Saturday, August 7, 2021

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 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
Reposted from the archives



Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
During my early days of being a Christian, I got involved with Jehovah's Witnesses. I think, had it not been for the power of God guarding me, I would have become a JW myself.
JWs deny the Trinity, insist that Jesus was a created being and that during his pre-carnate state, he was the archangel, Michael. JWs also deny the physical Resurrection of Christ, instead, insisting that the ghost of Jesus rose from his dead body three days after his impalement (not Crucifixion) and resumed the name, Michael.
Also, the holy spirit (not capitalised) is not the third Person of the Trinity, but God's Active Force, a mere tool used by God to carry out His will on earth.
If you find yourself talking to a JW, never show them 1 John 5:7 as Scriptural proof of the Trinity! They will laugh at your face, expressing surprise at your unawareness that this verse, found only in the KJV, has long been disproved by reliable scholars as authentic, and does not appear in any other English translations of the Bible - even though I fully agree with it.
Indeed, I believe that God has miraculously saved me from becoming a JW. After all, back then, I was newly converted to Christ, and therefore I had a lot to learn.
BTY, I got all six questions right.
God's blessings on you and Richard.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Back in the day when I was part of a team doing door-to-door witnessing, we encountered a JW who shook off our attempts at sharing the Gospel. He seemed sad and bitter, as his view that only the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation would go to Heaven meant that he could never be sure if he had done enough to secure his spot.
1 John 5:7 is surely a key verse, but there are many others, including those concerning Christ's baptism and transfiguration. Even in the very beginning of Genesis, the Hebrew word "Elohim" used for "God" is a plural noun, and God said, "Let us make man in OUR image.
Congratulations on your perfect score, which doesn't surprise me in the least! Thanks as always for sharing your insights. May God bless you and Alex,

Rajani Rehana said...

God bless you ☺️

Laurie Collett said...

God bless you too, Rajani!