Bible

Freedom of Speech & the Gospel

Photo by  Miguel Henriques  on  Unsplash

Photo by Miguel Henriques on Unsplash

Intro.

When Christ arrived it was at a time of post Greek influence of the known world.  How did God use this to spread the Gospel?  I have heard many Bible teachers state the benefit of the commonality of the Greek language that allowed the Gospel to be spoken to a multitude of cultures along with the roads of the Roman Empire that allowed ease of travel to those cultures.  But consider how the Greek culture belief in free speech  made way for the Gospel to be shared, listen to, engaged with and be accepted. 

Paul in Athens 

Acts 17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 “for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 “Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 “so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” 32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

This open venue of sharing thought and giving your personal belief of truth was not a common freedom in all societies of the world.  It was a characteristic of the Greek world.

The ancient Greek word “parrhesia” means “free speech,” or “to speak candidly.” The term first appeared in Greek literature around the end of the fifth century B.C. During the classical period, parrhesia became a fundamental part of the democracy of Athens. Leaders, philosophers, playwrights and everyday Athenians were free to openly discuss politics and religion and to criticize the government in some settings.

With the expansion of the Greek culture and language by Alexander the Great so came parrhesia to the people and was carried over to the Roman Empire.  So when the Gospel was introduced by the apostle Paul at the Greek Areopagus he was welcome to share openly his message and the people were willing to hear and reason if it was true, even make their comments.  Even when his message was opposed violently in others parts of the Roman Empire, Paul was threatened not by government but by groups who’s religious beliefs were offended and threatened.  

Since the influence of the western world with its English language the world was again opened to the Gospel.  It was delivered also with the philosophy of parrhesia.  Missionaries went forth to share their beliefs opening, publicly and to bring the truth of Christ to the hearts of mankind.  It was well as offended those who hold to a particular religious belief.  

The Gospel encourages a freedom of speech to share and reason together with any that disagreement.  The Gospel never seeks to quench the unbelieving thoughts and philosophies but to respond in answer.  Jesus didn’t ban his accusers from his meetings and gatherings.  All were welcome to come and engage.  So lets exercise our parrhesia to share our faith while allowing others the same privilege.  

Blessings

pBob

Its Time: Read the Bible in a Year

photo by:  Savio Sebastian

photo by: Savio Sebastian

Ever read through the whole Bible?  Surprising many Christians have never done so.  What better time to start your journey through God's Word than January 1st.  You may think that the major benefit of reading through the whole Bible is having a better perspective of the Books of the Bible, You would be right, but I believe the first time you accomplish this it is the personal satisfaction that you did it that is the benefit.  Sadly many Christians seldom even read the Bible, according to this LifeWay study.   I also seem to recall a report of the benefits to a congregation when they corporately read through the Bible. 

So how do you go about this?  You could just start with Genesis and push through as fast as you can to reach the end of Revelation by December 31.  Honestly, not a good way to go about it.  There are actually other helpful methods to do this. 

Buy a One - Year Bible.  It’s a Bible that is arranged with a portion of New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms and Proverbs for you to read each day. One problem, today is January 1st so may be problem finding one to start today.  But you may find one at your local Wal-Mart.  You can also order online.

Bible Reading chart.  This is a simple download from the internet that you can print out and follow.  It simply gives you a regular reading plan for each day that you can check off as you go. 

Online One Year Bible service.  Yes, thanks again to the internet you can go to http://oneyearbibleonline.com and begin reading today from their website.  They have it in a every version and translation possible and in multiple languages. 

Your Bible App is a third option.  Many of the mobile apps today provide you with a Daily Reading Plan.  I use the Olive Tree Bible app that provides over a dozen different One-Year plans.  Usually these Bible apps are free with the King James Version only.  So, if you desire to read with a particular translation you may have to purchase the version.

Here is the important point ... read God's word and read through it all. Not just once but regularly.  You can do it, even in a year.  You really have no excuse and its needed to see your way.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105

 

Study Book on Grace is in the works - learn more

Yes, with the help of my nephew, I have a study book on the doctrine of Grace in the works.  Here is a tentative outline of the chapters:

Chapter 1: The Law- God's Conviction

     Christ wants us to know we were sinners.

Chapter 2: The Sacrifice- God's Covering

     Christ wants us to know He died for those sins.

Chapter 3: The Deliverance- God's Consolation

     Christ wants us to know He died not to shame us, but to set us free.

Chapter 4: The Fullness- God's Calling

     Christ wants us to fill us and complete us for his service.

Chapter 5: The Glory - God's Intention

     Christ wants us to use our freedom in ways that bring Him glory.

The intent is to provide simple and consise teaching in booklet form and as an Ebook that will provide a strait forward and beneficial understanding of the doctine of God's Grace.  It will liley be used in our Dscipleship and Intern programs.

The format will fit between the simple information card and a full size book on the subject, that is suitable to be handed to any believer or unbeliever to study on their own. So it will have questions at the end of each chapter.  As my nephew put it, "Not a reader interacting with the author, but the reader interacting with God."  

What I do need is some book art.  If you are gifted artistically and would like to contribute a book cover I am happy to consider it.  If it includes a photograph please be sure you own the rights to the photograph.  I will glady review and even post your submissions.  

Blessings

pBob

 

How to enter the kingdom of God in 3 easy steps.

I am always stuck by the simplicity of Jesus' messages.  His gently directs his listeners to take clear steps of faith that would move them ever closer to their God.  In doing so the He emphasized a changed direction, perspective and condition of the mind, body and soul.  His words are full of exhortation , not condemnation.

 

Repent

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “ Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Matt 4:17

His encouragement is not to do works but to "think differently" a change of mind (repent) from doing works of sin to face the kingdom that is before them, Jesus being the kingdom. In Mark's Gospel "belief" in the Gospel being preached is added to the change of mind (Mk 1:15).

Seek

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matt 6:33

Turn your focus away from cares and needs is His encouragement and in place of that turn your focus on the kingdom.  Added to that a seeking of  His righteousness. The seeking of His righteousness is the alternative to seeking our own righteousness.  His righteousness comes by faith and not works.  

Convert

and said, “ Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matt 18:3-4

"Converted" is the Greek word "strepho" that means, to turn around, a change of direction.  The change direction is a change attitude with the humble nature of a child being the desire. Possessing such a changed attitude opens wide the kingdom doors.

So its a changed mind, a changed focus, and a changed direction with a changed attitude that ushers the sinner into God's kingdom.  Can it be any simpler?  It is an inner transition and not an outer work.  It is an act of belief and trust in the righteousness of God and not our own which Isaiah says , "are as filthy rags" (Isa 1:6). Its belief in Him and not in us or in the things of this world.

Blessings

pBob

 

5 part Series on Grace has been uploaded

I just completed a five part series on the topic of Grace that I taught at our Wednsesday night Bible Fellowship.  Grace isn't just found in the New Testament but is throughout the Bible narrative.  Grace was shown to Noah and then to Abraham and so the law of grace existed before the law of Moses was given at Mt. Sinai. Grace was understood by David and transformed Saul, the persecutor of the church, who became the apostle Paul.  Grace frees the sinner and empowers the Saint and this grace only comes through a faith in Jesus Christ.  These messages cover this and more and I pray that they encourage and minister to you as much as it did me in teaching them.

pBob