Sunday, August 29, 2010

Streusel-topped pear pie

Our pear tree is just past peak now and I think I've gotten all I will get from this year's crop.  It wasn't a particularly great year for pears.  They seemed smaller and more insect-infested than last year's. Still, I was able to make my annual pear pie. 

For most of my life I had never had, or even heard of, pear pie.  But then one year we had a bumper crop and I was desperate to find new ways to use all those pears.  That's when I came across this recipe.  This is also the recipe from which I got my pie crust recipe.  You can see how difficult it was to extract the crust recipe from the pie instructions - they're so closely intertwined.  Anyway, here it is.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

2 1/4 c unbleached flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 c butter (don't use margarine)
2 1/2 to 3 tbsp cold water
5-6 medium pears
1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 c shredded Cheddar cheese

In medium bowl, stir together 2 c flour and 1 tsp salt.  With pastry blender, cut in 3/4 c butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Measure 1 c mixture  into medium bowl; reserve.  To remaining flour mixture, add cold water, 1 tbsp at a time, mixing lightly with a folk after each addition until moist enough to hold together.  With hands, shape pastry into a ball.  On lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin, roll pastry into an 11-inch circle; use to line 9-inch pie plate.   Trim edges, leaving 1 inch overhang.  Fold overhang under; bring up over pie-plate rim; pinch to form a high edge; make a fluted edge.  Peel, core and cut pears into thick slices to measure about 4 1/2 to 5 cups.  In large bowl, toss pears with sugar, lemon juice, 1/4 c flour and 1/4 tsp salt; put into crust.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In medium bowl, combine reserved flour mixture, brown sugar and next 3 ingredients.  With pastry blender, cut in cheese and 1/4 c butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs and ingredients are well blended.  Sprinkle over pears.  Bake 30 mins; cover with foil and bake 30 mins more.  Serve warm or refrigerate to serve cold.

***Special thanks to our good friend Nate for taking the pie picture. :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jesus Christ - Christ Jesus

An interesting quote from W. E. Vine:

The order of the titles Jesus Christ and Christ Jesus is always significant: “Christ Jesus” describes the One who was with the Father in eternal glory, and who came to earth, becoming Incarnate; “Jesus Christ” describes Him as the One who humbled Himself, who was despised and rejected, and endured the cross, but who was afterwards exalted and glorified. “Christ Jesus” testifies to His pre-existence; “Jesus Christ” to His resurrection and exaltation.

(The Epistle to the Romans, by W. E. Vine (Oliphants Limited), 1948.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NOT proof-text!

I never cease to be amazed at what passes for proof-text in many sermons and Christian books and articles today.  It's one thing to say, "I think this person says it particularly well..." or to use an illustration to help make a biblical principle clearer.  However, it is quite another to use what a person says (no matter how famous or well-known that person is!) or your experiences (or anybody elses') to "prove" what you're saying is "true."  People are just people, they are not the Word of God.  As the old saying goes, "The best of men are but men at best."  And experiences are so very subjective, they can be looked at in many different ways.  It's easy to say, "Well look what happened to so and so." or "Did you hear what so and so the great preacher said?" and base our entire theology on what we see or hear.  But let's not forget Satan is the great deceiver.  We simply cannot afford to interpret Scripture in light of our experiences or what people tell us, rather we must always view everything in light of the Word of God.

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).

But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good (1 Thes 5:21).  

Make no mistake, the ONLY proof-text is the Word of God (in context!).  Everything else is just stories and hearsay.

The following are NOT proof-text:

1.  A story or testimony.

Pastor Welton who recorded the following story said, “It was my conviction thirty years ago as it is today, that the Stockwell Orphanage, as well as the money to found it, came from the Lord in answer to the petitions offered that Monday night. Surely, the Orphanage was born of prayer.”

The story: "'Dear friends, we are a huge church, and should be doing more for the Lord in this great city. I want us tonight, to ask Him to send us some new work; and if we need money to carry it on, let us pray that the means may also be sent.”

Several of the students had been called to the platform to join with the deacons and elders in leading the assembly to the throne of grace, and to plead with God about the matter.

While that mighty man of prayer, Mr. William Olney, was wrestling with the Lord, the beloved President (Spurgeon) knew that the answer had come. Had the Holy Spirit told him? It seemed so, for, walking lightly across the platform to where I was sitting, he said to me, “It’s all right, Welton, you pray for the conversion of sinners will you?'

A few days after the Tabernacle prayer meeting, a Mrs. Hillyard wrote to Spurgeon, offering a gift of ₤20,000 for the purpose of founding an orphanage for fatherless children."

This is a nice story but it proves nothing.  When I heard the above, it was actually a story within a story within a story because I was listening to a different preacher altogether use Pastor Welton's story as his proof-text as to how prayer works.

2.  The Westminster Confession of Faith.

One popular speaker/author often refers to The Westminster Confession of Faith as proof-text.  For example, in one of his well-known books he uses "the confession" to establish the grounds for his discussion on the assurance of the believer.  Actually, his primary concern is not how a believer can have assurance, but rather to warn believers that any assurance they may have may well not be real assurance at all. 

"The [Westminster] confession acknowledges that there is such a thing as false assurance."

3.  The books, 'This Present Darkness' and 'Piercing the Darkness', by Frank Peretti.

One time a speaker, specially asked to come talk to our group, read passages from Peretti's fictional books as evidence of demonic influence and angelic warfare.

"...These books were truly a blessing to me. They opened my eyes to the spiritual warfare going on all around us.  For example, ..."

Many have read these books, including me. But they are fiction and in no way meant to paint an accurate picture of what goes on in angelic spheres. 

(To be continued...unfortunately...)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity.
(Prov 17:17)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Homemade hamburger buns

Just about the time I got home from the store, I realized I had forgotten something I needed for that evening's dinner — hamburger buns.  Sigh.  I really didn't feel like turning around and running out to the store again.  What to do?  Well, I was going to make homemade hamburger buns instead, that's what. 

In retrospect, I would have saved a lot of time if I had just run back to the store, but never mind that, I actually came upon a good recipe.  And they're so much better than store bought buns.  Not only are they great with hamburgers, they're delicious as sandwich rolls, too.

1 c milk
1 c water
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 1/2 c unbleached flour
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water
1 tsp poppy seeds

Combine milk, 1 c water, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan.  Bring to boil and remove from heat.  Let stand until lukewarm.  (If mixture is too hot, it will kill the yeast.)  In large bowl, stir together flour and yeast.  Pour in wet ingredients and stir until dough starts to pull together.  Knead dough on floured surface for about 10 mins. and place in greased bowl, turning to coat.  Cover and let rise double in size, about 1 hour.  Punch down the dough and divide into 12 portions.  Make tight balls by pulling dough tightly around and pinching it at the bottom.  Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  After rolls sit for a minute to relax, flatten each ball with the palm of your hand until 3-4 inches wide.  Set aside until double in size, about 20 mins.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix together egg yolk and 1 tbsp water.  Brush onto the tops of the rolls and sprinkle with poppy seeds.  Bake 15-20 mins, or until nicely browned on the tops and bottoms.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Luther's book of straw (part three)

Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him (James 5:14-15).

A while ago I left a "cliff hanger" at the end of one of my posts.  I'd like to come back to it now.  So what about this passage?  How should we interpret it?  If we call for the elders of the church to come and pray over us and anoint us with oil, will we be healed?  Will our sins be forgiven (again) at that time, too?  As believers, haven't our sins already been forgiven us past, present and future, though?

We saw at the beginning of the book that James was writing to the twelve tribes of Israel, which immediately tells us that this epistle must be interpreted in light of Paul's epistles.  The Book of James is filled with practical exhortations for the kingdom saints during the first century, which would then also place it in the future for those saints enduring the coming Tribulation.  The links between the Book of James and the earthly ministry of Christ are undeniable, during which time people were still under the Law.  As brought up before in previous blog posts, James acknowledged that the Gentiles were exempt from keeping the Law of Moses.  But it is important to remember that James recognized there was one order for the Jews (they were still under the Law) and another order for the Gentiles, who were members of the Body of Christ (See also Acts 21:24-25).  During the transitional period in Acts, both programs of God were in operation simultaneously.
In this passage James asks, "Is anyone among you sick?"  If so, "he must call for the elders of the church."  The elders being spoken of here would have been the spiritual leaders of the assembly at that time.  When called, these elders were to visit the bedside of the sick and pray over them, anointing them with oil.  Anointing with oil in biblical times was often done for medicinal purposes, as seen in the story of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:34).  This was a very common practice in the east.

James, however, seems to connect the need to anoint the sick with oil with the time when Jesus Christ was on the earth.  It was said of those who labored with Him, "And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them" (Mk 6:13).  Notice how the anointing was closely associated with the miraculous healing of the sick?  It is also significant that the anointing with oil was to be done in the name of the Lord.  It appears that God used the physical element of anointing to convey the healing, whereby restoring the sick believer.

The "prayer of faith" also looks back to the earthly ministry of Christ when our Lord promised those who proclaimed new revelation at that time, namely that the kingdom was at hand: "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive" (Matt 21:22).  Salvation and physical healing often went hand in hand during that time as James suggests when he says, "...and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick..."  The lame man at the gate of the temple was immediately healed when Peter took his hand.  He went into the temple with Peter and John, walking and leaping and praising God.  But as we read further in Acts we see that it was through faith in Jesus Christ that the man was healed.  In other words, he had trusted Christ and was restored as a result of his faith (Acts 3:16).  That's why Peter says, "...the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all."

We must be very, very careful to remember that James was ministering during a time in which miracles were quite common (Acts 8:7, 9:34, 10:38, 28:8). What James records here does not apply to us now. (See also Supernatural Activity.)  James wanted his countrymen to know that, if they prayed in faith believing, God would answer their prayers and heal their sick.

James goes on to tell them, "...and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him." Our bodies are prone to sickness and disease, and most sickness is due to the frailty of our flesh, not the result of personal sin.  But, there are times when that may be the case.  If someone is living a promiscuous lifestyle and contracts a venereal disease, that person is suffering the consequences of his sin.

In Jerusalem, by the sheep market, there was a pool called Bethesda.  A great number of sick people frequently gathered there, hoping to be healed.  From time to time an angel of the Lord would stir the waters of the pool and the first to step into the water after it was stirred was miraculously healed.*  Of course, many were unable to reach the water in time, such as the man who had been ill for 38 years.  But Jesus had compassion on that man and healed him, instructing him to take up his pallet and walk.  Later, when our Lord found the man worshipping in the temple, He told him: "Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you" (See Jn 5:1-15).  It seems obvious that this man's sin had been the cause of his illness. 

The man who was sick with the palsy is another example of how sickness and sin were sometimes connected.  There were so many people pressing in to hear the Lord that the friends of this man lowered him through a hole in the roof so they could have an audience with the Lord.  When He saw their faith, he said to the man, "...your sins are forgiven you" (Lk 5:20).  And the Lord healed him.

Although James was writing to Hebrew believers under a different economy and before salvation by grace through faith alone was widely known, there are still many practical instructions in this book that we can apply in our own lives, such as those about temptation, the tongue, worldliness, riches, etc.  All Scripture is for us (2 Tim 3:16-17)!  But, not all Scripture is about us or addressed directly to us. That's why it's so very important to study with understanding, "accurately handling the word of truth" (2Tim 2:15).

*The last clause in verse 3 and all of verse 4 are not in the earliest manuscripts and were probably added later by someone other than John.  If verse 4 wasn't written by John, there was probably a superstition that when the spring bubbled, the first one in would be healed. And since, as this passage shows, the healthier always got in first, the superstition probably wasn't often put to much of a test.  If an angel did move the water, perhaps it was to show the impotency of the Law to save — The crippled man was there 38 years! — and how Christ was far superior to the Law.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Right with God

Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law. But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.
(Gal 2:16-21)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


"Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained."

— C.S. Lewis

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cranberry Apple Muffins

This summer, after a 30+ year absence, I finally went to one of my extended family's yearly reunions in southern Illinois.  It's always held at Devil's Backbone Park, located on the Mississippi River in the small town of Grand Tower.  Why Grand Tower?  My great grandfather and grandmother Callis had settled and raised their family there.  (Grand Tower has a rather interesting history, if you care to read about it here.) 

It was great to see everyone again, even though it was so very hot, muggy and buggy.  Many of my aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, third cousins twice removed, etc. actually tent camp at the park during these reunions, which has to be absolutely miserable.  It used to be worse, though.  The reunions had always been held in August, but because of the heat, were switched to June a couple of years ago.  My parents, who have been attending these reunions for years, have almost always stayed in hotels rather than tent camp.  We followed suit, going over to the park only to visit and for the main reunion meal on Sunday noon. 

It's because of this main reunion meal, in which everybody is required to bring something, that I came across this Cranberry Apple Muffins recipe.  I had to think of or find something I could bring that wouldn't spoil from the time I made it before we left until I served it that Sunday noon.  Of course I made a few alterations from the original recipe, which also included diced dried figs, raisins and more sugar.  All of that sounded too much so I stuck to adding only the apples and cranberries and cut the sugar.  My family's never been much for my adding nuts to baked goods, so I didn't, but I think some toasted hazelnuts or even walnuts or pecans would be great in these, too.  Anyway, they turned out very well as is.  They were moist and wonderfully spiced, bringing the flavors of the apples and cranberries together nicely.

1 1/2 c unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp baking power
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 c plus 2 tbsp milk
1 egg
8 tbsp butter, melted
3/4 c dried cranberries
3/4 c peeled and chopped apple
5 tbsp packed brown sugar
3 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line muffin tin with paper liners.  In large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger; whisk together.  Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in milk, egg and melted butter.  Stir just enough to combine.  Add cranberries, apples and both sugars to the bowl.  Stir just enough to distribute fruits and sugars evenly throughout the batter.  Divide batter evenly between the paper liners.  Bake for 18-22 mins., until browned on top and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan about 5 mins., then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 muffins.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Luther's book of straw (some observations and questions, cont.)

It's always rather gratifying to come across someone who's come to the same conclusion(s) that you're rather leaning toward, especially if it's someone you respect.  If nothing else, it lets you know you're not completely crazy.  Yesterday I read this in Wuest's Word Studies on Galatians 2:11-13:

"Here the argument for Paul's apostolic independence has come to the highest level yet attained.  In Jerusalem Paul faced Peter as an equal in rank and in the gospel ministry.  At Antioch he faced him as his superior in character and courage.

Translation.  But when Kephas came to Antioch, to his face I opposed him, because he stood condemned.

Verse twelve.  For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles.  It is clear that these men were sent by James, men of importance as is shown by the deference with which Peter treated them, and the obsequiousness with which he bowed to their requests.  They were not from the ranks of the Judaizers, for James would not send men of that stamp, but Jewish Christians of Jerusalem who like James were still most scrupulous in their obedience to the Mosaic law.  James, even after the decision of the council at Jerusalem regarding the relation of the law to Gentile converts to Christianity, still held to the view that the Jewish converts were under the law.  James was the occasion of Paul's lapse when the apostle at his request took upon himself a Jewish vow to show the Jews in Jerusalem that he was still a strict Jew (Acts 21:18-26).  Here he was the occasion of Peter's lapse when he sent this mission to Antioch with the purpose of enforcing the Mosaic law to far as the Jewish Christians were concerned.  News had reached Jerusalem that Jewish and Gentile Christians were eating together, hence the mission from James.

The words eat with are from sunesthio.  The verb is in the imperfect tense.  The preposition sun prefixed to the verb implies close fellowship or cooperation.  The tense of the verb tells us that it was a practice of Peter to eat with the Gentiles.  The preposition speaks of the fact that in the act of joining in their meals, not only in the Christian love-feast which was connected with the worship program of the local church, but also in their homes, Peter was on terms of the greatest intimacy.  The love-feast was recognized as the bond of fellowship in the infant church.

The probable origin of the Antioch practice of Jew and Gentile eating together, was that the church argued that since the Jerusalem council had upheld the position of Paul on the freedom of the Gentiles from the obligation of circumcision, that all restrictions of the Mosaic economy had been set aside.  This would include the Levitical legislation regarding foods.  The foods previously forbidden the Jew and found on Gentile tables, now could be included in his menu.   Accordingly, the Jewish and Gentile Christians welcomed the opportunity of Christian fellowship at meals.  This practice could not have been in force before the Jerusalem council, for, had it been, that question would also have been dealt with.  Peter, finding this situation at Antioch, fell in with it in his usual impetuous way.  The church at Jerusalem, hearing of his actions, sent this deputation to investigate.  These men sent by James, found Peter eating with the Gentiles."

"Translation.  For before certain from James came, with the Gentiles it was his habit to eat meals.  But when they came, he began gradually to draw himself back, and began slowly to effect a final separation, fearing those of the circumcision.

Verse thirteen.  This verse gives the result of Peter's action in the church at Antioch.  The Jewish Christians there refused to eat anymore with their Gentile brethren in the Lord.  The church was split wide open on the issue.  The love-feast, that bond of fellowship expressive of Christian love amongst the brethren, was divided into two groups.  The friendly groups of Jews and Gentiles in the fellowship of the home were discontinued.  The fact that the Jews of the Antioch church followed Peter in his withdrawal from the Gentiles, shows that the entire group had eaten with the latter.

Paul says that the Jews dissembled with Peter.  The word is from hupokrinomai, which speaks of the act of concealing one's real character under the guise of conduct implying something different.  The word itself means literally "to answer from under," as an actor who speaks from under a mask.  Our word hypocrite comes from this Greek word.  It usually referred to the act of concealing wrong feelings or character under the pretence of better ones.

But in the present case, the knowledge, judgment, and feelings which were concealed, were worse only from the viewpoint of those who had come from Jerusalem of whom Peter and the Antioch Jews were afraid.  From Paul's viewpoint, it was their better knowledge which they covered up by their misconduct, the usual type of hypocrisy that proceeds from fear.  Paul, by characterizing their actions as hypocrisy, implied that there had been no real change of conviction on the part of Peter and the rest of the Jews, but only conduct that misrepresented their true convictions.

But now regarding Barnabas, the fact that he was swept off his feet and carried away with their hypocrisy.  It was bad enough for Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles and the champion of Gentile liberty from the law, to have Peter act as he did.  But the hypocrisy of Barnabas was the cruel blow.  With the single exception of Paul, Barnabas had been the most effective minister of the gospel in the conversion of the Gentiles.  He had been deputed with Paul by the Antioch church to the council at Jerusalem as its representative.  He had come back with the news that the position held by Paul and himself with regard to Gentile freedom from circumcision had been sustained by the Jerusalem apostles.  Now, his withdrawal from social fellowship with the Gentiles, came with the force of a betrayal to Paul and the church at Antioch.  The defection of Barnabas was of a far more serious nature with regard to Gentile freedom than the vacillation of Peter.  Barnabas was Paul's chief colleague in the evangelization of the Gentiles, and now to have him play the hypocrite and deserter, was a bitter blow to the great apostle.  This may well have prepared the way for the dissension between them which shortly afterwards led to their separation (Acts 15:39).  Barnabas, the foremost champion of Gentile liberty next to Paul, had become a turncoat.

Translation.  And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite jointly with him, so that even Barnabas was swept along with their hypocrisy.

Verse fourteen.  The word translated uprightly is from orthpodeoOrthos means straight, and pous, which has the same root as the verb podeo, means foot, literally "to walk with straight feet," thus "to walk a straight course."  It speaks of straightforward, unwavering, sincere conduct in contrast to a crooked, wavering, and more or less insincere course such as Paul had said Peter and the other Jews were guilty of.  Keeping in mind the foregoing definition of the Greek word we could say, "But when I saw that they walked not orthopedically," that is, in a straightforward, unwavering, and sincere way.

The words according to are from pros, and put definite limitations upon the words walked uprightly.  The sense here is not that Peter failed to walk in conformity to the precepts of evangelical truth, but that his attitude towards the truth of the gospel was not straightforward.  The idea is, "He did not pursue a straight course in relation to the truth of the gospel."  He did not deal honestly and consistently with it.  His was an attitude that led him to juggle with its sacred truth, to warp it, to misrepresent it, to deal crookedly with it.  What an indictment of Peter.

Before all is from emprosthen panton.  Paul's rebuke of Peter was in the sight of the whole Antioch church, in the presence of everybody.  The fact that the article is absent before the word all make it a general statement.  The rebuke was not given before the officers of the church only, or before a specially convened and restricted number of people, but right in open church meeting and before all the members of the Antioch church who were present.  Augustine said, "It is not advantageous to correct in secret an error which injured openly."

If thou being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?  The word live here, from zao, does not refer to the moral living according to Gentile or Jewish fashion, but to the shaping of the life with reference to the external social observances in the Christian fellowship, such as Levitical restrictions on eating.  The present tense of live must not be pressed to to the point of teaching that Peter at the time of this rebuke, was living as the  Gentiles do, for he was not.  It describes a mental attitude or habit which had in times past shown itself in outward actions, and which was still in force, but which was being hypocritically covered up by Peter's action of withdrawing from fellowship with the Gentiles.  It shows that Peter had not in principle abandoned it, but had trimmed his sails to the sudden change of wind that came from Jerusalem.  Paul, in his rebuke forcibly sets forth Peter's inconsistency in compelling the Gentiles to obey the Levitical legislation regarding foods, for the Gentiles had only one of two choices in the premises, either to refuse to obey the law in this respect and thus cause a split in the Christian Church, or to preserve harmony by coming under the law.  And the apostle Peter did all this with a full understanding of the vision God had given him which clearly taught him that the Levitical legislation for the Jew was now a thing of the past (Acts 10:28), and that the line of separation had been broken down between Jew and Gentile by the Cross.

Peter's action of refusing to eat with the Gentiles, did not merely have the effect of maintaining the validity of the law for Jewish Christians, but it involved the forcing of that law upon the Gentile Christians, that, or creating a wide-open division in the Church.  This latter was what concerned the apostle Paul.  He deemed it of utmost importance to maintain the unity of the Christ Church as against any division into Jewish and Gentile groups.  At the Jerusalem council he had agreed to a territorial division of the missionary field into Gentile and Jewish divisions, but to create a division between Jew and Gentile in a Gentile community and church, was out of the question and was something not be be permitted.

At the Jerusalem council, it was agreed that the Jewish Christians should continue to keep the law, and that the Gentile Christians were to be free from the law.  But this arrangement left the question undecided as to which decision of the council should take precedence when an issue arose such as we see at Antioch where Peter's action brought pressure to bear upon the Gentiles.  Paul insisted that in such an instance, the Jews were not obligated to keep the law." 

The questions, then, are these: Why was it decided that the Jewish Christians should continue to keep the law?  When were they no longer required to?  And why?  What was the determining criteria?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The heavenly party

"Loving life as I do, I used to think that dying was leaving the party before it was over.  Now I know the party's some place else."

Author unknown

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Let your hope make you glad!

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
(Rom 12:9-12)