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The Wednesday Word: Gospel Trouble!

December 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Someone once said that the Christian life is easy. I disagree! As far as I can see, only the easy parts are easy. The hard parts are hard, very hard.

Along with the joy and peace in believing comes trouble.

Have you ever noticed just how much trouble Jesus caused? Consider Paul. He was doing very well thank you until he was enlisted by the Nazarene. I think I can hear some of his former friends, saying, “That guy Saul really blew it! He was one of the most privileged men in Israel till he went astray following that Jesus fellow. What good did it do him? Kicked out of Synagogues, whipped and beaten, stoned and left for dead! All he got was trouble.”

Jesus, Himself, was always surrounded by trouble. Even at His birth, there was trouble. Remember how the Wise Men came looking for the newborn King and all Jerusalem was ‘troubled’ (Matt 2:3). Now, why in the name of thunder would the birth of a baby trouble an entire city? The new King had arrived but rather than being excited or filled with rejoicing— the citizens of Jerusalem were troubled. What a strange brew—- an entire city troubled by a baby!

But, why were they troubled? Maybe they were troubled because they knew that Herod wouldn’t take this news well …and ‘if the King ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!’ On the other hand, maybe they really understood that this baby was their rightful King…a King who demanded allegiance and loyalty. A King who expected all! Maybe they felt they would be better off with Herod and the Romans. Whoever he was, this baby was trouble!

Jesus always causes trouble! He leads us to life by means of death….that’s troubling, especially when we are so committed to our own plans, goals and ambitions.

Christ speaks to us in grace, looks at us in grace, thinks of us in grace and promises us gracious rest, but this grace comes wrapped in a cross that brings us to an end of our noble efforts to impress God …..that’s troubling.

What a strange Saviour He really is! He comes promising peace but at the same time brings a sword (Matthew 10:34). Swords speak of trouble!

But those ancient Wise Men saw nothing in Him to trouble them. They wanted to worship Him. They were prepared to take Him for who He was…the King and Sovereign of their existence.

We will either be troubled by Him or we will worship Him. But, even when we worship Him, we will not be free from trouble. Yet, somehow, in trouble, we learn that even in the midst of that which seems wrong and not according to the script of a good writer, He who was born in Bethlehem is really in charge. In the darkness of pain, we can come to a place where we can thank God for the grace of trouble! The truth is, our only hope is to be troubled by Jesus. We need Christ to trouble us. We need to be troubled about our self-righteousness self- sufficiency in order that we can trust in Christ’s righteousness and sufficiency alone.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

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CHAPTER II-IX

September 12, 2013 Leave a comment

THE TEN PRIMITIVE PERSECUTIONS

IX. The Ninth Persecution Under Aurelian, AD 274

The principal sufferers were: Felix, bishop of Rome. This prelate was advanced to the Roman see in 274. He was the first martyr to Aurelian’s petulancy, being beheaded on the twenty-second of December, in the same year.

Agapetus, a young gentleman, who sold his estate, and gave the money to the poor, was seized as a Christian, tortured, and then beheaded at Praeneste, a city within a day’s journey of Rome.

These are the only martyrs left upon record during this reign, as it was soon put to a stop by the emperor’s being murdered by his own domestics, at Byzantium.

Aurelian was succeeded by Tacitus, who was followed by Probus, as the latter was by Carus: this emperor being killed by a thunder storm, his sons, Carnious and Numerian, succeeded him, and during all these reigns the Church had peace.

Diocletian mounted the imperial throne, AD 284; at first he showed great favor to the Christians. In the year 286, he associated Maximian with him in the empire; and some Christians were put to death before any general persecution broke out. Among these were Felician and Primus, two brothers.

Marcus and Marcellianus were twins, natives of Rome, and of noble descent. Their parents were heathens, but the tutors, to whom the education of the children was entrusted, brought them up as Christians. Their constancy at length subdued those who wished them to become pagans, and their parents and whole family became converts to a faith they had before reprobated. They were martyred by being tied to posts, and having their feet pierced with nails. After remaining in this situation for a day and a night, their sufferings were put an end to by thrusting lances through their bodies. Zoe, the wife of the jailer, who had the care of the before-mentioned martyrs, was also converted by them, and hung upon a tree, with a fire of straw lighted under her. When her body was taken down, it was thrown into a river, with a. large stone tied to it, in order to sink it.

In the year of Christ 286, a most remarkable affair occurred; legion of soldiers, consisting of six thousand six hundred and sixty-six men, contained none but Christians. This legion was called the Theban Legion, because the men had been raised in Thebias: they were quartered in the east until the emperor Maximian ordered them to march to Gaul, to assist him against the rebels of Burgundy. They passed the Alps into Gaul, under the command of Mauritius, Candidus, and Exupernis, their worthy commanders, and at length joined the emperor. Maximian, about this time, ordered a general sacrifice, at which the whole army was to assist; and like-wise he commanded that they should take the oath of allegiance and swear, at the same time, to assist in the extirpation of Christianity in Gaul. Alarmed at these orders, each individual of the Theban Legion absolutely refused either to sacrifice or take the oaths prescribed. This so greatly enraged Maximian, that he ordered the legion to be decimated, that is, every tenth man to be selected from the rest, and put to the sword. This bloody order having been put in execution, those who remained alive were still inflexible, when a second decimation took place, and every tenth man of those living was put to death. This second severity made no more impression than the first had done; the soldiers preserved their fortitude and their principles, but by the advice of their officers they drew up a loyal remonstrance to the emperor. This, it might have been presumed, would have softened the emperor, but it had a contrary effect: for, enraged at their perseverance and unanimity, he commanded that the whole legion should he put to death, which was accordingly executed by the other troops, who cut them to pieces with their swords, September 22, 286.

Alban, from whom St. Alban’s, in Hertfordshire, received its name, was the first British martyr. Great Britain had received the Gospel of Christ from Lucius, the first Christian king, but did not suffer from the rage of persecution for many years after. He was originally a pagan, but converted by a Christian ecclesiastic, named Amphibalus, whom he sheltered on account of his religion. The enemies of Amphibalus, having intelligence of the place where he was secreted, came to the house of Alban; in order to facilitate his escape, when the soldiers came, he offered himself up as the person they were seeking for. The deceit being detected, the governor ordered him to be scourged, and then he was sentenced to be beheaded, June 22, AD 287.

The venerable Bede assures us, that, upon this occasion, the executioner suddenly became a convert to Christianity, and entreated permission to die for Alban, or with him. Obtaining the latter request they were beheaded by a soldier, who voluntarily undertook the task of executioner. This happened on the twenty-second of June, AD 287, at Verulam, now St. Alban’s, in Hertfordshire, where a magnificent church was erected to his memory about the time of Constantine the Great. The edifice, being destroyed in the Saxon wars, was rebuilt by Offa, king of Mercia and a monastery erected adjoining to it, some remains of which are still visable are still visible, and the church is a noble Gothic structure.

Faith, a Christian female, of Acquitain, in France, was ordered to be broiled upon a gridiron, and then beheaded; AD 287.

Quintin was a Christian, and a native of Rome, but determined to attempt the propagation of the Gospel in Gaul, with one Lucian they preached together in Amiens; after which Lucian went to Beaumaris, where he was martyred. Quintin remained in Picardy, and was very zealous in his ministry. Being seized upon as a Christian he was stretched with pulleys until his joints were dislocated; his body was then torn with wire scourges, and boiling oil and pitch poured on his naked flesh; lighted torches were applied to his sides and armpits; and after he had been thus tortured, he was remanded back to prison, and died of the barbarities he had suffered, October 31, AD 287. His body was sunk in the Somme.

John Foxe-Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

CHAPTER I-XII

HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN MARTYRS TO THE FIRST GENERAL PERSECUTIONS UNDER NERO

XII. Bartholomew

Preached in several countries, and having translated the Gospel of Matthew into the language of India, he propagated it in that country. He was at length cruelly beaten and then crucified by the impatient idolaters.

John Foxe-Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

CHAPTER I-V

HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN MARTYRS TO THE FIRST GENERAL PERSECUTIONS UNDER NERO

V. James the Less

Is supposed by some to have been the brother of our Lord, by a former wife of Joseph. This is very doubtful, and accords too much with the Catholic superstition, that Mary never had any other children except our Savior. He was elected to the oversight of the churches of Jerusalem; and was the author of the Epistle ascribed to James in the sacred canon. At the age of ninety-four he was beat and stoned by the Jews; and finally had his brains dashed out with a fuller’s club.

John Foxe-Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

We can know Christ by the Spirit

September 27, 2012 Leave a comment

But some will say, “How can we remember Christ’s person, when we never saw it? We cannot tell what was the peculiar form of his visage; we believe his countenance to be fairer than that of any other man-although through grief and suffering more marred-but since we did not see it, we cannot remember it, we never saw his feet as they trod the journeys of his mercy; we never beheld his hands as he stretched them out full of lovingkindness; we cannot remember the wondrous intonation of his language, when in more than seraphic eloquence, he awed the multitude, and chained their ears to him, we cannot picture the sweet smile that ever hung on his lips nor that awful frown with which he dealt out anathemas against the Pharisees; we cannot remember him in his sufferings and agonies for we never saw him.” Well, beloved, I suppose it is true that you cannot remember the visible appearance, for you were not then born, but do you not know that even the apostle said, though he had known Christ after the flesh, yet, thenceforth after the flesh he would know Christ no more. The natural appearance, the race, the descent, the poverty, the humble garb, were nothing in the apostle’s estimation of his glorified Lord. And thus, though you do not know him after the flesh, you may know him after the spirit; in this manner you can remember Jesus as much now as Peter, or Paul, or John, or James, or any of those favored ones who once trod in his footsteps, walked side by side with him, or laid their heads upon his bosom. Memory annihilates distance and over leapeth time, and can behold the Lord, though he be exalted in glory.

Charles H. Spurgeon—The Remembrance of Christ—A sermon delivered on Sabbath Evening January 7th 1855