Saturday, February 14, 2009

No Other Gospel

I have just read No Other Gospel, Finding True Freedom in the Message of Galatians. Carol J. Ruvolo is the author. The book includes, at the end of each chapter, questions for group study or private devotions. Mrs. Ruvolo makes the clear distinction between the works righteousness that the Judiazers - a Christian sect of the first century - were trying to blend with the Gospel of grace in Christ. The main problem was that this group was trying to force the Jewish rules about circumcision and other Old Testament laws on the Christians.

Paul makes it clear that this is a false Gospel. We are saved by faith in Christ and cannot earn God's love no matter how hard we try. The purpose of the Old Testament Law was to bring us to Christ. Now that we know Christ by faith, we do not have to live by a system of rules.

If we believe in Christ and have been saved, then we stand fast in the liberty that Christ has given us through His death, burial, and ressurrection.

That is the gist of the book of Galatians in the Bible, and Mrs. Ruvolo did a good job of making it clear that salvation is by faith in Christ, not by works of any kind.

The Law is good, but it's job is to show us our sinfulness and lead us to faith in Christ. Of course, we don't live as lawless people. We live as those who obey God from the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Light in the Darkness

These videos of the Taiwanese Lantern Festival are beautifully poignant. People write prayers on the outside of the lanterns and then send them out into the darkness. It reminds me of the words of the the writer of Ecclesiastes when he spoke,"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."

All people everywhere know that there is something beyond this human existence. There is something out there in the darkness. Mankind reaches out into that abyss, hoping that someone or something will hear their prayers and grant them their heart's desire.

In it's own way, that is beautiful, since it is a clear testimony to the fact that eternity is real and our hearts reach out to what is eternal.

With the coming of the Son of God into the world, we see a different dynamic at work. We have the One who is there, the Creator of all things, reaching down into our darkness and showing us the Light of His glory. As the Apostle John said, ' the Light shines in the darkness." Jesus Christ is that light. He came down to us.

John 1
The Word Became Flesh
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.
3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it."

Scripture also reveals that He is not the one in darkness. We are. He is hidden in the light. In our blindness, we cannot see Him until He opens our eyes. Ask Him to open your eyes so you can see Him as He is.

Matthew 20:34
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

That Little Word "Of"

This has been a little niggly in the back of my little brain for awhile now. When I was looking into the Athanasian Creed, the subject of "begotten of the Father" came up. Well, I talked about that in my longer report, so I won't repeat myself redundantly now.

It's that little word "of" that makes me prefer the translation of "monogenes" as "only begotten." My Greek is so rusty that it has fallen off its hinges inside my brain. To make matters worse, Spanish crowds out much of my English and makes me think that Greek is just a dialect of Spanish! So, this is not any attempt to be authoritative in any sense. It's just an examination of my niggly.

Anyway...back to "of" in "Son of God." In what sense is He "of" God. Does God possess the Son? That doesn't seem to make sense, since that would make the Son a lesser God and a mere possession of His Father.

It seems that "of" as in "theou" is something more than possessive, obviously. It is a genetive, which seems like why the Greek fathers pondered in what way the Son was generated by the Father and how it is related to "monogenes", or "begotten of the Father."

Anyway... it's a niggly... Maybe I'll look "theou" up in that big Greek grammar book we use as a doorstop. Tomorrow.