July 22, 2006

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

Thumbnail Sketches – Philemon

Though this is certainly the shortest of the four prison epistles, yet it has passages that also should be committed to memory as guides for the Christian life. Verse 14 is a reminder that even though the apostle says it, obedience should come forth from a heart refreshed by the love of Christ and performance should be willing and not under compulsion. Verse 21 is a reminder of how we should trust in the working of the Spirit through the Word. Paul has that confidence that Philemon will do more than asked. Paul’s appeal throughout is the Gospel appeal. The church evidently met in Philemon’s house. The runaway slave, Onesimus, now converted should be received into this communion of saints.

I Salutation – 1-3
II Paul’s Love for Philemon – 4-7
III Appeal for Onesimus – 8-22
IV Greetings and Benediction – 23-25

Thumbnail Sketches – Hebrews

It does not seem from the evidence that Paul wrote this letter. My thinking through study is the author could be Apollos. If you want to go to a chapter in the New Testament where you can find Jesus presented as God, Hebrews chapter one is one. 1:3 states this fact in three ways: l) “He reflects the glory of God”, 2) “and bears the very stamp of His nature”, 3) “upholding the universe by His Word of power.” Then the author launches into a list of passages from the Old Testament that uphold this truth. The people addressed could have been Roman Jewish Christians who left the seven synagogues in Rome and formed their own congregations of Jewish Christians. They were beginning to face persecution and were tempted to return to the old way of the synagogue. The author points out in a variety of ways that Christ is the only way to heaven and that they, “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” 12:12-13

I Introduction – Christ the Final Revelation of God – 1:1-3
II Christ – Better Than Angels – 1:4-2:18
III Christ – Better Than Moses and Joshua – 3:1-4:13
IV Christ – Better Than the Aaronic Priesthood – 4:14-7:28
V Christ – His Better Covenant – 8:1-10:18
VI Faith – The Better Way – 10:19-12:29
VII Conclusion – 13:1-25

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

Third in a Series

Roman Catholic Mission work in India

With the rise of Islam around 632 we see the crushing of Christianity in Asia.  This affected India especially in the North, but less so in the
South. Being slain or subjugation and slavery were the two nearly exclusive options that Mohammed’s followers offered those outside Islam.

Our focus next is on the church of Rome’s efforts in India. While the Muslims killed or converted, the Roman Catholic Church brought the gospel to the more southern part of India though of course it was accompanied by the baggage of mariolatry, etc. In the USA we are well familiar with the Spanish missions, especially in California. All along the El Camino Real (the King’s Highway) a day’s travel apart were the missions. These were Spanish who were more receptive to priests going out to convert than the Portuguese were who were along the coast of India. The Portuguese were far more interested in financial gain to the exclusion of outreach. Thankfully though, God did have missionaries go into the Portuguese commercial enclaves in India and go to the natives. There are two who are most prominent and each was distinctively different in his approach to the work.

Francis Xavier 1506-1552

Xavier has to be the greatest of the Roman Catholic missionaries compressing so much work and such a geographical coverage into such a relatively short time.  He labored for only ten years. His approach was to go to several countries, one of which was India. This pioneer of Jesuit missions in East Asia landed in 1542 in Goa, India. A voyage to India in those days could take six months. His took thirteen months due to a forced layover in Mozambique.

When he began his work, it was out among the people. He would go about in Goa streets ringing a bell to have the people send their sons and daughters and slaves of both sexes to be taught God’s love. When he taught, he would sing the lessons which he had rhymed and he would have the children sing them also. His work very significantly was not just among the Portuguese or Indo-Portuguese, but among the natives also.  His death in China ended a rather full tens years of teaching and travel.

Wolf, a General Synod Lutheran wrote, “St. Francis Xavier said: “If the lands of the savages had scented woods and mines of gold, Christians would find courage to go there, nor would the perils of the world prevent them Shall love be less hearty and less generous than avarice?” Of all others, we of the Lutheran Church should be the very last to show a lack of courage in carrying on the work of the world’s evangelization. Of all others we, who have our ecclesiastical descent from the indomitable, much-enduring and storm-braving hero of the Reformation days, should not be found waiting in bone or sinew, in moral grit and iron in blood.

Robert de Nobili 1577-1656

De Nobili came to India and stayed, only going to Ceylon near the end of his life. He arrived in Madura in 1606. Note he served a long time. His approach was to be one with the people as much as possible. He lived in a little mud-walled house with a chapel built nearby. Here he became a guru(teacher) with a strict ascetic regime eating one meal a day.

He taught that man did not have to leave his caste to be a Christian, viewing caste as a social distinction that could be continued. There were
those who did not agree with him and caused him trouble. He practiced what we would call cultural accommodation. Anything clearly contrary to God’s Word would have to be given up. Not all agreed with him and those caused him problems.

Today in India there is the question about the ‘bindi’ (the red dot on the woman’s forehead). Some Christians say that when a woman becomes a
Christian, she should not wear the bindi. Others say that it is a cultural thing and that a converted woman could still wear it. There is something to
this in not purposely alienating the rest of the family who are not Christian. One does want them to hear the word from the convert. Things
neither commanded nor forbidden by God should not get in the way. The ‘bindi’ may seem like a tiny point. Yet it is part of a larger issue in
connection with outreach.

We thank God that the gospel did go forth to India through these missionaries, even though they cluttered it up with Rome’s false teaching.

–Missionary David Koenig