June 17, 2006

I Cor. 16:9  “For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.”

Noting a 300 year anniversary…
“India’s Coral Strand”

First in a Series

Bartholomew, Matthew, and Thomas

Three apostles are mentioned in traditions in connection with India. In writings in the seventh and tenth century Bartholomew is said to have gone to “India Felix”, which may not necessarily be what we consider India today.  The term ‘India’ was at times used in a vague or very broad way. This could have covered a wide swath of territory. Bartholomew may have gone to as near as the Arabian Peninsula. Tradition has him as the founder of a Christian community at Kalyan, near Bombay.

It appears that Matthew did make it to India–in book form. In a visit to India by Pantaenus, a noted Christian teacher of Alexandria, shortly after 190, he is said to have found a Gospel of Matthew said to have been left there by Bartholomew.

The apostle who is claimed on both the east and west coast of South India is Thomas. Tradition has Thomas arriving in India in 52 north of Cochin and preaching first to a Jewish community. On this west coast he is said to have founded seven congregations. In four of these places there are Syrian Christian churches still in existence and laying claim to Thomas. After this work, he is said to have gone up the east coast. In the area of present day Chennai he is said to have been martyred with a spear. As you go through one of the main highways in Chennai which is named Anna Salai, some still call it by its old name of Mt. Road.  Mt. Road leads to the hill where it is thought Thomas was martyred. The year of his death is claimed to be 72. If it is true that he reached India, his labors there were not insignificant since he continued twenty years.

The apostles took very seriously the Lord’s directive to preach to all nations.  These were different men after the resurrection, bold in the Lord. There is no doubt about it that it is exciting to think that God would have at least one of his apostles go as far as India. The city of Chennai today has over seven million people and has Christians as perhaps ten per cent of its population.

Highlights. NCLC – Nigeria

The CLC first began to work in Nigeria in 1976. A resident missionary began to work in the country ten years later. Today we have ended having a resident missionary in Nigeria and moved him to India. There are over 780 souls in the NCLC. A board of NCLC members elected at a convention governs the NCLC. Pastor E.E. Essien(retired) is head of the board. The five year Bible Institute program trains men to be pastors. Pastors Edwin and Udo teach at the Institute.Three men are studying there at this time.  In the state of Akwa Ibom the congregations are divided into three districts. Of the nineteen pastors in the church four are in outlying missions: Lagos, Port Harcourt, Bauchi, Badagri. Over the years a self-help program has been set up by which the pastors are granted loans for ‘tent-making ‘ projects such as the apostle Paul carried out in at least three places (Ephesus, Corinth, Thessalonica) in his ministry. All pastors have loans. Most congregations are too small to be able to support a pastor full-time. Once the original loan is repaid a larger loan can be granted. Our prayer is that our brothers in Nigeria are able to reach Muslims in this country which has about an equal number of Christians and Muslims. Especially at Bauchi and also to an extent at Lagos there are opportunities to reach out to Muslims. We pray for our brothers to continue to fight the good fight of faith in this most populous
country in Africa.

Thumbnail Sketches – I Thessalonians

Thessalonica was in northern Greece or Macedonia. Paul spent three weeks there as recorded in Acts. He may have stayed there longer. While it is recorded that “for three weeks he argued with them from the Scriptures” in the synagogue (Acts 17:2), his ministry there was among Gentiles and Greeks. I Thess. 1:9, 2:14, Acts 17:4 This was on the second journey and the Gentile expansion of the church was well underway. We are reminded also of the universal priesthood of all believers when we see four men from Thessalonica undertaking the work also: Jason (Acts17:5-9), Aristarchus (Acts 19:29, 20:4), Secundus (Acts 20:4, 27:2), Gaius ( Acts 19:29). These are only the ones named. Who knows how many more there were? Such is the power of the Gospel in the heart.

This letter addresses the problems of a false understanding of Christ’s second coming and how to prepare for it. It is in 5:23 where we also have one of the several references to a tripartite division of man instead of a twofold one( body and soul). “May the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When the word  ‘soul’ is used here as elsewhere it refers to the spirit that when it leaves our body we are dead. The  word ‘spirit’ then refers to the mind and its operation. This picture of the whole man is in keeping with Paul’s prayer that all of man, mind, body and soul should be kept safe for His coming. The word “spirit” has a broader use than “soul”.

I  Personal Matters – 1:1-3:13
II Exhortation and Instruction – 4:1-5:28

Thumbnail Sketches – II Thessalonians
This second letter was evidently written shortly after the first. At Thessalonica was one of the three places where we know Paul worked with his hands in tentmaking. The other two were Corinth and Ephesus. In 3:8 Paul uses his example of love to them so as not to burden them and also to show them how they should be working until the coming of the Lord and not idle. In his explaining of this he also set down an excellent moral for all generations in any society, “ If any one will not work, let him not eat.” 3:10  It is a good motto for governments to operate by as well as individuals. The long section of 2:1-12 is teaching on the coming of the lawless one, that is the one who puts himself above law and earthly authority even to the point of vaunting himself against the Christ. This is the papacy of Rome, the antichrist. John explains about many antichrists and about the antichrist. This is parallel to this section. In I John 2:18 it is “many antichrists.” In I John 2:22 it is “the antichrist.” ‘Anti’ means in the place of or to stand up against so as to face off.

I   Salutation – 1:1-2
II  Personal Matters – 1:3-12
III The Day of the Lord – 2:1-17
IV Exhortation – 3:1-18

Pastor D. Koenig