Dr. John Hartmann

Proclaiming the Whole Counsel of God

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The Early Christians – their Story, Beliefs, and Way of Life

June 13th, 2010 · No Comments

In this encouraging message we look into the Story of Jesus told by the Early Christians.

The Holy Spirit poured out on the early Christians resulted in the creation of a redeemed community anointed with the spirit of prophecy to bear witness concerning Jesus. Our teaches surveys Acts 2:16-21; Revelation 19:10, John 16:7-15 and 15:26-27 in order to establish this basic point, namely, that we, as the church have been called to be the Spirit-anointed prophetic witnesses of Jesus.

The story they told is about Jesus, the One Whose ministry they witnessed for some 3 – 3 ½  years, as He went about Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the “good news” of the kingdom of God, and healing every manner of sickness and disease among the people, which included casting out demons, who understood that He was in fact executing judgment on them “before the time” (Matthew 4:23-25; 9:35). The disciples also witnessed His death and resurrection from the dead, as well as His ascension to heaven, together with the promise that He would come again in glory to complete the mission. They were witnesses of and to these things, which became the central parts of the story they told.

Jesus and His disciples understood this story as the “gospel”, which was for them the fulfillment of the proclamation of redemption found in Isaiah 40-66. Jesus and His followers saw Him to be the “Servant of the Lord” spoken about throughout Isaiah 40-66, and the “Anointed One” from the house of David Who would bring redemption to God’s exiled people. Since the exile occurred as a result of Israel’s sin and breaking of the covenant, redemption from exile had to be something more than just physical return from Babylon. It of necessity must include redemption from the sin that had brought such disaster upon the people of God. As Messiah Jesus comes “to save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21), which in the ears of a first-century Jew would signify the complete end of the exile and nullification of the curse of the covenant that had come upon the people because of their disobedience.

Our teacher then expounds upon two passages from Isaiah. First, Isaiah 52:7, in which the prophet proclaims to Zion the good news that “Our God reigns”. Jesus went a step further, proclaiming the good news that “the reign of God has drawn near”. It was the end of the rule of Satan and the beginning of God’s redemptive blessings for a people that have suffered much because of their sins. Second, Isaiah 61:1-3, which looks forward to the coming of a certain personage who is anointed with the Spirit of the Lord to proclaim good news to the afflicted and humble of the land, to proclaim release to captives and prisoners, the regaining of sight to the blind, to heal the broken-hearted and proclaim the time of God’s favor, to give comfort to those who mourn in Zion, giving to them beauty (a victory wreath) for ashes, the oil of joy/gladness for mourning, and the garment of praise in place of the spirit of heaviness/fainting, a great reversal of fortunes, and all with a view to them becoming oaks of righteousness, planted by the Lord, that He may be glorified. While Isaiah foretold of this, Jesus told His hearers “this day is this Scripture fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:18-19).

Our teacher reminds us that in Jesus’ ministry and that of the early church there was a real in-breaking of the kingdom of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, resulting in deliverance from the rule of Satan (see Matthew 12:28-29). God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power, to do good and heal those oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38). The power of the Spirit comes on the church to do the same.

Jesus came to set free captives and to heal broken-hearted people. His basic call to each of us is to repent and enter into the redemptive blessings of the kingdom of God. Psalm 34:18 provides a most encouraging promise to those who want to turn to God and admit their own brokenness: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”. Our teacher bids us to turn to God with true repentance and to call on Jesus for salvation. The promise remains: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8), and “Whoever will call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

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