Was Jesus always the Christ?: The Heresy of Adoptionism

Was Jesus always the Christ?
The Heresy of Adoptionism
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Why study this, even briefly? Because quite frankly this is an old heresy is becoming rampant in our churches again today.

Apoptionism is something that came about concerning the deity of Christ. This view has never really gone away, though it has lost popularity (You will still find some fringe groups teaching it and it is popular with some in the Word-Faith crowd). It originally began sometime in the Second Century and basically states that Jesus was not always the Son of God. This teaching states that He did not become the Christ until His baptism and did not become a part of the Godhead until after He was raised from the dead.

This view denies the deity of Christ by ignoring Him as the pre-incarnate Christ. This makes God something less because it states that Jesus was not a part of the Trinity until after His resurrection. This goes against the classic teaching of the trinity and makes God finite. Christianity asserts that God is infinite. This teaching makes Jesus finite.

Why did this teaching come about? People were trying to understand an infinite God in our finite minds. This arose in order to understand the two natures of Jesus Christ. He is 100% God and 100% man (This is known as the Hypostatic Union). Col. 2:9 (NKJV) says that, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

Interestingly, the Catholic Church condemned this as a heresy under Pope Victor (190-198). Unfortunately the heresy was revived in the 8th century teaching that Christ was the Son of God concerning His divinity but not His humanity. It stated that His humanity was only adopted into the Godhead. Pope Leo III held a council in Rome in 798 A.D.  condemning this as heresy just like the first iteration of the teaching.

Now the unfortunate part is that some in the church today have actually started to revive, if not a portion, this teaching. Very often we will see some famous teachers on television state that Jesus was not ‘the anointed one of God’ until the Holy Spirit had descended upon Him at His baptism. This teaching is Gnostic (a group of false teachers we will go into later this week). Thinking along this line end up leading to this heresy. Most of these teachers have not gone as far as adoptionism, but some have. The bigger named ones usually don’t go any further than that in their teaching but it is still error. If you hear someone teaching this, just know this it is heresy and should be condemned.

As a side note a lot of the people come so dangerously close to this teaching because they use a study Bible that teaches adoptionism. It is called the “Dake’s Annotated Study Bible” Here is a quote from it:

  • “Gr. Christos, ‘Anointed.’ – Used in N.T. 577 times.  Like the name “Jesus” it has no reference to deity, but to the humanity of the Son of God, who became the Christ or the “Anointed One” 30 years after He was born of Mary.  God “made” Him both Lord and Christ.  The Heb. Is ‘Messiah’.”  (Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, Finis Jennings Dake, published by Dake Bible Sales, Inc, Lawrenceville, Georgia, New Testament, p. 1.)

No serious minister or Bible Student would ever want to use this study Bible because of teachings like this, and this is just one of many. This is heresy and must be condemned.

I hope you have learned something today and will continue to spot serious irregularities in teaching and will continue to seek Christ on your path to true spiritual freedom. Keep in mind this is not in-depth and as always I ask that if you are interest to do more research.

What Did Jesus Say About Himself?

What Did Jesus Say About Himself?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

The thing about Jesus you have to remember is that He made a lot of claims. Many people today will say that Jesus was a great moral teacher (which He was), or He was just another prophet. No, by His own words He is the Son of God, God become man. If you can’t believe that statement then He is not a moral teacher or a prophet, but He is a mad man. Today we look at what He said about Himself.

 

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
-John 1:14 (NKJV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
-John 14:6 (NKJV)

Jesus says that He is the way the truth and the life. To come to this scripture we must first agree on something. That truth is objective (see previous article on relativism). That is that there is only one truth, and in so being what is true for you is also true for me. There is no relativism in truth, it just is. This is the presupposition we come to this teaching today.

Jesus says that He is the way. Now to the first century Jew hearing this statement they would have been pretty relieved or upset. Why? Because there were two basic religious groups, the Sadducees and the Pharisees.  The Sadducees didn’t believe in an eternal life so this wouldn’t apply to them. The Pharisees on the other hand did believe in eternal life; but they had so many rules and regulations that it would be almost impossible for someone to attain it. Jesus says that He is the way, with no regulations to speak about, just belief in Him.

Jesus now says He is the truth. We first said that there is but one truth and that it is objective. So what does He mean here? Jesus is the truth because He is God become man. Therefore He defines truth. The scriptures up to this time had been seen as impersonal but through Christ truth becomes personal to them and to us. He is the truth. He is the LOGOS (The written word of God) become manifest in the flesh. Through this statement He makes the claim that all other traditions are done away with in Him. He is the personal God who makes truth personal; in Him we find all that we need. This would have been an inflammatory claim to the first century Jew. This claim is inflammatory to most people today as well; which is why Christianity has so much controversy surrounding it.

Jesus says He is the Life. The meaning of this is two-fold. (1) On the day that Adam ate the fruit God said that he would die. Adam didn’t die physically, but spiritually as his eyes were opened to sin. Now God kicks him out of the Garden of Eden so that Adam cannot eat from the tree of Life and live. Now Jesus reverses that for the believer. When a person believes in Christ his spirit is regenerate and made alive by the Holy Spirit, but the person will still die physically. (2) This brings us to the second of His meaning. Because of sin we all die, but Jesus promises that the believer will be resurrected to new life after death.

Jesus says no one comes to the Father except through Him. To the first century Jew this turned everything they believed on its head. Jesus wasn’t adding another way to heaven, but saying that all other ways will no longer get you there. The first century Jew thought they could get to heaven through the Law (Jewish Scriptures), following a set of rules, and/or throwing out foreign oppression. Jesus says there is no way but Him. Christianity is not a religion of inclusion, in this matter, but exclusivity. You cannot come to God except through what He did on the cross and His subsequent resurrection. There is no other way. That is it.

This is the truth of Christianity; this is what Biblical Christianity has at its core. The statement you have to contemplate is as follows. “If Christianity is true and Jesus is the only way to heaven and I do nothing with Jesus then I will spend an eternity in Hell. If it is not true then I have lost nothing and it doesn’t matter.” The question is, “What if it is true?” Isn’t your eternity something you should think about?

If you want to come to Christ then just ask Him into your heart by saying something like this, “Jesus I need you in my life, please come in.” Now find a Bible believing Church and sit in it and learn about Christ. If not then I encourage you to keep studying about Jesus and His teachings, don’t let time slip away start today and seek out truth.

I hope this quick exposition helped someone, may God bless you on your spiritual Journey.

What Do Christians Mean by the Inspiration of Scripture?

What Do Christians Mean by the Inspiration of Scripture?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

This topic is very intensive, however today we are going to briefly explain this and what it means.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
– 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)

14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
-2 Peter 3:14-16 (NKJV)

When we say that scripture is inspired what we mean is that it is “God Breathed.” The Greek word used here for inspiration literally means “God Breathed”. Most Christians will tell you that this means that God breathed into the men who wrote scripture in order to make sure that the Scriptures are inerrant (without error).

Most people get it in their mind that it is like these men were secretaries and wrote down exactly what God said. This is a wrong concept. God used man’s understanding, intellect and personalities to write the Scriptures. They injected a lot of themselves into these writings, but God made sure that what they wrote was applicable to their time in history and ours as well. God also made sure that no errors were written down.

The process of inspiration is sometimes thought that these individuals just wrote automatically through some kind of trance, like the occult does. This is wrong. These men were free to write how they wanted (speaking of their intellect and personalities). They were protected by God from error.

It is also sometimes thought that the church gave us the Scriptures. Though the church did agree upon a Canon (selection of books) of Scriptures they didn’t write them. All the church has done is recognizing the Scriptures as being from God. Christians believe that when the Canon of Scripture was being formed that God the Holy Spirit, who indwells believers, guided the process and helped the church to recognize the Canon of Scripture. This Canon is what we refer to as the Holy Bible.

For example, the Apostle Peter recognized Paul’s writings to be equal with the Old Testament Scriptures, which is why Paul’s writing take up 2/3 of the New Testament. Seeing as how Peter was one of the original twelve Apostles, the church chose to go with Peter’s recognition of Paul’s writings as Scripture.

I hope this quick answer, answers this question pretty simply for those that have been wondering. There is a lot more that goes into understanding the details of how we got the canon of Scripture. I hope you do your own study as you seek to understand God’s ways and His words.

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Books for Further Study

Inerancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible

Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible’s Origin, Reliability, and Meaning

Is Atheism just a Lack of Belief in God?: Dialoguing with Atheists

Is Atheism just a Lack of Belief in God?
Dialoguing with Atheists
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

This is the tip of the iceberg on this question. Here are some thoughts about this from dialoging with some atheists. I hope this gets everyone (atheist and theist) to think and change the way they relate to each other.

Depending on whom you ask (about the question, “Is atheism just a lack of belief in god”) you may get differing answers; most of the time when talking with atheists they will tell me they just don’t have belief in God, not that they know by scientific fact that there is no God or discuss their reasons why they have no belief. Usually they make this statement and then try to get me to prove them wrong.

I have found (this doesn’t apply to all atheists but the ones I have been talking with, and even not all of them) that when dialoging with an atheist about what they believe they usually tell me that they have absolutely no belief in God. Now this means that they don’t have to prove their position; because they have moved from reasons/evidence to stating an opinion. The net effect of this puts the entire burden, at least in both parties’ minds, on the other person (the theist) as to making a case for God. This is actually ingenious because it shifts the weight of proof off of them and onto the other person.  So if a person can’t make their case (which no matter how good the case is the staunch atheist won’t believe it anyway), then they can’t make their case. The person making the case feels like a failure and the atheist goes away with a sense of beating the believer.

Notice here I have not used the word Christianity once. Why? Because many faiths dialogue with atheists and, from my experience they use the same tactic with all of them. They make it up to the person of faith to prove their case.

Keep in mind that atheism means a lack of theism. Theism is NOT a belief in the Christian God. All theism says is that some god exists.

The problem with saying that a person just lacks a god belief, in the scenario above, is as following. We have put these two opposing camps against each other, theism vs. atheism. This is how we view this in western society. But let us just suppose a god does exist, and then both an atheist (a person who doesn’t believe in a god) and a theist (a person who believe in a god) are both right.  Why? Because at this point we are not exploring whether or not there is a God. We are exploring each individual’s beliefs, their psychology and so we have taken the exploration into opinion rather than logic and evidence.

What needs to be done in dialoguing (on both sides) is an exploration of each other’s viewpoints claims on the origin of everything (and other issues). An atheist must have answers to the basic questions of life as well. If individuals leave theism because of not having enough evidence, then the person must find sufficient evidence in atheism otherwise they are not atheist and are in actuality agnostics. You see if neither of them have enough evidence then perhaps the person is an agnostic (agnosticism to mean that one does not know everything so they do not know whether a god exists or not). May I submit that if you are not all-knowing then you can’t know for sure there is no god, so you are in essence an agnostic. Richard Dawkins even stated that he is not all-knowing and doesn’t believe there is a god, but he can’t be sure. Under my definition he would not be an atheist but an agnostic (under the technical definitions of each as well).

So I have found that a conversation degrades quickly when someone says that atheism means they don’t believe in God, because that usually means we are now leaving truth claims and going into personal opinion and the believer is always on the losing side of that one because you are no longer seeking truth but trying to change someone’s mind. Rather than go down this path, have both parties (theists and atheists) sit down and discuss why they think their position is true. Don’t go down into psychology and place the burden of changing someone’s mind on you (speaking as a theist here). Let us explore truth claims, not opinions.

I hope this is clearer than mud, because right now I don’t think I am communicating as clear as I would like to be. This is a kind of hard thing to write about in a small place but I hope it spurs you on to more study and truth seeking.

Are We All Born Atheists?

Are We All Born Atheists?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

This is another interesting question. One in which I have some thoughts on from a Biblical Christian perspective. I was talking with an atheist friend of mine last week (yes I do have friends that are atheists) about this very supposition. I got to thinking about it and here are some thoughts on this subject.

An atheist will state that people are born without a concept of God. They believe that a belief in God is “brain washing” which causes children to believe in some kind of God. The question that I have is this; do they have any empirical proof? In other words how does the atheist know that this is a fact?  A lot of people just believe in things and they don’t know why, they have never thought about it (not talking about God here just things in general). So this statement makes no sense because people naturally believe different things and don’t know where it comes from.

So if you were to ask an atheist to prove this statement using empirical evidence, they can’t do it. The atheist then is offering an opinion which they can’t prove/substantiate in any way (Of course on the flip-side Christians can’t prove it the other way either.). The atheist is seeking to base an argument on pure opinion, not evidence. Why does the atheist do this? They are trying to create an argument that atheism is natural and superior. What they are trying to prove is that those of us who believe in God are somehow inferior (at least this is my take on it, maybe I am wrong).

So let us just say that Atheism is the natural state of a human being, I don’t believe this to be the case I am just saying. Let us just say it is? Would it mean that there really isn’t a God? May I submit that the answer is a resounding NO!  You see that is a different subject all together; if we are born atheistic (which they can’t prove) that does not prove that there is not a God.

Whether or not we are born atheistic in the argument of whether or not there is a God is a bait-and-switch tactic. Many atheists will say that is proof (of which they have no proof anyway), but really that is wrong. The two have nothing to do with each other. As a matter-of-fact, when looking at the existence of God, this has nothing to do with the topic of being born atheist, it is irrelevant.

So what do you do when an atheist says that we are born atheistic? Ask them to prove it, they can’t. Now, often they will try to ask you to prove the opposite. Just respond that the topic has nothing to do with whether or not there is a God. A true thinker will typically move on and continue in civilized conversation, but with most people (unlike my friend) the conversation will spiral down to name calling, at which point I usually walk away.

I hope that these thoughts have helped you in some way. Please use this as a basis for more research and study going forward.

Just a Quick Note

Hello everyone! This is to those that visit daily. Here are some notes:

  • I just wanted to let you know that we now average between 65-90 people daily! This past Saturday, for example, topped 159 people! We have averaged the past four weeks at 500 visits a week! Praise God!
  • As always keep praying for this ministry! We are already reaching around the world. God’s teachings have been to Israel, UK, Germany, Malaysia, Norway, Canada, Brazil  and the list goes on! Pray God’s will be done and pray that God will continue to lead and guide us on this journey!
  • Just as a hint: I am currently working on a new manuscript for 1 & 2 Peter. I am only 1/3 of the way through the fourth Chapter of 1 Peter and we are already up to 70 pages. this is going to be a lot more in-depth than the Hebrews one was. But as always I am attempting to make it applicable, straight forwarding and challenging. It should be done in 6-8 months and ready for purchase around that time. PLEASE PRAY GOD WILL CONTINUE TO ENLIGHTEN AND CHALLENGE ME THROUGH THIS PROCESS.

May the Lord richly bless you!

In Christ,
Rev. Joe Kramer

Why Do Bad Things happen?

Why Do Bad Things happen?

By: Rev. Joe Kramer

This question keeps coming up, so I figured we would revisit it today.

I know someone who has a wonderful special needs child, asking why this happened to them when there are so many rotten parents out there. Hey, I have been there. I used to ask this question a lot because my child has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (which falls on the Autism Spectrum), but we aren’t going to delve into that in this article.

This question basically asks, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I am not going to placate this parent with the standard, “God chose you for this child.” While God did look down the corridor of time and saw this happening and He can strengthen us to go through these situations there is a much more simple, albeit colder, answer to this question.

With this question we must first realize that there are no good people in the world anymore. This ended at the Garden of Eden when man left God. Thereby sin marred the entire creation and nothing is as it should be. Romans 3:23 tells that all of us have sinned and fall short of God’s standard which is perfection, this why He made a way through Jesus Christ to come to Him to begin the process of repair. We must remember that the cross of Christ is not the end, but the beginning, this world, and our bodies, are still marred by sin. Our hope, however, is in the resurrection that is promised to come later. So without spending too much time here let us continue.

Technically the question is why does bad things happen for no reason or why do decent people suffer? So let us focus here a minute shall we. Remember what we said earlier, that sin entered into the world and nothing is as it should be, not genetics, not morals, ethics etc. I thought about this long and hard and came across Matthew 5:45 which states that it rains on good people and bad people alike.  To borrow a story from a writer I like, *Matt Slick, he talks about a grenade that is thrown into a crowd, some people get hit and others don’t. Some people get bad stuff happening and others don’t. This may seem cold but sometimes the truth is the truth.

Now this leads us to the next logical question. Why doesn’t God stop it?  (1) Man was given free will and Adam and Eve used their free will to turn against God and mess up the creation. God setup free-will and He doesn’t violate it. So here we are in the predicament (like I said earlier, simple answer but a cold one for sure). (2) Also, who makes the decision that it is bad? Using our example, when all is said and done would I change my son’s Asperger’s Syndrome? I don’t know, I can’t answer that because to change it would make him an entirely different individual wouldn’t it? Sure it is frustrating and heartbreaking at times, but I love who he is and it is a part of him.

In a more general sense of this question the answer could be that what may be bad for one person may not be bad to another person.  The more we look at this question the deeper we go and the more mind-boggling it becomes.

So we come to an inescapable conclusion that sin entered the world and bad things happen. The bad things are not what we should focus on, but how we respond to them. Does it make us better? Or bitter? Do we trust God to see us through the storm? Or do we look at the storm and fall into a pit of despair? God says to trust Him and He will give us the power to walk on water like Peter did. The key is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, so we don’t drown in the middle of storm like Peter almost did when he took his eyes off of Jesus.

While I know every bit of what I said is true it sometimes doesn’t make it feel any better, but knowing it and getting my eyes back on Jesus is what I must do in order to walk through the storm. God says in Romans 8:28 (KJV), “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” So I know that ultimately God will make me better through these trials and will use me to help others going through them too.

What do you think? Constructive comments and questions are always encouraged.
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*Matt Slick is an author at CARM.org (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry)