BSF Acts: Week 16, Day 2: 2 Thessalonians 1

Summary:

Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians opens with prayer, praise and thanksgiving.  Paul also, as always, keeps the focus on the object of our faith, our reunion with Christ on the day of the Lord.

Questions:
3. a. Paul is grateful that their faith is growing, their love is increasing.  They show perseverance and faith in the face of persecution and trials.  Paul thanks God for these things because he understands that all of this comes from God, it is not by their own doing but only through the power and authority of God that these blessed things are occurring.
b. (Personal) I can see the maturity in my spiritual walk increasing this year.  I can see my faith and conviction to the word growing and my love for others expanding.  I am truly experiencing joy in seeing the legacy that I have been blessed to be a part of in helping teach 1st and 2nd graders about God – hopefully in a way that encourages them to stay in the word their entire lives.  I understand when Paul talks about the blessing he feels from God by being able to share the gospel with these new converts – it isn’t just a blessing to them.

4. Paul says:
a. Jesus will be revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.  He comes to punish and be glorified and marveled.
b. Christ is glorified IN his holy people and marveled at AMONG all who believe.
c. Punished with everlasting destruction, shut out from the presence of the Lord and cut off from the majesty of his power.

5. Paul prays that God may

  • count them worthy of his calling
  • fulfill every good purpose of theirs
  • fulfill every act prompted by faith
  • the name of our Lord Jesus glorified in them and them in him

Conclusion:

I was particularly struck by the prepositions in verse 10.  He comes to be glorified in his holy people and marveled at among all those who have believed.  I had always read this as: He comes to be glorified BY his holy people and marveled at by all those who have believed.  Being glorified “in and among” the body of believers is a completely different and richer meaning.

Jesus doesn’t require any further exaltation – he is already at the right hand of God.  He comes to reunite with the believers to raise the church up into glory with Him.  What a magnificent reunion that will be!

 

BSF Acts: Week 10, Day 3,

Hebrews 3:1–6

Summary:

Focus on our high priest in heaven.  Jesus and Moses were both faithful to God, but Jesus, as the Son of God, is greater than Moses.

Questions:

9. a. Pray, remember our sins and repent of them, seek forgiveness and restitution for wrongs, accept the gift of grace
b. When we are tempted.  We can turn to many different things when we face temptation, but only one has the ability to help us: Jesus.

10. Transcendental meditation (which has its roots in the Hindu religion) and other common forms of meditation that some use for stress relief have a focus on becoming empty.  Someone would focus on a mantra (normally a nonsensical word) and empty themselves of thought.  Christian meditation is a focus on becoming filled.  We meditate to be filled with the Spirit or to be filled with the Word or to be filled with God’s grace and forgiveness.  Here are a few examples:

Jos 1:8 Do not let the book of the law depart from your lips, meditate on it day and night

Psalm 48:9 Meditate on your unfailing love

Psalm 77:12 meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds

Psal 119:15 meditate on your precepts and consider your ways

Psalm 119:27 meditate on your wonders

11. Differences: Jesus is God (the Son of God), Moses wasn’t; Jesus built the house, Moses was in the house.  Similarities: Both men, both faithful to God.

Conclusion:

The high priest was charged with making the atoning sacrifice for the children of God.  Jesus not only took on that task once and for all, but he, himself, also became that sacrifice.  He gave himself freely as an offering of love for His father and for His fallen brothers who were enslaved by sin.

All men are born with a God sized hole in them.  We all feel longing, incompleteness, emptiness, a void from time to time.  While emptying your mind of thoughts may provide a temporary relief from stress, much like some attempt to find through the numbing effects of drugs or alcohol.  But becoming more empty is never going to be the long term answer to a feeling of emptiness and longing.  The only solution is to be filled: filled with the Holy Spirit, filled with the love of our creator, filled with the word of the Lord.  Now that is something to meditate on!

BSF Acts: Week 10, Day 2, Hebrews 2:5–18

Hebrews 2:5–18.

Summary:

The author of Hebrews again picks up the discussion of Jesus and the angels.  Jesus became man, lower than the angels, perfected by suffering to call those he saves brothers.

Questions

4. a. I think “the world to come” refers to a world totally under salvation totally subjecting itself to Christ.  For the elect I think it starts on the day we accept Christ as our savior, but I think it is complete when all do, when Christ comes again and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess.
b. In Genesis 1 God subjected the earth to man’s dominion.  The fallen earth continues in that covenant.  In these verses the writer confirms that the saved world also falls under that gift from God.

5. While fully man, Jesus took on the sins of the world and suffered death, becoming the author of salvation and rising to glory in heaven

6.Death (or fear of death), the devil, Sin, Temptation

7. (Challenge) The world is comprised of believers and non-believers.  Jesus defeated death for all, but it is not forced on all, it is a gift free given that can be received or rejected.  In Mark 16:16 the gospel says “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”.  Satan is still in this world because free-will to sin is still in the world.  As long as sin remains, Satan remains.  But Satan is still defeated because he no longer holds power over the believers (Eph 2:1-9) who are no longer dead to transgression but alive in salvation.  At a time to come, all will know that Christ is Lord and every knee shall bow (Rom 14:11)

8. Hebrews 2:17, Jesus made like man in every way.  This is in perspective of Hebrews 1:3 stating that Jesus is the exact reflection of God.

Conclusion:

Was Jesus part man and part God?  God inside and man outside?  1/2 man 1/2 God?  Hebrews clears this up.  While we may have difficulty understanding it: Jesus was, at the same time, fully man and fully God.  It clears up that as fully man Jesus suffered when he was tempted, but as fully God he was able to remain completely without sin.

I have heard it said that Jesus could not sin because He was God.  However, if you are not able to sin then what would be the sting of temptation?  From these passages we see the amazing sacrifice that he made, to become lower than the angels and put himself in a position of suffering the same temptations and trials that we as men face, but in his divine nature He did something no other man has been able to: resist always and stay focused only on the will of God the Father.

Hebrews is a book of encouragement.  We see in chapter one the place and power of Jesus relative to men and angels and in this chapter we begin seeing the sacrifice that He made to be able to call us brother in every way.

BSF Acts, Week 10, Day 1

2. I thought the notes did a good job of explaining why our study is taking this detour in the middle of Acts to jump to the Letter to the Hebrews (besides the fact that it is strategically placed in between the chapter when Paul fights against requiring circumcision and the next chapter when he circumcises Timothy.)  On the first page it raises the question: if someone claims to be a Christian, are they?  If not necessarily, then what decides.  Hebrews explains that this isn’t a buffet line where you pick some things but leave others about faith in Christ.  You don’t rely totally on Him for your salvation but also try to do it on your own, just in case.  Jesus died, the work is done.  You are either inside the house or outside.  There is no screened in deck.  You get to choose: in or out.  I choose in!

p.s.: hold onto page 3, Homiletcs division are provided through then end of December in the table.

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: 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 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.