Muy Interesante: Faith – An Excuse to Sin?

One of the main accusations against Paul was that his gospel of justification by faith alone encouraged people to sin (see Rom. 3:8, 6:1). No doubt the accusers reasoned that if people do not have to keep the law to be accepted by God, why should they be concerned with how they live?

Paul responds to his opponents’ charges in the strongest terms possible: “God forbid!” While it is possible that a person might fall into sin after coming to Christ, the responsibility would certainly not belong to Christ. If we break the law, we ourselves are the lawbreakers.

Paul finds the reasoning of his opponents simply preposterous. Accepting Christ by faith is not something trivial; it is not a game of heavenly make-believe, where God counts a person as righteous while there is no real change in how that person lives. On the contrary, to accept Christ by faith is extremely radical. It involves a complete union with Christ—a union in both His death and resurrection. Spiritually speaking, Paul says we are crucified with Christ, and our old sinful ways rooted in selfishness are finished (Rom. 6:5–14). We have made a radical break with the past. Everything is new (2 Cor. 5:17). We have also been raised to a new life in Christ. The resurrected Christ lives within us, daily making us more and more like Himself. Faith in Christ, therefore, is not a pretext for sin but a call to a much deeper, richer relationship with Christ than could ever be found in a law-based religion.

How do you relate to the concept of salvation by faith alone without the deeds of the law? Does it, perhaps, scare you a little, making you think that it can be an excuse for sin—or do you rejoice in it? What does your answer say about your understanding of salvation?

Love and God Bless,

– T

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I Am Not a Model….My Shoot with JCKA Photog

….but my friend Jonathan aka Jonnieface of JCKA photgraphy sure made me look like one! lol

A little while ago, he invited me to do a shoot with him, and I have to say I was kinda shocked to say the least lol.  He’s totally awesome at what he does and does great work and frankly, I don’t consider myself the model “type”…whatever that means lol.  But of course I said yes cuz I was super excited.  I was truly humbled by the offer and I am soooo excited with how the photos turned out.  He gave me permission to post them on the blog (thanks Jon!!!) and share them with you all.  I hope you all like them as much as I do! 🙂

This is one of my faves 🙂

If you like what you’ve seen, visit Jonathan Adjahoe’s website HERE or go to http://www.jckaphotography.com and request a shoot!  He does EVERYTHING.  Thanks for letting me play model with you Jonnieface! 🙂

Love and God Bless,

– T

Muy Interesante: Justified by Faith NOT by Works of the Law

*taken from today’s Sabbath School Lesson

The phrase “the works of the law” likely involves, therefore, all the requirements found in the commandments given by God through Moses, whether moral or ceremonial. Paul’s point is that no matter how hard one tries to follow and obey God’s law, our obedience never will be good enough for God to justify us, to have us declared righteous before God. That’s because His law requires absolute faithfulness in thought and action—not just some of the time but all of the time, and not just for some of His commandments but for all of them.

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Muy Interesante: Peer Pressure

*taken from today’s Sabbath School Lesson

Paul’s Concern (Gal. 2:14)

The situation in Antioch surely was tense: Paul and Peter, two leaders in the church, were in open conflict. And Paul holds nothing back as he calls Peter to account for his behavior.

As Paul saw it, the problem was not that Peter had decided to eat with the visitors from Jerusalem. Ancient traditions about hospitality certainly would have required as much.

The issue was “the truth of the gospel.” That is, it wasn’t just an issue of fellowship or dining practices. Peter’s actions, in a real sense, compromised the whole message of the gospel.

Read Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11.

During Paul’s meeting in Jerusalem with Peter and the other apostles, they had come to the conclusion that Gentiles could enjoy all of the blessings in Christ without first having to submit to circumcision. Peter’s action now put that agreement in jeopardy. Where once Jewish and Gentile Christians had joined in an environment of open fellowship, now the congregation was divided, and this held the prospect of a divided church in the future.

From Paul’s perspective, Peter’s behavior implied that the Gentile Christians were second-rate believers at best, and he believed that Peter’s actions would place strong pressure upon the Gentiles to conform if they wanted to experience full fellowship. Thus Paul says, “ ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?’ ” (Gal. 2:14, ESV). The phrase “to live like Jews” can be more literally translated “to judaize.” This word was a common expression that meant “to adopt a Jewish way of life.” It was used of Gentiles who attended a synagogue and participated in other Jewish customs. It was also the reason that Paul’s opponents in Galatia, whom he calls the false brothers, are often referred to as “the Judaizers.”

As if Peter’s actions weren’t bad enough, Barnabas got caught up in this behavior, as well—someone who also should have known better. What a clear example of the power of “peer pressure”! How can we learn to protect ourselves from being swayed in the wrong direction by those around us?

 

Love and God Bless,

– T

Muy Interesante: Calling Hypocrisy By Its Rightful Name…

Yup! It’s back!  I can’t let this fade into the background; I feel compelled to share with you the words from God that really do strike me in hopes that they strike a cord with you as well and help you to learn something new, as I always tend to do.  Enjoy!

*taken from today’s Sabbath School Lesson

Confrontation in Antioch (Gal. 2:11–13)

Some time after Paul’s consultation in Jerusalem, Peter made a visit to Antioch in Syria, the location of the first Gentile church and the base of Paul’s missionary activities described in Acts. While there, Peter ate freely with the Gentile Christians, but when a group of Jewish Christians arrived from James, Peter—fearful of what they would think—changed his behavior entirely.

Some have mistakenly assumed that Peter and the other Jews with him had ceased following the Old Testament laws about clean and unclean food. This, however, does not seem to be the case. If Peter and all the Jewish Christians had abandoned the Jewish food laws, a major uproar in the church certainly would have followed. If so, there would surely be some record of it, but there is not. It is more likely that the issue was about table-fellowship with Gentiles. Because many Jews saw Gentiles as unclean, it was a practice among some to avoid social contact with Gentiles as much as possible.

Peter had struggled with this issue himself, and it was only a vision from God that helped him to see it clearly. Peter said to Cornelius, the Roman centurion, after he entered his house, “ ‘You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean’ ” (Acts 10:28, ESV). Although he knew better, he was so afraid of offending his own countrymen that he reverted back to his old ways. That’s, apparently, how strong the pull of culture and tradition was in Peter’s life.

Paul, though, called Peter’s actions exactly what they were: the Greek word he used in Galatians 2:13 is hypocrisy. Even Barnabas, he said, was “carried away with their hypocrisy” (NKJV). Strong words from one man of God to another.

Why is it so easy to be a hypocrite? (Isn’t it, perhaps, that we tend to blind ourselves to our own faults while eagerly looking for faults in others?) What kind of hypocrisy do you find in your own life? More important, how can you recognize it and then root it out?

(food for thought indeed….)

Love and God Bless,

– T