Archive for September 2014

Nero’s Persecutions

September 26, 2014

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Rome had several tyrannical and corrupt emperors but Nero was the worst. He was immoral, vicious, selfish and despotically cruel. He came to the throne in A.D. 54 and ruled for fourteen years. He will go down in history as one of the most despicable men ever to rule over a people. He was “a man who in a bad world had attained the eminence of being the very worst and meanest being in it – a man stained with every crime, the murder of his own mother, of his wives and of his best benefactors” (James Stalker, Life of St. Paul, pages 142-143).

Historians are generally agreed that it was Nero who burned the city of Rome. He labored under the delusion that he was a genius in music and that his compositions would become immortal if only he had sufficient inspiration. Feeling that a great conflagration would provide the inspiration he had the city set on fire. It is said that he sat on an elevated porch overlooking the city and attempted to play the violin as he watched the city burn. This fire broke out on July 19th in the year 64 and raged for six days. Much to the surprise of Nero there was a violent reaction among the people and he hastened to attach the blame for this on the Christians. Immediately thereafter serious persecution broke out against these Christian people. It took real courage to be a Christian now as they were granted no protection by the law. These Neronian persecutions were unspeakably horrible. Christian men and women were burned, were cast to wild beasts in the amphitheater to entertain the populace. “Nero lent his gardens for the purpose of exhibiting the tortures of the wretched victims, and at night he illuminated his grounds by the flames of burning Christians” (Foakes-Jackson, Rise of Gentile Christianity, page 50).

H.I. Hester
The Heart of the New Testament (1949, 1964), page 330
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The Symphony of Sympathy

September 23, 2014

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There is a world of difference between sympathy and sorrow. We can have a genuine sorrow for a friend facing heartbreak over some crushing trial or disappointment without the personal experience of what such a friend may be passing through, but we cannot have sympathy for him unless we have sat where he is sitting.

… I sat where they sat … (Ezekiel 3:15).

“Sym” means “with,” and “pathy” is from pathos, meaning “pain” or “sufferings.” Thus the word implies suffering with another, or the capacity of entering into the feelings or experiences of a sufferer.

Sympathy is born in the womb of experience. Much comfort often comes to a sufferer from the touch of a friendly hand and a few simple words, quietly and kindly spoken.

There is a close relationship between symphony and sympathy: the former speaks of the harmony of instrumental sounds, the latter speaks of that harmony which makes suffering hearts one. The song born of suffering is the only one we can sing for the comfort of others.

Herbert LockyerHerbert Lockyer (1886-1984)
Dark Threads the Weaver Needs (1979), pages 18-19, 22
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Pioneering Is Costly

September 10, 2014

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The whole history of the “Church” is one long story of this tendency to find acceptance and popularity here and to eliminate the element of conflict and of pilgrimage. That is the trend and tendency of everything. Therefore outwardly, as well as inwardly, pioneering is a costly thing.

The trend is backward and downward to an earthly religious system, with all of its externalities, its forms, is rites, its rituals, its vestments – something here to be seen and to answer to the senses. It is a great pull.

It is a costly and a suffering thing to come up against the religious system that has “settled down” here. It is, I sometimes feel, far more costly than coming up against the world itself. The religious system can be more ruthless and bitter; it can be actuated by all of those mean things, contemptible things, prejudices and suspicions, that you will not even find in decent people in the world. It is costly to go on to the heavenlies; it is painful; but it is the way of the pioneer, and it has to be settled that, that is how it is.

T Austin SparksT. Austin-Sparks (1888-1971)
Royal Pilgrimage

God’s Declared Purpose

September 9, 2014

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God’s declared purpose from the beginning was to produce children in His image, that is, sons of God, “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26). Contrary to common belief, Adam was not the ultimate fulfillment of that declaration. He was only the beginning, or phase one, of creating a son of God. Jesus is the firstborn of what God purposed for Adam and all of his offspring.

Who is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of every creature (Colossians 1:15).

This “Last Adam” is what God had in mind when He declared His intention in Genesis. The first Adam was merely a “living soul;” the “Last Adam” is a life-giving spirit (I Corinthians 15:45).

And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly (I Corinthians 15:49).

The man of dust is a necessary first step in producing the man from heaven. He must return to dust and be made alive by the power of God in order to bear the image of heaven. Death is not an accident, but a pre-planned step in the process of creating sons of God.

Bert BaumanBert Bauman (1925-2008)
The Gospel, page 15
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September 9, 2014

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In Romans 5:3-5 we read Paul saying that we may be glorying in tribulations. G-l-o-r-y does not spell growl. The flesh growls, but faith glories. But who has ever enjoyed passage through a threshing-machine? Who has ever found humor in the lion’s jaw or peaceful rest at the martyr’s stake? Pain is never aught else but pain. Faith does not deny facts: it faces them. How then does it find cause for glorying in tribulations?

If faith has the honesty to recognize the facts of life, it also has the vision to look through them. Look at trouble, and however small it may be, it becomes a thing of terror. Look through it, however great, and it becomes a trifle. Faith looks through and sees patience beyond. Faith examines experience and through it sees the dawning of expectation, and through expectation it gazes on the smile of God.

Alan Burns (1884-1929)
Faith Fellowship, Vol. 60, No. 2
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