Christianity’s Contributions: Lives changed (Part 1)

Jesus Christ had a mission–to save us all from our sins.  He clearly says that in His encounter with Zacchaeus: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).  As Jesus accomplished that mission, He sent the apostles out to spread the Good News.  Paul admits that in 1 Timothy 2:4-5, stating that God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.”  As Jesus came into people’s lives,  lives were changed dramatically.

The first lives to change in a dramatic way were the 12 Apostles.  After Judas betrayed Jesus and had Him arrested, all of the Apostles fled in fear.  At the trial of Jesus, only Peter and John were nearby, and Peter denied knowing Jesus when confronted.  Yet after the crucifixion, Jesus appeared to the eleven Apostles who had been hiding (Judas had hung himself).  Upon seeing the risen Savior, these eleven men’s lives would never be the same again.  Taking the Lord’s Great Commission to heart and sharing the Gospel, they spread out from Jerusalem.

Eventually all the Apostles but one would die for the faith.  The Apostle John lived to be very old and died of natural causes.  All the others were martyrs–they knew the truth and were willing to die for it–that Jesus was the Son of God and Savior of the World.   They had gone from cowering in fear to courageously speaking the truth, and were willing to die  for it.

Another life that was changed was the Apostle Paul.  He went from being a persecutor of the Early Church to being persecuted himself for the faith. According to 2 Corinthians  11:23-27, he endured  prison, whippings, beatings, shipwrecks, dangerous places, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, and nakedness.  Paul suffered through all of this for the sake of preaching the Good News about Jesus as the Savior of all.

In addition to the Eleven and Paul, the Early Church was full of changed people.  These believers lived in a Roman Empire with many gods and goddesses, yet they worshiped only Jesus. Even though the Romans were inclusive to all religious beliefs, Christians maintained that Jesus was the only way of salvation.  They knew Jesus’ words from John 14:6.  He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  These Christians wouldn’t pour libation out (wine or oil) for these Roman gods or goddesses.

In addition, these early Christians were changed in their lifestyle.  Instead of acting as the other Romans did, they lived lives which followed the teachings of the Bible.  A Christian apologist, Minucius Felix, records a Roman complaint about the Christians: “You do not attend our shows; you take no part in our processions; you are not present at our public banquets; you abhor the sacred (gladiatorial) games.”  Because these believers wanted to live according to God’s design for their life, they were viewed as abnormal and deserving punishment.  Persecution for a moral lifestyle in accord with God’s Word was their payment.

Consequently, more intense persecution for faithfulness to Jesus and a godly lifestyle followed.  The Roman Empire would seek to stamp out the change that these people had experienced.  Yet in spite of these attacks, the Christian church grew.  More on that in the next blog.

 

 

 

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