Saturday, November 3, 2018

Are You an Evangelical?

Photo by Frank Karlitschek 2015

Do you consider yourself an evangelical, born again Christian? If I were to attempt a Scripture-based definition of an evangelical, I would say the term applies to one who has been saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ ( 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6).

Such a person has a spiritual second birth (John 3:3-8) by the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:17). Out of gratitude to Jesus Christ, Who paid the price demanded for all our sins to reconcile sinful man to Holy God (John 1:29; Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10), the evangelical seeks to obey God, including His Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) to tell everyone the Good News, or Gospel, of how they can be saved and be sure they will spend eternity in Heaven.

For purposes of theological research, however, Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research define evangelicals as those who strongly agree with all four of the following statements:
1. The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe. (See 2 Timothy 3:16)
2.  It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior (See Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 1:8;  1 Peter 2:9; 3:15).
3. Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin (See Hebrews 10:1-14).
4. Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation (See John 14:6; Matthew 7:13-14).

Yet Ligonier/LifeWay research has shown that many American evangelicals are “deeply confused” about some core doctrines of the Christian faith. To see if you might be one of them, consider taking the following quiz they published and writing down your “True” or “False” responses before checking the answers below:

1. God the Father and Jesus Christ are equally divine.
2. Jesus is a hybrid, partially divine and partially human.
3. God the Son is uncreated.
4. The Holy Spirit is a force.
5. The Holy Spirit is less divine than the Father and the Son.
6. “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” are three different names for one divine person.

1. True. in 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea stated that the Father and the Son are of the same divine essence, and they condemned Subordinationism, a false doctrine stating that Jesus is inferior to the Father. This is of historical and ecclesiastical interest, but as born-again Christians guided by the Holy Spirit, we can rely on God’s Word alone as the basis of our doctrinal beliefs.
Referring to Scripture as our ultimate authority, Jesus Christ described His equality with the Father:

John 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?

The apostle John, whose gospel and letters are the source for much of Christology, wrote that Jesus (the Word), the Father, and the Holy Spirit all have authority in Heaven, and all are One, despite their different personalities and roles.

1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

2. False. In 381 AD, the Council of Constantinople condemned Apollinarianism, a false doctrine stating taught that Jesus is not equally human and divine, but is one person with one nature. Apollinarianism, condemned at the Council of Constantinople in 381, taught that Jesus had a perfect divine nature but an imperfect human nature.

Although Jesus has a human body and soul in His earthly ministry (John 1:14), He is, always was, and always will be God, the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Although He suffered the same temptations that all humans do, He was and is perfect and without sin (Hebrews 4:15), whereas all humans are sinners (Romans 3:23).

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 10:17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

3. True. The Council of Nicaea stated that Jesus Christ the Son is coeternal with the Father and condemned Arianism, a heresy stating that the Son was created by God before time.

John 1: 1 In the beginning was the Word (Jesus Christ the Son), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made

Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

4. False. The Council of Constantinople correctly taught that the Holy Spirit is equal to God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son (1 John 5:7). They condemned Pneumatomachianism, a false doctrine that the Spirit was a created force or power and not a person of the Trinity. Jesus Himself clearly describes the Holy Spirit, or Comforter, as a person.

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

5. False. Subordinationism is defined as the heresy that the Spirit is inferior to the Father and the Son, and it was excluded by the Nicene Creed. John explains that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one Triune God, each with equal authority in Heaven (1 John 5:7). The Spirit, with The Father and Son, collaborated equally in creation, the Spirit’s role being to empower the process:

Genesis 1: 1 In the beginning God (plural noun Elohim, connoting the three persons of the Trinity) created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

6. False. While the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are equally divine, as shown above, and while all are unified in their perfect will, they each have distinct personalities and roles, as evidenced throughout Scripture. Jesus Christ the Son is the express image of God the Father (Hebrews 1:3) and He intercedes for us to the Father (Romans 8:34), while the Spirit works directly in our mind, soul and spirit to teach us about Jesus Christ and to draw our attention to Him (John 16:13-14).

So how did you do on this quiz? As we draw ever closer to the End Times, false prophets (Matthew 7:15; 24:11,24) and false teachings (1 Timothy 4:1,13,16) abound, and many are misled by Satan’s ministers (2 Corinthians 11:13-15), as we shall see in a subsequent post. We must know what we believe, stand up for it, and share it with others!

© 2018 Laurie Collett



Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
When I was associating with the Jehovah's Witness during the mid-seventies, which was soon after my initial conversion, they almost convinced me that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, not God the Son, and therefore created by the Father and as such, inferior to him.
They use a clever psychological tactic, challenging me to find anywhere in the New Testament the phrase "God the Son" and then getting me to see how many times "Son of God" appears in the Scriptures. They also used tactics such as Revelation 1:1-3 and 5:6 to prove that the Son isn't God but a separate entity, and because he is the recipient of anything God gives him, he must therefore be of an inferior creation, according to them.
It took months of thorough study of the New Testament, including the use of a Greek/English interlinear, as well as reading books written by worthwhile authors, to finally come to grips that the doctrine of the Trinity - that the Father is God Almighty, the Son is God Almighty, and the Holy Spirit is God Almighty, but this does not make three Gods but one God Almighty - to be thoroughly Biblical.
According to my own experience, Satan's ministers are incredibly powerful in their influence on untrained minds. The only remedy is to read the Bible and know it thoroughly well.
An excellent post (in which I got all six questions correct).
God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
So true, that the cults and false teachers are well prepared to twist God's Word to suit their agenda. Sadly, many Christians are not sufficiently trained in Scripture to point out or even realize their deception. Praise the Lord for Christians like you who study the Bible, defend it, blog about it, and are prepared to challenge false teachings and stand on the truth of God's Word alone.
Thank you as always for your edifying comment, and God bless,

Susan said...

#3 “uncreated”? ...would “never created” be a better wording? Uncreated seems like created and then erased somehow...but great post, love quizzes

Donald Fishgrab said...

Over the years, I have become increasingly aware how false teachers play with words in order to mislead and cause confusion and conflict. We become a Christian by believing in Christ as our savior, but Satan has confused people, making them believe one can become a Christian other ways. Teh word Evangelical was originally intended to help people understand more exactly what we meant, but in recent years, even it's meaning has been distorted.

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Susan,
I agree that the Ligonier/Lifeway wording on that question is a little confusing. Perhaps a better way to have done it would have been to say "God the Son is a created being" and then have the answer be False.
Thanks as always for your input and God bless!

Laurie Collett said...

Very true, Donald, that as false teachers become more prevalent, so does the extent of their deception. Now more than ever it is essential that we remain vigilant and guard against the snares of the devil.
Thanks as always for your comment and God bless,

Mackie Schaars said...

Thank you, Laurie! Having dealt with false prophets in my life, I am very aware of their existence. So many people are not and that is a huge concern to me! Thank you for the scripture references and clarification on this topic. Miss you in Texas!

Laurie Collett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Mackie, for visiting and commenting on this blog! May we all remain vigilant and help others to do the same. It was an honor sharing the stage with you in Dallas! God bless,

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
very interesting issue.
I don't think that these questions can fully be answered with one word, as there are so many different scriptures referring to God and Jesus.
There is a scripture where Jesus says 'Why do you call me good, only God is good', a scripture that quotes Jesus saying 'The Father is greater than I,' and one that says that Jesus is the express image of God.
However, there is also a scripture where Jesus says 'My words are spirit and life,' and another that tells us that scripture is discerned spiritually.
I believe that the main thing is that God is Spirit, and although He is not flesh, He can dwell within the flesh, and that is how Jesus can say in John ch. 17 vs. 20 and 21:-
'I am not asking on behalf of them alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.'
So this is actually saying that we can all be one in the Spirit.

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda,
When Jesus walked the earth in His first coming, I believe He used His humanity as the perfect example for us of how to submit to the will of the Father. Although God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit are equally divine, Jesus in His earthly ministry took on our flesh, and in so doing, showed His submission to the Father. Yet all three members of the Trinity were, are and will be united in their will, purpose and plan. Thanks as always for sharing your insights, and God bless,

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
yes it is something the carnal mind can not understand isn't it. Although Jesus was the Word of God made flesh, He had to learn obedience through the things He suffered, and it was a reflection of how we have to learn God's ways by having our minds renewed in Christ, many times going through trials that strengthen us to overcome the enemy who is a liar and a thief.
God bless you Laurie.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Brenda! God's great, self-sacrificing love extended even to leaving His throne to come to earth and suffer the same things we do and even more, to conquer sin and death for us. May we keep our eyes fixed on Him and avoid the snares of the devil.
God bless you too!