Galatians Day 6- Putting people on a Pedastal…

pedestal3Have you ever known someone who has done a lot for the Lord? I have several people in my life who have a large influence when it comes to making a difference for the Lord. These kind of people deserve honor, and should be learned from and worked with, yet they are still people. Yesterday we saw some great leadership skills exemplified by Paul. Today this example continues.

Paul recognized those who were influential without holding them in too high regard…

But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: (7) But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (v.6-7)

…because he recognized it was the grace of God that allowed them all to accomplish any gospel ministry.

(8) (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) (9) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. (10) Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. (v.8-10)

So, some points of application for us:

  • Sometimes a desire to hold others in too high regard comes from a desire to be held in high regard by others.
  • A cure for this is understanding who we are and who God is when it comes to ministry. Every person is given talents, spiritual gifts, and particular ministry that is specific to them. Any true success that anyone has in life is the gracious gift of God.

Any opportunity to do ministry, and any success that comes in ministry is a gracious gift of God.

Galatians Day 5- The Gospel as a Compass

5374308475_619de16a0aWas the apostle Paul a great leader?  I submit to you that he was!  We see this in an incredible way in today’s text.  To make sure you get a context for this proposition, lets refresh our memories for what we have seen already.

So far in our Galatians study we have seen that Paul was…

– …startled that they had so quickly walked away from the Gospel that they had received of the Lord via Paul. (1:6-7, 11-12).   This “other gospel” that the Galatians had begun to receive is really summed up in Acts 15:1-2.

Acts 15:1-2  And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.  (2)  When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

Paul was also…

– …communicating that the adding anything else to the Gospel made it another gospel and should be rejected regardless of the messenger. (1:8-10)
– …communicating in the last couple of verses in Galatians 1 about the last time He had been in Judea (Southern Israel) and specifically near Jerusalem.

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.  (19)  But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.  (20)  Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.  (21)  Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;  (22)  And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:  (23)  But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.  (24)  And they glorified God in me.
Galatians 1:18-24

Paul was communitating the Galatian believers, his readers, that He had virtually no personal (or political) relationship with the believers in Jerusalem.
He said:

– I spent around 15 days with Peter
– I saw no other apostles except for Jesus’ brother James (now a leader in the church at Jerusalem
– If the believers in Judea had seen me at the market they wouldn’t recognize me, although they did know my reputation as a persecuter of Christians turned missionary.

So now as we examine today’s text we see Paul elaborate on his further relationship with the churches in Jerusalem and we see why he is talking about this:

Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

It had been 14 years of ministry among the gentiles since Paul had been to Jerusalem and he said he took 2 men with him:

– Barnabas- Paul’s partner in ministry who had been instrumental in the believers accepting and trusting Paul after his conversion.
– Titus- a product of Paul’s ministry among the gentiles, and at this time evidence that God was bringing gentiles to the Lord.

To get another narrative of this circumstance that Paul is talking about, check out Acts 15:1-35.

(2)  And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

Paul states that he went “by revelation” meaning he was lead by God to go to Jerusalem to share the gospel message to the Jerusalem church that he was teaching to the gentiles.  He also stated that he went first to some of the leaders of the church, “them which were of reputation”.  Paul was talking to these apostles, Peter James and John, first so that he could make sure not to have a public problem with one of the apostles that could be avoided and impact the gospel ministry that was happening among the gentiles.  It’s important to understand here that Paul was not looking for approval of the message to make sure that His message was correct.  Rather, Paul was looking for support from the apostles so that His ministry of the gospel would be supported by the believers and not undermined by the false teachers who were teaching the false gospel that someone should believe in Jesus and practice Judaism to be right with God.  This is his point in the last 3 verses of todays text:

(3)  But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:  (4)  And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:  (5)  To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. (Galatians 2:1-5)

Application from today’s text:

– Our commitment to the gospel should be greater than our commitment to popularity or public acceptance.  Paul was not concerned about being accepted as an individual.  His popularity among people who were teaching a false gospel was at the bottom of his priority list.  In fact it wasn’t even on the list.  Proclaiming the gospel won’t necessarily make you popular, especially with some crowds, but it should be our unwavering commitment.
– Our commitment to the gospel means that we seek alliances with people in  the defense and promotion of gospel ministry. Paul sought to make sure that His relationship and message with Peter, James and John were supported privately before the public conversation about the gospel.  Paul was shrewd in this circumstance.  Private conversations lead to public support.  What a great leadership model!
– What governed Paul’s actions was this statement:  “that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”  Paul’s focus was unwavering.  It governed every decision, every interaction, like a compass to a sailor.  Paul knew exactly what the wise actions were once he had made this priority.  The gospel should be our priority as well.

How could a commitment to the gospel be a compass for your decisions?

Galatians Day 4- Not Man Made

medium_5653503758Have you ever seen an incredible sunset? What about a moutainscape that just took your breath away? My wife is from Boise, Idaho, and so when we go there every year usually during the summer. A couple of times we’ve gone to McCall, Idaho- this incredible moutain town- and the drive from Boise to McCall is incredible. There are mountain scapes, and scenic rivers. It’s so beautiful, especially to this south Florida guy whose drives down our interstate are all billboards and trees on either side. My point is, some things are so beautiful it’s obvious that man didn’t make it. Whenever I see those sights I am  in awe of what God did with His Words in Creation.

It is obvious with creation, but it’s also obvious with the Gospel!

For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me. (Galatians 1:10–24)

In today’s text Paul makes 2 arguments.

1. The Gospel isn’t a man made message.
“The gospel which was preached of me is not after man…”
Paul goes over his history with the Galatians. He spoke of how he received the revelation of the gospel from Christ Himself, and how that He did not confer with any men to try to come up with this message.

2. The Gospel finds its’ source in Jesus Christ.
“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood…”

Paul says that God had an incredible plan for his life to share this incredible message with Him so that He could share it with those who he used to despise. Incredible!

Why are these arguments so important?
If the Gospel comes from God, is about God, and should glorify God then I don’t have a right to change that message.

How do we change the message?

  • When we keep it to ourselves we are saying it’s not for everyone.
  • When we try to earn it by good works, we’re saying the Gospel is not enough.
  • When we add something other than Jesus to the gospel it becomes another gospel.

Today, Pray that God will give you the opportunity to share His meessage with someone!

Galatians Day 3- Time for Some Intolerance!

medium_9835315996If there is any value that is held up as an ultimate virtue in our culture today it is tolerance. When it comes to the gospel, what we learn in today’s text is a zero tolerance policy when it comes to teaching something other than the gospel. Check out what the scripture says:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (9) As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)

It doesn’t matter who changes it.   The translation of “accursed” is the greek word transliterated “anathema”. It refers to committing someone to destruction in eternal hell. Kind of a big deal right? Paul says in effect, “I can’t change it. Even someone like an angel who seems supernatural can’t change it. The reason it is so serious is because it has eternal implications.” It does matter what we believe and teach because teaching the wrong thing could impact someone’s eternity.

Just so there is no confusion, God is willing that all should come to repentance. Even the false teacher has the opportunity on this side of eternity to repent and believe the gospel. Still, no one has the right to change the gospel.

We should have no tolerance for teaching that proclaims another gospel.