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Authentic Christianity: Counting the Cost (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
July 15, 2020 6:00 am

Authentic Christianity: Counting the Cost (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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July 15, 2020 6:00 am

Bible teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan shares inspirational lessons that can be learned from the Apostle Paul about living an authentic Christian life, changing the culture and serving the broken world around us. (Part 1 of 2) (Original air date: June 22, 2017)

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This season of your life are always moving forward single hood marrieds, parenting, and through it all focus on the family is alongside you.

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This is John Fuller. Please remember, let us know how you're listening to these programs on a podcast app or website. When you shape culture is by living out the message of shalom marriage and family, business, recreation, as others see it like the prisoners in the jail drawn to God for God's calling for all Christians is that we live in such a way that we transform those around us and the culture rate vendor lawn is gifted to teaching that concept is our guest today on Focus on the Family your hostess focus. President Jim Daly and on John Fuller the John were always excited and privilege to spend time with Ray vendor lawn from that the world may know ministries and the host of the DVD series writer from Focus on the Family Ray or RBL as most people call him uses his unique gifts to look at ancient culture helps us to apply it to our lives in the culture today, which is what God wants us to do. And on that note, we seen so many opportunities during this health crisis to reach out and serve others to authentically live out our Christian faith.

When times are challenging people are looking for hope in this is an opportunity to share our hope in Christ, and the things that matter most and Ray has some very unique compelling perspectives to share. He's a religion instructor at Holland Christian schools in Holland, Michigan. He leads Bible tours to the Middle East and as you mentioned, Jimmy's host of very popular that the world may know video series here now is our conversation with Ray vendor lawn Ray welcome back. Thank you. What an honor. I'm excited Jean and I had a chance to be with you in Israel and its life-changing is grueling great widow to sell the program for me, I'd say that's really hard a lot of hiking, but it's the right thing to do, what you trying to set when people view the series that the world may know, it's always with a live group, a group that you are taking, what are you doing physically, emotionally, spiritually in the series with those that go and actually experience what you try to do with them for me the part of understanding God's word is to recognize that God put it in a certain time and place, because that's where it best fit. It's true, always throughout all history, but it fits into a time and place.

So I love to go there or to do it by video to create the setting and say here's what God put theirs. The culture is the geography.

Here's the topography is the history how does that help us understand the story that God is bringing out at that particular moment, reading the Bible in context. I call it, so I want to get an audience that steps away from their modern world shuts off their cell phones gets off the bus hikes a few miles that always takes your mind completely away from what's so important in our lives and to get back as close as possible into the world of the biblical story as it would've been then and then to read God's word and to discover there is power in that setting. I liken it to a diamond you know you can buy your wife a beautiful diamond but it's the setting that makes that diamond stand out in all its glory and the setting.

God picked does exactly that to his story that is a great analogy.

In fact Ray.

That's my love you bringing things that have happened in the Scripture right to modern day application. So when you look at Paul standing before the court in Philippi.

What sticks out to you in in those stories. What grabbed and says I can apply this to my life today that such a good question and and I sit here and it's it's a little bit frustrating in a way because that's a question that I like about an hour and I now because it's it it gets right at the heart of the matter. Let's start this way when I got to Philippi the first time through the eyes of someone that God had put in my life. A professor named Kostas Calaveras, who unfortunately passed away recently.

A brilliant brilliant scholar from Boston College in in the United States but Greek through his eyes.

Something dawned on me as I sat there on the hill of Philippi right out in front of the hill of Philippi is a plane of flat, open area called the plane of drama and he said will do you know the plane of drama and I said no I know the story Philippi but I don't know drama. He said then you don't know Philippi. I did not realize how important to world history.

That spot was, because about a generation and 1/2 before Paul got there there was a conflict in the Roman world between the Republicans. Sorry I don't mean that politically, but those who wanted a Republic.

The Senators right and the imperialists. Those who thought of Rome as an empire, so the Senators or the Republic supporters assassinated Julius Caesar who wanted an empire. In response, his adopted son, Octavian, and one of his generals Mark Anthony decided to teach the conspirators a lesson so they raise an army and headed east to teach Cassius and Brutus a lesson for having assassinated Julius Caesar, Cassius and Brutus raised an army in the East and came last, and Matt at the foot of the hill of Philippi on the plane of drama and that battle was going to determine whether Rome was an empire with an Emperor who will call himself God, or whether Rome would be a Republic, a democracy, we all know Octavian and Anthony one and Rome became an imperial power.

So when Paul headed to Philippi, he came on the very same road that those armies came to meet. But Paul was coming with another kingdom, not the kingdom of this world, not Imperial Rome. Not a kingdom that called its temporary God and the message about the Emperor gospel, but the kingdom of Jesus.

And so when he arrived at Philippi. There were two very conflicting kingdoms and what's interesting to me is that Paul does not address the political situation of his day and all he doesn't criticize the Emperor. He doesn't criticize the immorality of the Empire, Paul simply proclaims and lives Jesus Christ Lord and Savior, but the implications of that are a confrontation for the claims of Imperial Rome. So there's the setting I love them all and I sat there on that hill for for an hour and 1/2 just with my hair standing on him thinking wow. In a sense, God brought those two kingdoms that have been in this world. Since Satan came to the Garden of Eden brought them together right there in the city of Philippi very same spot very same spot.

Now that led then to our unpacking the various lessons that you can find in the story of Philippi in acts chapter 16 and one of those is the one you asked about which is Paul being brought to the bay. Mom so when Paul and Silas arrived at Philippi. There are two kingdoms in a way, one representing the kingdoms of this world with a very different set of standards and beliefs in God's and one the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the fact that those two kingdoms met in Philippi really moved me deeply because that's where we all want to live.

We ought to be living in this world with all of its kingdoms claiming allegiance of all kinds of things but we claim the allegiance that we give our allegiance to Jesus Christ alone. And if we live that consistently would have the same problems. Paul had really ask you this, just for clarification. Why was the Roman Empire with this loan missionary Paul, why would they have even taken notice of, and why did it become a conflict. What was he saying that was so offensive, he's preaching peace.

Love your neighbor love one another. Love your God, and really what you're asking is what's inset for 50 because I'd love to have the whole 2 1/2 hours.

That's what we exactly unpacked in each lesson because there are five stories in X 16 and 17 that we look at but let me draw something out of there and give you an example.

After Paul had been in Philippi for a while. A small group of people had become believers. So now there's a community of faith whose living out an example of what it is like to live for Jesus.

In that context, there's a young girl in this. This was one of those moments. I wept as I unpacked the story the first time there's a young girl, a slave girl in the word there refuse probably six, seven, eight years old who is owned by a consortium of people and she was brought apparently to the pagan temple of Apollo somewhere and they invited the demonic spirit of Apollo to enter her and to take over her no Apollo in their world think the Oracle in Adelphi which is the main center of Apollo worship. Apollo was believed to grant the right to some to predict the future.

So this little girl would go around giving ecstatic utterances which either she or her owners would interpret to tell you what was going to happen in the future and they made a lot of money doing that, she latched onto Paul in the Bible, so she began to follow him around yelling day and night, these men are followers of the most high God there telling you a way to be saved. That sounds really religious really Christian. Almost. But most high God to that audience could have meant anybody from Jupiter to if you're Egyptian to almond rock SunGard movement is accurate. So she's just saying they're claiming a most high God and save their to a Greek or Roman would demand safer missions and go to heaven. It would mean that God will preserve you from some problem in the Bible says and I love the King James translation here.

I think it gets at the nuance of the word that Paul was grieved in his spirit at this little kid who is being used by her owners to make. Imagine filled with his demonic power so he confronted the girl, but he didn't speak to her. He spoke to the spirit and commanded that the spirit come out of her, which it did on us can predict the future anymore. Her owners were furious because in the Roman world.

My property is far more important than the life of someone else.

So they are overjoyed that this little girl is back to normal.

She's lost their valor value to them like she's lost her value to them so they drag Paul into the Agoura into the heart of the said city center of Philippi and they bring him to the bay mama which is the official platform where justice is administered and the accused him of teaching things contrary to Roman custom and practice so they beat Paul within an inch of his life and Silas as well have them flogged, which is a brutal brutal treatment something like was done to Jesus's may have been more extreme, but they were beaten there backs would've been bloodied and and and shredded and then thrown into the inner prison and placed in stocks. No stocks in the Roman worlds were used, they would put your feet in this implement and then stretch your legs apart until your legs are ready to come out of joint, now the question that raises for me is Paul uses Roman citizenship can do that to a Roman citizen. Somehow he was dressed as a Jew he acted like a Jew he's accused of being a Jew, but nobody knows he's a Roman. He could have gotten out of that treatment by claiming his Roman citizenship.

Now why in this case, doesn't he claim Roman citizenship.

When seven years later, when he's brought in front of the Roman authorities in Caesarea.

He claims Roman ship and even the right to go to the Emperor. Well, let's go a little farther with the story. He's put in prison which was a frightening thing prison for Romans was not a penalty. That's not a punishment you're put in prison until we can decide what to do to you. So the likelihood is when you're put in prison. What's going to happen tomorrow is worse than what happened today, but he still doesn't declare his Roman citizenship. In fact, the text says about midnight Paul and Silas imagine his legs may have been stretched to the point of coming out of joint is back to shredded nobody's curing form. He's sitting in this awkward position in the inner cell it says of the prison. He and Silas were praying and singing hymns. I thought about that for a while and then I remembered Psalm 119 which says though the wicked may bind me at midnight. I will sing your praises and I wonder if Paul thought what the Bible says when they do this to us working to do what the Bible says working to praise God. I often thought Paul's laying there in serious pain is a Silas I can't sleep. Let's sing a number you got one thing so I think Paul is sitting there saying Silas. The Bible says when they bind you at midnight sing God's praises. Let's say, well, as they were singing it says the other prisoners were listening but there was somebody else listening to because suddenly God sent an earthquake, and if you're familiar with your Bible you know that a dramatic moments in history like Jesus resurrection or his death earthquake hit in the earthquake leveled the prison and the prisoners were all free to go to run. Paul and Silas good around, but they all stayed there they sat there were free to go. The jailer came running in thinking the prisoners had escaped, and by Roman law. His life was finished he was going to be executed.

You can't lose a prisoner so he came running in with his sword ready to kill himself.

Now why would he want to kill himself. Well, maybe to be spared the torture that he could expect from his superiors when they discovered the jail was empty. Some scholars and cost us the.

The advisor I had was one of them is that I don't think so. In Roman law, if you're accused of a crime and executed for your family is sold into slavery and you lose everything. But if you commit suicide that's considered honorable.

Your family will survive and they will inherit your property. I think it's more likely that man not a believer had morality enough in his heart to Sam to protect my family with the last thing I do. And Paul said don't do it, were all here and the impact of this man, realizing I had him beaten within an inch of his life. I put them in the stocks I didn't treat his wounds, but he still protected my life by not running away.

He risked his life for me was so profound that he lays himself at Paul and Silas, his feet and says what must I do to be saved. I don't think save their means what Christians mean because he wouldn't know anything about sin, and in any event, I think, save means, what must I do to be delivered from this world of mine. If I my commander would've done this for me. Jupiter would have done this for me what you did for me even though I don't deserve it. What must I do, and then it says and Paul went to his house and taught him the word of God. So now he had to explain what being saved means my point though back to your question all of that to say.

Notice what it was that impacted the jailer.

The earthquake didn't convert him. It was the realization that Paul would risk his life for someone who didn't deserve it right and I even wonder. And this is just our vehicles question so if I'm not suggesting it's anything profound. I wondered why the other prisoners stayed that had been written is so affected by Paul and Silas, singing in the middle of the night to their God, that they wanted to become part of that. I don't know any way to cut to the chase. The next morning the officials from the town sent word to the jail. Paul is still there and said let them go.

I don't know if they thought the earthquake was assigned from their gods or what. And Paul says what I'm a Roman citizen you beat me without a trial. And not just going to say go away. I want an official apology and an escort and now he declares a citizenship when it is to do them any good, but it's not good to prevent his beating is not going to prevent him from being in prison day be free right now. Why, that's a good question. I think I think in this is opinion. I found from a number of different thinkers all the way back to the early church.

Paul wanted the validation of his message to be not a Moron citizen in this Roman city. I don't want you to be listened to me because I'm Roman. I want to listen to me because of the validity of the message but now that you've heard the message and it's been validated by God himself. Now I'm going to declare my citizenship because in this town is a little community of believers slave girl jailer, his family, Lydia the dealer in purple and her family and it's a risky business to be believers in the Roman city like this and I think Paul is covering for them. I think Paul is saying if anything happens to that little community I'm going to go to the nearest governor and I'm gonna tell them what you guys did to me as a Roman citizen. I think Paul is providing some protection for the believers. So in this case he chooses not to use the very citizenship that in another case is what he does in order to get to see the Emperor himself are VL the man I mean this is flying by and I love this kind, a history and back with all the tap room right now you may be looking for ways to attain and encourage her family would like to help you do just that by giving you a 28 day free trial of the adventures in Odyssey club you can find our back catalog of adventures in Odyssey programs.

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