The Galatian church had been infiltrated by Judaizers seeking to lead. The gospel that Paul had taught them, a gospel of free grace apart from works, was being threatened by the false gospel of works. In the context of a church divided by false doctrine, Paul pleaded passionately with the Galatians to cling to the true gospel and reject the false gospel. It was in this context that Paul urged the Galatians to put off the fruit of the flesh and to walk by the Spirit.
In the midst of this theological squabble, however, Paul reminds his readers that the gospel had given them freedom, but that their freedom should not be used as an opportunity for the flesh, but rather they should “through love serve one another.” He goes on to write, “Fot the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one anther, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”
I want to point out three things about Paul’s commands to the Galatians that we would all do well to remember when we find ourselves in Theological disagreements.
Theology does matter. Paul never suggested to the Galatians that they accept the false theology of the Judaizers. Just the opposite, in fact, Galatians is one of Paul’s most passionate and emotionally expressive letters. In 5:11 he blurts out, “I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves.” Repeatedly, Paul urges the believers in Galatia to return to the true gospel and “cast out the slave woman.” The law of love mattered to Paul, but true biblical love and community can only exist when God is rightly understood through his word and the word is rightly … Continue reading
Some politicians have gotten themselves into trouble in the past for using a crisis for political gain. Obviously we should not seek personal gain from the pain and hurt of others, but we should hope to grow from our own sufferings. Unfortunately, the crises and sufferings in our life get wasted often.
Rather than being shaped by our sufferings and sharpened to do greater things for God’s kingdom and for the world around us, we allow our sufferings to grind us down or simply to have no long term effect on us at all. In the midst of pain and heart-ache people make all sorts of commitments to change, to be a better person, to do more good for the world, but on the back end of your sufferings and pains are you making good on your promises or have you wasted a good crisis?
L.B. Cowman writes, “when our cup of sorrows is taken away and the lessons in it are suppressed or go unheeded, we do more damage to our soul than could ever be repaired.” If you are suffering today, will you commit to not wasting this difficult time in your life? Make sure that something good comes from all of the bad. If you are not suffering today, prepare for the dark days that will come in the future. Prepare by committing right now to face your bitter cup with an eye toward a brighter future.
Don’t waste a good crisis. Instead, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3). In the midst of your struggles, you can can also take confidence with these words, “More than that, we rejoice … Continue reading
3 Reasons Pastors Should Reject Leadership Books— Well done by Eric Geiger. Pastors should read this today.
When Commentaries Go On Sale–WTS Books has their Tyndale commentaries on sale. This is a great opportunity to stock up on very good commentaries. Tim Challies has a list of which among the Tyndale rank as top options.
Seven Things Church Members Should Say To Guests in a Worship Service–“Thank you for being here.” It’s just that basic. I have heard from numerous church guests who returned because they were simply told “thank you.
Ten Things You Should Never Say to a Guest in a Worship Service— If you want to keep guests from returning to your church, here are a few things you can say to ensure they don’t visit again.
The Greatest Neglect of Family Ministry— Most of our efforts, programs, and endeavors focus on evangelizing the younger generations in order to reach families. Statistically, that rarely happens. Evangelize a child and plant them in a home that doesn’t treasure Jesus and that seed has a narrow chance of growing (Matthew 13)! If you really want to impact a home, go after the dads.
Some of the Bible’s teachings are hard to accept. In fact, some people find many of the Bible’s teachings to be unpalatable and even offensive. In our historical ignorance, we often beleive that these criticisms of God’s word are new. In fact, many who would seek to alter God’s word do so with the false belief that they are more enlightened than previous generations and as a result are better able to determin what is appropriate to be practiced and what should be jettisoned.
Writing nearly one hundered fifter years ago, Charles Spurgeon dealt with similar issues in nineteenth century London. He lamented hearing ministers “with prudish and mock-modesty, who would like to alter the Bible” because they were afraid of it. They feared either the offense of the gospel or the response of their people. Or perhaps they didn’t fear at all, they simply thought themselves cultured enough to alter the words of the Bible to suit them better.
Of course Christians today are just as inclined as they were in previous centuries to change God’s word to fit their situation. We would all do well today to heed Spurgeon’s words,
Pity that they were not born when God lived far–far back that they might have taught God how to write. Oh, impudence beond all bounds! Oh full-blown self-conceit! To attempt to dictate to the All wise–to teach the Omniscient and instruct the Eternal. Strange that there should be men so vile as to use the penknife of Jehoiakim to cut out passages of the word, because they are unpalatable. O ye who dislike certain portions of Holy writ, rest assured that your taste is corrupt, and nthat God will not stay for your little opinion.
I tend to identify … Continue reading
The folks in the Corinthian church were a mess. Paul wrote to them in love, concern, and frustration. In 1 Corinthians 4:21 he even asked them if they would prefer he come in a spirit of love or with a rod of discipline. They just didn’t seem to be able to get along with each other and when they did, it was often for the wrong reasons (see here). Nevertheless, Paul loved the church at Corinth and wanted to see them grow in the Lord. He wrote to them about the Lord’s Supper, the Resurrection, and the folly and wisdom of preaching.
He was so concerned for the church that he purposed to not leave them without capable leadership in his absence. Apollos was not interested, so Paul sent Timothy. Timothy, as you will recall, was Paul’s son in the faith. He was a young pastor whom Paul loved and trained. He was young when Paul wrote to him at Ephesus warning him, “Let no one despise you for your youth.” Note, however, that 1 Timothy was written 7 or 8 years after 1 Corinthians. That means that the man Paul was sending to this messed up Corinthian church was a VERY young man.
First, Paul gave Timothy his recommendation. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 16, he left no doubt about Timothy’s purpose, “he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am.” Paul wanted to make sure that the Corinthians knew full well that Timothy was God’s man. Paul essentially sent a letter of recommendation–Timothy is “as I am.”
Second, Paul prepared the church for Timothy. Not only did Paul give a recommendation, he lad out expectations. He told the believers at coring … Continue reading
I have lost count of how many times I have been warned, “Do not sacrifice your family on the altar of ministry.” I want to encourage you not to sacrifice your ministry on the altar of your family. I do not deny that many pastors have lost their families because the church became their mistress, but I’ve also seen many pastors lose their ministry because they made their families an idol or simply because they created an unnatural divide between their family life and their ministry life. As a Christian minister you must resist the temptation to separate your family life from your ministry life.
You must also resist the temptation to idolize your family. It is true that if you lose your family you will lose your ministry, but what leads you to believe that it is essential for you to spend every waking hour with your wife and kids? The idea of a forty-hour workweek is not necessarily bad, but it is not biblical either. Pastors are blessed to have flexible schedules that allow them to eat lunch with their wife and children on occasion, to get away from the office and attend school functions, and even to work after the kids go to bed when necessary to allow for more attention during waking hours. This flexibility is a blessing that must not be taken for granted nor taken advantage of.
Your wife and children should come before your church in your order of priorities, but that does not mean that they will come first every hour or even every week. Sometimes the needs of ministry necessitate that others receive my attention rather than my kids. Occasionally, I need to attend late meetings or minister to families in crisis … Continue reading