Galatians 3: Law and Gospel

Law and Grace by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them. Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for the righteous shall live by faith (Galatians 3:10-11 ESV).

The question of the relationship between law and Gospel is one of the hottest debates today; perhaps, this could be said of the entire history of the church.

F.F. Bruce, in his Commentary on Galatians (1982. NIGTC.  Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans.  147-191), divides chapter 3 of Galatians into 7 sections:

  1. The primacy of faith over law (vv 1-6)
  2. The blessing of Abraham (vv 7-9)
  3. The curse of the law (vv 10-14)
  4. The priority and permanence of the promise (vv 15-18)
  5. The purpose of the law (vv 19-22)
  6. Liberation from the law (vv 23-25) and
  7. Jews and Gentiles one in Christ (vv 26-29).

Every verse is carefully parsed in book after book because the content of these 29 verses seriously affects our attitude about Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the secular society.  Clearly, a one-page reflection cannot address all that is being said here.

For example, we read in verse 2:  Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? (v 2).  Here the Apostle Paul makes the assumption that the Galatians know firsthand the work of the Holy Spirit in their own lives. The inference is that this experiential knowledge of the Holy Spirit is not only evident, but the sole source of eternal salvation. This question alone condemns religions focused on law as insufficient to warrant salvation. Among Christians, this statement would likely identify you as a charismatic. Do you think Paul is a charismatic?

In this same vein, one could argue that verse 28 defines the basis for social progress over the past 2,000 years, but especially in the modern and postmodern eras.  Paul writes:  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Tim Keller, in his study guide (Galatians for You. 2013. Good Book Company. 92-93), observes that Paul has broken down three important barriers:  the cultural barrier (neither Jew nor Greek), the class barrier (neither slave nor free), and gender barrier (neither male nor female).  Do you think Paul is politically correct?

Paul’s comments about who is chosen probably got him in the most trouble. Verse 6 quotes Genesis 15:6: And he [Abraham] believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. Abraham is not righteousness of himself, he is counted as righteous. Why?  Because he believed God’s promise of providing him an heir. Why is this remarkable?  Abraham was 100 year old at the time and his wife was 90.  This principle of justification by faith alone expressed here (v 11) and in Romans 3:20-27 was the foundation of the protestant reformation [1].  This is because time and time again parts of the church have erred in adding other requirements, especially cultural requirements, on believers beyond that of faith in Christ.  What cultural add-ons to faith can you identify today?

Does justification by faith alone mean that we can ignore the law?  Certainly not! (v 21). The law of Moses restrains evil, instructs us, and guides us until we come to faith (vv 24-25).

Elsewhere Paul wrote:  But whatever gain I had [under law], I counted as loss for the sake of Christ (Philippians 3:7 ESV).

[1]Martin Luther was nearly martyred for his faith at the Diet of Worms; but his own journey of faith began with understanding of this passage (Roland H. Brainton. 1995.  Here I Stand.  New York:  Penguin Group.  49-50, 146-149).

Questions

  1. How was your week? Did anything special happen?
  2. Do you have questions from chapter 2?
  3. Why does Paul call the Galatians foolish? What does Paul mean by foolish?  (See Titus 3:3,9)
  4. What question does Paul ask in verse 2? Why is it interesting? (vv 3-6)
  5. What is Paul’s point about Abraham? (Hint:  Genesis 15:1-6)
  6. Who is considered a child of Abraham? (v 7)
  7. What is the condition of faith that counts for Abraham and us? (vv 8-9)
  8. What is the curse of the law? (v 10; Deuteronomy 27:26, 28:58-59, 30:10)
  9. Was Christ cursed of God? Why? (Deuteronomy 21:23)
  10. Why were the Galatians blessed? (v 14)
  11. What is Paul trying to say about the covenant with Abraham? (v 15)
  12. What is the difference between inheritance by law and inheritance by promise? (vv 18-22)
  13. What is Paul’s point about guardians and law? (vv 23-26)
  14. What is the effect of baptism? (vv 27-29)

 

Galatians 3: Law and Gospel

Also see:

Galatians 4: Slave and Free 

Galatians 2: Jews and Gentiles 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2zRkNMJ

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Gálatas 3: Ley y Evangelio

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Todos los que viven por las obras que demanda la ley están bajo maldición, porque está escrito: Maldito sea quien no practique fielmente todo lo que está escrito en el libro de la ley. Ahora bien, es evidente que por la ley nadie es justificado delante de Dios, porque el justo vivirá por la fe (Galatas 3:10-11 NVI).

La cuestión de la relación entre la ley y el Evangelio es uno de los debates más calientes de hoy, tal vez, esto podría decirse de toda la historia de la iglesia.

F.F. Bruce, en su Commentary on Galatians (1982 NIGTC Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 147-191), divide el capítulo 3 de Gálatas en las 7 secciones:

  1. La primacía de la fe sobre la ley (vv 1-6)
  2. La bendición de Abraham (vv. 7-9)
  3. La maldición de la ley (vv 10-14)
  4. La prioridad y permanencia de la promesa (vv. 15-18)
  5. El propósito de la ley ( vv 19-22)
  6. Liberación de la ley ( vv 23-25) y
  7. Judios y gentiles uno en Cristo (vv 26-29).

Cada verso se analiza detenidamente en un libro tras otro , porque el contenido de estos 29 versículos afecta seriamente nuestra actitud sobre el judaísmo , el cristianismo , el islam y la sociedad secular. Es evidente que un reflejo de una página no puede hacer frente a todo lo que se está diciendo aquí.

Por ejemplo, leemos en el versículo 2: ¿Recibieron el Espíritu por las obras que demanda la ley, o por la fe con que aceptaron el mensaje? (v 2). Aquí el apóstol Pablo hace la suposición de que los gálatas sabemos de primera mano la obra del Espíritu Santo en sus propias vidas. La inferencia es que este conocimiento experimental del Espíritu Santo no sólo es evidente, pero la única fuente de salvación eterna. Esta pregunta solo condena a las religiones centradas en la ley como insuficientes para justificar la salvación. Entre los cristianos, esta declaración probablemente se le identifica como un carismático. ¿Crees que Pablo es un carismático?

En este mismo sentido, se podría argumentar que el versículo 28 define las bases para el progreso social en los últimos 2.000 años, pero especialmente en las épocas moderna y postmoderna. Pablo escribe: Ya no hay judío ni griego, esclavo ni libre, hombre ni mujer, sino que todos ustedes son uno solo en Cristo Jesús. Tim Keller, en su guía de estudio (Galatians for You. 2013. Good Book Company. 92-93), observa que Pablo ha roto tres barreras importantes:  la barrera cultural (a judío o griego), la barrera de clase (ni esclavo ni libre), y la barrera de género (varón ni mujer). ¿Crees que Paul es políticamente correcto?

Los comentarios de Pablo acerca de quién es elegido probablemente le puso en más problemas. El versículo 6 cita Génesis 15:6: Abram creyó al Senor, y el Senor lo reconoció a él como justo. Abraham no es la justicia de sí mismo, se cuenta como justos. ¿Por qué? Porque él creyó en la promesa de que le proporcione un heredero de Dios. ¿Por qué es este notable? Abraham tenía 100 años de edad en ese momento y su mujer tenía 90 años. Este principio de la justificación por la sola fe expresada aquí (v 11), y en Romanos 3:20-27 era el fundamento de la reforma protestante [1]. Esto se debe a que el tiempo y la hora de nuevo partes de la iglesia se han equivocado en la adición de otros requisitos, especialmente los requisitos culturales, a los creyentes más allá de la de la fe en Cristo. ¿Qué complementos culturales de la fe puede identificar?

¿Tiene justificación por la sola fe significa que podamos ignorar la ley? ¡De ninguna manera! (v 21). La ley de Moisés fue dada para frenar el mal, para instruirnos y guiarnos hasta que llegamos a la fe (vv 24-25).

En otro lugar Pablo escribió: Sin embargo, todo aquello que para mí era ganancia [bajo de la ley], ahora lo considero pérdida por causa de Cristo (Filipenses 3:7 NVI).

_____________________

1/  Martín Lutero fue casi martirizado por su fe en la Dieta de Worms, pero su propio camino de fe comienza con la comprensión de este pasaje (Roland H. Brainton. 1995.  Here I Stand.  New York:  Penguin Group.  49-50, 146-149).

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Whelchel Sees Call in Work, not just Ministry

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Hugh Whelchel.  2012.  How Then Should We Work?  Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. Bloomington:  WestBow Press.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Mental habits are hard to break.  One particularly insidious habit is to worship the “god of the gaps” (gog) rather than the sovereign, Triune God.

Gog worship shows up in several ways.  One is the gog worshiped only between 11 and 12 a.m. on Sunday mornings.  Another gog appears like insurance—a kind of Aflac god who handles all the problems that we cannot.  Still another gog is observed only indirectly (a shadow gog)—whenever anyone expresses a concept of God that is too large (or too inconvenient)—that person is labeled a fanatic or fundamentalist.  Gog worshipers are easy to make fun of until one shows up in the mirror:  Gog worship is the default setting of the postmodern world–even for an economist turned pastor like myself.

In his book, How Then Should We Work, Hugh Whelchel reminds us that God created the heavens and the earth—everything. Everything is not a spiritual concept; everything includes everything.  All that we do—whether inside or outside the church; whether inside or outside the home—should be done in the name of Christ (Colossians 3:17).  God is as a powerful worker—he creates; he created everything (7).

Whelchel states his purpose as:  to explore the Biblical intersection of faith and work, attempting to understand the difference between work, calling, and vocation and how they should be Biblically applied in our daily lives(5).  His book is organized in 6 chapters which focus on carefully defining the concept of call. These chapters are preceded by a forward, preface, and acknowledgments and are followed by a biography of the author, notes, and suggested readings.

In the important area of defining call, Whelchel (75-77) cites 5 calls. He distinguishes the first call, the call to faith in Christ, as primary and cites 4 secondary calls—the call to family, church, community, and vocation.

Whelchel’s (56) concept of Biblical work focuses on 5 concepts, which are:

  1. The Four-Chapter Gospel (creation, fall, redemption, and restoration).
  2. The Cultural Mandate (The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it (Genesis 2:15 ESV)).
  3. The Kingdom of God (being salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-14)).
  4. Common Grace (seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jeremiah 29:7 ESV).
  5. The Biblical Meaning of Success (as seen in Jesus’ Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:1-13).

Whelchel’s observed in the Parable of the Talents that the reward was the same for the 5-talent or 2-talent servants—we need only worry how to use our talents, not obsess over how many talents we are given.

In his final chapter, Whechel asks:  how do we integrate our work and our faith in a way that is pleasing to God? The first of his 9 responses to this question is the most telling:  we must rediscover that our primary vocation is the call to follow Jesus (117).

Whelchel holds a master of divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary; he is a former technology worker; and currently serves as executive director of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics (www.TIFWE.org) located in McLean, VA.  As he claims, Whechel’s book is: a Biblical primer on integrating our faith and work (xxviii). He reviews the literature on vocational calling at great length and why we should care. Missing here perhaps is a link that applies these insights in the era of gog.  Still, I found my own faith journey reflected in page after page.  Perhaps you will too.

Whelchel Sees Call in Work, not just Ministry

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MacNutt Prays Expectantly; Brings Healing

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Francis MacNutt.  2009.  Healing (Orig Pub 1974).  Notre Dame:  Ave Maria Press.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Chess. On the chessboard of life, what piece are you; what piece is Christ Jesus?

If you are Christian, our creator God is the crafter of the chess pieces; not one of them.  Still, when we pray, God is often assigned the role of a pawn in our lives.

For example, I have a neighbor who thinks of prayer as nothing more than happy thoughts that bounce off the ceiling.  In a world where people talk about prayer as nothing more than happy thoughts, what is authentic Christian prayer?

Francis MacNutt, in his book—Healing, observes that:  most traditional [Christians] have little difficulty in believing in divine healing.  What was difficult to believe that healing could be an ordinary, common activity of Christian life (10).  Citing Matthew 10: 7-8 [1] and a talk by Alfred Price in 1960, MacNutt observes:  if the church still claimed Christ’s commission to preach, what happened to the second commission to heal and cast out demons? (9)  In his own experience with healing prayer, about half of those he prayed for with physical ailments experienced healing or substantial improvements and three-quarters of those prayed for with emotional or spiritual problems experienced healing (11).

What is your experience with healing prayer?

Francis MacNutt is a Dominican priest, a leader in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and founder of Christian Healing Ministries[2].  He studied at Harvard University and Catholic University of America in Washington DC, and holds a doctor of philosophy degree in theology [3].  His book divides into four parts which are preceded by a preface and followed by appendices and an epilogue.  The four parts are entitled:

  1. The Healing Ministry—Its underlying Meaning and Importance;
  2. Faith, Hope, and Charity as They Touch Upon the Healing Ministry;
  3. The Four Basic Kinds of Healing and How to Pray for Each; and
  4. Special Considerations.

Although I often skip appendices and epilogues in my own reading, here it would be a mistake.

The epilogue includes the fascinating testimony of a Lakota (Sioux) Indian who attended a healing service in South Dakota and experienced miraculous healing of a mouth full of cavities (264-266).  As I read this story on a Saturday, I was experiencing an extreme toothache (I had trouble eating because of the pain); needed medication just to finish the reading; and I had already made a dentist appointment for Monday morning.  However, the story induced me to pray to God about my tooth—something that I had never done before.  Before Monday morning the pain was gone and my dentist found no evidence of an infection.  Meanwhile, the arthritis in my right foot that normally bothered me was mysteriously absent.

In talking about healing ministry, MacNutt cites 5 basic arguments why prayer cannot lead to healing:

  1. We want nothing to do with faith healing—faith healers are religious quacks (32-33).
  2. My sickness is a cross sent from God—as if God wanted you to suffer (33-34).
  3. It takes a saint to work a miracle and I am no saint—asking for healing is a sign of excessive pride (34-35).
  4. We do not need signs and wonders anymore; we have faith—the apostolic era is over (35).
  5. Miracles do not take place; they only represent a primitive way of expressing reality—a pre-scientific explanation (36).

MacNutt’s review of these arguments against the possibility of healing is helpful in establishing a balanced conversation—especially if you have witnessed the healing power of prayer first hand.

Prayer for healing needs to be specific in MacNutt’s experience.  As such, he list 4 types of healing needs (130), including prayer for:

  1. Repentance of sin (spiritual healing).
  2. Emotional (or relational) healing.
  3. Physical healing. And
  4. Deliverance (healing from spiritual oppression).

Distinguishing the different types of healing needs is important because many charismatic writers lump all healing needs into deliverance prayer.

The Apostle Paul writes:  the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26 ESV).  The Holy Spirit is the conduit between us and the Triune God in prayer.  Healing prayer is accordingly the work of the Holy Spirit and an important sign of God’s sovereignty at work in our lives.

One of the signs of God’s answer to healing prayer is that more healing is offered than is asked for—this is God’s abundant grace overflowing into our lives [4].  My healed toothache is not unique.  Although I prayed about tooth pain, I experienced healing both in teeth and feet—a sign of God’s abundant grace.

Reading Francis MacNutt’s Healing helped expand my prayer life. Stepping out to pray for healing fully expecting God to intervene and heal is risky. Healing prayer assumes we truly believe that God exists, cares for us, and is powerful enough to intervene in our lives—things that I and most postmodern Christians struggle with.  MacNutt’s clinical writing style and systemic thinking makes him a credible writer and makes the book helpful in advising people about healing prayer.  I commend the book. I have gifted friends with this book for years.

_____________

[1]The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay (Matthew 10:5-8 ESV).

[2](www.christianhealingmin.org)

[3] After leaving the Dominicans, MacNutt received a special dispensation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_MacNutt.

[4] The Apostle John writes of recognizing the risen Christ through the miracles of abundance:  abundant wine (John 2), abundant loaves of bread (John 6), and abundant fish (John 21).

 

 

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Galatians 2: Jews and Gentiles

Stephen W. Hiemstra, Twins
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free,

there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28 ESV).

Are you led by the spirit?

One of the most striking things about the Apostle Paul is that he was led by the Holy Spirit.  Paul writes:  I went up [to Jerusalem] because of a revelation (v 2). In Acts 16:7-9, 14, we read that Paul was forbidden by the spirit to enter Bithynia and later had a vision of a man of Macedonia bidding him to come.  Following this vision, Paul entered Macedonia where he met a woman named Lydia in Philippi—an unlikely place to start a church because it was a Roman city.  Yet, the Philippian church was not only established, it became one of Paul’s strongest supporters.

Council of Jerusalem

Why would the spirit lead Paul to Jerusalem and into open controversy even with Peter over the relationship between Jews and Gentiles?

Paul’s ministry was on the line.  He writes:  set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain (v 2).  Paul was teaching that salvation was available to anyone—Greek or Hebrew—through Jesus Christ and through Jesus Christ alone (v 4).  Others were teaching that one needed to become a Jew and obey the law of Moses in order to become a Christian (v 16).

After Paul shared his teaching with church leaders in Jerusalem, it was resolved that Paul and Peter taught the same Gospel.  However, Paul’s ministry focused on Gentiles while Peter’s focused on Jews (vv 7-9).  Paul was reminded, however, that he needed to remember the poor—which he was happy to do (v 10).

The Jerusalem discussions did not, however, settle the problem.  Peter and others, such as Barnabas, were pressured to adhere to Jewish dietary regulations (vv 12-13).  The pressure must have been great because Peter himself was one of the first to argue for evangelization of Gentiles and he personally witnessed a Gentile Pentecost in Jappa (Acts 11:1-18).  For this reason, Paul felt compelled to confront Peter openly during a visit to Antioch about his backsliding on the question of eating with Gentile converts (vv 11-14).

Christ Alone

What was the heart of Paul’s concern?  Our salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ, not through obeying the law of Moses (v 16).  Our faith is in Jesus alone; our faith is not in Jesus plus other things.

While the Holy Spirit may lead us into different ministries and we must all care for the poor, Christian unity lies in Christ alone.

Questions

  1. How was your week? Did anything special happen?
  2. Do you have questions from chapter 1?
  3. What was the subject of Paul’s visit to Jerusalem? Who did he take along? (vv 1-2)
  4. Was Paul anxious? About what?  (v 2)
  5. What is the role of revelation in verse 2?
  6. What was Titus’ role? (v 3)
  7. Who are the false brothers? What is Christian freedom? What is the slavery Paul is referring to? (v 4)
  8. What is the outcome? Who benefitted? (v 5)
  9. Who are the influential? (vv 7-9)
  10. What was the agreement that came out of the Jerusalem meeting? What key points were made? (vv 7-10)
  11. What is the role of charity? Was charity a requirement? (v 10)
  12. Did the Jerusalem agreement stick? Why not? (vv 11-13)
  13. How did Paul respond? (v 14) Why was this response appropriate or not?
  14. How did Paul justify his response? (vv 15-16)
  15. What is Paul’s point about sin? (v 17)
  16. How are we justified before God? How are we not justified? (vv 17-21)
  17. What does it mean to be dead to the law? (v 19)
  18. How do you define grace?
  19. What is law? What about Gospel?

 

Galatians 2: Jews and Gentiles

Also see:

Galatians 3: Law and Gospel 

Galatians 1: Christ Alone

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2zRkNMJ

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Gálatas 2: Judios y Gentiles

Stephen W. Hiemstra, Twins
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Gálatas 2: Judios y Gentiles

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Ya no hay judío ni griego, esclavo ni libre, hombre ni mujer,
sino que todos ustedes son uno solo en Cristo Jesús
(Galatas 3:28 NVI).

¿Está Guiado por el Espíritu?

Una de las cosas más sorprendentes sobre el apóstol Pablo es que él fue llevado por el Espíritu Santo. Pablo escribe: Fui en obediencia a una revelación [a Jerusalén] (v 2).  En Hechos 16:7-9, 14, leemos que Pablo fue prohibido por el Espíritu para entrar en Bitinia y más tarde tuvo una visión de un hombre de Macedonia mandándole venir. Siguiendo esta visión, Pablo entró en Macedonia, donde conoció a una mujer llamada Lidia en Filipos-un lugar poco probable para comenzar una iglesia porque era una ciudad romana. Sin embargo, la iglesia de Filipos no sólo fue establecida, se convirtió en uno de sus partidarios más fuertes.

La Relación entre los Judios y Gentiles

¿Por qué el espíritu llevar a Pablo a Jerusalén y en polémicas abiertas incluso con Pedro sobre la relación entre los Judios y gentiles?

El ministerio de Pablo estaba en la línea. Él escribe: me reuní en privado con los que eran reconocidos como dirigentes, y les expliqué el evangelio que predico entre los gentiles, para que todo mi esfuerzo no fuera en vano (v 2). Pablo estaba enseñando que la salvación estaba disponible para cualquiera, el griego o el hebreo, por Jesucristo y por medio de Jesucristo solamente (v 4). Otros enseñaban que uno necesita para convertirse en un Judio y obedecer la ley de Moisés, con el fin de convertirse en un cristiano (v 16).

El Conselo de Jerusalén

Después de que Pablo compartió sus enseñanzas con los líderes de la iglesia en Jerusalén, se resolvió que Pablo y Pedro les enseña el mismo Evangelio. Sin embargo, el ministerio de Pablo se enfocó en los gentiles, mientras que Pedro se centró en Judios (vv 7-9). Paul recordó, sin embargo, que tenía que recordar a los pobres (v 10).

Las discusiones de Jerusalén no, sin embargo, colocar el problema. Pedro y otros, como Bernabé, fueron presionados para adherirse a normas dietéticas judías (vv 12-13). La presión debe haber sido grande porque el propio Pedro fue uno de los primeros en argumentar a favor de la evangelización de los gentiles. Fue también testigo de un Pentecostés Gentil en Jappa (Hechos 11:1-18). Por esta razón, Pablo se sintió obligado a confrontar a Pedro abiertamente durante una visita a Antioquía por su reincidencia en la cuestión de comer con los gentiles convertidos (vv 11-14).

¿Cuál fue el Corazón de la Preocupación de Pablo?

Nuestra salvación es por la fe en Jesucristo y no a través de la obediencia a la ley de Moisés (v 16). Nuestra fe es sólo en Jesús, nuestra fe no es en Jesús, más otras cosas.

Mientras que el Espíritu Santo nos guíe en diferentes ministerios y debemos todo el cuidado para los pobres. La unidad cristiana se encuentra solamente en Cristo.

Otros:

Gálatas 1: Solo Cristo

Otras cosas por la red:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

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MacGregor Aids Authors; Simplifies Social Media

Writer_01072014Chip MacGregor (a.k.a. Amanda Luedeke). 2013.  The Extroverted Writer:  An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

People are funny.  Back during the cold war, the wife of a Russian friend of mine kept calling to ask him to come home.  Vladimir, she would say, I cannot take care of the kids and do the shopping too!  When she came to visit, the complaints continued.  That is, until she visited a local department store.  At that point she was lost in choices.  She asked:  how do you Americans ever know what to buy?

As a first-time author, I feel a bit like Vladimir’s wife amid all the publishing alternatives.  At least 4 intimidating questions arise:

  1. Which stylebook should I follow?
  2. Do I promote my writing with a website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, or some other social media?
  3. Do I self-publish, hire an agent, or look for an established publisher?
  4. Do I publish in paperback, hardcover, or eBook?

Worse, the questions are not interdependent of one another.  In the middle of all this uncertainty, Chip MacGregor’s book, The Extroverted Writer, offers welcome guidance.

MacGregor starts by observing that agents and publishers advise wannabe writers to establish a platform, but offer no guidance on what a platform is or how to get one.  He defines a platform as the number of people who follow you online, attend your speaking engagements or are otherwise know about your work.  For nonfiction writers, he talks about tens to hundreds of thousands of followers; for fiction writers maybe half that many (12-14).  Obviously, establishing a viable platform takes time and effort.  MacGregor’s objective in writing is to offer ideas, rules, and advice to help you establish this platform and at least 10 action items to work on (1-3).

The Extroverted Writer is organized into 8 chapters.  These chapters are preceded by a forward and followed by an Afterword and Acknowledgments.  The chapter titles are informative:
  1. Know your audience,
  2. Know your goals,
  3. How to use this book,
  4. Websites,
  5. Blogs,
  6. Twitter,
  7. Facebook, and
  8. Miscellaneous Social Media Sites.

Obviously, for MacGregor a platform consists of a theme, an audience, and a social media presence.  Interestingly, this book does not cite a publisher, but is listed on Amazon.com as published by CreateSpace which implies that this book is self-published.

MacGregor starts his social media advice by focusing on the need for writers to have a website (17).  A website signals 3 things to agents and publishers:

  1. You are serious about your career,
  2. You are not afraid to use the web to promote yourself, and
  3. They can check you out without committing to a relationship.

Having established the motivation for a website, MacGregor gives advice on quality points to look for in the website.  These points summarize in making the point that a website has effectively become an online resume—it must have eye appeal, be informative, and point to your blog where you show your skills (23-24) [1].

Chip MacGregor’s The Extroverted Writer is a useful author guide and a fun book to read.  Missing perhaps is a reflection on the role of branding–being known for your expertise, not just your following.  For example, why do many boutique publishers have fewer followers than authors with a platform under MacGregor’s guidelines?  Still, MacGregor clearly met his objective in writing.  In each of his social media chapters, I found actionable tips on what to do—easily meeting his goal of leaving me with 10 tips.  Personally, I found his advice on using professional pages in Facebook and on organizing a book giveaway particularly helpful. I am sure you will too.

________________________

1/ In the corporate world, content production and marketing likewise needs to carefully planned (bit.ly/1igPRHp).

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Almuerzo Para El Alma

Display_NocheBuena_12242011By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Each Wednesday Trinity Presbyterian Church, in cooperation with Riverside Presbyterian Church and other partners, hosts a luncheon and worship service for day laborers and other needy Hispanic people in Herndon, Virginia. This luncheon has been held weekly now for seven years.

The typical schedule is simple. Around 11:15 a.m. the volunteers gather for prayer. At 11:30 a.m. a van and other cars pick up participants near the local 7-11. Lunch is served. Participants are asked to introduce themselves and say where they are from. Several sets of Latin praise music are played and sung.  A sermon is preached in Spanish (or translated in real-time from English). Everyone is dismissed with prayer. The van and other cars then return participants to the 7-11.

Since July, I have been a weekly volunteer. My role is normally to assist in picking up and dropping participants, hang with the participants during lunch, and watching the worship leader’s kids while he sings and plays. I preached once in September and everyone was graciously attentive to my mumbling in Spanish. The volunteers, including the pastors, are all highly motivated because we know that for many participants this is their only church. Lunch is important but participants come for more than simply the food.

Participants come from many Latin counties, but primarily from Central America—especially El Salvador and Honduras. It is humbling to speak with participants. Most day laborers live a hand-to-mouth existence working only a couple of days each week—enough to survive and occasionally send checks home to their families. Many have been here in the U.S. for over a decade and still speak little or no English and live in virtual obscurity. Conversation focuses on encouraging them to open up and share.

Several observations come out of these conversations. The first observation is that most participants are Christians and their spirituality runs deep. Few are Presbyterians; many are Pentecostals; almost all have a Catholic upbringing. This observation is obvious watching Spanish language television—shows are mostly family oriented; people pray and consult their pastor in times of adversity. The second observation follows from the first. Because most participants are Christians, the number of participants with social problems (addictions, psychiatric issues, etc) is low when compared with a typical food bank or shelter population. The third observation is that the problem of narco-trafficking in Central America has seriously impacted many participants. For example, one regular participant recently had two sons murdered by drug gangs who randomly stop people on the street, exhort money, and shoot people unable to provide cash on demand. The fourth observation is that the recent shutdown in the Federal government has hurt local employment.

Attendance at the luncheon has grown dramatically in recent weeks.  Typically attendance in the summer was15 to 20 guests.  In the fall after the Federal shutdown, attendance doubled and tripled the summer rate.  For Thanksgiving, we had over 80 guests.  For Christmas, we had 280.  While there is normally an uptick in need in the winter, guests that I have spoken to in recent weeks have seen little or no work.

November 15, 2013 marked the 450th anniversary of the publishing of the Heidelberg Catechism. The first question in the catechism[1] remains most meaningful: What is your only comfort in life and in death? The answer begins: That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. At Almuerzo para el Alma, we serve body and soul.

Reblogged from NCP Online Monthy (http://bit.ly/1kv123I)

[1] Faith Alive Christian Resources.  2013. The Heidelberg Catechism.  Online:  https://www.rca.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=372.  Date: 30 August, 2013.

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Galatians 1: Christ Alone

Stephen W. Hiemstra, Christ aloneBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,

by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14 ESV).

How do you introduce yourself?

Paul’s first statement after his name is to say he is an apostle and, not through men, but through Jesus Christ (v 1).  In other letters, Paul refers to himself either as an apostle or as a slave (δοῦλος) of Christ.  Moses is likewise referred to as a slave of the Lord (מֹשֶׁ֖ה עֶ֣בֶד יְהוָ֑ה (Joshua 1:1 WTT))

Paul’s introduction as an apostle is surprising because in the Greek apostle (ἀποστολικός BDAG1010) means messenger, envoy.  For most of the apostles, the term referred to disciples who were specifically appointed by Jesus and had served Jesus for three years (Mark 3:16-19).  By contrast, Paul never knew Jesus during this ministry and never followed him.  Quite the contrary, Paul persecuted the church (Acts 8:3). Paul’s commissioning as an apostle came through a vision of the risen Christ (Acts 9:4-19).  Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus led him to a dramatic change in faith and calling much like the prophet Ezekiel (2:1-3).  We might expect that Paul would brag, not about his call, but about his education under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).

After his introduction (vv 1-2) and a blessing (vv 3-5), Paul gets down to brass tacks:  I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel (Galatians 1:6 ESV).  Paul basically accuses them of heresy and twice lays down a curse (ἀνάθεμα) on those that might preach it (vv 8-9).  Verse 6 accordingly sets up an important theme for the entire letter.  What is the “grace of Christ”; what is this “different gospel”; and how do they differ?  Paul then goes on to justify his authority to offer this critique—the focus of the rest of chapter 1.

Paul’s careful introduction of himself and his autobiography form an important foundation for the gospel that he presents latter in his letter.  His unusual credentials as an apostle called directly by the risen Christ, not by men (v 1), serves to initiate this foundation.  He then argues that the gospel of Christ is a revelation, not of men, but of Christ himself (vv 10-12).  Paul’s schooling as a pharisee (in this different gospel) and persecution of the church make it unlikely that he simply thought up a new doctrine (vv 13-16).  Neither was Paul taught by the Jerusalem church nor Christian leaders whom he only visited after 3 three years in Arabia (vv 17-20).  In fact, he was already preaching and teaching in Syria and Cilicia before he had any contact with the church (vv 21-24).  The point of this long biography is to reinforce the uniqueness of the gospel of Jesus Christ which Christ and Christ alone revealed to Paul.

How does your faith story affect the faith that you profess?

Questions

  1. What is your faith story? How did your life experiences affect it?
  2. Why does scripture need to be interpreted? Which methods of interpretation do you know about and use?
  3. What kinds of literary genre do you find in scripture? What is Galatians?  All of it?
  4. How does the author’s view, the view of scripture, and your view differ?
  5. What is a concordance? How is used?
  6. Why do we need commentaries?
  7. How do you introduce yourself? How does Paul?  What is unique about this introduction? (v 1)
  8. Who did Paul write to? (v 2) Where are the church or churches of Galatia?
  9. When was this letter written?
  10. Which kind of writing would you call verses 3-5?
  11. What does Paul say in verses 6-9? What is the theme of Galatians?
  12. Why does Paul talk about being a people pleaser and the fact that his teaching comes from revelation? (vv 10-12)
  13. Why does Paul dive into his personal history? (vv 13-17)
  14. Why does Paul distance himself from the Jerusalem church leaders? (vv 18-20)
  15. Why does Paul distance himself from the Judean church? (vv 21-24)
  16. What is so unique about Paul’s background? (vv 23-24)
  17. How do you define grace?
  18. What is law? What about Gospel?

Galatians 1: Christ Alone

Also see:

Galatians 2: Jews and Gentiles 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2zRkNMJ

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Gálatas 1: Solo Cristo

Stephen W. Hiemstra, Christ alone

Gálatas 1: Solo Cristo

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

En cuanto a mí, jamás se me ocurra jactarme de otra cosa sino de la cruz de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, por quien el mundo ha sido crucificado para mí, y yo para el mundo (Galatas 6:14 NVI).

¿Cómo te presentas?

Primera declaración de Pablo después de su nombre es para decir que él es un apóstol y cómo – no a través de los hombres, sino por medio de Jesucristo (v 1). En otras cartas, Pablo se refiere a sí mismo, ya sea como un apóstol o como esclavo (δοῦλος) de Cristo. Moisés se refirió asimismo a como esclava del Señor (מֹשֶׁ֖ה עֶ֣בֶד יְהוָ֑ה (Josué 1:1 WTT))

Introducción de Pablo como apóstol es sorprendente porque en el griegos apóstol (ἀποστολικός; BDAG 1010) significa mensajero, enviado. Para la mayoría de los apóstoles, el término se refiere a los discípulos que fueron nombrados específicamente por Jesús y habían servido a Jesús por tres años (Marcos 3:16-19). Por el contrario, Pablo nunca conoció a Jesús durante este ministerio y nunca lo siguió. Muy por el contrario, Pablo persiguió a la iglesia (Hechos 8:3). Puesta en marcha de Pablo como apóstol llegó a través de una visión del Cristo vivo (Hechos 9:4-19). La experiencia de Pablo en el camino a Damasco, le llevó a un cambio dramático en la fe y llamar al igual que el profeta Ezequiel (2:1-3). Podríamos esperar que Pablo se jactaba, no acerca de su llamado, sino de su educación bajo Gamaliel (Hechos 22:3).

Después de su introducción (vv. 1-2) y una bendición (vv. 3-5), Pablo llega al grano:  Me asombra que tan pronto estén dejando ustedes a quien los llamó por la gracia de Cristo, para pasarse a otro evangelio (v 6). Paul básicamente los acusa de herejía y dos veces se establece una maldición (ἀνάθεμα) en las que puedan predicar (vv 8-9). En consecuencia versículo 6 establece un tema importante para toda la carta. ¿Qué es la “gracia de Cristo”, ¿qué es este “evangelio diferente”, y en qué se diferencian? Pablo luego pasa a justificar su autoridad para ofrecer esa crítica – el enfoque del resto del capítulo 1.

Cuidadosa introducción de Pablo de sí mismo y de su autobiografía forman una base importante para el evangelio que presenta este último, en su carta. Sus credenciales inusuales como un apóstol llamado directamente por el Cristo vivo, no por los hombres (v 1), sirve para iniciar esta fundación. Luego sostiene que el evangelio de Cristo es una revelación, no de los hombres, sino del mismo Cristo (vv 10-12). Escolarización de Pablo como fariseo (en este evangelio diferente) y la persecución de la iglesia hacen poco probable que simplemente ideó una nueva doctrina (vv 13-16). Ni fue Pablo enseña la iglesia de Jerusalén, ni los líderes cristianos a los que sólo visitó después de 3 tres años en Arabia (vv 17-20).  De hecho, él ya estaba predicando y enseñando en Siria y Cilicia antes de tener cualquier contacto con la iglesia (vv. 21-24). El punto de esta larga biografía es reforzar la singularidad del evangelio de Jesucristo, que Cristo y sólo Cristo reveló a Pablo.

¿Cómo su historia de fe afecta a la fe que profesas?

Otros:

Gálatas 2: Judios y Gentiles

Otras cosas por la red:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2vfisNa

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