ORIGINAL SIN

SIN IS THE “PRIVATION OF THE GOOD”

                                                                                                                  (Stillwaggon, 2014, pp. 67)

The very reason humans cannot see their true state of depravity that leads to eternal suffering, death and destruction is because of their inability to understand and comprehend who God is, who they are, and the true destructiveness of sin.

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The Fall has left humanity depleted of grace; however, what remains is an innate ability and basic knowledge of good and evil (McQuilkin & Copan, 2014). There is an ‘ah ha’ moment and a revealing of sorts when a believer becomes cognizant and humbly aware of how blissfully Ignorant they have lived their life up to that point. The believer has been given ‘new’ eyes and ears.

A true believer cannot love God and the world (Matt 6), and will experience the following:

1. Battle between flesh (selfishness) and spirit (other-centered) as the flesh desires to have what it wants and what it wants is sinful pleasures all the time.

2. Heart and mind continually undergoes a process of transformation as they grow to become more Christ-like, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 ESV).

3. Hold a Christian worldview that sees the world differently than before; truly for what it is, dark, unjust, unfair, cruel, idolatrous, and deceiving with its ruler, Satan (enemy, devil, prince of this world).

4. Expect to be rejected by friends and family; Jesus was hated, expect the same (John 15:18).

Original sin results in the chasm that separates the human race from God, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross bridges that gap so that believers may enter in relationship with God the Father. Good can only come from good; therefore, God being love, good, holy, and unique to anything that ever was, is, and will be, only creates goodness out of His goodness (Bird, 2013). In Matthew it is confirmed that “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” (Matthew 7: 18 NIV). We can establish that the Creator God made Adam and Eve “good”, in addition to blessing them with some of God’s divine attributes (Bird, 2013). Additionally, God through His love bestows freedom on His creation. With freedom comes risk; consequently, it turns out that Adam and Eve’s freedom results in rebellion against God and in turn causes humanity and the world to spiral down in a state of depravation. The door of the knowledge of good and evil opens and affects not only Adam and Eve individually, but also humanity on a whole referred to as Original Sin (Highfield, 2008). Through the coercion of the serpent in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve desire to be more like God, “…when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4 NIV). The Old Testament clearly presents Original Sin and humanity’s propensity to sin, as Bird says, “there is a clear solidarity between Adam and his progeny so that what is true of the primal representative is true of those whom he represented” (Bird, 2013, p. 681). Examples of this are seen from sin going from eating the fruit, to Cain killing Able, to sacrificing of children to Baal, to the crucifixion of the Messiah.

This corrupt nature of man is not something added nor present in the beginning, but rather was something taken away and became unreachable within the being of the human. In Romans, Apostle Paul addresses the human essence by comparing how humanity was first “in Adam” and then has been redeemed by the “second Adam” in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12). It is through Jesus that God gifts to humanity the means of bringing His creation back to a state of goodness and holiness so that creation can have a relationship with Him again. The Gospel further illustrates how humanity can find its way from its depravation in mind, body and soul to becoming healthy again and fully human.

When studying the Old Testament and the New Testament, we learn that humans were meant to be healthy. In Psalm 8: 4-6, the psalmist refers to humans as lower than angels and yet were “crowned” with “glory and honor”; and in the New Testament, Hebrews goes on to specifically state that it is through Jesus of whom shared in our humanness while living on earth that shows humanity how to find their back to this state of glory and honor, “shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who hold the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14-15 NIV). Back in Genesis 3, it is evident the evil serpent knew exactly how to entice and appeal to Adam and Eve’s desirous nature located in the lower part of the soul (Berkhof). Again, it is because of what human beings lack that has sickened their nature. The New Testament is filled with numerous incidents where Jesus heals the physical, mental, and spiritual infirmities of people. As Matthew puts it, Jesus healed “those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them” (Matthew 4:23-24 NIV).

Sin is the devil’s thoughts becoming our thoughts; what begins as a thought amounts to nothing until it takes root and becomes a stronghold . Biblical examples of how people overcome their sinfulness, include Moses, King David, Daniel, and Apostle Paul (Daniel 3, Psalm 3, Ephesians 5, 6). For instance, Moses was a murderer and had a temper that eventually resulted in not being allowed to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:9-11).

Sin attacks in every way possible. Thomas Aquinas held that Adam and Eve had original justice until Genesis 3, “Desire as a fundamental aspect of material existence manifests itself in a more complex manner in Aquinas’ account of beings’ natural desire toward their teleological perfection” (Stillwaggon,2014, p. 65). This is essential in that it shows how desire was “guided by divine intellect, also known original justice” (Stillwaggon, 2014, p. 67); therefore, simply put, “original sin just is the due lack of original justice, the lack of justice that ought to be present by Adam’s will” (Houck, 2016, p. 77). Houck goes on to explain that because something is lacking in human nature, does not mean human beings are not responsible, but rather the responsibility rests on the human will (Houck, 2016). Through classical theology, we learn sin derives from humanity’s lower soul (Berkof). These are characteristics such as ‘self-centeredness’ as opposed to the Godly attribute of ‘other-centeredness’, and ‘enslavement’ as opposed to the Godly attribute of ‘freedom’ (Bird, 2013). As cited in Bird (2013), Kevin Vanhoozer says, “evangelicals need to recapture a passion for biblical formation: a desire to be formed, reformed and transformed by the truth and power of the gospel” (Bird, 2013, p. 31). Desire is not bad until it is rooted in sin; therefore, as written in Romans 8 and Galatians 5, and as Bird (2013) states, human beings can “live obediently to God, to deprive flesh and desire of their power in sin” (Bird, 2013, p.155).

God is the only God and the Creator of all things, as John shows with his words that tie back to Genesis, The Word (Jesus) was present during creation, “through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:3-4 NIV). The concept of humanity from its potential to actual can only be achieved through God of whom is “pure actual” (Highfield, 2008). When Apostle Paul states that through Adam, one man, sin came into the world (Romans 5:12) suggest that although human behavior, if left to our fallen nature, a result of the fall, “we are still agents with intentionality and continue to be referred beyond ourselves to something more wherein lies our final destiny and definitive identity” (Novello, 2009, P. 187). The fact that humans feel guilt is also indicative that our human nature is lacking (Novello, 2009). These feelings of guilt are necessary in that it shows human beings that they are not right by God (Novello, 2009). And we can see how this guilt is able to transform as Isaiah puts it when confronted with feelings of his guilt, “Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, see this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6:6-7 NIV). Prior to that moment for Isaiah, in verse 5, he becomes aware of his fallen state as a human being and does not think himself worthy to live or even be in the presence of God. In the New Testament, Apostle Paul continually calls himself a “wretched man” (Romans 7:24, 25). Apostle Paul is a great example in the New Testament of being given grace and mercy, and only through Jesus Christ is being restored back to God. When Jesus was on earth, He spoke about the Kingdom of Heaven, and when that comes to its full realization, all of humanity that believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior will be redeemed.

God’s redemption is possible because of His grace, mercy, love, patience, and forgiveness. And the human body, consisting of mind, body and soul, was given by the Creator some of His divine intellect; and if not lost, would have continued in the nature of the human being (Stillwaggon, 2014). Apostle Paul also goes on to say Romans “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:20-22 NIV). As the result and according to John Calvin, all of creation is subject to God and thus according to God’s justice has been cursed (Lamoureux, 2009). God, through His love and omnipotence and omniscience immediately put His plan in motion with Jesus coming down to earth to teach humanity how to live. And when Jesus was set to depart from earth, He sent another Advocate, the Holy Spirit to be among humanity to comfort and guide. Jesus tells His disciples that when He leaves them, He “…will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. Bur you know him…” (John 14:16-17 NIV).

The Gospel is the good news found in Jesus Christ, where one finds salvation by the grace of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Because of sin through Adam and Eve, all are sinners from birth, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of humanity had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time (Genesis 6:5 NIV). Humanity goes from seeing sin when confronted with God’s Law in Exodus and Deuteronomy to gaining some understanding of the human beings’ purpose through Jesus. Guilt is part of the process in dealing with sin resulting in further knowledge of our need of a Savior. As Apostle Paul says, “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do.” (Romans 7:14-15 NIV). Paul acknowledges that humanity lacks the essence of things Godly such as divine nature that is good and holy. Through the Holy Spirit, humanity has been given a path to regain the privation of the good that has been made hidden because of Original Sin (Bird, 2013). It is through our second Adam, Jesus Christ, that humanity has been given hope; therefore, humanity must cling to God through faith and be thankful for His grace and mercy. This then leads to repentance so as to cleanse our sinful human nature so that we may share in everlasting life with God.

References:
Bird, M. F., (2013). Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing.  Retrieved from: http://www.gcumedia.com/digital-resources/harpercollins/2013/evangelical-theology_a-biblical-and-systematic-introduction_ebook_1e.php

Berkhof, L.. Man in the State of Sin in Part Two: The Doctrine of Man in Relation to God. Systematic Theology. Retrieved by: https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/berkhof/systematic_theology.html

Highfield, R. (2008). Great is the Lord: Theology for the praise of God. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. Retrieved from: https://lc-ugrad3.gcu.edu/learningPlatform/externalLinks/externalLinks.html?operation=redirectToExternalLink&externalLink=http%3A%2F%2Fgcumedia.com%2Fdigital-resources%2Fwm-b-eerdmans-publishing-co%2F2008%2Fgreat-is-the-lord_theology-for-the-praise-of-god_ebook_1e.php

Houck, D. W. (2016). Natura Humana Relieta est Christo: Thomas Aquinas on the Effects of Original Sin. Archa Verbi, (13), 68-102. Retrieved from: https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=123947781&site=eds-live&scope=site

Hybels, B., Mittelberg, M. (1994). Becoming a contagious Christian. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. ISBN-13: 9780310210085. Retrieved from http://gcumedia.com/digital-resources/harpercollins/1996/becoming-a-contagious-christian_ebook_1e.php

Lamoureux, D. O. (2016). Beyond the Cosmic Fall and Natural Evil. Perspectives On Science & Christian Faith, 68(1), 44-59. Retrieved from: https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=113835293&site=eds-live&scope=site

Novello, H. L. (2009). Lack of Personal, Social and Cosmic Integration: Original Sin from an Eschatological Perspective. Pacifica, 22(2), 171-197. Retrieved from: https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=58618677&site=eds-live&scope=site

Stillwaggon, J. (2014). The Problem of Propagation: Original Sin as Inherited Discourse. Studies In Philosophy & Education, 33(1), 61-73. doi:10.1007/s11217-013-9362-7. Retrieved from: https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=93447361&site=eds-live&scope=site c

 

 

Virgin Mary Apparitions Are False!

By Natalie Hardt|2019

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The Roman Catholic Church has high-jacked and has manipulated the Gospel, making it a false pagan religion and worthy of being called a cult.

Disclaimer: before I proceed on this topic, I want to say that I am not trying to offend people, but rather call out the Roman Catholic Church for what it is. It is not loving others if one is more concerned about feelings or offending than speaking the truth especially concerning salvation; therefore, Catholics are the mission field and must learn the truth. 

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All people should be able to have direct access to the Word of God. When a peoples cannot read nor understand God’s Word, the more vulnerable they become to “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15-20), for scripture warns us “…false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24 ESV). Before I became a Christian, I wanted the cute stories I heard growing up about the Virgin Mary (Mary) appearances to be true; I am here to say, they are not from God. Catholic counterarguments have included “so many people have seen and heard from these apparitions, how can everyone be wrong?” My response is YES, they are wrong and so is the Roman Catholic Church.

Scripture clearly identifies Satan as an angel of light, an imitator of God:

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness…” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15 ESV).

Biblical scripture in no way shape or form supports the various titles and roles the Roman Catholic Church has attributed to Mary, such as “Queen of Heaven” and “Mother of God”; titles that go back to ancient civilization goddess worshipping peoples (MacArthur, 2015). Examples include Solomon, of whom turns from God to follow his foreign wives that worship false gods/goddesses.

“He [Solomon] followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites” (1 Kings 11:5 NIV). To worship Molek and other gods like this involve infant sacrifice (Leviticus 20). The wisest man to ever live and son of King David of whose line will come Messiah, will turn his heart and mind from the living God to worship idols/fake gods (1 Kings 11:9), “He [Solomon] took the carved Asherah [goddess] pole he had made and put it in the temple, of which the Lord had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever”” (2 Kings 21:7 NIV). Scripture warns against falling prey to false gods/teachings; therefore, be armed with the Word of God, “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24 NIV; Ephesians 6:11). What happens when the elect – bishops and popes – corrupt either the Word of God and/or the interpretation of it? You get false religions like the Roman Catholic Church.

Vulgate
The Books of the Bible were already established by the time Saint Jerome (347-420AD) decided to translate the Bible in Latin, a language no longer spoken nor understood by the masses; this version of translation became known as the Vulgate. Jerome does get push back from colleagues; however, it will be the 15th and 16th centuries when Desiderius Erasmus identifies errors with the Vulgate translation, including passages surrounding Mary. Around the same time Erasmus was causing trouble for the Roman Catholic Church, Martin Luther was also making his stand against the church and pinned his 95 theses on the church doors in Wittenberg that launched the Reformation.

One of the most controversial translations concerning the Vulgate is the moment Angel Gabriel speaks to Mary, “hail one that is full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women” (Luke 1:28 NIV), as opposed to the previous interpretation of “one who has found favor”. The error concerning the Latin version is that the correct translation should have been “gratificata” which means doing favor versus “gratia plena” which means full of grace. Being full of grace signifies void of sin, which is inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus and evident throughout the Old and New Testaments. “…and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:7-8 ESV).

Worship of false gods and superstitious beliefs go back to ancient civilizations with Nimrod and the Tower of Babel to the Canaanites (worship Baal), Assyrians, Babylonians, to the Greeks and Romans. In this same vain, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates with parades and festivals that display costumes and pageantry worship for Lady of Fatima, Lady of Guadalupe, Lady of Pontmain, and many more, “The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven [Ishtar goddess]. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to arouse my anger” (Jeremiah 7:18 NIV); and “But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.” (Jeremiah 22:18 NIV).

Mary worship as if she is responsible or part and partial to one’s salvation is Presentation1blasphemous, a complete and utter false teaching that prevents people from knowing the truth that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father! Popes and bishops today are reflective of first century Pharisees (Jewish religious leaders) with their costumes, prestige and legalism. Jesus describes these corrupt religious leaders, the Pharisees like this, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44 NIV). Satan infiltrates God’s plan through confusion that goes clear back to the Garden of Eden when the serpent subtly coerces Eve to doubt and question God. Satan works at taking as many souls with him because he knows his time is almost up, “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10 NIV).

Satan Sows Discourse
Satan does not waste any time weaving discourse and sowing confusion surrounding God’s Word. The Apostles were spreading the Gospel and planting churches, as well as defending the faith against heresies and the circulation of corrupt versions of scripture, “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32 ESV). The Roman Catholic Church may have its roots in Judaism and Christianity, but by the 3rd and 4th centuries it will change and compromise. Examples include combining the resurrection celebration with the celebration of pagan goddess Eostre/Ostara and renaming it ‘Easter’; adding the office and position of the papacy as head of the church; and fabricating ritualistic acts such as praying with a rosary, devotionals to the immaculate heart, and inventing purgatory as part of salvation. All of these are blasphemy! This begs the question, how can this happen?

A combination of popes and bishops/archbishops being among the few that could read and write and the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476AD, popes and bishops gain power, prominence, and influence over emperors. Popes and other religious leaders are being called ‘father’, an abomination for that is reserved only for our Father in heaven. Moreover, there is no further need for the Levitical system (Jewish priesthood) because Jesus has filled the position of High Priest of whom intercedes on our behalf. Prior to the resurrection, the Jewish High Priest would make the once a year sacrificial atonement for the Nation of Israel by going into the section of the Tabernacle/Temple referred to as the Holy Holies (Leviticus 16; Hebrews 9). Scripture records the Jewish Temple’s veil being torn top to bottom the moment Jesus’ work on the cross is complete. This veil is more like a thick fabric and approximately 60 ft. high that separates the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split” (Matthew 17:51 NIV).

The Rosary
The ‘rosary’ and its use when praying is an example of manner that does not glorify Jesus Christ, but rather praying to a sinful human being, Mary (all people sin). Jesus specifically says, “But when you pray go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret…”” (Matthew 6:6 ESV), not go seek out a priest or church leader and confess. Then there is the matter of repetitive chants, also unbiblical and blasphemous, as when the priest instructs to repent by saying 10 Hail Marys, “use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matthew 6:7 KJV).

Recognizing False Doctrine
Reading Scripture is the best defense against false teachings; I can confirm the below statement from Lucia is inconsistent with Scripture and is NOT from God.

“Lucia made some requests for sick people, to which Mary replied that she would cure some but not others, and that all must say the rosary to obtain such graces, before continuing: “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary” (theotokos.org.uk).

The apparition says “to obtain such graces” which falls in-line with good works and is actually central to the Catholic religion and not to Scripture. Faith alone in Jesus ‘alone’ brings salvation, there is nothing a person can do to earn grace from God. Then there is the nonsensical statement inconsistent with scripture, “sins committed against the immaculate heart of Mary” that puts Mary on a level equal or even above God the Father, Jesus, the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – the Trinity. Not only have Catholic leaders twisted the Word of God, they have led many down the wrong path that will be met with punishment; those given more responsibility, comes greater expectations, rewards, and punishments, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as they will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1 ESV).

Purgatory
Purgatory is unbiblical, there is no pit-stop, some waiting room before being judged! This is complete and utterly false and another example of false biblical interpretation of the Gospel. The Catholic Church developed a system where one can apply merit, for a fee to loved ones in purgatory so they may complete their journey to heaven, this is completely erroneous and shameful. This is further evidence of how far from the true Gospel, the Roman Catholic Church has gone. As the church became church/state, it would have to behave like any government that protects itself from enemy forces. The Catholic Church had to come up with a way to justify war-ing via the crusades that eventually led to the buying and selling of salvation through what was known as indulgences. By the 4th century and well into the 11th century, the Roman Catholic Church is not being led by the Holy Spirit as it spirals further into decay as a result of preaching false doctrine.

Repentance
The incorrect Vulgate interpretation of Matthew 4:17, says “Then Jesus began to preach and say: “‘do penance, for the kingdom of heaven has drawn near””; the correct translation is ‘repent, for the kingdom…’. Catholicism puts human effort as having a role in redemption, as if one can earn their way to heaven. Apostle Paul goes into detail about the result of good works due to deposited grace by the power of the Holy Spirit. God knows our true motivations and desires because He knows the hearts and minds of men (scripture), “…it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:9 ESV). Only the Holy Spirit has the power to transform from within – the hearts and minds of believers in Christ.

Other false teachings perpetuated by the Roman Catholic Church include abstinence from marriage during the reign of Pope Benedict VIII and Pope Gregory VII, as late as the 11th century. There are unholy reasons for this including the church’s way to ensure no responsibility for a family when a pope dies (MacArthur, 2015). Scripture clearly teaches that it is by choice that one may choose to abstain from marriage, it is not a mandate. Scripture mentions Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law in Luke 4:38, and Apostle Paul’s choice to be celibate in 1 Corinthians 7.

Catholicism has moved far from its Judaism and Christian roots; however, the true Word of God remains. The Bible is referred to as ‘Canon’, a Greek word that means ‘rule’ because the Canon is the measuring stick. All the Books of the Bible are consistent divinely inspired writings by approximately 40 different authors on 3 different continents. The books were scrutinized for canonization that includes answering a set of questions: 1) was the book written by a prophet; 2) miracles authenticate writer, confirming his message; 3) does the writing tell the truth about God without contradictions; 4) does the writing have a divine capacity to transform lives; and 5) did the people it was written for accept it as God’s Word (McGrath, 2012). The Word of God is relevant today as it was more than 2,000 years ago with the Old Testament long established centuries prior. Jesus often quotes from the Septuagint (Greek translation of Hebrew text) in His teachings and when He debates the Pharisees. The New Testament books were written, circulated, and accepted long before the Vulgate, the councils reaffirmed which 26 books would make up the New Testament (i.e. Nicene, Constantinople). These writings were always meant to go directly to the people in a language they understood which is why Jerome’s translation in the Latin was met with much scrutiny.

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (1 John 4:1-3 NIV).

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 ESV).

Jesus gives the Great Commission to the 12 Apostles, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28: 18-20 NIV). When Jesus ascends to heaven, the church begins and so will Satan’s attempts to copy God and thwart His plan. First century church struggled in a pagan world much like today. Corinth struggled with immorality; Colossae had its mystics; Ephesus encountered false teachers; Thessalonica had end of time freaks; and Philippi were complainers (Muehlhoff, T., & Lewis, T. V. 2010). By the time we get to the Apostles to the Apostles, known as the Patristic Era (100-500AD), there are two schools of thought, Alexandria in Egypt (Alexander the Great established) that takes a philosophical approach (Greek), and the school of Antioch in Syria, where Apostle Paul and Barnabas plant the first church of believers that call themselves Christians.

The Humanness of Mary
We get another glimpse into Jesus’ family in Matthew “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:54-58 ESV). Jesus was known to have brothers and sisters, His brother James authored Book of James; moreover, Mary speaks of her Lord, “And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:46-49 ESV). Mary knows she is human and in need of a Savior, “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23 ESV). Finally, it does not go without escape how Jesus speaks to His mother, as in the Cana Wedding where He says, “Woman (Mary), why do you involve me?” and “…My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4 NIV). Then there is the moment Jesus is speaking to a group in a home and it says, “Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12: 47-50 ESV). Mary is a Bible heroine and one to be loved, just not in the way she is depicted by the Roman Catholic Church. Jesus must get all the glory – ALL.

“Surely there is not a righteous man [or woman] on earth who does good and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 ESV).

References:
CNS photo/Paul Haring. 2018. Retrieved from https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2018/03/03/pope-francis-establishes-universal-feast-day-blessed-virgin-mary-mother-church
MacArthur, J. (2015). Exposing the Idolatry of Mary Worship parts 1-4. YouTube. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/RbDn_KU7BqU
McGrath, A. (2012).
Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought.2nd edition. Retrieved from http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var2=750
Muehlhoff, T., & Lewis, T. V. (2010).
Authentic communication: Christian speech engaging culture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. Retrieved by: http://gcumedia.com/digital-resources/intervarsity-press/2010/authentic-communication_christian-speech-engaging-culture_ebook_1e.php
Theotokos Catholic Book. Words spoken by Mary at Fatima. Retrieved from http://www.theotokos.org.uk/pages/approved/words/wordfati.ht

Faithful to the Word of God

      God is everything that is good and righteous, not some Master presiding over a set of strict rules. It is because of the Holy Spirit transformative work in the believer’s mind and heart that he lives differently. This results in motive and desire to live differently than before that effects how the believer views certain subjects (political) and view others and the world. God is unchanging, He is the same today and yesterday and Scripture becomes one’s guide, life book. Christian theology utilizes additional sources to Scripture, such as natural revelation, tradition, and experience (Bird, 2013). When looking at these loci, the theologian can reasonably make sense of the biblical message; many theologians believe “The ultimate and trustworthy proof for believers is the witness of their Holy Spirit and His ability to discern truth as taught by apostolic witnesses (Highfield, 2008).      

    According to Bird (2013), “theology is something that is learned, lived, sung, preached, and renewed through the dynamic interaction between God and his people” (Bird, 2013, p. 30). The “something” for the Evangelical theologian is the Gospel. The Gospel has been recorded in what is known as the Bible, a collection of God inspired writings known as Scripture (Bird, 2013). The persons responsible for these writings are Jesus’ apostles, as well as other disciples of whom have witnessed or were close to events in the days of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. It was incumbent upon these first Evangelists to pass down to the world the news about Jesus, this began the Evangelical movement or theology, as well as the birth of the church. Through Scripture, these Evangelists present snapshots of God’s character including His mercy, grace, and His gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to those that believe in God’s Son Jesus Christ who is the Messiah, our Savior send down to earth to save mankind from death, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life in Him” (John 3:16, NIV). Jesus is the good news, the promised Messiah according to the Old Testament. As Highfield puts it, “Historical study provides important assistance, and the witness of the Holy Spirit is the ultimate ground of our faith” (Highfield, 2008, p. 24-25).

     Through methodology, a systematic theology, methods also used by the fiends of science and philosophy, the church has developed criteria for measuring information (Bird, 2013). The Christian theologian believes in reasoning the data and information from various sources, “Reason is the instrument which the believer uses in examining the objects of faith by the scripture, as by the infallible norm of truth, but is not the rule itself of these objects of faith” (Highfield, 2008, p. 40). Followers of Jesus find Scripture trustworthy, “It is Scripture understood in the light of the regula fidei [rule of faith] that will enable us to bring together the Christian canon and the Christian community in a fruitful exchange” (Bird 2013, p.80). In addition to these written teachings that reveal God’s character, we also see who He is through general and specific revelation (Bird, 2013). Through our senses we can see what He has done in nature, the universe, the earth, and all living things, but more importantly, it through our experiences and witness of our Holy Spirit that we truly become a believer of Christ (Bird, 2013).

      Although many in the academia world do not view scripture as trustworthy, “Christian theology can be an academically respectable discipline” (Highfield, 2008, p.68). The Canon presents various “genres: law code, narrative, prophecy, proverbs, gospels, epistles, and an apocalypse” in which God reveals Himself to the world (Bird, 2013, p. 79). Scripture is trustworthy to the believer, it is “the ultimate norm for theology; that it, it establishes what is authoritative for Christian belief and practice” (Bird, 2013, p.64). It is through the tradition Jesus’ disciples that bring the Word to believers and is it the discernment of our Holy Spirit that we comprehend the Gospel of Jesus; it is historian “Thomas Aquinas speaks not of one, but of three forms of human wisdom cultivated in the pursuit of God” (White, 2014, p.1031). As presented in scripture, Apostle Paul writes, about the difference of the wisdom of men versus the wisdom of God, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate [taken from Isaiah in the Old Testament]” (1 Corinthians 1: 18-19 NIV).

      Theology is necessary because in learning about our Creator, we learn who we are and God’s purpose for our life, “theology is about engaging with the biblical script that Christians are to perform in their daily lives” (Bird, 2013, p.82). It is in Genesis 3 that sin entered and changed the world, “the path which moves from Creation to Covenant is described as a series of alienations and separations from God” (Och, 2001, p.340). Jesus came to save the world and deliver His message about the Kingdom of God that is both here now and will be complete in the future, at the end of the age (Mihindukulasuriya, 2014). The Christian faith hinges on the life of Jesus through His ministry on earth; the advent of the cross in which Jesus became the sacrificial Lamb on our behalf; and the resurrection in which Jesus conquered death. It is through faith in Jesus as taught in biblical Scripture, a collection of these trustworthy writings that help develop and grow the faith of the believer.

References
Bird, M. F., (2013). Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. Retrieved by: http://www.gcumedia.com/digital-resources/harpercollins/2013/evangelical-theology_a-biblical-and-systematic-introduction_ebook_1e.php
Highfield, R. (2008). Great is the Lord: Theology for the praise of God. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. Retrieved by: https://lc-ugrad3.gcu.edu/learningPlatform/externalLinks/externalLinks.html?operation=redirectToExternalLink&externalLink=http%3A%2F%2Fgcumedia.com%2Fdigital-resources%2Fwm-b-eerdmans-publishing-co%2F2008%2Fgreat-is-the-lord_theology-for-the-praise-of-god_ebook_1e.php
Mihindukulasuriya, P. (2014). How Jesus Inaugurated the Kingdom on the Cross: a Kingdom Perspective of the Atonement. Evangelical Review Of Theology, 38(3), 196-213. Retrieved by: https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rlh&AN=96993783&site=eds-live&scope=site
Och, B. (1988). The Garden of Eden: From Re-Creation to Reconciliation. Judaism, 37(3), 340. Retrieved by: https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=4881372&site=eds-live&scope=siteJudaism, 37(3), 340.
White, T. J. (2014). St. Thomas Aquinas and the Wisdom of the Cross. Nova Et Vetera (English Edition), 12(4), 1029-1043. Retrieved by: https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=100914445&site=eds-live&scope=site

 

Ministerial Ethics

By Natalie Hardt | 2019

Why a code is helpful for spiritual leaders and those that serve as our examples

Genesis Compared to Other Creation Stories

By Natalie Hardt | 2019

Christian interpretation of Genesis 1 that acknowledges the Ancient Near Eastern context, and modern science

Sinful Creatures in Need of a Good God

By Natalie Hardt | 2019 

The greatest Christian on earth was the Apostle Paul, of whom saw and acknowledged his wretchedness, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing” (Romans 7: 19 NIV).

Human beings cannot know God without the Holy Spirit’s transformative work in and through their lives. Galatians 5:22 identifies the Spirit as “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (NIV); and goes against human nature that is “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Galatians 5:19-21 NIV). To better understand the war taking place within those that allow the Spirit to guide and grow them, it is important to understand the origin of why human beings are prone to sin. Let me go on a quick detour by saying how essential it is to acknowledge one’s true human nature and deceiving heart. The world likes nothing better than to convince people they are fine the way they are, and if not, well there are plenty of self-help books to make them ‘be their own guide’, so that they can have things ‘their way’ so that they are in ‘control of their destiny’. Advertisements alone bombard with how good and powerful we are without God; this is all part of the enemy’s (Satan/devil) plan. Devil means ‘deceiver’ and Jesus calls out the devil for what he is “the enemy” (Matt 13:39); “a liar” (John 8:44); “a murderer” (John 8:44); “evil one” (Matt 13:38); and “prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30). I have encountered non-believers that want to avoid using the word ‘sin’ as if it somehow does not apply to them. This is another subject that can be developed in another discussion; for now, the main point here is to address aspects of humanity’s redemptive story by discussing sin and how we can work in tandem with God’s Spirit to help combat it.

Part of the redemption story is about how the human race has been given the New Covenant, a renewal and final covenant, previous covenants are the Abrahamic, Noahic, Mosaic, and Davidic. Jesus Christ is this New Covenant that replaces the written (Letter) Law given to the Israelite community on Mt. Sinai in Exodus 31:18. The Law was never meant to save, but rather show humanity its sin and its need of a Savior, God Himself. Many Old Testament prophesies point forward to the day when God’s people will be justified through His sanctifying work that will restore His grace once lost because of obeying Satan and not God. This is what Thomas Aquinas refers to as “original justice”, “in eating from the tree of knowledge, the original humans rejected divine wisdom, instead relying upon reason they believed they could internalize, symbolized by the ingestion of fruit from the tree of knowledge, in an act of autonomy” (Stillwaggon, 2014, pp. 67). Where the Law instructs animal sacrifices, because the “wages of sin is death” (Roman 6:23 NIV), the New Covenant replaces and justifies through the Spirit. Faith and not the Law is what saves, “…small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14 NIV). Once believers respond to the Spirit, natural desire is stirred up within the heart to serve God and others and always consists of sacrificing the flesh and picking up one’s cross to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. This is how justification through sanctification fulfills God’s promises in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Formation and Informational

There will be suffering and blessing, sadness and joy throughout a believer’s life as both natures, human and Spirit, live at odds. A changed life is a life that takes on the formative work of the Spirit through His imprinting of Godly attributes that then triggers believer response of performing spiritual disciplines (Strobel, 2013). For example, turning the other cheek in Matthew 5:38-40 which refers to not being offended and is evident in present day America, is a struggle when a Christian is not being led by the Spirit. Willard (1998) says regarding turning the other cheek minus love (God) that “If all you intend is to do that, you will find you can do it with a heart full of bitterness and vengefulness. If, on the other hand, you become a person who has interior character of Christ, remaining appropriately vulnerable will be done as a matter of course, and you will not think of it as a big deal.” (Willard, 1998, pp 107)

Posturing oneself through scripture study, meditation, prayer, and contemplation, the believer invites the Spirit to engage in changing one’s mind and heart. This causes self-reflection that leads to knowing God and oneself more resulting in relationship growth. It is important to state that the more believers see the nature of God’s beauty (the light), the more human nature is evidently seen as darkness and evil. This acknowledgment of sinful nature drives one to repentance; Foster (1988) speaks about the believer’s conscious effort of discipline working together with God’s grace and identifies three catalysts as repentance brings humility, prayer is power, and encouragement from others in Christ (Foster, 1988). The Spirit validates and motivates the believer to repentance, obedience, and self-reflection when the believer invites His glory through engaging in disciplines, not as a good works, but rather in truth and love (Chapell, 2001). Dallas Willard, as cited in Vos (2012) says “prayer has a ‘spiritually strengthening effect’ on every aspect of our personality. It builds our faith and confidence in God. To be done well, prayer will almost certainly be linked with other disciplines…” (Vos, 2012, pp. 104). For instance, prayer can lead to expressions of love that reflects other centeredness as one truly listens to others in need.

Believers through faith are under God’s protection as they experience the Spirit’s sanctification, grace, and mercy; however, as mentioned previously, they are subject to temptations to disobey God, similarly the way Jesus was subject to Satan’s attempts in Matthew 4:1-11. Apostle Paul identifies this duel between a believer’s sinful human nature and God’s holy nature as the process of transforming mind and heart from the “pattern of this world” that results in “test and approve what God’s will is -his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2 NIV). Believers are instructed to put “…on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10 NIV). For example, the discipline of ‘prayer’ helps ward off the enemy, as Chapell (2001) puts it, “…we do not have sufficient desire to resist…” and seek to get rid of sin at the same time desire it; therefore, we “pray in the Spirit” so that He may “stir up within us a greater zeal for God” so that we may combat enemy attacks (Chapell, 2001, pp. 150).

Character Formation in Daily Life

Through faith and hope and as I continue to experience character formation, I realize the importance of diligently practicing the spiritual disciplines so that I may be part of what it means to “…go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19 NIV). Having true thanksgiving for the Spirit’s work in my life, as well as my response to Him, requires I develop and cultivate internally obedience through the disciplines. This internal purity will naturally manifest in the external world evident in how I live as I represent the Gospel appropriately. As ambassadors to Christ, the goal is to spread the Gospel and make more disciples; therefore, as I grow, I naturally find I want to do God’s work. I have encountered His blessing that then lends to a deeper intimate experience with Him. Much in the same way any human relationship depends on how much effort one puts in it, whether a husband and wife, friend to friend, or parent to child, my actions matter concerning praise and worship on an individual and community level. Spiritual formation basically requires going beyond recognition to actual experience as a believer feels disconnected to this world and connected to God’s world, His Kingdom on earth, also known as the church (Pettit, 2008). The church is a community of love representative of a family, in the same way the Trinity consists of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. I am a living testament and have a story to tell about my conversion, who I was, and who I hope to become, that is reflective of my love for God and love for others. This is consistent with the Gospel individually and in community, as one hopes to reflect outwardly the Spirit’s work within the heart (Pettite, 2008).

Always remaining in the Word through study and application remains evident in my life when proper contextualization and interpretation is undertaken. Rather than live in isolation, or hide my faith, I find it freeing to live outwardly, as Matthew puts it, “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:15 NIV). Unafraid driven by true desire to live one’s faith in a forsaken world, leads to experiencing true joy. Also, the act of partaking in the Eucharist becomes an experience with raw emotion as I commune with Jesus and others in community.

I find mediation and solitude more fruitful when done in nature, away from worldly things and its noise; consequently, contemplation and evaluation concerning my true motives and desires calm me into a demeanor of humility. This results in being better able to listen and respond to God’s will so that my functional call is in line with the Spirit’s will for my life (Pettit, 2008). In those moments in which I am not sure if it is the Spirit’s voice speaking to me, I instantly turn to prayer and at the appropriate time, meditation. I find prayer on the spot and in the moment helpful to my spiritual formation, and when the Spirit convicts me of sin at any time during the day, I immediately respond in prayer and repentance.

References:

Chapell, B. (2011). Holiness by grace: Delighting in the joy that is our strength. Wheaton, IL: Crossway. ISBN-13: 978-1433524424

Foster, R. J.  (1988). Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. San Francisco: Harper & Row

González, E. (2016). Jesus and the Temple in John and Hebrews: Towards a New Testament Perspective. Davarlogos, 15(2), 39-65. Retrieved from https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=121475542&site=eds-live&scope=site

Pettit, P. (Ed.). (2008). Foundations of spiritual formation: A community approach to becoming like Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications. ISBN-13: 978-0825434693

Stillwaggon, J. (2014). The Problem of Propagation: Original Sin as Inherited Discourse. Studies In Philosophy & Education, 33(1), 61-73. doi:10.1007/s11217-013-9362-7. Retrieved by: https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=93447361&site=eds-live&scope=site

Strobel, K. (2013). Formed for the glory of God: Learning from the spiritual practices of Jonathan Edwards. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books. ISBN-13: 978-0830856534

Vos, B. (2012). The Spiritual Disciplines and Christian Ministry. Evangelical Review of Theology, 36(2), 100–114. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.lopes.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rlh&AN=75190759&site=eds-live&scope=site

Willard, D. (1998). Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Formation, and the Restoration of the Soul. Journal of Psychology & Theology, 26(1), 101–109. Retrieved from https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001001817&site=eds-live&scope=site

Survey of the Gospel: Jesus Is The Only Way

By Natalie Hardt | 2019

The Bible narrative is an overarching story about creation, the fall, redemption, and restoration. The Bible is God’s word, written by Him (Holy Spirit) through His selected authors to guide and instruct how to live now on earth while anticipating the coming Kingdom.

There are many people that say, “so what when I die, I will be dead”; this is untrue for there will be eternal suffering in hell. The problem is that most are blind to the truth, the severity of sin and its power over them. It is only through God’s Spirit that eyes and ears can open to the truth only found in Jesus of whom is the Word. The general meaning of the term “word” is how communication happens, the term “wisdom” is the consciousness of that communication. Jesus is both Word and Wisdom, present at the time of creation with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1 NIV). Jesus always identified Himself as Son of Man and Son of God with, “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:18 NIV). Wisdom is said to be found at the cross, where time and eternity meet. Isaiah’s prophesy on the subject clearly states, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate” (1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV). Commentary on this subject agrees that Jesus is wisdom, “It has been argued that Jesus is the personification of wisdom as is described in Proverbs 5-8” (Stewart, 2018). This is spectacular regarding forgiveness of sin because it is through this faith from the power of the Holy Spirit, that a believer can find Jesus Christ, and is thus redeemed and is restored to God the Father.

 The Bible narrative is an overarching story about creation, the fall, redemption, and restoration. The Bible is God’s word, written by Him (Holy Spirit) through His selected authors to guide and instruct how to live now on earth while anticipating the coming Kingdom. The cross event is the redemptive act of Christ, the perfect sacrifice that puts to rest the need for animal sacrifices and is the only conduit to God the Father, the only Priest we go to. Jesus is called the second Adam (1 Cor 15:22) and true Israel (Hos 11:1), and undoes the curse of sin set forth in Genesis 3 due to Adam’s disobedience; moreover, Jesus accomplishes where Israel fails. Israel, time and time again, allows themselves to be influenced by the surrounding pagan nations resulting in their idolatry (worshipping other gods). This results in judgement that will take them into bondage under the Assyrians (722 BC) and later the Babylonians (586 BC).

The existence of God has been made known to humanity through general revelation and special revelation; the first refers to the physical beauty of earth and the universe that is all around us, everything we take in through the senses – see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. God is Creator, recorded in Genesis “…God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep…” (Gen 1:1-2 NIV). Special revelation is God revealing Himself through various means including miracles, scripture, and the supernatural; for example, the Nation of Israel meets God in Exodus and becomes the only nation ever to be set-up as a theocracy.

First century historian Josephus Flavius, as well as theologians (Aquinas, Barth) affirm the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph as real events that took place in humanity’s history. For instance, the Joseph story shows how the Jewish people go from Canaan to Egypt where they will live for 400 years as slaves until God frees them from Pharaoh. It is through Moses that God frees the Jewish people and teaches them to love and worship their God, Yahweh, the only one true God, as opposed to pagan gods they have come to know in Egypt. Thomas Aquinas “…argues that the existence and some attributes of God can be known by reason, whereas other things about God – for example, that God is triune – can be known only through special revelation” (Highfield, 2008, p. 105-106).

After Jesus commissions His disciples to spread His church throughout the world to all the nations (Matt 28:16-20), the church will confront, challenge, and establish its set doctrine. As one can imagine, there were many heresies against the Christian community and attacks on the identity of Jesus. Arianism was one well known heresy that argued against the divinity of Jesus, it proclaimed Jesus as a created being, making the Son not equal to God the Father. If this were the case, then Jesus’ death and resurrection would not be able to save humanity from eternal death. The church’s push back against Arianism is one of many situations of the Patristic Age (100-500AD) through to the early Middle Ages (Dark Ages) that required church leaders to come to the defense of Jesus as being the God-Man. These events have been recorded at the councils of the Nicene Creed in 325, Nicene/Constantinople Creed in 381, and Toledo in 589, and confirm Jesus as fully human and fully God; the same essence, coequal, and coeternal to the Father (homoousious).

Systematic methodology came about during the centuries the church found itself explaining and defending God. It is a process by which to learn and know God and involves study and interpretation of scripture by gathering and organizing similar themes of information from various sources, such as scripture, nature, tradition, and experience (Highfield, 2008). Through this systematic methodology application, theologians confirm the Nicene Creed’s reaffirmation that God is Triune; and the homoousious of the three persons that make up the Godhead. The Godhead is present during creation as stated in Genesis, “Let us make mankind in our image…” (Genesis 1:26 NIV). Commentary in agreement acknowledges, “Christ, as God, was equal in power and glory with the Father; as Mediator, he received from the Father power and glory, and received that he might give: and all that the Father gave him, to qualify him for his undertaking, was summed up in this, he put his Spirit upon him” (Henry, 2018). The only time in the New Testament in which all three persons of the Godhead are present is at the baptism of Jesus, “Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove” (Mark 1:10 NIV). This further points to the Holy Spirit’s divinity respective to the Godhead. It is important to clarify that Jesus is eternally begotten of the Father, and willingly goes from high position and eternal majesty to condescending Himself, becoming human. During Jesus’ ministry on earth, He clearly states the importance of the Holy Spirit with His words, “And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven” (Matthew 12:31 NIV). The Holy Spirit is co-equal to the Father and the Son and is also identified during creation in Genesis, “…the Spirit of God was hovering over the water” (Genesis 1:1 NIV).

God’s redemption is possible because of His grace, mercy, love, patience, and forgiveness. And the human body, consisting of mind, body and soul, was given by the Creator some of His divine intellect; and if not lost, would have continued in the nature of the human being (Stillwaggon, 2014). Apostle Paul also goes on to say in Romans “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:20-22 NIV). As the result and according to John Calvin, all of creation is subject to God and thus according to God’s justice has been cursed (Lamoureux, 2009). God, through His love and omnipotence and omniscience immediately put His plan in motion with Jesus coming down to earth to teach humanity how to live. And when Jesus was set to depart from earth, He sent another Advocate, the Holy Spirit to be among humanity to comfort and guide. Jesus tells His disciples that when He leaves them, He “…will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him for He will be in you and with you…” (John 14:16-17 NIV). God Bless

References

Henry, M. (2018). Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible. M. Henry (1662 – 1714). Retrieved from: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/matthew/12.html

Highfield, R. (2008). Great is the Lord: Theology for the praise of God. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. Retrieved by: https://lc-ugrad3.gcu.edu/learningPlatform/externalLinks/externalLinks.html?operation=redirectToExternalLink&externalLink=http%3A%2F%2Fgcumedia.com%2Fdigital-resources%2Fwm-b-eerdmans-publishing-co%2F2008%2Fgreat-is-the-lord_theology-for-the-praise-of-god_ebook_1e.php

Lamoureux, D. O. (2016). Beyond the Cosmic Fall and Natural Evil. Perspectives On Science & Christian Faith, 68(1), 44-59. Retrieved by: https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=113835293&site=eds-live&scope=site

Stewart, D. (2018). Why was Jesus Called the Word of God? (Logos). Blue Letter Bible. Retrieved from: https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_219.cfm

Stillwaggon, J. (2014). The Problem of Propagation: Original Sin as Inherited Discourse. Studies In Philosophy & Education, 33(1), 61-73. doi:10.1007/s11217-013-9362-7. Retrieved by: https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=93447361&site=eds-live&scope=site