Galatians: Slaves to the Elementary Principles of the World

In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.

Galatians 4:3

Having reminded the believers of the common practice of the heir of a family being under the tutalige of a guardian until the father deems the chid’s training is complete, he applies the priciple of being under guardianship to the Galatian believers.

In this context, the idea of being children or immature is related specifically to the pre-conversion state of the believers. As you see in chapter’s one and two, the believers Paul is writing to is made up of both Jews and gentiles. For the Jew, the law was the first principle children were suppose to learn. It gave the principles of where people came from, God’s promises to the decendents of Ham then to Abraham and his decendents and ultimately to Jesus who fulfills all the requirements of the Law.

The Gentiles too had elementary principles in which they were enslaved. The Greek and Roman god’s were caprircious and the worshippers served them for what they can get out of the god. Worship the god of war in order to have victory over your enemy or the goddess of fertility to have good crops and many children. However should something tragic happen, one was left not knowing which god to appease.

Even by the first century, however, worship of the God’s started to fall out of favor, the Greek philosophers began to ask the question about what makes the universe work and their thoughts took them to the one thing that all the universe can be explained by. Some would argue for 4 or more elements from which all other actions and materials were formed. The gods were simply the eminations from the one quality or substance that is the source of deity. The human philosophy was man’s attempt to explain the universe appart from the god’s or the one true God.

Both the poly-theism of the Greek and Romans and the atheism of the philsophers brought people under bondage because they ignored the one true God and the world he created. Before coming to the knowledge of God, we also ignored God. We sought our own purposes as though we were gods ourselves. When Christ came and faith in Christ was generated in us, we no longer abide in enslavement to the former principles weather to the Law or to the non-deities.

Let us believe in Christ as our rightousness because he fulfilled the Law both in his obedience as well as its purpose.

Jesus’ Prayer for Protection on Those He Sends into the World

After his recounting that all the father gave the Son has been kept except the “son of destruction,” Jesus now assures the disciples that he is going to the Father and does not focus on his departure. It was a joyful thought that he would once again enjoy the position he had with the Father and he speaks these things “in the world” or in the ears of the disciples so that they would know that his departure is ultimately a good thing though painful for a while. This joy that Jesus experienced is something he desired the disciples to experience as well.

Jesus is not leaving the disciples alone, however. He is giving them God’s word. The have God’s word is a great value. It also separates those who love God from those who hate him. In fact the connection is that those who hate God hate those who belong to God specifically because they are not like the world but will be like God. God’s reflection is seen in those who belong to him and the Word is the mechanism whereby God instills his image in his people. In short, the world hates the disciples because their values and philosophy and way of life is not like the world but like God.

Even though we are not of this world, Jesus does not pray we are taken out of the world but are left in the world. The reason they are left is that Jesus is sending them into the world to be salt and light. Jesus prays, however, that in the world his disciples would be protected from the evil one. The devil hates God and by extension hates the saints who belong to him. Satan empowers the world and Jesus prays that Satan’s work would not overcome the disciples.

Let us pray that as the Father glorifies himself in Christ, let us also glorify God through Christ.

Galatians: Being Under Guardianship

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father.

Galatians 4:1-2

Paul illustrates his point made in chapter 3 that, in the progress of revelation, the Law was given to Israel, but it was not the final revelation. It was a master that held captive those to whom it was given until faith would be revealed (Galatians 3:23-24.) The coming of Jesus and justification by faith was what the Law was pointing to, but from the perspective of the Mosaic covenant, was still in the future.

The Law then was to point to the coming faith and revealed the true need of humanity just as the guardian in pre-modern times took care of and instructed the children of the master. Several aspects of the law reveal the deepest need of the human condition: sin, the rebellion against the rule of God over all aspects of human life, brings consequences appropriate of the disobedience. In Romans, Paul summarizes that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 3:23.) The law, in all of its goodness was never meant to be the purveyor of salvation, but to point to both the need and the coming salvation. Even the sacrifical system spoke to the coming need of a more permanent sacrifice since the daily and annual sacrifices never came to an end because they were satisfactory forever. Rather, the sacrifices continues because they could not cleanse the concencience of sin or remove the guilt; sacrifice can only remind the bearer of their failures.

However, where the law was unable to bring salvation, it was able to point to where salvation would come. That is why Paul uses the ancient cultural practice of an heir and their guardianship. There would be a day where the father gives to the son authority over the household, but until then, was in bondage to the guardian even though he is the son. The coming date in which the law would end its relationship as a guardian is when Christ came and faith in him being the end to which the law was pointing.

Looking back at Christ’s redemption by his death, we first see our need of a savior when we look at God’s law and see that we are deficient in keeping it. We do not love God as we ought and, left to ourselves, will seek to please ourselves instead of Him. Once we recognize our rebellion, we can now turn to Christ and see that our rebellion and the infinite offence we made against God can now be settled in Christ by faith in his cross-work alone.

Galatians: Children Under a Tutor

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything,

Galatians 4:1 (ESV)

The modern western world does not emphasize the role of heirs as previous generation did. In the first century of the Roman world, the wealthy and powerful would pass on their status to their children especially to the first born male of the household. However, there was no status in the household afforded to the children. They no different in status that the slafes of the household though he would eventually inherit all that belonged to his father.

In the Galatian context, Paul illustrates that God’s previous revelation of the Law given through Moses was to train the nation of Israel. The nation needed a tutor to instruct them on the nature of God; specifically his rightousness and how that righteousness translates into personal relationships between the individual and God and between the individual and others.

Just as the child of the master would mature and become the inheritor and master of the hoursehold, the people of God go from needing the Law to needing the savior who fulfilled the requirements of the Law.

Heart Conference 2013

 

The annual Northland Heart Conference began this week on Tuesday and has been a huge encouragement thus far. The theme for this year, The Sufficiency of the Gospel, focuses on the two aspects of salvation: justification and sanctification. You can view the general session from the streaming site here.

If you get a chance, visit the site and watch the messages from some great speakers whom God has used to declare his word in simple and clear ways.

Tuesday’s message was a great sermon from Dan Davey on the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. As I listened to the text I was reminded of how great a task Christ had in purchasing salvation for us. I stood in awe of the awesome suffering servant. Praise God my sin was placed on Christ who is the sufficient one for my relationship with God.

Music, Mood and Theology

The Reforming Baptist has an excellent post about how theology affects the mood of Christian music. Read about it here. His categories and descriptions are spot on and actually mirror what I have been trying to communicate myself for a couple years.

One of the biggest reasons this discussion is necessary is the distinction he makes between “mainstream” Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) and new CCM. This difference is not only significant, but crucial to understand especially for those interested in planing and leading a worship service. It is this same distinction which makes John Frame use the term “Contemporary Worship Music” to differentiate between these two general realms of Christian music. I would recommend his book on worship here and his book focused on music here.

Mr. Rogers Remixed

Ted S. linked to a remixed version of Mr. Rogers. Of course the nostalgia came back to me having grown up with the sweater wearing grandpa, so I had to read the Wikipedia article on him. Amazingly, the show ran for over 30 years and just about 1000 episodes! His take on educational television programming revolutionized the industry and (in my biased opinion) has not been surpassed in the current offerings (I’m talking about you, Teletubbies!) Anyway, for your enjoyment is the remixed video.

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First Harvest

First harvest of radishes from my garden

This is the first year that I’ve tried growing a garden. I helped my dad here and there in his garden when I was little, but this is the first time where I had to take care of everything. Although I knew how much work my dad put into the garden I never experienced it for myself. I use the time in the garden to meditate and organize my thoughts and over the past week I’ve really spent some time thinking about the most famous and significant garden in the world: Eden. Events which transpired there have had lasting effects. Just thinking through the obvious ones:

 

  • First man and first woman were created and lived there.
  • First human disobedience occurred.
  • First curses placed on the earth, humanity, and everything else which was created.
  • First promise of a “seed” which would crush the serpent’s head was given.

My thoughts recently have focused on the effects of the curse especially as it relates to growing things. Adam’s purpose as given by God is that he would subdue the earth. He was uniquely created as a God’s vice-regent by virtue that he was created in God’s image. ((Eugene H. Merrill.  Covenant and the Kingdom: Genesis 1-3 as Foundational for Biblical Theology. Dallas Theological Seminary.))  However, this exercise of authority over the earth was not independent of God’s authority. This dependence upon God’s authority  is what made the forbidden fruit so destructive to humanity. In choosing to eat of the fruit, Adam and Eve asserted their authority over God’s. Thus, Adam lost the privilege of exercising authority over the earth. He was still responsible for subduing it, but he must now subdue it through hard, tedious labor.

This hard labor is frustrating because the earth does not submit to our will. Weeds grow where we don’t want them and good plants become infested with bugs and disease. Rain and sunshine come and go as they please, not as we desire. It’s an interesting connection between the first Adam and the second Adam, Christ, since Jesus was able to subdue storms with a word or destroy a fig tree with a curse. While these miracles are often ascribed to Christ’s deity (and rightfully so), there also seems to be an aspect that Jesus himself is subduing the earth in ways that humanity, which was patterned after him, should have subdued the earth back in the garden.

Praise God that his plan is “to unite all things in him [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10). Jesus is the ultimate king over the cosmos as he subdues everything perfectly.

Around the web

Theologically Driven | Should Churches Abandon the King James Version? (part 2)

Dr. Combs gives an excellent summary on the issue. In part one he articulates what he believes to be the best argument for the priority of the modern text vs. the text used by the King James translators. In part two, he argues that modern translation improve upon older translation by adding clarity where the original translators did not have the body of knowledge of the Biblical languages that is available today. The discussion in the comments of part 2 in particular are helpful and certainly the KJV-only vs. modern translations issue will not be settled anytime soon.

David Crabb | Violent Men, Working Women, and Evangelical Gender Norms

Crabb presents a helpful article pointing out the deficiencies in maintaining Victorian gender roles when scripture is much more demanding. A good read.

Koinonia | On the role of the creeds

A good reminder that controversy though sometimes stressful to the church actually has a benefit in that the Church expresses doctrine most clearly when it is under attack. Makes a good case for the teaching of Church history in our churches.

Theologically Driven | “I Thank Thee That I Am Not as Other Legalists,” Or, How “Freer Than Thou” Became the New “Holier Than Thou”

Dr. Snoeberger makes an interesting observation about how those who abuse their freedom in Christ have actually become the new pharisees.

A good example of bad exegesis

I was doing a little research online and came across this gem. It is written tongue-in-cheek so the author would not actually preach this. However, who would argue that something like this has never been done before?

Original source at http://www.walkwithgod.com/2010/08/women-dancing-in-church-and-wearing-high-heels/

Years ago, I wondered if it was proper for men or women to dance in church.  I searched the scriptures diligently.  My seeking was not in vain.  When I found Psalm 68:16 which reads, “Why leap ye, ye high hills?”  I realized that it was at least improper for women to do so.  We note that the Psalmist clearly delineates between men and women by using the phrase “high hills.”  Men don’t wear high heels.  Women do.  So women should not be dancing (use of “leap” here).

This intrigued me as to another question I had about women wearing those awful contraptions to begin with.  So, I did a further study.  I found a jewel of a scripture, Psalm 104:18 which states, “The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats.”  Wow!  Is that clear or what?  We know that women take great care in their selection of clothing, and this can be a type of refuge for them.  But there is no mistaking the clear intent of scripture here:  only a woman who is a “wild goat” would wear high heels.

If there is any question about that, I would refer you to Matthew 25 where Jesus says that the goats will be separated from the sheep.

So, from a careful study of scripture, I learned that women should neither dance in church or wear those wicked high heels!