A Study of Theology III – Part 3
Theology III – Part 3 (Dr. Thomas Figart)
In this installment, more information about the character of Jesus, and some false ideas about who He is.
A Study of Theology III – Part 2
By Dr. Thomas Figart
- The Saviour (con’t)
- The Preincarnate Son of God and Salvation in the Old Testament. Since the Bible is the Word of God we can expect a true revelation of salvation from the very beginning. There must of necessity be only one way of salvation from Genesis through Revelation. Though there were different ways of administration of the grace of God called dispensations, there is always one way of salvation. This included the following:
- Revelation of universal sin & condemnation. Gen. 3:1-6 Through the Fall of man, the need for salvation became evident; Adam and Eve knew this, for God had said before they sinned, “…thou shalt surely die…” Gen. 2:17
- Revelation of a coming Saviour. Gen. 3:15. This is called the “protevangelium” or “first gospel” message. In His love and grace God promised the Saviour before He pronounced judgment on Adam and Eve in 3:16-19. In 3:15 there is an early foreshadowing of the Virgin Birth of Christ, through the “seed of the woman” not the man.
- Revelation of the way of salvation. The extent of pre-Scripture revelation has been greatly underestimated. Job reveals a rather complete system of theology, cf, 9:33. Essentials of salvation remain the same from Adam to eternity.
1). Faith is the first essential; faith in what?
a). Faith in the revelation available from God at any given time. For Adam and Eve it was Gen. 3:15 plus whatever else God told them which is not recorded.
b). The revelation was gradually unfolded; each generation had its voice (Heb. 1:1-2), but it always included trust in God’s promise to provide an adequate salvation Heb. 11:39-40.
2). The shedding of blood was essential; was this system of sacrifices a salvation by works?
a). Without the shedding of blood….no remission of sin Heb. 9:22; cf. Lev.17:11.
b). Sacrifices provided an outward means of manifesting an inward faith, yet, unbelievers who offered sacrifices were still lost, even though they were Jews. Isa. 1:10-18.
c). The Law of Moses did specify particularly the way of sacrifice, but that Law was never given to save anyone. Gal. 3:11-19.
d). O.T. saints knew that they were forgiven, but never completely understood how, because the Law made nothing perfect as pertaining to the conscience. Heb. 7:19; 9:9; 10:1-2; 11:39-40; see also Job 9:2.
3). The Death of Messiah was the basis of faith. Though all O.T. saints may not have had the same clarity of comprehension that we have, Luke makes it clear in Lk. 24:27 and Peter in Acts 3:18,21,24 that all of the prophets spoke of the suffering and death and resurrection of Christ, so that all Israel should have known the way of salvation, not merely a few enlightened souls. Further, it is amazing to find a number of clear examples:
a). Job knew of the need of a mediator, a redeemer and a coming earthly king, all in one Person. Job 9:33; 19:25-27.
b). Abraham lived before the Law and recognized justification by faith in Christ. Rom. 4:1-5; John 8:56.
c). Moses, the Lawgiver himself, had personal faith in Christ. Heb. 11:26.
d). David, under the Law, foresaw the death and resurrection of Christ. Acts 2:25-36 cf. Ps. 16:8-11.
e). Isaiah saw the glory of Christ and spoke of Him. Isa. 6:10 cf. Jn. 12:37-41.
4). O.T. saints were “born again.” Jesus expected Nicodemus to know this truth (Jn. 3:3-10), probably from 1 Sam. 10:6,9; Ezek. 36:26-27. The one thing O.T. saints did not experience was the baptism of the Holy Spirit which is restricted to the Age of Grace (1 Cor. 12:13), but they were regenerated.
5). Conclusion: There has always been one way of salvation, though there are a number of dispensations. A dispensation is not a way of salvation, but rather a stewardship, or sphere of responsibility given to man by God for a particular time. The preincarnate Son of God waited until the fulness of time was come before He manifested Himself in the flesh. Gal. 4:4.
- False theories concerning the Person of Christ.
- Ebionites, “paupers” (100 A.D.) Christ has no deity. He was merely a human, not born of a virgin, but the Holy Spirit was a female who descended upon Christ at His baptism. They were essentially unitarians.
- Gnostics, “know” (50-100 A.D.) Christ has no humanity. Gnosticism was an eclectic movement, including much of the heathenism of Asia Minor, India, Babylonia and Persia. Christ was highest of a series of angelic emanations; these gradually decreased in power as they removed from the divine source. Col. 2:18-19.
- Arians, from Arius of Alexandria. (280 A.D.) Christ has no divine nature. Christ was subordinated to the Father; He was half-God, half-man, not co-equal with God. Athanasius opposed Arius at the Council of Nicea in 325 and the doctrine of homoousia (same nature) was established against homoiousia (like nature).
- Apollinarians, from Apollinaris, (390 A.D.) Christ has no human nature. Christ is both God and man in order to save the world, but how can perfect Deity and perfect humanity be maintained in one person? His answer: Christ was human according to the body only.
- Nestorians, from Nestorius (431 A.D.) Christ has Two Persons. Nestorius was condemned for saying that Christ had two hypostases (Persons), that the Logos (the divine nature) only resides in the man Jesus as in a shrine; it is not an essential union. Christ appears as a God-bearing man, not a real God-man.
- Eutychians, from Eutychus (450 A.D.) Christ has one nature. After the incarnation Christ had one nature; His body is the body of God, not like ours. The Council of Chalcedon settled the controversy declaring two natures in Christ, but those who opposed the decision were divided into Monophysites (one nature) including the Egyptian Coptic Church and the Armenian Church, and the Monothelites (one will) namely that Christ had a divine-human will.
- Summary of Council Decisions: Christ is one Person with two natures. You cannot divide His Person nor confound His Natures!
- Nicea, 325 A.D. Christ is Divine.
- Constantinople, 381 A.D. Christ is Human.
- Ephesus, 431 A.D. Christ is one Person.
- Chalcedon, 451 A.D. Christ has two Natures.