A blinded and humbled man fell before the voice of the Author of life. The soul-piercing question echoes through the ages, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4). Saul’s persecutions had begun with the violent stoning of Stephen, and resulted in the scattering of Christians (Acts 8:1-3).
Saul wasn’t satisfied with mere intimidation, he ravaged the church. Later, he would reveal that it was his intent to destroy the church of God through violence (Galatians 1:13). Not content with dispersing believers, in his raging fury, he persecuted Christians to foreign cities (Acts 26:11). It is here, on the road to Damascus, that his pursuit of violence led to a pursuit of peace. Continue reading “The Christian’s pursuit”
Sometimes we may think that we have it bad as Christians living in the 21st century. Our society seems to be turning against anything having to do with Christianity. But when we compare our situation to those living in the first century, what we go through is insignificant.
Nero was the ruler in Rome. He persecuted Christians, resulting in the deaths of many Christians – including, we believe, the apostles Paul and Peter. As the persecution began, Christians found themselves alienated from those around them. How do you face this type of aggression day after day?
Peter began his first letter by reminding them of all that they had because they were Christians. Continue reading “Our secure hope”
What do you say to someone as your life comes to its close?
As Paul wrote the second letter we have to Timothy, what memories he must have had of this younger man. He had taken Timothy with him on his travels and Timothy had learned from Paul to the extent that Paul could leave him to get on with the work that needed done for the Lord.
Yet there is always something more to say, some advice that you think the other person might need once you are gone. Listen as we read some of what Paul wrote as he knew his life was almost over. Continue reading “Living a godly life”
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV).
Wouldn’t it have been great to receive a letter from the apostle Paul? Continue reading “Being an example”
As the Day of Pentecost ended, all was going very well for the group of new followers of Jesus. 3,000 had been immersed in water to have their sins forgiven (Acts 2:41). The new disciples spent time together and were taking care of each other. And those around them saw this. As a result they had the “favor of all the people” (Acts 2:47 ESV). Their number increased on a daily basis.
For a while this was the situation. It is difficult to get a sense of time in the first few chapters of Acts, as Luke recorded snapshots of what was happening. It would appear that at least four years are condensed into the first eight chapters of Acts (see Gareth Reese, New Testament History: Acts, 1976: i-xxii). What Luke does record is that the new community of Christ-followers began to be seen as a threat. Continue reading “Speaking boldly”
“Now while some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and offerings, Jesus said, ‘As for these things that you are gazing at, the days will come when not one stone will be left on another. All will be torn down!’ So they asked him, ‘Teacher, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that these things are about to take place?’” (Luke 21:5-7 NET).
Of the three accounts of the impending destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21), Luke’s is probably the simplest to understand. Continue reading “The destruction of the temple”
There is a strange difference between the Christianity of the first century and religious groups of the 21st. Have you noticed it?
Some religious leaders are praised when they arrive at world capitals. They receive the Nobel Prize for their “work.” They are praised and affection is heaped upon them by governments for what they do. Continue reading “See the difference?”
The way people treated Christ is basically how they’ll treat his disciples. Since persecution is a fact of life for Christians (2 Timothy 3:12), we shouldn’t expect anything less.
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18, NKJV).
Everything about Jesus’ trial was illegal (Mark 14:53-59). Their hatred consumed them (Isaiah 53:7-9). The mob took to the streets with blood on their minds. They were willing to free a notorious murderer and a thief just so they could see Jesus killed (Matthew 27:17-20). Continue reading “Christ, Christians and the mob mentality”
As we read through the dialogue in Job, we have the advantage of knowing what was in chapter 1. It was there that God declared that there was no one like Job: “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8 NET). As we read through the dialogue between Job and his three friends, keep in mind that Job is innocent of doing anything that caused the calamities that he has had to endure. Continue reading “It’s your own fault”
“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23).
In a discussion panel I watched recently, Arizona State University Professor (theoretical physicist) Lawrence Krauss listened with as much tolerance as he could muster while an avowed gay Catholic priest (or bishop, or something) attempted to explain how he melded his way of life with his chosen religion. Krauss finally couldn’t take it anymore, and interrupted the priest, saying (I paraphrase): “Why not just throw out the whole thing?”
Continue reading “The plagues of moral elasticity and re-definition”