Throughout church history Godly theologians faced the challenge of maintaining the purity of the Gospel in the face of challenges that would either dilute the achievements of God in Christ or render them of no effect. A major heresy in this category was the Arianism debate in which Jesus as the Son was defined as a created lesser figure than Father. He was seen as not of the same being as our Father and something less than He is. The ploy of the Enemy has always been to present tales that diminish the identity of God, the identity of the Christ and the genuine identity of human beings.
A theme that runs through every lie of the Enemy is that you are not enough. But you always are in Jesus. In His life you are more than enough.
Writing about the establishing of the faith on a firm foundation Thomas Torrance writes,
“The Church cannot but confess its faith in God, before God, with an unreserved endorsement of belief in the truth of Christ and his Gospel, as the truth with which its very existence is bound up as the Church, the one Body of Christ, and as the saving grace of God which constitutes the very essence of its message and mission.”
ACTUAL OR NOTIONAL BELONGING
This is to say that what we perceive The Body of Christ to be, and whether we belong to it depends on whether we are in agreement with who Jesus is and who we are as a result. Torrance continues,
“That is surely what took place at the Council of Nicaea in the Ecumenical Confession of Faith promulgated by the fathers in the face of heretical denial of any ultimate oneness between God and his self-revelation in Jesus Christ. The Nicene Creed was a solemn corporate act of the Church in the presence of God, made with passionate commitment to the truth of divine revelation from the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit, in the realisation that the very existence of the Christian Church and the validity of its evangelical message of divine salvation were at stake.” (1)
The truth is that Christ is fully God, part of God and so are we as sons and daughters of God. Godliness is ours as The Son designates us as sons and imparts sonship to our being by the Spirit. In Jesus we are included in the fellowship of the trinity - not as deities but as sons of God. The truth of our being is that we are one with God, yet truly ourselves in spirit and in truth. This is the oneness of perichoresis.
Thus the truth of our salvation and the nature of our being in God is not of any private or sectarian formulation but in the enunciation of what it is according to Holy Spirit, the scriptures and the scriptures interpreted through the Jesus lens. God and ourselves are who we are in Christ and the gospel of the apostles. Never in the altered gospels of prophets and their perverted reformulations of the gospel of the Kingdom.
PURE IN HEART AND BELIEF
Torrance continues, “If in Jesus Christ the divine Gift and the Giver are one, then the Church has no option in fidelity to the Gospel but to commit itself to a positive affirmation of that grace which excludes any other possibility. That was the critical issue which St Paul summoned the Galatian Church in the first century to face, namely, the threat to pervert the Gospel of Christ into ‘another gospel’ which was not a gospel, when he wrote: ‘If anyone preaches to you a gospel contrary to that which you have received, let him be anathema (cursed).” (2)
‘Other Gospels’ debilitate us and the church. Any private perversion of the gospel rob us of our sonship and of ourselves so that denominational distortions sustain communities of spiritual cripples. The authentic formulation of the Gospel of the Kingdom is found in the apostles teaching and the Nicene Creed.
Torrance statement is a strong renunciation of alternative gospels. As Paul asserts, the adoption of such alternatives renders the question, ‘Do we belong to the Body of Christ irrelevant,’ since any such gospel with the law as its lens is a ‘gospel’ that has its own version of God, of the Christ and of the at-one-ment. There is one version of God given to us primarily in the person of Jesus and in the relationship that is the Trinity.
It was said that there was a time in a certain place where men would carry bags of sand to one place, stack them and then bring them back and restack them where they were in the first place. It was done to create work. It’s similar to the nature of religion which specialises in obtaining the union with God that we already posses in the incarnation.
FUTILITY AS RELIGION
It is a curious position to live in a continuation of the fall and then claim that we belong to the Body of Christ. Sadly we do belong but are not living in that belonging. Should we have made a religion out of the old covenant with its law and and bondage to the knowledge of good and evil we have shot ourselves not in the foot but in the heart and the head. We have embraced futility as life. The separation of God and man is prolonged, our ears are rendered deaf, our spiritual eyes are made blind and we must live in the futility of attempting to achieve with Christ’s help, what He has already achieved for us: Union with God.
(1) Torrance, Thomas F.. The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church (T&T Clark Cornerstones) (p. 23). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition. (2) Torrance, Thomas F.. Ibid. (p. 24).