Pt. 3 Ch. 1. Is Christ Truly God: The Doctrines That Divide By Erwin Lutzer (NKJV)
October 9, 2018
Setting the Stage
We need to look at several historical facts at this point. Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in A.D. 312. This man was not a bishop, cardinal nor Theologian; if you know anything about the history of the church, know this…he was a Politician. Monarchs, Caesars, Moguls, Imperators, and the like are all political figures. In most cases when heads of state or country convert to any religion, it is almost impossible for them not to bring their political authority into to the table. This was the case with Constantine. He issued an edict that Christianity is the religion of the empire. The following is a quote from pg. 26 under “Setting the Stage” par. 1. “He (Constantine) inherited a church that was seething with discussions regarding the person of Christ. To us moderns, theology is confined to the classrooms, but in those days everyone was caught up the debate”. This is my personal opinion regarding theology. Classrooms are a thing of the past when it comes to understand The Word of God from a Theological standpoint. Christians today have at their fingertips access to practically every book written on the subject of God. In fact, you can find enough information on the internet regarding your faith to be an Apologist. Apologetics is the branch of theology concerned with the defense or proof of Christianity. Constantinople became preoccupied with these discussions. The hot topics of the day were as follows:
1. God the Father is greater, the Son is less. 2. There was nothing before God the Son was created.
All of these theological debates confused the Emperor, which is not that surprising. We have instructions from our Covenant to stay away from religious debates. I love sharing my faith with others; however, heated debates are usually unfruitful:
2nd Timothy 2: 23 “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” In other words, be led by The Holy Spirit based on the sure foundation of The Word of God.
Therefore, Constantine’s confusion led him to convene a general council at Nicaea to resolve what Lutzer described as “bitter disputes”. Which implies they were not even close to “speaking the truth in love”. Consequently, there could be no real maturity in the human spirit. This was and still is a disease in today’s modern church. Accordingly, this subject matter has skillfully, been swept under the rug. However, anyone with a good set of spiritual eyes, cannot help but notice that huge elephant in the room…hiding under such a tiny rug. Lutzer goes on to say, “He hoped a consensus could be reached and reconciliation brought about. If not, the church could not unite the empire. In those days religious unity was the foundation for political unity.”
Over these long centuries since, we have learned that politics and Christianity make strange bedfellows. What government approves of, the Word of God condemns. On the other hand, some churches are in agreement with certain sinful practices. Many churches approve of same-sex marriage, abortion, gambling, drunkenness, and the like. While God’s Word is forever settled in heaven, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Moreover, we know that whoever practices the works of the flesh will not inherit the Kingdom of God. The Apostle Paul wrote inspired by The Holy Spirit:
1st Corinthians 3: 2 “I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, STRIFE, and DIVISIONS among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” We are to rise above the level of mere men. If we believe God’s Word, we are more than conquerors. 1st Corinthians 6: 9 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” The will has already been printed and read. There are those who will receive an inheritance and those who will not:
Revelation 22: 14 “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. 16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” Now you can send me nasty comments, or hate me if that will help you sleep better. However, I have already stated above that I, the servant of The LORD will not debate, nor argue with you. Take your complaints to The Godhead; it is Christ last Will and Testament. There is no need to try convincing me otherwise…I agree with Him wholeheartedly.
1st Peter 3: 15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”
Ephesians 4: 14-16 tells us “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love”.
Of course, growth would be quantity depending upon the quality of the spoken Word of God you hear. Here is a truth that I must speak in love. The average Christian today is not equipped for the work of the ministry. Most can barely hold a conversation with another believer without getting in arguments, which end in bitterness toward one another. Someone coined the phrase “Jesus is my personal LORD and Savior” so then, I keep Him all to ourselves, my lips are sealed. God forbid you should express how exciting it is for you to know the redemptive power of the Blood of Lamb, or what He is doing in your life in the now. Fellow Christians will call you a fanatic or you talk too much, which I will gladly take any day of the week.
In Ephesians, it says we speak the truth in love for the purpose of growth, not to prove yourself right and the other person wrong. This type of behavior springs from a spirit of pride. In 1st Peter 3: 15 it says be ready to give an answer to anyone who ask a reason for the hope they see in you. This is a far cry from puffed up arguments. This bears repeating, we give answers to people who are interested in the hope they see in you. To be continued…