Day Twenty-seven: St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 61-70

Who: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and Doctor of the Church; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373 AD. He was the main defender of orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against the Arianism heresyCertain writers received the title “Doctor” on account of the great advantage their doctrine had on the whole Church, Athanasius especially for his doctrine on the incarnation.

What: The biography of Anthony the Great’s life, which helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe.

Why: From the letter’s own prologue: “The life and conversation of our holy Father, Anthony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.” They wanted an accurate account of his life so they imitate his life and teaching.

Advertisement

When: Somewhere between 356 and 362 AD

You can find today’s reading on page 136 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf

Here we begin with a couple more examples of the healing miracles which were done through Anthony, which carry over from yesterday's chapters. Many people would travel from far and wide to see and hear Anthony, or to receive prayer for sickness or for freedom from demons, but he “used to ask that no one should wonder at him for this; but should rather marvel at the Lord for having granted to us men to know Him as far as our powers extended.”

Two examples are given of a time when Anthony was asked to visit some monks on a boat, and there was a stench so bad in that place that Anthony said it was unusual and not natural. The people on board just said it was due to the cargo of meat, but as Anthony preached, a boy in the crowd yelled out and Anthony rebuked the demon in him, setting the boy free and with it, the stench left. The other time was of an official who had been possessed so badly that he would not know where he went and ate his own excrement! The man ended up by Anthony who sat and prayed with him all night until the demon finally let go and left with a violent outburst.

Advertisement

Athanasius breaks here to make a note that many monks had “related with the greatest agreement and unanimity that many other such like things were done by” Anthony, and these things were like highlights to his life story.

Anthony's vision about forgiveness of sins

Athanasius relates now of a time when Anthony was praying and about to go and eat. On standing up he suddenly found himself in the Spirit and in what we'd call today an “out of body experience”. Suddenly he was taken up into the air by “certain ones”, which I assume to mean angels because he is then opposed by “certain bitter and terrible beings” which would seem like demons. They try to stop his passage by accusing him of his sins, but the ones accompanying Anthony tell them that, “the Lord has wiped out the sins from his birth” but that only since the time he became a monk can they accuse him; they failed and Anthony was allowed to pass.

Suddenly Anthony found himself back in his body as before and was astonished at “against what mighty opponents our wrestling is” and recalled what Paul taught in his epistles about our battles being against the “ruler of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2). So he taught all the more passionately about the need to put on the whole armour of God (Eph 6:13) and for living right before God so that the enemy may not have anything evil to day against us (Titus 2:8).

Anthony's vision on the passing of souls

At another time when Anthony was praying at night after a discussion with some people about what happens to the soul after death, he heard a voice from above telling him to go outside and look up.

Advertisement

On going, he saw a giant being going up as tall as the clouds, and people ascending upwards through the clouds. Some of the people were being hindered while others flew by without issue. He had his mind opened to understand what he was seeing, and it was explained that the giant was the enemy stopping those souls from heading to heaven who were accountable to the devil but those who belonged to God could pass by without issue.

Anthony against heretics and heresy, such as Arianism

When schisms and heresies arose, such as the  Meletian schismatics, or the Manichæan heretics, Anthony would have no part of it nor would be even meet with them except to try and have them convert to the truth.

He also despised the Arians and their heresy, and warned that none should go near them nor hold to their belief. But at one point, certain “madmen” came to him so that he could learn of their doctrine more, Anthony drove them away saying their “words were worse than the poison of serpent”!

After this, some more Arians went about and lied saying that Anthony agreed with their doctrine. On hearing this, all of the bishops and other brethren summoned Anthony to Alexandria to be questioned about it. He denounced the heresy as something antichrist and defended the divinity it Christ, saying,

…the Son of God was not a created being, neither had He come into being from non-existence, but that He was the Eternal Word and Wisdom of the Essence of the Father. And therefore it was impious to say, 'there was a time when He was not,' for the Word was always co-existent with the Father. Wherefore have no fellowship with the most impious Arians. For there is no communion between light and darkness. (2 Corinthians 6:14)

He goes on to teach that they, and anyone who denies Christ's divinity and says he is a created being, are no better than the heathen, “since they worship that which is created” rather than “the Creator, the Lord of all, by whom all things came into being, with those things which were originated” (John 1:1-4).

On hearing that Anthony had denounced the Arians, the city rejoiced and even the Greeks and their temple priests came to see Anthony speak, and in that time many people were healed and set free from demons, and “as many became Christians in those few days as one would have seen made in a year”!

That must have been quite some party with all those people coming to Christ and worshipping him, what a sight it must have been. I pray that God convicts us all to live a more pious life and to raise up men and women of God who will change cities with the Gospel!

Advertisement

 

Subscribe to Updates
Subscribe to:

Have something to say? Leave a comment below.

Leave a comment   Like   Back to Top   Seen 75 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates ?

Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to Blog updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS

‹ Return to Blog

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

The Temptations of Jesus: Pride

| 3 days ago | Lent

Welcome to the first part of a short series I'm writing during Lent. We’re on the first Sunday of Lent, and so I’m going to be looking at the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, and the temptations he endured. A new post will be up every Sunday, and you can view the series overview here: Lent 2018. Mark 1:12-13And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. That’s all Mark has to say on that time Jesus spent there, and John doesn’t mention the forty days at all. That leaves only Luke and Matthew which mention the temptations or any details about what happened in the desert. So let's look at the first temptation that Satan tried on Jesus. Luke 4: 1-4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” (cf. Matt 4:1-4) The first thing that jumps out at me here, is that the devil didn’t come to tempt Jesus until after the forty days were up. He waited until Jesus was “famished” and then struck while he was weak. What can we learn from this? That the devil is tricksy and won’t hit you when you feel like you have it all together, but will rather wait until you are in a more susceptible and weakened state of mind. Like James (1:14-15) says, we get tempted by our “own desire, being lured and enticed by it” to try and get us to fall into sin by acting upon those desires. So we need to guard our minds and keep our focus on God in those times to try and ensure that we are aware of the escape that God has given us, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 10:13 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. What about Jesus in the desert then? You might think that he was beyond these things and temptation couldn’t touch him. In some ways that’s true; he was fully in tune and in the will of his Father that he sets the example for us, and what we can achieve. But at the same time, he has “in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). This is why we can learn much from these few short temptations that Jesus faced in the desert. While on the face of it, we may think it’s unrelatable to be asked to miraculously turn stones into bread — there’s more to it than meets the eye. It’s not necessarily about the bread, or the miracle, but the insinuation that “If you are the Son of God...”, trying to do to the Second Adam what that old snake did to the first: trip him up through pride. “Thus, if the first Adam fell from God by pride, the second Adam has effectually taught us how to overcome the devil by humility.” George Leo Haydock (1774–1849) As the quote above points out, Jesus demonstrates to us how to overcome the temptation to think of ourselves too highly, or to flaunt our status (Romans 12:3), by doing the opposite and humbling himself and pointing back to Scripture. Whereas Jesus did have every right to say “I am the Son of God – there’s no ‘if’ about it!” and use his abilities to create a miracle for his own sake, that would also have been selfish and another path to the sin of pride and arrogance. Instead he sticks to the main thing that can thwart the enemy when trying to deceive us: Scripture. Although “he was in the form of God” and had equality, it wasn’t “something to be exploited” as Paul writes in Philippians 2:5-8. Let us learn from this, and kee...

Lent 2018: The Temptations of Jesus

| 8 days ago | Lent

Lent is just around the corner, and so this year I've decided to write a short series over the next 40 days looking at the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, and the temptations he faced. I'll post a new blog each Sunday of Lent looking at each temptation, and then finish the series on Easter Sunday looking at “what did Jesus sacrifice?”. Series outline: Temptation one: Pride (1st Sunday of Lent, February 18, 2018) Temptation two: Worship and Glory (2nd Sunday of Lent, February 25, 2018) Temptation three: Testing God (3rd Sunday of Lent, March 4, 2018) Temptation four: Complatancy (4th Sunday of Lent, March 11, 2018) What did Jesus sacrifice?: Easter Sunday (5th Sunday of Lent, March 18, 2018) Stay tuned for the first installment in a few days time, and if you haven't already, don't forget to subscribe so you will be notified by email when each new post goes out!...

Former Muslim Explains the Trinity

| 09th February 2018 | Trinity

I saw this video doing the rounds on Facebook, and thought it was too good not to share here as well. Very few people tend to articulate the Trinitarian doctrine well enough to: a) still make sense, and b) not slip into heresy. Just reading the comments section on this video proves point b) quick enough, with many people giving their take on it (and usually espousing some form of Modalism). I won't make a big post on the Trinity now, but I may do one soon off the back of this one, as it's clearly still something believers (and non-believers) struggle to understand, or explain without heresy! For now though, sit back and take about 5 minutes to listen to this former Muslim explain one of the core beliefs of Christianity very well:   Some additional information: The man in the video is Nabeel Qureshi who has wrote a few books on his journey to Jesus from the Muslim faith; one of them being: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. He also has sadly died in 2017. I haven't read his books, and only just found out about him after looking up more info on this video, though his book is definitely on my wish list now....

Is there salvation for fallen angels?

| 05th February 2018 | Angels

I've seen and heard this question asked numerous times before, and I've even wondered it myself in my earlier years as a new Christian. Is there salvation for angels and can demons go back to their previous, uncorrupted state? 2 Corinthians 11:14And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. As far as scripture is concerned, Satan can pretend to be angelic for the sake of deceit, but that's about it. There's no mention of redemption for angels or demons — that's the long and short of it. So let's explore four areas of Scripture to see what we do know. #1 They have been imprisoned for judgement by God. 2 Peter 2:4For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into Tartarus and committed them to chains (or pits) of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment; This judgement is eternal for them and there appears to be no second chance; their judgement is sealed: Matthew 25:41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; #2 They have been imprisoned for judgement by the saints. Not only has God set a judgement, but we who are in Christ will have the role of actually judging the angels as well. How's that for a hefty responsibly! 1 Corinthians 6:3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels—to say nothing of ordinary matters? #3 Judgement is final We can also see from Revelation some more details about what this judgement entails for the devil and those who followed him: Revelation 19:20And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who […] were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. Revelation 20:10And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. #4 Salvation is for humans Salvation appears to be only something that God designed for humans, and is apparently something that makes the angels curious. 1 Peter 1:12[Salvation is the] good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look! Christ came as the "second Adam" (1 Cor 15:45) to rectify the problems caused by the first Adam. We humans are all "in Adam" (1 Cor 15:22), whereas angels are not. They are sometimes called "sons of God" — we are the son of Adam, therefore Jesus' sacrifice is only effective for "Adam". The writer of Hebrews sums this up for us nicely by saying, “it is clear that [Jesus] did not come to help angels”, but those in whom he shared a nature with — us! (Heb 2:14-16) Whatever sins the angels have made (other than rebelling; cf. Rev 12:4,7-9) it is not covered by the blood of Jesus as far as we know. We can infer this from what Paul teaches us about the ministry of reconciliation: 2 Corinthians 5:19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. (Emphasis mine) The plan of salvation and the power of the Gospel to reconcile God and man appears to only apply to this world and our sins (or trespasses). The Greek word here for “world” is kosmos, which can sometimes have a broader meaning of “universe” or “creation” rather than just this planet, but in this context I'm not sure it allows for that scope of reconciliation, given the other passages of scripture we've seen about the rebellious angels (or demons) level of punishment. Either way, Scripture doesn't give us any more information on this topic than that, so anything else would be speculation, but I think we can be reasonably certain that salvation through Christ is only for humans. ...