Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Testimony

God called me to salvation by His Loving Grace through my faith in Christ Jesus' death in my stead for my sin and my just eternal punishment in hell because of that sin and His Resurrection from the dead after 3 days in the tomb assuring me of eternal life--all by the working of the Holy Spirit in my soul who then came into me to dwell and sanctify me until the day of my receiving a new glorious body devoid of sin or weakness or fault and empower for the keeping of the faith, hope, and love to the Glory of the Holy Trinity forever and ever and the good works that God has pre-ordained for all the elect.
He did this when I was 3 almost 4 years old. It was a sunny day in late spring or early summer, but I was inside and my mother was preparing a Sunday School lesson with cutouts. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit reached inside of my wicked soul and convicted me of my current destiny of hell because of my sin and my need therefore of Jesus as my Savior. I did not want to hell for sure, so I told Jesus that I did not want to go to hell and I told Him that I really did believe that He died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead on the third day. I asked Him to forgive me of my sins and come into my heart and give me eternal life in heaven. At that moment I felt the burden of my sins fall of my soul and the Spirit come in--Peace in the best and purest sense, Peace. For the next several years I grew little by little and I was baptized at age 7 if I remember accurately in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I had a mean streak however, according to my mother, which indeed I did and it lasted for a while. When I was about 12-13 I started actually listening to the sermons at church instead of drawing and personally pursuing God actively on my own with desire rather than just the passive pursuit that I had mostly had, although I served at church, prayed, memorized scripture, and read my Bible before then--I would say that I go more serious about things around that time. Puberty and all that agony was soon in full swing, which unfortunately meant that keeping my heart and mind in pure places was suddenly a great difficult. That turbulence was ironically a time of great growth in spite of the grotesque amounts of lust sin at the same time--I am living proof God is gracious and does not treat us in the way our sins deserve. Pastor Craig Parrow was my mentor and is still a good friend. He, God used to teach me much. Most of this is my retrospective analysis; God is good! This time full of darkness and growth lasted I was aged 16, then I surprise turn about came.
God called me to be a pastor. From then on the whole lust issue was more of a non-issue--God is so gracious. God intervened several times in the following eight months to reveal to me great truths and initiate great growth. I stepped up in the youth group and started leading--someday I will have to write out the story of my pastoral calling and subsequent affirming months--and was even given opportunities to teach. When the weather got warmer, I started evangelizing on the street every oppotunity I could get. That summer I got to teach the VBS several times. Oh right, I forgot to mention, my dad got a new job which required my familty to move from Cleveland, Ohio to Le Roy, Illinois. I was very active in the youth group and the church up until we left when I was 17 in September-October.
There is more to the testimony--I am almost 21 after all--but it will have to wait for another time. I know, sort of a cliff-hanger, but oh well...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Interpretation of Galatians 3:28

Complimentarianism and Egalitarianism are the topic of debate most between Christians, although some parts of the Lost, Outside world may debate the concept.

For the record, Complimentarianism is a system of thought--or view if you prefer--that believes that God has created men and women with specific roles to play in this world that equally bring glory to Him, are equally valuable and necessary, and that fit together in such a way that manhood and womanhood work together perfectly to reveal the bests in each other and achieve things in the best way, which is God's way--id est, men and women compliment each other in God's eternal design.

Conversely, Egalitarianism is a system of thought--or view--that believe that God has created men and women equal, that it is only because of the fall that there is any seeming inequality (although in truth, Complimentarians would agree to this, they would explain it differently), that in Christ now there are no difference in equality in terms of ethnicity, social status, and gender (something Complimentarians would also agree to, but not mean the same as Egalitarians), thus they believe that anyone, man or woman is eligible for leadership offices in the church (pastors/elders/bishops/etc.) and outside thereof as well (civic, professional, etc.) if qualified.

Both of these views have their own spectrum on which their adherent may fall. Both sides have many thing they agree on as well. Both try to base their views off Scripture, usually at least, although there are always some who swing by personal bias rather than the Spirit and God's Word. The main differences between these two views are their applications of Scripture and their emphases in Scripture. At the end of the day, this is a disagreement of views of person hood and what equality means. The main rub for Egalitarians is that they believe that to allow only one of the genders to hold spiritual leadership offices in the Church is unjust--that it is unequal treatment. They have a problem with restricting people from what they desire to do--people should be free to attain whatever status they desire. Similarly, they tend to focus on free will and are found main among those who espouse a high focus on it. Also, they often are be low-church in orientation. Further, many of them are in the Arminian camp theologically. For example, the Assemblies of God are Egalitarian and fit the aforementioned description.

In contrast, the Complimentarian view takes issue with the concept that everyone must have the same opportunities to be equal. Moreover, the rub comes with the concept of erasing the concept of gender that God create as good. Their focus is on the teleology of the person--that is what that person was created for--thus, they take issue with Egalitarianism in terms infringing God's intentions. They think that in fact it demeans men and women to say that there is no real difference between them and ignores that God is the God of Order and Everything-with-a-Purpose. Likewise, Complimentarians tend to come from Calvinistic or semi-Calvinistic circles. Often they are affiliated with more high-church orientations. They therefore focus on the Sovereignty and Glory of God. The fundamentally believe that people should be what God wills them and creates them to be.

Honestly, both sides have their own sets of abuses and extremes. Egalitarians would let unqualified people into offices, for example--id est, they will let just anyone be whatever they want regardless. Complimentarians can allow those in spiritual offices to abuse their power and subject women especially to mistreatment. God definitely abhors both extremes.

Now to the point, I am very much a Complimentarian and for a variety of good reasons. However, often Egalitarians cite Galatians 3:28 as proof of equality meaning everyone can be what they want in Christ, for in Christ there is no difference between Jews and Greeks, Slaves and Freemen, and Males and Females. Thus, I am left to wonder whether Complimentarianism really is the view of God. However, I am now convinced that Galatians 3:28 is not support for Egalitarianism whatsoever. The following is an exegetical interpretation of Galatians 3:28 that I believe to be true, which does not allow this to support Egalitarianism, and perhaps even supports Complimentarianism. I will admit however that I could be in error, but as far as the Spirit has so far led, I believe the following to be the true interpretation of the truth of God's Word. I will give you the context of the passage and then continue on to the specifics of the verse. So without further ado...

"But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise. Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God."
--Galatians 3:25-4:7

Now, for Galatians 3:28, in Greek
οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς εἷς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ
--here is my transliteration for those unable to read that:
'ouk 'eni 'Ioudaios 'oude `Ellen 'ouk 'eni doulos 'oude 'eleutheros 'ouk 'eni 'arsen kai thelu pantes gar `umeis `eis 'este 'en Christo 'Iesou
--here is my translation of the Greek
"There's not (or "not is in") a Jew nor a Greek; there's not (not is in) a slave nor a freeman; there's not (not is in) a male and a female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus"
The key, I think, to the whole debate for this verse is a)Context, and b) Paul's weird change up of rhythm and terms when discussing the last "there's not" phrase. Firstly, as to the Context. there are some things to note. One, the context is talking about salvation by faith alone. Two, the context is talking about being heirs to the Promise given to Abraham by being sons of God and Abraham in Christ Jesus. Three, the verse taken alone (although a foolish thing to do) is focusing on unity, not equality. Four, the context mentions wrapping oneself in Christ in terms of heirship and sonship (this will be important once I explain).
Secondly, Paul changes from his not-nor trend to a not-and trend. This is odd. It clearly puts emphasis on the Male-Female section. Also, due to nature of how language is used and what the change means. With regard to Jew-Greek and Slave-Freeman, Paul writes: "NOT a Jew and NOT a Greek" and "NOT a Slave and NOT a Freeman". This means that there is not either of them. Both do not exist. They are moot. gone, nil. However, when Paul gets to Male-Female, he writes: "NOT a Male AND a Female". This can mean 5 things in the language:
1) it can mean that there is not Male-Female (i.e. male and female would be considered one concept, not two concepts, so it is not there is not male and female as two separate concepts, but rather there is not male-female as one concept);
2) it can mean that there is not both of them separately (however, this is not likely to my knowledge as a translation and very not likely given the context of the change from not-nor to not-and--the focus is on the AND);
3) it can mean that there is not a male, EVEN female (this might be possible grammatically, but very unlikely and it does not make sense as far as reading--I don't consider this an option);
4) it can mean that there is not both male and female, but that there is only female, for although the NOT means that you cannot have both of them together, you could have one all by itself, in this case female (however, this does not fit very well with context, which is talking about sons);
5) it can mean that there is not both male and female, but that there is only male, for you cannot have each one, but you could have one, in this case the male (given the context, the male makes the most sense, rather than the female, because of all the talk of sons and heirs).

The Question to ask is "Which option is right?". Connected to that, we should ask, "Why would Paul change the pattern and theme of not-nor?" This is where the context comes in. We need to ask this question of Galatians 3:28: "What question is this verse answering?" Firstly, I say the fifth option is right, because of the answers to the next to questions. Paul, I believe, changed the pattern to put emphasis on one simple fact, in Christ we are all heirs, and if heirs, sons. In fact, the whole point of this verse is to emphasize the importance of us all being sons in Christ Jesus. Being in Christ Jesus is a key theme for Paul throughout many of his letters--it is a position of ontological fellowship with Christ Jesus by the Father's Grace through faith and in the Spirit. It is our salvation, our position of salvation. The point is that we are sons and heirs in Christ Jesus. Above all that is what we are in Christ Jesus, we are not Jews and not Greeks, not Slaves and not Freemen, and not male and female--we are just males, sons, heirs in Christ Jesus. Only males, sons, could be heirs. Remember this is in the context of salvation by grace alone, so when it comes to salvation, we are only male--that is we are only eligible for being an heir, a son. In terms of salvation, we are equal, we are heirs and sons. We are wrapped up with Christ Jesus the Son, we are not female when it comes to salvation, we are heirs to the Promise, we are sons. So then, what question is this verse answering, "Who are we in terms of salvation in Christ Jesus?" The answer is twofold: We are not Jews, Greeks, Slaves, Freemen, we are male heirs and sons of the Promise in Christ Jesus, for we are one in Christ Jesus. We are united and share the position of heirs and sons in Christ Jesus by God's grace through faith in the Spirit!

On a side note, I have translated all the adjectives of Galatians 3:28 substantively, that is to say as nouns for that is the best way given the context and the grammar. Male ('arsen) seems to come from the word for "lift up/take/take away"--'aipo. Female (thelus) comes from the word for "give the breast/suckle" (thelazo), which comes from the word for nipple (thele). Also, male and female are both adjectives, but are used twice in Scripture (Matt. 19:4 and Mark 10:6) to quote from Genesis how God created them. This could denote that gender is meaning to be thrown out, but I disagree because of the context. Therefore, the contexts denotes that there is a special role and position for sons that of receiving the Promise down from Abraham (and the curse through Adam) and leadership. Therefore, this verse, besides clearly not supporting the aims of Egalitarianism, may actually support the view of Complimentatianism.

Please do let me know what you think. Feel free to critique and criticize. Interact. We want the truth after all. Ask questions and I will try to answer as well. Thanks.

Stickers, Stickers, Stickers

Hey, so now we are going to have something called a Prize Chart or something else if you have a better name, but the important thing to know is that it will keep tract of all the things that glorify God and show that you love Him and who He loves that I have decided to reward you for. You can get stickers for:
  1. Being good in large group time (which means staying quiet, listening, answering questions, and obeying)
  2. Being good in small group (which means the same thing as being good in large group, except you can talk more freely)
  3. Being good at Friday's lesson
  4. Bringing your Bible
  5. Winning Sword Drills
  6. Bringing guests (preferably non-Christians or people who don't go to church)
  7. Singing
  8. Coming to me or another adult with your problem (like if somebody hurts your, calls you a name, hurts your feelings, or something like that) and not retaliating (hurting them back)
  9. Extra Surprise Stickers that I will give when I choose to give grace
I will give stickers at the end of the day.


When you get 10 stickers, you will get a prize.
When we are able to add up all the stickers and the total is 500 Stickers, then we all will have a big prize together, like an Ice Cream Party or something really cool and worth working hard at.