1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?]4Have you experienced]so much in vain—if it really was in vain?
I find the title for this week’s study somewhat interesting: Jesus never used the term “justification” and the Bible never used the term “justification by faith alone.”
But Jesus surely spoke plainly about how sinners become right with Him. How many times does Jesus emphasize: “If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. . . . I am telling you the truth: everyone who sins is a slave of sin. If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free” (John 8:31, 34-36, GNB)
Scholars frequently fall into two camps on dating the book of Galatians. Those holding to the South Galatian theory believe Paul was addressing a group of churches in the southern regions of the Roman province of Galatia. This view would seem to cast Paul as single visionary, a man ahead of his time (and his church), who eventually catalyzed a process leading to the decisions in the Jerusalem council.
This week’s lesson concentrates on Paul’s authority and the Gospel, and Sunday’s section speaks particularly on the issue of the nature of inspiration. I’ve adapted part of a lecture on this topic I gave for a class on Ellen White a few years ago; although the examples are from her life the principles remain the same for anyone inspired by God.
There are two different thoughts about the nature of inspiration:
“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” Revelation 22:17
My daughter, Brittany’s, wedding in June of 2010 was an incredible experience. As most women have done, Brittany had been making plans and thinking of this day for a good part of her life. Through the years she envisioned her dress, the ceremony, the food at the reception and – most of all – the man who would be standing at her side on that special day.
The lessons of this Sabbath School Quarterly have revolved around the theme of worship. Like almost all religious and theological issues, it is not without controversy. Among Adventists, disputes have to do with the manner of worship-with the kind of music and appropriate instruments, with the liturgical forms, with the extension of the sermons, with the joy and celebration that, according to some should be in cults and, according to others, would transform the act of worship to an act of amusement or entertainment,and so on.
If we want to learn about worship from Israel’s experience in Exile and Restoration, tidy one-to-one parallels between their day and ours are in short supply, especially if we want slippery-slope compromises leading to Laodicean lukewarmness. What we do find are multiple examples of spectacular collapses mixed with God’s daring efforts to adapt to the needs of his fallen people. What happened during Exile and Restoration is a kind of capstone to both processes. But first a quick survey of the history that points the way.
On February 2, 2006, at the National Prayer breakfast in Washington DC, some 3000 people packed a hotel ballroom. President George W. Bush, King Abdullah of Jordan, a host of ambassadors and senators, other foreign dignitaries and many nationally known church leaders were all in attendance. But the main speaker was not one of the famous church leaders or statesmen as is usually the custom at these kinds of gatherings. Instead, it was a famous entertainer, the Irish singer whose Christian faith is well known around the globe. Bono, of the band U2, spoke eloquently of justice.