Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sweet Dinner Rolls

Here's a great (and very easy!) recipe for homemade yeast rolls.  They're great because they're soft and slightly sweet, and easy because they start out in a bread machine, so it does all the hard work.  I got this recipe from my niece-in-law (is that what you call your nephew's wife?), who is truly a wonderful cook. 

1/2 c warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 c warm milk
1 egg
1/3 c butter, softened
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp salt
3 3/4 c unbleached flour
1 (25 oz) pkg dry yeast
3 tbsp butter, melted

Place water, milk, egg, 1/3 c butter, sugar, salt, flour and yeast in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer.  Select dough/knead and first rise cycle; press start.

When cycle finishes, shape into 3-inch round dinner rolls and place on greased cookie sheet.  Cover with kitchen towel and put in a warm place to rise 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.  Immediately upon taking them out of the oven, brush tops with the 3 tbsp melted butter.

Friday, February 18, 2011

James and Paul

I have recently come across two interesting quotes in my reading.  The first, based on Galatians 4:17 and 6:12-13, the author explains rather well the motives of the Judaizers in the Book of Galatians — they were using the Galatians for the purposes of 1) avoiding the persecution of devout Jews who sought to wipe out the Church, and 2) to earn points for themselves.  In a word, if the Judaizers showed zeal for following the law, they wouldn’t be persecuted as Christians.

"What was the motive at work in the minds of the party of the circumcision? It was certainly not concern for the spiritual welfare and the eternal safety of the believers. On the contrary, the motive the apostle discerned behind their zeal was that they themselves might escape the consequences inseparable from the preaching of the Cross, which pronounces accursed not only man the sinner, the lawbreaker, but man the religious law keeper as well. The Cross is thus an offense to Jew and Gentile alike. The addition of something as a means to, or as a condition of, salvation (such as circumcision in apostolic days, or the sacraments in later times) to the free unmerited grace of God mediated by faith in Christ alone, has proved the most effective way of avoiding that offense. But to preach a gospel without the Cross is to preach what is no gospel at all."

The second quote is from a different author who brings up an interesting fact about the Church in Jerusalem:
"And it is a striking fact that at the very time Paul was nearly torn to pieces by the Jews at Jerusalem, there was in that city a Christian church with James and its elders, all apparently enjoying immunity from Jewish persecution (Acts 21:17-19, 31)."

After reading these quotes, a question sprang into my mind: "Why was James and the Church in Jerusalem enjoying immunity?"

You may recall that some 7-8 years earlier the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) was held, which concluded that Gentile believers needn't become Jews before they became Christians nor keep the Mosaic law after they became Christians; nothing, however, was said about whether or not Jewish believers had to continue to keep it.

It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath” (Acts 15:19-21 - NIV).

It was shortly after this that "certain men [came] from James" (Gal 2:12), inciting the Jewish believers there to "withdraw and hold [themselves] aloof" from the Gentile believers.  I think this author explains that situation rather well:

"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...Here he was the occasion of Peter's lapse when he [James] sent this mission to Antioch with the purpose of enforcing the Mosaic law so far as the Jewish Christians were concerned."

Jumping forward again to Acts 21, we are told in verse 20 that the Jewish believers in Jerusalem were (still!) "jealous for the law."  It would, therefore, stand to reason they wouldn't be a big target for the unbelieving Jews to persecute them.  But was James, the leader of the Church in Jerusalem, encouraging this kind of thinking? And if so, why?  Was he trying to avoid persecution? Or was he trying to reach the Jews where they were?  Was he trying to gain favor with the unbelieving Jews?  Or did he believe the Jewish believers were still under the law?  I guess my main question is, "Was James right or wrong?" 

James goes on in verses 21-26 and proposes that Paul, not only go along with but, pay for a purification ritual for himself and four other men.  Again, what was James thinking?  And, whyever did Paul go along with it?  Was Paul wrong to do so?

After these days we got ready and started on our way up to Jerusalem. Some of the disciples from Caesarea also came with us, taking us to Manson of Cyprus, a disciple of long standing with whom we were to lodge. After we arrived in Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law (v 20); and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law. But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication." Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them (Acts 21:15-26).

Okay, so here some possibilities.  I'm sure there could be more, but I'll stick with these for now:

1) James was right, he was trying to reach the Jews where they were; Paul was right to go along with James's proposal (1 Cor 9:20-21).
2) James was right, he was trying to maintain unity within the Church; Paul was right to go along with James's proposal to avoid being a stumbling block (Rom 14:13; 1 Cor 8:9; 2 Cor 6:3).
3) James was wrong; Paul was wrong to go along with James's proposal (Gal 3:1-3).
4) James was right, Israel hadn't yet been officially put aside and was therefore still observing the law; Paul was right to go along with James's proposal (Acts 21-28).

I've presented all four of these possibilities below, with supporting arguments from different theologians.

1) James was right, he was trying to reach the Jews where they were; Paul was right to go along with James's proposal (1 Cor 9:20-21).

"The Jewish opposition during this final period becomes massive and more intolerant.  Its primary object is the Apostle Paul, whose ministry to the Gentiles and alleged neglect of the Mosaic ritual is made the basis of their complaint.  Related to this was his progressive revelation of the nature of the ekklesia...But at bottom the cause celebre' was Paul's proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel."

"Upon his [Paul's] arrival at Jerusalem, by advice of the leaders of the church there, Paul made a last attempt to placate his Jewish enemies by conforming to a certain rite of purification in the temple (vss. 20-26).  But the attempt only made matters worse.  When he was seen in the temple, "all the city was moved, "and he was dragged out and would have been beaten to death by the mob had it not been for the Roman captain whose soldiers rescued him with some difficulty because of the "violence of the people" (vss. 27-36)."

This theologian doesn't address verse 20; and regarding Paul, is it okay to go along with something you don't believe in in order to placate your enemies?

2)  James was right, he was trying to maintain unity within the Church; Paul was right to go along with James's proposal to avoid being a stumbling block (Rom 14:13; 1 Cor 8:9; 2 Cor 6:3).

"When a person becomes a Christian, what becomes of his or her religious past? Must all previous pious practice be left behind? Or may some be made fit patterns for the new life in Christ? A patient thinking through of Luke's teaching on the Christian, the Old Testament law and religious tradition, as modeled in Paul's conduct, will give us guidelines by which we can make judgments about our own religious past.

At the home of Mnason, Paul receives a "warm welcome" from fellow Christians. Since Luke does not specify that only like-minded Hellenistic Jewish Christians so greet Paul and his party, we should probably think of a delegation representative of the whole Jerusalem church. From them news of his coming would filter back to all segments of the church (v. 22)..."

"In full spiritual unity, the elders point out to Paul that massive numbers of Jews, . . . all of them . . . zealous for the law, have become believers. These may be the converted Pharisees of Acts 15:5. Literally "zealots for the law," they lived out their loyalty to God by combining ardent nationalism with strict observance of the whole Mosaic code. Phinehas, Elijah and the Maccabees were their worthy predecessors (Num 25:10-13; 1 Kings 19:10, 14; Josephus Jewish Antiquities 12.271)..."

"These converts have been particularly troubled by reports that Paul has been teaching Diaspora Jews to turn away from Moses. This phrase translates apostasia, which refers to either political or spiritual rebellion (2 Chron 29:19; 1 Macc 2:15; Acts 5:31, 39; 2 Thess 2:3). Specifically, Paul is alleged to have instructed these Jewish believers to stop having their children circumcised and "to stop walking according to the customs" (so the prohibitions should be understood).

While it is easy to see how such implications might be drawn from Paul's teaching of a law-free gospel, there is no evidence that Paul ever instructed Jewish Christians this way (Rom 2:25-30; Gal 5:6; 6:15). In fact, Paul was most scrupulous not to offend the conscience of the "weaker brother," the Jewish Christian who maintained ancestral customs, and even went so far as to have Timothy circumcised (Acts 16:3; Rom 14:1--15:13).

Our religious past can make distortions of the truth attractive to us, especially those that reinforce our pride in loyalty to our traditions. What can be done to overcome such falsehood, which always threatens to bring disunity to the church?

The church leaders counsel Paul to combat words with action. Four pious but indigent men in the congregation have taken on themselves a Nazirite vow of limited duration (Num 6). By abstaining from products of the vine, not cutting their hair and avoiding ritual impurity, they have been showing thankfulness for past blessings, earnestness in petition or strong devotion to God. The multianimal sacrifice and cleansing ceremony at the end of the vow period, when the hair is cut and offered to God, is financially prohibitive (6:13-20). Paul is asked to bear the expenses of the four. This was a commonly recognized act of piety (Josephus Jewish Antiquities 19.294). To do so he must go through a seven-day ritual cleansing himself, because he has recently returned from Gentile lands (m. Oholot 2:3; 17:5; 18:6; Num 19:12). The intended result is that the rumors about Paul will be shown to be baseless and he will be seen living in obedience to the law. Lest Paul's action be misunderstood in another direction, as making Jewish custom normative for Gentile Christians, the elders hasten to add that the Jerusalem Council decree is still in place (see discussion above at Acts 15:20, 29). It is repeated here in essential detail..."

"What does the elders' counsel to Paul say about Luke's view of Christians and their religious past? Before we can draw general principles, we must deal with unique and theologically significant factors concerning the Jewish law. At its core was divine revelation in three aspects: moral, civil and ceremonial. Surrounding that were oral tradition and rabbinic exposition. Luke's use of terminology often prevents us from easily distinguishing which aspects of the law he is referring to. Still, Luke's use of the term customs does seem to show he is aware of the difference between divine revelation and human tradition (15:1; 21:21; 26:3; 28:17). And there may be a distinction in Luke's thinking between the moral, ceremonial and civil aspects which will enable us to make decisions about normativeness based on content (Lk 10:25-28).

If we focus on the divine revelation component of a Jewish Christian's religious past, the Old Testament law, we can see Luke says it has no relevance for salvation (Acts 13:38-39; 15:10-11). While the moral aspect is universally normative (Lk 10:25-28; 18:18-23), Luke also sees a positive use for the ceremonial laws, to aid Jewish Christians in the expression of their piety. He does not make these laws binding on Gentiles, however. Only when Gentiles are in the company of Jewish Christians with scruples should they keep ceremonial ritual purity, and then not beyond what God mandated in the Old Testament for aliens living in Israel."

This theologian has addressed verse 20 and has concluded that those "jealous for the law" were weaker brothers in Christ and that James and Paul didn't want to be stumbling blocks to them.  But why didn't Paul tell the them what he told the Galatians (Gal 3:1-3)?  He didn't seem worried about being a stumbling block about this issue then.  It's true the Gentiles hadn't come out of Judaism, but previously Gentiles had been required to convert to Judaism (proselytes).  So why did Paul correct one and not the other?  Perhaps there's something more going on here?

3)  James was wrong; Paul was wrong to go along with James's proposal (Gal 3:1-3).

"...But the council at Jerusalem, while it had closed the mouths of the Judaizers as far as public opposition to Paul's message of grace was concerned, had by no means won them to the attitude which Peter had displayed in his noble declaration of Acts 15:8-11.  Instead they had dogged Paul's footsteps wherever he had gone, seeking to undermine his ministry among the Galatians, the Corinthians and the Gentile believers in general.  Indeed, Peter himself, along with other Jewish believers, including even Barnabas, had nearly caused serious division in the church at Antioch under the influence of "certain [that had come] from James" (Gal. 2:12,13).

And now do James and the elders make their proposal to Paul to help him, or because they are embarrassed by his presence in Jerusalem at this time?  If their desire is truly to help, they are in the position to do so now, but this does not appear to be the case, for, without offering to endorse his ministry or to stand by him in any way, they urge him to go through a Jewish ritual to appease those who have been informed (partly in truth) that he is leaving Judaism."

"...Thus the apostle [Paul] was urged to endorse the action of four Jewish zealots in taking a Nazarite vow, by financing, not one, but five bloody sacrifices for each.  And he was urged to do this to prove that he was a faithful observer of the law.  Would it be right or wrong of him to yield?  As we examine all the Scriptures involved we can come to but one conclusion:  It would be wrong."

"...This passage [1 Cor 9:20-21] is thought by some to contain the full justification of Paul's involvement in Judaism at this time.  They suppose that it means that he alternately placed himself in subjection to the law and at liberty from it as he labored, now with Jews and then with Gentiles.  Those who interpret this passage in this way to defend Paul's action at Jerusalem should take care that they do not charge him with worse than a lapse in faithfulness.  We can understand how the apostle, like all other men of God, should stumble and fall, but the above interpretation of 1 Cor. 9:20 would make Paul guilty of habitual duplicity.

...We believe that the passage in 1 Cor. 9 simply means that, sympathetically, he placed himself mentally in the position of those with whom he dealt.  He did not go back into Judaism while among Jews, but, recognizing their prejudices, he refrained from doing what might offend them — so that he might gradually teach them the same truths he had taught the Jews at Pisidian Antioch: justification from all things by faith in Christ, apart from the law (Acts 13:38,39)."

"...It is strange to see Paul yielding to James and going back again to what he had only recently called "weak and beggarly elements."  What all his own reasons were for doing so we do not know.  It cannot be said that, being at Jerusalem, he submitted to the authority of the circumcision apostles, for there is no evidence that any of them were there — indeed, the evidence rather indicates that they were not present at the meeting."

This theologian has addressed verse 20 as well as the rest of the passage and has concluded that both James and Paul were wrong.  Now I know we all have feet of clay, but I have to admit I have a hard time believing this one.

4) James was right, Israel hadn't yet been officially put aside and was therefore still observing the law; Paul was right to go along with James's proposal (Acts 21-28).

"Many think that the apostle [Paul] erred in persisting to visit Jerusalem, and they support their conviction by pointing out that at this juncture the record of his evangelistic labours ceases.  They find it also difficult to understand how the author of the epistle to the Galatians could take the vow of the Nazarite and offer the sacrifices (vs. 25-27) of Numbers vi. I3-20.

But both this difficulty and this conviction disappear when the Book of the Acts is intelligently interpreted, and its relation to Messiah's earthly kingdom recognised, and when the approbation of xxiii II is remembered.

Paul was a chosen vessel (ix. I5) to offer that kingdom to Israel, as well as to proclaim it among the Gentiles.  The final and official offer to the Twelve Tribes at Jerusalem, and at Rome, by the greatest of the apostles, and its rejection, is the subject of chapters xxi.-xxviii.  This final offer was a Divine necessity; and, therefore, the apostle is bound to go up to Jerusalem and afterwards to Rome."

"...He [Paul] was a child of the promises made to the Fathers, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, a Pharisee, and as a godly Israelite he offered the sacrifices of Numbers vi. in commemoration of the Great Sacrifice which, prior to it, they fore-shadowed.  They were a Divine institution, and they pointed forward and backward to Christ with equal significance.  It is true that personally he was quite willing to surrender all his privileges as a Hebrew in favour of the greater glories of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. iii.); but that desire did not release him from his appointment as a prophet to Israel (ix. I5)."

"...At Jerusalem Paul recognised the authority of the Twelve (vs. I9-26), and did so intelligently."

"...Each one had to offer a burnt-offering, a sin-offering, a peace-offering, a meal-offering, a drink-offering, and unleavened bread as commanded by God in Num. it was a somewhat costly matter, and among the Jews it was esteemed a very great proof of fidelity to the law to pay for such sacrifices.  A Nazarite bound himself for a period or for life.  Paul and his companions had taken this vow for a given period of time; and as commanded by the law they hastened to offer the prescribed sacrifices appointed for the termination of the vow.  These sacrifices struck at self-righteousness, for the Nazarites in offering them declared themselves to be lost and guilty sinners, notwithstanding their religious resolution and conduct.  They publicly confessed that sin attached even to their holy things, and that they themselves needed cleansing and forgiveness."

This theologian believes the Jewish believers were still observing the law because Israel hadn't yet been officially put aside.  While this explains verse 20, wouldn't that still mean Paul was guilty of "habitual duplicity" like the previous theologian suggested?  Perhaps this could be explained by the transitional period, where Judaism was decreasing at the same time the Church (both Jew and Gentile) was increasing?

So what do you think?  In light of the whole of Scripture, which explanation makes the most sense to you?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Interesting tidbit - 9 (Romans 15:25-26)

Q:  During Paul's last visit to Jerusalem, he stood before Governor Felix and said, "I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings." This is the offering (evidently a large amount) that Paul writes of in Romans 15:25-26, "...the poor among the saints in Jerusalem." Then verse 27 says, "Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things."

So the question is this:  How have we shared in their spiritual things?

A:  First of all, we now possess the Word of God which came to us through Israel. Romans 3:1-2 says that the chief advantage of the Jew was that they "...were entrusted with the oracles of God." So now we have the entire Bible: the truths of creation, the history of Israel and mankind through the centuries, the judgments of God, the covenants, the promises, and many prophesies concerning Christ and the things to come.  As Romans 15:4 states: "...whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." The things "written in former days" would include the warnings Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 10:1-11. Verse 11 says, "now these things happened to them for examples, and they are written for our admonition...."  Most assuredly, "all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, for instruction in righteousness..." (2 Tim 3:16). For wisdom, reproof, and instruction in righteousness, we read Proverbs. For examples of worship, prayer and praise, we read the Psalms. For a knowledge of prophecy, we have all the prophets, including the Lord Jesus who prophesied of the judgments to come and the future Kingdom.  In the four gospels we find the doctrines of the virgin birth, His deity, His ministry on earth, His suffering, His crucifixion, His resurrection, and His future Kingdom.  And Paul's epistles, which are addressed to Gentile believers, contain the revelations concerning the truths that God has especially for us today.  It is there that we look for knowledge of our salvation by grace, our position in Christ, our spiritual life, and our destiny.

Secondly, we now have the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant, namely salvation through His blood.  Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 26:28 saying, "this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." However, the great truths of the New Covenant were not fully revealed until the Book of Hebrews was written. The author of Hebrews (most likely Paul) wrote to the Jewish Christians who knew all the ordinances and prophecies of the Old Testament as Paul did. The New Covenant shows that all the types, offerings and sacrifices, priesthood and ordinances of the Law are fulfilled in Christ.

But wasn't the New Covenant made "with the house of Israel "(Jer 31:31-34) rather than with the Church of our day? Well yes, but with Israel's rejection of Christ and her temporary blindness (Acts 28:28; Rom 11:11; Eph 2:12-13), the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant are now given by grace to those who do receive Christ.  The New Covenant's complete fulfillment is still in the future (Rom 11:25-27), but today we are partakers of this "so great a salvation" mentioned in Hebrews 2:3. 

Perhaps this is what Paul was referring to when he said he was a minister of the New Covenant (2 Cor 3:4-6).

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Galatians 2:11-3:3

"Pursuing the natural trend of the mind, men seek some refuge from the implication of guilt involved in accepting a salvation provided in grace, and available by faith alone. Hence they are forever adding something thereto in which a merit of their own, however attenuated, is implied.

[They say] there must be faith in Christ indeed, but there must be something besides. And that something invariably implies merit on the part of him who has it, or who does it. This, affirms the apostle, is to make the Cross of Christ of none effect."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Joint-heirs with Christ

As "joint-heirs with Christ" we share in all of Christ's riches.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph 1:3).

So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God (1 Cor 3:21-23).

For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God (2 Cor 4:15).

We may also rest assured that "if indeed we suffer with Him," we shall also be "glorified with Him" (Rom 8:16-27), inheriting by grace the glory which is Jesus Christ’s by right.  ("If indeed" doesn't mean our inheritance is conditional; rather, it's an indication that suffering with Christ is characteristic of believers - see previous post on suffering with Christ here.)

And all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them (John 17:10).

"The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:22-24).

We must always remember that this position of being joint-heirs, and all that goes with it, is ours by grace alone, in Christ alone.  We could never have gotten to the place where God could simply trust us to do what is right and wise and good.  It was rather when we came to the realization of our utter unworthiness and placed our trust in Christ, that God accepted us, and sees us now in His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  And this is our position from the very moment that we place our trust in Christ, for Eph 2:4-6 clearly states that,

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Therefore, immediately, without any period of probation, He places us not under the law (Gal 6:15), but as and in His Son (Col 2:10), under grace.

But won't this produce careless and sinful living?  No!  Such love will accomplish what the law never could.  It is natural that those whose hearts have been won by grace will now long to serve God out of love and gratitude, and that their hearts will call upon Him as "Father," because love generates love (1 Jn 4:10, 19).

For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace (Rom 6:14).

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" (Rom 8:15).

The law from without, with its rules, regulations, and threatenings, could only produce fear, but the Spirit lives within us to produce that revolutionary change that causes us to look to God and call Him "Father" with an intimacy that the law forbade.  No threat hangs over God's people today.  Rather, we rejoice in "this grace in which we stand" (Rom 5:2). 

What a prospect, child of glory,
Does the future hold in store!
By the wildest flights of fancy
Thou couldst never ask for more.

Heir of God, joint-heir forever,
With His own beloved Son!
God could not to you have promised
More of bliss than He has done.

- Author unknown -

For believers walking according to their "old selves" (Eph 4:17-32), please remember first of all, that's not who you are anymore.  Now you're a new creation (2 Cor 5:17) and your old self is dead (Rom 6:4, 11; 7:4; Gal 2:20) — so keep it in its coffin!  Second, consider carefully all the reasons why Paul implores us "to live worthy of the calling [we] have received" (Eph 3:1-4:1).  In a word, remember who you are in Christ (2 Cor 5:17; 2 Thes 2:13-18) and be yourself!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Church bulletin bloopers - 2

Next Sunday Mrs. Vinson will be soloist for the morning service. The pastor will then speak on "It's a Terrible Experience."

Diana and Don request your presents at their wedding.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Nelson's sermons.

A worm welcome to all who have come today.

Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again" giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

Ushers will eat latecomers.

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

The Rev. Merriwether spoke briefly, much to the delight of the congregation.

Don't let worry kill you off - let the church help.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pithy sayings

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.

Two wrongs are only the beginning.

Love is a friendship set to music.

A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

Nothing separates the generations more than music. By the time a child is eight or nine, he has developed a passion for his own music that is even stronger than his passions for procrastination and weird clothes.

Never look down on anybody unless you're helping him up.

Treat your friends as you do your pictures, and place them in their best light.

If music be the food of love, play on.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Interesting tidbit - 8

For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake (Phil 1:29). (KJV)

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church (Colossians 1:24). (KJV)

In Philippians 1:29 we are told "it has been granted [us] for Christ's suffer for His sake."  Then in Colossians 1:24 it says we "fill up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions."  What exactly is Paul saying here?  I think Kenneth S. Wuest in his book Philippians in the Greek New Testament explains this rather well:

"The words “it is given” [in Phil 1:29] are from the word used of God when He in grace freely and graciously bestows on believing sinners the gift of salvation. The words “in the behalf of” are the translation of the Greek preposition used of the substitutionary aspect of our Lord’s death on the Cross. It means not only for the sake of but in the place of Christ. It should be clear that we cannot share in His expiatory sufferings on the Cross, much less endure those in His stead. The sufferings to which Paul refers here are Christ’s sufferings for righteousness’ sake while on earth in His humiliation. He says in Colossians 1:24 that he fills “up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ” in his flesh “for His body’s sake.” Our Lord’s sufferings for righteousness’ sake which He endured as a result of human antagonism against Himself, ended with His death on the Cross. He has left with the Church the message of salvation, the preaching of which draws the antagonism of the world. Thus, as the saints suffer for righteousness’ sake, they substitute for their absent Lord not only in the task of preaching the message He has given them but also in suffering for His sake and in His stead."