Gospel Meditations from Galatians Pt. 3

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 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. But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 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— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 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. 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 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 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. 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?”

Galatians 2:1-14

Well, another week in Galatians here at Northland...this week it was Mr. Belford who preached the message.  I first would like to talk briefly about the point Mr. Belford made in his message, and then I would like to mainly focus on our discussion we had in impact groups today.

In this passage there are primarily two stories that are told.  Both involving a situation where this group of Jews tries to say that new Gentile believers must be circumcised.  It is said that, "to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you."  The gospel was in question in both stories, and true to his convictions, Paul does not yield.  The gospel must never be compromised!  It is everything to the Christian!

This is one way in which I truly admire Franklin Graham.  His father, Billy Graham, has compromised the gospel, but Franklin has not.  He has on multiple occasions, even on public TV, stood firm with the gospel as it is presented to us in the Bible.  We too should do this!

Now I want to transition into what we discussed in our Impact Groups.  We mainly focused on the 2nd story.  The first question we were asked by our leader was, what exactly did Peter do?

It says that he "drew back and separated himself..."  Our leader brought out a good point...does he say anything?  He might have, but the Bible doesn't say he did.  His actions spoke though.

Picture this...Paul and Barnabas return from their first missionary journey.  They're in Antioch, at their sending church, and they're giving their report about their journey, and the churches they established.  Peter (Cephas) comes to Antioch, probably to rejoice with them over the success of Paul and Barnabas' journey.  They're having a "banquet" where the people of the church, both Jews and Gentiles, are eating and having a great time of fellowship.  They're enjoying the unity that the gospel and salvation in Christ has provided for them.  Up till Jesus came...Jews and Gentiles did not associate with one another.  A Jew was considered unclean if they had fellowship with a Gentile.  Through the gospel, however, and the message Jesus delivered to Peter (Acts 10:9-33), God had revealed that the Jews should no longer consider the Gentiles unclean, but that they should take the gospel to the Gentiles.

Peter, the very one who this message was delivered to..."drew back and separated himself," because he feared the circumcision party.  This was a group of Jews that tried to tell Gentiles that they must be circumcised in order to be a true Christian.

We've already addressed how we should react when we see people doing things such as this...the gospel must be defended!  We see this in Paul's reaction.  But how about us, in today's churches...do we do something similar to what Peter did?

I know I do...and I see it far too often in churches I've been in...

We live this separated Christian lifestyle...unwilling to open ourselves up to the world, and reach out to the lost.  We're content to do our "church" thing every Sunday, and never even blink at the homeless man on the street...or the drug addict we see at the convenience store...or the woman at the grocery store who's in the depths of dispair because she's struggling with the guilt of aborting her unborn child.

Frankly...we don't care...we don't want to get "messy" by becoming involved in reaching out to them.  We draw back and separate ourselves out of fear...

We may not compromise the gospel with our words...but we compromise it with our actions.  We're saying, "you have to clean yourselves up before I'll talk to you, or invite you to church."

I'm pretty sure Peter did not intend to compromise the gospel...but that's what his actions did...

I know growing up, every time I heard a sermon preached on this passage, it focused on Peter...on the fact that he did it...and the conclusion was made that we should never do what Peter did...but we think that we've never done that.  The truth is...we're just like Peter too many times...be careful about pointing fingers...because when you do...there are three pointing back at you...