A Christian’s Duty Through The Heralds of Ancient Greece

A Christian’s Duty Through The Heralds of Ancient Greece

Whether a elder in the pulpit, a preacher on the street, or a believer seeking to be a faithful witness, we can all glean from this.

In Ancient Greece, heralds had a specific role in the culture with a specific reputation. It is that reputation that I am going to use as illustrative examples  concerning a believer’s/preacher’s duty to spread the gospel. Although we know that the Bible is sufficient for life and godliness, still, illustrations are a powerful tool to help nail the truths deeper into our mind and make plain what is simply less memorable to some. With that said, here are some points that will help us reaffirm our calling as ambassadors and heralds of the gospel. Once again, these points are purely illustrative, not expository. But they nevertheless communicate biblical truth.

  1. A herald was often called kerukes, which meant “herald.” In Ancient Greece, the name was often ascribed to a traditional family of priests thought to have descended from Hermes. However, it was used for anyone that was designated to carry a message.
    • The Bible declares that all Christians are now a royal priesthood and we are chosen to proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into light (2 Peter 2:9) 
    • Because Christ has saved us, we are now direct descendants of Him who has commissioned usto preach His gospel.
  2. A herald (kerukes) can also be associated with any kind of messenger (angeloi) or envoy 
(presbeis), although not operating in the same manner as a herald.
    • The Bible declares that we are ambassadors (presbeuo) for Christ, and that we are to implore mankind as though God was pleading with man through us (2 Cor. 5:20).
    •  Our ministry is angelic in practice. And though we are not, by nature, angels from heavenbringing the good news (evanggelizo) (Luke 2:10), nevertheless we are fellow servantswith the angels and considered family in the work of being a messenger (Rev. 22:8).
  3. Kerukes were designated in a city to be watchers for prearranged signals in the sky that
 communicated messages from considerable distances. The signals were communicated by
 flag during the day, or fire by night. Whatever the message, heralds were to
 interpret those signals and immediately declare them to the town.
    • As Christians, our eyes should always be in the Heavens, looking unto Jesus and His word (God’s prearranged communicated message) and immediatelydeclare them unto those who are in our town (Col. 1:27-29; Heb 1:2). 
  4. Heralds carried a staff with them called kerukeion which not only established their identity  and office, but it was also a visual reminder that they were under the care of the Greek messenger god Hermes. And just like Hermes, whenever they were seen with the rod in  hand, it signified that they were about to announce an official message.
    • We should always have with us our kerukeion – the Bible. This willserve as a visual reminder for others that we are underneath the authority and care of Jesus Christ our King. And this will assist in establishing our identity withHim as well as His authority. Whenever we carry this rod with us, it should signify toour hearers that we are about to announce an official message. 
  5. Hermes was commissioned by Zeus to be his messenger and in turn, Hermes commissioned others to be heralds.
    • Jesus Christ was God in the flesh, sent by the Father to declare this gospel in the world, and thosewho are true followers of Christ are commissioned by Him to declare it to others(Matt. 28:19). 
  6. Some families appointed kerukes because it was an inherited right. Other heralds were elected  and/or dispatched by a legislative assembly of leaders called boule.
    • As Christians, we are adopted into the family of Christ, and therefore possess theinherited right to herald the gospel into the world.
    • As the chosen of God, we are elected and dispatched as kerukes to preach the gospelto every creature. Although this should be something that a local church should support, equip, and encourage one another to do, this is not always the case. In this instance, we must remember that our authority to share the gospel comes from Christ first and foremost.
  7. Heralds were often chosen for their ability to carry their voice over noise and distance.
    • If we plan on preaching in the open air, a general principle is that we should speak to be heard. This requires skill and clarity on the part of the speaker so that every detail of the message is not muffled because of inability or negligence.
    • Stentor, a herald mentioned in Homer’s Iliad, was described as having a voice aspowerful as 50 men. He was the herald for the Greek forces during the Trojan War. Although it is not mandatory to have this kind of voice, we must still speak to be heard.
  8. In military contexts, kerukes would be in close proximity to the commander to carry forth orders. Furthermore, they were called upon to rally the troops together, and also were sent out to recover the dead bodies of those slain (specifically in war) and bring them back.
    •   If you are going to be an Evangelist of the gospel, we should always remain close to the Commander (Jesus) in order to carry forth orders that He has declared. It is a preacher’s duty not only to carry forth the orders of the Commander appointed over him, but also in rallying the troops to obey His orders. A good preacher will not only declare what Christcommands to His enemies, but also declare to the allied forces that they are to be in obedience to His commission!
    • 
Whether those dead in trespasses and sins or our brethren temporarily slain by sin, the herald is to bring back those slain and dead through the resurrection power of the gospel proclaimed. We are specifically sent out to recoverthese poor souls and bring them all back to God through the power of the Holy Spirit.
  9. Heralds were not only used to convey information, but collect it.
    • We are not to be givers of information from our own will, but phonological reflectors of God’swill. We are to collect information and study God’s word so that we can clearly andzealously publish to the world that which we have already digested ourselves. Manuallabor on an empty stomach is not wise; neither is preaching the gospel without fillingup on His Word and Spirit. 
  10. Greek heralds were sent out to declare policy, demands, and decrees abroad. Also, they 
would announce warnings, or offers, to hostile cities or armies, as well as declare war itself.
 More often than not, kerukes were denied entry into warring cities as a sign of protest or 
insult.
    • We are to be faithful in declaring the policies, demands, and decrees of God to all.We are to preach the warnings of God as well as His offer of peace to the hostilecities of the world. It is necessary, as a part of our duties, to reveal that man isalready at war with God, and we must boldly stand before Satan’s Army to declare
 conditions of peace and judgment from the King.
    • More often than not, we will be denied entry into many places in order to declare ourmessage, but this should not deter us. Although done as sign of protest and insult against God, we are to be steadfast in delivering the message whenever possible (Luk 6:22).

As a final illustration, we will use a famous herald, Phidippides, as an example of a faithful messenger. According to myth, Phidippides ran 26 miles from the battle of Marathon to Athens to announce Greek victory in war. Depending on the source, the message was somewhere along the lines of “Joy to you, we have won” or “Rejoice, we have the victory.” It was after proclaiming this that he breathed his last breath and died.

As believers we have received the victory over sin, death, and hell. Christ has gone 
into the Most Holy place and atoned for our sins and has defeated the armies of 
darkness, making a public shame of them because of His sacrifice. Because this war 
is won, shouldn’t we also be running a spiritual marathon declaring “we have the 
victory?” Shouldn’t we be giving our very lives in order to publish this good news,
 even if it is the very last thing we say with our mouths? Phidippides, although myth, is a
 great example of dedication, swiftness, and perseverance in order to deliver a
message that literally cost him his life. Are willing to run in the steps of Phidippides 
for Christ? To go the extra mile or two or twenty-six? No matter how it must be
 done, let us be found faithfully preaching the glorious gospel until our LORD comes 
for His bride.

-Until we go home

Costing Everything

We have used this video before about 3 years ago, but I feel compelled to share it again. Our family watched “God’s Not Dead 2” last night and found it to be a blessing. However, one aspect that stood out to me is the reality that persecution is coming, and it is coming sooner than we hope and think that it will come. To follow after Christ though requires that we are willing to understand that ultimately it will cost us everything.

The Confession Alone: The 6th Sola

The Confession Alone: The 6th Sola

Confessions and formalized creeds have been an edifying edition to the Christian faith. Since the beginning of the New Covenant (and even further back since the dawn of teaching), mankind has formalized and rehearsed many sayings, creeds, idioms, and other phrases that have refreshed our minds about a how we ought to think or understand life. Within Christendom, there are certain flavors of creeds and confessions that we Reformed folks hold to very dearly. Assuming that you understand which confessions exist, I seek to make my point quickly. If you have never read a creed, confession, or catechism, I highly suggest you do some research and learn from them.

Having said all that, there is an authoritative flaw in our Reformed circles. I call it he Sixth Sola: Confession Alone. It is this idea that if it is not a part of your confession, it cannot (or in some cases should not) be taught or even considered as biblical. Or, practically speaking, although we do not verbally admit this, when we are discussing Scripture with someone, and the first thing that comes out of their mouth is “X confession says…” when making their case, it is making the confession the ultimate authority in the conversation (unless they are just using the confession as a springboard to talk about Scripture). I am aware that this last statement may have ruffled more feathers than the first, but understand what I am actually saying and do not misinterpret my words. If your first or final authoritative response in any discussion about theology or what the Bible teaches concerning what you believe and why is “the confession says” you have turned a guidepost into a destination.

Most, if not all, creeds, confession, and catechisms are reactive. That is, they are written and formed based off of some other creed or confession that is in opposition, and those forming it wish to distinguish themselves for the opposing party. It can be in response to false teaching (or perceived false teaching), or it can be simply trying to make a stand about a certain belief within a specific community that affirms X belief(s). As I already said, this is not inherently wrong. These are great ways to find out where your stand in your faith. i would argue that it is impossible to say anything without it being “creedle” in some way. But if you do not study the Scriptures and seek to understand why you believe what you believe, and whether or not you think you can agree with these confessions, you are placing the cart before horse. The confessions can point you in a specific direction (guidepost), but they are not the final authority (destination). Our first response in any discussion should be Sola Scriptura, not Sola Confessio (Latin check). Yet, time after time, when I dive into the Scriptures with particular pastors, preachers, and believers who ascribe heavily to confessions and creeds, whenever there are any disagreements or whenever I make my points from Scripture, I am faced with “but the Confession says…” How can this be within a Reformed world whose foundational mindset is supposed to be Scripture Alone?

There can be many reasons why one authoritatively appeals to the a confession more than Scripture. But I think I have narrowed them down to two main roots: Traditionalism and laziness. There is nothing wrong with tradition. Every denomination and person has them. It is when that tradition begins to have authority over Scripture is when we have a huge problem. Some people find great joy in holding to the long standing tradition that some of our creeds and confessions teach. Nothing wrong with that if you understand what you believe and why. But it seems that this is not the case with many. By proxy, if you are a traditionalist in this area, you will quote the confession better than you can quote Scripture because you are relying on the confession to approve yourself before God (or men). Unless for whatever reason you don’t have any access to Scripture, or in some way you are only able to memorize Scripture by categorizing them via the confession, there should be no reason why you cannot study for yourself what the Bible teaches within the pages that the confessions are pointing to. Which brings me to my next point.

I find that it is easier to quote a saying, phrase, creed, etc., in place of actually making a verbal argument concerning what you actually believe and why. Nothing wrong with summarizing what you believe, or repeating a summarization of something you would affirm. But If I believe that the reason why man exists is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, why? Because the confession says so? Or because the Scripture quoted in the confessions says so? Have I looked at the listed Scriptures? Have I taken the time to study and reform my thinking in light of the Scriptures that a confession teaches? Will I be courageous to practice Semper Reformanda if I discover some nuance in the Scriptures? Or will I be taking the confession at face value because my community of believers/churches do? Or because the men before me were theological giants who were totally incapable of error even in the minutia? Laziness is what causes us to use the confessions as they were not meant to be used. These are guideposts, not destinations.

Notice, I am not challenging the confessions. Nor am I exhorting anyone to cast away the didactic luxury that they bring to our lives. I am challenging how we think concerning them. We all have a tendency to elevate anything good over God. That is evident in Scripture and in our daily lives. If we find ourselves running to the confessions and creeds as our primary authoritative source for understanding and assurance of our faith in Christ, and we can quote and explain a confession easier than we can explain Scripture and the gospel, we must immediately eject ourselves from the seat of traditionalism and laziness, and we must diligently seek God through the Scriptures for our assurance and understanding. This doesn’t mean we cannot use the confessions to help us in this direction. But once again, where does your affection, affirmation, and assurance of your faith lie? In Christ Alone, or in the Confession Alone? Is it because the confession says so that you believe X, Y, Z, or is it because you have studied and affirmed that the Scriptures teach it?

One last time, I am not bashing any confession, or the use of them in discussion. But I am standing against any form of authoritative proclamation or behavior that insists that the confession is the first and final say so in any biblical discussion and practice. If your “go-to” argument and assurance of your belief is “the confession says,” you’ve lost all credibility. And if the confession is your main source for approving yourself before God, your credibility may not be the only thing that is lost.

-Until we go home

In Moderation?

Over the past few months, I have not been able to get on Defending Contending that much for a variety of reasons. The main reason is because I have been very busy with work, working on a professional level exam in the evening, and trying to squeeze in time for family with what little bit of time I have left. Having said that, I wanted to take a few minutes to say that I appreciate those who have been able to contribute and who have commented.

Yet, with the responsibility of sharing with others comes another responsibility that I believe is even more important. This responsibility has been sadly lacking in some of the things that have been shared and I want to clarify a few points so we can move forward. The responsibility of which I speak is that, as true believers, we are called to reflect Jesus Christ in all that we say or do. Our position can be right, but if our disposition is wrong, then we are wrong. Being belligerent, obstinate, hateful, derogatory, or even caustic does not reflect who we are in Christ.

Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who have walked the path before us. When I think of this passage, I cannot help but wonder what they would say to us if they could read our words or hear what we say to others who are true believers. As but one example, I wonder if they would wince when our words are written or designed to tear strips off of those who believe in salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ alone yet are not in total agreement with us on some point of doctrine that has nothing to do with our salvation.

grace3

It seems that on a regular basis, we can get sideways with others for a variety of reasons and in the process we forget that part of being in Christ is that we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. This has not always been the case here at Defending Contending, and even I have had to back off and extend an apology to our readers and our commenters for not being gracious. Again, my position may well have been right, but my disposition only inspired others to dive for shelter instead of looking to Jesus Christ.

Too often it seems that we forget the passage in 1 Corinthians 3 where Paul reminded the believers of Corinth that we are not called to be followers of Paul, or Apollos, or Luther, or Calvin, or MacArthur, or Sproul, or Paul Washer, or fill-in-the-blank. When we put our eyes on mere men who are fallible and by no means 100% correct in every single area of their life, we will be disappointed. Not only will we be disappointed, but the world will have reason to wonder as to who really paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. They may well wonder why we spend more time trying to defend points of doctrine over acting, speaking, and listening in ways that are truly glorifying and Christ-honoring.

Recently, we have had posts that were meant to be words of encouragement only for the gloves to come off and comments began to spin out of control. The post was never intended to be anything more than apples of gold in pitchers of silver. The short post got hijacked and it became a stomping ground for people from different ends of the spectrum to parade how they felt. Several posts recently have been such that I cringe when I look back and read them and the comments. I wonder what in the world we are really doing or what we are attempting to do.

Finger-pointing does nothing profitable. Thus I felt this post was necessary to hopefully clear the air. First, let me reiterate that I am unashamedly, first and foremost, a Christ-follower. Second, I hold to the Bible as the inerrant and infallible word of God that is good for ALL that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Third, I do not have any desire to follow a mere man. Yes, I, myself, have posted comments or quote or even sermons from men like MacArthur, Washer, or Dr. Steve Lawson, but they are men just like me. Others quote Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Sproul, or whoever as though they are to be esteemed to the level of the apostle Paul.

Anybody that cares to take the time to read through more of this blog will know where I have stood for the more than 8 years I have written here at Defending Contending. I have no intention of backing down from defending truth or contending for the faith. Many of you already know that I do not use the term Calvinist to describe myself. Most would be hard pressed to tell you exactly where Mark Escalera stands, but I am willing to share if I am asked. I have no issues standing against false teaching or false teachers. What I do have an issue with is the attitudes that are portrayed at times that are not Christ-like.

likeChrist

I have almost shared enough for now, but I want to share just a couple more things. Not every reader, nor every person who comments, nor even every person who has been asked to contribute stands on the same ground theologically. While I disagree on various points with each contributor, I still have the final say on the blog and who I invite to write here.

I would kindly ask that each reader remember that ultimately, I am the one that is responsible for Defending Contending and that this is not, nor will it be, a forum for just anybody to come here and defend and contend for what everyone else believes. If a person comes here and desires to share, there are still rules that are not going to change.

If you come to DefCon just for the purpose of trying to change all of our minds on a particular area, then please feel free to start your own blog. We do not mind questions, nor do we mind disagreements. But, writing inflammatory comments or demanding to be heard on one side or another of a particular issue will not be tolerated. If you have a comment that is held in moderation, I do not need 1, 2, 5, or 10 more comments letting me know that your comment is in moderation. I have a busy life and it may not be answered for an hour, a day, or even 2 days.

As for those who write blog posts here at DefCon, I respect each one and each one has added to the mix various points that I appreciate. This is true whether it is George Alvarado’s points on evangelism or apologetics, Manfred’s book reviews or posts on various doctrinal issues, J.L. Pattison’s posts on various topics, or even Sony Elise’s words of encouragement. Each of these individuals are my friends, some closer than others, and I will defend each one of them even if I do not always agree with them with everything they post or will post.

In conclusion, my entire point of the post is to bring us back to the reality that we will all disagree until the Lord takes us home. Then we will quickly come to the understanding that we were not right on everything. However, that will quickly fade as we realize how glorious it is to be worshiping with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. To find ourselves standing, kneeling, dancing, waving our hands, stomping our feet with glee, or running the hills of glory will be all worth it in the end when we see Jesus Christ, who ALONE is the author and finisher of our faith. I expect, in the meantime, that we each strive diligently to be gracious to each other so that others will see the reflection of the Master Carpenter.

Thankful to Be Loved

Several years ago, my sister and I were discussing “love languages.” My typical response, when someone asks what my love language is: “I just like to be loved.” There are things that especially make me feel loved but I know that everyone has a different personality, so I am grateful for any effort someone makes to show me that they love me. The one “language” that I didn’t think affected me at the time was “acts of service,” to which my sister replied, “Maybe it’s because you expect those things.” Ouch!

I’ve pondered that a lot since she said that and, although my initial response would have been to deny that possibility, there may be some truth to that. There are so many things that my family does to serve me that maybe I have become accustomed to and have lost sight of the fact that those things are done out of love whereas, if they stopped, I would probably feel the lack.

thankful

When someone shows you hospitality, I’m guessing you would be appreciative and sure to thank them. Yet how often do you thank your family for the things they do? When your wife makes dinner, do you let her know how much you appreciate her willingness to do that night after night? If your husband is a hard worker, do you tell him what a blessing that is? If your child does a chore without being reminded, do you thank him or her for the act of service? Have you thanked your Mom and Dad for the sacrifice they made while you were growing up?

Family and close friends are often neglected when it comes to showing appreciation and gratitude, but they are the ones who may need to hear it the most. Don’t assume they know how blessed you are because of them; tell them!

I don’t know that I will ever say again that “acts of service” aren’t a big deal to me. The fact is that my friends and family don’t owe me a thing, but I am grateful that they love me and are willing to show me in a variety of ways. I pray that I am faithful to show them love and gratitude in return.

I hope you will purpose this week to let people know how much even the little things mean to you. You will probably brighten their day.

roses