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Theology v. heresy (09/27/2009)
From: Pastor Adam Burge

Calvary Baptist Church

Winona

We should always be careful about who we receive our information from regarding such important subjects as theology. Take Arius for example. He has been condemned as a heretic for more than 1,600 years. Arius was a priest from North Africa who was excommunicated from the church in the early fourth century A.D. His heresy was so divisive that the Council of Nicaea was convened on May 20, 325, to examine the nature of Christ. Arius’ basic tenet was that God was unchangeable and unknowable. Because of this, Christ had to be a created being, made from nothing. He was the first of the created beings, but a part of the creation. The Council of Nicaea condemned this as heresy because it denied the eternal existence of Christ. Although this heresy first surfaced so long ago, it is still taught in some form or another today in the many heretical religions which abound.

The source of heresy is the failure to consider, or to blatantly ignore, the whole council of God. The council of God, the infallible Word of God, is the source of our theology, not some council of fallible men. Hebrews I tells us that God has revealed Himself to mankind, first through His inspired Word, and later through His Son, Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews says that Jesus is the “express image of his [God the Father’s] person” (KJV). This literally means that Jesus is the “exact representation” of God (v.3). Jesus Himself said, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Christ’s greatest, and clearest, claim to divinity is found in John 10:30, where He emphatically states, “I and the Father are one.” His Jewish audience clearly understood what Jesus was saying, because they took up stones to kill Him for what they considered to be a blasphemous statement (v. 31-33). Jesus then countered by saying that the miraculous works which He performed were evidence of His deity.

Philippians 2:6-7 tells us that Jesus existed in the form of God before He took on the likeness of mankind. If we claim that Jesus is human (and rightfully so), we must also claim that Jesus is God. If we are to honestly interpret Scripture, we cannot pick and choose those parts which we want to believe. God promises a curse upon those who are guilty of such (Revelation 22:18-19).

There are other evidences which support the deity of Christ. For example, Jesus claimed to possess attributes which only God possesses. These would include eternality (John 17:5), omnipresence (Matthew 18:20; 20:28), omniscience (Luke 6:8) and omnipotence (John 11:38-44). He is also called God (John 1:1; Hebrews 1:8 (quoting Psalm 45:6); I John 5:20). These, and other verses too numerous to mention here, overwhelmingly support the deity of Christ.

Some may ask “how can you honestly say this in light of the fact that the Bible says that Jesus is the ‘only begotten son of God’.” The answer is that we must understand the intent of the term “only begotten son.” It is in fact only one Greek word monogenes. It is used a total of nine times in the New Testament. Three times it refers to the single child of a parent, five times to Jesus Christ, and one time to Isaac, the son of Abraham. It is this last usage which sheds light on its meaning in reference to Christ, since we now know that Jesus was not a created being. Genesis 22:2 calls Isaac Abraham’s “only son,” as does Hebrews 11:7. If we define monogenes as meaning the only son born to a person, this cannot be correct. Abraham had another son, Ishmael, who was 13 years older than Isaac. In reference to Isaac, and to Jesus Christ, this term means “unique, one of a kind,” not the only son born to a parent. Isaac was the son of promise, and therefore, unique. As such, he was elevated to a position of honor and prominence by his father. Likewise with Christ. As such, God the Father has given Him a name which is above every other name. Someday all will bow before Him and recognize Him for humbling Himself to take on the form of mankind to become our perfect, sinless substitute. Christ, very God of God, became man to secure our salvation. As such, God will make sure that we all recognize His work on our behalf and worship Him for it, irregardless of whether we have accepted His free offer of salvation in this life.

No, Arius was not on to something. He, like anyone else who tries to formulate their own theology apart from the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, must be rejected. Only the eternal Word of God will endure forever. Perhaps we can explore the implications of this unique union of natures in the weeks to come.

 

 

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