. The cane pole represents Jesus’ humanity; the steel rod represents His deity. If you took just the cane pole and tried to break it over your knee, you would eventually break it. Jesus the man could eventually be broken by sin---give in to temptation. However, if you put the steel rod through the cane pole, you could not break it. Similarly, the steel rod represents the divine nature of Jesus. Consequently, because Jesus, the human, was also divine, He could not break and commit sin.