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The Persecuted Church

 

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Who is Jesus is a question that has been debated and discussed by philosophers and religions ever since Jesus first asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” At that time “they answered, “Some say John the Baptist;  some say, Elijah; and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Mt.16:15;Mk.8:27).

The disciples were presented the question that has stood echoing down through all the ages.  Their response was the opinion of the people all around them, some say John the Baptist- John who came out of the wilderness and was a fiery preacher proclaiming repentance. Yet he was pointing to the Messiah who would come after him. 

Herod being guilt ridden after he beheaded John thought that he came back as Jesus. As it was believed in Judaism, that those who died as martyrs, should rise again before others.

So the teaching was that he was an ancient prophet come back- as some said Elijah. Elijah was a prophet, and a miracle worker who had nature obey him. The people had watched Jesus do miracles in nature such as calming the sea and they had just come from seeing him feed the 4,000 with few loaves and fish.  Malachi’s prophecy Behold, I will send you Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord seemed to fit his ministry, so he was mistaken for Elijah.

 Matthew’s account adds to Marks shortened version, another opinion the people held is that he was Jeremiah. Because he was broken, he was a man of sorrows despised and rejected by the very people he came to save and he often cried for them. Although he filled people with joy he did not go around the country mostly jubilant but saddened, even awed at times from their unbelief in refusing to believe in who he claimed to be.

Another opinion, he was one of the prophet’s. This was the more popular held notion since they did not know which one of the prophets he actually was. They knew him to be a prophet because of his message of repentance.  Some had even identified him as the prophet that Moses foretold would come into the world. Jn.6 then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did (that is feeding the 5 thousand) said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.”  John 1:43 “The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.”  Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.  Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”   Philip brings Nathanael to Jesus, and as he sees him approaching saw said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”  Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”  Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Notice that Nathanael identifies Jesus as the prophet Moses foretold and as the Messiah, Son of God and King of Israel. How did he know?  Prov. 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.”  2 Chron.16:8  For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” So when Jesus described his character and that he saw him before he was under the fig tree He was saying I knew you even before you were born.

Today there are those who are claiming Christianity who have a more confused and a far less truthful opinion of who Jesus is. To some he’s an angel, or only a man or just one in a procession of light bearers from the different religions. Even though we have the Gospel testimonies and the teachings of the epistles for over 1900 years have not shed more light on this person. 

After all his miracles and teachings he now poses the same question to his closest followers, he made it more personal.   He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Do you have a different or better opinion of me? There seems to be little hesitance as Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ ”(Mark 8:27-29). Matthew’s account adds the whole statement, “the Son of the living God.” Marks gospel is known to be written  under Peters authorization. Peter neglects a number of important points of this account with the questions Jesus asked the disciples. His full revelation of who Jesus is, the commendation from Jesus, his name change, the giving of the keys to bind and loose.

They all should have known who he was after being with him for a year and a half, but the disciples were not absolutely sure to what to say. 

It took Peter acting impulsively as a spokesman for the disciples to speak up, and in one of those rare times he was right.  Peter was not afraid to speak up, he didn’t know he was right because it was a revelation from the Father at the time.

However, Peter was not the first to know he was the messiah, in John 1:40-49 Andrew, Simon Peter's brother after hearing John introduce Jesus as the lamb of God finds his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ).  And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).” Here Peter at the outset has his name changed by Jesus.

To the Jewish mindset of the day this declaration of being “the Son of the living God” meant he was God, 

Literally in Greek, "of God the Living One” (Adam Clarke's Commentary), or in a simpler description "the eternal one". Now we need to see how the Bible records what the Son of God means. The Pharisees were upset because of His claims, “The Jews answered by our law He ought to die, because He made himself the Son of God.”(Jn.19:7) The Jews understood this as a unique claim, it would not have any significance if it only meant he claimed to be a man. They knew what he meant when he said I and my father are one in Jn.10:30. I realize there is never enough sufficient proof for those who deny his true deity as in the same manner there is never enough proof for an atheist who does not want to believe that God exists. In Jn.10:33 the Pharisees react to his claim by saying “because you being a man make yourself to be God.” They understood what He meant and picked up stones to kill him. Jesus responds in v.36 “do you say of Him who the Father set apart and sent into the world, you are blaspheming, because I said I am the Son of God?” Here Jesus interprets what he meant when he said they are one, that he is the Son in deity and that the Father sent him.

The Pharisees had to deal with the same question of is identity except they knew who he was claiming to be. Before his trial he is brought before the Pharisees and the high priest said to Him “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” Jesus said to him, “It is as you said.” (Matt 26:63-64) They already knew that He claimed He was deity but they wanted to hear it from His own mouth to incriminate Him on blasphemy.

Take away this confession of truth, and the universal church falls to the ground. If Christ is not the eternal Son of God, Christianity is just another religion no better or worse than all that came before or afterwards. The unique claim of Jesus as the son separates his personhood and his revelation from any of the prophets. 

If  this confession is taken away from any  church, it ceases being a part of Christ's church.

Mt.16:17 Records Peter was blessed by Jesus saying, “for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Similarly, Paul was revealed the gospel in the same manner as he writes in Gal.1:12: “For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” One needs a revelation from God to know who Jesus is and understand the gospel.

Jesus sees the Fathers approval on Peter as this revelation came from him in heaven. So he blesses him, changes his name and promises to give him authority to bind an loose (later it is given to all in Mt.18:18).

Matt 16:18-20: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” And after this Jesus instructed them to tell no one.

The rock was the confession of Peter’s revelation, this is why he is commended. This is something the Father testified all through Christ’s ministry. Sometimes it was audible as at the baptism and the transfiguration when the Father spoke “this is my beloved son” and accompanied it by supernatural signs.  

It was not Peter who was the rock for the OT of which both he And Paul are using all agree on whom the rock is. Ps.18:31: “For who is our God except the Lord and who is our rock except our God. who is the church built on?  In 1  Cor.3:10 Paul claims to as a master builder saying there is “no other foundation that can be laid, which is Jesus Christ. Christ is the one we build on and if built on any other it will not endure the fire of testing our work. “If anyone’s work which he has built on endures, he will receive a reward”(1 Cor.3:14).

 Throughout the Old Testament the rock was synonymous with God 2 Sam 22:32: “For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?”

Ps. 62:2: “He only is my rock and my salvation” Ps. 95:1: “calls God, “ the Rock of our salvation”

Moses was told by the Lord in Exod 17:6: “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” 

Paul using the OT example explains in 1 Cor. 10:4: “and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.”

The altars built in the OT were a type of the rock who was God. They were altars of offering and sacrifice, The rock that was laid in Zion was the foundation stone and the Church was built on this rock a offering and sacrifice. The Church is made of those who confess just as Peter (through revelation) that he was the Son of the living God, meaning-God- the savior. This is why they were told not to tell others what Peter had said, but to allow others to come to this conclusion on their own.

The Builder and Maker of the church is Christ himself; as he states, “I will build ” The Church is a living temple which is a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit and we are temple made up of living stones which He is building together. That the holy Spirit dwells within each believer and the temple grows as more are added.  Peter writing to the Christians dispersed through the Roman provinces in Asia (1 Peter 1:1) in 1 Pt.2:5:  You also as living stones are being built up to a spiritual house” (Greek-oikodomeisthe oikos pneumatikos). 

Heb.3 “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.” V.6 “But Christ as a Son over his own house whose house we are.” Christ is the head of the house which is the body of Christ. He is the architect (the builder) of all things (Col.1:15-17) The Church is Christ's body, nourished by Him. Christ is the foundation and many metaphors are given such as we are branches in him the true vine, as we are connected to Him out flows life and nourishment for our growth. Christ is the head of the body, together and as individuals we are directed by Him and receive our life from him.

The different Baptisms of the New Testament The Nephilim of Gen.6 Angelology      Hell 

  Martyr's of the early church      

   The New Covenant    Which day did Jesus Die and Resurrect   
   Sermon on the Mount   Eternal Security The two Adams and the Two trees 
Melchizedek priesthood   Soul Sleep The Thief on the Cross and Paradise 
  The Transfiguration   The Feast of Chanukah Original sin      Blasphemy of the Spirit   
  The Book of Life Pleading the blood of Jesus   The Cross Could Jesus have sinned ? 
The Christmas Story The Resurrection of Jesus    Why do believers suffer?
Theological Terms and Definitions Walking in the Spirit  Teaching, prayer and the will of God

 

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