Monthly Archives: March 2014

3/25/2014 Galatians 3 (18)

V 11 is Luther’s justification by faith. Also in Romans and Habakkuk 2:4.bill says this salvation allows us to obey the law. Bonhoeffer talks about cheap grace and it presumably is the disconnect some people feel and don’t think the law needs to be obeyed. CS Lewis say pretend to be something and it becomes reality. Does one wait for faith? Do you have faith because you act in the life that Christ intended for Christians. So faith is like basketball you want to become unconsciously competent. It is easy to obey a few rules but to have faith is scary. We struggle with knowing we are saved and are secure in that and therefore living by the law and in that law. You have confidence in the saving grace of Jesus. Why don’t we go crazy because we are saved and evangelize all over the place. What makes Lutherans so afraid to speak out about their faith like the evangelicals do. Mark says it is because of pride, we are afraid that someone will think less of us because we are Bible thumpers if we tell others of our faith! Frank says our cup runs over and we have the freedom to shout it out. Pride prevents us from becoming demonstrative.  Bill says that this view that Paul preaches about the law has to do with picky Jewish law. So circumcision became the representative for all picky Jewish law. Acts 10:34 s an instance of this conundrum. God can save people not in your church. The Judaizers are the false prophets of that day and were saying people had to become Jewish before becoming Christians. Paul and James have completely different views and speak to different audiences. In creation god gave us everything but we didn’t follow thru so he repeatedly tried various ploys to get us back culminating in the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus. We have the promise of  heaven but now how do we live out our lives under that promise.  That is the question.

3/18/2014 Galatians 2 (14)

Mark read the whole book of Galatians from the Jefferson Bible and it was condensed into 2 pages. It seemed to skip all of the even numbered chapters. We were reminded that Galatians was Luther’s favorite book as it was the basis of his teachings that being saved is a free gift of God through grace and is not earned due to our works or following the law. Peter visited the Galatians in Antioch and was having fellowship with them until the Jewish Christians came and then switched over to them and the principle aspect of this difference is the rule of law as exemplified by the practice of circumcision. Paul preached that a person is saved by faith in Christ and his death on the cross, not by their adherence to the law. Is Paul being hypercritical about his rants against Peter and concerns about what Christ did for us. I think not, I think this is the basis of the gospel and represents the new way under Christ that doesn’t depend on the law. The law is followed as an outgrowth of our faith in Christ, not the other way. Al noted the duality of things in this text, Peter and Paul, the law and the gospel, etc. It represents a style of presentation that helps clarifies things. The Message interpretation of the Bible is particularly apt here. The author, Peterson says in verses 15-16, “We Jews know that we have no advantage of birth over ‘non-Jewish sinners.’ We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know that? We tried it — and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.” I think Paul was trying to identify the false prophets of that time and their teachings so that people would know the falseness of their teachings. He didn’t want to see a hierarchy in which Jewish Christians were better that Gentile Christians. He thought they should all be Christians. One aspect of the writing that was noticed was the alternative uses of Peter and Cephus and Mark noted that it was that way in the Greek version as well as current versions. Peter is the Greek word, while Cephus is the Aramaic version of Peter’s name. In the way it was used, I think that Paul was saying Cephus to emphasize that Peter was backsliding into a ministry just to the Jews but that Paul wanted the message of Christ to be universal to all whether they were Jews or Gentiles. There would be no distinctions.

03-11-14 Galatians 1 (15)

We started to read Galatians again. We read it in June of 2013 with Pastor John Meyer. It will be interesting to read it again now as we go through Lent this year. It is a book that gives us the freedom in Christ to live.

Mark said as we began our discussion that the ancients have stolen our best ideas. Galatians is the monograph of new congregations. Luther thought it was the handbook for new churches. After Paul had established the church in Galatia, he left and some Jewish people came in and said you had to be Jewish to be Christians. Now Paul was writing to straighten them out. Tom asked if the evil age continuing to this day v4. He is talking about false prophets and what they were  preaching is not the gospel at all. The Message interpretations has a very powerful version of verses 6-9 which concludes with the phrase “If anyone regardless of reputation or credentials preaches something other than what you received originally , let him be cursed.  Is this just Paul’s arrogance, I think not. Paul is saying that Jesus gave us the freedom to life and we don’t need to let the rules of a church stand in our way. In those days, it was things like the circumcision required to be a Jew or the dietary rules required of Jews. Might it be the rules we have for maintaining membership in our church that sound like club rules. Have communion at least once in 2 years and make a gift of record to Zion.

Tom asked, “Why evangelize, if God is all powerful why does he need us to spread the word?”  The gospel makes us free.  We lean on something so that it becomes a habit and becomes a part of us. Disagreement about Jewish traditions necessary for Christians.

What did Peter teach Paul in his 15 day short course with him. Peter lived in Jerusalem and most of the people in the church there would have been Jews, so he faced a different environment than Paul did in Galatia. Did Peter agree with Paul about what the club rules would be for people who were not originally Jewish.

Luther said Galatians was his gospel. If grace is Gods wishes for us to be free then saying no to that undermines the gospel of Jesus. Don’t let the rules deter us from accepting Christ’s gospel and the freedom it gives us. Why come to church? The community helps us remember the gospel and understand its message. Should we change the constitution to say if you are a member take advantage to help understand. Bill asks what do I have to believe, how do I have to act, how do I have to think. How can I screw up my salvation. Jesus came to save us and we are free to accept it. Tom asked, “Is baptism necessary to come to Christ.” Why do we need some human institution to realize the promise that Jesus made to us with his death and resurrection?  V 5.1 is the meat of the issue. Christ sets us free to be His faithful servants.

Here is a link to the differences between the teachings of Peter and Paul: One that I think highlights their differences is Peter’s view that “Salvation and the law; justification by faith in Jesus as the Messiah accompanied by necessary works.” Whereas Paul said, “Salvation apart from the law; justification by faith alone in the cross work of Jesus Christ.” Also their view of the church. Peter thought “Separation between the Jew and Gentile; Israel is God’s chosen people. Gentiles blessed through Israel.” while Paul’s view was “No longer Jew nor Gentile  but all are part of a new creature in Christ called his Body.” Another view on this is given by Pastor Mike Schroeder of the Amazing Grace Bible Study Community gives his interpretation of the differences between Peter and Paul that was quite interesting at the following link:

03-04-14 II Thessalonians 3 (18)

We are finishing Thessalonians today and we will start Galatians next week. Paul made a point of saying that he had paid his own way while he had been with them. He didn’t depend on them for his meals or lodging. Tom raised a question about whether Paul wrote this chapter. Mark responded that most of the time people thought he dictated his letters and someone else actually wrote them down. But in this case, it sounds like someone different wrote them down and so possible Paul actually wrote the conclusion of the letter. Some people think that there is a different teaching on the second coming compared to that of I Thessalonians, but aspects such as I Th 5:2 are common to both. Paul suggests that people should work and not be idle. It was probably a reaction to people thinking that Jesus was coming soon again and therefore they didn’t have to worry about caring for their families and working to provide for them. Again, Paul prays that they might be delivered from wicked and evil men. There were a lot of people saying they knew the way of Jesus who were just in it for the money they could take from people. Christ gives authority to those whom He has called into the apostolic Office of the Holy Ministry and is true to His promises. We got into a discussion about humility. Tom suggested that Paul was referring to this, but didn’t really follow it himself. Tom says we need to find God’s will for us and then do it. Bill suggested that humility is being honest about yourself and using that to help others.Teach others to treat others with love and respect. Paul sometimes speaks flatteringly of himself. We have to take ourselves and use that to follow God’s will for us.