Monday, August 27, 2018

This week's Adult Sabbath School lesson (August 23-31): the Second Missionary Journey cir

We never should have allowed Gentiles into the church.

And if you need proof, then look at Paul's second mission trip.

No sooner does he get back from Jerusalem, after all, then what happens?

He gets into a fight with Barnabas.

So he grabs Silas, goes through Syria and Cilicia, and does what?

He circumcises Timothy. (Talk about hypocrisy!)

On to Philippi, where Paul is thrown in jail.

On to Thessalonica, where there's a riot.

On to Berea, where he leaves just before a riot breaks out.

And in Athens, he's brought before the town council on the same charges that got Socrates killed!

Corinth?

Kicked out of the synagogue, then brought before the proconsul on charges.

In short, Paul and his message have brought nothing but chaos, confusion, and trouble. He has been rejected by every synagogue he tried to reach - and by most of the Gentiles too!

It's time we admit, in other words, that Paul is wrong. That the Jerusalem Council made a mistake. And that this reckless experiment in so-called "outreach" to the Gentiles must finally come to an end.

No, Paul's second mission-trip is proof - proof that Paul's "gospel" is not enough.

Not if it gives us the kind of results it did.


Monday, August 20, 2018

This week's Adult Sabbath School lesson (August 18-24): the Jerusalem Council

What part of "everlasting" don't you understand?

"You are to undergo circumcision," said God.

"It will be the sign of the covenant between you and me," said God.

"My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant," said God - and then he added these words: "Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."

Broken.

My.

Covenant.

Sounds pretty clear to me!

To be sure, this is not the first time we've faced this challenge. Two hundred years ago, remember, Antiochus Epiphanes tried to ban circumcision - in fact, he made it punishable by death!

And in truth, some believers gave in to his threats - gave in, and urged other believers to do the same!

But others stood against this threat - stood against it and won!

So now we face a the exact, same threat - the same threat as that posed by Antiochus Epiphanes.

If he wins, then we lose; it's that simple.

That is why we must defeat Paul in Jerusalem.

Yes, that is why we must make sure that any Gentile who follows Jesus takes part in the "everlasting covenant" of circumcision.

Monday, August 13, 2018

This week's Adult Sabbath School lesson (August 11-17): Paul's First Missionary Journey

You need to understand: I didn't sign up for this.

My cousin was going to Cyprus, remember - the place he grew up.

He was going to teach and preach to Jewish people in their synagogues - to familiar people in familiar settings.

What's more, he would be in charge - it was Barnabas and Saul, remember, not Saul and Barnabas.

Yes, I signed up for something that was well within my comfort zone!

But everything changed after that run-in with Elymas the sorcerer.

And yes, I'm glad that impressed the governor - impressed him enough to become a believer.

But he is a Gentile.

And he's wants us to visit his people in Pisidian Antioch.

And I can't help but notice that nobody talks about Barnabas and Saul, anymore - no, now it's Saul and Barnabas!

In short, this trip is going in a new direction - a new direction with a new leader.

So I'm sure you can understand why I'm going home.

I mean, I did everything I said I would do.

What more could God want?

Thursday, August 09, 2018

This week's Adult Sabbath School lesson (August 4-10): the Ministry of Peter

I'm not saying, "I told you so" . . . 

But it all started on the Day of Pentecost: the day when Peter preached to those Hellenists - to those Greek-speaking Jews.

I mean, who demanded change in the way we took care of the poor?

They did - and Peter supported them!

Who reached out to the Samaritans?

One of them - and again, Peter supported him!

And yes, I tried to say something when the very same Hellenist who'd reached out to the Samaritans went and baptized that Ethiopian . . . 

"But what's the harm?" people said.

"The Samaritans may not be Jews," they said, "but at least they're circumcised."

"He may not be Jewish," they said about that Ethiopian, "but circumcision isn't an option."

True enough - but now we see where all this was going!

And yes, the same kind of people will make the same kind of excuses for him that they did for all the others. "Cornelius may be a Gentile," they'll say, "but he's a nice Gentile. He may be a Gentile," they'll say, "but he still loves Jesus. And he may be a Gentile," they'll say, "but who are we to judge?"

All of which goes to show just where this kind of compromise will get you.

Yes, you start baptizing Hellenists . . . 

And the next thing you know, you're baptizing Gentiles!