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Category Archives: Christology

Do Not Stop Speaking


jesus.heal_Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Mark 7:31-37

God does not do everything in a public forum. We offer a public invitation to repent and submit to Jesus Christ in churches every Sunday, but in reality people are not required to walk down the aisle to be saved. Some people have very public salvation experiences, and some are very private ones. Some are saved while the preacher is speaking, while others are saved once home and meditating on the things said. There is no one experience that is better than another.

This man was healed privately. Many of Jesus’ miracles, such as His feeding of the 5,000 men, were very public. Others, like this one, were very private. What connects them all is what happened afterwards.

Acts 4:1-22

Peter and John were threatened with prison, violence and death. Their response? “We cannot stop speaking about what we’ve seen and heard.”

They couldn’t stop. They were compelled. They were driven to speak about Jesus.

When Jesus touches someone, they cannot stop speaking about it. Even if Jesus tells them not to speak, they cannot help themselves.

What about you? How often do you speak about His love? How often do you proclaim His good news to others?

No one is stopping us. There are not yet soldiers in the streets to arrest us, beat us, or kill us. And yet we are stopped by sneers and ridicule, or simply indifference.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10

We hold back because we want to please men. Even in the Church, a dangerous practice of pleasing men in a thin veneer called “seeker churches.” These people try to be “seeker” sensitive, not being overbearing towards those who come to their church seeking God.

Except, no Lost soul is seeking Him, for it is written:

“No one understands; no one seeks for God.”
Romans 3:11

Men do not seek God. God seeks out men to save them. The world has so blinded itself with sin that it is oblivious to the coming Judgement. We are the watchmen called to sound the trumpet and warn the people.

Ezekiel 33:1-9

We are required to sound the trumpet and warn the Lost. God will hold us accountable for every soul we had a chance to tell but did not. Every soul we tell that does not repent and heed our warning we are guiltless of. We cannot convince people of the truth, for it is also written:

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
1st Corinthians 2:14

In his natural, sinful state, humans cannot understand, cannot see the beauty of the Gospel. In fact, it’s complete nonsense. Only God can change that heart of stone to a heart of flesh, but He often uses us to do it.

Titus 2:1-10

“Adorn” here means to make alluring or attractive. So in a sense we are to make the Gospel more appealing to the Lost, but not by downplaying sin and Judgement, or by working around penal substitution, but by living according to the teachings of Christ in every way, showing the world that God’s way not only works, but is the best way to live.

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
1st Peter 3:13-17

No one is saying go grab a sandwich board and stand on the street screaming at people to “turn or burn.” What the Bible says is to live a godly life and revere Christ as holy. Then, when people inquire as to why you live and love thus, you share the Gospel. We do not do this harshly or in judgement, but as dying men to dying men.

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.
Colossians 4:5

Don’t stay silent. Be wise among unbelievers and look for opportunities. If you see one open up, you go for it!

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Posted by on November 8, 2015 in Christology

 

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Not Safe, but Good

I grow tired of people who believe in a milksop God and a milksop Jesus. God is dynamic and powerful and dangerous and loving and deadly and mysterious and violent and playful and serious and funny (yes, funny).

God reveals Himself to us in His Word. He pulls no punches. The Bible is R-rated. He makes people alive, and He kills people. He raises up nations and leaders and champions, and He tears down civilizations and drives leaders to madness and allows champions to fall into ruin.

Along the way God makes no apologies for His actions and makes few explanations. He demands obedience and unyielding fealty to His name.

For this reason, many doubt His claim to love us and His goodness. Perhaps there would be cause for this if not for this:

“For a good man someone might dare to die. But while we were yet sinners, He died for us.”

This immeasurably powerful, all knowing, all consuming God who demands perfection, does not tolerate uncleanness and hates sin with a perfect hatred. This God put aside His rights and came to live among us in the flesh. He provided the perfect life Himself that we failed to provide. He died the death He declared we should die for us.

“So in this way God loved the world. He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

And He defines just what that is.

“This is eternal life. That they know you intimately, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

He wants us. He wants us to be with Him such that He died to bring us close to Him. There can be no greater love, indeed He says:

“Mortal man knows no greater love than this. That he lay down his life for his friends.”

He calls me friend. I am God’s friend.

So when my God does something I do not understand, even when He takes life or chooses to allow life to pass away from someone. Even if He slays me, still will I trust in Him.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
– The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

 

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10 Things You Might Not Know About the First Council of Nicaea

1. It was the first ecumenical council since the Council of Jerusalem in Acts.

This would be the first council concerning the entire Church on earth in almost 300 years. There had been plenty of “synods,” smaller councils and meetings of bishops and church leaders that made decisions for their local divisions and church communities, but a council that would make a decision binding to the entire Church on earth had not been held since the meeting in Acts where the Apostles gathered to decide whether the Gentiles had to become Jews in order to become Christians (they decided they didn’t).

Bacon

Thanks for the bacon.

2. It was called by the “Christian” Emperor Constantine, but probably not for the reasons you think.

In 312 AD Constantine won the Battle of Milvian Bridge which secured the Imperial Throne for himself. He declared himself a Christian and supported the previously illegal faith, co-signing the Edict of Milan in 313 AD making Christianity a legal religion among the many accepted in Roman culture. Contrary to popular belief, he did not make Christianity the state religion. That would not happen until the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 AD long after Constantine’s death.

Constantine called the council in 325 AD with one goal in mind: unity. The Church at this time was heavily divided along many fronts but none were as divisive as the one over the nature of Christ Himself. Was He God? Was He a god? Was He something in between these things? The debate created a clear divide in the Church and even at times lead to violence. If Constantine, the Emperor, was to be a Christian, then Christianity needed to be united. In other words, the Church was making Constantine look bad. Contrary to popular belief, Constantine honestly didn’t care what the council decided. He told them to come to an agreement and he would back up whatever they agreed on, regardless of what it was. He technically presided over the council because he was the head of state but he did not take place in the debates or the decisions.

Say what you want about those pagans, but at least they were consistent.

“Say what you want about those pagans, but at least they were consistent.” – Constantine (probably)

3. The Council did not discuss the doctrine of the Trinity.

Most people think the Council created the doctrine of the Trinity. It didn’t. The only concern of the council of this kind was over the nature of Christ and His relationship to the Father. It did not involve the Holy Spirit at all and the total relationship was not a point of discussion. The debate of the Trinity as a whole would be decided later at the Council of Constantinople in 360 AD. The concept of the Trinity was however already in place. We have records referring to the Godhead and the Trinity as far back as the 2nd Century.

4. The debate over the nature of Christ was almost over before it began.

The main debate and issue facing the council was the nature of Christ. The two major views of the day were between the traditional view of Christ as God incarnate and those promoted by Arius that Christ was merely God’s greatest creation.

Arius’ argument was that Christ was the first creation of God. He was neither of the same substance as God, nor shared God’s eternal nor divine nature. He claimed Jesus was the best and brightest of God’s creations, but a creation nonetheless. Much of Arius argument hinged on passages that refer to Jesus being “begotten” or “firstborn of creation” as well as “the Father is greater than I.”

The traditional view stemmed from the idea that any Son begotten by the Father must by definition be of the same substance and nature. Therefore, the Father and Son were always Father and Son, eternally. They are co-equal and co-substantial. They argued that Christ was begotten eternally, that is He has no beginning or end. To believe otherwise, they said, destroyed the unity of the Godhead because Christ would be unequal with the Father. Supporting scriptures for this view include “I and the Father are one” and “the Word was God.” They declared that the Son was equal to God in all aspects and is eternally derived from the Father, a declaration made earlier by Athanasius.

Arius came with roughly 22 supporters in tow. Considering that approximately 300 bishops were in attendance, this was not a negligible following, but also clearly in the minority. To make matters worse for Arius, almost all of his supporters abandoned him when the implications of his views were made plain to them.

The Council declared that the Son was truly God Himself, that He was of the same substance as the Father and existed with Him eternally. They argued this doctrine best fit the Scripture’s presentation of Christ as the Son as well as fitting with the traditional beliefs handed down by the Church fathers and Apostles.

Arius along with just two others refused to agree with the council’s decision. The emperor exiled them.

Where we presume the first "Survivor" show took place.

Where we presume the first “Survivor” show took place.

5. But that didn’t end the matter…

As much as Constantine wanted his Christianity wrapped up in a neat bow, it just wasn’t to be. The debate continued just as hotly after the council as it did before, and many violent protests would see Christian blood spilled in the streets. After a time, Arius relaxed some of his more heretical claims (but never renounced them) and was permitted to return from exile, when he promptly died while trying to take a poop. (No seriously) The movement declined afterwards but never totally went away, and many sects today (ex. Jehovah’s Witnesses) adhere to many of the same claims as Arius did.

6. The Council also addressed the Meletian Schism and Christian Apostates.

During the reigns of particularly nasty emperors in Rome, Christianity was heavily persecuted. Few could match the persecution under Diocletian, when Roman soldiers went door to door interrogating suspected Christians and throwing any who did not renounce Christ in prison. Many of those arrested were later executed. There were some Christians who “lapsed” under this stress and denounced Christ in order to save their lives. Once the crisis was over, many Christians who had endured prison and torture for their faith did not want to let these “apostates” back into the Church. Of these, none were as unforgiving as Bishop Melitus.

Melitus made it clear in his province that no apostates were to be forgiven or allowed back into the Church. Other bishops in the area were soon following his example. This deeply concerned other bishops across the Empire who felt this refusal to forgive was anti-Christian and should be addressed.

Seriously guys, I think Jesus said something about this one...

Seriously guys, I think Jesus said something about forgiveness…

The council voted and agreed that these lapsed Christians should be forgiven if they sought it and allowed back into the Church. They also agreed that since Melitus was an unforgiving jerk, being a bishop might not be his thing, so they told him his schism could rejoin the Church if he handed in his vestments and his bishops would have to reapply to keep their positions. Melitus refused which would have created quite serious problems later on had Melitus not died soon after. The schism died with him.

7. One of the big issues on the docket was Easter.

The Easter debate is a complicated one. To be brief, where Easter fell depended on when Passover fell, and since Passover on the Jewish Lunar calendar moved around, this produced a problem for Romans who used the solar Julian calendar. In addition, many Church scholars believed the computations by the Jewish scholars were wrong and that the original Easter was on a different date. Most were moving to fix a date based on the best possible data to the actual original Easter, but some still felt that since it was linked to a Jewish holiday, Easter should follow the Jewish calendar.

Eventually they voted to calculate what day Passover would have been at the time of the Crucifixion, and fixed Easter relative to that date on the solar calendar. What they didn’t do was actually do that. They left it for another time, and it didn’t actually get done for centuries.

Add. 39636, f. 50

We were told by Constantine there would be no math.

8. They voted on a number of other, weird issues.

The council had a laundry list of sundry items that were bugging the Church leadership. Two of the more interesting ones were problems the Church itself had created. In the wake of the Apostolic Era (where the Apostles we know and love called all the shots), the next generation of Church leaders began to ferment some strange interpretations of their forebears writings. In particular were the puzzling instructions in 1st Corinthians 7 where Paul seems to be both for and against marriage.

A movement thus began starting in the Second Century declaring that marriage was, in fact, not a good thing. Well, it wasn’t the best thing certainly. Christian leadership began a cult of celibacy that touted lifelong celibacy as the greatest path and led a man or woman the closest to Christ. Marriage was for the carnal, the weak people who couldn’t control themselves. Real Christians stay celibate for life.

Pretty soon though, men who really loved Jesus and didn’t want to fail Him found celibacy to be unbearable. Knowing that marriage was a cop out, these men did what they had to keep it real with Jesus.

They castrated themselves.

We'll let that one sink in.

We’ll let that one sink in.

In addition to the rampant castrations (which usually just killed the men rather than rendering them eunuchs) there were spiritual marriages. You see, another insane way to read the end of 1st Corinthians 7 is to twist Paul’s words in such a way that he seems to be suggesting that men and women move in together and live celibate lives together as unmarried virgins. These shack-ins were called spiritual marriages and were hailed by the celibacy cult as the ultimate form of Christian perseverance. I mean there you are, living together with temptation right within reach, but never grasping it all for the glory of God! And it totally worked!

92832646

Verily, sarcasm is not permitted.

Whatever noble intentions they may have begun with, these spiritual marriages often turned into real ones once the pregnancy began to show. This was obviously a bad idea that only encouraged sexual sin, not prevented it. Not surprisingly, the council reached a decision to ban self castration and banned members of the clergy from entering into spiritual marriages. Not long after the council, another ruling banned them altogether.

9. They laid the foundation for the Papacy.

The council also voted to grant several new and exclusive powers to the bishops of Rome and Alexandria, recognizing those bishops as having special authority over the two major centers of the Church at that time. While the bishop of Alexandria would eventually decline in power along with the Empire, the bishop of Rome would only grow in power and authority until he had almost complete autonomy over the entire Church. You might better know the bishop of Rome by his pet title today: the Pope.

So really he's just a bishop, but with a fabulous hat.

So really he’s just a bishop, but with a fabulous hat.

10. They did not decide on the canon of the Bible.

In fact, no council ever made that decision. The canon (or books accepted as the inspired word of God in the Bible) was actually already set by the end of the Second Century. During the actual time of the Apostles and just afterwards, it was just a known fact which manuscripts were the work of the Apostles and their disciples and which weren’t. A decision set in stone wasn’t needed. It would be like a council having to be called today to decide which writings belong to Thomas Jefferson and which belonged to Karl Marx. It’s just a no brainer. By the time of the Nicaean council in the Fourth Century, the Bible was long since a done deal. It is true that shortly after the council, Constantine commissioned some fifty complete Bibles (containing the OT and NT) to be scribed and bound for use in the major churches. These Bibles are widely believed to be the first bound books to contain all of Christian scripture.

Sources
Survey of European History (Tennessee Technological Univeristy c.2009)
Zondervan Handbook to the History of Christianity
History of Rome Podcast by Mike Duncan

 
 

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My Confession, My Joy


I confess that,

Jesus of Nazareth is the one and only living God of the universe. He is the beginning and the end. All things were made by Him and for Him. He is the logos, or the answer to everything. He is the great subject of all history and literature. He is the architect of all mathematics, physics, and sciences. We are the product of His endless imagination. He is the power that holds all existence together. He is before all things and is forevermore. His love is death defying. His power is unlimited. His reason is beyond understanding. His decisions cannot be contested. He is a consuming fire. He has no shadow of turning and he does not change. He is light and there is no darkness in Him.
The collection of 66 works known as the Holy Bible is His inspired Word, given to holy men to write down as His Spirit guided them. His Word is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God is equipped totally for every good work. Heaven and earth will pass away, but His Word will not.
He came to live among us, but we rejected Him. He died because of us. He rose from death to save us. He lives and reigns today. All who call upon His name will be saved. All who reject Him will be destroyed in eternal fire.

My joy is,

This Jesus of Nazareth knows my name, and He loves me. He will raise me up on the last day.

Your fellow worker in that “new Jewish cult.”
<Jesus the Anointed is God’s Son and Savior. )<

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2014 in Christology

 

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The Special Tree

One-Tree-Hill-D-green-19839104-1280-1024Once upon a time there stood a tree planted in a great forest.
Day by day the tree stood in its place among its kin, its great boughs reaching for the heavens, its leaves swaying to the breeze.
“Perhaps I will stay here forever,” thought the tree, “swaying forever with my kin in this beautiful forest?”
And the tree was happy.

Many years it stood, until men had need of its lumber.
With axes they came and felled the tree to the ground.
“Men have come to shape and make me to their will!” thought the tree.
“I wonder what I will be made into?” pondered the tree.
“A great ship tall and proud, bearing men across the sea?”
“A strong house secure and warm, sheltering generations of families?”
“The throne of a mighty king, supporting him in great matters?”
So the tree sat as lumber, dreaming of what it might become one day.
And the tree was happy.

But one day men came for the tree’s lumber.
“We will make a device of cruelty and suffering from you,” they said, “Criminals will be put to death on you.”
How could this be?
All those years in the forest, growing tall and strong to end this way?
An instrument of cruelty and shame.
An instrument of death.
And the tree was very sad.

The tree was carried out to the man who would die on him.
“Do not be sad,” He said, “for you are My most special tree.”
“I am special? What will I do?” asked the tree.
“You will lift me high on your branches, and I will show God’s love to all the world.” He said, “And when they remember you, they will remember Me.”
So the two walked up the hill, and the tree held its Maker while He gave His life to save the world.
And the tree was happy.

– Jason Cohoon
(Inspired by The Dream of the Rood and The Giving Tree)

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2013 in Christology, Soteriology

 

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Love Story

Did you know that all of us are part of a grand love story? It is a love story written by God himself before the world was made or time began.

Today, the world has so distorted and diluted the courtship process that it is sometimes hard to understand how God explains his grand love story. In order to understand our relationship to Christ, we must understand how the ancient world courtship and marriage customs operated.

In those days…

When a man loved a woman, he began to pursue her. The woman’s role was reactionary. Her heart did not belong to him so the suitor had to win it from her. In his quest to win her heart, he showered her with affection, gave her tokens, and performed acts of kindness to show his love for her. The woman had to decide if she would accept the suitor’s affections or reject them. Eventually the suitor would approach the lady’s father to ask for her hand in marriage. If her father approved, he would require a bride-price. The suitor then approached the lady and asked for her hand in marriage. While by this point in the courtship it would probably have been a sure thing, the lady could still reject his offer and walk away from the relationship. If she accepted his hand they become betrothed (or engaged). Unlike modern engagements, these could not be terminated. When two people became engaged, the marriage was already agreed to and the covenant was already in place. The two were still kept apart (intimately) during this time, and would not come together until the wedding day.

Scripture tells us many times that Christ is our bridegroom and that we the Church are his bride. (John 3:27-30, Ephesians 5:22-32) We are betrothed to him and one day there will be a wedding celebration where we will at last come to know him just as we are fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12) When that happens we will be made one with him just as a husband and his wife are one. We will become perfect with him and dwell in his glorious presence forever, showering him with respect and admiration.

And this is the Church’s love story…

Christ loved us. He pursued us. We did not seek him nor did we pursue him, for we did not know him nor were our hearts with him. (Romans 3:11) Christ would have to win our hearts. (1 John 4:19) He poured out his love for us on the cross, proving his undying love for us as he took on our sins. When he ascended to the Father, he offered his blood as the bride-price, which the Father accepted. (1 Corinthians 6:20) Christ then came to each one of us when we heard the gospel, offering his hand to us in marriage. He offers his hand to all, for he loved the world entire. (John 3:16) Many will reject his proposal despite all he has done for them. Those of us who accept his hand are betrothed or engaged to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:2) Now betrothed, we are promised in marriage to Christ, so the marriage cannot be called off. (Ephesians 1:13) This marriage covenant cannot be broken. (Matthew 19:6, Romans 11:29) We are now destined for marriage with Christ. (Romans 8:29) As our wedding draws near, Christ through the Word cleanses us and prepares us for our wedding day. (Ephesians 5:25-27) On that glorious day when the trumpet sounds, we will at last be joined to Christ as his wife for all eternity. (Revelation 19:7-9)

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2008 in Christology

 

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The Self-Existing One

thenameI am fascinated by the actual substance of who God is. The Word shows us that God is worthy of praise just for who he is, and not only for what he does for us.

When God revealed himself to Moses at the burning bush, Moses asked him his name. God responds with a phrase that would be later translated as I AM who I AM. This statement of I AM is difficult to translate in English, but it is a statement of who God is rather than just a name. (Exodus 3:14)
In Hebrew this is translated as Yahweh (mod. Jehovah), a sacred name the Jews were afraid to speak out loud. The name means roughly “the self-existing one”. All of creation is dependant on God, but God is only dependant on himself.

At a marriage conference recently, I was shown that husbands, who are masculine, require significance in a relationship. Wives, who are feminine, require security. In this way the husband is dependant on the wife and the wife her husband in the marriage covenant. (1 Peter 3:1-7)

All men and women in Christ make up the body of Christ which is the Church. The Church we know is the bride of Christ, and this relationship is often described as being like a marriage. (Ephesians 5:25-27, Romans 7:1-6)

If this relationship is a marriage, then it is clear that the Church is feminine. Men are masculine in the flesh and women are feminine in the flesh, but in the Spirit, all humans are feminine. (Galatians 3:28) The Church needs security and love, and Christ provides us with that need.

But what about Christ? Is he dependant on the Church for significance? Not at all. Christ’s love and protection of his Bride are entirely one-way. Christ is also in another relationship with the Father. In this relationship, Christ gains security from the Father, and the Father gains significance from the Son, and the Spirit testifies to both of them. Since the Father, Son and Spirit are one and the same, God gains his security and significance from Himself alone, thus another facet of how Yahweh is totally self-sustaining. (John 10:30, Psalm 50:12)

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2008 in Christology, Pneumatology, Theology

 

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