Monday, July 04, 2016

Can you trust everyone who calls themselves a Christian? - Acts 6

Can you trust everyone who calls themselves a Christian?

Not everyone who says they are a Christian is one? 

That's quite a statement, it could be offensive to some of my readers! 

Well for starters there are people who are just using the name Christian to get you to trust them or to get you to do something. They would call themselves anything as long as they get what they want.

Then there are other people who don't really understand what a Christian is and they think because Great Britain has for centuries been a nominally Christian country then they must be one. There is no wrong intent one their part, they just aren't aware of all of the facts i.e. Christians are sinners who been forgiven for sin and saved by the grace of God.

Thirdly, and this is the tricky one, there are people who misunderstand the teaching of Jesus and think because they try to do good, love their neighbour as themselves and try to the best of their ability live a good life then they must be a Christian. If you are in this group please read on as this blog is for you as much as for anybody else.

Thanks for staying with me for the moment!

Let's go back to the narrative in Acts 6. Just in case this is the first time that you have read my recent blog posting let me fill in the gaps - if you have been reading the blogs please ignore this bit. 

We interrupt the story a couple of months after Jesus had died and risen from the dead. A bunch of 12 men who were terrified when Jesus was arrested and crucified have been transformed (I believe by God and the Spirit of God dwelling in them) into courageous men who are out and about preaching about Jesus being God's Son. Their proposal was that He, Jesus, is the Saviour of the world. They claimed that God is commanding everyone, everywhere, to repent (change their mind about God and our guilt before Him) and trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. By this stage at least 5,000 people, and possibly 8,000 (depending on your arithmetic), had become followers of Jesus and when you read today's Bible reading, Acts 6, you will see that large numbers of Jewish Priests were becoming followers of the Nazarene as well. It was becoming quite an impressive movement. A quiet revolution. The miraculous power of Jesus of Nazareth seemed to be doing for Jewish society what no one else had ever managed to do. The result wasn't anarchy it produced obedient, compliant citizens and society was the better for it.

So what's important about this chapter.

Firstly we see that where any group of people are that there will inevitably be dissension of some sort. The important bit to pick out here is not that one group of widows thought that they were being dealt a rough hand but how the leadership of the church reacted to it. 1. There is no favouritism in handling the problem. 2. The people who are chosen to solve the problem need to be of a very high calibre i.e. they are trusted, have a good track record, are wise and in touch with God. These are important lessons to learn when problems arise in church fellowships today.

Secondly we see that God's word is given priority and many are blessed as a result. Christians are still called to preach the word and to call men and women to repentance in today's society. 

Thirdly, opposition to Christian values, practice and preaching is quite normal. It has even been so. In fact in the Old Testament men and women who walked by faith in God were also often harassed and mocked for their faith in God. If you are going to become a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, take note, it will not be an easy passage and nowhere in the bible is life free of problems promised. The blessings certainly outweigh the problems but realistically problems will come especially from those who have no faith in God.

Acts 6Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this businessBut we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. 11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, 13 and set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 14 for we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. 15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)
KJV reproduced by permission of Cambridge University Press, the Crown’s patentee in the UK.

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