Saturday, July 28, 2007

Here is a statement that should cause you concern:

"There's nothing you can do to a human being onscreen that is taboo anymore. Over and over again, people are breaking the boundaries of the body, hurting people, chopping people up, ravaging people. ... For things to be truly scary, we're going to have to find new boundaries to tread on." -- writer/producer Akiva Goldsman (The Da Vinci Code).

Hollywood never ceases to amaze me. It loves to push boundaries to sell movies. No matter that it degrades human beings, puts thoughts and images onto screen that would be better unimagined and seeks the lowest common denominator of civilization in the pursuit of fame and wealth. Then, rises up in what we are to believe is righteous indignation over the environment and the war, or anything in liberal bag of causes.

I really don't understand how anyone can listen to these people talk with a straight face.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mohler says it plain about Mormonism.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A baby hippo and old turtle have bonded. Is this like the lion and the lamb thing? Thanks to Mind Over Blather for the pictures.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

6:6-10 Supporting the Minister

6 One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.

After giving the theological teaching about the need to cling to life in the Spirit and salvation by faith, rather than by works and rituals, Paul, in chapter 6 makes a series of practical applications of this truth. Paul has discussed restoring those caught in sin, bearing the loads of others, and testing your own work without comparing it to the work of others.

Verse 6 seems a bit out of place here in this discussion of the Spirit versus the flesh. It seems to interrupt the flow, and, I think, has caused many to misinterpret the following verses as being part of the same subject as verse 6, as opposed to part of the larger discussion of walking in the Spirit rather than walking in the flesh.

So, verse 6 says that those who are taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches. 1 Corinthians 9 also reflects on this. There Paul said:

3 This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, [1] as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?

Jesus taught this same principle, by the way. In Luke 10:1-7, when Jesus sent out The Seventy, he told them to stay in one house when they came to a town and to eat and drink what they gave them, because a laborer was worthy of his wages. In 1 Corinthians 9:14, Paul said the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

6:7-9 Sowing and Reaping

7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

In verse 7, Paul returned to his original topic of walking by the Spirit instead of by the flesh. He is tying together his teaching on the fruits of the Spirit and the practical applications he has been giving. He gave it to us in plain terms. If we sow to the flesh, we will inherit corruption. But if we sow to the Spirit, we will inherit eternal life. In Romans 2:5-10, Paul said:

5 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. 6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking [or sow to the flesh] and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 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...

In Romans 8:6, he said the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.

This is really the message of Psalm 1:

1:1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

Further, we cannot mock God by sowing to the flesh, yet expecting or claiming to reap from the Spirit. We cannot fool God. 1 Chronicles 28:9 says the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. Luke 16:15 says God knows your hearts. We also cannot mock God by claiming to be a Christian saved by faith while really believing in salvation by works or ritual.

This farming metaphor would be striking to Paul’s audience. They were much more in tune with the growing of food than we are in the city. If you sowed corn, you reaped corn, not wheat. This was a metaphor they could readily understand.

In the context of the Paul’s teaching here, sowing to the flesh is believing in justification by works, by ritual circumcision and obeying the Jewish law. Some had sowed to that, and they reaped corruption, backbiting, devouring each other, spying on each other’s liberty, using deceptive tactics to introduce the false gospel, boasting about the number of their converts, acting in envy, creating factions, causing dissension, and all the other works or fruit of the flesh. God will not accept or honor this.

These verses are often misused, saying that if we sow by giving to a particular ministry or preacher, we will reap, that is, gain financially from giving financially. But, I think this is taking the verse on sowing and reaping out of its context.

In verse 9, Paul said not to grow weary in doing good. “Doing good” means believing the gospel and sowing to the Spirit. Why should we not give up? Because we look forward to the time of harvest, the “proper time” Paul mentions, meaning, I think, when he returns. That is the time of our reward. Jesus made that clear in his parables. Judgment and reward come after his return and the resurrection. This again is a rebuttal to the prosperity gospel. Our time of reward is in eternity, not on this temporal earth.

Jesus did good while he was here on earth. He preached, he cast out demons (Matthew 9:1), he raised the dead (Matthew 9:18-26) and fed the hungry. Jesus account of the final judgment in Matthew 25:31-46 shows the righteous will be known by feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and imprisoned. Paul lived this out also, taking up a collection for the Jerusalem church.

We are to do good to each other. Doing good is part of sowing to the Spirit.
The Judaizers, or legalists, may devour each other alive as they manifest the fruit of the flesh, but we help each other. Legalists divide, we build up.

6:11-18 Final Thoughts

11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which [2] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

Paul is signing the letter himself, using large letters. I think this means Paul dictated the rest of the letter to a scribe, but from here to the end he writes in his own hand to emphasize the main point of the letter.

That point is made in verses 12-16. It is to resist ritual circumcision and the imposition of the law. In verse 12, Paul disparaged the motives of the Judaizers. He said they wanted to avoid persecution for the cross. They wanted to fit in with the Jews, and avoid conflict with the Romans, who allowed Jewish worship.

In verse 13, Paul went even further, saying they do not even keep the law themselves. Jesus criticized the Pharisees for this also. Rather, they just want to boast that they subjugated Gentiles to Judaism.

In verse 14, Paul contrasted his motives and attitudes. He would not boast in the flesh, only in the cross of Christ. The cross leaves no room for pride, it only speaks of our weakness and need.

The only thing that matters is a new creation. It does not matter if you are circumcised or not, only if you are born again.

Paul wished peace on all who follow this rule, even Israel, meaning his persecutors.

Finally, Paul sealed the letter with the authority gained by suffering – he bore the marks of suffering for Jesus on his body.
This is the end of the study in Galatians. Our next study will be in 1 Samuel.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Steve Camp has a great summary of the ministry of George Whitefield.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A fleeing Taliban fighter, desperate for water,was plodding through the Afghanistan desert when he saw something far off in the distance. Hoping to find water, he hurried toward the object, only to find a little, old Jewish man at a small stand selling ties.

The Taliban asked, "Do you have water?"

The Jewish man replied, "I have no water. Would you like to buy a tie? They are only $25."

The Taliban shouted, "Idiot! I do not need an overpriced tie. I need water! I should kill you, but I must find water first.

"OK," said the old Jewish man, "it does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie and that you hate me. I will show you that I am bigger than that". "If you continue over that hill to the east for about two miles, you will find a lovely restaurant. It has all the ic e cold water you need. Shalom."

Muttering, the Taliban staggered away over the hill.

Several hours later he staggered back.

He said "Your brother won't let me in without a tie."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Sajani Shakya is a living goddess. She is 10 years old, Nepalese and is about to lose her status as deity. Sajani left Neapl and came to the United States last month. She was promoting a film about Nepal's living goddesses. Unfortunately, Sajani was forbidden from leaving Nepal because of her high goddess status. I always thought the deity told humanity what the rules were and enforced them, but in Nepal they do it the other way around. The temple elders tell the deities what to do, at least in the case of the living goddesses.

So, the elders intend to demote her from deity status and install someone else. It sounds more like Miss America than living goddess. Maybe she should threaten to turn them into frogs or something. No wait, that’s a witch, not a goddess, isn’t it.

Sajani had 32 attributes of perfection. However, they seem to be physical rather than spiritual, such as the shape of her teeth, the pitch of her voice and no flaws of skin, hair and eyes. It sounds kind of like the red heifer of Judaism, which guys are trying to breed in the Deep South of the U.S.A. There can be no imperfections.

While these elders seem to create a goddess in their own image, or the image they want, God created Man in his own image (Genesis 1:26). He is sovereign and imposes his will on mankind. Men and women are to worship him.

Of course, many men and women in Christianity do create their own god, redefining God to fit their preferences. For example, there is the loving God who will not send anyone to hell. He is definitely not the God of the Bible. Then there is the God that will give you anything you want, indeed is required to give it, as long as you ask in faith. That is definitely not the God who told Paul he would not remove his thorn in the flesh, but his grace was sufficient. So, we may think this practice in Nepal is exotic, but, on closer examination, may find we do the same thing.

When you redefine God, you create an idol. The first commandment tells us not to do that (Exodus 20:3-4). But men and women will continue to create gods in their own image, to fit their needs, because they do not want to bow before the God of the universe. They want to say, I am good in my own right and so must be acceptable on my own merits. God says no. So, they create their own.

Unfortunately, the day will come when God’s forbearance ends and all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (Revelation 20:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Then, we will face the real God, and he will not care for our definitions.

It would be better to face this issue now.

Monday, July 16, 2007

How to fly with a Calvinist.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Galatians 6

6:1-3 Bear One Another's Burdens

6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

One place this fruit of the Spirit should come into play is in our dealings with our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially when they get caught up in sin. We have a duty to such a person. Those who walk by the Spirit should take action to restore him. This means to put him or her in the proper condition, like setting a broken arm. We want to restore this person to the way he or she was before she became caught in the transgression.

We should do this in a spirit of gentleness, not harshness. Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit (see 5:22). The one who does the correction should approach the other in meekness and gentleness. The one who does the correction must also watch themselves, so they won’t be tempted to commit the same sin.

We are to bear each others burdens. Burden here means a heavy weight, such as all Christians will have to bear at times, in the reproach of the world. There is no place for conceit, thinking you are better than others, but there is also no place for cowardice.

6:4-5 Bear Your Own Load

4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.

Conceit, or thinking oneself better than others, comes from testing your work or yourself against others. Paul said to test your own work. Test yourself against the standards set by Christ. Worry about how you are doing and don’t feel the need to put others down as not doing as well as you are.

Each will have to bear his own load. That seems a bit of a contradiction, doesn’t it? We are to bear the burdens of others, but each is to carry his own load? Here, load means something each person must carry for himself or herself, such as a knapsack.

Friday, July 13, 2007

“I had been praying for something I wanted very badly. It seemed a good thing to have, a thing that would make life even more pleasant than it is, and would not in any way hinder my work. God did not give it to me. Why? I do not know all of his reasons, of course. The God who orchestrates the universe has a good many things to consider that have not occurred to me, and it is well that I leave them to Him. But one thing I do understand: He offers me holiness at the price of relinquishing my own will.” Elisabeth Elliott
The man or woman who believes in the sovereignty of God finds a peace no one else finds. This person rests in both the love and power of God, and submits the will to God's. Romans 8:28 says And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. To know this, we must know that God has the power to work all things together for our good. He has the power to direct every situation. Many who claim Christ do not believe this. They are subject to a form of Deism. They think God made them, but does not either have the power or will to make things happen. But, the Bible is clear He does. Not a sparrow falls to the ground outside of His will.
Once we know God has this power, we must know he uses it to work for our good. We cannot always see it, as Elisabeth Elliott notes. Who would know better than she, who lost a husband doing God's work? Yet, she trusted Him who sees all.
She is right about the will. Part of being a disciple is surrendering your will to His will. So, there is no holiness without surrender. Even Jesus did it. He prayed "Your will be done" in the model prayer. And when it was personal, in the garden, when he did not want to go forward, he still prayed, "nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done".
There is no peace in the self directed life. The price of peace, just like the price of holiness, is surrender. Justin Van Deventer wrote: "All to Jesus I surrender; all to him I freely give; I will ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live. I surrender all, I surrender all, all to thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all. "

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

“Theology is important because correct doctrinal beliefs are essential to the relationship between the believer and God.” Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1985), 28.

The local newspaper carried a front page article today about an explosion in Cleburne, a small town south of Fort Worth. A guy called the Cleburne fire inspector, saying "every time my wife lights a cigarette a blue flame shoots up to the ceiling".
EVERY TIME? How many times do you have to light a cigarette and see a blue flame shooting up to the ceiling before you figure out it is a bad idea? Well, for this guy, one more time.
The fire inspector told the guy he was on his way and not to light any more cigarettes, but he lit a match for his wife (a true gentleman, if not a true thinker) and boom, the house exploded and blew a hole in the roof.
So, it's true, smoking can be hazardous to your health.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied "you're in a hot airballoon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude."

She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Republican.""I am," replied the man. "How did you know?""Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Democrat." "I am," replied the balloonist, "How did you know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You've risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but, somehow, now it's my fault."

Pull Out of D.C. - It's a Quagmire!

A letter in the Australian Shooter Magazine this week:

"If you consider that there has been an average of 160,000 troops in the Iraq theater of operations during the past 22 months, and a total of 2,112 deaths, that gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000 soldiers. "The firearm death rate in Washington DC is:
80.6 per 100,000 for the same period. That means you are about 25 per cent more likely to be shot and killed in the U.S. Capital, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the United States, than you are in Iraq. "

Conclusion? The US should pull out of Washington ."

Monday, July 09, 2007

5:16-18 Walk by the Spirit

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The life of the flesh is a two sided coin. On one side is the law, and trying to live out the law to be justified. It appeals to our pride to say we are good enough in our own efforts.

The other side is living to gratify the desires of the flesh. You know, it’s that thing we all fight against. It is the desire to live for self and the desire to sin. It is what the Judaizers said would happen without the law to keep us in line. It is what the legalists say today, if the law is not required, we will fall into sin. How do we avoid sin? We walk by the Spirit.

Paul makes clear that flesh and Spirit are opposed to each other, as he says in verse 17. Herman Ridderbos said the were in irreconcilable conflict. The desires that come from each are different and in competition. Paul said, if you walk by the Spirit, you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

“Walk” here is another metaphor. It is the metaphor for living. These guys had to walk everywhere, so the idea of walking meant the journey from one place to another, just as life is a journey from birth to death. Since you probably drive everywhere you go, the word “live’ might make mores sense to you than “walk”.

So, what did Paul mean by walking by the Spirit, or living by the Spirit? It is to have your conduct controlled by the Holy Spirit, or to be ruled by the Spirit. I think it first is a realization and reminder that the Christian receives the Holy Spirit at salvation. Second, it is a yielding of ourselves to Him. The Spirit’s ministry, or job, is to help the believer live in a way that is pleasing to God. Jesus told the disciples, in John 14:16-17 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, [counselor or advocate] to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” So, the Holy Spirit dwells in us, we know him, and he is our helper.

We walk by the Spirit when we rely on him for guidance and strength, when we obey Christ’s commandments and when we live to serve him and bring glory to him.

When we walk by the flesh, we live for ourselves and our desires. That is what he means in verse 17 by “doing the things you want”. You will always be tempted to sin in this life, it is part of having flesh. You can try to avoid giving in to the desires of the flesh by resisting in the flesh, but you will ultimately fail. Only with the help of the Spirit can you cease to gratify the desires of the flesh. This is part of our freedom. We are free from slavery to our desires to sin.

The unregenerate person, however, has no real defense. He or she must rely on their own morals and strength. That is why we should not be surprised at sin and degradation in the world. Sinning is what sinners do, unless the Spirit of God intervenes.

5:19-21 The Works of the Flesh

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

How do you know if you are walking by the flesh rather than the Spirit? If you are, the works of the flesh will become part of your life. Paul gives us a list. He said these are evident, they are plainly recognized as the works of the flesh. Interestingly, the first 3 have to do with sex. It seems, when the life is given over to the flesh, one of the first things to get out of balance is sex. Sexual immorality means any sex outside the bounds of marriage. Sensuality means lack of restraint. Jesus, by the way, took a very strict view toward adultery. Look at Matthew 5:27-30. A lifestyle of sexual sin is incompatible with the Christian life. Jesus said to do whatever you have to do to avoid it.

The second two are about worship. Idolatry means the worship of other gods, or anything in the place of God. Sorcery, or witchcraft, is pagan religious practices, and deal with the worship of other gods, and the seeking of power outside of God’s power. It also deals with the preparation of medicines or drugs.

The next eight are relational. Enmity means hostility or antagonism toward others. It means ill will, to wish harm to others.

The last two involve sensuality, drinking to excess and partying. Some translation say carousing instead of orgies. Carousing was a real concern when I was a young teenager.

The really scary thing here is the last sentence of verse 21. Those who do these things won’t inherit the kingdom of God, they will not get to heaven. So, if the things in this list are a big part of your life, you need to re-examine things and make sure you are a child of God.

5:22-24 Fruit of the Spirit

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Since the Spirit and the flesh are opposed to each other, you expect that the fruits of the Spirit are the opposite of the fruit of the flesh. Think of this fruit as a spiritual harvest. Paul gives us a list.

First among these is love. It is the opposite of the worship sins and the relational sins. It you are a Christian, love should define your life. We should love God. Deuteronomy 6:5 says “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” We should love each other. Leviticus 19:18 says …”you shall love your neighbor as yourself…” In Matthew 22:36-40, we read this: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Jesus also said, John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-13 has the classic description of love. It says

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; [2] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Joy is the second one. The Christian life should be characterized by joy. You should have joy in your life. I think joy means a delight in God because of our salvation and relationship to the Lord.

In Luke 2:10, the angels announced the coming of Christ by saying “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Jesus told a parable about it. He said, in Matthew 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
Jesus also said, in John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

Peace is tranquility of mind due to our reconciliation with God and extending to the rest of our life. Patience is “long suffering”, forbearance of the faults of others.

Kindness means caring for the needs of others and having an ability to acknowledge the fragile nature of the human personality.

Goodness means a good character, righteous but softened by love.

Faithfulness means having faith, or fidelity in our relationships with God and with people.

Gentleness, or meekness, is submission to the will of God and considerate of men and women.

Self control, or temperance, means to have mastery over yourself and your impulses. Believers have crucified the flesh in Christ. Paul already said he had been crucified with Christ. The power of the flesh should be killed in us.

Manifesting these traits does not violate the law, in fact, it fulfills the law. So, the Spirit gives us freedom from the law, but he also gives us power to live so that we glorify God in all that we do, not ourselves or our fleshly appetites.

5:25-26 Live By the Spirit

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

We must walk by the Spirit and not act fleshly, battling each other, either thinking we are better than others, or wanting what others have and making each other angry. Maybe they should read this verse at the beginning of each Baptist convention.

Monday, July 02, 2007


The last item I want to deal with is the President’s claim that the age of Ishmael negates Israel’s claim that God gave them the land of Israel. Since, as I said before, the age of Ishmael is irrelevant, this claim must also fail.

But that is not the end of the matter. Not everyone sees the world theologically, as the Muslims do. Therefore, many people, Jews and non-Jews, see that Israel has the right to their land and nation as a result, not of theology or scripture, but of international law and politics. The United Nations divided the land they called Palestine into Jewish and Arab areas and gave the Jews a homeland where it exits today. For all of these secular people, the Muslim claims regarding Ishmael carry no weight at all.

The Christian point of view is mixed. The current brand of Dispensationism claims that the prophesies and promises made to Abraham will be fulfilled in the current nation of Israel. Some of them have become quite Zionists, raising money to return Jews to Israel, raising money for the building of another temple and trying to breed red cows.

However, Christendom largely held throughout history that the promises made to Abraham were fulfilled in Christ, thereby negating any claim of modern Israel to those promises. Indeed, many commentators in times past referred to Old Testament Israel as the church.

It is true that God promised Abraham and his seed (or offspring) the land of Canaan. See Genesis 12:7. Paul makes the point that “seed” is singular and refers to Christ, not Israel. In Galatians 3:16, he says “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.” Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 5:17, said he came to fulfill the law and the prophets. Genesis is part of “the law” in Jewish terminology. The Law referred to the first 5 books.

In Romans 9:8, he said it is not the natural children (the Jews) who are God’s children, but the children of promise (the Christians, the church). Paul goes on, in chapter 11, to describe Israel as a tree in which the natural branches (the unbelieving Jews) were broken off to allow others to be grafted in (believing Gentiles). In Matthew 21:43, Jesus told the Jewish leaders the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

That saying of Jesus came at the end of the “Parable of the Tenants”. In that parable, the landowner planted a vineyard. He rented it to some farmers. This is a reference to Isaiah 5, where God also spoke of planting a vineyard, which was Israel. In Isaiah 5, God said he would destroy the vineyard for the disobedience of the tenants. In Matthew 21, Jesus said he would take the vineyard away from the tenants and give it to other tenants. The Scripture records that the Pharisees and chief priests knew he was speaking of them. This happened as the parable showed. God gave Israel a generation to repent and accept Christ. They did not do so. God brought the Romans in and tore down Jerusalem, temple and all, and the torch passed to the church.

The theological claim of Israel to the land is forfeited. The promises to Abraham will be fulfilled in Christ and his church.

That does not help the Muslim, unless he or she accepts Jesus as Messiah, son of God, son of Abraham, in whom all promises are fulfilled.
Sunday I heard something I thought I'd never here in a Baptist church. The congregation sang the words "I thank my lucky stars".

I could swear I could hear the sound of B. B. McKinney rolling over in his grave.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Galatians 5

5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified [or counted righteous] by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Verse 1 summarizes Paul’s discussion in chapter 4. Christ set us free from slavery to the law, so do not submit to it again. We are to stand firm. Sometimes, that is hard to do, because the legalists, the Judaizers, claim the high moral ground, even though they do not really have it. When they give you a list of do’s or don’ts that must be added to faith for salvation, they sound holy. In reality, though, they deny the sufficiency of Christ’s work on the cross to accomplish our salvation, and destroy the gospel of grace.

Instead, Paul said they give you a yoke, a yoke of slavery. This is not the thing in the middle of an egg, it is the hardware that couples two animals together to pull a wagon or to plow a field. That is a picture of you trying to be righteous by works. You are weighed down by trying to keep the commandments and failing. This becomes a spiritual death for you. Instead, remember what Jesus said: "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30) As Paul says here, Christ has set us free.

Next, Paul specifically addresses the issue of circumcision. Remember the Judaizers wanted the Gentile Christians to be circumcised, to become Jews in effect, in order to be Christians.

But, Paul issues a strong warning here. And he uses his apostolic authority. He said “I, Paul, say to you” to add gravity to his statement. He says if you put yourself under the law, you are bound to keep the whole law. If you accept circumcision, you are binding yourself to the law. If you do this, Christ is of no advantage to you.

Why is that? It is because you are turning your back on salvation by grace and embracing salvation by works. Since Christ brought salvation from grace, you will have been severed from him, fallen away from grace. Instead, you have submitted to the law and must keep the whole thing, which you cannot do.

So, it is all or nothing. You are either in or out. You cannot combine Christ and submission to the law, which is what he means by “circumcision”. Paul put this in very harsh terms so they would understand how serious this error is.

In verse 5, Paul said we wait for the hope of righteousness. What does he mean by that? He means, when Christ returns, we will receive all that we hope for now. By faith, we received the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. Through that faith, and through the Holy Spirit, we eagerly anticipate the justification of the last day. When God brings us all before his throne, we will be found to be in him and given a final verdict of justified. This is shown to us in Revelation 20:11-15.

So, circumcision, or submission to the law, will not bring you to justification. Faith will. And this faith is expressed in love. It is not just knowledge, but a belief of commitment and love to Christ. Remember he said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord. We can do that in faith.

5:7-12 Get Back On Track

7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, [2] still preach [3] circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

Now Paul will give another personal word. He said they were running well. He likes the metaphor a race. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, he said “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” In 2 Timothy 4:7, he said “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” So, ladies, you see, even in New Testament times, men used sports metaphors for life. But, Paul’s point was that life, the Christian life, has a beginning and an end and how you finish and what reward you get depend on how you run.

They had been running well, but they had hit a stumbling block called legalism. They were not obeying the truth, because someone was hindering them, leading them away from the truth. In verse 8, he said, this idea did not come from God (the one who calls you). This is a nice way of saying this teaching is from the devil.

Not only that, but false teaching can spread and corrupt the whole group. Verse 9 says a little leaven leavens the whole lump, or, a small amount of yeast will permeate the whole lump of dough. You like that in bread, but not in church. Leaven, or yeast, is a symbol of sin. It is often used this way in the Bible. One person’s sin can end up infecting an entire group. So can one person’s false teaching.

Paul condemns whomever is doing the false teaching, saying in vers 10 he will bear the penalty, and in verse 12, wishing he would emasculate himself or themselves. This is pretty strong language, and shows Paul took the matter seriously. Paul was not post modernist.

Paul also denied any preaching of circumcision on his own part. He, rather, preached the opposing doctrine, calling it “the offense of the cross”. Why is the cross offensive? Because it says man is sinful and cannot save himself. Only Christ could do it, and only by his death.

5:13-15 Don’t Go Too Far The Other Way

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Often, men and women go to extremes and cannot keep themselves on the correct path. So, Paul warns the Galatians not to go too far the other way. He does not want them to rely on the law for salvation, but now he warns them not to use their freedom in Christ to sin. This is what the legalists always say will happen: if we allow people grace, they will use it to sin. So, we do not use our freedom to sin, or to gratify the flesh, but to love and serve one another. We are supposed to love each other, not fight and compete with each other.