St. Ignatius, otherwise known as Theophorus, which in Greek means "God-Bearer,"
led the Christian Church during a critical period of her history. Orthodox tradition had maintained that he was the little child Christ held on His lap when he spoke the words, "Let the children come unto me." What is known for certain is that he grew up to be a disciple of St. John, and St. Peter personally ordained him a Bishop.
Bishop of Antioch, Syria (now in Turkey), known mainly from seven highly regarded letters that he wrote during a trip to Rome, as a prisoner condemned to be executed for his beliefs. He was apparently eager to counteract the teachings of two groups, the Judaizers, who did not accept the authority of the New Testament, and Docetists, who held that Christ's sufferings and death were apparent but not real. Ignatius untiringly affirmed that the New Testament was the fulfillment of the Old Testament and insisted upon the reality of Christ's human nature. For him, Christ's Passion, death, and Resurrection were a vital guarantee of "life everlasting" in the risen Christ. Ignatius believed that, had Christ died only in appearance, his own suffering and his readiness to sacrifice his life for Christ would have no meaning. The letters have often been cited as a source of knowledge of the Christian church at the beginning of the 2nd century.
The letters of Ignatius abound in warnings against false doctrines and false teachers and in admonitions to preserve peace and concord by willing subordination in all religious matters to the clergy and, above all, to the bishop. Nevertheless, he frequently assures his readers that their own church gives no cause for concern and that his words are prompted merely by pastoral solicitude.
"When you sit down to eat, pray. When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you. If you drink wine, be mindful of Him who has given it to you as a relief in sickness. When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God's feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way. Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise their Creator."
"The demons first make an attack by temptation and then place hindrances to hamper our way with evil thoughts. But we need not to fear their suggestion, for by prayer, fasting, and faith in the Lord, their attack immediately fails."
Holiness is the life of God. He is the Holy One and the source of holiness. We can not be holy on our own, but we collectively acquire the holiness of God in Christ Jesus. " The God who chose you is holy. So you should be holy in all what you do. It is written, "Be holy, because I am holy." ( 1peter 1:15-16). So how can we be holy and all people have sinned and are imperfect?. Our only way to holiness is through the salvation offered through Jesus Christ. "Everyone has sinned. No one measures to God's glory."(Romans 3:23).
"God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son." (John 3:16). The life of Jesus given to us in the Holy Spirit is our way to partake in God's holiness. When we accept Jesus and receive His holiness in the Holy Spirit, we receive power over our sinful nature and be purified and be able to resist all the evil powers that separate us from the holy life of God." God's grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn't come from anything you do. It is God's gift." (Ephesians 2:8-9). When we accept and receive Jesus' life in us, He cleanses us from sin and makes us holy and this is what we call "sanctification."
First letter of Peter 2:9 speaks of this new status as well: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into marvelous light." As sharers in God's holiness, we are called to live holy lives. In the same letter Peter 1:13-16 teaches, " So be watchful, and control yourselves completely. In this way, put your hope in the grace that lies ahead. This grace will be brought to you when Jesus Christ returns. You should obey your Father. You shouldn't give in to evil desires. They controlled your life when you didn't know better. The God who chose you is holy. So you should be holy in all what you do. It is written,"Be holy, because I am holy."
He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. We are commanded to avoid the ways we practiced before becoming children of God and live according to God's ways. We can only do this by living by the power of God's Spirit, following the principles found in God's Word. We call this daily practice of living for God to become more holy "The Sanctification Process." As we seek to follow God's will each day, we can increasingly become holy as we become more like Christ. Our goal should be to say like Paul, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Witnessing is much more than just telling others about Christ. That is definitely part of it, but more than that it is "being" a witness for Him. The best way to teach others about Christ and to make them desire to have Jesus in their own lives is to live a consistent loving, Christ-centered life in front of them. If you are a good friend, a good listener, attentive to the needs of those around you and morally upright, then people will be likely to listen to you when you tell them about Christ because they will see that there is something genuinely differentâ€ª â€¬about you.
To be an effective witness for Christ, one must have a relationship with God not only knowledge of Him. John the Apostle speaks of this in 1 John 1:1-3, when he says, "That which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at, and our hands have touchedâ€”this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life."
Today we who have experienced new life in Christ give an account of His love and forgiveness, both verbally and in the way we live our lives. This is witnessing. To be effective in our witness, we should remember that the theme of our witness is Jesus Christ. An important part of this theme is the fact that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, not just one of many ways. "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6)
The power of our witness is the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who transforms a life (Titus 3:5), and a transformed life is evident to all. As we witness, we should spend much time in prayer, appropriating the Spirit's power so that we are enabled to let our light shine in such a way that others will recognize the power of God in us. The validity of our witness will be shown in how we live our lives . The effective Christian witness will live his or her life above reproach in the power of the Holy Spirit, whose fruit we exhibit when we remain in Christ. Perhaps most importantly, we must be familiar enough with the Scriptures to be able to accurately and coherently present the gospel to others. "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter3:15)
V- PAUL HAD A DISCUSSION WITH THE CHURCH OF CORINTHIANS CONCERNING FOOD OFFERED TO IDOLS.
When the pagan temples around Corinth were finished using meat offered up for sacrificial offerings, they would sell it. Christians wondered: should they buy this meat? Paul said " an idol is nothing in the world". In other words, idols aren't real, so a mature christian has freedom to eat the meat, knowing that there is no other God. Meat is just meat. But for other believers, the idea of eating that meat was offensive; for various reasons, in their minds, it remained a violation of God's Old Testament law to be avoided.
A- Enquiry: May a Christian Eat Food Consecrated to a pagan god? ( chapter 8:1-13)
"Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and there is no other God but one."
"For even if there are so called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, yet for us there is only one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live."
Paul's primary concern wasn't the meat, but the way some believers behaved. They were eating the meat in front of brothers and sisters who felt it was wrong, flaunting their liberty to the offense of other believers. "Beware," Paul said, "lest somehow this liberty of yours become stumbling block to those who are weak".
"However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience being weak, is defiled."
"But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we better, nor if we do not eat are we worse."
"But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak."
A greater law of love was at stake. Paul asked, because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died. God commandment is to love your neighbor. Jesus told us to love each other in the church.
"And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish for whom christ died?"
"But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against christ."
"Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble."
Biblical principals should provide the basis of your behavior, but in the areas of nonessential doctrine, let love guide you. The main rule is whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
PAUL IS TAKING HIMSELF AS AN EXAMPLE
1- HE FIRST TALKS ABOUT HIS RIGHTS AS AN APOSTLE
"Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?"
"My defense to those who examine me is this: Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?"
"Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also?"
"If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?"
"If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ."
"Do you know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the alter partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel."
2- PAUL'S SELF RESTRICTIONS IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO PREACH THE GOSPEL AND GAIN AS MANY AS HE CAN TO CHRIST.
"For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship."
"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win all."
"To the jews I became a jew, that I might win jews, to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law." " To the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."
"Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you."
"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. â€¦.. now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown"
"But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."
1- AVOID SELF-INDULGENCE
CHAPTER 10: 1-13
Paul is warning the church from self- indulgence and to learn lessons from the faults that our ancestors did and not do like them. They should not lust after evil things as they lusted.
"Moreover brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drinkâ€¦ But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted."
" And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell. Nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer."
" Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition on whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."
" No temptation has over taken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."
2- DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN IDOLE FEASTS
" Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?"
" For we being many are one bread and one body for we partake of that one bread."
" What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons."
"You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and the table of the demons."
3- GLORIFY GOD BY SEEKING THE WELFARE OF YOUR BROTHER
" All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful; all things are lawful for me but all things do not edify."
"Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's wellbeing."
"Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience' sake; for the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness."
" If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience' sake. But if anyone says to you this was offered to idols, do not eat it, for the sake of the one who told you and for the conscience sake, for the earth is the Lord's and all its fullness."
" Therefore whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all To the glory of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ."
Continuation of the study in the next edition