Posts Tagged ‘ Disciples ’

… The Work Will Go On with @UnspokenMusic

Do not bury wisdom. Instead, find some at Proverbial Thought!

Tertullian famously said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

This is certainly evidenced in the Bible:

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

And Saul approved of his execution.

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.
Acts 8:54-8:4, ESV

That is what one of my new favorite bands sings about in this song.

Unspoken has a lot of great songs on their debut album (personally, I like all of them). This song, Bury the Workmen, had me shouting out “Yeah! Preach it!” as I was driving down the road.

Enjoy.


Unspoken – Bury the Workmen

Steven was a deacon in Jerusalem
They dragged him out those city gates to try and quiet him
When Steven preached those Pharisees started throwing stones
Before he died he raised his eyes and saw Jesus on the throne

He said, You can bury the workmen but the work will go on
And you can silence the voices but you can’t stop the song
When the Spirit’s moving, His will will be done
You can bury the workmen but the work will go on

James was sent to Heaven at the edge of Herod’s sword
And Peter he was crucified like his beloved Lord
The Roman Coliseum, the lions and the fires
The gates of hell did not prevail, they fanned those flames higher

Cause you can bury the workmen but the work will go on
And you can silence the voices but you can’t stop the song
When the Spirit’s moving, His will will be done
And you can bury the workmen but the work will go on

And then they lowered Jesus, they laid Him in a grave
They thought that it was over, that His name would fade away
But Jesus wasn’t listening, no, He rose to life again
Cause God is not persuaded by the arrogance of men

So you can bury the workmen but the work will go on
And you can silence the voices but you can’t stop the song
When the Spirit’s moving, His will will be done
And you can bury the workmen but the work will go on

And you can bury the workmen but the work will go on
And you can silence the voices but you can’t stop the song
When the Spirit’s moving, His will will be done
And you can bury the workmen but the work will go on
Yeah you can bury the workmen but the work will go on

Seeing Salvation

I consider this work a work in progress.

It can be considered a Christmas poem. It can be considered a piece on the Gospel. It can be considered a prophetic word.

In any event, it fits this week leading into Christmas, and it is a good reminder after the events in Connecticut and around the world this past week.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared some thoughts on the two people, Simeon and Anna the Prophetess, who were waiting for the Messiah and saw Him in their old age. My thoughts concluded (indeed, centered around) expecting the soon return of the Messiah Jesus.

The entire reason for Jesus Coming to Earth was to save us from our sins and bring us into a right relationship with God. His return will be to finish the entire process, by bringing the physical up to speed with the spiritual, and bringing about ultimate peace on Earth for ever and ever.

It was easy for Jesus’ followers to forget His promise of coming back to life, and their new-found hope was a very pleasant surprise later at the resurrection of Jesus.

Because of His resurrection, we are able to give all of our troubles to Him, and we must remind ourselves of His soon return.

Now, see if you can find where I share each of these in this poem:

Seeing Salvation

They waited for years,
worshiping God daily in prayer.
God ever feeling more near,
as they awaited His Answer.

As their twilight years waned,
dutifully keeping their stations,
in came a couple with a babe.
They knew they were seeing Salvation. (Luke 2:21-38)

They walked with Him for years,
gladly hearing what He taught.
Now they only had tears,
with their Lord dying on a cross.

As their hope began to wane,
the women came with a proclamation.
The Lord was alive again!
Their faith was restored at seeing Salvation. (Matthew 28:1-10, Luke 24:1-12)

We live for many years,
wandering all over this earth.
We have troubles and fears,
wondering if we have any worth.

As our strength begins to wane,
there is hope in each situation.
We must turn to the Lamb who was slain.
Our souls are renewed in seeing Salvation.

There are not too many years,
this world will soon be decimated.
For God-lovers are jeered,
while sin and pride are celebrated.

After His long-suffering has waned,
His wrath will pour out on the nations.
Yet we will be reborn in His Name,
when we finally are seeing Salvation. (Revelation)

We must remember that all people are seeking redemption.

Some seek it and must wait.

Some are swept up and almost miss it.

Some find it out of their pain.

All people one day will see the Redeemer bringing redemption to all of Creation.

At Christmas, we must remember that God loved us enough to save. He came to us, born as a baby. He lived a perfect life, and died as the only acceptable sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. He seeks us out, and will one glorious day return to claim His redeemed and redeem all of Creation.

That is the true promise of Christmas. Peace on Earth will only come at the final consummation. When we pray for peace on Earth, we are asking for Jesus to come and save us all, people and Creation!

The Core Facts: Converted Conspirator

For some words of wisdom, head over to Proverbial Thought!

To keep up to date, do not forget to go back and read the first two Core Facts that show why Christianity is based on truth and reason: Jesus’ death on the cross, the despair of the Disciples, and the change in the Disciples. I give my usual reminder that this is not meant to be an exhaustive study of the arguments, but these posts are primers to get you thinking. If you are interested in a more in-depth look at these points, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.

Now for the third of The Four Core Facts:

The Conversion of Saul/Paul

All of the facts build on each other, building to the point that none work without the others, especially and most importantly because of #1.

Without the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ there is no despair in the Disciples. Either there was never a Jesus of Nazareth to have followed and have taken away, or Jesus was just a good leader and the Disciples could have found another great leader.

Without the Resurrection after the Crucifixion there is no reason for the Disciples to change. The could have easily gone back to their old lives. The Disciples would have had every reason to abandon the mission, especially if a body could have been presented.

There would have been no reason for Saul to hunt down blasphemers, and he would not have been able to see the Resurrected Jesus.

The Apostle Paul is one other person whom should not be doubted as having existed. I can understand people who think Paul was the creator of Christianity. He covered a lot of land in a relatively short span of time, and he impacted countless lives.

However, before he was Paul the Apostle, he was Saul the Pharisee. I will let his own words explain:

“The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.”
Acts 26:4-5, NIV

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
Philippians 3:4-6, NIV

This man did his best to be a really good Jew. He even went so far as to literally hunt down people who defied his fellow religious leaders.

This man was allowed to study under Gamaliel, one of the greatest Rabbis in history. He is renowned within Judaism for his strict adherence to and reverence of the Law of Moses. This is not just the 10 Commandments, but all of the 613 laws found in the Torah, or the first five books of the Bible known as the Books of Moses.

Our man says “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God” (Acts 22:3) (Emphasis added, and, yes, I admit to shortening the verse by a few words.).

There should be no doubt that Saul was a man seeking to work his way into God’s good graces, who was passionate about God’s Law and the teachings and holiness.

Saul was a man who was so devout that he did his best to never be defiled in any way and went as far as to hunt down, arrest, torture, and even kill (at the very least through other people while he approved, as stated in Acts 8:1) those who claimed God became a man.

But then it all changed.

Why would a man so devout to following every letter of the Law to the point of feeling a need to persecute others to protect it suddenly join those he was hunting?

This Saul of Tarsus would have had to have had a truly life-altering event take place.

What would send Saul (meaning “prayed for”) into synagogues to preach the Gospel and the desert wilderness for some time to study to eventually come back as Paul (meaning “small”)?

Other than brain-washing, the only possible explanation is that he saw a vision of the Resurrected Jesus.

It is possible to claim he hallucinated, however when taken with the other three Core Facts that seems unlikely.

In fact, the conversion of Saul the Pharisee in to Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ and one of the greatest missionaries and church-planters ever also falls under the third Core Fact.

Next month I move on to our youth group‘s Four Core Values:

  1. Desperate pursuit of God
  2. Diligent prayer
  3. Consecrated heart
  4. Focused life

Thoughts?

The Core Facts: A New Boldness

A wise mind would go find some wisdom over at Proverbial Thought!

To keep up to date, do not forget to go back and read the first two Core Facts that show why Christianity is based on truth and reason: Jesus’ death on the cross and the despair of the Disciples. I give my usual reminder that this is not meant to be an exhaustive study of the arguments, but these posts are primers to get you thinking. If you are interested in a more in-depth look at these points, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.

Now for the third of The Four Core Facts:

The Change in the Disciples’ Willingness to Die

I feel I must first verify for everyone that there were indeed more than 11 or 12 Disciples as evidenced by Jesus appointing 72 to go on a short-term mission (Luke 10) and 120 meeting in “the upper room” between Jesus’ ascension and Pentecost (Acts 1:15). You see, the Twelve Disciples were Jesus’ inner circle, His closest friends entrusted with leading the fledgling Church after His ascension.

And now, we should start with the obvious: Why were the Disciples willing to die?

They firmly believed they had seen the Risen Lord.

Jesus was not just another man. He made the impossible claim that He is God (John 10:30). Jesus backed up this claim through various miracles …

… the ultimate miracle being that He was beaten, crucified, died, and buried, and rose back to life.

The Disciples were convinced they saw Jesus risen from the dead, and that gave them the confidence they needed to willingly face death for the sake of the Gospel.

This change is more than just a willingness to die. This needs to be understood.

People of many beliefs are willing to die for what they believe. That cannot be denied. September 11, 2001 is enough evidence for Americans, and many nations around the world see evidence of this deadly devotion many times a year if not every day.

There are a couple of differences with they young Church. The Disciples had a passion to share the news that Jesus had risen from the dead. They taught a radical message that required change in all who believe.

Just like the Western world today, people in the Roman Empire had an understanding that you could believe anything you wanted, just do not try to tell anyone they are believing wrongly. If you did, you were clearly wrong and must be stopped.

The Disciples started a new revolution of love for all people, no matter how old or young, rich or poor, color, nationality, or societal stance. But it was also a revolution of needing to change yourself: your habits, your thoughts, and especially your beliefs; in other words, that everyone was essentially wrong.

They knew the consequences: Deny your teachings or risk imprisonment, torture, and even death.

This means the Disciples went from a group of cowards who ran away from punishment to not shying away from the threat of suffering and death.

As I said two weeks ago in my fourth point, it would have been easy to stop the early Church from growing beyond several dozen or several thousand people.

If the Disciples had stolen Jesus’ body, most if not all of them would have cracked under torture and the threat of death and admitted to the removal of the body (which Jews would not do, because touching a dead body made you ceremonially unclean … very non-kosher).

If the Disciples had suffered from mass hallucination, all the authorities would have had to do is open the tomb and show them the body and snap them back to reality … or at least stop new converts rather handily.

If the Jewish and/or Roman authorities had stolen the body … THEY COULD HAVE PRODUCED THE BODY!

Did you notice a trend?

The Disciples becoming so bold in the face of the most powerful forces in the known world is not a trivial matter.

The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth can not be credibly denied.

The Disciples despairing after Jesus was led away is and understandable truth.

The change in the Disciples to endure pain and death for a belief that Jesus was who He said He was and had risen from the dead only helps to prove that Jesus really is the risen Son of God.

It also helps explain the fourth of the Four Core Facts: The Conversion of Saul/Paul

Are there any other thoughts? Is there anything to add?

The Core Facts: Despairing Disciples

Here is another friendly reminder to go read the wise words written by the men at Proverbial Thought!

Also, the youth pastor with whom I work speaks on all of this. Find Jesse Bollinger at Fervent Youth.

Last week I began the study of the Core Facts, starting with Jesus’ death on the cross. And I remind you that these posts are not meant to be exhaustive arguments on these topics. I currently do not have the time for that! Rather, these are a brief synopsis of the main points.

This week I continue with the second of The Four Core Facts:

The Despair of the Disciples

There are two main reasons why the Disciples being desperate is true:

  1. the Jews (of which all of the initial Disciples were) were expecting a Messiah to overthrow the pagan government; and
  2. it was shameful to record faults of heroes of the story.

On point number one, as was discussed last week, the Jews were expecting Israel to be freed from oppressive rule by a great King.

One example of the Disciples’ fervor for a conquering King is demonstrated while travelling through Samaria on the way to Jerusalem for the last time:

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”

Luke 9: 51-54

One example that they did not expect their Messiah to die comes immediately after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah:

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Matthew 16:21-22

Imagine being in their shoes … er … sandals. They are expecting the heir of King David to come to the rescue, restore Israel, and lead them as King …

… not die.

If you saw your unstoppable leader killed, would you not be emotionally destroyed?

If you saw your Lord being taken away by soldiers, put on trial, flogged (beaten, whipped, and tortured), and crucified, do you think you would run in and try to save the day or run and hide?

This leads to point number two: The Gospels recorded the Disciples running away!

Throughout history, those who have written history have generally put themselves in the best possible light. The epics written of old showed individuals and armies alike running into danger to rescue a friend, a leader, or an army. Individuals confronted hundreds or thousands of soldiers to save the day. Mere mortals braved the pain and torment of the Underworld to save a loved one.

The first leaders of the Church fled and hid. Then they told everyone about it!

At the time of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, they forgot He ever said that He must be killed and raised back to life. Peter even denied his best friend of the previous three years!

Some might argue that this kind of thing happens all the time, but I urge you to look into the current world of politics. Rarely do we see a politician taking the rap for a mistake, let alone deserting friends. If they do own up to it, usually it is to cast it in a good light.

The Disciples knew what they did was sad and wrong. They owned up to it.

Even today that shows someone who is honest and therefore trustworthy.

These were heartbroken men, literally scared for their lives, who believed their Lord and Messiah died. They had enough reason to suspect that they could also be arrested and even crucified for inciting a rebellion.

Perhaps they even thought they were wrong all along about who Jesus is.

Talk about an existential crisis.

Fortunately for them, within three days they were redeemed (on so many levels).

It changed their lives.

But that is for next week when I cover Core Fact #3: The Change in the Disciples’ Willingness to Die

Are there any thoughts on this?