Paul’s letter to the Galatians is the Declaration of Independence for Christians. While it is a short document – 150 verses compared to 1,000 in Acts, 870 in the Gospel of John, and 303 in Hebrews – it is one of the most profound documents we have in explaining our faith.
This is clearly one of the writings of Paul, not disputed by any scholars. It was written to Galatians, originally Celts who migrated to Asia Minor around 285 B.C. We’re not exactly certain where these people were that he was writing to, though we do know where the Roman province of Galatia was. Since it covered a broad territory in central Asia Minor, the letter could be to any or all of the churches in that area.
The congregation was predominately Gentile, but they have been taught by some Jewish Christians that they must first conform to the Jewish law if they are ever to be “real Christians.” There were probably some dietary restrictions but the primary area of conflict was over circumcision. Paul never says who these missionaries were, but he rails against their teachings. And that is the substance of the letter, that what these Jewish Christians were teaching was false. Paul attacks them with emotion and intensity not really seen anywhere else in his writings. Continue reading Bible Study Series: The Book of Galatians (Week One Notes)→
[Sunday a.m. UPDATE: Church has indeed been cancelled for today, February 15.] With another winter storm kicking in this afternoon, just a reminder about the Sunday service cancellation procedure. Pastor Lindberg and the council president make the decision early Sunday morning about cancelling church due to poor weather. If church is cancelled, the website will be updated and the phone-notification system kicks in. All members and regular attendees should receive a call by 8:30-9:00 in the morning.
A few more reminders… Ash Wednesday is this week, with Advent’s Ash Wednesday service held at 7:00 p.m. The next community dinner is Saturday the 28th — a mile-long buffet featuring Italian dishes and other favorites. And a week from Monday, February 23, the Lent Bible Study starts. Details in the new edition of Advent Ablaze coming out the beginning of next week.
In week one, we discussed the apostles’ perhaps surprising first steps after Christ’s return and ascension, the beginnning of their persecution by the temple authorities, their creation of the position of deacon, and the martrydom of Stephen.
Now we move on to the story of another deacon, Philip. Philip had taken the bold step of making his ministry among the Samaritans. Talk about a leap of faith! In doing so, he sparks several rather remarkable things. He gets Peter and John to challenge a magician, and defeat him. Then he becomes the divine instrument for converting a court official from a far-off land to the faith – and, in doing so, demonstrates for all that this new experience of Jesus is not just for the Jews but for everybody in the whole world. Continue reading Bible Study Series: The Book of Acts (Week Two Notes)→
Sometime between 70 and 100 A.D., the book of Acts was written. The author was Luke, the man who wrote almost one-quarter of the New Testament. It is not just a story of the early church, but a story of the “church” as it was and is today. It deals with issues between Christians and Jews, Christians and pagans, Christians and the government, the problems of prayer, the purpose of preaching and teaching, and many of the other dilemmas that affect the church in our day.
It is the story of a community, formed by God, for without God there would have been no community. It is the same thing with our community here today. We did not form this community, we don’t run this community, and we just live in this community that was formed by God. You will see as we read Acts that the stories are not about somebody else; they are our story. The names might be a bit different, but they are definitely our stories. We keep on telling these stories because they help us make sense out of the life we are trying to live. Continue reading Bible Study Series: The Book of Acts (Week One Notes)→
We will start our annual Lenten Bible study the week of 27 February. Led by Pastor Bob Lindberg, the four-week class begins with a fellowship dinner at 6:00 p.m. before the Bible study starts at 6:30. If you wish to attend what is always an informative and thought-provoking series, please complete this one-question survey about which night of the week works best for you. [Update: The survey is closed, and classes will be held Wednesdays beginning 27 February. See the online Advent calendar for details.]