At this point in the church’s history, we see the baton pass from the disciples of Jesus to the next generation of Christians. We see the gospel’s enticing power as people accept Jesus as the promised Messiah even though they never saw Him with their own eyes. And this is the place we find ourselves in too—the era after Jesus. We have not seen Him, but yet we believe. Thousands, millions of people all over the world, for centuries, have put their faith in Christ without seeing Him with their own eyes. This is the power of the gospel. Even Jesus knew this was important: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Blessed are you who have not seen and yet still believe. Praise God for opening our eyes to the truth of the gospel.
where we find ourselves in god's story
the hope in tragedy
As we have seen this week, since its inception, the church has faced difficultly, threats, and persecution. From the persecution of Nero to the turmoil surrounding the heresies of the first and second centuries, the young church had to navigate difficult, tumultuous waters. Yet, we also know that church continued to grow and expand. Even when Jerusalem, the epicenter of Christianity, was destroyed, God used the tragic event to spread the gospel to all places for all people. This is the redemptive beauty and paradoxical mystery of our Lord and His work in our world. Even in turmoil, the Lord is present. Even in chaotic situations, God’s purposes prevail and the Lord remains on the throne. He gives hope even in the midst of tragedy. For we serve a God who not only calms the storm but is with us in the storm.
These early followers of Jesus looked to the Scripture for their support and strength during tumultuous times. This certainly included the writings of the Old Testament, but now the writings of the apostles as well. They read the teachings of Jesus contained in the gospels and read of His death and resurrection. This was their hope. Oh, unspeakable goodness! Oh, what wonderful hope! Jesus, our Lord and Savior, has conquered the grave.
Where do you need to proclaim the hope of Christ over your own life? Is there a situation or relationship where you need to be reminded of the Lord’s presence or His ability to bring life out of death? To see the hope in the midst of tragedy?
god at work through the church
We also saw this week how the truths of the gospel were handed over from the apostles to the next generations as they were committed to the rule of faith. Certainly this was not because of the strength of any human or human organization, but because of commitment of the Lord to His gospel going out in power and truth. The Lord worked through the church. This is the grace of our God, working through broken, sinful human beings, working through tragedy. This is our hope—even as the church fails and needs to confess sin and repent, the Lord is committed to loving and working through His bride. Even when the church faces opposition, God and His truth prevail. Spend some time praying for your local church today and for all the churches in your city. Pray the Lord would preserve His truth and use His people to declare His gospel in all places, everywhere.
As you reflect on the events and people of the early church, what stood out to you the most and why?
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