Year 2 Day 87
Read - Acts 22v23-29
Message - Scott Woodburn
The Christian is someone who understands their incredibly unique position in this world. We are born to parents into families all across the world. Christians speak different languages and come from different cultures. Christians cheer for different nations at the Olympic Games and come under the authority of various government systems. Christians live in democracies and Christians live under communist rule. Christians live in countries that regard Christianity as the national faith and Christians live in countries where they are a very small minority. Simply stated, Christians live and work and love in a secular kingdom. It may look different depending on where you call home, but each Christian lives their life in this world.
Paul understood this and in today’s passage he calls upon his secular status to protect him from Roman whips. The tribune wanted to know why the crowd were going to beat Paul to death and so, ironically, he ordered Paul to be flogged with whips to get to the bottom of the issue (v24). Just as they were about to inflict great pain on the Apostle, Paul shared that he was in fact an uncondemned Roman citizen (v25). The tribune had bought his own citizenship with a large sum of money but Paul was a citizen by birth (v28).
This citizenship meant that Paul couldn’t be flogged at the whim of a tribune. Roman citizens enjoyed certain rights and privileges protected by law. Such a citizen should not be bound or flogged and they had the right of appeal directly to Rome. That Paul was treated so poorly was a crime in the Roman world. Just like Paul we too have an earthly or secular citizenship which comes with certain rights and privileges.
How are we to live in the secular kingdom? In Romans 13 Paul tells us that we are be subject to the governing authorities for God Himself has placed them over us. I think a useful summary of the Christian’s life in the secular world is found in Romans 13v7 “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honour to whom honour is owed.” Therefore as Christians we keep the speed limit, we pay our taxes and we seek to honour (when possible) the ruling authorities.
Yet the Christian is someone who is of two kingdoms. Just as we live and work and play in the secular kingdom, so too by faith, we have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12v28). Not by birth, by passport, by country or by skin colour but by saving faith in Christ Jesus. The Christian understands that the secular world is passing away and only the kingdom of God will stand for eternity.
This gives us great hope and assurance in this secular world. Things may seem incredibly bleak at this present moment and like many Christians throughout history we believe these to be the worst days that there have ever been. But brothers and sisters take heart! Christ calls us to honour Him as we live in the secular world and Christ calls us to never forget that this place is not our home.
Paul the man steeped in Judaism who was a Roman by birth but a Christian by faith put it this way “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3v20-21) Amen!
Q91 How do the Sacraments become effectual means of salvation? The Sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them; but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them.