by Dave Snyder
What is the Essential Doctrinal belief of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ in historic Christianity?
Answer: According to Christian Theology the Incarnation of Christ is called the “Hypostatic Union”. The Hypostatic Union was declared orthodoxy (right belief) at the the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD. The hypostatic union concerns the union of the two natures of deity and humanity in the one person of Jesus Christ. It can be stated as follows: In the Incarnation of the Son of God, a human nature was inseparably united forever with the divine nature in the one person of Jesus Christ, yet with the two natures remaining distinct, whole, and unchanged, without mixture or confusion, so that the one person, Jesus Christ, is truly God and truly man. That is, Jesus is one person with two natures–He is fully God and Fully Man.
What makes a particular religion a “cult of Christianity”?
Answer: A cult of Christianity is any group of people or religious organization that denies any of the Essential Doctrinal beliefs of the historic Christian Faith. A minimal consensus of the Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith is given below:
There are some things that every Christian must believe. These are called “Essential Doctrines,” meaning the major central doctrines that must be accepted by anyone in order to be a true Christian – a minimal consensus if you will. These have been listed in several different creeds, those worthy of note here are: 1.) The Apostles’ Creed written about A.D. 340; 2.) The Nicene Creed written about A.D. 325; 3.) The Constantinopolitan Creed written about A.D. 381; 4.) The Athanasian Creed written sometime between A.D. 415 and A.D. 570; and 5.) The Creed of Chalcedon written about A.D. 451. Every Christian believes the following nine delineated “Essential Doctrines” that distinguish their religion from other existing religions:
1.) There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-three distinct persons, but one essence, and one substance. (Matt. 3:16-17; Lk. 1:35) and (Taken all together – Acts 5:1-4; Jn. 1:1, 14; 1Pet. 1:2; Is. 44:6)
2.) There is one Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. (1Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:6; Is. 44:6)
3.) There is only one begotten Son of the Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, who was eternally one with the Father, but was manifested in the flesh for our salvation, becoming completely man while remaining completely God. (Is. 7:14; Phil. 2:6-7; 1 Jn 4:2; 2Jn 7)
4.) Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, and died on the cross shedding His blood for our sins. (Lk. 1:35; Is. 7:14; Rom. 5:8; 1Jn. 2:2)
5.) Jesus rose again in His body from death and ascended into heaven, but will come again to judge the living and the dead. (1Cor. 15, whole chapter; Acts 1:9; Phil. 3:10; Rev. 19:11-16)
6.) The Holy Spirit is with us always, convicting the world of sin, and strengthening the universal church, which is the body of Christ on earth. (Jn. 16:6-7; Rom. 8:6)
7.) All men and women are by nature sinful and in need of forgiveness of sins through the atonement of Jesus Christ and must accept Him, through faith, as the Messiah – Savior and Lord. Also they are in need of regeneration by the Holy Spirit. All this is freely offered by God’s grace through faith. (Jn 1:12; 3:16; 14:6; Rom. 3:23; Eph 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5; 1Jn. 2:22; 2Jn 7)
8.) The Bible is the inspired word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation, and is the ultimate standard of our faith. Authority of Scripture is a functional necessity because without it none of the others on this list could be affirmed or asserted with confidence. (2Tim. 3:16-17; 2Pet. 1:20-21)
9.) The bodies of all believers will be resurrected for eternal life with God forever. (1Cor. 15:52-53)
Christianity is a monotheistic religion, Christians believe in just one God who is a personal being ( a being with a mind, will and emotions), but Judaism and Islam teach that there is just one God who is a personal being. How does the God of Christianity differ from the God of these other two monotheistic religions?
Answer: The God of Christianity is by nature triune even though He is just one God. Judaism and Islam do not believe in a triune God. Islam believes that God is one personal being but he is completely transcendent and as such cannot be known with any degree of certainty. Judaism believes in just one personal God who has created the universe and all that is in it. Additionally, the Jews believe that God has decreed the moral law that governs how we should live our lives. The God of Christianity is unique in that He is one God but yet has revealed Himself to be three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
What does it mean to be Christ’s Disciple?
Answer: In the First century a person was called a disciple if he studied under a master becoming like him in character over time. That is, thinking, talking, and acting like one’s master. Jesus essentially, as a first century rabbi, followed this tradition. If one wished to be called Jesus’ disciple they must be like Him in character. Jesus, in Matt. 16:24; Luke 9:23; and Luke 14:27, stated that if you wished to be His disciple you must pick-up your cross and follow Him daily. What Jesus is talking about is training to be like Him in character. How does one train in order to become Jesus’ disciple they must consistently engage in the same activities that Jesus did-Spiritual Disciplines, e.g., Prayer, Silence and Solitude, study of Scripture, fasting, submitting and serving others, etc. Spiritual Disciplines are God’s ordained tool for training in Christlikeness, which is the essence of Christianity.
What does it mean to be in Christ?
Answer: For a person to be in Christ they must first trust Jesus to be their Savior and Lord. That is, they have placed their faith in Him. This results in what is called “justification.” A person, by way of their faith, is declared not guilty of their sins and given eternal life with God. Additionally their souls are regenerated so they now have a desire to please God and are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. With this new desire to please God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit a believer in Christ now possesses the power to overcome sins in their life and progressively become like Jesus in character. This second part of being in Christ is called becoming His disciple and is called sanctification. In sum, to be in Christ means you have trusted Him to be your Savior and Lord, and you are acting upon that trust by becoming His disciple. These type of questions and more are discussed in our Sunday classes here at CALM.
What does it mean to place faith/trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God?
Answer: There is at least three senses of the word “believe” but only one New Testament word. The Greek word is “Pistis” Strong’s number 4102, 4100 and 4103. The last two Strong’s numbers are variations of 4102 however with the same meaning. It means faith or belief in with an implication of knowledge of, assent to, and confidence in the gospel of Jesus Christ that leads to good works. In the New Testament this word “believe” has at least three senses of meaning: 1.) Trusts,e.g., Sam believes (trusts) in his mother. This is the biblical meaning in John 3:16. One must trust in Jesus Christ in order to attain eternal life with God; 2.) Values, e.g., Sam believes (values) his mother. This is the biblical meaning in 1 Peter 2:7. We as believers must look upon Jesus as being valuable and precious.; and 3.) Takes something to be true,e.g., Sam believes that Santa Claus exists. This is the biblical meaning in James 2:19. Where even the demons take it to be true that God exists. Therefore, for a person to place saving faith/trust in Jesus it entails that they trust in Jesus, believe that Jesus is who he says He is, and see Him as valuable and precious. All this must be accompanied with an intent to repent from sins and begin to follow Jesus in order to gain eternal life with God and become a disciple of Jesus Christ (cf. Luke 14:27 Galatians 5:19-21).
Is faith in the God of Christianity just a psychological and emotional crutch?
Answer: If someone insists that Jesus Christ is a crutch, I guess I would have to agree. Crippled fallen people need crutches. Is He just a crutch? NO. Thoughtful Christians can give reasons to show that God is real regardless of their motivation for accepting Him. The truth of Christianity does not rest on our feelings. The point here is this, the truth of Christianity does not depend on our motivation to believe but rather our reasons to believe. The truth of Christianity rests in objective truths not subjective truths. If a person needs medicine to cure an ailment they need an objective cure not a subjective one. For example, I could say that I like vanilla ice cream and you could say you like chocolate. This truth is about the subject (you) not the object (in this case Ice cream). But If I want to cure my cancer I do not say ice cream will do the trick because a cure for cancer is about an object-cancer- and requires an objective truth like some sort of medicine. So, this question really is saying that God does not exist because of subjective emotional and psychological reasons. However, the existence of God is a matter of objective truth that has nothing to do with our subjective beliefs.