Thursday, November 30, 2006

Galatians 6:2 - Fulfilling the Law of Christ

"Bear one another's burdens and you will fulfill the law of Christ"
Galatians 6:2

Continuing our discussion from the previous post, here are a few more questions:

1. Should the future tense of the verb be understood as a simple indicative (as the translation above reflects) or as an imperative?

2. What is the relationship between the law of Christ and the Mosaic Law?

3. How is it that bearing one another's burdens fulfills the law of Christ?

To your keyboards, scholars, theologians, and otherwise opinionated folks!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Galatians 5:14 and the Fulfillment of the Law

"For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Gal. 5:14)

Four questions for contemplation:

1. What does Paul mean when he says the Law is fulfilled in one word?

2. Is there any difference in Paul's mind between "doing" the Law and "fulfilling" the Law?

3. How do we synthesize this with Jesus' statement in Matt 5:17-18 that he came to fulfill the Law? In other words, if Jesus fulfilled the Law in what sense then do Christians fulfill the Law?

4. What are the implications for how Christians should view the Law based on Gal 5:14?

Take your pick and pontificate away.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gratitude - A Thanksgiving Reflection

At its worst, Thanksgiving is simply an excuse to stuff ourselves silly with food and watch football all day. But at its best, it is an opportunity for us as followers of Christ to reflect upon what we are truly grateful for. One of the most striking Biblical passages on gratitude is found in Rom 1:21. Having stated what can be perceived about God in creation such that humanity is without excuse, Paul says:

"For even though they knew God, they did not glorify God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened" (Rom 1:21)

Paul places humanity's ingratitude at the heart of our rebellion against him. Gratitude flows from a heart that is overwhelmed with the grace of God shown in the cross (cf. Col. 2:6-7). The author of Hebrews goes even further:

"Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12:28-29).

Notice what gratitude is linked to in this passage: participating in the kingdom, a life of worship, reverence, and a recognition of God's consuming holiness. Gratitude is a tangible demonstration that we are living out the kingdom in the present in anticipation of its consummation.

So tomorrow, as you are sitting down to eat with friends and family, reflect upon the ultimate grounds of Christian gratitude. How can we not be grateful for God (who reveals himself as a consuming fire) sending his Son to bear the wrath that we deserve?

Friday, November 10, 2006

9 Marks Newsletter on Biblical Theology

The latest edition of the 9 Marks Newsletter focuses on Biblical Theology, including articles by Tom Schreiner, Jim Hamilton, and a Pastor's Forum with contributions from Graeme Goldsworthy, Ray Ortlund Jr., and Bruce Waltke.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Paul & Scripture SBL Seminar Group

Last year at the annual meeting of SBL (Society of Biblical Literature), a new study group was formed to study the issue of Paul's Use of Scripture. Many of the most significant scholars working on this subject are involved, many of whom approach the issue from quite different perspectives and assumptions. In anticipation of this year's meeting (about one week from now), they have posted several of the papers on the web here.

Although I will not be able to attend SBL this year, I am thankful for this resource. If you are interested in reading about current scholarly discussion on this issue, I highly recommend reading these papers.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Gal 4:19 - A Neglected Image of Pastoral Ministry

In his efforts to avert apostasy among his Galatian converts, Paul uses an image of pastoral ministry that is at once evocative and neglected:

"My little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!" (Gal 4:19)

Paul portrays himself as a woman in labor, racked by painful contractions as he seeks to Christ formed within the Galatians. In doing so he uses the same verb (odino) found in the quotation of Isa 54:1 in Gal 4:27, which speaks of the heavenly Jerusalem giving birth to the people of God. By doing so, Paul aligns himself with the purposes of God. Central to that purpose is seeing Christ formed in the Galatians. The passive voice indicates that it is God who forms Christ in the Galatians; we might even think of Paul's ministry as the "womb" in which God forms Christ in the infant Galatians.

Have you ever thought of your own ministry in terms of laboring to see Christ formed in the people you work with? For those in full-time ministry, do you consider a central feature of your ministry seeing Christ formed in the people you serve? Do your methods, programs, etc. further this end, or something else?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Review of Nine Marks of a Healthy Church

For those who might be interested, I recently wrote a review of Nine Marks of a Healthy Church that is available in The Witness, an online magazine of Grace Theological Seminary. It can be found at this link (you'll need to scroll down the page a bit to find it):