When faced with life's challenges,
it is Important to Remember
that although Daniel was saved from the lions,
he was not saved from the Lion's Den.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thou Hast Testified of Me

I was asked to teach this week the New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson 38: “Thou Hast Testified of Me” It encompasses the book of Acts 21 - 28.
Can I just say that it was so amazing!  I have learned so much this week from this lesson.  I really want to share it with you too.  I hope that you learn something with me.  
I love reading about Paul.  In the first part of this, Paul has decided to journey to Jerusalem, he is warned many times by disciples and the prophet Agabus that danger and even death await him there.  Agabus also wrapped himself up in Paul's girdle and stated that Paul would also be bound if he went to Jerusalem.  Yet, Paul went there anyway.  

While in Jerusalem, the apostles asked him to be cleansed and serve in the Temple as a proper Jewish-Christian. He agreed and went to the temple. Some of the people saw him and thought he brought a Gentile into the temple. The crowd got angry and turned into a mob, then they attempted to slay him.  Paul was arrested for his own protection and asked if he could explain things to the people.  Speaking in Hebrew, he explained his own Jewish past.  He explained how he used to be bad, and persecuted the Jewish-Christians and finally, he explained his conversion by Jesus in vision.

The Jews were again angered and the soldiers had to take him in.  There, the soldiers chose to question him by flogging.  Flogging was a harsh form of torture, that caused severe injury and even death.  It was often used upon individuals that resided within the Roman Empire. It could not, however, be used on free citizens without Caesar’s approval. Paul noted he was born a free citizen, so, they could not flog him.
He stated that he was a Pharisee and was in trouble because he taught about the resurrection of the dead. Pharisees believed in resurrection, but Sadduccees did not believe there was life after mortality.
I thought that was interesting, and somehow, I have missed that distinction between the two in my previous study.  
That evening, the Lord told him to "be of good cheer" he would go to witness in Rome.  A plot was planned against Paul’s life by over 40 radical Jews, so he was taken by armed guard out of Jerusalem and to Caesarea to be judged of the governor Felix. He is kept in house arrest for two years, even though he was not found guilty.

Paul went to see Festus, the governor of Jerusalem, and also King Agrippa.  
"King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets?  I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me . . ." (Acts 26:27-28)
"Personal integrity is vital in the living Church. We forget that Korihor actually believed but was possessed of a lying spirit. (Alma 30:42.) Agrippa believed the prophets, but when it mattered he lacked the courage to say so. (Acts 26:27.) How sad that so many cannot see that to be put out of the secular synagogues for one's belief in Christ is the first step toward being let in the kingdom of God! (John 9:22.) How ironic to see so many so-called free spirits imprisoning themselves in roles that, like Korihor's, cause them to be at cruel war with themselves. How lamentable that when all tongues will confess that Jesus is the Christ in that not-too-distant Judgment Day, there will be so many who were, in mortality, undeclared believers, who were actually persuaded and "almost" so acknowledged openly." (Neal A. Maxwell, Things As They Really Are, p.62)
We had a great discussion here about being almost converted.  About "almost" keeping the commandments, about "almost" worshiping the Lord.

Paul was sent on to Rome.  On the way, the ship was caught in a storm and shipwrecked on an island. Through God’s providence and protection of Paul, all on-board were protected for following his counsel. An interesting event occurred during that time. While putting firewood near the fire, a poisonous snake leaped out of the fire and bit him. All watched to see if Paul fell over dead. To them, he obviously had done something wrong that required punishment from the gods. Instead, Paul shook the snake back into the fire and continued with what he was doing and did not die.  The people then decided that he must be a god.

We know that Paul was not a god, but we also know that he was a true disciple of Christ.  He had the power of the Priesthood with him.  I love the teaching in these chapters.  I love the thoughts that came to me while I was reading them.  We may all occasionally get bitten by fiery serpents in this life.  But through the atonement of our Savior, we too can eternally shake off the ills and pains of this earthly existence.  We too, can be of good cheer and bear our burdens willingly.
Paul was a truly great example of what a Christian should be. 
 "By learning more about Paul, we become more intimately acquainted with the Lord Jesus Christ and with those men whom the Savior has called to be his prophets and apostles" (Michael W. Middleton, "Paul Among the Prophets: Obtaining a Crown," The Apostle Paul: His Life and His Testimony, p. 112).

1 comment:

  1. I loved teaching gospel doctrine -- when I had that calling I prayed that I could keep if for 4 years -- and I did. I miss it though. It keeps you searching and studying. I enjoyed your thoughts on the snake and Paul.