What did they have in common?

Posted January 15, 2008 by highpurpose
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• Since the death of Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago, 43 million Christians have become martyrs
• Over 50% of these were in the last century alone
• More than 200 million Christians face persecution each day, 60% of whom are children
• Every day over 300 people are killed for their faith in Jesus Christ.
— World Evangelical Encyclopedia

These numbers are staggering.  And they are increasing at an alarming rate, particularly in countries who do not have religious freedom as we have in the United States.

What one thing did all these people have in common?

They all had an unquenchable faith in the identity of Jesus Christ as God and Savior.  For this belief they were willing to pay the supreme sacrifice. 

Do you know what you believe?

Christology 101 Lesson 1

Posted January 15, 2008 by highpurpose
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Here is the rough outline of Lesson 1.  It is in PDF Format so you will need adobe acrobat reader to open it.

Christology 101 Lesson 1

Nicene Creed

Posted January 13, 2008 by highpurpose
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The Nicene Creed was composed in the fourth century by some of the most dedicated and uncompromising Christians the world has ever seen.  These were people who had paid a price for their open association with Jesus Christ and their belief in Him as God.  They came together from around the Roman Empire after hundreds of years of persecution had finally come to and end to answer some of the early heretics who were denying the true nature and identity of Christ.  Most Christians don’t even know the name of these men today.  Athanasius was one of the great heroes of the council.  But they were the most courageous and dedicated men of their day. 

Their statement of faith has survived and is repeated in churches all around the world today, because of its truth and simplicity.

Nicene Creed We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

I am trying to upload a very rough outline of the first week’s lesson in our Christology course in a pdf format.  Feel free to download it when I am able to get it uploaded.  Meanwhile, read through the Nicene Creed. 

A Starting Point

Posted January 10, 2008 by highpurpose
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Polycarp was an early Christian who was converted under the ministry of the Apostle John.  He became the Pastor of the church the church in Smyrna which is in modern day Turkey.  It is also one of the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation.  He was a very humble and loving man.  At age 86 he was still active and a leader.  A riot broke out in the city and like most mob justice, it spread like a prairie fire on rumor and rage.  The Christians, as usual were the target of this persecution.  Several were beaten and killed, then someone asked where was Pastor Polycarp. 

He tried to hide and wait it out, but was discovered by a child who reported him.  His arrestors took him to the Roman proconsul who offered him the oppotunity to save his pain and his life by simply denying Christ.  He refused.  “Eighty and six years have I served Him and He never did me any injury.  How then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?” 

They bound the old saint to a stake, piled the wood high around him, lit it on fire, and sat back to watch him die.  The story is told that he sang and the flames that were supposed to extinguish his life merely rose up as a wall around him.  The proconsul angered by this ordered a soldier to pierce him with a spear. 

His last recorded prayer was as follows:  “I praise you for making me worthy to be received among the numer of the martyrs this day and this hour, so that I share in teh cup of Christ for the resurrection of my soul.”

When we approach the topic of Christology, it is important to consider that Christians are in a long red line of people who have considered Jesus Christ to be more than a man, more than a religious leader, more than a prophet.  They have considered Him to be the Son of God, in actual fact, God the Son.  Polycarp is only one of millions of Christians who have been willing to back up this precious belief with their blood. 

Another interesting thought is that these martyrs did not back up their belief by shedding blood, but by having their own blood shed by their accusers.  In most cases these martyrs prayed for their accusers following the example of Christ. 

I begin with this very old and very simple story to emphasize the importance of the subject of Christology.  Those of us who have the benefit of living in 21st centry America where our rights are constitutionally protected are among the most privileged in history.  We find it hard to relate to Christians living in the Roman Empire who had no Bill of Rights.  We find it hard to relate to Christians living around the world today in Muslim controlled or Communist controlled countries who have no Bill of Rights.

As a result, we tend to approach theological topics in a very laid back and academic way.  After all, no one is going to start a riot and burn us at the stake if we get a different answer than theirs, at least most.   So we have an attitude that seems to say, “You can believe what you want to and I will believe what I want to and it’s not worth debating.”  The early Christians did not have tha luxury.  They had to focus like a laser on theology.  Their theology, and especially their Christology, had to be spot on.  They had to be ready to give an answer. 

I believe that the 21st first century will be much like the 1st century.  More martyrs will be made and are being made.  Theology is becoming important again.  Christology is coming to the front of the discussion again.  Where people used to assume that most people believed in the deity of Christ in this country, now it is 50/50.  Maybe if they are polled secretly you might get a higher percentage, but Christians are not speaking up and perhaps it is because they have been out of the discussion for so long that they are uninformed. 

One goal of this blog is to get a discussion going about the nature of the person of Christ.  I am teaching a class on this subject right now and I will post my notes for my class and for anyone.  I hope they are helpful and enable Christians to articulate their faith in Christ clearly and accurately, and to have the firm and settled faith of Polycarp and the long red line of Christianity.

Hello world!

Posted December 31, 2007 by highpurpose
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