Thursday, July 17, 2014

Obedient to the Faith

7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” 15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6:7-15 (ESV)
Hey I’m back, I didn’t post anything  yesterday because my computer more or less crashed on Tuesday, and I spent yesterday trying to recover everything, also much of this morning. It’s frustrating because I lost an esv App that I really enjoyed. I thought it was Olive Tree, but it was not, and Olive Tree has shown itself to be worthless. Now I’m using ESV Online which is better, but I don’t like needing internet access to use the Bible on my computer. I don’t have Logos or any other such expensive software either. So… I’m making do until I can find something better.
And a great many priest became obedient to the faith. I’ll harp again. The reformed know how to butcher translation and make square pegs fit in round holes when it comes to translation. Thankfully the Holy Spirit knows how to work despite their best efforts. The word that the ESV keeps translating obey, or obedient, has the prefix for hyper, and the verb “to hear”. It means obey in the same way listen means obey. It can have that connotation where the context allows for it. I just don’t think the context allows for it here unless you drastically butcher the meaning of Christianity and make it into a system of law, which the reformed are prone to do. Other translations a person might have are, became adherents of the faith, or began to heed the faith, or became subject to the faith. The idea though is even priests, most of whom were Sadducees to begin with, were now becoming believers. The faith was gaining traction even in the camp of the opponents.
But as the disciples multiply greatly so does the opposition to the gospel. Stephen who would discuss his religion with friends and others interested is seized by those from the synagogue of the freedmen. These would have been Greek speaking Jews, like Stephen. It is more than probably that this was Stephen’s home synagogue before he became Christian and a place where he would still go to hear the word of God and worship. It is even probable that he was speaking of Christ in the same manner as Paul would when he visited the synagogues of the Roman world. At the time after the reading of the word, they would allow men to give explanations of the word, as we see with Jesus Christ when he visits the synagogue in Nazareth. The sermons would often be in the form discussions. The same form as often takes place today in a Bible Study, or at Children’s sermons. The discussions could become lively, points going back and forth, others joining in every now and then asking for clarification, or just sitting back and watching the show. But as Stephen wins more and more converts to the faith, the people get upset. They seize him and put him on trial. When you read the charges, you can see the sorts of things that Stephen spoke about as he witnessed to the gospel from the distortions.

“This man never ceases to speak against this place and the law.”  Now we are full circle back to “became obedient to the faith.” Stephen will talk of the resurrection, he will talk about how we have been freed from the law, and the “Tradition of the Elders.” He would talk about how Jesus is the true temple, in whom God tabernacled amongst us. How he was crucified and rose again from the dead. How this put an end to the need for the Temple. But today you find evangelism programs that talk about anything but this sort of thing. In fact people go to church their whole lives and here nothing of these things. Instead evangelism centers around marriage seminars, and parenting tips. People gather teenagers together and spend the whole time talking about why they shouldn’t have sex, and never get around to talking about how they have been sanctified by the blood of Christ, washed and justified in the waters of baptism. It’s all law! And half of it is law on par of the tradition of the Elders, which replaced even God’s law with the law of man. It’s hypocritical Bull Skubala! And it squashes Christian freedom. We’ve made the faith into a bunch of laws to be obedient too. We only like to think that the gospel in all of it is that our laws are easier to follow than the Jewish laws because we don’t prohibit the eating of bacon. I have news for you, they aren’t. They crush, they bind, and they make a mockery of God’s law. Yes it is a mockery of God’s law when we write books that condemn the idea that a man or even a boy should be able to ask a girl out on a date and get to know her before beginning a “courtship” with her. This is particularly egregious when such skubala is passed off as “the Lutheran way.” We aren’t evangelizing, we are trying to sell a lifestyle and get people to buy into our phobias. But that was one thing Stephen didn’t have, even in the face of death itself he would evangelize and speak of our Lord who conquered death that though we die we would never perish. 

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