Friday, 8 June 2018

CTG 0022

Greeks and Barbarians

In New Testament times the Roman province of Galatia was bordered on the south-east by the province of Cilicia where Paul was born in Tarsus. All in modern day Turkey.

The northern extent of Galatia was the original kingdom of Galatia before the Romans expanded it to include areas to the south where Paul and Barnabas brought the gospel as described in Acts 13-14. 

Ethnic Galatians were Celts who lived predominately in the north and spoke their own language. But the term would probably have also been used for all those resident in the Roman province.

Long-term influence of Greek culture and language, as well as Roman dominance in more recent times, characterised the region. Including the influence of the Jewish diaspora based in the synagogues.

Greek would have been the dominant language, though various local languages and dialects were still spoken.

Into this mix the gospel came with powerful effect. With the result that local groups of believers were established in a number of places in spite of the opposition encountered. And it is likely that the good news spread beyond the centres of population mentioned in the biblical record.

Later, Paul needed to send a letter to the churches in Galatia relevant to the difficulties they were experiencing. It included a personal statement, a detail that the recipients were well aware of: "You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first ... (Galatians 4:13 ESV)." Whatever the condition and its cause may have been, it did not prevent him from evangelising. In fact, it providentially precipitated his reaching the people in that province for Christ, however difficult the circumstances were.

Even more amazingly, if that initial mission among the Galatians corresponds with the narrative we read in Acts 13-14, then in spite of his physical weakness God still performed miracles of healing through him and Barnabas, miracles that confirmed the Word of God that they were proclaiming.

This gospel is not earmarked for only one people group or one type of person. It is God's desire that all have the opportunity to hear it. That's why Paul was willing to shoulder his part of the responsibility to bring the good news "to Greeks and to barbarians" (Romans 1:14-17) - an expression that embraced those that considered themselves cultured (greek-speaking) and all those who spoke another language. The gospel is for Jew and Gentile, young and old, male and female, slave and free. For everyone.

"Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation (Mark 16:15  ESV).

The message of God's grace in Christ does not have a political agenda. The kingdom it establishes is not a transient one, but eternal. Far more real than anything humankind can ever organise. Its full manifestation is yet future, when Jesus returns. But it is already experienced by those who are reconciled to God through faith in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus every genuine miracle of salvation, healing and deliverance bears witness to its reality. And in the fullness that is yet to come there will be no more suffering. This good news of redemption through the death and resurrection of Christ is for all nations. Not everyone will accept it, but everyone should be given the opportuniy to repent, believe and be saved.

If you have never heard this before ... whatever your political persuasion, ideology, colour, language, ethnicity, culture, age etc .... this gospel is for you!

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FOR FURTHER READING

Matthew 12:28
Mark 1:1-39
Mark 16:15-20 (the longer ending)
Luke 10:9
John 3:16-18
John 4:1-42
Acts 1:8
Acts 13-14
Romans 1:14-17
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Galatians 3:27-29 
Ephesians 1:7
Colossians 1:3-23
Colossians 3:11
1 Timothy 2:1-7
Titus 2:11-3:7
Hebrews 2:1-4
Revelation 7:9-17
Revelation 20:11-21:8

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http://youtu.be/-eO0EUXnEBs

The experience mentioned in this video took place in August 2011

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Wednesday, 2 May 2018

CTG 0021

Aquila & Priscilla (Prisca)

Aquila was a Jew. Born in Pontus, a Roman Province, now known as Northern Turkey. He and his wife Prisca, also called Priscilla, were tentmakers. They lived in Rome on the Italian Peninsula until Emperor Claudius forced all Jews to leave the imperial capital in AD/CE 49.

After they made their way to Corinth in Achaia (Greece) and had set up business there, they met Paul, who arrived in the metropolis having journeyed down through regions further to the north, spreading the good news about Jesus Christ as he travelled. They gave him lodgings and initially he worked alongside them, possessing the same skill with leather. At the weekends he talked with Jews and also with Gentiles who attended the local synagogue, trying to convince them that Jesus is the Messiah. It appears that when his colleagues Silas and Timothy caught up with Paul he was able to concentrate on his God-given task.

This was the commencement of a life-long friendship and co-operation in the cause of Christ that would benefit the consolidation and expansion of the church in various places.

Aquila and Prisca were a husband-wife team, dedicated to God and his gospel because of the grace and gifting given to them in Christ, helping and working together with others.

For example, later when based in Ephesus, Prisca and Aquila expounded the message about Christ more fully to Apollos so that he in turn was better equipped in his ministry.

We also know that they provided hospitality to churches, not only in Ephesus but also when they returned to Rome.

They continued doing what they did when persecution was always a possibility. This is what Paul said about them when he sent a letter to the believers in Rome years before he finally got there: Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well (Romans 16:3-4 ESV).

The purpose of writing this is not simply of historical interest. The biblical account provides an encouragement for us today, whether we serve the Lord in the same countries mentioned in the Bible or in regions elsewhere. The names of individuals and places may be different, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is able to inspire us with the same motivation they possessed through faith in Jesus. So that his body of believers increases and matures in Christ.


FOR FURTHER READING:

Acts 18
1 Corinthians 16:8,19 (written from Ephesus)
Romans 16:3-5
2 Timothy 4:19
Ephesians 4:11-16


Friday, 16 February 2018

CTG 0020

UNTIL JESUS RETURNS

Jesus is coming back! And there is something very healthy about longing to see our Saviour.

Everyone who belongs to him (those already in heaven from every generation and those throughout the whole earth) will be gathered to meet him.

This will be a powerful event. The resurrection and transformation that will be completed in that day will surpass all our expectations. Thankfully, the Bible gives us sufficient information to help us grasp by faith the certainty of the future that the Father has secured for all who have been redeemed through the blood of his Son.

Except for God, no one knows when this will take place. It is certainly closer now than when Jesus' first followers were told: "This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven (Acts 1:11 NET).”

Until then the primary and all embracing task he has given us is to keep on speaking for him, enabled by the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8.

In fact, he said that before this present age (as we currently know it) comes to an end this gospel will be made known among all people groups. Matthew 24:14 & Mark 13:10.

In the light of Jesus' ever nearing return (whenever that may be) this surely needs to be the mission of prime importance for every generation of believers.

FOR FURTHER READING:
Please see previous blog.


Saturday, 3 June 2017

CTG 0019

... continued from previous blog.

PROMISE

God promised Abraham that all nations would be blessed through his offspring.

In his letter to the Galatians Paul states very clearly that the offspring, through whom the blessing comes, is Christ.

Through faith in Christ those who believe from all nations are counted righteous, just like Abraham.

Because of the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ we are able to receive the Holy Spirit, as God promised.

Simply stated, what commenced on the day of Pentecost (as described in Acts 2) will continue until Christ comes back. The Holy Spirit is given to us as a guarantee of the glorious completion which is yet to come, when Jesus returns.

The commission that Christ has given to his church is to proclaim the gospel everywhere, enabled by God's power, so that the opportunity is given for everyone to repent, believe and receive the fullness of the Spirit. Ever moving forward towards the consummation of God's eternal plan in Christ.

FOR FURTHER READING:
Matthew 1:1; Genesis 22:15-18; Galatians 3 (in particular verses 8, 14 & 16); Ephesians 1:13-14; Acts; Matthew 24-25; 1 Corinthians 15; 1&2 Thessalonians; Revelation 22:20-21

Monday, 8 May 2017

CTG 0018

... continued from previous blog.

COVENANT

The Passover and the children of Israel's exodus from the land of their slavery led to Sinai, where God made a covenant with them through Moses. Ultimately, God helped them to take possession of the land he promised their ancestors.

Disobedience to God resulted initially in the division of their tribes into northern and southern kingdoms. Despite the Lord's patient and merciful warnings through the centuries, both kingdoms were subsequently taken into exile. (Some returned at a later stage.)

They had broken the Sinai Covenant. However, God made a promise to them through the prophet Jeremiah:
"... the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah ... I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (ESV)" See Jeremiah 31:32-34 & Hebrews 8:6-13.

It was through the sacrificial death of his Son, Jesus Christ/Messiah, that the new covenant was brought to fulfilment and eternally established, superseding the Sinai agreement. Even Moses had foretold his coming (Acts 3:22-23; consider context, verses 1-26).

Following the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, many Jews believed and were saved, though many rejected the good news. What surprised even the Jewish Christians was that others from other nations who believe in Christ equally experience the new covenant (without becoming proselytes to Judaism). And yet this is exactly what God had promised through the prophets, hidden there in the scriptures.

And the Lord Jesus said:
"... I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd (ESV)." See John 10:14-16.

We, both Jews and Gentiles, by grace and through faith, are in covenant relationship with Christ. All one in Christ (Galatians 3:18-19).

"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12 ESV)."

To be continued ...

FOR FURTHER READING:
1 Kings 11:1-12:33
2 Kings 17:22-23; 25:21
Daniel 9:1-19
2 Chronicles 36:22-23
Acts 10:1-11:26; 15:1-35
Romans 15:4-13
Ephesians 2:1-3:21
Colossians 2:1-3:17
Galatians
Hebrews
1 Corinthians 10:1-11:1
Romans 7:1-11:36
2 Corinthians 3:1-18

Friday, 14 April 2017

CTG 0017


PASSOVER

Before the temple's destruction by the Roman army, first century Jerusalem is estimated as having had a population somewhere between 25000 and 30000. But during the celebration of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened​ Bread it expanded to about 250000 or even 300000. Groups of people, Jews and proselytes, descended upon the city from various places throughout the land and from further afield. They found lodgings within the city walls or places to stay in the immediate vicinity.

For each household a lamb was sacrificed at the temple, where its blood was shed. Its roasted flesh was eaten after sundown in each home, as a memorial. This was done in memory of the first Passover, when the people of Israel, centuries before, were delivered from slavery by the mighty hand of God.

Jesus was also in Jerusalem. He and his disciples had the use of a large upper guest room where they could eat the Passover meal together.

During the course of the evening, Jesus initiated a new memorial. He took bread, broke it and said "this is my body." Taking the cup he said "this is the new covenant in my blood." In this way our Lord introduced a practice whereby​ believers, following our Saviour's resurrection and ascension, would corporately and gratefully remember his sacrificial death on our behalf.

The amazing events experienced historically by the people of Israel provided the prophetical backdrop for a far greater eternal deliverance that Jesus was now going to provide for all people groups, for all who believe. The time of fulfilment had arrived.

Christ ... our passover lamb

Betrayed by one of his apostles for a monetary reward, Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest. He was condemned by a hastily gathered Jewish council and handed over by his own people to the Roman authority. After being viciously tortured he was crucified, an excruciating execution. As he bore and suffered for the sins of the world, as our substitute, the righteous one on behalf of the unrighteous, he cried out to his Father: "... my God, why have you forsaken me?" And before he died: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!"

He completed the mission his Father had given him, fulfilling what the scriptures foretold. The penalty for our sin was paid in full. This is the reason why his Father sent him into this world.

His one perfect sacrifice of himself is totally sufficient for our eternal salvation.

Early on the first day of the week Jesus rose from the dead. And he's alive forevermore.

To be continued ...

FOR FURTHER READING:
Exodus 12
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Mark 8:31; 9:30-32; 10:32-34;
John 1:29; 3:16; 4:42; 10:14-18; 12:32
1 John 2:2; 3:5; 4:14
Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22
Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:5
John 19:28-30
1 Peter 3:18
1 Corinthians 5:7-8
1 Peter 2:22-25
Hebrews 7:25-27; 9:11-12; 10:11-14
Galatians 2:20; 6:14
Revelation 1:17-18
Matthew 26:1-28:20
Mark 14:1-16:20
Luke 22:1-24:53
John 12:1-21:25

Sunday, 26 March 2017

CTG 0016

JESUS-FOCUSSED

After his resurrection Jesus was preparing his disciples for the coming of the Holy Spirit, who would empower them for mission, both locally and further afield, after his ascension. It is highly significant that he spent time helping them to understand the scriptures, as they relate to HIM.

He particularly highlighted the fact that the Old Testament had foretold:
1. his suffering and death.
2. his rise to life again.
3. that the call to repentance and the good news of forgiveness in Christ should be proclaimed throughout all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Although these ancient writings had been committed into Jewish care, their message was not only intended for their nation. In fact, it was God's eternal plan that by means of these writings the good news about Jesus should be spread in the power of the Holy Spirit to everyone throughout the whole world. That is why Jesus helped his followers to understand the scriptures and why he instructed them to be filled with the Spirit. And it is vital that we also grasp the importance of all this, as we prepare for the task he has given us.

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible are focussed on Christ and on the salvation that comes only through him. Miracles that take place in his name bring attention to him and confirm the message of God's grace. If our emphasis is anywhere else we'll go off course.

Stay Jesus-focussed!

Jesus' words:
"... you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be MY witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
- Acts 1:8 ESV

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FOR FURTHER READING
Luke 24:46-49
Romans 1:1-7; 16:25-27
1 Corinthians 15:1-5
2 Timothy 3:10 to 4:5
Isaiah 52:7 to 54:3
Romans 10:11-15
Acts 1:1-11

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Hopefully, the following blog will be helpful for many people:
http://such-great-love.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/blog-post.html

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