Posts Tagged ‘early church’

Was Jesus created or is He the Creator? On this doctrine, eternity depends. Is He the Messiah and is the Bible true?

If Jesus Christ is God and if the Bible is inspired – literally “God-breathed” by the Holy Spirit – then everything Jesus said and taught is true. If everything He said is true, then Christians had better understand what the Scriptures say about Him and obey his teachings. Jesus stated:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.(Luke 21:22)

For this study, we are well beyond the ridiculous claim some people make that Jesus was a myth and never existed. One young woman said He was “made up by religious people in order to control society.” This is complete ignorance of the evidence, history, archaeology, prophecy, and of course, hundreds of eye-witnesses who saw the risen Christ.

Then there are those who say, “That’s your truth, not mine. I evolved, I wasn’t created.” Are there many ways to the only living God or is there a narrow path we must take by faith?

Breakpoint’s John Stonestreet recently said, “These four things are true for all people: Christ is risen, Christ is Lord, Christ will restore all things, and we are called to this time and place in history.”

Sermon video:

We know and believe Jesus Christ is both Savior and Lord, and our faith is based upon not only His finished work on the cross, but on His divinity and humanity. Let’s dig-in to the doctrine of the God-Man.

For example, in Colossians 2:9, Paul writes about Christ:

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,”

“Fullness” is from the Greek word, “plērōma, a recognized term in theology denoting the totality of divine powers and attributes found in Christ. The verse further adds “all fullness.” Jesus was and is 100% God — not 99.44%. 

But why did Paul add, in bodily form? In Greek philosophical thought, matter was evil; spirit was good. It was unthinkable that God would ever lower Himself to take on a human body. BUT He did! 

Still today, mockers insist Jesus was just a man; a good man perhaps, but certainly not God.

The third and fourth century Trinitarian Controversy focused on the mystery of the incarnation and the relationship between the Father and the Son (both of Whom were called ‘God’ by Christian monotheists). What does it mean regarding the divine nature that the Son had taken on flesh, died, and was raised for the sake of humanity?

For the growth of Christianity, this was a historical moment of intense struggle in church history to establish a common language by which to state the doctrine of faith without distortion, and in a manner that would do justice to the God Christians worship.

CLICK TO SEE FULL POST FOR STUDY NOTES, COMMENTARY, AND REFERENCES!

You’ll also notice Christ’s two states, humiliation and exaltation. Christ not only took upon him the likeness and fashion, or form of a man, but one in a low state; His whole life was a life of poverty and suffering. But the lowest step was his dying the death of the cross, exposed to public hatred and scorn.”

The exaltation was of Christ’s human nature, in union with the Divine. At the name of Jesus, not the mere sound of the word, but the authority of Jesus, all should pay homage. It is to the glory of the Father, to confess Jesus Christ is Lord; it’s his will, that all men should honor the Son as they honor the Father, (John 5:23).

Now the hymn

Philippians 2:5-11 –

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exaltedHim, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

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If Jesus rebuked many of the early churches for straying, leaving their first love, putting up with false doctrine, or for being lukewarm, how could we, American Christians, think He wouldn’t harshly rebuke many of our seeker-sensitive, shallow, lukewarm churches today?

Some might claim the Church is thriving here in the United States of Entertainment. I would ask them why then doesn’t it translate out into society. Who is driving culture today, Christians or atheists and secular progressives? Biblical morality or godlessness?

The truth is too many professing believers have generally conformed to the world and have failed to defend and preserve culture through Judeo-Christian values. We are to be salt in society: to not only flavor and enhance culture but to influence it as well. Salt is a preservative, but it can also irritate, especially if it touches an exposed wound. Paul told believers at Ephesus to walk as children of light and,

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; (Eph. 5:11)

Too many in American churches do just the opposite! We accommodate popular sins (abortion and homosexuality). Why? Because the Supreme Court ruled they are legal, of course. But just because something is legal does not make it moral. Has the Supreme Ruler and Judge changed His mind on certain sins? Not at all!

We have watered down the Word of God and have lost our saltiness and power to transform society for good. Some larger churches have a reputation for being alive, but their discipleship and doctrine is rather ineffective. I attended a megachurch for several years and kept running into unregenerate and unconverted people, many of whom thought they were saved. 

God woke me up at 3 AM recently and this message is the result. My heart was heavy; we were wrapping up our Bible study on the book of Colossians – a church Paul commended for their faith and love, by the way – and we were examining the geography of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) and many cities that had Christian churches in the first several centuries.

*The following is a partial transcript to the sermon from video:

In Revelation chapter two and three, Jesus harshly rebuked five out the seven churches within the same area. I couldn’t help but wonder what He would think of churches in America today. It’s a sobering thought.

Would Jesus rebuke us, Christians in the United States of Entertainment, the way He did several churches in Asia Minor? 

Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. Revelation 3:2-3

This quote has been attributed to several people, one of whom is Dwight L. Moody:

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.”

We will all stand before the Lord one day and be judged for how we spent our time. Your husband or wife won’t be there, neither will your children, coworkers, or friends on social media. It will be you alone before Jesus. And that should sober up every one of us in this room.

Here are some important QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

  1. Is your life bearing fruit for the Lord Jesus Christ? JN 15:8
  2. Are we passionate about eternal and spiritual things? COL 3:2
  3. Who or what is our first love? What’s our main focus? 6:33
  4. Have you conformed to our culture – or to Christ? ROM 12:2
  5. Do we love this world more than we love God, His Word? 1 JN 2:15-17
  6. Are you prepared for persecution when it comes? 5:11-12

Are we, individual believers in Jesus who make up the church in America, succeeding at what’s most important? Are we loving the Lord God, loving our neighbors, preaching the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ alone, making disciples, raising godly children, impacting culture, and encouraging the faith of other believers?

Or are we just giving God lip service?

American churches, especially many of the larger, higher profile mega-churches, often have a good reputation simply due to their popularity, numbers or size (quantity). But this is often a very inaccurate picture of the overall health, discipleship, and maturity (quality) of a church. Is the body of Christ being built up in faith and equipped for ministry? (Eph. 4:11-12)

According to Barna research and several other studies and surveys, it appears American Christianity is producing the most biblically illiterate church members in history, confused about what the Bible teaches, unable to fully understand let alone explain and defend the essentials of the faith. What ever happened to discipleship? We can learn from the earliest Christian churches that it doesn’t take long to stray from truth.

Revelation 3:1  “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

Wake-up! Repent! Notice what Jesus also says to the church in Sardis:

5 He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

*We all have ears – but – are we listening? What is Jesus saying to the churches in America who have grown comfortable and complacent? What is He saying to individual believers? Do YOU have ears to hear from God?

Is your life bearing fruit for the Lord Jesus Christ?

We just finished the book of Colossians in our weekly Bible study and looking at the geography at that time, we talked about the many early Christian churches in Asia Minor which is modern day Turkey.

…The Colossian church was just 12 miles from the church of Laodicea and about 95 miles from Ephesus, a booming city at the time. Laodicea was also prospering and growing, located next to a new trade route, they had it made.

But that’s what lots of people would say about America, which is why we’re making this comparison today. We are prosperous, proud, and self-sufficient. Look at our big and many churches!

May we take to heart the warnings to the early churches:

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:

15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked; …19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

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