Recently I began teaching a class at my local church, which I titled “Confident Evangelism without a PhD in Apologetics.” This is Week 4: Confidence in the Bible as the Sharp Sword of the Spirit. (And yes, the video says session 3, but it’s #4). Continue reading
Gregory Nazianzus, in writing to Cledonius regarding the Apollinarian controversy in the mid fourth-century, beautifully states the orthodox theology of Jesus Christ:
For we do not sever the Man from the Godhead, but we lay down as a dogma the Unity and Identity of Person,
Who of old was not Man but God,
and the Only Son before all ages,
unmingled with body or anything corporeal;
but Who in these last days has assumed Manhood also for our salvation;
passible (able to suffer) in His Flesh, impassible in His Godhead;
circumscript (limited) in the body, uncircumscript in the Spirit;
at once earthly and heavenly, tangible and intangible, comprehensible and incomprehensible; that by One and the Same Person, Who was perfect Man and also God, the entire humanity fallen through sin might be created anew.
I’m grateful for the ancient heresies that arose to challenge the Church. It was in the heat of theological battle over the identity of Jesus our Christ that precise, life-giving definition was given and set in stone. We twenty-first century folks are in deep debt to the work of our forefathers in the faith.
My favorite spiritual mentor Paul Washer talks about the gospel by discussing the pre-incarnate Son of God in glory with the Father.
Who was it in the manger in Bethlehem?
Who was it on the Roman death cross 33 years later?
Who is He?
Watch at least the first few minutes, and see if it’s even possible to turn it off afterward. This is the steak and potatoes of Christianity.
With butter and sour cream.
Thanks for watching,
You’ll want a fork, knife, and napkin for this one. From Gregory Naziazen, a fourth-century theologian from Cappadocia. In defending the deity and ministry of the blessed Lamb of God against the heresies of the Arians, he wrote:
He was born—but He had been begotten: He was born of a woman—but she was a Virgin. The first is human, the second Divine. In His Human nature He had no Father, but also in His Divine Nature no Mother. Both these belong to Godhead. He dwelt in the womb—but He was recognized by the Prophet, himself still in the womb, leaping before the Word, for Whose sake He came into being. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes—but He took off the swathing bands of the grave by His rising again. He was laid in a manger—but He was glorified by Angels, and proclaimed by a star, and worshiped by the Magi.
. . . He was driven into exile into Egypt—but He drove away the Egyptian idols. He had no form nor comeliness in the eyes of the Jews—but to David He is fairer than the children of men. And on the Mountain He was bright as the lightning, and became more luminous than the sun, initiating us into the mystery of the future.
He was baptized as Man—but He remitted sins as God—not because He needed purificatory rites Himself, but that He might sanctify the element of water. He was tempted as Man, but He conquered as God; yea, He bids us be of good cheer, for He has overcome the world. He hungered—but He fed thousands; yea, He is the Bread that giveth life, and That is of heaven. He thirsted—but He cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.
Yea, He promised that fountains should flow from them that believe. He was wearied, but He is the Rest of them that are weary and heavy laden. He was heavy with sleep, but He walked lightly over the sea. He rebuked the winds, He made Peter light as he began to sink. He pays tribute, but it is out of a fish; yea, He is the King of those who demanded it. He is called a Samaritan and a demoniac;—but He saves him that came down from Jerusalem and fell among thieves; the demons acknowledge Him, and He drives out demons and sinks in the sea legions of foul spirits, and sees the Prince of the demons falling like lightning.
He is stoned, but is not taken. He prays, but He hears prayer. He weeps, but He causes tears to cease. He asks where Lazarus was laid, for He was Man; but He raises Lazarus, for He was God. He is sold, and very cheap, for it is only for thirty pieces of silver; but He redeems the world, and that at a great price, for the Price was His own blood. As a sheep He is led to the slaughter, but He is the Shepherd of Israel, and now of the whole world also. As a Lamb He is silent, yet He is the Word, and is proclaimed by the Voice of one crying in the wilderness. He is bruised and wounded, but He healeth every disease and every infirmity.
He is lifted up and nailed to the Tree, but by the Tree of Life He restoreth us; yea, He saveth even the Robber crucified with Him; yea, He wrapped the visible world in darkness. He is given vinegar to drink mingled with gall. Who? He who turned the water into wine, who is the destroyer of the bitter taste, who is Sweetness and altogether desire. He lays down His life, but He has power to take it again; and the veil is rent, for the mysterious doors of Heaven are opened; the rocks are cleft, the dead arise. He dies, but He gives life, and by His death destroys death. He is buried, but He rises again; He goes down into Hell, but He brings up the souls; He ascends to Heaven, and shall come again to judge the quick and the dead…
Catch your breath, and worship our Lord.
Thanks for reading,
Gregory Nazianzen, The Third Theological Oration: On the Son, NPNF2-7, sec. 19-20, http://www.ccel.org.
Athanasius (c.297-373), my favorite early church father, fought heretics with all of his soul. I am brought to tears reading his glorious writings. Please indulge with me each Tuesday as we sit at the feet of our forefather in the faith – a warrior for Christ who relentlessly pursued truth in all the churches.
Was it wise of the Father to let His Son Jesus be publicly humiliated and crucified? Did it really prove anything?
All these things the Savior thought fit to do, so that, recognizing His bodily acts as works of God, men who were blind to His presence in creation might regain knowledge of the Father. For, as I said before, who that saw His authority over evil spirits and their response to it could doubt that He was, indeed, the Son, the Wisdom and the Power of God? Even the very creation broke silence at His behest and, marvelous to relate, confessed with one voice before the cross, that monument of victory, that He Who suffered thereon in the body was not man only, but Son of God and Savior of all.
The sun veiled his face, the earth quaked, the mountains were rent asunder, all men were stricken with awe. These things showed that Christ on the cross was God, and that all creation was His slave and was bearing witness by its fear to the presence of its Master.
Thus, then, God the Word revealed Himself to men through His works. We must . . . consider the end of His earthly life and the nature of His bodily death. This is, indeed, the very center of our faith, and everywhere you hear men speak of it; by it, too, no less than by His other acts, Christ is revealed as God and Son of God.
My favorite uncle…
1,700 years later, the crucified Man who is God is still the very center of our faith – timeless, objective, and powerful. Be sure to meditate on these things without ceasing, my friends.
Thanks for reading,
Athanasius, On the Incarnation, chap. 4, sec. 19, http://www.ccel.org.
Athanasius (c.297-373), my favorite early church father, fought heretics with all of his soul. I am brought to tears reading his glorious writings. Please indulge with me each Tuesday, as we cozy up at the feet of Uncle Athanasius.
Is repentance all it takes to be turned back from our corruption in sin, or was something more necessary?
As we have already noted, it was unthinkable that God, the Father of Truth, should go back upon His word regarding death in order to ensure our continued existence. He could not falsify Himself; what, then, was God to do? Was He to demand repentance from men for their transgression? You might say that that was worthy of God, and argue further that, as through the Transgression they became subject to corruption, so through repentance they might return to incorruption again. But repentance would not guard the Divine consistency, for, if death did not hold dominion over men, God would still remain untrue. Nor does repentance recall men from what is according to their nature; all that it does is to make them cease from sinning.
Had it been a case of a trespass only, and not of a subsequent corruption, repentance would have been well enough; but when once transgression had begun men came under the power of the corruption proper to their nature and were bereft of the grace which belonged to them as creatures in the Image of God. No, repentance could not meet the case.
What—or rather Who was it that was needed for such grace and such recall as we required? Who, save the Word of God Himself, Who also in the beginning had made all things out of nothing? His part it was, and His alone, both to bring again the corruptible to incorruption and to maintain for the Father His consistency of character with all. For He alone, being Word of the Father and above all, was in consequence both able to recreate all, and worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be an ambassador for all with the Father.
My favorite uncle. Christologically delicious!
Thanks for reading,
Athanasius, On the Incarnation, chap. 2, sec. 7, http://www.ccel.org.