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Archive for June 12th, 2017

Nicene Council

About the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, AD 325:  The first Council of Nicaea was convened in the early summer of AD 325 by Roman Emperor Constantine at what is today Iznik,Turkey. The emperor presided at the opening of the council. The council ruled against the Arians, who taught that Jesus was not the eternal Son of God but was created by the Father and was called Son of God because of His righteousness. The chief opponents of the Arians were Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and his deacon, Athanasius. The council confessed the eternal divinity of Jesus and adopted the earliest version of the Nicene Creed, which in its entirety was adopted at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381.

“We are waging a war of religion.  Not a civil war between adherents of the same religions, but a life and death struggle between Christian and pagan.”  So wrote Dorothy L.Sayers in 1940 in England, in her essay, “Creed or Chaos?”  There is a life and death struggle between Christian and pagan, but I think it is also a civil war in the Church.  While we were sleeping, the enemy came in and sowed the tares. The devil will not attack the pagans, especially those who were Christian, as they have sold out.  He attacks the true Church.  When we believe teachings that only man can conceive, we are going off the Way. So many denominations no longer care to keep the Commandment:  “You shall not commit adultery.”  Divorce on demand, abortion on demand, multiple marriages or no marriage at all, transgenderism…Pandora’s box is open.  To put it bluntly:  the civil war seems to be over our genitals, and thinking with our genitals is not the province of men alone. Yet this is the symptom, not the necessarily the cause.

 In the Bible, idolatry precedes immorality and immorality is not only in marriage but also in the marketplace.  It was and is the idolatry of not believing God’s Word, the Bible.  The wholesale battle against the Bible began over a hundred years ago with modern Biblical scholarship in Germany. Our word, “fundamentalism” was coined because a group of evangelical pastors and scholars, in the 1920s, wrote a series of pamphlets critical of this new scholarship entitled, “The Fundamentals”. Then stalwart Lutheran Seminaries in the 40s and 50s began to teach the denial of Mosaic authorship, Jonah…resulting eventually in the  denial of the Atonement in our day and time.  I attended several years ago a conference entitled, “Flights from the Atonement” because so many denominations denied the blood atonement, it was (and is) necessary to have such conferences.   This eventually spawned neo-feminism and their lust for “Mother Goddess” religions: in other words idolatry to justify immorality. 

In A.D. 325, it was also a  conflict  between Christians.   man sitting on a branch sawingCreed or chaos?  If the confessors at Nicaea had not remained “steadfast in the Word”, the faith of the Church would have disappeared, but the Lord held fast with Athanasius and others. Christianity would have become a pagan religion, which many branches of the Church are becoming in our day  because they have lopped off their branches by denying the utter veracity of the Bible, Old and New Testaments.

The Lord made us to believe and without the Lord, we believe in the darnedest things, like “deeds not creeds”.  But how can our deeds be informed and conformed without true teaching? Doesn’t a child need to be taught how to do something, according to sound principles before engaging in a deed?   Anyone for that matter!   Can you imagine a doctor not being taught correctly the doctrines, that is the correct teachings of his profession to make correct diagnoses?  Can you imagine the chaos?  Look at what has happened after denomination after denomination  denied the Law of God in matters of marriage and sexuality?  Yes, chaos.  Or that our deeds supersede the saving doctrine of Christ’s atonement?  How can our deeds make us right before the Lord?   People do not hear the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ once and for all.  Churches mete out advice but do not proclaim the Atonement. The result is the “nice” bromides  of a Joel Osteen who does not preach the blood of Christ for sinners. There is today a whole sale denial of death.

The result is the doctrinal chaos of our day and note that atheism is on the rise and many congregations have become self-sanctified and self-satisfied social welfare centers, not of faith and mercy in the Lord.

In St. Mark 3: 32 and 34, it is reported that the crowd sat around Jesus in a circle.  Jesus is at the center which means so His Father and the  Holy Spirit.  Without this Hub, the wheel won’t move and it will collapse. When other doctrines are at the center, we will go the wrong way, and then the inordinate desires of the flesh are at the center. The center is formed by the Lord and His Creeds, and the crowds, hearing His Word, then are praying His Word, teaching and preaching and eating and drinking His Word and washed in His Word. We are baptized, secured by the Lord to eat His Body and drink the Cup of the New Testament in His Blood, taught His saving doctrine, every Word of the Bible day by day.

Many see  doctrine as simply fussy and nit-picking.  In a Bible study in the liberal Lutheran church a man said to the conservative pastor,  Oh, you are such a nit-picker. Later his wife told him that Ann, sitting next to her, whispered: But nit-picking helps (!).  I am thankful for all those faithful nitpickers like Athanasius!  The Church knew that in the challenge of Arianism (and all heresies)  something is at stake:  the very basis of the Gospel and the authority of the Scriptures. This is why the blessed Reformers, as well,  took their stand on the Word of God (See Resource below:  The Scriptural Basis of the Nicene Creed).  At stake was (and always is) forgiveness of sinners received by faith in Jesus Christ:  the sinless One in the sinners’ stead ( 2 Corinthians 5:21).  In Jesus Christ, we are reconciled to God(2 Corinthians 5:18-20) and the way the Lord accomplished this once and for all  was by sending His Son in the flesh, “very God from very God”, the only-begotten Son of God (1 John 4:9, KJV).  This is the sound doctrine of which the Apostle wrote to Timothy and Titus.  Doctrine is life, eternal life.   If the bishops and pastors had not convened and took a stand against false teaching, we would be lost but the Lord will not let us be lost, but found, and so we praise Him for His faithful Church and the Confessors of the ecumenical Council of Nicaea.  Let us  pray:

Lord God, heavenly Father, at the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea, Your Church boldly confessed that it believed in one Lord Jesus Christ as being of one substance with the Father. Grant us courage to confess this saving faith with Your Church through all the ages; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.


Resource:  The Scriptural Basis of the Nicene Creed:

The Father

I Believe
Rom. 10:9, Jas 2:19, John 14:1

In one God,
Deut. 6:4, Is. 44:6

The Father
Is. 63:16, 2 Pet 1:17, Matt. 6:9

Almighty,
Gen. 17:1, Ps. 91:1, Rev. 4:8

Maker
Job 4:17, 35:10, Is. 17:7, 54:5

of heaven
Gen 1:1, 8

and earth
Ps. 104:5, Jer. 51:15

and of all things
Gen 1:31

visible and invisible.
Ps. 89:11-12, Amos 4:13, Rev. 3:5, Col. 1:16

 

The Son

And in one Lord
Eph. 4:5

Jesus Christ,
Acts 10:36, 11:17, Rom. 1:7, 5:1, 1 Cor 1:2, 6:11, 2 Cor. 1:2, 8:9
Gal. 1:3, 6:14, Eph. 1:2, 3:11, Phil. 1:2, 3:20, Col. 1:3, 2:6, 1 Thes. 1:1, 5:9,
2 Thes. 1:1, 2:14, 1 Tim. 6:3, 14, 2 Tim. 1:2, Philemon 1:3, 25, Heb. 13:20,
Jas. 1:1, 2:1, 1 Pet. 1:3, 3:15, 2 Pet. 1:8, 14, Jude 17, 21, Rev. 22:20-21

the only-begotton,
John 1:18

Son of God,
Matt 3:17, John 3:16

Begotten of His Father,
Heb. 1:5

Before all worlds,

John 1:1, Col. 1:17, 1 John 1:1

begotten,
John 1:1, Heb. 1:5

Not Made,
Mic. 5:2, John 1:18, 17:5

Being of one substance with the Father,
John 10:30, 14:9

By whom all things were made;
1 Cor. 8:6, Col 1:16

Who for us men
Matt 20:28, John 10:10

and for our salvation
Matt 1:21, Luke 19:10

came down from heaven
Rom. 10:6, Eph. 4:10

and was incarnate
Col. 2:9

by the Holy Spirit
Matt 1:18

of the Virgin Mary
Luke 1:34-35

and was made man;
John 1:14

and was crucified
Matt. 20:19, John 19:18, Rom. 5:6, 8, 2 Cor. 13:4

also for us
Rom. 5:8, 2 Cor. 5:15

under Pontius Pilate.
Matt. 27:2, 26, 1 Tim 6:13

He suffered
1 Pet. 2:21, Heb. 2:10

and was buried.
Mark 15:46, 1 Cor. 15:4

And the third day
Matt. 27:63, 28:1, 1 Cor. 15:4

He rose again
Mark 16:6, 2 Tim. 2:8

according to the Scriptures
Ps. 16:10, Luke 24:25-27, 1 Cor. 15:4

and ascended
Luke 24:51, Acts 1:9

Into heaven
Mark 16:19, Acts 1:11

and sits at the right hand of the Father.
Ps. 110:1, Matt. 26:64, Acts 7:56, Heb. 1:3

And He will come again
Jn. 14:3, 1 Thes. 4:16

with glory
Matt. 16:27, 24:30, 25:31, 26:64, Mark. 8:38, Col. 3:4

to judge
Matt. 25:31-46, Acts 17:31

both the living and the dead,
Acts 10:42, 1 Pet. 4:5

whose kingdom
John 18:36, 2 Tim. 4:1, 18

will have no end.
Luke 1:33, Rev. 11:15, Ps. 145:13

The Holy Spirit

And I believe in the Holy Spirit,
Matt. 28:19, Acts 13:2

The Lord
2 Cor. 3:17

And giver of life,
John 6:63, Rom. 7:6, 8:2, 2 Cor. 3:6

who proceeds from the father

John 14:16-17

and the Son,
John 15:26, Rom. 8:9, Gal. 4:6

Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped
Luke 4:8, John 4:24

and glorified
John 4:24, 1 Tim. 1:17

Who spoke by the prophets.
1 Pet. 1:10-11, 2 Pet 1:21

And I believe in one
1 Cor. 10:16-17, 12:12-13

Holy
Eph. 3:16-17, 5:27, 1 Pet. 2:9

Catholic
1 Cor. 1:2

and Apostolic
Eph. 2:20, Rev. 21:14

Church,
Acts 20:28, Eph. 1:22-23, Col. 1:24, Heb. 12:23, 1 Pet. 2:9

I acknowledge one Baptism
John 3:5, Rom. 6:3, Eph. 4:5

For the remission of sins,

Acts 2:38, 1 Pet. 3:21, Tit. 3:5

And I look for the resurrection of the dead

1 Thes. 4:16, 1 Cor. 15:12-13, 16, 52

And the life of the world to come.
1 Cor 15:54-57, Rev. 22:5

Amen.
Ps. 41:13, 2 Cor. 1:20

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