Formations lesson for June 3: Soul Freedom
May 18 2001 by F. Calvin Parker , Matthew 10:16-23

Formations lesson for June 3: Soul Freedom | Friday, May 18, 2001

Friday, May 18, 2001

Formations lesson for June 3: Soul Freedom

By F. Calvin Parker Matthew 10:16-23 "The truth will make you free." I was pleased to find this saying displayed on a wall in Japan's National Diet Library, which is modeled after our Library of Congress. The words appear in the original Greek (John 8:32) and in Japanese translation. But the source is not indicated, and library patrons who read this famous quotation may not know that it comes from Jesus. They may take it to mean that book learning frees us from ignorance and enables us to attain the best in life. This is not what Jesus meant. Jesus was talking about the truth embodied in Himself and expressed in His teachings. He was talking about freedom from the bondage of sin. So it is unlikely that "The truth will make you free" would be displayed in the Diet Library if the original meaning was evident. The words would be offensive, as when Jesus first spoke them. Some of His hearers were so outraged that they picked up stones to throw at Him (John 8:59).

Don't court martyrdom (Matthew 10:16, 23) Jesus knew His message would meet with resistance. Before sending out His disciples, He forewarned them that they, like He, would be attacked and abused. In carrying out their mission they would be as defenseless as sheep among wolves.

"Be wise as serpents," Jesus advised. "Be prudent. Be prepared for trouble, but don't go looking for it. Don't tease or taunt the wolves. When attacked in one town, flee to another." Christians were to use every human means to protect themselves from persecution, as Paul did when he used his Roman citizenship in self-defense.

Jonathan Goble was the first Baptist missionary to Japan. His Japanese translation of Matthew's gospel is the oldest extant Bible portion published in that country. Goble not only translated the passage we are studying but also put it into practice. When the American Bible Society employed him to distribute scripture portions in parts of Japan that lay far beyond the treaty ports open to foreigners, he obtained a passport from the Japanese government and used it for self-protection. He also used his wits.

In one town a police inspector tried to stop Goble from preaching by pointing out that the foreigner's passport was issued for the stated purposes of "health and science" and did not mention preaching. Goble replied, "Neither does my passport say anything about drinking tea and eating rice. Since my mouth is allowed to open for drinking and eating, isn't it allowed to open for speaking also?" The inspector apologized for the interruption and took his leave.

Don't evade martyrdom (Matthew 10:17-22) "The only method by which religious truth can be established," wrote Samuel Johnson, "is by martyrdom." Christ's sheep, no matter how wise and cautious, were sure to run afoul of the wolves. So Jesus prepared them for the worst. "You will be arrested," He warned, "and dragged before rulers and judges. You will be flogged. Everybody will hate you. Your own family members will become your accusers." Such dire predictions would make anyone shudder.

But Jesus also offered words of encouragement. The mistreatment of His disciples would serve as a testimony to Jews and Gentiles alike. Indeed, the persecution of Christians helped to publicize their cause, and their courageous testimony in the face of death inspired a host of conversions. Also, the Holy Spirit would speak through Christians in their time of need. Still, it was up to them to remain faithful, to hold out to the end. They were not to evade martyrdom by denying Christ.

In the 17th century the Japanese government banned Christianity and set out to exterminate its adherents. To ferret out those in hiding, the government posted notices offering a reward to anyone who exposed a Christian. The reward was 500 silver pieces for a priest, 300 for a brother and 100 for a lay person. These generous amounts tempted people to accuse their relatives, friends and neighbors. Believers detected had to recant or be tortured to death. Fortunately, many family members remained loyal and Christianity survived.

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5/18/2001 12:00:00 AM by F. Calvin Parker , Matthew 10:16-23 | with 0 comments
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