JESUS IS TOTALLY OUR LIFE
Arianism was a 4th century heresy named after Arius (c.250-336), a presbyter in Alexandria. Arius had taught that the Son of God was not co-eternal and consubstantial with His Father (was not actually God). This was a separatist belief that would have undone the stream of divine life flowing from the trinity through the Christ of God into the people of God if it had become commonly absorbed.
RADIANCE OF GOD’S GLORY
The writer of Hebrews assumes that to see Jesus is to see our Father. ‘In these last days He has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power’ Heb 1.2-4 NIV.
Most Christians realise that Jesus Christ is fully and absolutely God. I say most, alluding to the fact that some remain in shades of Arianism to this day, believing in a Christ as a lesser being than Father and further to this, distorting His nature to make Him a representative of the law in place of the ‘I AM’ of Himself and one of the trinity.
Athanasius progressed the Gospel of the Kingdom by upholding the tenets of the Council of Nicaea with vigour and thus ensuring that Jesus Christ is identified as fully God and progressing the truth of Christ our life – the incarnation - as the achievement of Christ’s Divinity and out personal oneness with God. Ensuring also that the Christ of God was not reduced to a piece of religion that had no real effect on Godliness and the realisation of the manifestation of the fullness of God in those who believe.
Satan’s ploy has always been to create a form of godliness that is no Godliness whatsoever. The fall was the first attempt. Ignorance of the New Covenant and the incarnation is the second attempt.
Arianism purveys the view that Jesus is a finite created being with some divine attributes, but He is not eternal and not divine in and of Himself. The meta-effect of Arianism is the creation of a false christ along with a false gospel. In a christ so truncated from divinity, ‘Christ come in the flesh’ is reduced in substance and Christ come in the flesh of every Believer is robbed of potency and agency. Such a ‘christ’ clearly robs the gospel of content, suggesting a false christ in place of the Christ of God who is all man and all God.
FALSE CHRIST AND FALSE GOSPEL UNDONE
Athanasius defeat of Arianism is significant for belief in the True Christ and the establishment of the Gospel of Jesus and the apostles. Thomas Weinandy et al observe that, “From Leo the Great we possess just one reference to Athanasius. In a letter written to Julian of Cos in, Leo informs Julian that he is sending him a copy of Athanasius’s Letter to Epictetus, because “in it [Athanasius] has explained the Incarnation of the Word so clearly and carefully that he already beat down both Nestorius* and Eutyches# by anticipation in the heresies of those times.”(1)
Legalism and a law-gospel is related to this controversy, not so much in content but in respect of the fact that it makes a different Christ to the Christ of God and as a result makes an aberrant gospel of the kind Paul describes as ‘another gospel.’
GOD’S LIFE BECOME OURS
The incarnation of the Word has two effects. Christ was incarnated among human being as the Messiah and Christ is incarnated by the Spirit in those who take the name of Jesus. The mystery of this Godliness is that Christ has come in our flesh, meaning He is woven into our person and that we are woven into God. The effect of oneness with God means that His nature is shared with us.
Legalism is similar to Arianism in that it makes Christ what He is not and prevents Believers being what they can become. Legalism creates the illusion that one is holy, walking in grace and living the Gospel of Jesus and Paul when one is actually like a car that is running on two cylinders when it has eight.
Satan mounts a continuing battle to reduce fullness in Christ. The plan is to get Believers to live from a form of Christianity that is denuded of spirit and life. Legalism shrinks our vision of righteousness and thwarts the level of our life in Christ because it constructs a Christ who is no Christ and actually a false christ.
Arianism sought to make Christ what He is not. legalism turns the Christ into a figment of the law to make Christ what He is not – a subordinate of the law, which is a subtle way of saying that Jesus becomes a functionary of the knowledge of good and evil. Clearly under Satan’s imputation in this way, He cannot really be the son of God – which is the slander the Enemy wants. If this were really so, we could not be sons of God because we would not have been re-joined to fellowship with God by God’s Son. A ‘law apparatchik’ style of Jesus is not God and actually a false christ in a false gospel. Such a Christ is incapable of re-joining us to God, which is a lie and a continued theft of life carried out by the father of lies.
*Christ held to be two persons in one body.
# The belief that Christ had only one divine nature.
(1) P 76 - Athanasius and His Legacy: Trinitarian-Incarnational Soteriology and Its Reception, Thomas G. Weinandy, Daniel A. Keating