November 11, 2014

Romans 3

3:1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,


  “That you may be justified in your words,
    and prevail when you are judged.”

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:


  “None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12   All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
13   “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
  “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15   “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17   and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

(ESV)

November 10, 2014

Romans 2

2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.

12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

(ESV)

Going Deeper

Going Deeper

The Idolatry Factory (11-8-14)

Grab your bible and let’s go deeper into Romans 1

Read: Romans 1:18-25

Idolatry is one of the most talked about things in scripture.

3 of the 10 commandments specifically speak to idolatry.  He begins with    “You shall have no other gods before me.”  Exodus 20:3.  And then he ends with the 10th commandment which talks about Covetousness which is craving something more than you should, which is a form of idolatry.  So, God bookends the 10 Commandments with a focus on idolatry. The teachings on idolatry are not just confined to the OT: 1 John 5:21  “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”

 

This should give us a deep desire to go deeper into this area of our sin so that we can understand and answer:

  1. What is idolatry?
  2. What are the consequences of idolatry?
  3. How to be free from idolatry?

Consider for yourself, when someone says idol worship or idolatry, what do you commonly think of?  We usually think of an idol as an animal or human figure made of stone or wood.   Right?  We picture someone prostrate on the ground before an object for religious devotion or magical power. Or we might use ‘idolatry’ to describe someone’s obsession with money or someone we  ‘idolize’ like Michael Jordan or Justin Bieber.

Author, Richard Keyes says, “We have, in effect, distanced ourselves from the whole idea of idolatry by pushing it out to the extreme cultural and psychological margins of life.”  This distance has produced two problems: First, we misunderstand

the wreckage of idolatry that the writers of the Bible so often and intensely write about.   If we as Christians today see idolatry only at life’s margins, we will be ill equipped to use this powerful critical tool as the apostles and prophets did to understand and challenge the surrounding world.

The second problem is similar to the first but even more important.  If we do not understand the nature of idolatry, we will not be able to recognize or guard against it in our own lives and communities.  My hope is today we begin to see that over-looking idolatry makes us blind toward our own problems!  Idols are not just on pagan altars, but are also in well-educated hearts and minds. 

So our first stop must be to answer the questionWhat is Idolatry?”

In sin, we tragically altered our relationship with God and as a result instead of turning GODWARD and finding in Him all that we need in life we turned away and to other things to try to discover those things God designed in us to be fulfilled by him.  The way the Apostle Paul put it in our passage today is instead of turning Godward, we turn away from God. We ..did not honor him as God!  Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him,”

We ceased to see God as fundamental and essential for the existence and fulfillment of our lives.  Because we are made to have relationship with God in which we are fulfilled and purposed and secure and with clear identity, when we no longer seek him to be those things for us we now have an active vacuum in our hearts that looks to find those things in other things.  

So, we do not simply turn away from God, we actually have to find something to put in his place. So what Paul says is that people embrace a lie to exchange the creator for the created. Romans 1:25  “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

Because we are wired for worship,  we will worship!  So hear this:  When we turn from God we find a substitute on whom we heap our worship.  We look to something else to give us identity, meaning, significance, purpose, security and joy!  G. K. Chesterton-“When we cease to Worship God, we do not worship nothing, we worship anything.”  So it is these substitutes that become our idols.

So our working definition of idolatry is this: A substitute or counterfeit God – something in the creation that is inflated to function as God.  It is something that has become more fundamental than God in your life for your identity, personal significance,  sense of security,  purpose for living,  source of happiness and joy. So your idol, likely then, is not a carved block of wood or shiny metal or formed stone, but a person, a place, a house, a car, a team, a hope, an idea, a pleasure, a political party, a motorcycle. In it you are putting your hope and your trust.  You’re trying to learn from it.  And you are trying to find your identity, personal significance,  sense of security,  purpose for living,  happiness and joy in and from it.

When we begin to understand this we begin to really understand what God was asking for in the first commandment: “Do not have any other gods before me.”  He is saying:    Do not make anything more necessary or fundamental or valuable than me. Martin Luther has said it this way: Every breaking of the commandments is, at its core, a breaking of the first commandment.

Here is why breaking any commandment is really breaking the first:

For example:

Why do we lie?   Because we want the approval or the thing that lie gets us to fulfill us:  Replacing God

Why do we steal?  Because we think we NEED that thing to fulfill us:  Replacing God

Why do we covet or envy?  Because we think if I had that, I would be happy. It would satisfy me:  Replacing God.

So it is essential that we understand an idol is not simply a statue of wood, stone, or metal; it is anything we love and pursue in place of God!  An idol is something within creation that is inflated to function as God. 

This brings to light a key thing to understand:  An idol (in it essence) isn’t  necessarily something evil.  It commonly is something very good.   Colossians 3:5 says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”  I want to focus on the words: “evil desires”.

Our affections or desires really are the root of our worship and whether or not we honor God or something else.  So Evil Desires here is key and yet often misunderstood.  The phrase “evil desires” here is an effort of the English translators to get across a single Greek word, which is “epithumia” and means an over desire or an excessive desire.

All throughout the New Testament this word pops up when dealing with character change.  The problem is we typically read it or translate it as a desire for something evil, something forbidden. Like:  to kill someone, to steal, to deal drugs to kids. But that’s not what epithumia is!  It is an over or misplaced desire for anything that is good.  It is essentially addiction or lust for something God has made.

John Calvin clearly says: “The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much.”   

So often the object of desire is good, and the evil lies in the lordship of the desire.

For example:

I am a parent:  it is very possible to turn my kids into idols

I am a pastor:  it is possible to turn my job into an idol.

I am a patch holder in SFJMC: it is possible to turn the patch into an idol.

It is a good thing that you have simply inflated to function as God in your life.

So consider this:  another way to define idolatry is = Taking a good thing and making it an ultimate thing.  When we replace God’s will for our own and try to determine how we live.  As a result our natural affections (for any good thing) in SIN become ruling cravings.

So in this we can begin to see why people do a lot of things.  The guy who feels he has to get drunk on the weekends is not necessarily making an idol of alcohol. Or the girl who feels she has to give her body away sexually to men isn’t necessarily making an idol of sex. The ultimate thing in both of these hurtful practices could be an over desire for friendship and love!

So one cheapens one’s self to get wasted on the weekend or give their body away sexually because being fulfilled in friendship or love has become ultimate. And at any cost they make that thing their master!

So the good thing of your “looks or beauty” can become an ultimate thing (an idol) in your life in an effort to find your personal significance.  So the good thing of your “career” can become an ultimate thing (an idol) in your life in an effort to find your sense of security.  So the good thing of “raising your kids” can become an ultimate thing (an idol) in your life in an effort to find your purpose for living.

Idolatry happens when you and I try to find our identity, personal significance, sense of security, purpose for living, happiness and joy in these things or people or in status INSTEAD OF IN GOD!

Now it is critical we begin to see the consequences of idolatry. 

What are the consequences of idolatry?  Notice what happens when we exchange God as ultimate in our lives and make something else more fundamental or ultimate for our joy, identity, purpose for living, security, and personal significance.

Back to Romans 1…look at verse 25.  Romans 1:25 “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

Consequence #1)   It leads to slavery!  You become a slave to your idols – it begins to control you. You begin to serve it.

This functional counterfeit god in our life becomes our master.  Herein lies the irony for all those who deny God because they don’t want to be controlled by God.  You inevitably will turn to something else that turns on you and controls you.  The intention in the beginning is you think you can control it but it gains power and priority over you and in the end, it controls you.  So that you become a slave to your idol.

For Example:

Money becomes an idol when it becomes more fundamental to your joy and life than God.   Money says,“You will finally enjoy life if you have me.  You will amount to someone.  You will be secure with more money.”  And so you work yourself to death.   Even at the cost of family, of friendships, or of ministry.   We put cash on the throne in our hearts and make it KING. 

We make money our idol and instead of working to live,  money is so your master, your KING, you live to work.  

Like a slave master who has you in his grip. You lie for him to qualify for loans or credit cards.  You steal and spend more than you know you have and have to pay back at the expense of someone else. You cheat on your taxes and in your addiction make excuses that it is ok because you have decided ultimately who really should get your money.  Not the government or God.  But you.  Now, because it has become everything to you, what losing it means is the second consequence of the idol factory at work.

Consequence #2)   It leads to devastation!  Hosea 8:4 “With their silver and gold they made idols
for their own destruction.”

When your idols let you down, or break down or run away, you will begin to come undone! You feel crushed, like you want to die.  Why?  Because that thing or position or person has become everything to you—ultimate, fundamental—and so when it is away or not working or lost or gone you feel incomplete, and undone.   What is little and/or temporary is set up on a mantle to be EVERYTHING.  To be ultimate.  To be fundamental to us.  A family member can become an idol if they become more fundamental to your joy and life than God.  When you make a family member ultimate, if they leave you or get hurt or die, it will wreck you.

 If a Good thing is lost you are sad. If an ultimate thing is lost you are lost.  Whatever you give you heart to converts you.  It gives you a sense of identity and purpose to live.   Now, because losing our idols is so devastating, you become trapped in fear, which leads to the third consequence of the idol factory at work.

Consequence #3)   It leads to fear!  Because the response to losing our idols is so powerfully devastating we can become overcome with fear of losing it.   So a level of great unhealth comes to us because of our fierce feardriven motivation to keep our idols in our possession.   This is where addiction for so many takes over.  An imbalance in thinking that causes one to over elevate something that isn’t necessarily bad to an unhealthy involvement.

Because we are stricken with fear, seldom do we really feel true peace!  Why?  Because the thing I have elevated to ultimate could be lost or stolen or broken.  Only in the everlasting God are we able to find to peace because all that is temporary gains purpose as it points to him and in him my ultimate affection is always satisfied.

But a righteous God, a just God, must justly give out judgment for those who choose the created over the creator to worship and love and find meaning for life in. This leads to the fourth consequence of the idol factory at work in our hearts.

Consequence #4)  It leads to God’s judgment!  Back to Romans 1.  Romans 1:18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” When we turn away from God, we turn toward judgment.   We remove ourselves from relationship with God.

The wrath of God is perfect for all those in unrepentant sin who choose to worship something else.  So his wrath is revealed to those who deny or “suppress” the truth, which is life with the living God.  Everything else that you and I try to set our lives on will only lead to certain and eternal death.  Our idolatry is serious because God’s judgment means eternal death. It is as serious as death.  Eternal death. 

So the pressing question then has to be How can we be free from idolatry?  The answer is the difference between two words:  achieve or receive!

Achieve:  You can live your live trying to achieve a certain identity, life of significance, level of security, of purpose, of joy.  We can try to achieve those things… it is called SELF SALVATION.

As far back as you can remember you have been in achieve mode trying to answer these questions!

For the Ladies:  when you were little you would say, “Daddy, aren’t I pretty?”

Or the Boys might have said, “Mommy, watch how fast I am!”

It is always achieve.  “I have to be more, do more, prove myself”

Because you have to achieve on some level to find a sense of identity, or significance, of purpose, of joy!  Job, friends, love, family being proud of you, family members, house, car, bank account, recognition/awards.  It becomes,  “Can I achieve to the point of Self Salvation?”

–Even the drug addict on the street is in achieve mode to get his next high.

–The outlaw who steals or fights does so to achieve acceptance or significance.

–You are trying to rescue yourself from insecurity, from insignificance, and trying to achieve.

HEAR THIS:  As long as you live in achieve mode you will live as a slave!

But there is Good News!  Instead of slaving away at trying to achieve, you can receive!   Receive what?  RECEIVE the Gospel, which brings us to a different way of Salvation.

To turn Godward and receive the life of Christ, who stands in your place to achieve all that is needed to be restored to the living God who ultimately is your identity, personal significance, sense of security, purpose for living, and you can find in him your happiness and joy.  To understand that Jesus came and lived idol free.  And yet took upon himself our deserved wrath for our idol worship and died in our place so that we no longer had to achieve but could be free to RECEIVE his life in our place.  This resulted in the restoration of our relationship to the Father and opened the doors for us to be satisfied in him forever.

In Christ we RECEIVE an identity with God that we could never gain nor can we ever lose!

Let me be real clear.  To Receive Jesus is not coming to church long enough so you are ok, or working hard enough to get your life straight, or rectifying the wrongs from your past.  All that would just be more achieving by which you would claim some of the worship and glory. That’s religion.

The Gospel is altogether different because Christ achieved what we could not.  He makes us a forever part of the Church. He empowers us to straighten out our life to honor him.  He rectifies the wrongs of our past on the Cross.  All we do is receive by repenting form sin and trusting in Christ as Lord.

Only “in Christ, who is our life,” are we able to look to the good things in our life and see them as good and not have to make them ultimate things.

So your marriage is a good thing but not the ultimate thing.

Your career is a good thing but not the ultimate thing.

Your club is a good thing but not an ultimate thing.

You realize none of those things can ACHIEVE YOU ULTIMATE JOY and LIFE.    Only JESUS can do that!   None of those things could die for you and remain your JOY. If they were even willing to do that, they would be dead and then you would be devastated. But Christ rose to victory and sets us on a new path and IN HIM alone our idol factory can close for good.

By His grace and for His glory,

-Shepherd / Soldiers for Jesus MC / Bakersfield CA

November 7, 2014

Romans 1

1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

(ESV)

November 6, 2014

Acts 28

28:1 After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. 10 They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.

11 After three months we set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods as a figurehead. 12 Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. 13 And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium. And after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14 There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. 15 And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage. 16 And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him.

17 After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19 But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. 20 For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” 21 And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”

23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:


26   “‘Go to this people, and say,
  “You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
27   For this people’s heart has grown dull,
    and with their ears they can barely hear,
    and their eyes they have closed;
  lest they should see with their eyes
    and hear with their ears
  and understand with their heart
    and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”

30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

(ESV)