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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)
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
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
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...
Case in point: One of the biggest fools in US Government History was Thomas Jefferson: He and George Washington did not agree on much because of his twisted and distorted religious beliefs:
Thomas Jefferson had bought into the lie of the Enlightenment, French promoted Age of Reason and he eventually slipped into the Deism and the Unitarian belief system. Marshall notes, “Deism emphatically rejected the Triune God of Holy Scriptures. It renounced the divinity of Jesus Christ, His sacrifice on the Cross to atone for the sins of men, and His resurrection. Indeed, according to the Deists, there was nothing to atone for: to them, the concept of man’s nature as sinful and fallen was repugnant and absurd. They exalted reason and intellect, and anything that was not logical or rational they summarily rejected-including all the supernatural elements of the Christian faith. In sum, Deism offered a more appealing deity-a conforming abstract, the Prime Cause to which all effects could be traced, an ever gentle, loving and kind Supreme Being quite different from the righteous authoritarian of the extreme Calvinists (page 96). Jefferson bought into Tom Paine’s “Age of Reason” This book attacked Christianity: Marshall notes this:Like other Deist works, it was widely read and contained such profanities as: “The Christian mythologists, calling themselves the Christian Church, have erected their fable which, for absurdity and extravagance, is not exceeded by anything that is found in the mythology of the ancients.” And “Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditional or invented absurdities, or of downright lies.” He also referred to the New Testament Gospel as “The fable of Christ” (Page 99). Jefferson went so far while he was President to re-write the Bible and called it the “Jefferson Bible.” He removed every reference to the supernatural, the Virgin birth, the Resurrection, the raising of Lazarus, and all other miracles (Marshall, page 111). He believed that we as a nation had evolved past the foolishness of believing in things like this – He tried pushing his distorted views and the country lashed out at him for it.
Solomon says the reality check comes when the fool dies and has to stand before God in heaven and give an account for his life and actions.
JESUS: THE TOTAL PACKAGE
Last week the Minnesota Timberwolves traded the superstar Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics in exchange for seven players. What does it feel like to know that you are worth seven men? Obviously KG, as he's known among NBA fans, must be pretty good. He is. He's the total package. This 6'11" power-forward can shoot, dribble, pass, AND play defence. That's why the Celtics were willing to trade seven players to get him. They figure that KG will give them their best shot at winning a championship.
Kevin Garnett may be worth seven men, but Jesus Christ is worth every person that ever lived. We know this because the heavenly Father traded Jesus away to gain for himself a world of sinners. Like Kevin Garnett, only better, Jesus is the total package. That's what the Apostle Paul wanted to impress upon the Colossian Christians who were in danger of letting Jesus go in favour of man-made philosophies they thought more impressive. Today we want to learn together how Jesus is the total package so that we never let go of him.
Paul wrote to the Colossians because their pastor, Epaphras, told him about the false teachers that were hanging around his members urging things like the worship of angels, abstinence from certain foods, and the belief that Jesus wasn't God. To reinforce what the Colossians had learned from their own pastor, namely that Jesus is the total package, Paul wrote: "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority"
SOURCE: (Colossians 2:9, 10).From Daniel Habben's Sermon: Jesus is the Total Package
Selecting a Christmas Gift
It is that time of the year when people really start to get serious about selecting Christmas gifts.
When purchasing Christmas gifts one must first remember what is being celebrated. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
The key thrust surrounding the first Christmas was proclamation. The angels proclaimed, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ, the Lord" (Luke 2:11). After the shepherds heard the good news they went into Bethlehem and found Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about the child; all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them (Luke 2: 16-18).
It has been over two thousand years since this historical event and there is just as much need today as there was then to proclaim the birth of Christ. The Christmas celebration is the perfect time to remind or tell people about God's plan of redemption. After all, it is the time of year we have chosen to celebrate the birth of the Savior who came into the world to save people from their sins.
Before you can select the perfect Christmas gift, one that will proclaim the message of the birth of Christ, you must first understand who Jesus is and the purpose of His coming to earth. Jesus is God's perfect gift to the world. He is fully God and fully man. "In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9). He is God in the flesh. The beloved John tells us, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning" (John 1: 1,2). "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1: 14). Mark Lowry wrote about the incarnation wonderfully when he wrote these words, "Mary, did you know, that when you kissed your little baby, you kissed the face of God? Mary, did you know?"
Jesus' key purpose for coming into this world is for the redemption of fallen man. The price He paid on the cross meets the need of all mankind, "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" (Romans 3: 23, 24).
The perfect Christmas gift that will proclaim the gospel message meets two qualifications: 1.) It must represent the personality of the giver, and 2.) It meets the need of the recipient.
Even people of this world know the value of a thoughtful gift. When Pastor John Bisagno was working as chaplain to the Houston Oilers, the players gave him an autographed football which every player had signed inscribed with a Scripture from the Bible. Whenever he looks at the football, it reminds him of every player to whom he ministered the Word of God as chaplain.
Christians, among the gifts you give this year, give some that reflect the Christ who lives in you and expresses the need of the recipients to receive Christ as Savior and Lord.
Have a Joyous Christmas celebrating the Greatest Gift!
As C.S. Lewis describes…
“Men are reluctant to pass over from the notion of an abstract and negative deity to the living God. It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. “Look out!” we cry, “it’s alive.” And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back…I would have done so myself if I could…and proceed no further with Christianity. An impersonal God…well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads…better still. A formless life-force, surging through us, a vast power which we can tap…best of all. But God himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband…that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep i...
You Can't Put God in a Box
Have you heard that before? In a sense, it is certainly true. The eternal Creator God is outside all our finite minds can comprehend. He is not bound by the natural laws that He put into place for His creation. Though WE cannot confine Him or "put God in a box," HE can! In fact, around 3500 years ago, He chose to confine Himself, in that time and place and for His purposes, to the top of a box. God commanded His people, the Israelites, to build Him a very special box, the Ark of the Covenant.
He said, "There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands..." (Exodus 25: 22)
While not limiting His omnipresence and for His specific purposes, God would still confine His Presence to a specific place, over the cover of the Ark of the Covenant inside the Tent of Meeting. That is where He met Moses and where He said that He would teach His people everything they needed to know.
In the same manner, He confined Himself in order to guide them through the wilderness. "Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle... In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out -- until the day it lifted." (Exod. 40: 34, 36-37)
In order that His people would have an infallible guide and would not have to lean on their own understanding, He confined Himself in a physical place that they could see and follow, a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
About 1500 years later, God once again confined Himself. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God... the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." (John 1: 1, 14)... "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form..." (Colossians 2: 9)
Jesus Christ, "... made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." (Philippians 2: 7)
The One through whom all things were created willingly confined His glory for thirty-three years to a human body; as a young child, a body that had to be cared for and fed by His mother and as He grew, a body that got weary and sore, and was tempted in every way, just as we are, the Scripture says, yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4: 15) Once again God gave us a perfect and infallible guide for our understanding.
Hebrews 1: 1 - 3 says that "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word."
During my basic training in the South African Air Force, we were out on a field trip for about a week. It was bitterly cold and raining during the entire period. Shortly after we arrived in the field, the corporal in charge had our unit line up outside.
"You, you, and you," he shouted as he randomly picked several of us, "You go and dig latrines in the field. The rest of you, get inside your tents." So off we went to go and dig latrines in the cold and rain, while the rest of the unit went into their tents to get warm.
Now, many people think of God as someone a little like my old corporal. They see God as an unconcerned deity who sits on his throne in heaven, and he randomly assigns some to heaven and others to hell for no good reason. He says, as it were, "You, you and you, you go to hell! The rest of you go to heaven!"
This, of course, is a complete distortion of how God acts. But it is the view of so many, and therefore I need to address it.
Dr. James Montgomery Boice, former pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church, says that "it is impossible to have election, the positive side of predestination, without reprobation, which is the negative side."
This has been recognized throughout church history. John Calvin, for example, summarized the thoughts of many when he wrote, "Election cannot stand except as set over against reprobation."
(From a sermon by Freddy Fritz, "God’s Judgment" 1/23/2009)