January 24, 2016 Rebuttal

Rebuttal

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  This rather simple question for Christians was answered with complexity on a recent podcast by a very learned man in a celebrated position.  His crowd had deduced that the chicken came first but was birthed by a different bird.  Huh?  So much for science without God!  However, this apology is somewhat like the confusing philosophy that Apostle Paul addressed in Galatians.

A. The Claim

  1. Paul had faced the issue of Christians being circumcised and following the law before, in Antioch.  He refers to this in Galatians 2.1-10; see Acts 15.1-4, also.  He had traveled with members of the opposition to Jerusalem to meet with James (not the brother of Apostle James, according to Acts 12.2, but half-brother of Jesus and head of the church; Acts 12.17, 15.13, 21.18), Apostle Peter, and Apostle John – the reputed pillars of the Christian ‘way’.  They supported the ‘revelation’ that Paul had from Jesus (Galatians 1.12) and sent Paul out to evangelize the Gentiles.  The Jerusalem Council had ruled that faith alone was sufficient.
  2. Paul, even, dressed down Peter for dissociating with Gentiles in Antioch when Jewish Christians arrived from James.  Paul accused him of being duplicitous in expressing his beliefs; see Galatians 2.11-16.  Perhaps, Peter had not fully accepted the change of behavior needed to ‘walk the talk’.  Is the sufficiency of faith in Jesus alone (John 14.6) fully settled in your mind? How do you know?  Are your works of service a cause (Church of Christ; Mormon Church) for your salvation or a result?  State Galatians 2.16-19 in your own words as an explanation.

B. Essence of the Rebuttal

  1. Does God act because of the Law (Decalogue + Mosaic additions from God) or because of faith?  This is Paul’s question in Galatians 3.5 (NASB): “So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”
  1. Who provides the Holy Spirit?  John 14.16-17.
  2. Who works miracles?  Genesis 34.10; Mark 16.15-20 (especially verse 20); 1 Corinthians 2.4-5, 12.9.
  3. God honors our ‘hearing with faith’.  Habakkuk 2.4; John 3.16-18; illustration in Numbers 21.8-9, a ‘look’ resulting from faith; but why did some not look?
  4. 4.     So, what place the ‘fleshly’ works of the Law?  Galatians 6.8, 5.16-24.
  5. More importantly, how was God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12.1-3 superior to God’s Decalogue to Moses in Exodus 20.1-17?
  6. In Galatians 3.6, Paul emphasized that Abraham’s faith in God’s promise distinguished him.  Thus, your faith makes you a descendant of Abraham, explaining your connection to the benefits of Genesis 17.7.  What does it mean to you that God is God to you?  Reflect upon Genesis 26.2-5; where do you fit in?  Does this explain Paul’s confident statements in Philippians 4.13, 18-19?  Are these your statements?
  7. Paul’s explanation of the relationship of the Law to the Promise reaches a climax in Galatians 3.21-22.  The Law only made people aware of their sin and separation from God, as Paul would later write in Romans 7.7-11.  As Paul emphasized: the Law could not give life!
  8. Paul nailed the point in Galatians 3.24-25: faith in Jesus displaced the Law’s tutoring!  The Law expressed the need for the ‘Seed’ (Galatians 3.16) of the promise to rescue (Galatians 1.4) from death! How do these arguments instruct you about confronting aberrant philosophies?
  1. Galatians 3.17-18 is Paul’s ‘chicken or egg’ comparison.  Who came first, Abraham or Moses? How are they related?

C. How do these arguments instruct you about confronting aberrant philosophies?

  1. Understand your own beliefs convincingly.  See Paul’s rationale in Galatians 2.18-21.  This understanding is his reference in 2 Corinthians 10.3-6 and what he means in Romans 12.2.
  2. Probe to understand the foundations of the opposing philosophies.  Paul did this with the philosophers at Mars Hill; see Acts 17.16-31.  How did he use their arguments as a beginning and emphases for his apology?
  3. Paul illustrated your answers to utopian (future), existential/secular-humanist (present), and traditional (past) philosophers in 1 Corinthians 11.26: “For as often (present) as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death (past) until He comes (future).”  (My parenthetical inserts.)
  4. Engage such discussions only when the Holy Spirit crosses your path with philosophers (Isaiah 55.5) and let Him speak the words they need to hear (Isaiah 30.21).  You are only the medium for sending the message from the Sender to the receiver…He has chosen.  He will make sure you accomplish His task.  Just obey!

Praise God!!!  Matthew 23.39!  Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2016. www.sozoclass.com.

January 10, 2016 Agenda or Distinguishing Good From Evil

Agenda or Distinguishing Good From Evil

Proverbs 4.23 (NASB) calls us to active duty: “Watch over your heart with all diligence (“vigilance” in ESV; “above all else” in HCSB), For from it flow the springs of life.”  ‘Springs’ are the ‘outgoings of life’, according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of Hebrew and Greek.  Jesus illustrated this when discussing sexual lust, in Matthew 5.27-28.  ‘Heart’ is “also used (figuratively) very widely for the feelings, the will and even the intellect.” (ibid)  King Solomon wrote this imperative amidst his instruction for his sons to walk through life with Godly wisdom.  In Proverbs 2.16-19, he warns against giving in to the adulteress’ seductive words and ways, thereby personalizing the purveyors of philosophies against God.  It is about such purveyors of Judaism that Apostle Paul warns Galatian Christians.  Why had they not been able to stay true to their faith;  John 14.6How can you recognize seducing philosophies?  We should heed his warning in 1 Corinthians 10.12: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” (Underscore is my emphasis.)

Galatians 1:5: “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a  different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to  distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed.” ‘Distort’: Eve in Genesis 3.1-6.

3:3: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

4:8-11: “However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.  But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God,  how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.”  Think next new idea, criticism, lusts: Jeremiah 9.23, John 5.44, 1 John 2.15.

Romans 6:16: “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?”

Hebrews 5:12-14: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”  1 John 4.1-6.

Galatians 5:2, 4: “Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you…You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”  2 Peter 3.17; Hebrews 12.15-17.

Galatians 1:14: “…I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.” Acts 22.3; Philippians 3.4-6.

Galatians 4:3: “So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.”  Acts 17.22-27.

Colossians 2:8: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”  This is Paul’s restatement of what God said in Jeremiah 13.10.

Colossians 2:20-23: “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were  still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used —according to human precepts and teachings? These   have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism [think Lent season before Easter] and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” Similarly, Jesus condemned the practices of the Nicolaitans in Revelation 2.14-15.

Matthew 15:3: “And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?”  Verse 13-14: “But He answered and said, ‘Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.’”  Or Pit as in Isaiah 14.12-15?

Galatians 2:4: “But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.”  2 Corinthians 2.11.

Galatians 4:17: “They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them.”  Saul Alinsky’s Rule 12 Rules for Radicals: “Rule 5: ‘Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.’ There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.” “Rule 12: ‘Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.’ Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.”  (Retrieved from Google)

Galatians 6:12-13: “Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are   circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.”

Ephesians 4:13-14: “…until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of      God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind  doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming….”  1 Corinthians 1.22-25.

Matthew 7:15-17: “’Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.’”

Matthew 13:20-21: “’The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.”  John 5.44.

Hebrews 10:38: “’But MY righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, MY soul has no pleasure in him.’”

Galatians 2:18: “For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.”

Galatians 4:30: “But what does the Scripture say?  ‘Cast out the bondwoman and her son, For the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.’”  John 8.31-32. Compare & Contrast!

Galatians 6:9: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”

“We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”~President Abraham Lincoln, 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Praise God!  Matthew 23.39!  Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2016.   www.sozoclass.com

 

Escape

Galatians was the Apostle Paul’s first book, written after he attended the Council of Jerusalem, about AD 50 (Galatians 2.1-2; Acts 15.1-2).  This Council was convened because of a dispute in Antioch regarding circumcision.  Paul wrote Galatians from Syria near the end of his first missionary journey, AD 45-49, and reflected on this experience as a proof that circumcision was not required for salvation.  Trivia: from Galatians 2.1, we understand that Jewish Saul met Jesus on Damascus Road in AD 35, about two years after Jesus’ resurrection, and was converted and commissioned (Acts 26.16-18).  He, then, took on the Greek name Paul because he was to proclaim the gospel to Gentiles.  Acts 26.18 states Jesus’ commission and theme for Paul’s ministry and much of his writing.  This is clearly seen in Galatians.

A. Escape

  1. 1.    Paul restated Jesus’ commission in his opening comments; thus, setting the theme of Galatians.
  2. Galatians 1.4 NASB: “who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”  (My underline for emphasis.)
  3. Apostle Peter repeats this emphasis in 2 Peter 1.2-4, giving lust as a cause for the evil.  Apostle John gives the repeats the emphasis, expanding the cause to include pride, in 1 John 2.15-17.
  4. Personally, I believe we are living in the Great Tribulation because of John’s vision in Revelation 7.9 & 14.  I believe that we will be among this throng, having been called away as was John symbolically in Revelation 4.1-2.  Further, I believe 2 Peter 2.7-8 supports my position by commenting on the ‘torment’ of Lot’s soul daily observing Sodom’s homosexuality.
  5. All three apostles explain what Jesus said in John 16.33: Jesus overcomes trouble in this world!
  6. Jesus illustrated our present troubles in His Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.18-22.  satan is relentless but can and must be overcome (Genesis 4.7, James 4.7, 1 John 5.4-5, Revelation 12.11).   Resist satan with the only testimony you need: Jesus!

B. Trapped

  1. In Acts 26.18, Paul quoted Jesus saying that people are trapped by satan in darkness.
  2. Darkness is the weight that keeps us from running our race of faith, as Paul wrote in Hebrews 12.1-2.
  3. It is un-renewed minds that keep us from offering our bodies as living sacrifices, as Paul wrote in Romans 12.1-2.
  4. It is our preference for fleshly behaviors, as Paul lists in Galatians 5.19-21 in contrast to verses 16-17 and 22-23.
  5. It is Paul’s explanation in Colossians 3.8 of Jesus’ warning in Matthew 6.23Acts 17.22-31.
  6. King Solomon warned his children about darkness in Proverbs 1.8-19.  Paul described similar darkness to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3.1-5.  Have you experienced or heard of such?

C. Liftoff

  1. “The escape velocity is the speed an object must be given to escape from the Earth; it is 11.3 km/sec or 25,300 mph.”  (P. W. Atkins. The Second Law.  New York: Scientific American, 1984: 138.)
  2. If Peter had only kept his eyes on Jesus, he could have escaped; Matthew 14.29!
  3. Galatians 1.3-4: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age….”
  4. Hebrews 3.13: “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today’, so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”  Paul’s greatest concern! Yours?
  5. Praise God!  2 John 1.2-4!  Copyright © Maurice L. Painter, 2016.  www.sozoclass.com