Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"Error" Part III

2Ti 4:3  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Ti 4:4  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Tit 1:9  Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Tit 2:1  But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

It would be desirous to follow all the church's creeds, councils, and confessions throughout history with you. Doing so would give us a firm and solid understanding of what the Church considered Christianity throughout its history. We would see the Church re-affirming its understanding and defining its positions more precisely and accurately, see where the Church began to move from its previous doctrines to different views, and observe error being induced and the Church being led astray into damaging heresies. Nevertheless, the path remains clear as we test these doctrines with scripture and previous statements. All of that is too large of a project for these short blog posts. But we can still make some visits to a few doctrinal statements down through history and glean much understanding and bring stability to our walk.

Around 500 AD we have another statement of faith made by the Church called the Athanasian Creed. It re-affirmed and supported the Nicene Creed from around 325 AD. The Athanasian Creed further defined in a more precise matter the nature of Christ which had come under scrutiny because of the Arian controversy.

It states in part, (Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith.  Which faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.  And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.)

Our salvation rest upon a correct view of God. A. W. Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” The Christian God is a triune being.  If your Church is not worshiping a triune God, it is not worshiping God. So you need to know how your Church defines God. For how it defines God, determines who Christ is and His relationship to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

The Creed continues, (For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.  But the godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.  The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.  The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.  And yet they are not three eternals, but one Eternal.)

 A Christian Church will understand that Christ is eternal, as the Nicene Creed of around 325 AD would state, of the same essence. It would be understood that God was on the cross being the same essence as the Father and the Holy Spirit. If your Church does not understand Christ as eternal and uncreated, of the same essence as the Father and Holy Spirit, then it is not a Christian Church. [1 John 5:7]

The Athanasian Creed would continue in part saying, (For as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge each Person by Himself to be both God and Lord, so we are also forbidden by the catholic religion to say that there are three gods or three lords.

The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten.  The Holy Spirit is of the Father, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.) It will also give us the understanding stating, (And in the Trinity none is before or after another; none is greater or less than another, but all three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. He therefore that will be saved must think thus of the Trinity.)

As you can see, doctrine does matter.  Salvation depends upon it. We do not have the privilege of thinking of God as we choose. He has defined who He is for us in scripture and these creeds and confessions help us in our understanding of orthodoxy or right thinking.

The Athanasian Creed would continue to define the incarnation in such a way as our salvation depends upon it stating: (Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For the right faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man; God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of the substance of his mother, born in the world; perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching His godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching His manhood; who, although He is God and man, yet he is not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the godhead into flesh but by taking of the manhood into God; one altogether; not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.

For as the rational soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ; who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead.  He ascended into heaven, He sits at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence He will come to judge the quick and the dead.  At His coming all men will rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works.  And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.)

Where the catholic faith is here in reference, it is speaking of the one universal church in which the visible church is seen. It is not in reference to Roman Catholic as we know it today.   Now we have a slightly better understanding of some fundamental doctrines that are necessary ingredients for a church to be a Christian Church. Without these ingredients it ceases to be Christian and becomes something else altogether.

In our next post we will move a little further down the doctrinal road.

May the Grace of God be with each of you,


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