I Believe in Reincarnation

John knows … that God is love, and God’s endless love spills out in creation through the Word. That love is revealed and commanded in Torah, distilled in the life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and now enlivened by the Spirit in the church. When Christians experience union with God and each other, the very love that precedes, sources, and invades creation in the Son is reincarnated; it is instantiated in what Paul called the “body of Christ.”

Thomas Andrew Bennett, 1-3 John, ed. Joel B. Green, The Two Horizons New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2021), 32–33.

Weird Uncle

Some Christians and groups of Christians have some different beliefs than I have. The core of our faith is the same, but they might pray to the saints, or they might speak with tongues, or they might eschew any baptism save immersion.

They might look for a rapture of the church, or they might see teetotaling as a necessity of faith, or they might dress in a funny way.

They might think Saturday is the only day to gather for worship, or they might eschew church membership, or they might even stick with the KJV.

But at the core, we are brothers and sisters.

I will treat them with love, as befits those of the household of faith. I will treat them like I would the weird uncle whose sense of humor is different from the rest of the family, who teaches the children to make fart machines, who sometimes makes dinner uncomfortable.

I will love them. I will agree with them on the things that matter. I will disagree with them on the things that don’t. I will love them.

A Gift and a Task

Throughout this commentary, we have tried to do justice to justification as “gift and task.” It is “gift” insofar as Christ gave himself on our behalf, as an expression of God’s love and generosity toward us, to reconcile us to God and to redeem us from this present, evil age. It is “gift” insofar as God pours his Holy Spirit out upon all who are joined in trust to Jesus, the Seed. It is “gift” insofar as this Holy Spirit, freely lavished upon us, is sufficient to guide us into and empower us for living righteously before God, specifically by living fully in line with the commandment to love our neighbor with the care, investment, and commitment that the fleshly person reserves for himself or herself above the neighbor. It is “task,” however, insofar as we must “walk by the Spirit” (5:16), “fall in line with the Spirit” (5:25), “serve one another as slaves through love” (5:13), “stand fast,” not submitting again to the powers and principles that formerly enslaved us, from which Christ freed us at such cost to himself (5:1) and, here, “sow to the Spirit” by “working what is good toward all” (6:7–10), fulfilling the command to “love one’s neighbor as oneself” in concrete, practical, beneficent, helpful, needful ways. Participating in this process of transformation that God has opened up for believers in Christ through the power of the Spirit leads to “the final fulfillment of that which began in justification, namely, the gift of salvation to be consummated at the last day.”

David A. deSilva, The Letter to the Galatians, ed. Ned B. Stonehouse et al., The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2018), 498–499.

Sins of the Father: What Should we do about an Imperfect Past? | David Rupert

The arrogant presumption that what we know today is the correct view of history, that we are the chosen generation, should give us pause. We shouldn’t believe that we are the people with the absolute moral authority to look at generations past with a righteous judgment. We haven’t earned that right.
— Read on www.patheos.com/blogs/davidrupert/sins-of-the-father-what-should-we-do-about-an-imperfect-past-2/

Works of the Flesh

As Paul begins to tell the Galatians the practical ramifications of his concern for them, he sets being led by the Spirit against being led by the flesh. And he gives a list of examples of fleshly behavior.

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:16–21, NRSV)

That is quite a list, and it is not inclusive. Mind, these are not matters of law, but matters of being led by either the Spirit or the flesh.

Some of the things on the list I have not seen in the church, but many of them I have. There are some items on that list that are ongoing problems plaguing the church. We tend to ignore those things.

But note, “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Let’s be a little tougher on ourselves than we have been in the near past. There is a behavioral requirement to being a Christian.

Recommendation – Galatians Commentary

deSilva, David A. The Letter to the Galatians. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2018.

If you need a commentary for Galatians, or even if you think you do not, you can’t do better than this one.

I read a lot of commentaries. I mean, a lot. Typically I am not moved to tears by academic commentaries. This one has done just that multiple times.

David deSilva is more than a biblical studies professor. He is a true man of God.