Friday, December 5, 2008

Taking a personal look at a few of the Early Church saints: continuing with Romans 16

”Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.” (Romans 16:15)

In A.D. 95, some Roman aristocrats had become Christians, including Flavius Clemens and his wife Domitilla, a woman who gave her name to the earliest Christian graveyard in Rome. Flavius was executed after being charged with “atheism,” which was, interestingly, a common charge used in those days against Christians. Domitilla was not executed, but was merely banished to the island of Pontia, her 'lighter punishment' probably due to the fact that she was the niece of Domitian, the reigning emperor. But she was released the following year. Since the fourth century, the Church has associated Nereus of Romans 16:15 with this Domitilla, so it could even be that Nereus was the one who brought the gospel to this prominent household and eventually led to the many Christian martyrdoms in Rome.

When we examine Romans 16 closely (see my previous two posts), we begin to get a sense of how close these people were to Paul, even though they were many miles apart. We see how much Paul loved them, as he calls them “beloved” and praises them for their faithful service to one another and to him, and for their labors in the Lord. All born-again (regenerated) Christians, no matter whether they are Reformed Baptists or tongue-speaking Charismatics, or whether they are an all-black congregation or an all-white congregation, are all members of the one body of Jesus Christ, and should be loved and appreciated by all others who are true Christians.

”Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:4-5)

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)


Speaking of concern and love for other Christians, many Christians in the United States are often unaware of the Christians in other countries who suffer horribly on a daily basis because of their faith in Christ Jesus.

Christians in other countries, especially Muslim and Communist countries, have been persecuted, tortured, imprisoned, and martyred ever since the first century, and even much more so today (though it would go completely against the anti-Christian agenda of the liberal news media to report any of it). Even back in the 1980’s, I was keeping up with reports of some of the Christians in the former U.S.S.R. who were being attacked, poisoned, tortured by electrical shock treatments, imprisoned, etc. Following is one of the latest reports of Christian persecution, this one in China:


CHINA - House Church Leader Sentenced to "Re-education Through Labor"

On Oct. 30, house church leader Pastor Zhu Baoguo was sentenced to one year "re-education through labor" on charges of being an "evil cult" leader, China Aid Association reported. Pastor Zhu and four other leaders were detained by authorities during a church service in Dushu village, Henan province on Oct. 12. While the other four leaders were sentenced to five days of administrative detention, Pastor Zhu was sentenced to 15 days.
Two days after Pastor Zhu's release from detention, he was sentenced and taken to a labor camp in an unknown location. There is considerable concern for his health as he suffers from heart disease.

(the above report is from Voice of the Martyrs)

10 comments:

Greg said...

We really do not appreciate the freedom that we have here in the U.S. In our Wednesday Bible study, we're going through a unit on worldviews, prepared by Summit Ministries. I always knew that Communists (for example) were very much against religion, but was surprised to hear some quotes from Marx and Lenin. Their intent was truly to squash all religion.

thekingpin68 said...

'All born-again (regenerated) Christians, no matter whether they are Reformed Baptists or tongue-speaking Charismatics, or whether they are an all-black congregation or an all-white congregation, are all members of the one body of Jesus Christ, and should be loved and appreciated by all others who are true Christians.'

Very good use of terminology and I agree, Jeff.

We even have to love some of those sometimes annoying Christian bloggers.;)

I reposted the Lochness Monster...

Russ

Jeff said...

Greg,

Before glasnost and perestroika (i.e., before the Iron Curtain came down), I used to get "Underground Evangelism" magazine. Now I think they are called "Mission Without Borders."

Also, when I was attending Bob Jones University, I was in the Russian Prayer Band (not a musical band, but a group that met to pray for specific Russian Christian individuals who were prisoners or were being persecuted).

Through both of those, I found out that probably most Christians today really know what it means to 'carry their cross.' Americans tend to see 'carrying your cross' as putting up with being sick, or with various discomforts or inconveniences. But Christians in places such as China, Africa, the Middle East, etc., truly know the meaning of that phrase.

Here are some quotes by Karl Marx:

“Religion is the impotence of the human mind to deal with occurrences it cannot understand.”

“Religion is the opium of the masses.”

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

Supposedly, Karl Marx, on his deathbed, was surrounded by candles burning to Lucifer.

Also, supposedly, David Hume, the Atheist, on his deathbed, cried out in horrible desperation, "I am in flames!"

And supposedly, Voltaire, the famous skeptic, died a terrible death, and his nurse supposedly said, "For all the money in Europe I wouldn’t want to see another unbeliever die! All night long he cried for forgiveness."

Also, there was a Chinese Communist who delivered many Christians to their execution, and who came to a pastor and said: "I’ve seen many of you die. The Christians die differently. What is their secret?"

Jeff said...

thekingpin68,

Very good use of terminology and I agree, Jeff.

Thanks, Russ.

We even have to love some of those sometimes annoying Christian bloggers.;)

I always remember the poem:
"To live above with the saints we love
Oh, that will be glory;
but to live below with the saints we know
Well, that's another story."

I reposted the Lochness Monster...

I'll have to drop by.

Jeff said...

Some have compared Obama's tax plan to the political philosophy of Karl Marx. I found the following on a website called Christian and American:

"Here is a creative approach to redistribution of wealth as offered in a local newspaper…

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read ‘Vote Obama, I need the money.’ I laughed.

Once in the restaurant my server had on a ‘Obama 08′ tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference–just imagine the coincidence.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed to be more in need – the homeless guy outside.

The server angrily stormed out from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I’ve decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was very grateful.

At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient deserved money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application."

satire and theology said...

'I reposted the Lochness Monster...

I'll have to drop by.'

With Lochness Monster you had better drop-kick and then run real real fast away boy.;)

satire and theology said...

'Supposedly, Karl Marx, on his deathbed, was surrounded by candles burning to Lucifer.

Also, supposedly, David Hume, the Atheist, on his deathbed, cried out in horrible desperation, "I am in flames!"'

Interesting, Jeff.

Jeff said...

With Lochness Monster you had better drop-kick and then run real real fast away boy.;)

LOL!

Interesting, Jeff.

Thanks, Russ.

Farrah said...

Interesting to think about these people.

I sometimes like to sit and ponder about how all the people who have lived, each one had a life story with intricate details just like mine. Can you imagine how much we don't know about the past? It's mind-boggling. I suppose that all the books in the world could not hold all that Jesus did while here on earth. :-)

Jeff said...

Farrah,

Yes, that is incredible to think about. When we die, if our entire lives will be publicly reviewed, sort of like on a giant movie screen, just imagine waiting in line for every second of each person's entire life to be shown to everyone. Of course, we'll have all eternity, but just imagine watching every single person's entire life, from birth to death, and having their every thought, word and action displayed for all to see. Every person who has ever lived. The first few million years may be spent just reviewing everyone's lives in public fashion.

"There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing secret that will not become known and come to light." (Luke 8:17)

And, if this is the case, how it should cause us to watch our words, thoughts and actions more carefully!

"I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works."(Revelation 20:12)

"For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

Of course, for the Christian, their sins are wiped away by the blood of Jesus, so they need not fear the Great White Throne judgment, where a person's eternal destination will be determined. Nevertheless, their 'good' works will be judged at the Bema Seat, and only those things done in and for Christ will survive; everything else will be burned up. And for those things that remain, they will receive a reward.

"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (Matthew 6:6)

"The one who plants and the one who waters have the same goal, and each will receive a reward for his own work." (I Corinthians 3:8)