Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

Summer Reading: Galatians and Philippians May 31, 2011

Filed under: Galatians,Philippians — womenembracingfaith @ 4:26 pm

A nice way to spend a summer evening.

Perhaps you’d like to read Galatians and Philippians, along with my commentary, this summer. You can print all the lessons on each by scrolling down categories; then right click to print. The lessons print from the most recent to the first–backward. Just start at the end to get to the beginning.

Both these books will help you deal with your church relationships. Perhaps that is just what you need right now. The main application of both books is an encouragement to stand firm.

In Philippians, Paul urges us to stand firm together through our personal joy in the Lord. That is why there is much about rejoicing in that book.

In Galatians, Paul urges us to stand firm on justification by faith alone while maintaining a loving spirit with others.

What does standing firm look like to you?

The “together” and the “loving spirit” are sure important parts of this. They have helped me stick it out with the local church as my husband and I have sought to understand the gospel and to find a group committed to it. Both books need to be read with these principles in mind, instead of separating oft-repeated verses from this theme of standing rooted, grounded, balanced, TOGETHER FOR THE GOSPEL.

 

Catechism? How Old Fashioned Is That? May 12, 2011

Kate and William were married in Westminster Abbey.

 In 1649, “The Westminster Confession of Faith” was adopted by an assembly of Protestant clergy who agreed on this summary of the Bible’s teachings. The House of Commons called for the meeting and set forth the task and then approved their work. They met in a room adjacent to where the Royal Wedding was held. If you go to this link, you can see all about the Abbey and the Jerusalem Room: http://www.westminsterabbey.org

A larger and a shorter list of questions and answers were written as a teaching tool so these statements could more easily be understood. The idea was to teach the Scriptures through this question and answer method. It worked well for centuries. We have quit using this method. Could it be a tool we could pick up again?

James Packer, an Anglican theologian, believes it is time we picked it up again. I do too. The teaching technique is to ask a “closed” question that requires a specific answer. These are not questions designed to get the preschooler thru teenager to think deeply and creatively. There is a specific answer that is “right.” It is a method useful for conquering bodies of material. For instance, I used this same method to teach high school government and history. “What year did the War Between the States end?” Who led the Army of Northern Virginia? Whose murder contributed to the beginning of World War I?” At first, the seniors thought it was a joke. I was only in my early 20’s and looked younger, so they thought the whole class was going to be a joke! It all worked out in the end and they learned what “oral recitation” required. Just a few minutes a day—of terror for some; a joke for others. Later we would work on thinking logically and creatively.

That was a long time ago! I would still use it today. In fact, I use the method every Sunday with my pre-school Sunday School class. We have twelve Catechism Questions to learn during the year. They are simplified versions of the Westminster Catechism that Dr. Packer advocates.

Here are some sample questions from the Shorter Catechism:

“In how many persons does this one God exist? In three Persons.” (Great Commission Publications for Toddlers).

“Is any man able, either of himself, or by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God? No man is able, either of himself, or by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God; but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.” (Shorter Catechism, #149).

You get the idea, don’t you? If you are a Baptist, “The 1689 London Confession” would be very helpful for you. I found it very useful to have copies of both around the house. Look for them in old bookstores or online at Albris.com. Once, I found Luther’s Catechism in an old store in a small midwest town. He was also known for his relationship with kids. I always used the ones with scripture verses to back up each section so I could look it up myself. I’m not very structured and the churches we attended never used catechisms and my girls went to secular schools so we never memorized many of the questions and answers. But, hopefully, they remember some and know the principles behind them, and how to look them up when a question arises.

KEEP YOUR TOOLS HANDY

Figure out a way you could use catechism. Talk it over with your friends. I think this teaching tool will really help, but we have to pick it up and use it. Does it really matter that some might consider it “old-fashioned?”

My book Old Paths for Little Feet has a chapter on tools to keep handy. ( See pages 101-105.) You can purchase it at http://www.cvbbs.com.

 

The Best Wedding Dress Of All May 2, 2011

Filed under: applications,Galatians,Isaiah — womenembracingfaith @ 11:38 pm
Tags: ,

The Bible is written, like all good literature, with lots of similes and metaphors. Visual images to help us remember spiritual principles. As you think about The Royal Wedding of Kate and William, think about this:

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations (Isaiah 61:10-11).

Galatians has taught us that the gospel dispels all our notions of being good enough to be accepted by God. Paul’s argument is that noone can keep the law perfectly enough. Princess Catherine and Prince William can never have a perfect enough life together to earn salvation in the end. Even royalty must relay on faith in Christ Jesus. No one’s deeds will ever cut it. The history recorded in the Old Testament vividly shows this. Salvation is by “hearing with faith–just as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Galatians 3:5-6).

It is important to your spiritual health to realize this righteousness is “counted” to you. You have been dressed up in pure deeds, thought, desires just as Kate and William were attired in such beautiful clothes for their wedding. Paul explains this as “imputed righteousness.” It is “alien” to us; foreign to our human nature. It is something we must put on. The clothes are all laid out before you. They are the perfect life, motive, desires of Jesus. In Romans 4, Paul even quotes a Psalm to explain this “covering:”

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blesssed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (Psalm 32:1-2 quoted in Romans 4:5-8).

So remind yourself of this principle when your conscience condemns you, sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly. When you’ve lied about your mother-in-law; snapped your husband’s head off; blew up at the kids again; failed to train your children. Turn from your sin and rejoice in the righteousness of Christ Jesus. The rejoicing is important. What you rejoice about is crucial. It is not all about you. It is not your being perfect that saves you. Isaiah wrote that God takes delight in his people who are so dressed up (see chapter 62).

Of course, these clothes do not give you a license to sin, to do whatever you wish, to be self-absorpted. Instead, thinking about the righteousness and sacrifice of Jesus is to lead to praise and thankfulness–to a song in your heart. What are you singing today?

Or are you seeking to dress yourself in doing better than some do, not lying TOO much, staying sexually pure except for those little thoughts every now and then, etc etc. Paul tried all that, you know. Working himself into heaven by keeping laws. He was tripped up by his covetous thoughts, and then realized he really did need a Savior and these clothes.

As you remember this principle, the focus becomes more on God than on you. It is Jesus who has bought these beautiful clothes for you. God will even cause you to praise Him….to be thankful He delights in you. Your responsibility is to rejoice in Him. Here is where knowing the doctrine and thinking about it affects how we feel, as well as what we do. Jesus’ purity and perfect fulfilling of the law is the best wedding dress of all. Even more exquisite than Kate’s.