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Ant-Man Can't Save You: The Menace of Modalism

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Ant-Man Can’t Save You

Who is Ant-Man?
The original Ant-Man was the biophysicist and security operations expert…Hank Pym.
Pym created a suit with his “pym particles” that would allow him to shrink to the size of an ant but still maintain his superhuman strength.
While at this size, he learned to communicate with ants…which produced the name “Ant-Man.”
The suit also allowed him to become extremely large…standing twelve feet tall. When Pym was large, he was known as “Giant-Man” -at least from the comics.
In the comics, another alter-ego of Pym was “Yellowjacket,” where Pym added wings and yellow color to his suit to morph into a different character.
So, you had one man, Hank Pym, with three different personas or modes.
The problem was, there was a significant limitation with the suit…Hank could only be one persona at a time…when he was Ant-man, he could not be Giant-Man, and vice versa. He could only be one or the other…because there is only one Hank Pym.
So Hank Pym is one man with three different personas or costumes that he puts on at different times to save the lives of others.
It is not an error to think in this way when we speak about the comic book character of Ant-Man…but many people throughout history have thought about God…specifically in his Triune nature... in the same way.
They say...We worship one God who has existed in three different forms or modes in salvation history…Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The problem is, if we view God like Ant-Man, this means God cannot be the Father, Son, and Spirit at the same time…He must pick one and only one person to be at any one time.
This destroys the doctrine of the Trinity... and the idea that “Jesus Christ was just one of three possible modes of God, or costumes worn by God, is called the Ant-Man Heresy.”
And as we will see later…the Ant-Man Jesus Cannot save us.

The Heresy

Formally, the Ant-Man heresy is known as Modalism or Sabellianism and it contradicts the fundamental doctrine of God’s nature in being one God who exists in three distinct persons.
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is based on five biblical affirmations being true...
There is only one God
Deuteronomy 6:4 ““Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
The Father is God
The Son is God
The Holy Spirit is God
Acts 5:3-4 “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.””
The Father is not the Son is not the Spirit
To summarize...God is one in essence or nature and exists in three distinct persons…Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each person of the Godhead is fully God and shares the same divine essence, they are completely unified in the work of creation and redemption, but each have different and unique roles in that work.
But the question arose in the early church…how to make sense of God being three persons…and still being one at the same time?
In the second and third centuries a priest named Sabellius proposed that the Father, Son, and Spirit were not three separate persons but were just three hats or costumes that God wore at different times.
So, Sabellius taught that there was only one God and one person who played three different roles at different times in history.
Specifically, Sabellius divided the roles into different eras…The whole Old Testament…God was the Father…in the time of the Gospels, God was Jesus the Son…and in the present time now, God takes on the role of the Holy Spirit.
This solution of the “Ant-Man” Jesus was easy to understand…the problem was, it completely contradicts what Scripture teaches about God’s nature.

Who Commits the Ant-Man Heresy Today?

Oneness Pentecostalism
TD Jakes
Misunderstandings of the Trinity
Water analogy
Father, husband, Son analogy
“If you would rather be wrong than have to engage in some deep thinking, you might want to reconsider your strategy. It is dishonest and it dishonors the Lord to remake him into someone that is easier for us to understand.” -Todd Miles
Praying to God the Father and assigning him with the things God the Son did.
Patripassianism-God the Father suffered and died on the cross.
What we think about God matters.

What Does The Bible Say?

Anytime the Bible records an event when two or more members of the Trinity are interacting, we have a strong case against the Ant-Man heresy.
Jesus’ Baptism
Matthew 3:13-17 “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.””
Jesus Praying to the Father
Matthew 26:36-42 “ And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.””
The Great Commission
Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.””
Jesus does not say… “baptize them in the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…as if they are three different gods… there is one name shared by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…One God.”
Nor does Jesus say… “baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, Spirit…as if these were just three hats or costumes God put on. No, he says… “baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Why This Important?

There are two reasons why believing Jesus was not just a mode of God but a distinct person and fully God along with the Father and the Holy Spirit…specifically they are related to prayer and the Gospel.
An Ant-Man God cannot answer Prayer
Jesus taught us to pray by addressing our prayers to the Father.
Luke 11:2 “And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.”
Jesus taught us to pray in his name.
John 14:13 “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
The Holy Spirit is the one who guides, leads, and helps us to pray.
We are told to pray in the Spirit.
Ephesians 6:18 “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”
The Spirit prays for us when we do not know what to say.
Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
“So, according to Jesus, Christian prayer is to be to the Father, in the name of the Son, through the Spirit.” -Todd Miles
If God were like Ant-Man, prayer would not work or be possible.
So…is it ok to pray to Jesus?
There is not much biblical evidence...
Stephen in Acts 7:56-59, and Paul Acts 9:5, but these were both occasions where they saw Jesus and were speaking to him.
Paul prays for Jesus to remove his thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-8). But besides these passages…there is no other record, nor does Jesus teach us to pray to him…but pray in his name.
When we pray to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, we are praying to God, and we must acknowledge that each person of the Trinity is fully God. It is not wrong to thank Jesus for what he has done for us on the cross, or ask the Holy Spirit to specifically help us overcome temptation, understand God’s word, or have power to share the gospel....
However, for the majority of the time, it may be more helpful to pray the way Jesus taught us to pray…pray to the Father, in the name of the Son, through the Spirit.
An Ant-Man God cannot save you
Sin is a human problem and needs a human solution.
But we humans cannot save ourselves....
So, God sent His Son to become a human to save us.
The Father did not send himself, but sent the Son.
1 John 4:14 “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.”
The Son had to fulfill the law of God and fully submit himself to the Father…Jesus did not submit to himself, but to the Father.
John 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
To be perfect and fulfill the law, Jesus depended fully on the Holy Spirit…Jesus did not depend upon himself.
Acts 10:38 “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”
The Son offered himself up to the Father as a sacrifice for all humanity…Jesus did not offer himself to himself....this makes no sense.
Matthew 27:46 “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?””
Luke 23:46 “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.”
Jesus is the one who paid the ransom price for our sin to the Father through his blood…Jesus is the one who propitiated (satisfied) the Father’s wrath through his death in our place…Jesus did not do this to himself.
Romans 3:23-26 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
For the Gospel to be true and our salvation to be complete…all three persons of the Trinity must work in unity, simultaneously, but in different ways to accomplish our salvation...
The Father is the one who sends the Son to save us.
The Son takes on flesh and is our representative, lives a perfect life…through the power of the Holy Spirit…dies for our sins and satisfies the Father’s wrath…and then rises again from the dead.
The Spirit is the one who applies the work of Christ to the hearts of all the Father chooses who repent and trust in Jesus (regeneration)....and the Spirit makes us more like Jesus as we grow in holiness until the day we are perfected when Christ returns (sanctification, glorification)!
Ant-Man Jesus can’t save you, but the Biblical Jesus can!
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