Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

My Photo
Name:

Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Friday, September 22, 2017

On the Paragraph Division Between Galatians 5 and 6

[The following post was originally published on 7/8/11.]

Introduction

Fairly recently, while visiting a church while out-of-town, I heard an excellent sermon on Galatians 5:26-6:5. As apparent from the citation, in this sermon it was asserted that a new paragraph, lasting through the fifth verse of Chapter 6, begins with the last verse of Chapter 5 (so that the chapter break should
fall before, not after, what we see as 5:26; the reader will remember that the chapter breaks were not in the original text and are therefore not inspired). No argument (as far as I can recall) was given by the preacher for why the break should fall before 5:26, and below I will give a short argument for why I think that the preacher was wrong on this point and why the division correctly falls after 5:26.

Why This Matters


I concede that this issue is not of first importance. Certainly, since there were no paragraph divisions explicitly written into the original text, sincere Christians may amicably disagree over where the paragraphs should best be divided. And despite my disagreement with the preacher on the issue of paragraph/chapter division in this section of Galatians 5-6, I (again) affirm that the sermon mentioned above was one of the better sermons I have ever heard: it was thoroughly gospel-soaked, and it both encouraged and challenged me.

I do think that the issue of paragraph division (in terms of understanding the text of books/epistles as containing passages with discrete units of meaning) is worthy of some careful attention. If we divide the word of truth wrongly, we are not reflecting the author's intended meaning in the text. If we place paragraph divisions in the wrong places, we will not be able to correctly identify the topic sentences of the paragraphs, and we will thus have a false view of the main point being made in the various paragraphs.

The History of Interpretation


Checking through a number of Bibles that I own, I found that they all place a paragraph break between Chapters 5 and 6 of Galatians, with the exception of one edition of the NASB, which places the paragraph division before 5:25, rather than 5:26. In looking at a number of commentaries, it seems that the various authors assume that the chapter division is correct. It seems that there is (and has been through the years) a widespread consensus that the paragraph/chapter break between Chapters 5 and 6 is correctly placed.

The above observation is certainly far from absolute proof regarding the question under consideration. On the one hand, the publishers of Bible editions and the authors of commentaries COULD simply be
wrong in their (explicit or implicit) assertions regarding the paragraph/chapter break. On the other hand, the publishers and commentators COULD simply be accepting the chapter break from older editions, without proper reflection.

Despite the concession above, I would like to suggest that when approaching a passage we should carefully consider the work of those who have gone before and that, especially when there is a consensus among Bible scholars from a wide denominational spectrum, we should be extremely cautious about dismissing their work without a compelling reason for doing so.

Additional Arguments For How We Know That The Chapter Division Between Galatians 5 and 6 Is Properly Placed

In addition to the brief comment above regarding the history of interpretation, I would like to suggest two other arguments for how we can know that the chapter division between Galatians 5 and 6 is properly placed; these arguments are: 1. The use of adelphoi ("brothers" or "brethren") at the beginning of Chapter 6; 2. The way that those who explicitly disagree with the placement of the chapter division actually address the text.
1. One reason, it seems, that most have seen a proper paragraph/chapter break between Galatians 5:26 and 6:1 is because 6:1 begins with a direct address to the intended recipients of the letter, which appears to indicate a division in the text. Paul frequently uses adelphoi to begin a new paragraph, as clearly seen in Romans 10:1 or 1 Corinthians 14:20, to give but two of numerous possible examples.

Dr. Thomas Schreiner [the only commentator I have read who agrees that the text should not be divided between 5:26 and 6:1-- though he, like the edition of the NASB I mentioned earlier, begins the paragraph at 5:25, rather than 5:26] asserts that “the use of this term does not necessarily designate a new section” (Schreiner, Galatians, Zondervan: 2010, 355). But the proof that he gives to back up this assertion is a reference to two verses: Gal 5:11 and 6:18. These two verses, however, are unusual in that: a. In the latter [6:18], which is the last verse of the entire book, adelphoi appears as the penultimate word of the epistle, followed only by “Amen;” b. In the former [5:11], adelphoi is preceded by the conjunction de.

  1. The Apostle closes out his epistle once again addressing the recipients of his letter. Even if he had begun EVERY other paragraph with adelphoi, there would be no reason to expect that adelphoi as the second-to-last word introduces a new paragraph, containing only the words adelphoi and “Amen.”
  2. Dr. Schreiner may be correct in asserting that 5:11 does not begin a new paragraph. Verse 11 is certainly closely tied to verse 10 in that verse 11 contains the conjunction de before the word adelphoi. Also, the first word in both 10 and 11 is the Greek word for “I;” in both of these verses Paul is making a direct assertion about himself to the recipients of the letter.

In the strictest sense, Dr. Schreiner is correct in using the verses mentioned above to prove that adelphoi “does not necessarily designate a new section.” Yet it seems to me that in MOST instances where we find the Apostle using adelphoi, especially as the first word in a sentence, it is for the purpose of grabbing his readers/hearers attention, because he is either introducing a new topic of conversation, or he is making such a specific point about what he has previously written that he means to begin a new paragraph.

Conversely, in MOST instances where adelphoi does not begin a paragraph, there are features of the text that clearly indicate why a paragraph break would be inappropriate. In other words, I would suggest that the default position should be to take adelphoi, when used as the first word, or in the first phrase, of a sentence, to indicate that a paragraph break should occur previous to that sentence. When adelphoi appears as the first word of Galatians 6:1, I see no features of the text that would lead me to believe that a paragraph break has not occurred.

2. The preacher mentioned at the beginning of this post asserted that the paragraph/chapter break should fall before 5:26 rather than 6:1, but in the body of the sermon, he actually preached Galatians 6:1-2 before going back and discussing 5:26. If 6:1 did not begin a paragraph, it seems that it would make little sense to NOT discuss 5:26 at the beginning. Likewise, Dr. Schreiner’s commentary addresses Galatians 6:1-5 in a separate paragraph from his discussion of 5:25-26 (Schreiner, Galatians, 354-355); this would hardly seem appropriate if the passages themselves were to constitute a single paragraph.

In conclusion, I believe that both the preacher I have mentioned and Dr. Schreiner have done a service in showing that Galatians 6:1-5 are connected to the previous verses. (Dr. Schreiner argues against the view that the text of Galatians 5:25-6:10 is composed of “unrelated maxims” [354].) I do think that they have somewhat over-corrected a tendency to isolate Galatians 6:1-5 from its context, however, when they assert that a new paragraph/chapter does not properly begin at 6:1

[Somewhat ironically, when publishing this post, the Blogger program deleted my paragraph divisions in the second half of the post; I've put them back in, but some might be in the wrong places. :) ]

Labels:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

In Defense of the Doctrine of Original Sin


The following was originally posted on Facebook by Chad Hunt, then recently “shared” on Facebook by Chad Johnson, who often does street-preaching here in Louisville, KY:

No one is born a sinner. That's a popular sin justifying LIE.
Jesus Christ cannot create sin. He knitted you in the womb PERFECT.

Looking at Chad Hunt’s Facebook wall, I see that a number of his posts are dedicated to arguing against the doctrine of Original Sin.

When Chad Johnson “shared” this, I responded with mentioning Psalm 51:5 and Ephesians 2:1-3. Chad Johnson replied that the verses do not say that anyone is born a sinner, and that the doctrine of Original Sin is an Augustinian invention.

NOTICE, HOWEVER: the idea that a person is born a sinner (and even conceived a sinner) is EXACTLY what Psalm 51:5 DOES say. Various translations render the verse differently, of course, but notice two of the most popular below:

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. (KJV)
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (NIV)

Psalm 51 is David mourning over his sin and calling out for salvation (or a cleansing from sin and a renewed assurance of salvation). As he considers the root of his sin, he realizes that his sinful state did not originate in his failure concerning Bathsheba and her husband; rather, it extended back even to when he was being “shapen” in his mother’s womb. (As an aside: the idea that David’s personal existence extends back into his mother’s womb is why this Psalm is a key pro-life proof-text.) The fact that he was “sinful at birth” (or even from conception) is the basis for David’s deep realization that what he needed was much more than mere moral reformation and resolve: what he needed was a heart-cleansing that only the LORD Himself could provide (Psalm 51:10).

Ephesians 2:1-3 is likewise on-point in giving explicit backing to the doctrine of Original Sin. NOTICE ESPECIALLY the language from the end of Ephesians 2:3, “we were by nature children under wrath, even as the others were also.” The text does NOT say that ‘we were, due to our own sinful actions, children under wrath.’ Rather, we are children under wrath “BY NATURE.” This is a fundamental difference between the way that Christians view human nature and the way the non-Christian world views human nature. The non-Christian world sees human nature as morally neutral or morally good. But Christians confess that apart from a life-giving work of the Holy Spirit, the NATURAL state, the default for ALL human beings (save Christ Himself) following Adam, is “under wrath.” In Ephesians 2, this is given as the reason for why we are ALL in desperate need of the gift of grace.

So to say that the doctrine of Original Sin began with Augustine is an error. That claim is similar to saying that the doctrine of justification by faith alone began with Luther or that the so-called “extra Calvinisticum” [the teaching that in the incarnation the Son was truly united to, but never fully contained within, human nature] began with Calvin. These theologians gave especially clear explanations of these doctrines, but the doctrines themselves are necessarily contained in Scripture itself.

And the doctrine of Original Sin is a gospel issue, as seen in Romans 5 (and I would urge anyone considering this issue to carefully consider that chapter). Romans 5:12 declares that “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Notice the connection between death [both physical and spiritual, as seen in the parallel to eternal life in Romans 5:20-21 and in comparison with the teaching in Ephesians 2:1-3] and sin. This necessary connection between sin and death (with death elsewhere referred to as “the wages of sin,” Rom 6:23) means that sin CANNOT ONLY signify PERSONAL transgressions, as it is obvious that many infants (some even within the womb) are subject to death. For infants, it is a sinful nature, rather than particular sinful choice on their own part, that makes death a possibility.

I say that Romans 5 makes this a gospel issue because of the parallel that the text presents between Adam and Christ. If one denies that the sin of Adam impacts the human race, then (given the line of thought presented in Romans 5) one would also be lead to deny that the righteousness of Christ impacts “the many” who have received God’s grace. Underlying both the bad news of Original Sin and the good news of justification by faith alone is the doctrine of imputation. “Imputation” comes from a word meaning “to apply to one’s account.” In this case, based on the teaching of the verses mentioned above, as well as others, we see that all people naturally have Adam’s sin applied to their account. This natural imputation of Adam’s sin has personal results, in that people all make sinful choices based on their sinful nature. From this perspective, we see that we need another imputation. By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, there is another imputation: those who trust in Christ have His righteousness applied to their account in place of their old unrighteous nature and choices. Without this teaching of imputation, we are left with the idea that God looks on us based solely upon our own personal works: and we know (both through the teaching of Scripture and our own hard experience) that our own works are powerless to save.

Motivating Chad Hunt and Chad Johnson’s denial Original Sin is their conviction that this doctrine would make God culpable for human sinfulness. I understand that, from the standpoint of human reasoning, their objection may seem to have some merit. But notice a necessary inconsistency with anyone taking their view. In the physical realm, everyone knows that there are some infants who suffer and die in infancy (and that these realities are at least a possibility for all infants). Does this reality, present in the lives of those who do not seem to be able to make personal choices to sin, make God culpable for suffering and death? If the answer to that last question is “no,” then why should we accept that spiritual suffering and death, present in the earliest stages of life, somehow make God culpable?

But even if we cannot see HOW realities like Original Sin square with the justice and goodness of God, the Bible has a hard-to-accept answer: an answer that is necessary to wrestle with and submit to if we are to grow in faith and knowledge of God. For the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote:

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory? (Romans 9:19-23)

We have no answer for all the questions above. We must simply trust God and cast ourselves upon Him, crying out: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13).

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Walk by the Spirit

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (Gal 5:16 NASB)

Since we live by the Spirit, we should also keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal 5:25, my translation)

"Walk" is a metaphor for living with purpose. "Walk" is a command in verse 16. Verse 25 uses a different word in a different form, but the idea is parallel. The statements concerning the Spirit from vv. 16, 25 introduce and conclude a distinct section of teaching, from Gal 5:16-26.

"You will not [Greek: ou mē] carry out the desire of the flesh" is a promise. There is a necessary connection here. Walking by the Spirit yields a life that is characterized not by fleshly desires, but by the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:19ff. contains a list of "the works of the flesh." As clear from this list, "flesh" is used as a broad term for the old, unregenerate nature. In principle, the flesh has been crucified with Christ (as in 5:24, cf. Gal 2:20). In practice, we must be putting to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom 8:13), keeping in step with the Spirit.

Though not in the imperative form, the subjunctive form for the word translated "keep in step," found in verse 25, indicates a moral imperative: we should keep in step with the Spirit. "Keep in step" is translated from a form of a verb that "has as its basic meaning the idea of 'stand in a row'" [Richard N. Longenecker, Galatians, Word Biblical Commentary (Nelson Reference and Electronic, 1990), 265], which may be a military term; the word carries the meaning of a deliberative action in walking (it could be translated "march"). One either walks by the Spirit or carries out fleshly desires. These activities are mutually exclusive. If we do not walk by the Spirit, we are living contrary to a clear biblical command. If we do not keep in step with the Spirit, it indicates moral failure on our part.

Our motivation for walking by the Spirit is that He has given us life. "Believers have already been translated from an old mode of existence to a new one" [Moisés Silva, Interpreting Galatians (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 183]. The Holy Spirit is the origin of the believer's life, and He is the instrumental means by which we are empowered to live in a way that is pleasing to God.

In this section of Galatians, the command to walk by the Spirit is specifically contrasted with "the desire of the flesh" on the one hand and being "under the law" (5:18) on the other.

What does it mean to "walk by the Spirit"? How does a believer "walk by the Spirit"?

 To walk by the Spirit is:

- To live in accordance with our new identity in Christ;
- To love neighbor as self;
- To strive after sanctification;
- To depend on the Holy Spirit;

To live in accordance with our new identity in ChristSince we live by the Spirit, we should also keep in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:25, my translation). Earlier in Galatians, the Apostle had written, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20a NASB). In this section (5:16-26), Paul writes, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal 5:24 NASB). Our flesh has been killed: it has been dealt a mortal blow with the death of Christ on the Cross. We have died to the law (Gal 2:19): legalism is prohibited. To walk by the Spirit is to live as if the desire of the flesh and temptations to legalism have no power over us. Because, due to the Cross of Christ, the power of the flesh and the curse of the law have indeed been broken.

To love neighbor as self. When the Apostle gives the command "walk by the Spirit," it comes in the midst of his teaching concerning the relationship of the believer to the law. The curse of the law has been broken. If we are led by the Spirit, we are not under the law (Gal 5:18). Yet there is a real sense in which the blessed man still delights in the law of the Lord (Psa 1:2). Lawlessness cannot characterize the Christian life, for sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4), and Christ has saved us from sin.

Jesus summarizes God's moral law in terms of loving God heart, soul, and mind, and loving neighbor as self. The Judaizers in Galatia, against whom Paul was writing, would have agreed (in theory) that one should love God whole-heartedly. They may have even given verbal assent to the idea that one should love neighbor as self. One of the Apostle's goals in writing Galatians (as seen in Gal 5:1-15) was to demonstrate that the Judaizers were acting in an unloving way, trying to place an impossible burden upon those who have been set free by Christ. Through acting in such an unloving manner, the Judaizers (who claimed to love God's law) were actually violating the principle that fulfills the law: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Gal 5:14).

Jesus is God. God is love (1 John 4:8). Therefore, as we live in accordance with our new identity in Christ, our lives will be characterized by love. This love will be grounded in gospel truth.

The Holy Spirit is the Person of the Trinity most identified (according to the divine economy) with love between the Father and the Son, the application of divine love to elect sinners, and shining forth God's love to others. Believers in Christ are indwelt by the Spirit (John 7:38-39). Therefore, as we "keep in step with the Spirit," our lives will be characterized by love.

To strive after sanctification. There is a view of the Christian life that teaches, "Let go and let God." This view is largely identified with the Keswick movement. A key problem with this teaching is that it largely defines the Christian life in passive terms. This may be a problem with some sides of a recent debate on sanctification as well: some participants in the debate seemed (at least) to identify virtually any activity on our part (other than a mere mental consideration of what Jesus has done in our justification) with legalism. But "walk," in Galatians 5:16, is an active verb. That activity is required by this command is expressed even more clearly in the re-iteration of the principle found in Galatians 5:25, where we are told to "keep in step" with the Spirit. In the last chapter of Galatians, we see further evidence of the believer's activity regarding the Spirit when the Apostle writes of "the one who sows to the Spirit" (Gal 6:8 ESV). [Thanks to John Shrewsbury-Sunday School Director at New Georgia Baptist Church for pointing out Gal 6:8 to me in this connection.] A person cannot sow passively.

What kind of activity is involved if we are to "walk by the Spirit"? One verse that may be helpful in this consideration is Jude 20, where the Spirit-inspired author writes of "praying in the Holy Spirit." [Thanks to Jerry Dorris for pointing out Jude 20 to me in this connection.] Ceaseless prayer (1 Thess 5:17) in the Holy Spirit--characterized by faith and focus on Christ (Jude 20-21), directed toward God with no consideration of impressing others (Matt 6:5-8)--is a major part of what it means to walk by the Spirit.

Along with prayer, we should consider the other "acts of righteousness" that Jesus mentions in Matthew 6:1-18. Namely: giving to the needy and fasting. Obviously the commands of Christ concerning the Christian life can in no way be divorced from the command of the Apostle that we "walk by the Spirit."

Other God-appointed means of sanctification may be included as well. Obviously (for example) we cannot "walk by the Spirit" if we neglect evangelism, as we will be failing to take our part in the Lord's commission to "make disciples of all nations" (Matt 28:19). In fact, one might argue that all of the spiritual disciplines for the Christian life are included in the command to "walk by the Spirit."

To depend on the Holy Spirit. If the above consideration is correct, then the single command "walk by the Spirit" may be rightly understood to involve all of the spiritual disciplines. This may seem to be bad news. We may feel overwhelmed at the thought of performing all the disciplines. We may feel discouraged considering how often we neglect various disciplines. This is why we must walk by the Spirit. As indicated by Galatians 5:18, we must be "led by the Spirit." The power for sanctification comes from Him, not us. Our focus is on Christ, whom the Spirit consistently glorifies, not on ourselves.

Depending on the Holy Spirit (focusing on Him) also points to the fact that there is a certain priority in the spiritual disciplines. Jesus certainly expects His disciples to fast, but He doesn't expect us to starve ourselves to death by fasting every single day. Jesus certainly expects His disciples to give to the needy, but He doesn't expect us to give ourselves into destitution. But He does expect us to pray without ceasing (to pray daily): "praying in the Holy Spirit" (Jude 20). He also expects us to meditate on the Word of God and to keep His Word on our lips (Acts 4:23-31). These are the most basic spiritual disciplines: maintaining a conversation with God, which is expanded into our conversation with others (including our words and actions), all the while depending on the Holy Spirit.

[The above blogpost was originally published here on 5/28 and 6/2/2014.]

Labels:

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Mark Dever on Dead Icons and the Living Icon

[The following post was originally published on 8/16/07.]

In the book Preaching the Cross (35), Mark Dever writes:

One friend of mine particularly likes icons- images of the prophets, apostles, even Jesus Christ. He explains his devotion to icons by the same reasoning that Eastern Orthodox theologians have used for more than a thousand years- if we don't have images of Christ, they reason, that must be rooted in a flesh-denying Gnosticism, and we, in effect, are denying the incarnation.
I, for one, am not persuaded. Jesus didn't train his disciples in sketching or painting. The first image we have of Christ [the first attempted depiction of Christ the history records] was written by a pagan mocking a Christian 'worshiping his god'- and the crude little drawing has a simple figure with a donkey's head hanging on a cross.
If we had a photograph of Jesus and the twelve disciples, I don't think we could tell which one was Jesus merely by his appearance. No glow; no halos. On the other hand, if that picture were to become a moving picture, then I think we could tell the identity of Christ very quickly by noticing which one gave himself in love to those around him. The sacrifice of love- that was the purpose of his incarnation, and that is the purpose of the church. God has left a witness for himself in you and in our congregations. Our physical natures are an aspect of our social natures, enabling our ability to interact with others in love and service.

Jesus said in John 13, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (vv.34-35). God has forbidden statues to be made of him; Jesus had no icons of himself drawn or painted, but by his Spirit he fashions a representation of himself- and that is the church. In its holiness we see something of God's holiness; in its unity we see something of God's unity; in its love, we see something of God's love.
Brothers and sisters, let us heed the biblical teaching above. Let us encourage one another to forsake any unbiblical practice in worship and to instead to seek purity and gospel fellowship in God's church, which is the true, living representation of Christ in the world.


Labels:

Monday, August 21, 2017

Dr. Robert Godfrey Warns Against Seeing Movies Depicting Jesus

During the 1st Q and A session at the 2014 Ligonier Conference, Dr. Robert Godfrey gave the following advice:

"Don't go to pictures where Jesus is represented. [Movies depicting Jesus] plant in the minds of yourself and others a picture of a person who is not Jesus. If I carry a picture around of a woman who's beautiful in my wallet and haul it out and say, 'This is my wife,' but it's not my wife, my wife might be upset about that. We don't know what Jesus looked like, and the Bible offers no encouragement to His pictorial representation."

The other panelists disagreed with Dr. Godfrey. R.C. Sproul immediately turned to John Calvin to support the idea that images of Jesus are permissible. (His use of Calvin in this regard is highly dubious in my opinion.) Other panelists turned to the idea of pre-literate peoples to try and support the idea that images are useful. However, no panelist who disagreed with Dr. Godfrey directly addressed his line of reasoning.

Labels:

Monday, August 14, 2017

pretty, but non-functional.

Last week, I re-tweeted the following advertisement from Royal Dutch Airlines, which they had posted with the caption, "It doesn't matter who you click with." When I originally saw the advertisement posted on a friend's Facebook page, I didn't believe it could be real, but when I checked the Royal Dutch Airlines Twitter account, it turned out to be genuine. Surprised, my initial reaction was to comment: "It actually does matter."



Why would an airline use such an advertisement?

Well, as a non-evangelical friend of mine commented:

"When companies advertise in this way, they are advertising embracing equality in how they communicate with and serve their INTERNATIONAL customers. They are inviting people who are often rejected, turned away, put down, demonized, harassed, or even harmed, and letting them know that they will be given the same attention and fairness as the airline's straight guests, and ensure them that negative behavior from people of different beliefs and opinions will not be tolerated. 

"Companies advertise this way to make people feel welcomed and loved. They are offering them a safe, hassle free journey."


This must certainly be the motive behind the advertisement. However, I believe that the advertisement itself, which attempts to use pretty, but non-functional [in 2 out of 3 cases] seatbelts in order to make a political point, is emblematic of the mode of thought expressed in many of our cultural/political conversations today.

We are not trained to consider the proper functions of our institutions nor the rational end of our assertions. The original designer of the seatbelt did not create it in order to make a political statement. This applies to other areas of reality as well.

I believe that, like trying to use a pretty, though clearly non-functional, seatbelt to make a political point, certain affirmations, while perhaps providing some sense of emotional relief for certain people in the short-term, are actually out-of-step with reality/rationality. Allowing emotion to trump reality (rather than submitting our emotions to reality) is ultimately destructive for society and individuals within it.

Labels:

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Book of Galatians Summaries and Outlines

[Beginning in March of 2008, my Sunday school class at Kosmosdale Baptist Church studied through the Book of Galatians. In teaching through this book, I created summaries and outlines for each chapter. The outlines were adapted from class notes given by Dr. Tom Schreiner. at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Currently, Pastor Mitch Chase is preaching through the Book of Galatians on the Lord's Day morning services at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. It is for this reason that I am now re-visiting and re-publishing these summaries and outlines.]

In Galatians 1, Paul begins the epistle by defending his call as an apostle: that this call came directly from Christ and was not dependent on human authority. He gives this defense in order to make the case for why he is qualified to preach the true gospel of justification by faith alone in Christ alone, in contrast to the false gospel of justification by faith plus works of the law, as advocated by his opponents.

1:1-5 Grace and Peace
1:6-9 Astonishment at the Galatians Departure from the Gospel
1:10 Paul is not a people-pleaser.
1:11 The gospel message Paul preached was not from people.
1:12 The gospel message Paul preached was received from Jesus Christ.
1:13-14 Paul was previously zealous for Judaism.
1:15-17 Paul did not consult with the other apostles before he began preaching the gospel.
1:18-20 Paul had limited contact with the apostles after he began preaching the gospel.
1:21-24 Paul had limited contact with Judea.

In Galatians 2, Paul continues defending his independent ministry as an apostle: that he received his apostolic calling directly from Christ, and not from the other apostles. He mentions his Gentile friend Titus, who went with him to visit the other apostles (and was not compelled to be circumcised) as an example to prove that circumcision is not required for receiving the gospel. Thus, the other apostles approved Paul's gospel preaching. Later, however, Peter contradicted himself (and, more importantly, contradicted the gospel) by indicating with his actions that keeping Mosaic law is necessary for reception into the body of Christ. Therefore, Paul confronted Peter; this confrontation is a prime example that Peter held no authority over Paul's gospel preaching. Paul reminded Peter of the core gospel teaching, and Paul uses this account of his words to Peter as an opportunity to summarize the doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone to his Galatian readers, before moving into a more detailed description of this doctrine in Galatians 3.

2:1-2 Paul and his associates went to Jerusalem due to a revelation (i.e., they were not summoned there by the apostles as if the other apostles had authority over them).
2:3-5 Titus was not compelled to be circumcised by the other apostles, proving that circumcision is not required for receiving the gospel.
2:6-10 The other apostles approved of Paul's gospel preaching.
2:11-14 Paul defended the gospel from the erroneous actions of Peter!
2:15-21 Paul reminded Peter of the core gospel teaching: justification by faith alone in Christ alone, apart from works of the Law

In Galatians 3, Paul gives the central soteriological argument of his letter to the Galatians: that we are justified by faith and not law. The chapter begins with an emotional exclamation from Paul, signaling a transition from teaching of doctrine as set within a historical narrative (i.e., the account of Paul's confrontation with Peter) to teaching of doctrine specifically directed to the Galatians. In arguing for the doctrine of justification by faith alone, Paul thus begins with the Galatians' own experience, for the Galatians had obviously received the Spirit, as evidenced by their conversion and the Spirit's miracle-working power among them. Next, he moves to an argument for justification by faith alone from particular texts of Scripture: texts such as Genesis 15:6, Genesis 12:3, Deuteronomy 27:26, Habakkuk 2:4, and Leviticus 18:5. Then, he argues for justification by faith alone based on the work of Christ: that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law and that the Abrahamic blessing has come to be focused on Christ. Paul argues for justification by faith alone based on the Covenant of Abraham as contrasted with the giving of the Law. Then, he argues for justification by faith alone through pointing out the purpose of the Law, which is not given to justify sinners, but to confine sinners under sin and to serve as a tutor until the coming of Christ. Based on the doctrine of justification by faith alone, Paul argues for the unity of believers in Christ.

3:1 Paul cries out in distress over the condition of the Galatian churches.
3:2-5 Paul argues for justification by faith and not law based on the Galatians’ experience.
3:6-12 Paul argues for justification by faith and not law based on the text of Scripture.
3:13-14 Paul argues for justification by faith and not law based on the work of Christ.
3:15-20 Paul argues for justification by faith and not law from the covenant of Abraham, as contrasted with the giving of the Law.
3:21-25 The purpose of the Law: to confine people under sin and serve as a tutor until the coming of Christ.
3:26-29 The Galatians (both Jews and Gentiles) have become sons of God–identified with the seed of Abraham–through faith in Christ.

In Galatians 4, Paul continues with his argument for justification by faith alone in Christ alone–apart from a system of law-keeping–specifically basing his argument on the redemption accomplished by Christ, which purchased us from slavery to the Law in order that we would receive adoption as God's sons. This is a Trinitarian work, in that God is said to have "sent forth His Son" for our redemption, and is said to have "sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts" in our adoption.

Notice the proper emotional response articulated by Paul based upon his contemplating the truth of the gospel versus the danger of the Galatians in their being potentially led into apostasy. Paul is not ashamed to beg the Galatians to follow him in the gospel, nor is he ashamed to prevail upon them based upon their previously established relationship.

Finally, Paul gives a true 'liberation theology.' The liberation spoken of by Paul is illustrated from biblical history, it is accomplished by Christ, and it liberates us from slavery to a system of law-keeping into freedom as sons of God in Christ.

4:1-11 Paul argues for justification apart from the system of law-keeping based on our adoption as sons of God through the redemption accomplished by Christ.
4:12-20 Paul pleas with the Galatians to imitate him and to be warned against the false teachers, basing his plea on his previous relationship to the Galatians.
4:21-5:1 Paul gives an allegorical illustration of our freedom from the system of law-keeping through the liberation accomplished by Christ.

The final two chapters of Galatians are primarily devoted to application based upon the doctrine that has been presented in Chapters 3 and 4. Galatians 5 primarily serves to give warnings based upon the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Paul warns the Galatians against trying to add law-keeping to faith as a means of justification: justification comes by faith alone. Justification by faith alone is based upon the agency of the Holy Spirit and upon our union with Christ. Paul then warns the Galatians against false teachers and defends his own ministry against the charge that he is secretly teaching a system of law-keeping. Next, Paul warns the Galatians against viewing their freedom in Christ in a selfish way; Paul teaches service through love and warns against quarreling. Finally (for this chapter), Paul teaches on the works of the flesh (which works indicate that those doing them will not inherit the kingdom of God) versus the fruit of the Spirit (which fruit indicates that one belongs to Christ and that one is not bound under a system of law-keeping). Faith that comes by the agency of the Holy Spirit produces fruit of the Spirit; true faith produces good works toward others.

5:2-4 Law-keeping cannot be added to faith as a means of justification, for law-keeping demands our perfect obedience, which would nullify the benefits given by Christ, and would condemn us
5:5-6 By the Spirit we have the hope of justification; in Christ our justification is accomplished–so that faith (and not initiation into a system of law-keeping)–is what matters
5:7-12 Paul warns the Galatians against false teachers and false teaching, and he defends himself against the charge that he is secretly preaching a system of law-keeping as well.
5:13-15 Paul warns the Galatians against viewing their freedom in Christ in a selfish way; Paul teaches service through love and warns against quarreling.
5:16-26 Paul teaches on the works of the flesh (which works indicate that those doing them will not inherit the kingdom of God) versus the fruit of the Spirit (which fruit indicates that one belongs to Christ and that one is not bound under a system of law-keeping).

In the closing chapter of Galatians (Galatians 6), Paul continues his exhortations to the Galatian Christians based upon the previous instruction he had delivered to them. Rather than doing works of the law to find favor with God, Paul writes of fulfilling the law of Christ. This fulfillment, in terms of understanding Paul's argument in a non-contradictory fashion, must be seen as a working out of what Christ has already accomplished on our behalf. We can help carry each other's burdens because Christ has carried our ultimate burden–the curse due to sin–on His Cross. In carrying one another's burdens, Paul is quick to remind his readers that we still each have accountability before God.

In conclusion, Paul gives one final contrast between his own ministry and that of the false teachers: the false teachers seek to escape persecution and boast to others in what they can accomplish through persuading the Galatians to accept a system of law-keeping; Paul, however, will boast only in the Cross, and he has suffered great persecution for the message of the Cross. Paul reminds his readers of the theological truth that what really matters is not keeping to a legalistic system, but becoming a new creation in Christ.

6:1-10 Christians are not lawless, but fulfill the law of Christ through doing good works to others: especially other Christians.
6:11-18 Christians boast only in the Cross of Christ; what matters is not partaking in the system of law-keeping, but becoming a new creation in Christ through His work.

Labels:

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Galatians: Extended Synopsis

Explanation

In my Sunday school class at Kosmosdale Baptist Church in 2008, we studied the Apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians. I wanted to help the class get an overview of the book of Galatians without reading the entire book of the Bible in class, so I came up with the following extended synopsis of Galatians. This synopsis is based on outlines I had to make of various sections of this book for my class on Galatians here at Southern Seminary. This synopsis contains all the major propositions of the book with enough additional information from other verses in order to make sense when read. Some of the more theologically significant verses are not found in this synopsis, but as we studied through Galatians, we went well beyond the synopsis to examine the book verse-by-verse. I'm bringing this back up now, because currently Pastor Mitch Chase is preaching through Galatians in the Lord's Day morning services at Kosmosdale.

Synopsis

Paul, an apostle. and all the brothers who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: grace to you and peace.

I am astonished that you have turned yourselves away. As for me: do I now seek the favor of men? Do I strive to please men? If I were still trying seeking the favor of men, then I would not be a servant of Christ. For I declare to you, brothers, the gospel I proclaimed. For you heard of my former way of life in Judaism. But when the one who selected me from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace was pleased to reveal his Son in me, I didn’t immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up into Jerusalem to the apostles who came before me, but I went away into Arabia and afterward I returned to Damascus. Later, after three years, I went up into Jerusalem to meet Cephas, I didn’t see any other of the apostles. Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. But they kept on hearing, “The one who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith.” And they were glorifying God because of me.

Later, after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas along with Titus as well. And I reported to them the gospel I preach in the nations. But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. But as for those appearing to be something: they added nothing to me. But on the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, then James, Peter, and John knew the grace given to me.

But when Peter came into Antioch I opposed him to his face: “We, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners were ourselves justified by faith in Christ. But if I construct again those things I destroyed, I demonstrate myself to be a transgressor. For through law I died to law. I have been crucified with Christ. I live, but it is no longer I, but the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God. I don’t set aside the grace of God.”

O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?! I only want to learn this from you: are you so foolish? Have you endured so much in vain? Consider Abraham: he believed God and it was counted to him for justification. So that those believing are blessed with believing Abraham.

But that no one is justified with God by law is evident. Brothers, I speak in terms of human relations: no one annuls or adds to even a human covenant that has been established. Now I say this: the Law does not cancel a covenant. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise. What, then, is the Law? It was added on account of transgressions. It was ordained through angels by means of a mediator. Is the Law, therefore, against God’s promises? May it never be! But before faith came, we were being kept [as] those confined under law, so that the Law has become our tutor in order that we might be justified by faith. But since the coming of faith we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God. For as many of as have been immersed in Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. But if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.

But I say that as long as an heir is a minor, he is no different from a slave, but he is under guardians and trustees. So we too had been enslaved under the elements of creation. But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his son. And because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts.

Therefore, you are no longer a slave, but a son. And since a son, also an heir through God. But formerly, not having known God, you were enslaved to things that aren’t really gods. But now, knowing God– or, rather, being known by God– how can you turn again to the weak and bankrupt elements? Do you want to serve them all over again? You scrupulously observe days, months, seasons, and years; I fear for you.

Brothers, I beg of you: become like me, for I became like you. You didn’t wrong me, but you know that through an infirmity of the flesh I formerly proclaimed the good news to you. And you didn’t despise nor reject your temptation in my flesh; rather, you received me as an angel from God: as Christ Jesus.

Therefore, where is your blessedness? For I testify that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?! They [those adding to/opposing the gospel of grace] court you dishonorably, but good is always to be courted in a good way.

My children, I’d like to be with you now and change my tone. Tell me, you who want to be under law, don’t you hear the Law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, but the one by the slave woman had been born according to the flesh, while the one by the free woman was through a promise. These things are allegorical, for these women are two covenants; one, indeed, is from Mt. Sinai, giving birth into slavery: this is Hagar. Now Hagar (Mt. Sinai) is in Arabia; this corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is enslaved with her children. But the higher Jerusalem is free; she is our mother. For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren woman, not bearing children! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor pains! Because the children of the desolate woman are more numerous than those of the woman who has a husband.” Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as it was then, when the one born according to the flesh persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, so it is even now. But what does the Scripture say? “Throw out the slave woman and her son.” Therefore, brothers, we aren’t children of a slave woman.

Christ has liberated us into freedom; therefore, stand firm and don’t be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Look! I, Paul, tell you that if you receive circumcision Christ will not benefit you at all. Again, I testify to every man who receives circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace! For we by the Spirit through faith eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything, but [what matters] is faith acting through love. You were running well, who cut in on you to prevent you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from the one calling you. I have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you will take no other view. But the one troubling you will bear the judgment: whoever that may be. But I, brothers, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case, the offense of the Cross has been abolished. For you were called to freedom, brothers.

But I say walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: fornication… and things like these, which I forewarn you. . that those doing such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love… . self control. Against such things there is no law. But those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

Brothers, if someone is overtaken by any transgression, you– the spiritual ones– must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Carry one another’s burdens. For if anyone considers himself to be something even though he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work. But the one being taught the Word must share all good things with the teacher. Don’t be deceived! For what a man sows, that he also reaps. But we should not grow weary in doing good. So, then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone.

See what large letters I write to you with my own hand!

Those who want to make a good show in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised. For the circumcised ones themselves don’t keep law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. But may I never boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything.

Finally, let no one cause me trouble.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers.
–Amen.

Labels:

Monday, July 03, 2017

My Translation of the Book of Galatians

Chapter 1

1 Paul, an apostle–not from men, nor through a man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead–2 and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ 4 who gave himself for our sins so that he might rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom is the glory forever and ever.
– Amen.

6 I am astonished that you have turned yourselves so quickly away from the one who called you by the grace of Christ unto a different gospel, 7 which is not another [gospel], although someone is unsettling you and desiring to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we–or even an angel from heaven–might preach to you in deviation from that which we preached, let him be damned! 9 As we have said before, now I say again, if someone preaches to you in deviation from what you have received, let him be damned!
10 Now, do I seek the favor of men or God? Do I strive to please men? If I were still seeking the favor of men, then I would not be a servant of Christ!
11 For I declare to you, brothers: the gospel I proclaimed is not according to Man. 12 For I didn’t receive it from a man, nor was it taught to me, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 For you heard of my former way of life in Judaism, that I persecuted the church of God to an extreme, and I ravaged her. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many peers in my class, being exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when the one who had selected me from my mother's womb and called me by his grace was pleased 16 to reveal his Son to me, in order to proclaim him in the nations, I didn’t immediately consult flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up into Jerusalem to the apostles who came before me, but I went away into Arabia and afterward I returned to Damascus.
18 Later, after three years, I went up into Jerusalem to meet Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I didn’t see any other of the apostles except James, the brother of our Lord.
20 Look! Before God, that which I write to you is not a lie.
21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, 22 but I remained personally unknown to the congregations of Judea that are in Christ. 23 But they kept on hearing, “The one who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith he was formerly destroying.” 24 And they were glorifying God because of me.

Chapter 2

1 Later, after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas along with Titus as well. 2 But I went up according to a revelation. And I reported to them the gospel I preach in the nations (but privately, to those reputed to be important, lest somehow I might run, or have ran, in vain).
3 But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. Because false brothers who were smuggled in crept in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus. We didn’t yield to them for a moment in obedience, so that the truth of the gospel might remain unchanged with you.
6 But as for those appearing to be something–when, in fact, they are nothing to me (God does not consider a man’s appearance)–those appearing to be something added nothing to me. 7 But on the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised 8 (for he who effectively worked in Peter’s apostleship to the circumcised also effectively worked in me among the nations), 9 then James, Cephas, and John–those appearing to be pillars–knew the grace given to me, and they gave Barnabas and me their right hands of fellowship that we might go into the nations, but they might go to the circumcised. 10 They only asked that we might remember the poor, which was the very thing I was intending to do.
11 But when Cephas came into Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he had been condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he would associate with the Gentiles. But when they came he began to withdraw and separate himself, fearing those from the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray in their hypocrisy.
14 But when I saw they weren’t straightforward in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of everyone, “If you, a Jew, are living like a Gentile and don’t live like a Jew, how do you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?
15 “We–who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, 16 after having known that a man isn’t justified by works of the law, but rather through faith in Jesus Christ (and we have believed in Christ Jesus)–since we were justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of law (because by works of law no flesh will be justified): 17 if, while we are seeking to be justified by Christ we ourselves were found to be sinners, then is Christ a minister of sin? May it never be!
18 “For if I construct again those things I destroyed, I demonstrate myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through law I died to law so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. 20 I live, but it is no longer I, but Christ lives in me. But the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I don’t set aside the grace of God, for if justification is through law, then Christ died in vain.”

Chapter 3

1 O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly set forth as crucified? I only want to learn this from you: did you receive the Spirit by works of law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, Are you now perfected by flesh? 4 Have you endured so much in vain? (If, indeed, it really was in vain…) 5 Did he then, supplying the Spirit to you and working miracles among you [do these] from works of law, or from hearing with faith?
6 Consider Abraham–he believed God and it was counted to him for justification. 7 You know, then, that those believing–these are the sons of Abraham. But the Scripture, having foreseen that God justifies the nations by faith, foretold the gospel to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” So that those believing are blessed with believing Abraham.
10 For as many as are from works of law are under a curse. For it has been written, “All who don’t persevere in everything written in the book of the law, in order to do them, are cursed.”
11 But that no one is justified with God by law is evident because, “The just will live by faith.” 12 But the law is not from faith, rather, “The one doing them will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, becoming a curse for our sake (as it has been written, “Everyone hanging on a tree is cursed”), 14 so that the blessing of Abraham might come into the nations through Christ Jesus, so that the promise of the Holy Spirit might come through faith.
15 Brothers, I speak in terms of human relations. No one annuls or adds to even a human covenant that has been established. 16 But the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. It does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but rather, “And to your seed,” as of one, which is Christ. 17 Now I say this: the Law, coming four hundred thirty years after the covenant, which had been previously ratified by God, does not cancel a covenant, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise. But God graciously gave it to Abraham through a promise.
19 What, then, is the Law? It was added on account of transgressions until the seed, to whom the promise had been given, might come. It was ordained through angels by means of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator is not for one [party only], but God is one.
21 Is the Law, therefore, against God’s promises? May it never be! For if a law was given that was able to impart life, then justification really was on the basis of law. 22 But the Scripture confined all under sin, so that the promise based on the faithfulness of Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were being kept [as] those confined under law, until the coming faith was revealed, 24 so that the Law has become our tutor until Christ, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But since the coming of faith we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been immersed in Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 But if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.

Chapter 4


1 But I say that as long as an heir is a minor, he is no different from a slave, though he is lord of all, 2 but he is under guardians and trustees until the time appointed by the father. So we too, when we were minors, had been enslaved under the elements of creation. But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 in order that he might redeem those under law, in order that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore, you are no longer a slave, but a son. And since a son, also an heir through God. 8 But formerly, not having known God, you were enslaved to things that aren’t really gods. 9 But now, knowing God–or, rather, being known by God–how can you turn again to the weak and bankrupt elements? Do you want to serve them all over again? 10 You scrupulously observe days, months, seasons, and years–11 I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored for you in vain.
12 Brothers, I beg of you: become like me, for I became like you. You didn’t wrong me, 13 but you know that through an infirmity of the flesh I formerly proclaimed the good news to you. 14 And you didn’t despise nor reject your testing in my flesh; rather, you received me as an angel from God–as Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore, where is your blessedness? For I testify that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. 16 So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?!
17 They court you dishonorably; rather, they desire to isolate you so that you court them. 18 But good is always to be courted in a good way, and not only when I am with you.
19 My children, for whom I am again in labor pains until Christ is formed in you, 20 I’d like to be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you.
21 Tell me, you who want to be under law, don’t you hear the Law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons–one by the slave woman, and the other by the free woman–23 but the one by the slave woman had been born according to the flesh, while the one by the free woman was through a promise. 24 These things are allegorical, for these women are two covenants. One, indeed, is from Mt. Sinai, giving birth into slavery: this is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar (Mt. Sinai) is in Arabia. This corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is enslaved with her children. 26 But the higher Jerusalem is free; she is our mother. 27 For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren woman, not bearing children! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor pains! Because the children of the desolate woman are more numerous than those of the woman who has a husband.” 28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as it was then, when the one born according to the flesh persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, so it is even now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Throw out the slave woman and her son. For the son of the slave woman will certainly not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 Therefore, brothers, we aren’t children of a slave woman, but of the free woman.

Chapter 5


1 Christ has liberated us into freedom. Therefore, stand firm and don’t be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
2 Look! I, Paul, tell you that if you receive circumcision Christ will not benefit you at all. Again, I testify to every man who receives circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by law are alienated from Christ: you have fallen from grace! 5 For we by the Spirit through faith eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything, but [what matters is] faith acting through love.
7 You were running well, who cut in on you to prevent you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from the one calling you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole batch.
10 I have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you will take no other view. But the one troubling you will bear the judgment,whoever that may be. 11 But I, brothers, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case, the offense of the Cross has been abolished. 12 I could wish that those troubling you would even emasculate themselves!
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only don’t turn freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, rather serve one another through love. 14 For all the law has been fulfilled in one statement–in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, lest you be consumed by one another.
16 But I say walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other so that you don’t do the things you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious–which are: fornication, impurity, debauchery, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, faction, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these, which I forewarn you (as I told you before) that those doing such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.
24 But those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited– provoking one another, envying one another.

Chapter 6


1 Brothers, if someone is overtaken by any transgression, you–the spiritual ones–must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, watching yourself lest you too are tempted. 2 Carry one another’s burdens, and thus you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone considers himself to be something even though he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have glorying in himself alone, and not in others. 5 For each one shall carry his own load. 6 But the one being taught the Word must share all good things with the teacher. 7 Don’t be deceived; God is not mocked! For what a man sows, that he also reaps. 8 Because the one who sows to his own flesh will reap ruin from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 But we should not grow weary in doing good. For in the proper time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up. 10 So, then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially to the household of the Faith. 

11 See what large letters I write to you with my own hand! 12 Those who want to make a good show in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised only so that they might not be persecuted for the Cross of Christ. 13 For the circumcised ones themselves don’t keep law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But may I never boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; all that matters is a new creation. 16 So peace and mercy on those who will keep this rule, even on the Israel of God. 

17 Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear in my body the brand-marks of Jesus.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers.

–Amen.

Labels:

Friday, June 23, 2017

On the Proper Naming of Churches

This is something that I feel rather strongly about, but I've never blogged about it before. I fully recognize that there are some excellent, healthy churches that do not follow this model for their church name. However, I am in contact with some people who are involved in church planting, and so I hope to help persuade them of [what I believe should be] the preferred method for naming churches.

Creativity is NOT desirable in a church name. Look at how the churches are addressed in the New Testament. They are simply "the church in __________." Because we now have different denominations, I believe that it is useful (and a matter of honesty) to indicate the denominational/theological position in the name. Therefore, I would argue that "Location" "Denomination" Church is the most appropriate name.

As someone who is Reformed Baptist by conviction, and who finds that my fellow Reformed Baptists usually value precision in church belief and practice, I have been surprised at how many Reformed Baptist churches depart from the model I'm advocating (usually by placing a doctrine/commitment, rather than the location, at the beginning of the church name). It seems to me that other names (for example: "Grace Church" [NOTE: this generic example is NOT meant to pick on any specific Baptist church of anyone I know]) is, at best, a matter of human will and that highlighting a specific doctrine/commitment in the church name relatively minimizes other important beliefs. Having the church location in the church name: 1) honors the fact that God, in His providence, has established a body of believers at a specific location; 2) shows love for the surrounding community, which the congregation should be reaching with the gospel.

Labels: