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Faithlife

Fellowship of the Gospel Part 2

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Nice instruction there from Johnny and Chachi and you know whenever we think of a team: the team Johnny and Chachi created: is often our dream team, and what I mean by that is not fully grown men in wigs, lipsyncing other’s voices, but what I mean is that often our dream team is a cloned team of ourselves. Think about that for a second: what would be your dream team of a Christian community: like if you could just imagine you’re perfect small group Bible study: what would those people be like: for most of us: they would be just like us. We want the people around us to look like us, sing like us, dress like us, share the same mission convictions as us, prefer the same translation as us: that’s often our dream team of our community, and even the church. As that pursuit occurs in our life: here’s what happens; we lose step with the gospel. The gospel is a line and we try to draw our own line base on our own preferences. As we turn again to : we will see this same temptation as prevalent in the churches of Galatia. These false teachers, the Judaizers, have entered the Galatian scene trying to bear down on the Gentiles saying: no they don’t just need Jesus they need circumcision, they need the ceremonial law: they need to look like us, act like us, dress like us, eat like us, they need our culture + Jesus: then we can have the fellowship of the church. Again, that’s a struggle we find today: for many Christians the gospel is not enough to enter the fellowship: you need the gospel plus my political views, you need the gospel plus my music preference, you need the gospel plus something, and anytime you have the gospel plus something what Paul is showing us is that you really have nothing.
I need a few volunteers this morning: we welcome our children’s church this morning being the last Sunday of the month: they join us in the service, let’s get a few kids up here on stage. Alright you guys are a firefighting team: okay: doesn’t this look a great crew if we ever need a fire fought. Hey, have any of you guys ever been a firefighter, or had the firefighting profession? You’ve set things on fire? So, as a team member each of you guys have a job. And I know Thanh would be much better at explaining these roles here, but I’ll do my best with the help of info from fireengineering.com. So, __ you’re going to be the engineer: the engineer is the one who drives the rig, parks it in the perfect spot, and then gets to work regulating pressures and making sure all things mechanical is working smoothly. __ you’re the company officer: you’re job is to command everyone on the truck: you also bust down doors if that is needed and you can like ride shotgun right here and run the sire alright (can you give me your best siren?) ______ you’re the nozzleman: you hold and aim the hose; _______ you’re the backup firefighter: you’re job is to make sure the hose does not get tangled and apparently that can be tough. So you ride on the side and point your nozzle. ____ You’re the tillerman so don’t know if anyone has ever seen the Seinfeld where Grammar is steering the back: okay that’s the tillerman: you’re job is to steer the back of the truck and then also miscallaneous: which is whatever bossman up there wants to tell you to do. So, let’s go over this and see if we got it straight: (ask each child what their main job is). Okay, so again this is our firefighting crew and what they all have in common is when I asked what their main job was: they all got it wrong. And sorry I tricked you, but I set you up for this. The problem is that you get so focused on you’re job that you forget what the whole truck is about. And this is the issue we often have in the mission of God: we’re thinking this is my role, this is my job, and yet we lose sight of how urgent it is that this truck get to the right spot and accomplish the main purpose which is not to be an awesome tillerman, or to sound the siren just right: but it’s to fight the fire!
Let’s give our firefighting crew a hand! Thanks guys. And if you’re with me in Galatians: we’re going to continue to see the importance of our firefighting crew of the church. We are in week number six now of our study in Galatians, and we are pretty much at the point where there’s too much to summarize of what we have covered without taking up all of our time, so I’ll just summarize last weeks message leading into this message. Galatians, of course, is about the true gospel: it’s a heated, controversial book because the one thing that will get Apostle Paul stirred up is one distorting the true gospel. Last week we continued to look at this controversy, but how in the controversy Paul depended on not only the message of the gospel, but also the fellowship of the gospel. He went to meet with the Apostles in Jerusalem, chapter 2: verse 2: for the purpose of setting before them the gospel he was proclaiming to ensure he was not running in vain. Paul sought number 1: the fellowship of the gospel for the confirmation of the gospel. Secondly, we saw protection in the fellowship of the gospel: there were those false teachers of verse 4 with their military strategy of sneaking in, slipping in, spying out the freedom of the gospel, and trying to bring those free into slavery: most specifically Titus who was not circumcised and of course these false teachers were teaching that believing in Jesus is not enough: you have to be circumcised. Verse 5: to them we did not submit: it wasn’t to them Titus did not submit, but instead to them we did not submit. It was a decision of fellowship. In the fellowship of the liberating gospel: we find confirmation and yet also protection from the false gospel of slavery. And let me just ask you, first do you realize you are under attack as a believer? Do you realize there is an enemy who appears like an angel of the light seeking to spy out your freedom and weigh you down with the slavery of false beliefs? Let me then also ask this: who is walking with you in this fight? Who is with you to confirm, who is with you to protect you when you’re the Titus they’re trying to weigh down? We see a need here that is nourished in the gospel by fellowship of the gospel: it’s the confirmation of the gospel, the protection of the gospel’s fellowship, and third, yet our first point to cover this morning: we see the unity of the gospel’s fellowship. Verse 6:
ILL Ideas
Intro: shipwreck, poverty-riches, still being saved, unity by gospel for gospel
Galatians 2:1–5 ESV
1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
Temptation: gospel to culture
Summary: what is the gospel: fellowship of the gospel
Unity: recipe: mine is right
3. The Unity of the Gospel’s Fellowship

3. The Unity of the Gospel’s Fellowship

3. The Unity of the Gospel’s Fellowship

We are in week number six now of our study in Galatians, and we are pretty much at the point where there’s too much to summarize without taking up all of our time, so I’ll just summarize last weeks message leading into this message. Galatians, of course, is about the true gospel: it’s a heated, controversial book because the one thing that will get Apostle Paul stirred up is one distorting the true gospel. Last week we continued to look at this controversy, but how in the controversy Paul depended on not only the message of the gospel, but also the fellowship of the gospel. He went to meet with the Apostles in Jerusalem, chapter 2: verse 2: for the purpose of setting before them the gospel he was proclaiming to ensure he was not running in vain. Paul sought the fellowship of the gospel for the confirmation of the gospel. Secondly, we saw protection in the fellowship of the gospel: there were those false teachers of verse 4 with their military strategy of sneaking in, slipping in, spying out the freedom of the gospel, and trying to bring those free into slavery: most specifically Titus who was not circumcised and of course these false teachers were teaching that believing in Jesus is not enough: you have to be circumcised. Verse 5: to them we did not submit: it wasn’t to them Titus did not submit, but instead to them we did not submit. In was a decision of fellowship. In the fellowship of the liberating gospel: we find protection from the false gospel of slavery. We see the confirmation of the gospel’s fellowship, the protection of the gospel’s fellowship, and third, yet our first point to cover this morning: we see the unity of the gospel’s fellowship. Verse 6:
We see the confirmation of the gospel’s fellowship, the protection of the gospel’s fellowship, and third: we see the unity of the gospel’s fellowship. Verse 6:
Galatians 2:6–9 ESV
6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.
Galatians 2:
Several things to note about the unity we see here in this passage. First, Paul shows us the level playing field. He says in verse 6: there were those who seemed to be influential: and this is not to sound derogatory at all, this is actually in the original language: respectful, it’s not a ya,I went to see those who were supposedly big stuff. Instead, it’s there among the church were those who seemed to be the leaders of the congregation, but then Paul makes this comment: who they were did not make any difference to me: why: because God shows no partiality. No partiality is literally: God does not accept the face of a man; God does not evaluate on external credentials. And remember this is James, Peter, and John: this is the inner circle of Jesus, the go to Apostles of Jesus, but Paul shows us something so important: the gospel levels the playing field. God doesn’t see you and there’s Peter the great Apostle of Pentecost: he sees you, his son or daughter, and he sees Peter his son, your brother. God shows no partiality, the gospel unites us as equals no matter your skin color, no matter your education level, no matter your IQ, no matter your official church title: the gospel unites us as equals. And if that offends us: then we really have a problem. If you’re offended that you and a person of a different race are equals in the eyes of God through the gospel, or if I was offended that I, a Pastor of the Holy word, is an equal to the new convert still fighting drug addiction: then we have a problem folks. Because the gospel is that Jesus Christ, the Lord and creator of the universe who sustains the entire universe: humbled himself to become lower than the angels, lower than even common man in the image of a slave to take on the shame of the cross so that he would get everything we deserve, and we would get everything he deserves so that when God looks at us: he sees us equals to Christ: he sees the righteousness of Christ, the beauty of Christ, the perfection of Christ and so if we have a problem calling someone our equal in the fellowship of Christ, we’re not actually in the fellowship of Christ because we sure have not experienced the true gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s the first point of this unity.
Several things to note about the unity we see here in this passage. First, Paul shows us the level playing field. He says in verse 6: there were those who seemed to be influential: and this is not to sound derogatory at all, this is actually in the original language: respectful, it’s not a ya, I went and saw those girls who supposedly pretty, but whatever. It’s there among them were those who seemed to be the leaders of the congregation, but then Paul makes this comment: who they were did not make any difference to me: why: because God shows no partiality. No partiality is literally: God does not accept the face of a man; God does not evaluate on external credentials. And remember this is James, Peter, and John: this is the inner circle of Jesus, the go to Apostles of Jesus, but Paul shows us something so important: the gospel levels the playing field. God doesn’t see you and there’s Peter the great Apostle of Pentecost: he sees you, his son or daughter, and he sees Peter his son, your brother. God shows no partiality, the gospel unites us as equals no matter your skin color, no matter your education level, no matter your IQ, no matter your official church title: the gospel unites us as equals. And if that offends us: then we really have a problem. If you’re offended that you and a person of a different race are equals in the eyes of God through the gospel, or if I was offended that I, a Pastor of the Holy word, is an equal to the new convert still fighting drug addiction: then we have a problem folks. Because the gospel is that Jesus Christ, the Lord and creator of the universe who sustains the entire universe: humbled himself to become lower than the angels, lower than even common man in the image of a slave to take on the shame of the cross so that he would get everything we deserve, and we would get everything he deserves so that when God looks at us: we are equals to Christ: he sees the righteousness of Christ, the beauty of Christ, the perfection of Christ and so if we have a problem calling someone ourequal in the fellowship of Christ, we’re not actually in the fellowship of Christ because we sure have not experience the true gospel. That’s the first point of this unity.Secondly, Paul says in verse 6: they who seemed influential added nothing to me. Again, we can read that as being disrespectful. Well, I went and listened to his sermon: got nothing out of that. That’s not what Paul is saying. Paul is arguing for the true gospel, against the false gospel, and the false gospel says: Paul, the gospel you’re preaching doesn’t have it all, we need to add some things like circumcision to it. Paul shows us the unity of the gospel: they added nothing to the gospel I’ve been preaching. There’s a unity in the revelation of Jesus: what I recieved, same as Peter’s, same as John’s, same as James. There’s unity. And that’s where true Christian fellowship is: it’s not in the fun and games, it’s not in the gossip, it’s not in the movie nights: Christian fellowship is living in amazement together with the gospel. That is where the greatest friendships begin. I preached a message a couple of months back on friendship in Scripture and focused much on the writings of C.S. Lewis and Ralph Waldo Emerson: both had interesting takes on friendship, but both agreed on the discovery and beginning of true friendship. It doesn’t start by looking for it, or asking for it. Emerson says this: “Friendship does not ask, ‘Do you love me?’ so much as, ‘Do you see the same truth?’ Are you passionate about the same thing?” C.S. Lewis puts it like this. The typical expression of opening friendship would be something like, “What? You too? That’s the beginning of a friendship. “You too? I thought I was the only one.” What makes a friend is not, “Oh, do you want to be my friend?” but, “You too? You think that’s important too? You love that too?” That creates a friend. Lewis goes on to say: “That is why those pathetic people who simply ‘want friends’ can never make any. The very condition of having friends is that we should want something else besides friends. Where the truthful answer to the question, ‘Do you see the same truth?’ would be, ‘I see nothing and I don’t care about the truth; I only want a friend,’ no friendship can arise … There would be nothing for the friendship to be about … Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow travelers.” God unites us, the church, through the unified gospel: there’s unity, there’s harmony, there’s peace. Third, thing I want you see is the cooperation of that unity. Verse 9: when they saw the grace I recieved: James, Peter and John, the pillars: gave us the right hand of fellowship: so that what: so that we should go to the Gentiles, and they go to the circumcised. What is Peter, James, and John doing: they are saying we’re going to partner with you Paul and Barnabas: we are going to cooperate with you, and there’s the beginning of the cooperative program: missions is to be cooperative, the gospel is one that compels us as believers to cooperate. And that is what is one of my greatest disappointments with church politics: we focus on the building issues, or focus on the internal debates that are ultimately insignificant in the Kingdom of God: and we lose sight of our calling to cooperate to advance the gospel, and I’m not talking about Northvale: I’m talking about church in general. Our fellowship should not be defined as coming in, singing songs, and hearing a sermon, or business meetings: those aren’t bad things, but still yet we need cooperation. We need times where we come together and say: hey brother you go to those at FedEx, I’m going to those at Valley Springs Middle School, I’m giving you my right hand even if I am Peter, James or John there is no inner circle here: come join the circle under my right hand. See the fellowship of the gospel: the confirmation, the protection, the unity, and finally: the motivation:
Secondly, Paul says in verse 6: they who seemed influential added nothing to me. Again, we can read that as being disrespectful. Well, I went and listened to his sermon: got nothing out of that, nothing new there. That’s not what Paul is saying. Paul is arguing for the true gospel, against the false gospel, and the false gospel says: Paul, the gospel you’re preaching doesn’t have it all, we need to add some things like circumcision to it. Paul shows us the unity of the gospel: they added nothing to the gospel I’ve been preaching. ILL: Paul is showing us that not only does the true gospel have an order to it, but also it has a recipe to it. Have you ever got a recipe wrong? I certainly have: made rolls that did not rise: because I scorched the yeast: my milk was way too hot, I can pick on Shannon because she made some chicken and rice and it was like eating a jar of mayonnaise: there was so much mayonnaise it it, and I’ve made chocolate chip cookies before: the boys will help me sometimes: one of the first times they put their finger in the bowl and tasted what was in the bowl: thinking we’ll he’s making chocolate chip cookies: this is going to taste like chocolate chip cookies: but it was just the flour and baking soda: yuck. I’m sure it was gross, it was bitter: you’ve got to get the ingredients, and to be honest that’s why Christians are not among the most bitter people alive often times: because we don’t have the recipe of the gospel right. So, we’re bitter, we’re rude, we’re like these Judaizers where we’re criticizing everyone and everything. We have to get the recipe of the gospel right: Paul is showing us anything less in the recipe and it’s poison: anything added to the recipe and it’s poison. That’s why he says they’re teaching a gospel that’s not actually another gospel: because another recipe is poison: it’s not true food. They added nothing to my gospel; what is the right recipe: it’s faith in Jesus Christ through the grace of God: that’s the gospel. If you’re bringing something: some kind of works, some kind of personal accomplishment you’re adding poison: it is Christ Jesus and Christ alone.
Several things to note about the unity we see here in this passage. First, Paul shows us the level playing field. He says in verse 6: there were those who seemed to be influential: and this is not to sound derogatory at all, this is actually in the original language: respectful, it’s not a ya, I went and saw those girls who supposedly pretty, but whatever. It’s there among them were those who seemed to be the leaders of the congregation, but then Paul makes this comment: who they were did not make any difference to me: why: because God shows no partiality. No partiality is literally: God does not accept the face of a man; God does not evaluate on external credentials. And remember this is James, Peter, and John: this is the inner circle of Jesus, the go to Apostles of Jesus, but Paul shows us something so important: the gospel levels the playing field. God doesn’t see you and there’s Peter the great Apostle of Pentecost: he sees you, his son or daughter, and he sees Peter his son, your brother. God shows no partiality, the gospel unites us as equals no matter your skin color, no matter your education level, no matter your IQ, no matter your official church title: the gospel unites us as equals. And if that offends us: then we really have a problem. If you’re offended that you and a person of a different race are equals in the eyes of God through the gospel, or if I was offended that I, a Pastor of the Holy word, is an equal to the new convert still fighting drug addiction: then we have a problem folks. Because the gospel is that Jesus Christ, the Lord and creator of the universe who sustains the entire universe: humbled himself to become lower than the angels, lower than even common man in the image of a slave to take on the shame of the cross so that he would get everything we deserve, and we would get everything he deserves so that when God looks at us: we are equals to Christ: he sees the righteousness of Christ, the beauty of Christ, the perfection of Christ and so if we have a problem calling someone ourequal in the fellowship of Christ, we’re not actually in the fellowship of Christ because we sure have not experience the true gospel. That’s the first point of this unity.Secondly, Paul says in verse 6: they who seemed influential added nothing to me. Again, we can read that as being disrespectful. Well, I went and listened to his sermon: got nothing out of that. That’s not what Paul is saying. Paul is arguing for the true gospel, against the false gospel, and the false gospel says: Paul, the gospel you’re preaching doesn’t have it all, we need to add some things like circumcision to it. Paul shows us the unity of the gospel: they added nothing to the gospel I’ve been preaching. There’s a unity in the revelation of Jesus: what I recieved, same as Peter’s, same as John’s, same as James. There’s unity. And that’s where true Christian fellowship is: it’s not in the fun and games, it’s not in the gossip, it’s not in the movie nights: Christian fellowship is living in amazement together with the gospel. That is where the greatest friendships begin. I preached a message a couple of months back on friendship in Scripture and focused much on the writings of C.S. Lewis and Ralph Waldo Emerson: both had interesting takes on friendship, but both agreed on the discovery and beginning of true friendship. It doesn’t start by looking for it, or asking for it. Emerson says this: “Friendship does not ask, ‘Do you love me?’ so much as, ‘Do you see the same truth?’ Are you passionate about the same thing?” C.S. Lewis puts it like this. The typical expression of opening friendship would be something like, “What? You too? That’s the beginning of a friendship. “You too? I thought I was the only one.” What makes a friend is not, “Oh, do you want to be my friend?” but, “You too? You think that’s important too? You love that too?” That creates a friend. Lewis goes on to say: “That is why those pathetic people who simply ‘want friends’ can never make any. The very condition of having friends is that we should want something else besides friends. Where the truthful answer to the question, ‘Do you see the same truth?’ would be, ‘I see nothing and I don’t care about the truth; I only want a friend,’ no friendship can arise … There would be nothing for the friendship to be about … Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow travelers.” God unites us, the church, through the unified gospel: there’s unity, there’s harmony, there’s peace. Third, thing I want you see is the cooperation of that unity. Verse 9: when they saw the grace I recieved: James, Peter and John, the pillars: gave us the right hand of fellowship: so that what: so that we should go to the Gentiles, and they go to the circumcised. What is Peter, James, and John doing: they are saying we’re going to partner with you Paul and Barnabas: we are going to cooperate with you, and there’s the beginning of the cooperative program: missions is to be cooperative, the gospel is one that compels us as believers to cooperate. And that is what is one of my greatest disappointments with church politics: we focus on the building issues, or focus on the internal debates that are ultimately insignificant in the Kingdom of God: and we lose sight of our calling to cooperate to advance the gospel, and I’m not talking about Northvale: I’m talking about church in general. Our fellowship should not be defined as coming in, singing songs, and hearing a sermon, or business meetings: those aren’t bad things, but still yet we need cooperation. We need times where we come together and say: hey brother you go to those at FedEx, I’m going to those at Valley Springs Middle School, I’m giving you my right hand even if I am Peter, James or John there is no inner circle here: come join the circle under my right hand. See the fellowship of the gospel: the confirmation, the protection, the unity, and finally: the motivation:
There’s a recipe and there’s a unity in this recipe, this revelation of Jesus: what I recieved, Paul says, same as Peter’s, same as John’s, same as James. There’s unity. And that’s where true Christian fellowship is: it’s not in the fun and games, it’s not in the gossip, it’s not in the movie nights: Christian fellowship is living in amazement together with the gospel. That is where the greatest friendships begin. I preached a message a couple of months back on friendship in Scripture and focused much on the writings of C.S. Lewis and Ralph Waldo Emerson: both had interesting takes on friendship, but both agreed on the discovery and beginning of true friendship. It doesn’t start by looking for it, or asking for it. Emerson says this: “Friendship does not ask, ‘Do you love me?’ so much as, ‘Do you see the same truth?’ Are you passionate about the same thing?” C.S. Lewis puts it like this. The typical expression of opening friendship would be something like, “What? You too? That’s the beginning of a friendship. “You too? I thought I was the only one.” What makes a friend is not, “Oh, do you want to be my friend?” but, “You too? You think that’s important too? You love that too?” That creates a friend. Lewis goes on to say: “That is why those pathetic people who simply ‘want friends’ can never make any. The very condition of having friends is that we should want something else besides friends. Where the truthful answer to the question, ‘Do you see the same truth?’ would be, ‘I see nothing and I don’t care about the truth; I only want a friend,’ no friendship can arise … There would be nothing for the friendship to be about … Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow travelers.” God unites us, the church, through the unified gospel: there’s unity, there’s harmony, there’s peace.
Third, thing I want you see is the cooperation of that unity. Verse 9: when they saw the grace I recieved: James, Peter and John, the pillars: gave us the right hand of fellowship: so that what: so that we should go to the Gentiles, and they go to the circumcised. What is Peter, James, and John doing: they are saying we’re going to partner with you Paul and Barnabas: we are going to cooperate with you, and there’s the beginning of the cooperative program: missions is to be cooperative, the gospel is one that compels us as believers to cooperate. Our fellowship should not be defined as coming in, singing songs, and hearing a sermon, or business meetings: those aren’t bad things, but still yet we need cooperation. We need times where we come together and say: hey brother you go to those at FedEx, I’m going to those at Valley Springs Middle School, I’m giving you my right hand even if I am Peter, James or John there is no inner circle here: come join the circle under my right hand. So see the unity of the gospel: the unity of us as equals before God, the unity of the message, and the unity of the mission. Fourth: building off of this unity is the motivation of the Gospel’s fellowship.

4. The Motivation of the Gospel’s Fellowship

Look down now at verse 10:
Galatians 2:10 ESV
10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
ESV10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
There was a time of poverty and famine in the world; Jerusalem hit hard, many Jewish believers in need: certainly that is evident in the book of Acts. Peter, James, and John of course are there serving those needs and no doubt in need of some more financial assistance. You’ve got Paul who’s starting churches like their Dollar Generals, or maybe I should say banks in Harrison, he’s planting church after church: and yet here’s a motivation: don’t forget about the poor. Notice, this is not a requirement of the gospel: this is an implication of the gospel: it’s not care about the poor and you’re saved, it’s you’re saved so you care about the poor. Parable of the sheep for instance: it’s not giving to the least of these brethren that makes you a sheep, it’s that you are a sheep so you give to the least of these. It’s not what you do that makes you who you are; it’s what Jesus did that makes you who you are which makes you do what you do. And you see fellowship is not just about getting what you want out of the deal, or seeing your mission prioritized: Paul came looking for support to take the gospel to the Gentiles, Peter, James and John ask: we need help feeding the Jewish believers, their poor. Paul was already eager to do that, he said, perhaps he was going to do it anyway, or maybe he just needed to be asked, some even believe that’s part of the reason he came to Jerusalem in the first place. Either way: we know he kept his word and truly did partner with this Jerusalem ministry, in fact it’s quite amazing to see how on fire he was for this mission: we see Paul and Barnabas deliver this in to this mission, and see him asking not for his own support, but Jerusalem’s support in . In Paul states that the churches of Macedonia and Achaia "were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem," but the actual list of contributing churches is much longer. Luke's list includes delegates from Berea, Thessalonica, Derbe and Asia.
There was a time of poverty and famine in the world; Jerusalem hit hard, many Jewish believers in need: certainly that is evident in the book of Acts. Peter, James, and John of course are there serving those needs and no doubt in need of some more financial assistance. You’ve got Paul who’s starting churches like their Dollar Generals, or maybe I should say banks in Harrison: here’s a motivation: don’t forget about the poor. Notice, this is not a requirement of the gospel: this is an implication of the gospel: it’s not care about the poor and you’re saved, it’s you’re saved so you care about the poor. Parable of the sheep for instance: it’s not giving to the sheep that makes you a sheep, it’s that you are a sheep so you give to the least of these. And you see fellowship is not just about getting what you want out of the deal, or seeing your mission prioritized: Paul came looking for support to take the gospel to the Gentiles, Peter, James and John ask: we need help feeding the Jewish believers, their poor. Paul was already eager to do that, he said, perhaps he was going to do it anyway, or maybe he just needed to be asked, some even believe that’s part of the reason he came to Jerusalem in the first place. Either way: we know he kept his word and truly did partner with this Jerusalem ministry: we see Paul and Barnabas deliver this in to this mission, and see him asking not for his own support, but Jerusalem’s support in . In Paul states that the churches of Macedonia and Achaia "were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem," but the actual list of contributing churches is much longer. Luke's list includes delegates from Berea, Thessalonica, Derbe and Asia. To say the least: Paul was faithful in joining this effort, and going from Gentile church to Gentile church to raise support. This is the fellowship of the gospel: it’s motivating one another to good works as the author of Hebrews would put it; it’s sharing convictions, what God put on Peter’s heart for ministry may be different that Paul, but it’s cooperating together on those convictions. Because my conviction is no superior to your conviction, your conviction no superior to mine. Sometimes though we are tempted to almost demonize one another’s conviction: someone is convicted about global missions, someone convicted about local missions, and so often what happens is: why would we focus on Africa when Harrison needs the gospel, or why would we focus on Harrison when 90 percent of Harrison is churched, and Africa is unreached? We need to stop being so critical and self righteous and humble ourselves together in the right hand of fellowship, opening our eyes: to it’s not about me, it’s not about my mission: it’s much bigger than me, it’s much bigger than my mission: it’s about the gospel. It’d be like the quarterback trying to convert all of his teammates to play quarterback, it’s be like a goalie in soccer saying guys all you: come stand over here with me: this is where it’s at. That’s not the gospel fellowship: it’s God has uniquely called you, he has uniquely called me for the one purpose of advancing the gospel and glorifying his name: I’ll join you: let’s point on the same uniform of the armor of God and play our roles.We don’t need the church’s fellowship to become a Christian, but we need the church’s fellowship to walk the Christian life, to run the race with our eyes fixed on the author and perfecter of the faith. In him, and him alone we find our freedom, and ask we conclude this morning:
To say the least: Paul was faithful in joining this effort, and going from Gentile church to Gentile church to raise support. This is the fellowship of the gospel: it’s motivating one another to good works as the author of Hebrews would put it; it’s sharing convictions, what God put on Peter’s heart for ministry may be different that Paul, but it’s cooperating together on those convictions. Because my conviction is no superior to your conviction, your conviction no superior to mine. Sometimes though we are tempted to almost demonize one another’s conviction: someone is convicted about global missions, someone convicted about local missions, and so often what happens is: why would we focus on Africa when Harrison needs the gospel, or why would we focus on Harrison when 90 percent of Harrison is churched, and Africa is unreached? We need to stop being so critical and self righteous and humble ourselves together in the right hand of fellowship, opening our eyes: to it’s not about me, it’s not about my mission: it’s much bigger than me, it’s much bigger than my mission: it’s about the gospel. It’d be like the quarterback trying to convert all of his teammates to play quarterback, it’s be like a goalie in soccer saying guys all you: come stand over here with me: this is where it’s at. That’s not the gospel fellowship: it’s God has uniquely called you, he has uniquely called me for the unified purpose of advancing the gospel and glorifying his name: I’ll join you: so let’s put on the same uniform of the armor of God and play our roles. And that’s where we should be going as the church: I’m sorry, but if you’re coming to the church as a consumer you are going to constantly be disappointed. Welcome to Northvale where we will disappoint you, we have to realize that: we’re not here to polish our halos, but we are here as God’s gift to each other: to in our frustrations and disappointments: stir one another to good works. We find motivation in the gospel’s fellowship, and finally this morning as we conclude: we find accountability in the gospel’s fellowship.
We find motivation in the gospel’s fellowship, and finally this morning as we conclude: we find accountability in the gospel’s fellowship.

5. The Accountability of the Gospel’s Fellowship

Galatians 2:11–14 ESV
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Galatians 2:10–14 ESV
Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
This is probably one of the most awkward occurences in the church in all of the Word of God. Can you imagine how cold it was in that room; how tense? Paul is confronting Peter to his face. I mean, this is the guy who preached the first Christian sermon. This is the leader of the disciples. He’s getting confronted by Paul? This is getting juicy right here. What happens is, they have a discussion about an action, a behavior that Peter was doing, and in the first part of this chapter, we see a picture of legalism: Right behavior with wrong belief. And there’s a lot to look at here, which will probably continue into next week’s message. The context shifts as Peter comes to Antioch, a very diverse city: Paul opposes him: why? Because Peter who had been eating with Gentiles, withdrew from eating with the Gentiles as the circumcision party came in: again the circumcision party were those teaching it’s not just faith in Jesus, it’s faith in Jesus plus circumcision. They come in, they see Peter eating with Gentiles, no doubt criticize him for eating with the Gentiles and so Peter begins to eat only with Jews, thus you have segregation in the church based on race and heritage: Jews over here, Gentiles over here. This is astounding because this is Peter. Peter has already been through at this point: do you remember : Peter has this vision of the unclean animals: rise Peter and eat while at that same time Cornelius is having a vision of the angel of God: to go to Peter who has a message for him. And then Peter eventually goes to Cornelius’ house where he preaches beginning in 10:34 that God shows no partiality, anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable, he begins to share the gospel and then the Spirit interrupts him: in verse 44: falling down on the Gentiles, they begin speaking in tongues, and verse 47 are baptized. Then Peter in chapter 11, verse 3 is criticized for eating with the Gentiles: yet he gives a defense: he gives the testimony that they recieved the Holy Spirit just as the Jews had recieved the Holy Spirit. This segregation happens after that, Peter should know better. Yet, he gives in.
What’s the purpose of the ceremonial law? What were all those rules and regulations for? Those rules and regulations were to get you to see you need a Savior. That’s the whole purpose of them. If you go back and read them and you’re honest as you read them, you’d say, “Who in the world could ever keep all these things?” The purpose of the ceremonial law was, first of all, to show you have to be clean to come in to God.
You can’t just walk in to God and say, “Hi, God.” He’s a holy God. How can a sinful human being go in before a holy God? The clean laws were to show you can’t just go in. The clean laws are there to show you cannot just go in to God any old way. Worship is not exactly a come-as-you-are party. You have to be holy to come in before God.
All the clean laws and ceremonial laws were there to show them no matter how hard they tried to be pure and clean all during the week, they still needed a blood sacrifice when they went in. They still had to have a sacrifice, an atonement for their sins when they went in, in spite of all of that effort. What is that there to say? The book of Hebrews, Paul, and the New Testament say, the only way to honor those laws is not to think they could possibly make you acceptable before God. They never were designed to do that. If you are complying with them for that reason, you are dishonoring them. If you see their whole purpose was to show you need a Savior and if you see in Jesus Christ they are fulfilled, that he is your cleanliness, in him you are holy and spotless and without blemish and God sees you as an absolute beauty, only then are you honoring them.
The historical significance was if the Jerusalem apostles did not understand what Paul said and the circumcision group kept saying, “Peter and James and John agreed with us” … The circumcision group was going all around following Paul, dogging Paul, showing up wherever Paul was doing church planting and saying, “Yes, it’s good that you believe in Jesus, but you also have to do this. Yeah, Paul is a good guy, but he can only take you part of the way. We come from the Jerusalem church. We come from the mother church. We come from the real apostles down there, the original apostles.” That’s what they were saying. So Paul had to come on down, and he had to put it straight. He was nervous. He says he went down in fear and trembling. He was very frightened because it’s tough. When all the early Christians became Christians, they were all the Jews. All the early Christians were Jewish. Many of them, of course, kept their culture. They kept the ceremonial laws as culture, but some of the people kept the ceremonial laws as religiously valuable. They saw their culture as the best culture, the clean culture, the only clean and acceptable culture to God.
Paul’s whole point here is that Jesus Christ plus nothing is the gospel. His whole point is to say, “They added nothing,” and you and I must add nothing. I’ve had people come to me and say, “I wish I could become a Christian, but my motives aren’t pure. I just know my motives aren’t pure. I just know I don’t love him, and I just know I don’t have pure motives.” What are they doing? What they’re saying is, “Jesus Christ plus pure motives is what it’s going to take for me to come to faith. I have to get my heart pure. I have to get my motives pure.”Do you know what they’re saying? Not only are they adding to Jesus Christ, but what they’re saying is, “Jesus Christ doesn’t save me from everything, but I have to save myself from impure motives.” My dear friends, Jesus Christ is there to save you from your impure motives too. Nobody comes with completely pure motives.
Boy, does the Bible say a lot about caring for the poor! It is astounding how often it comes up in the Old and New Testament. It is everywhere. Jesus Christ says in and 36, the way you know you’re a sinner saved by grace is you will care for the poor. He says in , “On the last day one of the ways God will know whether or not you have really put your faith in him is you will have cared for the poor.” The Bible is incredible about this. When John the Baptist says, “How do we know you’re the Messiah?” in , he says, “The reason you know I’m the Messiah is I love the poor.” So you have to love the poor. This is the balance. First, Paul says, “They added nothing to my message. They didn’t say, ‘Except you have to really be into social work. Then you’ll be saved. Accept Jesus Christ and really get into social work.’ ” No. First, that’s it.
There are many, many, many, many things you must do to be a Christian, but there’s only one thing you have to do to become a Christian. There are many works you have to do to be a Christian, and you have to do them, but there’s only one thing you have to do to become a Christian, and that is Romans 4:5, to stop working. You thought I was going to say you have to obey and care for the poor and all these things to become a Christian, but the only thing you have to do to become a Christian … To be a Christian you have to do many things, but to become a Christian, you just have to do one thing. Really work up that faith and commitment? No, do you see how close we are to putting on our own makeup?
There are many, many, many, many things you must do to be a Christian, but there’s only one thing you have to do to become a Christian. There are many works you have to do to be a Christian, and you have to do them, but there’s only one thing you have to do to become a Christian, and that is , to stop working. You thought I was going to say you have to obey and care for the poor and all these things to become a Christian, but the only thing you have to do to become a Christian … To be a Christian you have to do many things, but to become a Christian, you just have to do one thing. Really work up that faith and commitment? No, do you see how close we are to putting on our own makeup?
Somebody years ago said it is ridiculous to try to get yourself ready for Jesus Christ, sort of get your heart together, get your sincerity all up. It’s a little bit like getting on your dress and putting on your makeup, and then jumping into the bathtub. You don’t clean up before you get in the bathtub. You don’t make yourself beautiful before you come to Jesus Christ, who is going to cleanse you like that.
That’s the reason why we really have a right to say what do you need to become a Christian? All you need is nothing, but most people don’t have nothing. Very few people, only by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s work will you ever come to God with nothing. You’ll always come with something, which is to have nothing, or you can go with nothing in Jesus’ name, in which case you have the whole world.
Paul says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. At that moment you’re saved. Immediately you proceed to keep the law of God.” But the teachers said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Keep the law of God the best you can. You’re saved.” Paul says, “Believe, you’re saved, and you obey.” The teachers say, “Believe, and obey, and you’ll be saved.” They both, in a sense, believed in Christ. They believed he was the Son of God. They believed he was the Messiah. They believed he came down from heaven. They believed he rose from the dead. They believed he died on the cross for our sins. The reason Paul makes an issue of this is Paul says the difference between those three steps, “Believe, obey, saved” (which is what the teachers said) or “Believe, saved, obey,” is the difference of two different religions. Paul is not saying these are two denominations. This isn’t the “Paulpitarians” and the “Teacherlapopians.” These aren’t two different denominations; Paul says these are two different religions.
Peter and The Table
The second visit, the visit of Peter up to Antioch, is a visit that tells us not what the gospel is but how the gospel works.
That phrase began to draw back is subtle. It means he diplomatically, very carefully … He understood the Gentiles needed to be accepted as equal partners. He understood Jewish culture was just a culture. It’s not what made you clean. He understood these things. He had already been through , where he saw the Spirit of God come down on Cornelius, a Gentile.
He had already been through , where Barnabas went up to Antioch and saw all these Greek people becoming Christians without becoming first culturally Jewish. He saw the Holy Spirit at work there. He’d been through the first part of chapter 2. He’d shaken hands on it, and he had accepted Titus, and so forth. It says, when Peter came to Antioch, he used to eat with the Gentiles, which is incredible. Here is Peter sitting down with people who just a few months, maybe even weeks before, had been unclean, immoral people, the kind of people someone like Peter would never have had anything to do with, but the gospel brings absolute equality, brings down those cultural barriers. When the circumcision group showed up and put enormous pressure, the Jewish Christians began to stop eating with the Gentiles.
The persecution of the Judaizers: Wouldn’t you think the circumcision group would’ve gone home with their tails between their legs? James and John and Peter had all basically agreed with Paul. What’s going on? The circumcision group can’t seem to stop. It’s still after Paul. It’s still after Peter. Why? If you believe you’re saved by works, you will be a persecutor. You have to be, because of two things.
First of all, if you believe you’re justified by works, you’re insecure. You never are sure where you stand with God. The verdict is out. Do you see that? Even if today you lived absolutely perfectly, tomorrow you might not. You never know where you stand with God, and there’s an insecurity. Secondly, there’s a superiority. By definition, you have to feel superior to the people who are lost. It goes like, “I’m saved by works. Some people are saved, and some people are lost. Therefore, if I’m saved, I’m better than the people who are lost.” You have to feel that way. As a result, the combination of inferiority, insecurity, and superiority put together will make you a persecutor.
What’s a persecutor? Somebody who feels like, “Those are the enemies.” In fact, I’ll put it this way. Let me really press this. You are a persecutor if you think the main problem with the world is any other group besides looking inside yourself. G.K. Chesterton, in a very famous little line, was once asked to write an essay. Several people were asked to write essays on what the real problem with the world is.
If you think the real problem with this world is a particular group over here, you’re a persecutor. First of all, there’s an insecurity in you that comes from feeling you have to be saved by living up to standards. Then there’s a superiority in you, and that makes you a persecutor. The way you know the gospel has really come into your heart, the penny has really dropped, is you stop doing that. You stop bashing people. You stop persecuting.
In fact, let me bring this kind of home. It says men from James. Do you see that? It says when men from James came. Wait a minute. James has just said Paul is right, that the Gentiles don’t have to be circumcised. These men come from James. This is the point. When these people do not understand the gospel, they come out from James, but they misrepresent him. It is very, very typical that people who don’t understand the gospel may come to a very, very, very good church, yet the gospel of grace hasn’t taken hold, and they go out and they persecute in the name of the church that doesn’t want them to.
Even Barnabas? I have been so deeply convicted by a line I’ve always overlooked. I knew it was there. It’s verse 13. “The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.” This is a really weird thing. Barnabas, pulled back? If you go to , you will see Barnabas was the first man on the scene from Jerusalem when the Greeks became Christians in Antioch. The word Barnabas means son of consolation. Barnabas is a lover. Barnabas is a tenderhearted man. Barnabas came out from Jerusalem, but when he saw the Greek coming to Christ, he just embraced them and he loved them and didn’t cross-examine them. He was a very tenderhearted person. He was so incredibly loving. He was Paul’s associate, and he pulls back. How could that be? One commentator put it this way. “The besetting sin of a tender heart is compromise.”
I want you to notice something. Paul was willing to split the church rather than compromise on this point. When the very future of the church was at stake, Barnabas failed. Those of us who are tenderhearted, our besetting sin is compromise. The Pauls, the people who are truth-tellers, come through. Barnabas compromised, afraid to speak up, afraid to confront. That’s a little scary, is it not? Jesus Christ is perfect because in , he meets Martha, and Martha says, “If you had been here, my brother Lazarus wouldn’t have died.” Jesus confronts her and says, “I am the resurrection and the life. I’m here now. What are you talking about? Don’t you realize when I’m here anything can happen?” Then he walks down two verses later, and he meets Mary. Mary says the same thing. She says, “If you had been here, my brother Lazarus wouldn’t have died.” What does Jesus do? Do you remember? He just wept.
The word Barnabas means son of consolation. Barnabas is a lover. Barnabas is a tenderhearted man. Barnabas came out from Jerusalem, but when he saw the Greek coming to Christ, he just embraced them and he loved them and didn’t cross-examine them. He was a very tenderhearted person. He was so incredibly loving. He was Paul’s associate, and he pulls back. How could that be? One commentator put it this way. “The besetting sin of a tender heart is compromise.”
Wait a minute. The very same situation. Jesus tells the truth. There’s a ministry of truth to Martha and a ministry of tears to Mary. Why? Because he’s perfect. He can be either Paul or Barnabas. A ministry of truth where you need a ministry of tears, that’s a Paul, or a ministry of tears where you need a ministry of truth, that’s a Barnabas, is a failure. The fact is none of us are perfect. We all tend to be one or the other.
Figure out who you are and pray against your other side. If you’re a Barnabas, say, “I know I’m a loving person. Am I being a coward? I know I’m a loving person. Am I compromising?” That’s the first thing. The second thing … Use the gospel on yourself to free yourself. Pauls need to be freed from their superiority, and Barnabases need to be freed from their fear of hurting people. Both of them need to see they’re beautiful in Christ.
Besides repenting, make sure you are willing to hook up with Pauls if you’re a Barnabas. One of the interesting things is there are a lot of great marriages like this, Paul married to Barnabette or Barnabas married to Pauline. Here’s the problem. If you’re a Barnabas, you need a Paul. If you’re a Paul, you need a Barnabas. You’re going to pull your hair out with the other person. You’re going to continually sort of fight and be in tension, but it’s worth it, because only together as a body are we really like Jesus Christ. The more we look at him, the more we’ll become like him. Is your life in line with the gospel? Don’t you see? It’s the gospel that makes you confront when you’re afraid or the gospel that brings you down when you feel like persecuting. It’s the gospel. It’s not just trying to be good. It’s the gospel. Get it in.
Inside that minority, if you happen to be in that minority, don’t sit back and say, “Ah, yes. I’m one of the right ones. I’m listening to this exposition on understand the difference. Yes, I know; I’m not one of those fools who doesn’t.” As soon as you begin to feel a little superior, along comes this passage which tells us even though you may believe it, and you may understand it in a certain sense, and you may subscribe to it, it is not actually the controlling reality of our lives.
First of all, the radical principle. It’s right here in verse 14. I hope you know it, and I hope you’ll remember it. In the very first part of verse 14 he says, “When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all …” They were not walking in line with the truth of the gospel. That was the charge, and this is the principle.
There’s a little Greek word here which is virtually unique, not just in the Bible, but virtually unique in all of Greek literature, at least the extant Greek literature we have from that time. It’s a word you’ll probably immediately recognize whether or not you know Greek; it’s the word orthopodeo. Podeo is the word from which we get our word podiatrist, and it means to walk. The word walk is actually a pretty significant metaphor in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. To walk is not simply to ambulate, but to walk refers to the course of your whole life. It says in I John, “… walk in the light …” What does that mean? It means let the whole course of your life be controlled by the light. That’s another verse; I’m not getting into that. Your walk is the whole course of your life. The NIV translation I’m reading here doesn’t use the word walk; it says to act. Maybe that’s a little weak, only because when you think of acting you’re thinking of the volition, the will. But the word walk includes everything. It includes the thoughts. It includes the feelings. It includes the motivations. It includes the behavior. One’s walk is the whole course, the direction, of your life. That’s the word podeo; podeo means to walk. Ortho means straight. You go to an orthodontist if your “dontists” are crooked, right? If your dentals are crooked, you go to an orthodontist who will get your dentals straight. Ortho means straight. If a policeman pulls you over (I don’t know if they still do this, but I know they used to do this) and wonders whether or not you’re under the influence of alcohol, what do they do? They demand orthopodeo, usually not in those terms. They draw a line, and they say, “Walk.” They want to see whether or not you can stay right on that line without going off to the right or the left. They want to know whether you can walk along that line. Paul is saying the gospel has a trajectory, the gospel has a line, the gospel is a set of truths. The truths are you’re a sinner, you’re weak, you try to control your life through self-salvation strategies, through Jesus Christ the entire law of God has been fulfilled, so when you believe in him you’re completely accepted.
Luther puts it in his Latin, “A Christian is simultaneously just and a sinner. Simul justus et peccator.” Simultaneous (simul), when you become a Christian, though in yourself you are peccator (you are sinful), at the same time you are absolutely just, absolutely righteous. That’s the gospel, and the gospel has implications. The gospel, in a sense, sends out lines through your life, and you have to bring every part of your life in line with it.
Let me give you the premise. Here’s what he is saying: God did not have fellowship with you on the basis of your race and culture. You were not justified through observing the law. He is trying to say, “You’ve forgotten the gospel. You may remember the gospel in your relationship with God in some basic way, but you’re not drawing out the implications; you’re not applying it. You have grace over here; you don’t have grace over here. You’re living in line with it over here but not in line with it over here.”
Why didn’t he just say to Peter, “You’re breaking the rules. You’re breaking the racism rule; there’s a racism rule”? (And there is.) The law of God says racism is a sin. I can go through the Bible and try to pull this stuff out, but that’s not the thrust of this. The point is Paul does not say, “Racism is a sin,” though it is. He does not say, “Racism is a violation of God’s law,” though it is. He says racism is not in line with the gospel. He is saying racism is forgetting you’re saved by grace. Let’s figure this out. What is he saying when he says to Peter, “Peter, you are treating people on the basis of their race and culture, but God didn’t treat you on the basis of race and culture”? He’s saying racism is always a form of works-righteousness. It’s a way through which you are continuing to try to add to Jesus Christ. It’s a way in which you continue to say, “I have to do something besides believe in Jesus Christ to cleanse myself.”
What is Paul saying? Paul is not saying just that racism is a sin; he’s saying racism is not in line with the gospel. What difference does it make? All the difference in the world. Because when you say something is just a violation of a rule, you’re only looking at it externally and you’re not unveiling the spiritual roots. As a result, nobody can do anything about it. If you just say to somebody, “You’re a racist.” What can you say? You can just shame them; you can denounce it. What can the person say? “Gee, I am,” or “Gee, I’m not.” Paul goes underneath and says, “Here’s the reason you’re racist. The reason for racism is you are trying to find something besides Jesus Christ as a way of cleansing and beautifying yourself. You’re adding something. Jesus isn’t ravishing you like he should. Jesus isn’t enough for you, and you have to get a leg up. You’re not in line with the gospel. You’re forgetting you’re a sinner saved by grace.”
Do you know what you’re doing? Unless you see you’re not just breaking a rule, but it’s not in line with the gospel, you won’t even understand yourself and you’ll never be able to do anything about yourself. The only way you make any of these changes is not just to berate yourself and say, “I’m breaking the rule. God is going to get me. This isn’t good. My conscience is being violated. Something has to give.” No. What you have to do is you have to see exactly where you’re turning away from Jesus Christ to something else, desperately hoping this will warm your cold self-image, when the only place that will warm you is at the fire of God’s love through Jesus Christ. You’re turning to something else.
“May his beauty rest upon me.” We sing that. Do you know that? Why is anybody a racist? Why is anybody out of control sexually? Why does anybody have any problem that they have? They’re out of line with the truth of the gospel. Yes, they’re breaking the rules, but when it comes right down to it, you’re adding to Jesus Christ. That’s the reason why. Do you begin to see something?
The gospel is not the elementary doctrines you understand in order to get into the kingdom, and then the way you grow is you move on to more advanced doctrines. The gospel is the hub in the wheel, and the way you deal with every problem, the way you deal with every challenge, the way you deal with every obstacle and break through every barrier in the Christian life. The way you make progress in any way is you finally get the gospel in an area where you hadn’t gotten it. The penny drops in places the penny hadn’t dropped. Do you see that? At every point your job is not to say, “Okay, I understand the gospel. Yes, I’m a Christian. Now I need the advanced stuff.” This is the advanced stuff. You never get beyond this. You never can get beyond this. The reason for every bit of your problems is you’re adding to Jesus Christ.
Dr. Richard Lovelace says every person’s problem with sanctification is really just a problem with justification. Sanctification is just the process of becoming more and more holy and good, more and more free, and more and more like Jesus Christ. Justification is you’re are completely accepted because of who Jesus Christ is. Lovelace says the reason you have any troubles with sanctification is you don’t believe or understand your justification; you’re not living out of your justification; you’re not living through it.
Here’s how I want to end. Go take a look at all the things you know you’re doing wrong but you don’t seem to be able to overcome. Go look at any barrier you’re not able to break through. Even though tonight you don’t understand how, as we go along we’re going to be applying the gospel to all sorts of different areas, absolutely. I’ll tell you this: You will discover the real problem is you’re not enthralled and ravished with Jesus.
And I know this is a bit confusing to us because eating together today is not like it was in the New Testament age: to eat with someone was an occasion considered of great intimacy: people took much pride in their meals and the people they ate with: you’re talking long meals with people who were worthy of your company. You didn’t want to be caught eating with the wrong person. Matt Chandler said in regard to this that even though he has recieved many, many emails and phone calls complaining about his actions as a pastor: never has he had anyone complain about who he was eating with: I’m going to move my membership because I heard you ate with so and so. It’s a different culture. We like fast, easy meals and don’t care if it’s by ourselves: from a gas station in the car. But, in Paul’s day: meals were a big deal. In Jesus’ day meals were a big deal: so that he was continually criticized for eating with tax collectors, drunkards and gluttons. Here Peter was being criticized for eating and being in the fellowship with Gentiles: so what’d he do: he gave in, he segregated himself from the Gentiles and instead of following the gospel, he followed the criticism. He was eating with the Gentiles, I would say certainly eating the non kosher meals, living in the freedom of Christ and leading in the freedom of Christ, but what happened: basically verse 4: the false brothers slipped in, to spy out the freedom, to bring them into slavery: and instead of verse 5 happening: instead of saying we will not submit for a moment so that the truth of the gospel be preserved: Peter gave in. And that is why Paul get’s all up in his face: the truth is not being preserved.
I want to close with three questions for you. Are you experiencing the freedom of Christ? Or are you experiencing the bondage of slavery? Jesus gives the invitation to you to come to me all you who are weary, all you who are heavy burdened, all you who are trying to carry your works, carry your sin in an attempt to earn your salvation: come to me, take my yoke and you find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Will you surrender to his calling today? Will you lay down your burdens believing he has already took them on the cross to die for your sins, to give you the promise of eternal life: so that you won’t have to be burdened trying to find approval or beauty or acceptance: because you are perfectly accepted, perfectly righteous, perfectly accepted through Jesus. You may come in this place and say: I don’t feel as close to God this week: I messed up, I sinned, I’ve strayed away: no as a believer of Jesus I was mocked this week, spit upon, cursed, betrayed, and yet did not revile in return, I was nailed to a wooden cross saying Father forgive them for they don’t know what they do, I evangelized to a thief next to me while I was painfully awaiting my death: that’s what the Father sees when he looks at me: it doesn’t matter how much I’ve stumbled or what song may or may not be playing that’s giving me some kind of spiritual goosebumps: It’s his grace, it’s his love: come to Him today and you find rest. Are you finding the fellowship of the gospel I described? If yes: I’m done with you, you can go home, thanks for coming. If no: why not? First, ask: are you looking for a fellowship that’s not true fellowship: that’s not gospel centered, are you focused first on just your passion of the gospel: is that the priority above a relationship. Are you going to Sunday School: many of our Sunday school classes are operating based on true fellowship: a small group feel, if that’s still not working: what about starting one of your own, or a small group of your own. Soon, we will be starting small groups in addition to Sunday school: don’t know if that will be on Wednesday or even Sunday afternoons, but there is opportunity, but our priority must be a passion for the gospel, and nothing less. Are you committed to the gospel, are you committed to the fellowship of the church? I’m going to challenge many of you who are here and not a member: why not? What’s preventing you from making that commitment. And I know you may see it as a formality, still it concerns me if you’re not willing to make such a simple step of commitment to say yes I commit to this body of believers. Like Paul, Peter, James, and John made a commitment to say hey: I give you the right hand of fellowship: I want to extend that opportunity to you today: to make that commitment. Let’s pray.
Yes, it was an awkward situation, yes it was a painful situation, but again if there’s anything Paul is going to be controversial about: it’s holding on to the truth of the gospel. Peter may not want this form of the fellowship of the gospel, but Peter needs this form of the fellowship of the gospel. You may not want this form of the fellowship, but you need this form of the fellowship. We may not want this form of fellowship, but we need this form of fellowship. It’s not just an individual need: it’s a corporate need: because it is a chain reaction. It’s hypocrisy and hypocrisy is a chain reaction: it started with these men who came from where: from James. James, no doubt is teaching the word of God, but it just goes to prove to you no matter whose leading: there can still be some false brothers present, they come from James: they begin the chain of hypocrisy: it goes to Peter, even Barnabas gives in, verse 13, and the rest of the Jews along with him, verse 13. Hypocrisy sets off a chain reaction. Somebody has to break the chain, and in this case it’s Paul. Paul is willing to split the church if it comes down to this point. Even Peter, Cephas: which means the rock, even Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement: they fall into the trap of hypocrisy. This is a warning, then, if Peter, if Barnabas gave in to the hypocrisy of those in their fellowship: how easy is it for us to give in. And I know that sets up this tension: well, we need to disciple them, but let me tell you something: you have got to have discernment: if they are walking in hypocrisy, you will be quick to follow their steps if you are not on guard.
Paul says in verse 14: “But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel.” They were not walking in line with the truth of the gospel. There’s a little Greek word here; it’s the word orthopodeo. Podeo is the word we get podiatrist: and it means to walk: and often in the Bible, such as 1 John: walk in the light: it speaks of the course of your life. Podeo is to walk, and ortho means straight: you go to the orthodontists if your dontists, your teeth are not straight, right? If you’re driving crooked for instance, the policeman may pull you over and do an orthopodeo test: draw a line and say walk to see if you can walk the line without going off right or left. Paul is showing us: the gospel has a line, it has a trajectory: you’re a sinner, you’re weak, you try to control your life through self salvation strategies, you try to find your appoval through people and doing things like Peter eating with the right kind of people, trying to avoid the criticism of people; you try to find your beauty in your culture, but through Jesus Christ: the entire law of God has been fulfilled: when you believe you are completely accepted, completely beautiful, and completely righteous. In the Father’s eyes there is nothing you can do to be any more accepted, there is nothing you can do to be any more beautiful, there is nothing you can do to be any more right with Him, there is nothing you can do to be any more forgiven, there is nothing you can do to be any more saved. To walk in step with the gospel is to walk in that line of truth.
Peter here is guilty of the sin of racism, Paul does not simply see it as a violation of a rule: he sees it instead as something much deeper: here’s the reason you’re a racist: you’re trying to find something besides Jesus Christ as a way of approval, cleansing and beauty: you’re adding something to Jesus. Jesus is not enough for you; you’re not in line with the gospel. You’re forgetting how sinful you are, and how gracious he is. You have you’re eyes fixed on the world and not on him. Here’s how I want to end. Go take a look at all the things you know you’re doing wrong but you don’t seem to be able to overcome. Go look at any barrier you’re not able to break through. Even though today you don’t understand how, as we go along we’re going to be applying the gospel to all sorts of different areas, absolutely. I’ll tell you this: You will discover the real problem is you’re not ravished with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Here’s how I want to end. Go take a look at all the things you know you’re doing wrong but you don’t seem to be able to overcome. Go look at any barrier you’re not able to break through. Even though today you don’t understand how, as we go along we’re going to be applying the gospel to all sorts of different areas, absolutely. I’ll tell you this: You will discover the real problem is you’re not enthralled and ravished with Jesus.
Pray for Faith
Pray for Fellowship
Pray for Freedom
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