Showing posts from 2007

Galatians 5:17 Breakthrough!

Galatians 5:16Le,gw de,( pneu,mati peripatei/te kai. evpiqumi,an sarko.j ouv mh. tele,shteÅ 17 h` ga.r sa.rx evpiqumei/ kata. tou/ pneu,matoj( to. de. pneu/ma kata. th/j sarko,j( tau/ta ga.r avllh,loij avnti,keitai( i[na mh. a] eva.n qe,lhte tau/ta poih/teÅ 18 eiv de. pneu,mati a;gesqe( ouvk evste. u`po. no,monÅ(If this looks like gibberish, download the Greek font bwgrkl.tff from my left sidebar)For years Galatians 5:17 has bothered me.

On a straightforward reading, it has always seemed to me to contradict verses 16 and 18. My way around the problem has been to say, “Whatever v. 17 means, it can’t be a denial of verses 16 and 18.” Yesterday, during the yearly Brown family Theology Fest, we had a breakthrough!

This year our family theology fest is focusing on the NT’s use of “flesh,” particularly those passages in which it is used in a morally negative sense. We started with Romans on Tuesday afternoon and we made it to Galatians 5:16-18 by yesterday afternoon.

Verse 16 is an incredib…

Degrees of Holiness, Degrees of Reward

I was recently asked, “Do degrees of holiness here on earth result in degrees of reward in Heaven?”

The question assumes there are degrees of holiness. Is that true? When we consult the OT, we see degrees of holiness in the tabernacle. The courtyard and all its equipment were holy, the “holy place” was more holy than the surrounding tabernacle, and the holy of holies was the most holy of all.

Are there degrees of holiness in people ? When we are saved we are made holy (1 Cor. 1:2). This holiness is real, but it is limited. It has not been integrated into every facet of our thoughts and behavior. Thus, it is often the case that new believers who are holy, act unwittingly in unholy ways. The Corinthians are a classic example (1 Cor. 1:2; 3:1-3). The more our minds are transformed to think as God thinks, the more holy our lives become (cf. 2 Cor. 7:1). Holy living flows from holy thinking that is motivated by love for God.

About five year ago I read A Life God Rewards by Bruce Wilkinson. It…

When David was a Man After God's Own Heart (1 Sam. 13:14)

"A man after God's own heart." That is probably the phrase most commonly associated with King David in many people's mind.

Unfortunately, that phrase is frequently misused and even misunderstood. At issue is this: Precisely when in David's life did God regard him as a man after His own heart?

The answer: 1 Sam. 13:14 and Acts 13:22.

1 Sam. 13 recounts the story of Saul's choice to offer sacrifice to God without a priestly representative present. Because he violated God's word and did not wait for Samuel to be present, Samuel tells him,
You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.There it is! David was a man after Go…

Caleb's Concubines (1 Chron. 2:46, 48) -- corrected

Just read 1 Chron 2:18-4:4 and learned that Caleb, the man who wholly followed God (Deut. 1:36), had two concubines: Ephah and Maacah (1 Chron. 2:46, 48)!

9/12/13Correction: The Caleb who had concubines was the son of Hezron, son of Perez, son of Judah, and not Caleb, son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite. Same name, different person. My apologies to Caleb the son of Jephunneh!Post revised to refer solely to King David who apparently had enough concubines that they aren’t even named (cf. 1 Chron. 3:9)

From what we know about the Ancient Near East (cf. Nuzi) concubinage was a specific, legal status that was public—a kind of sub-wife position. Being a concubine was not to be a private ‘mistress’ at all.

I can imagine someone decrying the worldliness of David, articulating the doctrine of marriage from Gen. 1-2 which Jesus himself would later teach, and then separating from these individuals as disobedient to God’s will and plan, compromisers with worldliness.

Would such a person be wrong? No…

Joy Unspeakable and Job

I had these thoughts in response to Phillip Dickinson's comments on my May 2006 How to Fight for Joy post.

Have you perhaps had something like the following calico account of two of my experiences?

I received news that a donor had agreed to give approximately $100,000 each year over the next ten years to a fund for the establishment of a seminary here at GBS. I was overjoyed, elated.

My wife comes into my office to inform me that her mother is experiencing excruciating pain and has been taken to the hospital. My wife is in tears. Upon hearing the news from my wife, my sense of joy vanishes or at least dissipates rapidly. I'm distressed and seek to be a comfort to my wife.

Did I lose my joy?

Most certainly not! Upon the first opportunity that my mind had to return to the contemplation of the donor's pledge, my inward rejoicing and delight (aka joy) resumed its singing and simmered over time to a happy hum.

My best short description of joy, at present, is that joy is the emotional…

Reading Psalms to Children

Allan came in this morning as I was reading my Bible, so I read him the portion of Psalm 34 that was part of my reading. As I read to him, it occurred to me that reading the Psalms not only identifies the character of God and the paths in which He wants us to walk, but it also identifies how He views and relates to those who choose not to walk in His ways. Conviction and fear would be the result of a consistent reading of the psalms to those who are not right with God. That's another good reason to read the Psalms to children.

34:16 The face of the LORD is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from the earth.

34:21 Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

I was challenged recently to learn that the Stam family, from which John Stam the martyred missionary to China came, began every meal of the day with Bible reading. Each place setting had a Bible and all shared in the reading.

This strengthens my resolve to incorporate more regular Sc…