All ladies are invited to join, "Living Real", a ladies retreat hosted by Bethel Baptist Church in Schaumburg, IL, held at the Lake Lawn Retreat in WI. Dates are November 3-4, 2017, and the speaker will be Jacqui Allen, a pastor's wife from First Baptist Church in Troy, MI. Cost varies according to room arrangement. More details can be found here. Signup sheets are on the information desk.
Paul states in one of his strongest passages, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8–9 ESV). Some thoughts:
First, the recipients of this letter were believers. There is some obvious “anyone” and “you” language, distinguishing between the readers from those who taught a false gospel among them. Though Paul skips his usual thanksgiving for the readers in this letter, Paul does not begin by cursing them―he curses the false teachers. If the readers are believers, they will return to faithfully holding the gospel they first believed.
Second, as noted above, the curse is reserved for the false teachers, and it is assumed that the action is by God. To be “accursed” is to suffer the condemnation and wrath of God for teaching a false gospel.
Third, this warning was repeated in multiple ways. Not only did Paul pronounce his curse twice in this letter (1:8 and 1:9), but he also warned the Galatians of turning from the gospel when he was first with them (note, “As we have said before,” i.e., when he was first with them). Some warnings cannot be repeated enough.
From the above, it should be clear that believers should not tolerate teachers of a false gospel within their local churches or in the body of Christ as a whole. So what do we do when we find them in our midst?
Other passages help answer this question. We warn them once and then twice and then have nothing more to do with them if they persist in their false gospel (Titus 3:10). These confrontations will involve witnesses and even the whole church as necessary (Matt 18:15–18; cf. 1 Tim 5:19–20). But we would hope that we might restore the transgressors with a spirit of gentleness (Gal 6:1–2). Nonetheless, if they persist in heresy and are put out of the church, we watch out for them and avoid them (Rom 16:17). We do not even give them lodging or wish them well on their way and thereby take part in their wicked works (2 John 10–11). It may even be that such ones leave the church on their own because they were never truly part of it in the first place (1 John 2:19).
And while that last paragraph may seem neat and tidy, we know from history and maybe experience that applying these passages can be messy, heart-breaking, and painful, whether in a local church or some other type of fellowship that enforces its unity around the gospel.
Let us be sure we know our gospel and be careful to distinguish ourselves from those who promote another. And let us not be confused to extend our fellowship as God’s blessed to those who are actually under the wrath of God.
Galatians is probably Paul’s earliest letter, written around AD 48 to churches in southern and not northern Galatia (the first conclusion among several debated issues, as you will see).
Assuming some dates (these dates can be debated) and matching Paul’s biographical details their parallels in Acts, Paul persecuted the church (Gal 1:13–14; Acts 9:1–2; AD 34), was converted (Gal 1:15–16a; Acts 9:3–19a; AD 34), preached in Arabia and Damascus for three years (Gal 1:17; Acts 9:19–22; AD 34–37), visited Peter and James in Jerusalem after these three years (Gal 1:18–20; Acts 9:26–29; AD 37), and preached in Judea for about ten years (Gal 1:21–24; Acts 9:30–31; AD 37–47).
Fourteen years after his conversion (so it seems; cf. Gal 2:1), Paul took Barnabas and Titus to visit Jerusalem again for a private meeting with Peter, James, and John (Gal 2:1–10), which may or may not be recorded in Acts (if so, Acts 11:27–30; AD 47; this conclusion is debated and hinges on another―see comments on Gal 2:1–10 and Acts 15:1–29 below).
Paul then went on his first missionary journey, which included planting churches in southern Galatia (Acts 13–14; AD 47–48). It is not clear when Peter came to Antioch and was confronted by Paul (Gal 2:11–14), but (making yet another conclusion) perhaps it was after Paul had planted the Galatian churches (thus, AD 48). Maybe Peter wanted to follow up on the gospel’s spread to the Gentiles as he had done earlier in Samaria (Acts 8:14) or visited while traveling to minister to the churches in general (cf. Acts 9:32).
Paul then went to the Jerusalem council in Acts 15:1–29 a year or so later (AD 49), an event probably not the same as what Paul records in Gal 2:1–10 (another debated issue). This conclusion is supported in that (1) Paul does not mention the Acts 15 conclusions in Galatians and (2) Luke describes the Acts 15 council as public (cf. Acts 15:6, 12, 22) while Paul describes Gal 2:10 as a private meeting (cf. Gal 2:2).
Paul then visited the Galatian churches two more times at the beginnings of his second (Acts 16:6; cf. cf. 15:40–18:22; AD 49) and third (Acts 18:23; cf. 18:23–21:17; AD 52) missionary journeys (AD 49–51 and 52–57).
On a pastoral level, for as strong as Paul was in his letter to the Galatians, we can be encouraged that the churches corrected themselves and persevered, implied by the fact that Paul visited them in his second and third missionary journeys. While these churches were swayed for a time, Paul’s strong and swift denunciation of a false gospel grounded them in the true gospel again, leaving them strengthened in the end.
After an introduction (1:1–5), Paul rebuked the Galatians for turning to false gospel and cursed those who preached it (1:6–10). The heresy was that one had to add the Law of Moses to his faith in order to be righteous, shown representatively by being circumcised. As Paul would explain, if this “gospel” were true, hearing the gospel with faith was unnecessary, and one could earn his own righteousness by keeping the Law.
In showing this “gospel” to be false, Paul gave the story behind the true gospel that he preached and how it was confirmed by others. He received it from Jesus Christ (1:11–17) and was confirmed of its truth two times by Peter in Jerusalem, the second time along with Peter and John (Gal 1:18–2:10). He even confronted Peter for acting out of accord with what he had previously confirmed (2:11–14). Summarizing his gospel in contrast to the heresy at hand, Paul stated that “a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (2:16; cf. 2:15–21).
Explaining the role of faith further, Paul reminded that it was through faith that the Galatians received the Spirit, persevered, and saw miracles (3:1–5). And, just as Abraham was saved by faith without the Law, so also their salvation came in the same way (3:6–9). Relying on the Law was impossible and brought about a curse that is canceled only through the work of Christ on the cross (3:10–14). The purpose of the Law was to show how sinful man was and that his ability to keep it was impossible. When Christ came, this temporary function of the Law ended, and now we live by faith in the gospel through the Spirit (3:15–4:11).
After exhorting his readers to continue in the gospel they had once so gratefully received (4:12–20), Paul allegorized the story of Hagar and Ishmael and their relation to Sarah and Isaac to show how the Galatians were now enslaving themselves to the Law, persecuting those who had the Spirit, and were not acting as heirs of the New Jerusalem (4:21–31).
Paul again exhorted them to stand firm in the gospel and not accept circumcision as the basis for their righteousness, something of no advantage that would sever themselves from Christ (5:1–6). He was confident that they would return to the gospel (5:7–12) and detailed a life lived by the Spirit in contrast to a life lived in the flesh (5:16–26).
Giving general instructions that likely dealt with a matter at hand, Paul commanded that any transgressor (such as a false teacher) should be restored and treated gently, not thinking themselves better than the transgressor but boasting, if anything, in Christ (6:1–5). Influenced by false teachers, the Galatians may have waned in their giving to the church, so Paul commanded them to share their good things (e.g., finances) with their teachers, promising spiritual reward (6:6–10).
Paul closed the letter by once more attacking the false doctrine of finding righteousness by keeping the Law, promising peace and mercy to those who could boast instead in the cross of Christ (6:11–18).
Many solid Christian works are old enough to be in the public domain, leaving us with many free biblical study resources online, commentaries and more. There are so many helpful resources online that it can be overwhelming. Below are a handful of recommendations among many others that could be mentioned. (And always feel free to ask your pastor for further recommendations!)
Free Online Bible Study Tools
Bible Hub (biblehub.com/commentaries) gives a list of links to numerous commentary sets. Follow the links, and specifically recommended are Keil and Delitsch Old Testament Commentary, Spurgeon’s Treasury of David, Matthew Henry’s Concise or Full Commentary on the Whole Bible, and Calvin’s Commentaries.
For the New Testament, while not technically commentaries, John MacArthur’s sermons are nonetheless thorough and address every passage in the NT. They are all transcribed by Grace to You at www.gty.org/library/resources/sermons-library/scripture.
For digging into a passage itself, helpful Bible study sites are Bible Arc (biblearc.com), the Bible Web App (biblewebapp.com/study/).
Free Bible Software
E-Sword is a program that is free for download at www.e-sword.net. This program allows you to download multiple public domain commentary sets, Bible translations, lexicons, atlases, and more. The website provides training on how to use the program as well. It has been downloaded over 35,000,000 times and is used in 235 countries.
Recommended Christian Blogs
While I obviously cannot endorse every single thing that anyone might say, for those who enjoy Christian blogs that generally give solid answers to current topics, here are a few worth recommending:
A few passages about Mark (or John; cf. Acts 12:12, 25; 15:37) teach us a lesson about failure in ministry and then serving again thereafter.
As a young man, Mark’s home was used by the church for prayer and possibly worship (Acts 12:12). With a home large enough for a church gathering, complete with at least one servant (Acts 12:13), his family enjoyed both physical and spiritual blessings. Unsurprisingly, he was recruited for missionary ministry by Barnabas and Saul (not yet Paul) in Acts 12:25.
However, shortly after joining their missionary journey, “John left them and returned to Jerusalem” (Acts 13:13). Though “they had John to assist them” (Acts 13:5), he became “one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work” (Acts 15:38). Thus, Paul distrusted him and split from Barnabas who desired Mark to join them on a later journey (Acts 15:36–41).
Why did mark abandon the work? Perhaps he did not like the team’s leadership shift from “Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 13:2) to “Paul and his companions” (Acts 13:13). Perhaps the salvation of Gentiles was hard for him to accept as a Jew. Perhaps he did not enjoy the travel, threat of persecution, or distance away from home. We do not know why he abandoned the work, but we know his abandonment was a negative thing.
Thankfully, Mark made a quick recovery. If he deserted in AD 46 in Acts 13:13 but was serving with Barnabas in Acts 15:35–41 in AD 48, his failure did not last long. However, consequences remained. Paul distrusted him and refused to travel with him again.
As time went on, Paul wrote the Colossians about a dozen years later (AD 60 or 61), speaking this of Mark: “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him)” (Col 4:10). As told by Paul, Mark was to serve and be welcomed by this congregation, implying a reconciliation between Mark and Paul.
Yet later, we Mark serving with Peter (1 Pet 5:13), likely during the mid-60s AD when he wrote his Gospel. Paul’s last letter in AD 66 requested of Timothy, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry” (2 Tim 4:11).
Mark’s desertion was disappointing and brought about the distrust of Paul and likely others. Over time, however, he persisted and regained a reputation for faithfulness. In the end, he was very useful to many and certainly the imprisoned Paul in his final days of ministry.
We all fail from time to time, and our consequences vary according to our failures. Not everyone is so fortunate as Mark to be completely restored over time to a previous position. Nonetheless, whatever our failure may be, God forgives the repentant sinner, and we can serve Him and be faithful again. May God help us towards this end.
An examination of the five times we see name Tychicus in Scripture gives us a picture of Christian service in the early church.
The first mention is in Acts 20:4, a list of Paul’s companions on his third missionary journey (AD 52–57), including “the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus.”
The second and third mentions were written from prison in Rome (AD 60 or 61). To the Colossians, Paul stated, “Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord” (Col 4:7). He said basically the same to the Ephesians (Eph 6:21). Willing to travel hundreds of miles by boat and foot from Rome to these nearby congregations, Tychicus was a messenger to the churches, a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow servant.
The fourth mention was to Titus in AD 64 or 65. Titus was told by Paul, “When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there” (Titus 3:12). Tychicus was one of the men that Paul, from wherever he wrote Titus, was possibly sending to Crete to free Titus to join Paul at Nicopolis, about 400 miles away from Rome, roughly halfway between Rome and Ephesus.
Written in AD 66, the fifth mention of Tychicus is brief: “Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus” (2 Tim 4:12). Tychicus may have carried this letter or was coming later to likely replace Timothy for him to be able to join Paul in prison in Rome (2 Tim 4:9, 21; cf. 1:8, 16–17).
From these few mentions of Tychicus in the Bible, we can learn some lessons for ourselves today.
First, we should be enduringly faithful in service. From the dates above, the ministry of Tychicus spanned at least ten years.
Second, we should be willing to work hard for the sake of the gospel. In each reference above, Tychicus is actually or potentially traveling. Given the frequency and length of these travels, it is not improbable that he shared in Paul’s travel sufferings to some degree (cf. 2 Cor 11:23–28).
Third, we should expect God to give us tasks that are fitted to who we are. When sent to Asia Minor, Tychicus the Asian was native to this general region. He was a welcome servant to the Jewish missionary Paul.
Fourth, we should be ready to go wherever the body of Christ most needs us. Sometimes God moves Christians from one congregation to another to use their unique gifts to meet unique needs.
These are some tips that we can take from Tychicus in serving as Christians today. May God give us grace as we learn from this example and serve Him all the better.
Men, please join us for a study through The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges, led by Pastor Huffstutler. We will meet on the following Sunday evenings at 6:00 PM:
July 16 - Chapters 1-2
August 6 - Chapters 3-4
August 20 - Chapter 5
September 3 - Chapter 6
September 24 - Chapter 7-8
October 8 - Chapter 9
October 22 - Chapter 10
November 12 - Chapter 11-12
December 3 - Chapter 13
December 17 - Chapter 14-15
TBA - Chapter 16
TBA - Chapter 17-18
Bridges, Jerry. The Practice of Godliness. Colorado Springs, CO. NavPress, 2008. Note: This is the second edition of this book, complete with study guide. Copies are available in the church bookstore for $10 each.
Bible Study Description
Bridges states his goal at the outset of his book: “My objective is to create an awareness of the importance of each of the aspects of godliness and provide some practical suggestions for growing in them” (p. x). Our study aims to do the same.
If you are able to come, read in advance according to the schedule above and work through the study guide in the back of the book. Join us for this time of fellowship, building one another up, and Bible study!
Only three verses in the NT in use the title “evangelist”: “On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him” (Acts 21:8 ESV); “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers” (Eph 4:11 ESV); “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim 4:5 ESV).
From 2 Tim 4:5, in following Timothy’s example, we see that we are to do the work of an evangelist, though we might not be called as evangelists ourselves. From Eph 4:11, we see that Christ gave evangelists to the church. Were we to read on in Eph 4:12, we would see that the purpose for their giving was “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12). From Acts 21:8, we have an illustration of an evangelist in Philip. Looking back at his life, he was “one of the seven,” one who was “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3). As an evangelist, he proclaimed the gospel to crowds in Samaria (Acts 8:5–6), the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26–38), and to all the towns within his roughly 55-mile trek from Azotus to Caesarea (Acts 8:40).
Added to this, we could remind ourselves that the verb evangelizō is used over 50 times in the NT, meaning “to bring or announce good news.” For the Christian, it is to preach the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to unbelievers (e.g., Acts 8:40). Along this line of thought, other words are used for preaching, specifying the content to be the evangelion, that is, the gospel (e.g,. Mark 1:15).
From this terribly brief survey, we could at least say that an evangelist is someone who takes the gospel to those who have not heard it before, whether it be to one person at a time, or large crowds within a given city. It is someone who does not stay long in one place, likely leaving behind planted churches so that he can take the gospel to new places that have never heard it before. And yet, he is also someone who ministers to the saints by equipping them for the work of the ministry, likely teaching them to do what he himself is specially gifted to do, namely, persuasively giving the good news of the gospel to unbelievers.
May we all do the work of an evangelist, and may God bless the evangelists who take the gospel to where it has not been heard.
The woman will be starting a new study in the book of Genesis. All woman are invited to attend an learn more about the book of Genesis. Bible studies are held on the following Sunday evenings at 6:00pm in the church lobby.
June 4 - Week 1 - Overview
June 25 - Week 2 - Genesis 1-2: Creation
July 9 - Week 3 - Genesis 3-4: The Fall/Cain & Abel
August 13 - Week 4 - Genesis 5:1-11:9: Noah/Tower of Babel
August 27 - Week 5 - Genesis 11:10-15:21: Abraham, part 1
September 17 - Week 6 - Genesis 16-18: Abraham, part 2
October 1 - Week 7 - Genesis 19-22: Abraham, part 3
October 15 - Week 8 - Genesis 23-26: Isaac
November 5 - Week 9 - Genesis 27-33: Jacob, part 1
November 19 - Week 10 - Genesis 34-38: Jacob, part 2 & Jacob's Sons
December 10 - Week 11 - Genesis 39-44: Joseph, part 1
January 7 - Week 12 - Genesis 45-50: Joseph part 2
Pastor regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our staff page.