There are a number of people in Church history that I have a lot of respect for. Some of those come from the time of the Council of Nicaea. One of those men is Athanasius, who stood firm in the doctrine of the Trinity. When it seemed all of the Roman Empire was following the heretic Arius, who denied that God was manifest in the flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, a colleague of his told him, “The whole world is against you!” However, Athanasius declared, “Then it is Athanasius against the world.” Another is one that is rarely mentioned, even though his battle was against the same heresy and against the same heretic. His name is St. Nicholas.
In today’s modern world of excess, St. Nicholas has been transformed into a jolly fat man in a red suit, who is given God-like omniscience and omnipresence, but he is a myth. The real St. Nicholas was one who defended the very reason that many celebrate Christmas, and that is the Incarnation. As the apostle Paul wrote of Jesus the Christ:
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. -1 Timothy 3:16
Nicholas, who was born in AD 270 and died in AD 343, was one of many bishops who was a part of the First Council of Nicaea. Understand that many of these same bishops had been persecuted for the Christian faith. Nicholas not only defended orthodox Christianity, but he also put his name upon the Nicene Creed, which states:
I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in…