Crisis Regarding Christ

© by The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D., 2017

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Some years ago a preacher visited my church while on vacation. After the Sunday School class, during which I was teaching on various “Christian” cults, he said, “In my church we have no creed but Christ.” I responded, “Which Christ? The one of the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, the word-faith movement, or of the ancient creeds?” Today we have a crisis regarding Christ because we no longer value truth.

The historic Church has always assumed that there was truth and error, not just opinions. It was zealous to maintain the truth about the Son as revealed in Holy Scripture. It was not tolerant (the politically correct word today) of error concerning Christ, though they could be tolerant of other things. The Church came together on several occasions in ecumenical councils to proclaim the Gospel, the truth about Christ, writing doctrinal statements that were considered binding on all Christians. We have creeds that summarize those councils, such as the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds. (The Athanasian Creed is my favorite.) The Church realized that faith was only as good as its object, and the object of faith (Christ) only as good as the content about Him. And from that day to now, those councils, especially the Council of Chalcedon, have been considered by all branches of Christendom—Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodoxy—to be the epitome of orthodoxy regarding the person of Christ. During the greatest revival in the history of the Church, the Reformation, the Reformers did not challenge Chalcedon’s teaching that Christ was fully God, fully man yet sinless, one person, and no mixture of the two natures of divinity and humanity (John 1:1-3, 14; 5:28; 10:30; Col. 1:15ff; 2:9; Heb. 1:1ff; etc). That was bedrock.

Unfortunately, today is different. The ambiance of this age is ripe for heresy since personal opinion is considered to be more important than truth, especially truth from the past. The Church has become obsessed with making people feel comfortable, not with truth. (Indeed, some preachers build large congregations by not preaching on sin or other “controversial” matters.) The Church has devolved into a radical egalitarianism, and truth has been reduced to its lowest common denominator. Now each individual—with or without his Bible—will decide for himself what truth is.

In contrast to the heresies, the early fathers understood that Christology was at the heart of redemption, that who Christ was determined whether man was redeemed or not. Their constant watchword was “what is not assumed [in the incarnation] is not redeemed.” Thus, if Christ had not assumed full humanity (sin excepted), we would have no redemption.

This worked the other way also. The early Church fathers recognized that if Christ had not been fully God and functioning fully as God (contra word-faith leaders who deny that the Son of God used His divine attributes on earth), there could be no reconciliation of God and man, Christ would have had no infinite merit to what He had done, but only the work of a man. At the Council of Ephesus, therefore, the fathers clearly stated in A.D. 431: “If any man shall say that the one Lord Jesus Christ was glorified by the Holy Spirit, so that He used through Him a power not His own and from Him received power against unclean spirits and power to work miracles before men and shall not rather confess that it was His own Spirit through which He worked these divine signs; let him be anathema” (emphasis added).

Anything less than one who functioned fully as man and fully as God in one Person could not die for our sins. He had to be man to die. He had to be God to give infinite value to His work. He had to be one person to bring God and man together, bringing the acts of God and man together as one act. The two natures of God and man could not be mingled, making Him less than God or more than man. If Christ had not been God or had not functioned as God while on earth, we would have the acts of a man and of the Holy Spirit through Him—separate acts of two persons—but that would have been no different than the prophets of old who had the Holy Spirit in them. No, Christ functioned fully as man and as God in one person, thus uniting His work of redemption as one work of the God-man.

Today we have many heresies. There are those who deny the deity of Christ altogether. Then there are others who deny that the Son functioned as God while on earth. Indeed, in the word-faith teaching, man can be a god and create his own providence by audible words spoken in the air. In their view, God and Man are so completely separated in Christ that He only functioned by the Holy Spirit on earth, not by His own divine nature also. Since there is really no union of God and Man in Jesus, according to them, there is no  reconciliation of man with God in one person. Thus, salvation is eliminated. If Christ is only a creature, or only functioned as a creature on earth, God is not revealed, but a wholly unknown being. Thus, God is eliminated.

If there was ever a need for a second Reformation, it is today, and this Reformation must begin where the first one did: with the Church’s stand for truth and with the Christ of the Councils and of the Bible. We must not invent a new “Jesus” for each succeeding generation, but proclaim the old, revealed Jesus, who never changes (Heb. 13:8). The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church that proclaims Christ as the Son of God! AMEN. Ω

The Modern Crisis

(c) Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, ThD
In the Reformation of the 1500s, both sides believed the Bible to be God’s infallible word, held to the Holy Trinity (one God in three equal person, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and taught that Christ was fully God, perfect man, one person, and no mixture of the natures of deity and humanity. Today the crisis is worse as even “Christian” people wonder if the Bible is God’s word, if the Trinity is really all that important, and if Christ was only a good man or something less than God.
There are two ways to be heretical: formally in belief and practically in one’s immorality, and our age is given to both.  In formal heresy, there are many in mainline denominations who take delight in denying the historic faith as expressed in such timeless statements as the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, which all branches of Christianity have held (Protestant, Orthodoxy, and Roman Catholic). They deny that Christ is the only way to God; indeed, they deny that He is God. They deny the Holy Trinity. They pretend that all religions are the same, which means that none of them mean anything, an insult to all religions.
But one can also be heretical in one’s morality, such as the sexual promiscuity that is rampant today in so many circles. One may be right in his beliefs, but if his morality is contrary to God’s holy commandments, and especially if he/she declares such openly, then he/she is heretical.
There is no hope for anyone unless they repent, which means that they confess they are wrong, take God’s view on both belief and practice, and bow to His Lordship. There is not enough room in this universe for two lawgivers: God and man, which is what man wants, his own pretended autonomy.  The serpent’s lie to Adam and Eve was that they could be their own lawgiver, determining for themselves what was right and wrong. Satan told them and they believed it that they could partake of the Tree and not die, whereas God told them if they did partake of that tree, they would die. We know the consequences when our first parents believed the devil. Indeed, even in the New Testament many centuries later, God has stated that there is only one lawgiver: the Triune God (James 4:12). He, and He alone, determines what we should believe and what is true morality.
But when our culture dreams up beliefs or ethics out of his/her mind instead of listening to God, they have created a god after their own image to worship, and just coincidentally, one who will approve their latest fad in belief and ethics. The only way one can know anything about God is if He tells us, not when we dream up things that He must approve.
Was it the great St. Augustine who said that God created man in His own image, and man has been returning the favor ever since? People thousands of years ago made physical idols, and we make mental idols. In both cases, a new god is created after the heart of sinful mankind. Paul the Apostle noted such in his own day in Romans 1:18-22:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans1:18-21 NKJ)

Yes, the great crisis today is Who is God, Who is Christ, and What shall we do with our sins? The Modern answer is that God and Christ are whatever we make them to be, and there is no sin except by our definition.
It is time that the true people of God stop listing to such damning heresy, and leave ungodly churches that promote such. Moreover, if a parish/church will not stand openly for the faith and for God’s Ten Commandments, one must leave, for the Lord stated that the one who is not for Him is against Him (Luke 11:23). Go to a church that is in line with the history of the Church and still believes Holy Scripture. God’s principles are more important accumulating property! AMEN.

Lent Is Repentance

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((c) The Rev. Dr. Curtis Crenshaw, Th.D.)
6 March 2018

Lent Is Repentance

We intuitively respond positively (or more so) to those who own their sin and negatively to those who hid or justify them. It is noteworthy that those who confessed their sins to Jesus received forgiveness, but those who justified themselves, like the Pharisees, were condemned by Him.

The season of Lent in the Church calendar is designed to make us think of our sins and of the grace of God in Christ.  It is not that we don’t think of these the rest of the year, but there is an emphasis on God’s holiness and our sins that is healthy, for this drives us even more to the Cross of Christ and His forgiveness.

But what is repentance?  In Acts 26 Paul describes repentance as “turning from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins” and “that they should repent, turn to God, and to do works befitting repentance” (vv 18, 20).  Notice these things about repentance.

First, it is negative, and its object is sin—what one turns from.  Belief is positive, what one turns to, and expresses trust—in Christ.

Second, repentance means a turning from something and to something else.  It is as if the person is on a path leading to hell and he realizes his plight, which causes him to reverse directions, taking a U turn.  Now he is walking in the opposite direction toward heaven.  In changing directions, he turned from hell to heaven, from his sins to the forgiveness of Christ, from Satan to God.  This “turning” necessarily involves both from and to.  It is not possible to change directions 180 degrees in one’s life without turning from something and going to something else, and this “from” is repentance and the to is “faith.”  Repentance and faith are like two sides of one coin: the “tails” is the negative that refers to one’s sins, and “heads” is the positive side that refers to faith in Christ.  If one has the “coin,” he has both sides.

By the word “turn” the Bible does not mean that the sinner has to do so many works to merit God’s forgiveness.  Repentance is a mental recognition of one’s current condition that leads one to fear God, to hate his sins, and thus to seek a solution.  The faith grants the solution, which is faith in the substitutionary death of Christ for one’s sins.

Third, works are not merit to gain repentance, but the demonstration that repentance is genuine.  James states that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26), but he never says works merits us forgiveness.  They are the barometer that reveal if faith is alive, but not the eternal life itself.  If faith and repentance are of the same “coin,” then works will be the fruit of repentance just as works are the fruit of faith.

So what is repentance?  It is a change of mind about oneself, about one’s sins, and about God, especially Christ.  We call this whole process conversion.  As a non-Christian, one is satisfied with himself and his life.  But once the Holy Spirit enters a person’s life, the sinner becomes convicted of his sins, that they are contrary to God and deserve His judgment.  This in turn leads the person to consider a solution, which is to trust in Christ as Lord and Savior who died for his sins.  The “process” may be long or almost instantaneous, but it is there.

To put this another way, when one comes to faith in Christ, why does He trust in Jesus (faith) if not to have his sins forgiven (repentance)?  In repentance the sinner turns from himself and his sin, and in faith he turns to Christ and His righteousness.  Moreover, these two go together; one cannot have one without the other.

And it is the season of Lent that brings to our attention this aspect of the Gospel; namely, our sins and the grace of God in Christ.  It is decidedly not the purpose of Lent to have a Mardi Gras so that we can indulge in our favorite sins and then go ask God for forgiveness.  This is playing games with God—and with our souls.  Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, which is a service to remind us of our mortality, that we will die, and that we must be prepared.  It also reminds us of what it cost God to save us: the death of His Son on the Cross.

Finally, Lent also reminds us of the battle of light against darkness, of Satan versus God.  We are involved in spiritual warfare for the souls of people, and the Gospel is the weapon that brings them to surrender to the Triune God.  There is no neutrality here.  One is either in God’s army or Satan’s, and when one repents and believes the Gospel, he leaves Satan’s army and joins God’s.  That is what St. Paul said as quoted above.

Moreover, the Lord Jesus (quote above) said He came to save sinners, not those who thought they were ok as they were. As He put it, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” In other words, we must present something to the Lord Jesus, and without this “work” on our part, we cannot be saved. IT IS WITH OUR SINS THAT WE GO TO GOD FOR WE HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO GO WITH THAT WE CAN CALL OUR OWN (Horatius Bonar)AMEN.

Rescuing Verses in the Bible: Woman Caught in Adultery (John 8)

© Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw (24 August 2017)

After 36 years of ministry in various churches, I have often heard that Jesus changed the law regarding the penalty for adultery. Here is the passage:

3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:3-11 ESV)

Notice these points:

  1. The passage is not in the earliest manuscripts, but that is beyond our purview in this short article. There are over 5,700 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, though most of them are short and do not include the whole New Testament, and 900 of those manuscripts include these verses.
  2. If the woman was caught in the act, so was the man. How could the woman be judged and not the man also? Of course, that did not mean the woman was innocent. We hear constantly on the news that Hazel Woman or Jack Man was caught doing something but only one was charged. The conclusion often is that if both are not changed then both go free. But that is illogical to the core. If three men murder someone, but only two have sufficient evidence to be charged, does that mean the two should go free also? Should we let the two go free because we cannot find enough evidence to convict the third one? If we cannot convict all, does that mean we must not convict any? That is ridiculous on the face of it.
  3. Others say that Jesus relaxed His Old Testament law. The Old Testament required execution for adultery: “The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death” (Lev. 20:10 NKJ).
  4. Moreover, the Old Testament law is a revelation of the character of God and cannot change: “You shall be holy; for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44-45; 1 Peter 1:16; NKJ). It is clear, therefore, that if God is unchangeable, and the law is a revelation of His holy character, then His law cannot change.
  5. Notice that Jesus did not challenge Moses’ law, its holiness, or the penalty for adultery; rather, He supported it. He instituted formal procedure against her when He said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Here is one passage He had in mind: “The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you” (Deut. 17:7 NKJ; see also Lev. 24:24; Deut. 19:18-19; 22:22). We see that Jesus, in keeping with the law given above, required the witnesses to cast the first stone. This would make them back up their testimonies to death. Being a witness was a very serious matter.
  6. Again, the witnesses were required to be innocent of the sin they were accusing someone else of committing. It was not any sin that someone must be guilty of but the sin in question, in this case, adultery. If being sinful of any sin whatsoever disqualified anyone from being a witness, no one would ever be such, for all humans are sinful.
  7. When Jesus carefully applied the law, He saw that all the accusers had gone. Since there were no witnesses innocent of the same crime, the formal procedure had to stop. Jesus said,

 

9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:9-11 ESV)

There could be no formal accusation and no conviction if the witnesses were gone! The sin she was not to commit anymore was adultery.

Conclusion

Assuming John 7:53-8:11 is genuine (and I do), we see that Jesus followed the law. He could not compromise His own holy character by saying, in effect, stoning for adultery was too harsh in My law; therefore, I’ll lower the standard. There shall be no stoning for adultery. He required the witnesses to be innocent of the same crime, and to demonstrate their innocence by throwing the first stones. Let us NEVER put a division between the Old Testament and the New Testament as if there were two gods: an Old Testament one who was harsh and a New Testament one who was loving and kind. That would be idolatry. AMEN.

Jesus is your superhero (or is He?)

© The Very Rev. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D., 2017

My wife and I were coming home last weekend (June 2017), and we detoured to Hot Springs, AR for a couple of nights. As we left the tourist-busy town, there was a church with these words on their sign:

“Jesus is your superhero, God is your superhero, you are a superhero.”

I just shook my head, and sighed to the Lord how long He will put up with this milkquetoast Christianity in the USA. Look at the words: there are three superheroes: Jesus, God, and you, and would not an unbeliever think all three were on the same level. We have presented a saccharin Christianity, sicky sweet and artificial.

And when we think of a superhero, do we not think of breaking and smashing things, much violence, killing everything in sight with bitter power, having difficulty overcoming, but Jesus was not like that. He could have been, and He did smash things but not in the way we would like to see. He certainly did those things under the old covenant (Old Testament). Yet, in the New Covenant (New Testament), though He healed and raised the deadHis miracles were done to overcome Satan and sin, not Roman armies. He restrained Himself in one sense, though He had resonating power to destroy anything He wanted anytime He wanted.

For example, when Pilate told Jesus that he had the power “to crucify [Him], and power to release [Him]” (John 19:10 NKJ), Jesus’ answer was very telling: “Jesus answered, ‘You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.’” (John 19:11 NKJ) Recall what happened when the Roman soldiers went to arrest Him, who was in control?

“Now when He said to them, ‘I AM,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” (John 18:6 NKJ)

Moreover, as the early fathers often reminded us, at the same time that Jesus was incarnate and healing, sleeping, getting hungry, He was “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3 NKJ) Do not think for a moment that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, either gave up being God or gave up the use of His attributes. Either way, that would eclipse the Holy Trinity and destroy who God is. Can you image one person of the Trinity not being able to function as God. That would be incarnation by deicide!

No, the incarnation is by addition, not by subtraction. The Son of God added sinless humanity to Himself, and did not remove either the essence of deity or the functions of deity. For example, in John 1:1 we learn that in the beginning was the Word (eternal existence), the Word was with God (distinct from the Father), and the Word was God (one in essence with the Father). Then in John 1:14 we see that the Word “became flesh,” and there is not a hint of removing His attributes. Indeed, God’s attributes are not like pins in a pin cushion that any member of the Holy Trinity can remove and replace at will. Each attribute contains all the other attributes, for God is one. Remember John 10:30 where Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” The Jews rightly understood His claim to deity because in the next verse they picked up stones to kill Him for blasphemy. In John 8:58 Jesus claimed to be the I AM, who does not and cannot change. Thus, the incarnation did not change Him, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

The Bible is now a popular psychological manual for self-improvement. Many preachers I hear on the radio approach the Bible as one big OUGHT, turning the IS of grace into the OUGHT of obedience for blessing. In other words, if I do the three things (or five things) the preacher says, I’ll be blessed; otherwise, I’ll be defeated. How many times do I hear, “It’s all up to you,” at which point I must be a superhero, or I’ll get nothing.

We want to see Jesus as superhero destroy all those bad people (not us, of course) with some supernatural event so we Christians can be vindicated. I was a defendant (one of 18) in a church-state trial, and as I sat in court for 4 ½ months, 4 to 5 days a week, listening to lies, how often I wanted to call down fire from heaven and yell at my lungs capacity, “Elijah is back!!” But God normally does not work that way.

We hear that the Triune God wants us to be happy all the time, time, time. We are told we are deprived but not depraved.  All of life, ALL of life, is for ME, and God exists to help ME find MY happiness.

What we need is old fashioned preaching where the wrath of God is boomed out, with impending judgment suspended over us like a guillotine held by one thread. Here are verses you rarely if ever hear:

“O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds. God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day” (Ps. 7:9, 11 NKJ)

“The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.” (Ps. 11:5 NKJ)

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36 NKJ) [And that wrath abides, now, as an ongoing matter. One never has a soul to sell, for it always belongs to God or to the devil. At judgment, all hope is gone, FOREVER.]

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18 NKJ)

“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Rom. 5:9 NKJ)

“Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” (Rom. 9:13 NKJ)

“The wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” (Eph. 5:6 NKJ)

Picture Noah’s ark floating on the turbulent waters with rain coming down in torrents. People are swimming in water, pounding on the doors of the ark to get in. It is too late. God’s judgment has come. On the side of the ark is a large smiley face that says, “Smile, God loves you.” That is where we are today. Too many weak preachers are holding people’s hands saying “There,” “There” while their parishioners go to hell.

So, is Jesus your superhero? No! He is the Lord God omnipotent, and His power and authority go way beyond all things imaginable. He upholds all things by His omnipotent power. He is in all places at the same time (Matt. 28:18-20). He has all knowledge. He can cause destruction and misery in any part of His world at any time, and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it. OR, He can cause a good election, or bring people back to the Gospel, or transform a nation to love righteousness and hate iniquity. He is Lord!

Jesus is way beyond superhero status, for He is creator of all that is (John 1:1-3; Heb. 1:1-4; Col. 1:16), the sustainer of all there is (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:17), and the redeemer of His people.

He is to be worshiped, not slapped on the back as some kind of hero.

AMEN.

FREE WILL–WHAT IS IT?

(c) Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.

(I know that I covered this once before.)

This is a true story. Decades ago I was called by a lady who was offended at some of my teaching. When I asked her what it was, she said you don’t believe in “free will”? I answered, “So we can be on the same page, what is free will?” She said, “Well, free means you can do what you like.” I responded that everyone believed that. She tried again: “You don’t believe that the lost can believe in Christ, that regardless of what they want, if they are not elect, they can’t believe.” I pointed out that her statement was a half-truth. It is true that the lost cannot believe in Jesus, but they also do what they like. They don’t want to believe in Jesus.

I tried to clarify the difference between “wanting” to believe and being “able” to believe, which she did not get. Then I said, “Let’s approach it this way. Is the converted person free from the control of the world?” She correctly answered No. Then I asked, “Is the unconverted person free from his indwelling sin, his sinful heart,” to which again she answered correctly, No. Finally, I challenged, “Is the unconverted person free from the control of the devil?” Again her answer was correct, No. Then what is the lost person’s will free from. She paused and proclaimed, “Their will is free from God,” at which point I almost dropped the phone. I politely said, “If the lost are under the control of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and God can’t help, then how does anyone become a Christian?”

POINT: Everyone uses the words “free will”, but no one knows what it means or the implication. Our choices are ours, but they are not free from outside or inside control. We can never come to Jesus for forgiveness and eternal life without trusting in Him, and we’ll never trust without His powerful grace that overcomes the controls. Here is the problem: WE LOVE THE WORLD, THE FLESH, AND THE DEVIL; we hate God. Who will deliver us?

The Triune God is our ONLY hope: The Father chose us to be in Christ BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD to His glory (Eph. 1:4-6); the Son AT A POINT IN TIME shed His divine blood for us for forgiveness of sins to His glory (Eph. 1:7-12); The Holy Spirit brought us to faith AT THE POINT OF OUR CONVERSION (Eph. 1:13-14), to His glory. TO HIS GLORY is repeated each time a person of the Holy Trinity did His work. Three works: the Father chose His elect before time; the Son redeemed His elect 2,000 years ago in time; the Holy Spirit applies the merits of Jesus’ work to us in our lives in our personal experience. GLORY BE TO THE FATHER AND TO THE SON AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT. AMEN.

Crisis Regarding Christ

© by The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.,  2017

Some years ago a preacher visited my church. After the Sunday School class, during which I was teaching on various “Christian” cults, he said, “In my church we have no creed but Christ.” I responded, “Which Christ? The one of the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the word-faith movement, or of the ancient creeds?” Today we have a crisis regarding Christ because we no longer value truth.

The historic Church has always assumed that there was truth and error, not just opinions. It was zealous to maintain the truth about the Son as revealed in Holy Scripture. It was not tolerant (the politically correct word today) of error concerning Christ, though they could be tolerant of other things. It came together on several occasions in ecumenical councils to proclaim the Gospel, the truth about Christ, writing doctrinal statements that were considered binding on all Christians. We have creeds that summarize those councils, such as the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds. (The Athanasian Creed is my favorite.)

The Church realized that faith was only as good as its object, and the object of faith (Christ) only as good as the content about Him. And from that day to now, those councils, especially the Council of Chalcedon, have been considered by all branches of Christendom—Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodoxy—to be the epitome of orthodoxy regarding the person of Christ. During the greatest revival in the history of the Church, the Reformation, the Reformers did not challenge Chalcedon’s teaching that Christ was fully God, fully man yet sinless, one person, and no mixture of the two natures of divinity and humanity (John 1:1-3, 14; 5:28; 10:30; Col. 1:15ff; 2:9; Heb. 1:1ff; etc). That was bedrock.

Unfortunately, today is different. The ambiance of this age is ripe for heresy since personal opinion is considered to be more important than truth, especially truth from the past. The Church has become obsessed with making people feel comfortable, not with truth. (Indeed, some preachers build large congregations by not preaching on sin or other “controversial” matters.) The Church has devolved into a radical egalitarianism, and truth has been reduced to its lowest common denominator. Now each individual—with or without his Bible—will decide for himself what truth is.

In contrast to the heresies, the early fathers understood that Christology was at the heart of redemption, that who Christ was determined whether man was redeemed or not. Their constant watchword was “what is not assumed [in the incarnation] is not redeemed.” Thus, if Christ had not assumed full humanity (sin excepted), we would have no redemption.

This worked the other way also. The early Church fathers recognized that if Christ had not been fully God and functioning fully as God (contra word-faith leaders who deny that the Son of God used His divine attributes on earth), there could be no reconciliation of God and man, Christ would have had no infinite merit to what He had done, but only the work of a man. At the Council of Ephesus, therefore, the fathers clearly stated in A.D. 431: “If any man shall say that the one Lord Jesus Christ was glorified by the Holy Spirit, so that He used through Him a power not His own and from Him received power against unclean spirits and power to work miracles before men and shall not rather confess that it was His own Spirit through which He worked these divine signs; let him be anathema” (emphasis added).

Anything less than one who functioned fully as man and fully as God in one Person could not die for our sins. He had to be man to die. He had to be God to give infinite value to His work. He had to be one person to bring God and man together, bringing the acts of God and man together as one act. The two natures of God and man could not be mingled, making Him less than God or more than man. If Christ had not been God or had not functioned as God while on earth, we would have the acts of a man and of the Holy Spirit through Him—separate acts of two persons—but that would have been no different than the prophets of old who had the Holy Spirit in them. No, Christ functioned fully as man and as God in one person, thus uniting His work of redemption as one work of the God-man.

Today we have many heresies. There are those who deny the deity of Christ altogether. There are others who deny that the Son functioned as God while on earth. Indeed, in the word-faith teaching, man can be a god and create his/her own providence by audible words. In the separation of God and man in Christ, there is no reconciliation of man with God since there is no real union of God and man in one person. Thus, salvation is eliminated. If Christ is only a creature, or only functioned as a creature, God is not revealed, but a wholly unknown being. Thus, God is eliminated.

If there was ever a need for a second Reformation, it is today, and this Reformation must begin where the first one did: with the Church’s stand for truth and with the Christ of the Councils and of the Bible. We must not invent a new “Jesus” for each succeeding generation, but proclaim the old, revealed Jesus, who never changes (Heb. 13:8). The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church that proclaims Christ as the Son of God! AMEN. Ω