27th February 2013

The Sign Of A Christian

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)

During excavations of Roman remains at such diverse places as Corinium (Cirencester, in the UK), Dura-Europas (Syria) and Pompeii, archaeologists occasionally uncovered what became known as a Sator Square or Rotas Square. These squares consist of five Latin words – Sator, Arepo, Tenet, Opera, Rotas –  arranged in a vertical column to form a word square. The square is named after the first word in the column which is either Sator or Rotas. Although the meaning of such a cryptic square is still debated, many now accept an interpretation that regards the letters to be more important than the words. The letters can be rearranged into the shape of a cross where both the vertical and horizontal bars are formed by the Latin word, PATERNOSTER, meaning ‘Our Father’, and where the letter N is common to both bars. Two vowels, A and O, are left over and these vowels, in their Greek form, are Alpha and Omega, a biblical code for the one true God. It is thought that, at a time when Christians were often persecuted, the square was a cryptic sign placed on the outside of an early Christian house, which was a puzzle to the non-believer but let the initiated know that a Christian dwelt within that home. Hence the square was considered to be an outward sign to identify a home with an indwelling Christian. A Sator Square found in Manchester, dating back to the 2nd century, is considered by some authorities to be one of the earliest pieces of evidence of Christianity in Britain.

The New Testament reveals that God makes his home within the Christian through the Holy Spirit. “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)

The apostle Paul makes it clear in his letter to the Galatians that salvation is by grace through faith; that it cannot be gained or lost through works. “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galations 5:4). But in this same letter he also makes clear the true role of works in a Christian’s life. That faith, which is the result of God’s indwelling, expresses itself to the outside world in works of love, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galations 5:6). These works, the fruit of the spirit, such as love for your enemies, may be a puzzle to non-believers but they are the outward sign, the spiritual Sator Square, of a Christian and a sign of God’s indwelling.

Father, we thank you for the love you have openly shown to us through your grace and we ask that, through your spirit, we may express something of that love to the outside world.

Study by Eddie Marsh

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One Response to “27th February 2013”

  1. John Magowan on February 27th, 2013 10:35 am

    Some interesting snippets of early Christian history, and thanks, Eddie for sharing them with us. One can only wonder how much more of this kind of stuff is waiting to be discovered by biblical archeologists.

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