Why I Hunt

AF1Fall is drawing to a close, and with it another hunting season.  I went out a few times but didn’t have much success.  A lot of my friends, don’t understand why I hunt.  “There is a supermarket right down the street from your house, wouldn’t it be cheaper to get your meat there?”  Well, yes it would.  Perhaps the most common criticism I hear of hunters goes something like this, “How could you destroy such a beautiful creature?”

A  friend of mine recently “harvested,” his first bull elk.  Harvest is the word hunters use when we want to talk about our successful hunt, but don’t want to offend our softer friends.  The truth is, my friend killed an elk.  One minute the animal was alive, minding it’s own business, the next, my friend shot it with a high-powered rifle, and it was dead.  My friend put a picture of his elk on Instagram, along with some very thought provoking and honest comments about his emotions at having killed this magnificent animal.

The truth is, hunters kill beautiful creatures.  But hunters have realized an age elkold truth.  In order for me to remain alive, something must die.  Most of my friends, with the “beautiful creature” argument are personally responsible for the deaths of countless cows, pigs, turkeys and chickens every year.  Just because we as a society have hired a group of people to do the dirty work of killing for us, does not make us less responsible for the death of the cow who was the burger we just ate.  People who are opposed to hunting have tricked themselves (subconsciously) into thinking that since the sights, sounds and smells of a meat processing plant are far away from them, they are not associated with the death.  This keeps our houses and yards clean, but it shouldn’t affect our conscious.  

Unfortunately, one can’t avoid the truth that being alive requires the death of something else even as a vegetarian or a vegan.  The plants you eat, the house you live in, the roads you drive on all require land.  That land displaces animals, this displacement leads to death and decreased population of animals.  The same can be said for the mining operations from which we all derive almost all the materials we use on a daily basis.  It’s time to be honest with yourself.  Your life comes at the cost of something else’s life.  The sorrow that all new hunters feel after killing is a reminder of that cost.

lambIf I was not a Christian, my argument would end there.  These truths hold for believers and unbelievers alike.  But as a christian, I can make an even stronger case for hunting within the same set of reasons.  After Adam committed the first sin, God promised a deliverer.  Genesis 3:21 then says “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”  Where did these garments come from?  In Verse 7 Adam and Eve “sewed fig leaves together,” but these must have been inadequate, for God had to kill something in order that Adam and Eve might go on living.  One of the first consequences of sin was that something had to die.
The Old Testament is bathed in the blood of “beautiful creatures.”  Those creatures’ death was necessary to reconcile a sinful people to a holy God.  But the new testament does away with such gory sacrifice.  Or does it?  When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming he said “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)  By “lamb,” John meant the sacrificial lamb, referring to Old Testament law.  The lamb that would be slaughtered on the day of atonement.  See Leviticus 5.  Or perhaps he was referring to the passover lamb, slaughtered and it’s blood placed on the doorpost so that death would not visit the house. (Exodus 12).  Christ himself charged his disciples to celebrate his blood poured out for us, and his body broken for us. (Luke 22:7-23)

The wages of sin are death.  There is no way around that.  Christ died in my place, once and for all, so that I might live.  Hunting doesn’t make this any moreGun Dog1 or less true.  However, when I am faced with the uncomfortable truth that I have just destroyed a beautiful creature, I am reminded that the most beautiful creature, indeed the creator of all beautiful creatures, was destroyed for my continued life.  But, unlike any mere created thing, Christ’s sacrifice was perfect and final.  He has paid the final bill, so that one day we might be able to live without killing.  Until that day comes I will continue hunting.  And every time I harvest something, I will be reminded that my sins have a cost.

 

Heidelberg Catechism 57 and 58; On obtaining Eternal Life

On obtaining eternal life…

Click here to start from the beginning.

Click here to read the previous questions.

These questions refer to The Apostle’s Creed. Follow the link.

fortressQuestion 57

What comfort does the resurrection of the body afford you?

Scripture

Philippians 1:21-22

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.

2 Corinthians 5:8

Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Job 19:25-27

For I know that my Redeemer lives,

and at the last he will stand upon the earth.

And after my skin has been thus destroyed,

yet in my flesh I shall see God,

whom I shall see for myself,

and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

My heart faints within me!

1 John 3:2-3

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

John 5:28-29

Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Answer

That not only my soul, after this life, shall be immediately taken up to Christ its Head, but also that this my body, raised by the power of Christ, shall again be united with my soul, and made like unto the glorious body of Christ.

Question 58

What comfort do you have from the article of the life everlasting?

Scripture

II Corinthians 5:1-4; I Peter 1:8;

Romans 14:17

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 16:11

You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Isaiah 64:4

From of old no one has heard

or perceived by the ear,

no eye has seen a God besides you,

who acts for those who wait for him.

1 Corinthians 13:12

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Revelation 4:9-11; 5:9-14;

Revelation 7:15

“Therefore they are before the throne of God,

and serve him day and night in his temple;

and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.

Answer

That, inasmuch as I now feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, I shall after this life possess complete bliss, such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, therein to praise God forever.

Heidelberg Catechism 54, 55 and 56

Click here to start at the beginning.

Click here to study the previous questions.

All of the questions below refer to The Apostles’ Creed.  Which can be found behind the link.


photo-yosemite-valley-tunnel-view-21403Question 54

What do you believe concerning the holy catholic church?

Scripture

Deuteronomy 10:14-15

Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day.

Revelation 5:9-10

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll

and to open its seals,

for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God

from every tribe and language and people and nation,

and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,

and they shall reign on the earth.”

Isaiah 59:21

“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

Colossians 1:18

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

Isaiah 59:21

“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

Matthew 16:18

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Ephesians 1:10-13

as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

John 10:28-30

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

Psalm 23; Psalm 71; Romans 8; I John 1; I John 3

Answer

That out of the whole human race, from the beginning to the end of the world, the Son of God, by his Spirit and Word, gathers, defends, and preserves for himself unto everlasting life, a chosen communion [or people] in the unity of the true faith and that I am, and forever shall remain, a living member of the same.

Question 55

What do you understand concerning the communion of the saints?

Scripture

1 John 1:3

that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:4-6

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Ephesians 4:15-16

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Romans 8:32-39; I Corinthians 6:17; I Corinthians 12:4-7,12;

Acts 2:44-47; Romans 12:4-8; I Corinthians 12-13;

Answer

First, that believers, all and every one, as members of Christ, have part in him and in all his treasures and gifts. Secondly, that each one must feel himself bound to use his gifts, readily and cheerfully, for the advantage and welfare of other members.

Question 56

What do you believe concerning the forgiveness of sins?

Scripture

1 John 1:7

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 2:2

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

II Corinthians 5:21

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Ephesians 1:7-8

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.

Psalm 103:10-12

He does not deal with us according to our sins,

nor repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,

so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

John 5:24

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Romans 4:7-8; Psalm 32; Jeremiah 31:34; Romans 8:1-4

Answer

That God, for the sake of Christ’s satisfaction, will no more remember my sins, neither the sinful nature with which I have to struggle all my life long; but graciously imparts to me the righteousness of Christ, that I may nevermore come into condemnation.

Church History week 1 AD 33-68

Church History from Acts to the Reformation 1500+ years in 12 weeks presented by Don Adams, Fall 2015 Catalina Foothills “Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses”

Welcome to church history.  Instead of being called “church history”, I would like us to think of this as a story of survival, of miraculous events, of intrigue and mystery. It’s a story of marvelous, selfless deeds, and of lives sacrificed to gain a greater joy. And it’s a story that continues to this day, although unless this story was written and fore-ordained by God, it would have ended shortly after it began. For a sub-title, I’m using Paul’s letter to one of the churches he founded in Corinth since it tells us something about our heritage and legacy.  We ARE surrounded by a great number of witnesses, people who have given all that they had and suffered greatly to receive a greater glory. And in our modern age, these witnesses urge us to go forward, not forsaking the cause of Christ, and always moving towards the end of the story when Christ returns or calls us home.

Why is Church History important?

  • Knowing where we came from helps us understand why we are here…and where we are now.
  • History gives a basis to what we believe and forms the foundation of our faith.
  • For the most part, we are in the dark on this period of history.
  • Knowledge is power: be sure of your defense Gives a Reason for why you believe (Apologetics – 1 Pet. 3:15)

Disclaimer: Church History, especially before the reformation, is a topic I know very little about. My research has been fairly exhaustive (meaning, I am exhausted), but I’m only using a few books, the main volumes written around the early 1900s. More recent authors always quote from these resources, mainly from the 8 volume collection by Phillip Schaff, The History of the Christian Church a Swiss born theologian who taught at the German Reformed Seminary in Pennsylvania in the 1860s. His desire was to unite the Protestant movement with Catholicism by pointing out the common beliefs, and the fallacies of papal infallibility. His son, David Schaff, completed the Church History book, and was not only a Presbyterian minister and seminary professor, but had a hand in bringing the game of football to the US (modified from the Rugby school in England, which he had attended).

The other main source I’m using is a book by Andrew Miller, also written at the turn of the 20th century, but taking a decidedly dispensational point of view.

Overview and Outline

Course overview:

  • Start with the book of Acts: what was the first church like? What was the state of the church at the close of the Apostolic Age ( 100 AD)?
  • What happened during the first three centuries?
  • What were the ramifications of Christianity becoming a “State Religion”?
  • Why did the church split into East and West?
  • How did the church in Rome become so powerful?
  • Who were the “church fathers” and how did they influence the direction of the church?
  • What were the biggest threats to the early church?
  • How were doctrinal conflicts resolved?
  • What was the nature of the church during the “Dark Ages”?
  • Were the Crusades really a “Holy War”?
  • What events lead up to the Reformation?

Here’s everything you need to know about church history:

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screenshot

Everything in green and orange was at one time part of the Roman Empire. It was true that all roads lead to Rome, and so that is where we begin. Actually a ways east of Rome in a tiny, but hostile and rebellious province of Rome that no one really wanted to be sent to: Judea.

Roman Judea

What a miserable place: hot, dry, and populated by rebellious and stubborn people with an ancient religion that rejected the idol worship of the Greeks and Romans, and was kept in constant turmoil due to cults that arose and threatened to destabilize the local government controlled by the Sanhedrin. There was an organized network of guerrilla fighters (the Zealots) who made life miserable for the Roman occupiers, and needed the heavy hand of Rome to be controlled. From this tiny outpost came a new religious movement that would literally change the world.

The State of the Church in 33 AD

  • 50 Days after the resurrection of Jesus: Pentecost (around May 22), the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples as promised by Jesus (Acts 1:3-5).
    • In 33 AD, there was no church. The key figure in a new religion had just been killed by crucifixion, a form of torture and death devised by the Romans and reserved for criminals and rebels. ( The church essentially began 50 days after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Until that time, most of the disciples and apostles (about 120 people) kept a low profile, getting further instruction from the Lord who appeared to them off and on for 40 days. When last ascended into heaven, he promised the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • They begin to boldly proclaim Jesus as Messiah and many Jews believed (Acts 2).
    • The disciples WERE filled by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and their boldness in witnessing suddenly increased. The new Christian church had begun, even though it still wasn’t called that.
  • Acts 2:41-47 describes the earliest “church”.

Growing Pains

  • Mostly Jewish believers who still went to synagogue and still held to the laws of Moses.
  • Peter and James (the brother of Jesus) were the leaders of the church in Jerusalem. They ministered specifically to the Jews.
  • The church included common folks, rabbis, priests, rich people and bond servants. As it grew, Greeks and Roman slaves came into the fellowship.
  • Acts 6:1 describes one of the first conflicts.Peter

But as the church grew, it became harder to manage and coordinate. Much like our church today, in any new church start up there is always a time of sweet fellowship and spiritual excitement. But the new wears off as other people come into the church, and conflicts always arise.  Peter is Pictured here in the holy robe of the Pope. Note the Keys to the kingdom, and other papal symbols. Painted by Peter Paul Rubens, 1500s.

The Church Spreads

  • Persecution in Jerusalem by the Jewish court authority, the Sanhedrin
  • Believers (Disciples) left Jerusalem for neighboring cities and provinces – even hated Samaria. But still in locations in Palestine.

Meanwhile, the church in Jerusalem was growing despite (or because of) persecution by the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court of law that Rome allowed to settle disputes of a religious or local nature. Peter was imprisoned by the Sanhedrin numerous times, the other apostles were beaten, Steven (a deacon) was stoned by fellow Jews… and the situation in Jerusalem was not good. Many of the believers (called disciples) went out with the gospel message of Jesus as Messiah. But most of the recruiting was done among Jews or “Godly” men and women who attended the local synagogue – i.e. converts to Judaism which included Roman soldiers and citizens, and Greeks who lived in the area.

Saul of Tarsus, a.k.a. Paul

  • Saul, a zealous, conservative Jew, is rounding up Christians for prison when he is converted to Christianity and becomes the mouthpiece of God “to the Jews first, and then to the Gentiles”

paullSaul, was a zealous Jew and hired gun of the Sanhedrin, persecuted the believers and pursued them to various places where he heard there were new converts. But he, too, was converted (Acts 9) and became to the Gentile believers, what Peter and James were to the Jewish believers. Paul was said to be a relatively small man, but tough and stocky.

 

 

 

The First Church Council, 49 AD

  • Acts 15:1-33 describes the reasons and the results. Paul and Barnabas were summoned to Jerusalem to debate and discuss the divisive issue that had been raised.
  • The issue: many of the Judean believers were from “the party of Pharisees”. These Pharisees told the new Gentile believers that they should still follow the laws of Moses (of which there are about 613).
  • Paul’s answer: vs 10 “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?”

16 years after the church began at Pentecost it was felt necessary to call a church council. The church had grown and spread at a phenomenal rate throughout the Roman empire, especially in Asia, Greece, northern Africa, and Rome itself. It was becoming recognized as a new religion. With success comes opposition and dissension (an attack by Satan). This attack came in the form of sincere, believing Jews, who could not separate their new belief from their past practices. Although the Gentiles understood the meaning of “grace” very well, the Jewish believers had a problem separating “saved by grace” from “keeping the rules”. This issue will come up many times in the future. (We still have that problem.) Paul and his missionary friend Barnabas go to Jerusalem to discuss with Peter and James and the others the matter of forcing the new believers to follow the laws of Moses. The first church council was called to settle this matter. All the church leaders from various places came together in Jerusalem to make a decision, which they did, and wrote it in a letter to that was to be carried to the churches (Acts 15. 19-20). This formed the model for church councils in the future. This was the first church council, and the last to be held in Jerusalem.

Paul’s Mission: Bring the Gospel to the Gentiles

  • Paul traveled extensively, but mostly to Syria, Turkey, and Greece (i.e. “Asia and Macedonia”) (see map below)
  • Eventually arrested for his own protection and brought to Rome.
  • The book of Acts ends with Paul in Rome, arrested for a second time, and living in a rented house, writing letters and talking to anyone who would listen about how Jesus is the Messiah. (63-67 AD)
Paul’s travels, by land and by sea. We have no concept of how hard it was to travel in those days, how long the voyages, and how fraught with dangers.
Paul’s travels, by land and by sea. We have no concept of how hard it was to travel in those days, how long the voyages, and how fraught with dangers.

Paul’s travels took him throughout most of “Asia”, now called Turkey, on 3 separate journey’s that are unbelievable for that time period, and would be very difficult (and expensive) even today. This second imprisonment, approximately 63-67 AD, occurred while Nero was the Caesar. From that time, till the writing of the book of Revelation, we really don’t know much about what happened to the church. Apparently it grew in Rome to the extent that it came to the attention of the emperor and was a sore spot to him, probably because they refused to worship him as a god. Persecution reached a climax under Nero in 64 AD. Peter and Paul probably martyred by Nero in 67 or 68 AD. Although it is not found in the NT records, Peter MAY have been in Rome for a short time. He was not in Jerusalem when the city and temple were destroyed in 70 AD, but the time and place of his death are not recorded. The Catholic tradition is that Peter was in Rome for a long period of time and established himself as the head of the church. This is not substantiated in any way in NT or other writings of that time. (The Persecution by Nero, 64-68 AD is the immediate fulfillment of the great tribulation of Matt. 24: 21 ff. The destruction of Jerusalem is pictured vividly by Jesus in that passage also.)

Persecution

  • The Roman government had up to this time been an unwitting protector of Christianity (i.e. Festus, Agrippa, and others).
  • Now it became the persecutor, and made every attempt to blot out the name of Jesus. Started with Claudius.
  • Terrible persecutions by Nero (64 AD) decimated the Christian population in Rome. Persecution spread to the provinces (especially Asia, Africa, and Judea).
  • Peter, who calls Rome “Babylon” probably killed in 64 AD by Nero, but no one knows where he was… possibly Rome, but maybe Judea, maybe Antioch, maybe Babylon.
  • Paul martyred a few years later (67-68?) in Rome.

If division from within won’t halt the progress of the church, maybe pressure from without would stop it. Most of the persecution up to this time was from the Jews within Judea. But around this time, as more Gentiles became believers, Christianity came under the scrutiny of the Roman government and believers were regularly rounded up, beaten, thrown into prison, and sometimes killed for their refusal to turn from the faith. This new religion did not worship the old idols and recognized a greater king than Caesar. Many Roman slaves (from conquered provinces) had turned to Christianity as their only hope, and the new belief spread like wildfire in Rome itself, much as the real fire that devastated Rome in 64 AD. This made it easy for emperors like Claudius and Nero to single out the Christians (as a distinct sect from the Jews) and make them the scapegoat for their failings. At a party for his subordinates, he used Christians covered in tar as torches to light the way to his palace. But he was not the only one: Herod Antipas in Judea, governors of other provinces, and emperors that followed Nero were bent on persecuting and eradicating Christianity. Peter was probably killed during Nero’s reign of terror, but no one really knows where or when. Paul also, imprisoned in Rome, either died in prison or was martyred during Nero’s term. Nero, in 68 AD, evidently believing the stories about him and his ability to resurrect himself, commits suicide in 68 AD. There follows a 3 year period when there were 4 emperors of Rome who basically killed off each other and put an end to the Julian family dynasty.

The Chief Persecutors of the Church

  • Claudius, 41-54
  • Nero, 54-68
  • Caligula, 37-41
  • The line of Julius Caesar. Ended with suicide of Nero.

Add to this the name of Domitian who ruled from 81-96 and also enjoyed persecuting the Christians. One of his favorite punishments was to banish people to penal colonies in far away places. This is how John ended up in Patmos.

The Death of Christianity?

  • Paul is dead. Peter is dead. James, the brother of Jesus is dead. Barnabas is dead. John is in exile. Most of the apostles are either dead or scattered throughout the world.
  • The first generation of the new religion is gone and without a leader. Only 34 years after its founder was crucified, the new religion looks to be finished.
  • The believers are under severe and cruel persecution, which brings sympathy from even the heathen Roman historians.
  • And before it gets better, things get worse.

By the end of the 60s, things looked grim for the continuance of Christianity. The church was now the age of its Founder when he was crucified. The first generation of believers who had actually seen and experienced Jesus while on earth were mostly gone. A new generation would have to take up the mantle, but that generation was being mercilessly persecuted, martyred, and imprisoned. All seemed hopeless. Christianity was doomed to follow all the other cults which spring up and soon die once the leaders and eyewitnesses are dead. And there was no hint of the persecutions letting up. In addition, Nero had started a siege of Jerusalem, which would be finished in 70 AD by his general, Vespasian.

Next Week:

  • The Destruction of Jerusalem,
  • John the Beloved Apostle,
  • and the state of the church at the close of the 1st century.

Series Navigation:

Heidelberg Catechism 53

Click here to start from the beginning.

Click here to study the previous questions.

Question 53 Begins the Section titled “Of God the Holy Ghost.”

Question 53

What does a Christian believe concerning God the Holy Ghost?

Scripture

Genesis 1:2

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Isaiah 48:16

Draw near to me, hear this:

from the beginning I have not spoken in secret,

from the time it came to be I have been there.”

And now the Lord GOD has sent me, and his Spirit.

John 14:7-17

Matthew 28:19-20

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

2 Corinthians 1:21-22

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Ephesians 1:13

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

1 John 4:13

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

Romans 8:9

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Acts 9:31

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

John 14:16

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,

1 John 2:27

But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

Answer

First, that He is co-eternal God with the Father and the Son.  Secondly, that He is also given unto me, makes me by a true faith partaker of Christ and all His benefits, comforts me, and shall abide with me forever.

Click here to study the next questions.

Introduction to Church History lessons

Introduction to Church History, from Acts to Revelation

Introducing a new series on Building Men of God.  This series on the History of the Church was originally presented as an Adult Sunday School Class in the fall of 2015.  Every Thursday for the next 12 weeks we will be publishing a new lesson.  At the bottom of each lesson there will be a link to download a .pdf file of the lesson for your own study.

Although there is much church history after the Reformation, the lessons only
cover the first 1500 years of the church.  Primary sources for these presentations were Phillip Schaff, The History of the Christian Church, and Andrew Miller, Church History . (Complete bibliography is in lesson 1 notes and lesson, including web sites for the digital versions).

Schaff’s approach is to trace the history from view of heresies, heroes, and villains in the life of the church. It is a very scholarly approach and, although written in the early 1900s, still stands as one of the best resources for church history and is used in many seminaries. His resources and bibliography are extensive, and he often lapses into Latin or Greek as he quotes the original sources.

Miller takes a decidedly dispensational/prophetic view, showing how the seven
churches in Rev. 2-3 are representative of the progression of Christianity from the early church to modern times. This book was first published in the 1890s, and adds more color (and verbiage) to the events of the times. Together the two books combine to form an interesting Christian view of world and church events that brought us to the Reformation of Luther.

The lessons are meant to be a survey of church history only. There are many people and events that could have been included but were left out in the interest of time, both for the teacher and student. Condensing any one aspect of church history into one slide is impossible, but I have tried to include all chapters that
move the story of the church forward. There are many, many side avenues that would be fascinating to pursue, and I encourage anyone going through these lessons to go back to Schaff and look deeply into these interesting aspects of the church.

Many of the comments, announcements, and “jokes” were particular to the class of adults, most over the age of 60. The images and maps were found through Google searches, having chosen the ones that best illustrated the subject. As far as I can tell, all of these are in the public domain unless noted on the picture. I am grateful to Building Men of God for the venue, and hope that these lessons can be instructive and useful in your walk with God. I am amazed, and I hope you will be blessed, at how God has preserved His church “through trials and tribulations, and tumult of her wars.”  For the Gates of Hell will not prevail. To God be the glory, now and forever.
In His Service,

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Introduction to Church History lessons

Heidelberg Catechism Questions 49 – 52.

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Click here to study the previous questions.

 

HCastle3Question 49

What benefit do we receive from Christ’s ascension into heaven?

Scripture

Hebrews 9:24

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

1 John 2:1-2

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

John 14:2-3, 17:24

Ephesians 2:6

and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

John 16:7

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

2 Corinthians 1:22

and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Colossians 3:1

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Philippians 3:20-21

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Answer

First, that he is our Advocate in the presence of his Father in heaven. Secondly, that we have our flesh in heaven, as a sure pledge that he, as the Head, will also take us, his members, up to himself. Thirdly, that he sends us his Spirit, as an earnest, by whose power we seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, and not things on earth.

Question 50

Why is it added, “and sits at the right hand of God?” (This question refers to the Apostles Creed)

Scripture

Ephesians 1:20-23

that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Colossians 1:18

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

Matthew 26:64

Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Matthew 28:18

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

1 Peter 3:22

who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Answer

Because Christ ascended into heaven for this end, that he might appear as Head of his Church, by whom the father governs all things.

Question 51

What benefit do we receive from this glory of our Head, Christ?

Scripture

Ephesians 4:10-12

Acts 2:33

Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

A Psalm of David.

Psalm 110:1-2

The LORD says to my Lord:

“Sit at my right hand,

until I make your enemies your footstool.”

The LORD sends forth from Zion

your mighty scepter.

Rule in the midst of your enemies!

1 Corinthians 15:25

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

John 10:28-30

Revelation 19:11-16

Answer

First, that by his Holy Spirit he sheds forth heavenly gifts in us, his members.  Then, that by his power he defends and preserves us against all enemies.

Question 52

What comfort is it to us, that Christ will come to judge the quick [that is a cool way to say living] and the dead?

Scripture

Romans 8:23-25

Philippians 3:20-21

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Titus 2:13

waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

II Thessalonians 1:8-9

Matthew 25:41

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Revelation 20:10

and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Matthew 25:34

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

Revelation 21:1-7

Answer

That in all my sorrows and persecutions, with uplifted head, I look for the self-same One who has before offered himself for me to judgment of God, and removed from me all curse, to come again as Judge from heaven; who shall cast all his and my enemies into everlasting condemnation, but shall take me, with all his chosen ones, to himself, into heavenly joy and glory.

 

Heidelberg Catechism 45-48.

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The following questions refer to The Hypostatic Union, that is that Christ is both fully man and fully God.

1563 HBCQuestion 45

What benefit do we receive from the resurrection of Christ?

Scripture

1 Corinthians 15:16-18, 54-55

[16] For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. [17] And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. [18] Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished… [54] When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

[55] “O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”

1 Peter 1:3-5

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Romans 6:4

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Ephesians 2:5-6

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

Romans 8:11

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Philippians 3:20-21

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Answer

First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, that he might make us partakers of the righteousness which by his death he has obtained for us. Secondly, we are also, by his power, raised up to a new life. Thirdly, the resurrection of Christ is a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.

Question 46

How should the phrase “He ascended into heaven,” be understood? [This question refers to The Apostles Creed.”]

Scripture

Acts 1:9

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

Matthew 26:64

Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Mark 16:19

So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.

Hebrews 4:14, 2:24, and 9:12

Romans 8:34

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Colossians 3:1-2

Acts 1:11

and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Acts 10:42

And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.

Matthew 25:31-46

Answer

That Christ, in sight of His disciples, was taken up from the earth into heaven, and in our behalf there continues until he shall come again to judge the living and the dead.

Question 47

Is not then Christ with us even unto the end of the world, as He has promised?

Paraphrase

If Christ rules from heaven as in Question 46, how can He be with us at all times?

Scripture

John 16:28

I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.

Hebrews 8:4-6

Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.

Matthew 28:20

teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

John 14:17-18

even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

John 16:13

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

Answer

Christ is true man and true God: according to his human nature, he is now not upon earth; but according to his Godhead, majesty, grace and Spirit, he is at no time absent from us.

Question 48

But are not, in this way, the two natures in Christ separated from one another, if the manhood be not wherever the Godhead is?

Scripture

Acts 7:49

“‘Heaven is my throne,

and the earth is my footstool.

What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,

or what is the place of my rest?

1 Kings 8:27

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!

Jeremiah 23:23-24

“Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.

Colossians 2:9

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,

John 1:48-49

Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Answer

By no means; for since the Godhead is incomprehensible and everywhere present, it must follow that it is indeed beyond the bounds of the Manhood which it has assumed, but is yet none-the-less in the same also, and remains personally united to it.

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Heidelberg Catechism Questions 40-44

Click here to start with Question 1.

Click here to study Questions  37-39.

Question 40.

Why was it necessary for Christ to suffer death?

Scripture

Genesis 2:17

but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

Hebrews 2:14-15

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Romans 1:32

Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Romans 8:3-4

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Answer

Because, by reason of the justice and truth of God, satisfaction for our sins could be made no otherwise than by the death of the Son of God.

Question 41

Why was he buried?

Scripture

Luke 23:52-53

This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid.

John 19:38-42

1 Corinthians 15:3-4

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

Answer

To show thereby that He was really dead.

Question 42

Since then Christ died for us, why must we also die?

Scripture

Psalm 49:7

Truly no man can ransom another,

or give to God the price of his life,

John 5:24

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Philippians 1:21

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Romans 7:24-25

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.

Answer

Our death is not a satisfaction for sin, but only a dying to sins and entering into eternal life.

Question 43

What further benefit do we receive from the sacrifice and death of Christ on the cross.

Scripture

Romans 6:6-8

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Colossians 2:12-13

having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,

Romans 6:12-13

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

1 Corinthians 6:20

for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Ephesians 5:1-2

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

1 John 4:19

We love because he first loved us.

Answer

That by his power our old man is with him crucified, slain, and buried; that so the evil lusts of the flesh may no more reign in us, but that we may offer ourselves unto him a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

Question 44

Why is it added “He descended into Hades?”  (This question refers to The Apostles Creed.)

Scripture

Isaiah 53:8

By oppression and judgment he was taken away;

and as for his generation, who considered

that he was cut off out of the land of the living,

stricken for the transgression of my people?

Matthew 27:46

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Matthew 26:38

Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”

Hebrews 5:7

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

1 Peter 4:6

For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

Answer

That in my greatest temptation I may be assured that Christ, my Lord, by his inexpressible anguish, pains, and terrors which he suffered in his soul on the cross and before, has redeemed me from the anguish and torment of hell.

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Heidelberg Catechism Questions 37, 38 and 39.

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Click here to study Questions 35 and 36.

Question 37

What is meant by the word “Suffered?”  [This question refers to the Apostle’s Creed.  See Question 23.]

Scripture

1 Peter 2:24

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

1 Peter 3:18

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

Isaiah 53: 4,12

Hebrews 5:7-8

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

Psalm 22:14-16

1 John 4:10

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Ephesians 5:1-2

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Hebrews 10:14

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Romans 8:1-4

Galatians 3:13

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—

John 6:51

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Romans 5:9

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

2 Corinthians 5:21

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Hebrews 10:19-25

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Answer

That all the time he lived on earth, but especially at the end of his life, he bore, in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race, in order that by his passion as the only sacrifice, he might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtain for us the grace of God, righteousness, and eternal life.

Question 38

Why did He suffer under Pontius Pilate as judge?

Scripture

Acts 3:14

But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,

Luke 23:13-16

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.”

Psalm 69:4

More in number than the hairs of my head

are those who hate me without cause;

mighty are those who would destroy me,

those who attack me with lies.

What I did not steal

must I now restore?

Isaiah 53:4-5

Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

Romans 5:6

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

2 Corinthians 5:21

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Galatians 3:13-14

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Answer

That he, being innocent, might be condemned by the temporal judge, and thereby deliver us from the severe judgment of God, to which we were exposed.

Question 39

Is there anything more in his having been crucified that if he had died some other death?

Scripture

Galatians 3:13

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—

Deuteronomy 21:23

his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.

Answer

Yes; for thereby I am assured that he took on himself the curse which lay upon me, because the death of the cross was accursed of God.

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