Galatians: Witherington on 2.15-21


The story is told of William Herschel. As a young boy he loved military music, and growing up in Hanover in Germany he joined a military band. When his nation went to war, he was one of those leading the military band. As a young man he was totally unprepared for the horrors of war, and the result was that before long he deserted his military unit and fled the battle scene during an intense period of fighting.

He fled to England, and began to pursue further training in both music and science. Thinking he was in the clear, he grew and prospered in his new country. In fact he made various scientific discoveries that made him famous, and he gained renown for his musical abilities. However, after Herschel came to the British Isles, another Hanoverian also came to live there – George who in fact became the King of England. King George knew of Herschel’s past desertion of the army and summoned the great musician and scientist to appear before the royal court. Herschel went with fear and trembling, and when he arrived in the palace he was told to wait a considerable time in an ante-chamber to the throne room. Then, finally, one of the King’s servants came to Herschel and handed him a document and told him to read it. He opened it with fear, only to discover that it read ‘I George pardon you for your past offenses against our native land. George had pronounced the verdict of no condemnation on William Herschel, and in fact the document went on to say that for his outstanding service to humankind as a musician and a scientist, he was not to become Sir William Herschel: he was to be knighted! He had gone from criminal to honored dignitary in an instance, quite apart from what he might have deserved according to German law (the penalty for desertion was death).

Paul is saying that this is what God’s pronouncement of pardon does for all of us who accept it. It not only removes the source of alienation; it places us in a favored relationship with God.

This story perfectly illustrates Paul’s concept of justification – it is a matter of God pronouncing a verdict of no condemnation on the sinner, or, put positively, it is a matter of declaring that the person in question was justified, in right relationship to the Law and the Law giver, even though he was in fact far from perfect. With the legal judgment of no condemnation (cf. Rom. 8.1f) comes the implication that sins have been forgiven, and so one need no longer be estranged from God. Yet estrangement is not overcome merely by a pronouncement from above. One must respond in faith to such a pronouncement. One must accept forgiveness. Forgiveness offered is not the same as forgiveness received.

Grace in Galatia by Ben Witherington; p.195

this went thru my mind


Culture wars: The Cost of Waging the Culture War (part 1 & 2) by K. Rex Butts

* “I speak only for myself but if having a society where the laws reflect Christian beliefs and values means giving up the way of Christ, count me out. I believe in and follow Jesus, not a political movement that has hijacked the name ‘Christianity’ for its cause.”

* “What if instead of trying to force a vision of community based upon Christian values on the American society, what if Christians would simply love the American society regardless of what it becomes?”

Faith & works: Faith That Works: On the Meaning of “Works” by Jay Guin

“… is Romans almost entirely about an issue that no longer matters?”

History & the Mormons: The Mormons Sit Out the Civil War by John G. Turner

“A long war against the Confederacy, [Brigham] Young hoped, would distract the Union government from meddling in Utah affairs and finally leave the Mormons to govern themselves.”

Parenting: 10 Signs Your Kids Are Overscheduled

“We’ve all heard about the signs to look out for if your kid is using drugs—the glassy eyes, spending less time with friends and family, apathy towards everything—but what if the culprit isn’t pills but programming—and too much of it? … How do you know if your kid is too busy? Watch for these signs …”

Poverty: Defined as a Problem …

“… its really hard when you realize that you are regarded as ‘a problem’ by lots of people. It affects your self-understanding.”

Tests, temptations & trials: 3 “Weights” God Uses to Develop Spiritual Muscles by Ron Edmonson

“… my faith building has not always been that pleasant of an experience. As I’ve observed,God seems to use …”

this went thru my mind


Bible interpretation: On Not Harmonizing by J. Daniel Kirk

Boredom: The Arrogance of Boredom by Dan Bouchelle

Church, comfort, learning & maturity: The Church is Not Trained to Be Disturbed by Terry Rush is so very, sadly true.

Civil religion: Why it’s unbiblical to affirm ‘In God We Trust’ by Bethany Keeley-Jonker

Coffee: 17 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Morning Coffee by Lindsey Savino

Comfort, encouragement, speech & words: What to Say When Someone is In Pain by Bev Hislop

Death & life: * If Only by Ben Witherington. Wow. * Richard Beck’s ongoing series on The Slavery of Death is required reading. Here is a link to part one and the most recent post, part thirteen. Read two posts a day and catch up.

Discipline: 5 Steps to Developing More Discipline by Michael Hyatt

Evangelism, gospel & preaching: Critical Concerns With Gospel Presentations is a three-part series by Peter Mead. Here are links to parts one, two, and three.

Facebook: The Unfaced Book World is telling.

Forgiveness: If Rwandans Can Forgive Killings, We Can Forgive the Waitress by Jeremy Cowart

Justification: New/Old Perspective on Justification is a series by Scot McKnight. Here are links to part one, two, three, four, and five.

Leadership & Joe Paterno: Leadership Lessons From Happy Valley by Tim Spivey

Meetings: 18 Rules for Creative Meetings by Brad Lomenick

Perspective: Study links regular religious service attendance, outlook on life

Reading: If you’re not reading, you’re missing out. This could be the most helpful post you’ve read in a long time – Michael Hyatt’s spot-on post entitled 5 Ways to Make More Time to Read.

Sexual abuse: * Remind Your Staff About Handling Abuse Properly by Brandon Cox * The Problem With Pederasty and the Penn State Scandal by Ben Witherington * Discounted Prices on Background Checks Through LifeWay by Erin Freshwater * Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network * The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-4673

Spiritual maturity: 5 Signs of Spiritual Maturity by Clint Archer

he did this

But now God’s righteousness has been revealed apart from the Law, which is confirmed by the Law and the Prophets. God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus. Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness in passing over sins that happened before, during the time of God’s patient tolerance. He also did this to demonstrate that he is righteous in the present time, and to treat the one who has faith in Jesus as righteous. (Romans 3:21-26 CEB)

“This short section is … the center and heart of the main division to which it belongs [1:18-4:25]. … it is the center and heart of the whole of Romans 1:16b-15:13. It stands out by reason of the distinctiveness of its style: it reads like a solemn proclamation. … It stands out much more, of course, by virtue of its content; for it proclaims the fact that the one decisive, once for all, redemptive act of God … has now taken place.” (Romans: A Shorter Commentary by C.E.B. Cranfield; p.68)

This is one of those mountain peak passages in Scripture that can’t be soaked up in just a moment; it requires reading, re-reading and reading again. You have to break it down if you ever hope to put it together. Let’s do that right now. Everything said in this paragraph falls under five headings, as if to answer to five specific questions about how God is going to deal with the fact of a totally sinful creation.

What is it God has given? Righteousness (vs.22), a way for us to be treated as righteous, (vs.24), a ransom paid by Christ Jesus (vs.24) and “the place of sacrifice where mercy is found” (vs.25).

How did God give it? By his grace (vs.24). By Jesus Christ (vs.24). Through Christ as a sacrifice (vs.25). By means of his blood (vs.25).

How is God’s gift received? Through faith in him (vs.22).

To whom did God give this gift? For all who have faith in him (vs.22). To those who have faith in Jesus (vs.26).

Why did God give this gift? Because all have sinned (vs.23). Since all fall short of God’s glory (vs.23). To demonstrate his righteousness (vs.25). To demonstrate that he is righteous in the present time (vs.26). To treat the one who has faith in Jesus as righteous (vs.26).

Heavenly Father, how I know that I deserve absolutely nothing from you. But how I revel in the fact you have given everything for me! When I consider what I have done has put you through – and yet, what you went through to have me – there is simply not words to express it all. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you in the name of Jesus! Amen.