BSF Acts: Bible Lesson 10, Hebrews 1:1-2:4, Lecture

Aim: The choice we make in accepting Christ in this life is an eternity-long decision

Introduction:

Our lessons the last couple of weeks have been very interesting.  See, the road map is changing.  Prior to Jesus and Peter, Paul and Barnabas, the path you took in life and beyond was largely based on the path you were born on.  There were many different paths, heading many different directions, but they seldom crossed.  You rarely got the opportunity to choose your path.  (I’m going to draw some lines, some straight, almost parallel, but mostly winding in different directions.)  But even then there was only one path to God.

But with Jesus paying the price for the sins of the whole world it has changed.  Everybody is at the same point, we’ll call it NOW (I’m going to draw something that looks like a wheel hub and spokes).  But here is the difference, we all get to choose which path we take.  Any path gets us to the end (where we die), but only one path keeps going after that to spend forever with God.  But you get the choose.  It isn’t what family you were born to or what language you speak, it is how you decide.

So where does it all start, well let’s look at our lesson this week, we start in Hebrews 1:1

First division: Hebrews 1:1-3 – Jesus is the only son of God

1:1-2a God speaks to us through the prophets and now through His Son Jesus

1:2b-3a Jesus is heir of all, creator of all, the radiance and exact image of God’s glory, and sustainer of all

1:3b Jesus saved us from sin and reigns in heaven at the right hand

Principle: To know Jesus is to know God

Illustration: I’m going to bring in a chest X-ray and show a picture of my heart.  This is the only way I can see my heart.  In a similar way Jesus is an exact image of God.  He isn’t like God, like this X-ray isn’t like my heart.  He is God the same way that this is my heart.

Application: Do you know about Jesus or do you know Jesus?  If someone asked you to describe Jesus would it be as an acquaintance, friend or a member of the family?  How long could you talk to someone about your Lord?

Division 2: Hebrews 1:4-14 Angels are messengers and ministering spirits.  Jesus is both the giver of the gift and the gift itself.  He is God.

1:4-5 Jesus is superior to angels by name and birthright

1: 6 Angels worship Jesus

1:7-13 Jesus was the creator and He is eternal, God, Ruler

1:14 All angels are ministering spirits to the elect

Principle: Angels serve, Jesus saves

Illustration: If you were captured in a foreign country and  thrown into prison, it would be great to have people from your homeland that come and help you and protect you and bring messages from home.  But it is even better when the “big guy” comes and gets you out of prison.  All believers (current and future) are foreigners on this earth.  This is just a temporary home.  Angels are sent by God to help and protect us, but only Jesus sets us free.

Application: Do you think of angels as messengers of God or in some other way?  Do you thank God for the angels he sends to minister to you? 

Third Division: Hebrews 2:1-4 Warning to pay heed

2:1 Pay attention so you don’t drift away

2:2-3a Aside from salvation we can’t have justification

2:3b-4 Jesus announced salvation, Apostles taught it, God showed it (signs/miracles) we experience it in the Gifts of the Spirit.  There are no excuse for not believing!

Illustration: I think about a little boat tied to a big boat.  Now, if I like the comfort of being able to participate in some stuff on the big boat, I may tie my small boat to it.  But maybe I don’t want to be too associated with the big boat.  May be some of my friends aren’t tied to the boat at all and I don’t want to be different, so I might still tie onto the big boat, but not too tightly and not too close.  And while things are calm, that may have no repercussions.  But things don’t stay calm in life.  They get stormy and when they do and I’m way far away with a really long rope, I start to drift and I might just drift right up into rocks or other dangers.  The only safe place is being directly connected to God’s ship.

Application: what are you waiting for to tie the knot?  How tightly are you cinched up to God’s boat?  What areas of your life are still adrift?  Who do you need to throw a rope to that is drifting into the rocks?

Conclusion:

Jesus has fulfilled a new covenant.  Salvation is through faith in Him alone and we all get to choose.  If you are unsure about your choice and whether you are on the right path, BSF has a pamphlet called the “Steps to Assurance.”  Read it.  This isn’t something you want to be pretty sure about since it last forever.  Be certain in your salvation.

BSF Acts: Week 9, Day 5, Hebrews 2:1–4

Hebrews 2:1–4

Summary:

Folks, pay attention!  If the law is binding, we are doomed – except by external salvation.  But this salvation is provided through Christ.  He announced it, apostles repeated it and showed it, signs, wonders and miracles made it tangible, the gifts of the H/S made us experience it.

Questions:

10. a. Pay careful attention to what we have heard so that we do not drift away

b. The message of salvation, announced by the Lord, confirmed by the Apostles, testified in signs, wonders, miracles and by the gifts of the Holy Spirit

11. a.Temptation surrounds us.  We live in a time that is more connected and, as such, more corrupted by the sins of all mankind than of any time in the past.  Wickedness is thrust upon us through every medium and temptation is never more than 2 clicks away.

b. The preponderance of wickedness is so overwhelming that we quickly realize the only path out is God’s way.  There is no way to stand up under our own strength.
12. (Personal) We have different learning styles.  Some of us need to see it, some hear, some touch, some experience.  God loves us so that He has taught his truth about salvation in every possible way. I need to be thorough and complete in my teaching of the word.  I need to understand the absolute truth of God’s love and erase all doubt.  I need to blanket myself in His love.

Conclusion:

I love these verses where there is so much packed into so few words.  When you look at it this where there is no reasonable argument for not believing.  Not only can you see it, feel it, experience it, do it, hear it, but you can also clearly understand the ramifications of not following it.  The message has been clearly delivered by the messengers (angels) and by every other means possible.  Only by choosing to becoming purely ignorant and choosing to turn away can we fail to see the importance and the truth.

It requires far more faith to not believe than it does to believe in salvation through Jesus Christ!

BSF Acts: Week 9, Day 4, Hebrews 1:4–14

Hebrews 1:4–14

Summary:

A presentation of the ways in which Jesus is different than and superior to angels.  The passage concludes with the explanation of the role angels are to play: ministering spirits to serve those who will inherit salvation.

Questions:

8.

  • No angel is the Son of God the Father
  • Angels worship Jesus
  • Jesus is anointed by God with the oil of joy
  • Jesus laid the foundations of earth
  • Jesus created the heavens
  • Jesus is eternal and unchanging
  • Jesus sits at the right hand of God
  • Angels are ministering spirits sent to serve believers

9. a. Angels are celestial beings but not divine.

b. Angels are prayed to.  Angels are praised.  Angels are deified in song and artwork.  People mistakenly think that dead love ones become angels and come back to minister to them as such.  Angels in statues and jewelry and artwork and slogans are given credit for the ministering they deliver.

c. It is akin to raising up the delivery man for the gift we receive in the mail. Nothing against the postal worker, but he or she is only the messenger.

Conclusion:

Angels are real.  They are among us sent by God to minister to us. They are God’s messengers and those he sends to carry out specific tasks and deliver specific messages.  They live in the presence of God and experience His glory first hand.  They are not humans, were not humans.  They are not God and were not God.  But they are real.

Through the stories of people in the direst situations that we interact with: survivors of a Cat5 tornado in Joplin, recovering drug and alcohol survivors who lost everything to addiction, those imprisoned – we hear how they know and saw angels sent to protect them from death.  They do not worship angels – the worship Jesus to is above the angels.  They have no question angels are real, Jesus real and the grace of God is the only way.

Knowing that angels are ministering to me gives me strength and courage.  Knowing that God loves me so that he looks after me in so many ways is a comfort above all others.

BSF Acts: Week 9, Day 3, Hebrews 1:4–14

Hebrews 1:4–14

Summary:

Through a significant number of bible references the position of Jesus has been clearly defined.  He is above the angels.

Questions:

6. a. Hebrews 1:5: Psalm 2:7; Hebrews 1:5: 2 Samuel 7:14; 1 Chron. 17:13; Hebrews 1:6: Deut. 32:43 (see Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint); Hebrews 1:7: Psalm 104:4; Hebrews 1:9: Psalm 45:6,7; Hebrews 1:12: Psalm 102:25-27; Hebrews 1:13: Psalm 110:1

b. This is not something new or different.  Jesus is and has been the focal point of the biblical narrative from the very beginning.  This is not a new theology but simply new light into God’s eternal plan or salvation.

7. (Challenge) a. Here are just a few to choose from: http://www.biblegateway.com/topical/topical_searchresults.php?search=messianic  My favorite is Jeremiah 31:31-34

b. The bible is one story about one God and the love He has for His people.  I hear people comment about “the God of the Old Testament” as if there are two different gods in the bible: one of wrath and one of love.  The attributes of God are unchanging.  He has always loved His creation and throughout the old testament we see time after time that he allows free will to tear his people from the safety of His arms, but when they repent and yell out to Him, He gathers them back.  He holds no more of a just wrath in the Old Testament than He does in the New.  However, one major thing changed – He gave His son to pay the penalty of sin.  We no longer lean on the law and sacrifices of animals as an incomplete and inadequate substitution, but instead the prophecy and the plan of God, present from the day sin entered the world, has reached its apex.  We, who are in Christ, are a new creation, created by the same God who created the heavens and the earth.

Conclusion:

It amazes me, as I read the scriptures, to find how little has changed. 

Here is the situation: if you want to ignore or deny Jesus Christ you still have to deal with the fact of the man on earth named Jesus.  The presence of Jesus, in the flesh on this earth is so well documented throughout history than only the most blind would try to deny it as fact.  What He did, what He said, Where He went, Who saw Him.  It is all written down, verified by witnesses, with original cross-referencing to texts such as the dead sea scrolls.  So instead of denying Jesus, unbelievers attempt to paint Him into the story differently.  He was a great teacher.  He was a great prophet.  He was an angel.  He was a spiritual being – just not the Messiah, not God. 

But the answer to that, presented today, is the same as it is in Hebrews: READ THE BOOK – that isn’t what it says.  In the book of Hebrews some were evidently claiming Jesus was just an angel, but that isn’t what the book says when you actually read it.  This isn’t even a new story, it is the same story presented by the book beginning in Genesis.  None of the stories in the bible are simply quaint tales from history – they all provide revelation into the love of God for His creation and directly or indirectly they all point, ultimately, to the gift of Jesus.

BSF Acts: Week 9, Day 2, Hebrews 1:1–3

Hebrews 1:1–3

Summary:

God has always spoken to His people, most recently and most magnificently through Jesus Christ.  Jesus is a part of the Godhead, the heir to all, active in creation, the radiance of God’s grace, the exact representation of God, the source of power through His word. He provided purification and sits at the right hand of Majesty in heaven.

Questions:

3. a. At least one purpose of the Hebrews author was to provide encouragement and warning to new believers to stay the course, continue to grow in knowledge and faith and to not fall back.

b. The key word the author uses is “hold”.  This is something we already have, not something we have to reach for or earn.  We simply need to hold it like something truly precious (which it is).   And Christ is faithful.  He has promised we never need to hold onto it alone.  We are holding onto our faith – He is holding onto us. 

c. Pray.  Remind me of the promise of the scriptures.  Help me to focus not on the troubles all around me but on the joy to come.  Help redirect my eyes from looking down at my situation to looking up to God.  It is really hard to climb looking down.

4. In addition to all the things written in question 2 (above)… Christ is faithful, Christ is the Son of God and master of His house.  We (the church) are his house.

5. Even when we are most discouraged and down, we are not out on the streets.  We are living under God’s roof, cared for by the master of the house, a part of his family.  You can focus on your problems or you can turn them over to God.  Only one way works.

Conclusion:

I love Hebrews 6:1.  How much time do I spend digging the same basement of faith in God and then filling it back in with sins, only to dig it out again through repentance?  This verse yells at me to get out of the basement and move up in God’s house.  I don’t need to pour the same slab again and again.  I need to change my focus from looking down on my situation to looking up to God.

BSF Acts: Week 9, Day 1

I’m struggling with the word “offend” that popped up again in the notes (it was in the children’s lesson, too).  I think it is the wrong word.  The statement is that christians should not offend other christians.  In the notes it states that christians should avoid that which offends.

I agree wholeheartedly that we should not present ourselves or conduct ourselves in a manner that would cause undue focus or distraction to a fellow believer.  That is why we generally don’t show up at church unshowered and unshaven.  Not only would it be disrepectful to God, but it would be a distraction to others.  We tend not to eat many cute, cuddly pets and it would likely cause a distraction to dine with a fellow believer who did. 

But I think the avenue of “not offending” is too often  used by satanic forces to hurt the church.  Too often it is misconstrued as you can’t point out anything I am doing wrong because it might offend me.  We take on an attitude of “let it be” and let things that are scripturally wrong be taught and promoted in our churches, because “we don’t want to offend people.”

When Peter was in error, Paul wasted no time in confronting him.  The notes point out that the error was public and, as such, the rebuke needed to be as well.  I don’t think Paul took any concern in offending Peter.

That is why I loved the beginning of the notes when it quotes 2 Timothy 4: 3-4, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

We do not want to be offensive or cause others to sin or be distracted by anything we do.  However, I believe we should never let a concern over offending get in the way of defending the truth of the Word of God.

BSF Acts: Bible Lesson 9 – Acts 15: Lecture

Acts 15

Aim: Salvation (justification) comes from faith through grace alone and cannot be earned either by adherence or works

Introduction: You can’t afford the gift you are receiving.  When I look around the room of children’s leaders in our class I am surrounded by business owners, executives, doctors, the chief legal counsel for a multimillion dollar company, accountants, law enforcement officers.  Frankly the bill rate of the people I sit with for three hours every Saturday morning would be astounding.  Yet, the gift of time is freely given in love, not only for the children and other men in the group, but more importantly for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Do not lessen the gift that you are being provided by even imagining that you could pay for it.  You simply can’t afford it!  There is no level or adherence to the law that could even provide a fraction of the cost that Christ paid in dying on that cross and to imply that it could is insulting to our master.  (OK, this’ll preach!)

Division 1: Acts 15: 1-11 – A dispute over circumcision requires a decision by the church leadership. Peter, Paul and Barnabas testify to the Holy Spirit’s presence in Gentile believers.

Acts 15: 1-2 – P&B sent to Jerusalem to conclude: circumscision required or not

Acts  15 3-4 – P&B to Jerusalem, testify  on the way, welcomed by apostles, they give a report.

Acts 15: 5 – Party of the Pharises states their belief: become Jewish to become christian

Acts 15:6 – Apostle and elders meet to consider this question

Acts 15: 7-11 – Peter presents: no distriction between J&G, through grace we are saved.

Principle: The rock stands strong in his testimony: Faith is sufficient

Illustration: I don’t agree.  You say yes I say no.  How do we resolve it?  That was the question facing the new church.  When disputes in belief or practice arise, what do we do?  Go our own ways?  Give in?  In these verses we see step one.  The dispute is presented to a body of leaders and elders who discuss it and look for the hand of God and the direction He is leading.  We see that in the testimony of P, B and Peter.  Look – see – There is God!

Applications: Are you watching for God’s hand moving in your life and your church?  What disputes do you need to quit harboring and get resolved? Do you rely on your intellect first or do you first look to God?

Division 2: Act 15: 12-21  James states the judgment of the Jerusalem Council

Acts 15: 12-18 James reinforces the works of God by the word of God

Acts 15: 19 James judgment: remove difficulty from Gentile converts to Christ

Acts 15: 20-21 James directs Gentiles to follow the Mosaic laws specifically stated  for Jews and Gentiles

Principle: God’s word is the final word

Illustration: In the United States, the Supreme Court is the ultimate decision on the interpretation of laws.  If a judge rules against you, you can take it to the next higher court.  But if the Suprement Court rules a certain way – it is done.  In the same way, God’s word is the final word. 

Applications: What do you want to be right or OK that God’s word says is wrong?  Do you yield to the authority of the gospel or ignore it?  Do the words of the bible hold weight to change your convictions or do you try to change the words to match your desires?

Division 3: 3 witnesses are sent back to testify to Antioch: P&B, S&J and the letter

Acts 15:22-23  – Judas and Silas are picked to go to Antioch with P&B and the letter

Acts 15: 24-29 – The letter: becoming a christian not a burden, but there are suggested restrictions

Acts 15: 30-31 – The letter is delivered and received with gladness

Acts: 15-32-35 – A time of peace, blessing and strengthening continues in Antioch

Principle: The is only one body of Christ on the earth – one church

Illustration: God describes His church on the earth as a body of believers.  We can sit around in our big comfy chairs watching college football and our body will rot away.  God tells us to do something different.  To work.  To go.  To spread His news.  But like any other work, sometimes the work of the body of the church causes strains and they can be painful.  But we have the choice when our arm hurts from a strain or injury.  I guess we could just lop it off.  At least it wouldn’t hurt anymore, right?  But we normally don’t do that.  We nurse it.  We tend to it.  We protect it and we help it get stronger.  That is the message God has for us as His church as well.

Application: Who among believers have you “lopped off”?  What is dividing you from doing God’s work?  What is wrong that you need to be bold about and cause it to stop?

Conclusion:

This wasn’t easy for anyone.  The Judaisers believed they had scripture behind them.  Paul didn’t have a relationship with anyone in Jerusalem – he had only spent 15 days with them.  Barnabas did, but he clearly could see both sides of the argument.  And the leaders in Jerusalem had never faced a challenge like this before.  But they did three very smart things: 1 they looked for God’s direction 2. they stood on the bible 3. they maintained their sights on the ultimate goal – spreading the good news of the gospel.

BSF Acts: Week 8, Day 5, Galatians 2:11–21

Galatians 2:11–21

Summary:

Peter is in Antioch when others from the church in Jerusalem arrive.  Peter falls into old habits of exclusion and works and acts/eats with the implication that the Gentile believers are “unclean.”  Paul calls him on the carpet and gives a strong conviction that you either continue to try to live by the law and fail in so doing or you live as a free man saved by Jesus.  You cannot and should not live as a slave while claiming to have been set free.

Questions:

12. Peters’ actions of not eating with Gentiles because of adherence to Jewish dietary restrictions did two things to cause Christians to stumble: (1) it encouraged a class system and/or separation within the church.  We all understand the divisiveness that can come from not allowing all to drink from the same watering fountain – to not dine at the same table was equally divisive.  (2) it held back the acknowledgment that Christ had provided full and complete justification by saying (through actions) that His gift was insufficient and additional actions and/or behaviors were required.

13. Peter acknowledged Paul’s rebuke in light of both the scriptures and direct revelation that had been bestowed upon him (Peter).  However, he also acknowledged that Paul’s methods can be difficult.

Conclusion:

This reminds me of the Jews of Moses’ day.  Having been set free from the bondage of Egypt, they almost immediately long for the comfortableness of a well-lived pattern, even though that was slavery.  They even request to go back to be slaves in Egypt.  Now, Christ has died, Christ has risen, the price of sin has been paid, the believers have been set free, but they pine for the pattern of slavery under the law.

BSF Acts: Week 8, Day 4, Acts 15:13–35

Acts 15:13–35

Summary:

 The “Council of Jerusalem” meets to settle the disagreement within the church regarding circumcision.  The council decides that it is not a requirement but suggests/decrees 4 halakhah laws that new believers, regardless of background, should follow.  Silas and Judas are dispatched with Paul and Barnabas and the letter back to the church at Antioch and everyone is pleased and comforted.

Questions:

9. a. James suggested that believers within the Gentiles are also a people chosen by God and that they should not be burdened with additional requirements but instead should be encouraged.  He also suggested they abstain from certain practices that the Jewish Christians would be abhorring and vulgar.

b. He spoke as an authority of the church of Jerusalem (It is my judgment therefore), but everything he spoke and suggested was specifically stated in the scriptures where he quoted from Amos 9

10. a. Judas and Silas delivered the letter

b. Acts 15:31 The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message

11. a. (Challenge) The council provides a watershed moment because it becomes the launching point of a Christian faith separate from traditional Jewish faith.  As importantly it provided a means of unification within the church.  Prior to the council Messianic Jews would have been prohibited from many associations with Gentiles including breaking bread with them – thus no shared communion/eucharist.  Galatians 2:12 and Acts 10:28

It provided a model for any subsequent disputes within the church.  It empowered the ability for the Christian Church to grow during a time when the temple was destroyed.  It ordained a Christian church outside of Judaism.

In the short term, it also paired Silas with Paul for his return mission trip and who became a life-long companion.

b. My personal answer to this question will sound trite, but it has tugged at my heart a number of times.  I am willing to give up the words, “I hope” and replace them with real and actual prayer.  (more to follow in post entitled Hoping versus Praying)

Conclusion:

This division within the church and the method of resolution provided an opportunity for the church to stand or fall.  Through leaders empowered by the Holy Spirit the church stood on the scriptures, specifically Amos, and opened the door for unabated association, unity and communion within the church of believers regardless of background or foreskin.

There are 2 interesting points within this. 

The first is where did James come up with the 4 items within the letter?  These appear to be directly from Lev 17-18.  These rules were outlined by God to Moses and specifically call for them to be adhered to by “any Israelite or any alien living among them.”  There are other rules outlined in these chapters and under the Mosaic law, but these are the ones specifically for Israelites and aliens.

Second: are these items rules or guidelines?  James appears to view them as rules to be strictly followed, while Paul appears to be more in line with the men’s group in BSF seeing things as guidelines rather than rules.  In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul lays this out basically saying don’t get too hung up over the little things such as what you eat – that isn’t what brings you closer to God.  However, he also admonishes against doing anything that would cause another brother to fall into sin.

BSF Acts: Week 8, Day 3: Galations 1:1-2:10

Galatians 1:1–2:10

Summary: Paul’s letter to the Galations is a teaching and reinforcement document sent to the church of believers in the area originally ruled by the King of Galatia.  From Paul’s journey with Barnabas this would have included Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.  Some significant confusion had developed in the believers because of the incorrect teachings of believers from Judea who professed a requirement to hold to the old ways (observation of the Jewish Laws) in addition to the message of the gospel (salvation through Jesus Christ).  By attempting to do both the implication was that Christ had not “fully” fulfilled the law (see Matthew 5:17)  and, as such, it was still a requirement.  There was also the issue of the gift of salvation being shared with Gentiles within them also having to adhere to the same rules and principles that the Jews had (circumcision being a specific outward sign).

The confusion likely stems from Exodus 12:48 that required a non-jew “alien” living in the household of a jew to be circumcised before he could participate in the passover. 

Questions

6. a.True gospel: Galations 1: 3b-4: Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father

b. That we are redeemed from the bondage of our sins only through the grace of God that Jesus Christ was made man and died, paying the price of justice for our sins if we accept His word and believe in Him.

7. (Challenge) Galatians 2:4 – The freedom we have in Christ Jesus;  Galatians 3:3–5, 10–11 – Attain through human effort?, because of law of because of belief?, Cursed under the law, (Deut. 27:26 ), no one justified by the law; 5:1–7. Either justified by the law or by faith – not both – justified by the law = fallen from grace, 5:6 the only thing that counts is faith)

Rom 3: 28-31: 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

8. (Challenge) “False brothers”

Acts 15:5 – Believers who belonged to the party of the pharisees

Galatians 2:11–13 – Came from James, belonged to the circumcision group, Hypocrites

Galatians 5:1–7 – Enslavers, Trying to be justified by law, aliens from Christ 

Galatians 6:12–13 – Those who want to make a good impression outwardly, they may boast

 

Conclusion:

There are 3 main questions raised and answered in the verses we cover today – all critical to the “true faith”

1. Faith alone or faith plus works?  Circumcision was never intended to “pay the price of salvation.”  It was always an outward sign of an inward commitment and covenant from God’s people to their Lord.  However, it was always the heart that mattered.  Otherwise, how could Jesus have called the circumcised pharisees a brood of vipers?  They had fallen more in love with the ritual of the law than they did the God whom the law was meant to honor.  They confused the what for the why.  Gal 5:6, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

2. If the law is not abolished, then what still applies considering it has been fulfilled? In regard to salvation, the price is paid. Period.  As difficult as it is to understand or accept, the horrific acts we may perform while on the earth are insignificant to God in comparison to our belief in Him.  This was clearly demonstrated by Christ on the cross in His conversation with the crucified thief.  If our wickedness does not compare then neither do our good deeds.  We do not “earn” salvation by them and implying we follow any law to earn freedom takes away from the one who paid the price of our freedom.  Does that mean we ignore God’s commandments and his direction on how we are to live and love each other?  Of course not, but we do them to honor our Lord not to earn His love or favor, those are things only He can give freely.  We do them out of honor and respect, not out of obligation under threat.

3. Is it acceptable for christians to look and live differently?  To me, this is the biggest unspoken question and one that many christians and churches struggle to overcome even today.  The Judeazers wanted all christians to look and live like them.  We all have prejudices, some more ugly and hateful than others (the prejudices that is), but they are there.  What does a good pastor look like or sound like?  What kind of up-bringing do you need to have had to be a church leader?  Even BSF seemed to struggle in this area for a period of time: what does a christian leader look like? can they be overweight? can they dress differently?  I’m glad to see the prejudices and stereotypes being challenged and changed – God wants the heart of His church.