August 3, 2018
DID PAUL GO TO SPAIN?
What we know from Scripture is that Paul did indeed visit Rome, carried there to appear before Caesar under Roman guard. According to the final verses in Acts (Acts 28:30-31), Paul was held under house arrest in Rome for two years awaiting trial, yet had great freedom to preach and teach about Jesus while there. But Scripture is silent on what happened next.
From the writings of early church fathers such as Clement, who wrote around 95 AD, Paul was apparently released after two years in Rome and was able to journey to Spain before being brought back to Rome and being beheaded by Nero around the year 67 AD. While there is little certainty about whether Paul was able to carry the gospel to Spain, the fact that Clement’s writings are only 30 years afterwards lends credence to the possibility.
I like to think that the Lord allowed Paul to take one more journey to a place where the gospel had not yet been heard before completing his earthly journey. At any rate, I am moved by the passion the Spirit had given Paul to obey the Great Commission and to make disciples of all nations.
August 1, 2018
CONFIDENT HOPE FILLED WITH JOY AND PEACE
This hope for which Paul prays is not the stuff of wishes and wants, but of sterner stuff, made sure by the Lord Himself. It is hope that rejoices as it looks forward with confidence to an eternal future with Christ. This hope is like a rope, anchored on one end by the truth of Christ’s resurrection and passing beyond the veil to be anchored in the promise of Christ’s sure return. Those who trust in Christ overflow with this confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Do you know this confident hope today?
July 31, 2018
AIMING FOR HARMONY IN THE CHURCH
Literally, Paul said that believers are to “pursue peace” and “edify” one another. Yet, the NLT’s use of the word “harmony” here is appropriate, because it captures Paul’s desire to preserve unity in the church, while allowing for diversity of individual conscience. The point of harmony in music is that different parts, such as soprano, alto, tenor and bass, may be sung, yet they sound unified and beautiful together. Similarly, even though Christians from a Jewish background may follow a kosher diet, they shouldn’t expect believers from a Gentile background to do the same. They both should seek to sing praises to Jesus Christ, even though they may do so in a unique voice.
Paul wanted to make it clear that Gentiles didn’t have to become Jewish in order to become Christians. They didn’t have to celebrate the same holidays, nor eat the same foods. These were cultural distinctives and matters of the conscience, not necessities of the faith. Paul warned believers not to major in the minors, as it were. Don’t focus on disputable matters which divide, instead focus on that which will build one another up in Christ.
Romans 14 is a profound instruction for those that would obey the Great Commission to make disciples of “all nations.” For we are not called to make Americans, or Southerners, but disciples of Jesus Christ. Our pursuit is unity around the gospel of Jesus and building one another up to maturity in Him.