New Bible class forming

Professor Rod Carruthers

Who would have thought that with the death of a rather nondescript soothsayer who promised that believers in Him would be rewarded with life after death, a small band of 12 followers armed with a campfire-like spark of a new religion, could launch 2000 years ago what today is the world’s largest religious movement. It’s a “David and Goliath” story on steroids. This movement’s spark originated in a very small, almost insignificant, state called Israel, buried within the mighty power and vast size of the Roman Empire at the beginning of the first century AD.

From the beginning, this insignificant band of Jews were scorned as superstitious rabble by the Romans…and even spurned by their own countrymen. Rome unleashed the immense power of its empire against this growing sect; within a short time, being a Christian was a capital offense. Savage, bloodthirsty persecutions forced Christians to defend their beliefs, their way of life, even their literature. The number of Christians who sacrificed their lives for their faith in Christ was incredible.

During and after Jesus’ horrendous crucifixion, the cowering Apostles hid out in a safe-house so they would not be discovered by the Roman soldiers. When they learned that Jesus had risen from the dead, they returned back to their old lives, homes, families and occupations. They thought the “fishers of men” adventure was over. However, Jesus appeared to them several times during the 40 days He remained on earth. He convinced them that their mission was to, “Go and make disciples of all the nations…and be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20). Hidden behind this story lurks another, even more significant thread: the continuity of the bloodline of the Messiah — from Adam to Jesus. It’s like a crimson chord dragged through Biblical history, becoming frayed to the last thread at times, almost to the point of disintegration; yet it – one that will create and sustain a world-wide universal church – survives. It could have broken many times; yet, often in peril, it stubbornly endures.

As Christianity expanded within the Roman Empire, it survived slander, hatred and internal dissensions to gain power and respectability. Within four centuries, Christianity won total control over the immense power of its adversaries. The Roman Empire put aside the worship of all of its many gods and opted to worship the one true God of the Christians – as its singular state religion.

What an inspiring story of how the uncompromising and unconquerable faith of a tiny sect of Christians defeated the ferocity and overwhelming numbers of a ruthless Roman army that had, to its credit, overwhelmed the formidable armies of both Greece and Egypt.

Join this popular weekly seminar starting Friday, October 17 from 9:00-11:00 a.m. in Room 1 of the Education Building at Sun Lakes United Methodist Church. To enroll call the church at 480-895-8766. The entire Sun Lakes community is welcome.