Feb 14th, 2021
Hello and welcome to season 3 episode 17 of The Berean Manifesto, 10 minutes or so a week of Faith, Hope, and Love for the modern Christian. This is Pastor Bill of The Ekklesian House and in this installment we are going to be talking about something that might invoke some mixed emotions. That’s fine, I get it.
There is a story about the passion of the Bishop of Myra, Nicholas, at the Council of Nicaea. That’s right, St. Nicholas. One of the main topics of the council was for church leaders to officially declare what they believed about The Trinity. Mainly the question was whether Jesus was God. All the church congregational leaders pretty much agreed on what books written before Christ, except for a few, were considered canon (sorry Enoch and the Maccabees). However, the Bible, especially the New Testament, wasn’t as well defined as it is now, and different congregations were studying letters from different leaders that taught varying, and often contradictory, viewpoints. While one church leader, Arius of Egypt, was presenting his case that Jesus wasn’t God, wasn’t ever God, and currently exists in Heaven with a status just below God, Nicholas crossed the room and hit Arius knocking him to the floor. More of a slap. Nicholas spent the night in jail, but ultimately, the Council agreed with his point of view.
What they agreed upon is the following, as translated by Philip Schaff;
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (ὁμοούσιον) with the Father; by whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; he suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
And in the Holy Ghost.
But those who say: 'There was a time when he was not;' and 'He was not before he was made;' and 'He was made out of nothing,' or 'He is of another substance' or 'essence,' or 'The Son of God is created,' or 'changeable,' or 'alterable'—they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We’re still having a version of this debate today. Some church leaders teaching their congregations that while Jesus was on Earth, He was one hundred percent God and one hundred percent man. While other church leaders are teaching that while Jesus was on Earth, He was only man. Both sides then adamantly insisting that those teaching the other point of view are guilty of heresy and that their congregation should avoid those of the other point of veiw and warn others to do so as well. At The Berean Manifesto, we encourage a dispassionate study of the scriptures to decide what you believe for yourself. You study the scriptures, let them speak for themselves, whether or not you were invested in a different theology you let the scripture then inform your theology: a dispassionate study.
No theologian, that I know of, is currently disputing, that Jesus was God and was with God before creation began. Right?, They’re not disputing John 1:1. Nor are they disputing that He is currently God, i.e. most of Paul’s writings. What’s being disputed is the nature of Jesus while he was walking the Earth. We’re going to take a look at some scripture. But for me, I’ve never needed to go further than Philippians 2:5-9 CSB to know what I believe on the topic. It says, “ Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,  who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited.  Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man,  he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.  For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,” Christ emptied Himself, poured out His divinity, to become a human being and humbled Himself as a human to the point of death on a cross - after which He was exalted. At the very least that passage casts doubt on the fully God and fully man viewpoint. Or we could consider Luke 7:28 CSB where Jesus says, “I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John, but the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Now last I checked Jesus was born of a woman. Unless you want me to believe that Jesus just endorsed John as being greater than God…
What really doesn’t help the case of the fully God and fully man group is the widely used argument that if Jesus was fully man that means that we can do all the things that He did while He was on Earth. Which is a really interesting stance to make since it’s exactly what Jesus said in John 14:12 CSB, except Jesus even ups the ante, He says, “ ‘Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” It’s pretty clear which side of this imaginary fence I stand on, but I’m going to read you some scriptures that I recommend you look into for yourself to see where you stand on this belief.
Luke 2:51-52 CSB, “ Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart.  And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.”
Hebrews 1:4 CSB, “ So he became superior to the angels, just as the name he inherited is more excellent than theirs.”
Hebrews 2:14-18 CSB, “ Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through his death he might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the devil—  and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.  For it is clear that he does not reach out to help angels, but to help Abraham’s offspring.  Therefore, he had to be like his brothers and sisters in every way, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in matters pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people.  For since he himself has suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.”
Hebrews 4:14-15 CSB, “ Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.”
Hebrews 5:5-10 CSB, “ In the same way, Christ did not exalt himself to become a high priest, but God who said to him, You are my Son; today I have become your Father,  also says in another place, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.  During his earthly life, he offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.  Although he was the Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.  After he was perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him,  and he was declared by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Galatians 4:1-7 CSB, “ Now I say that as long as the heir is a child, he differs in no way from a slave, though he is the owner of everything.  Instead, he is under guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.  In the same way we also, when we were children, were in slavery under the elements of the world.  When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!”  So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir. That isn’t as easy on it’s face to see, but I like the analogy there of as long as the heir is a child, he differs in no way from a slave. As long as Jesus was a human he differed in no way from other humans, a slave. And even though He was the owner of everything, having been God before He was born. Instead, He was a slave and under guardians and trustees until the time for His crucifixion.
OK, look up those scriptures and based off of what scripture says, decide what you believe about the theological substance of Jesus when he was on Earth and firmly tuck that belief in your pocket as a personal belief that isn’t worthy of creating divisiveness between believers and arguing about. It isn’t worthy of throwing mud at other people trying to share the Gospel and telling people to avoid other Christians. It’s not worth it, it’s not worth it. It’s worth it, I’m going to say it again. It is not worth it. Because 1 John 4:2-3 CSB says, “ This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,  but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming; even now it is already in the world.” Why would we argue with others who have the Spirit of God when we can support each other in love and provoke each other to good works instead? When we can fulfill the calling of The Church instead of in-fighting and divisiveness, and all the things that the enemy wants for The Church. Why would we embrace those things? When we can tuck those in our pocket and just know they are our personal belief and love each other.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”