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Showing posts from November, 2021

Disciple and State

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Paul instructed believers living in the very heart of the Empire not to resist the government - its existence had been arranged by God  –  Romans 13:1-8 .  Writing to the churches in Rome, Paul presented principles for Christian conduct towards the State. Believers must “ subordinate themselves to governing powers: for there is no authority except by God ,” a statement written at the time when Nero ruled the Roman world, the very man who became the first emperor to persecute Christians - [ Roman Arch - Photo by Christoph Schmid on Unsplash ].

One New Man

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By his death, Jesus formed one covenant community - “one new Man” - based on faith in him, not ethnicity  –  Ephesians 2:11-22 .  Paul was adamant. Now, “ in Christ Jesus ,” no longer can there be “ Jew or Gentile .” He has “ broken down   the middle wall of partition ” that once separated Jew from Gentile, “ that he   might reconcile them both in one body for God through the cross .” Having voided the “ law of the commands in ordinances ” that separated them, he is “ creating in himself  one new man ” - [ Photo by redcharlie on Unsplash ].

First Martyr

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Under the guidance of the Spirit, and in fulfillment of Scripture, Stephen gave eloquent and effective testimony to the leaders of Israel .  Early on, the church experienced conflicts between its Greek and Aramaic-speaking members over the care of widows. In response, the apostles instructed the community to select from among its members seven men “ full of the Spirit and wisdom ” to take charge of the matter, including a man named Stephen, who was “ full of faith and the Spirit .” - [ Photo by  Emily Campbell  on Unsplash ].

Afflicted Disciples

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The godly disciple who faithfully bears witness to the gospel of Jesus will endure “tribulation” and persecution for his sake .  Our human tendency is to avoid trouble and conflict. Understandably, we prefer our daily lives to be characterized by peace, acceptance, and prosperity, a life devoid of difficulty, affliction, and certainly persecution. And the New Testament does promise believers peace now and everlasting life later. Yet it also exhorts us to expect and prepare for afflictions in this life - [ Storm Clouds - Photo by Martin Vysoudil on Unsplash ].