If you were a Christian in ancient Rome…
- You lived in one of the most incredible cities of the ancient world.
- You very well may have heard the gospel from someone who was in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost in AD 33 when Peter first proclaimed the crucified Jesus as Lord and Christ (Acts 2:10).
- You very well may have known Jewish brothers and sisters who were expelled from Rome in AD 49 by Emperor Claudius (Acts 18:1-2).
- You very well may have welcomed your Jewish brethren back in AD 54 after Claudius died.
- In AD 57, you and your brothers and sisters in Christ received a letter from the apostle Paul who was writing from Corinth during his third missionary journey (Rom 1:7).
- You very well may have traveled to the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns in AD 60 to personally meet Paul (Acts 28:15).
- You very well may have visited with Paul throughout AD 60-62 and listened to him boldly proclaim the kingdom of God and teach extensively about the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 28:30-31).
- You very well may have heard in person many of the encouragements and teachings Paul wrote in Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon (Phil 1:12-14).
- You were probably aware of the fact that, by that point in time, there were Christians even in Caesar’s own household (Phil 4:21-22).
- Your city suffered a terrible fire in the summer of AD 64 that burned for six days and seven nights, consuming almost three-fourths of the city. Rumor would have spread to you that Emperor Nero had set the fire for his own amusement. Your life would have changed dramatically once Nero laid blame for the fire on Christians.
- You would have been personally familiar with persecution (Rom 8:31-39).
- You would have had some serious decisions to make. You would remember what Paul had written in his letter.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel… (Rom 1:16)
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! (Rom 6:1)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice… (Rom 12:1)
Would you have chosen to be “of Christ,” even in ancient Rome? More importantly, will you choose to be “of Christ” today?
This sermon was delivered on March 23, 2014.