Preserving Truth of the Gospel (Galatians Sermon 3 of 26)

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Preserving Truth of the Gospel (Galatians Sermon 3 of 26)

November 10, 2013 | Andrew Davis
Galatians 2:1-11
The Gospel, Preserving the Gospel

Introduction: The Importance of Guarding the Recipe

Turn in your Bibles to Galatians 2:1-10. We're looking today at that incredible passage Bill just read for us. When I was a design engineer, I worked for a number of different companies. I worked for a company that made ion implanters, which was used for making semiconductors. I worked for a company that made eye surgical equipment. I worked for a company that made coffee-brewing equipment. So that's a wide range of engineering jobs, but my job as a design engineer was to come up basically with the recipe for a product, whatever it was, a recipe that was tested in the lab and that worked, so that we could then crank out hundreds if not thousands once we got the recipe right. And it struck me as I was thinking about Galatians 2 that that's an apt analogy. Companies all over this country are working on recipes for products, and in mechanical things we don't use that word "recipe" that's more something that's cooked, but I'm sticking with that word here.

For automobiles, they're working through the designs, coming up with the plans. For architects, they're working on blueprints and designs for structure and often those designs would be used again and again for the same type of house all over the country. People that work for companies that make confections or cookies or something like that, they literally are working on a recipe and chefs are trying different ingredients and they are trying for the right combination of ingredients to make a cookie or some kind of confection that's just going to melt in your mouth, and be very successful. Once the recipe is right they are going to crank out hundreds of thousands of these things and send them to the ends of the Earth, so they hope anyway. Pharmaceutical companies here in the RTP are coming up with recipes for drugs, addressing various issues like AIDS, or cancer, or MS. Once they get the recipe right, they're going to be cranking out hundreds of thousands of pills.

Other companies are trying to maintain existing recipes and protect them from being changed in any way, sometimes through their own foolishness. Think about Coca-Cola, remember when they changed their recipe? You guys remember the 1980s? And they came up with the New Coke and it bombed. Everybody wanted the old Coke back. Remember that whole story? And so for a while they ran them side by side, Coke Classic, remember that? Then the New Coke kind of disappeared, remember that? And Coke Classic ran for a while and then it was just Coca-Cola again. And so they've got that special recipe somewhere in a safe, I don't know where, maybe Atlanta, Georgia, and from now on I think they're going to guard it with their lives and not change anything. And I didn't realize this but 1.7 billion servings of Coca-Cola are served worldwide everyday. Everyday. If only the Gospel could be as widespread as Coca-Cola. It's just incredible. 

And then in some scary ways, think about what happened in 1982 with Tylenol, how somebody got into some bottles and laced it with cyanide and seven people died, and after that the industry came up with protections, so that you knew that when you broke open that bottle that it was going be protected from a poison having been added, etcetera. These are all examples of perfecting the recipe, getting the recipe right, and protecting that recipe once it's been gotten right, so that what gets cranked out and sent to the ends of the Earth is exactly as it should be, and frankly I think that's what's going on in Galatians 2:1-10. I think the apostle Paul was raised up in a marvelous way by the sovereign hand of God to protect the recipe of human salvation that had come down from Heaven to Earth, that had been crafted in the mind of God before the foundation of the world to protect it from anything being added to it or taken away from it, for anything added to this recipe is poison, and anything taken away from that recipe is absolutely essential to it.

God has crafted it as perfect, the Gospel. It is the power of salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and then for the gentile, for in the Gospel righteousness from God is revealed, righteousness, that is from faith to faith, justice is written. The righteous will live by faith. That's the Gospel. And the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, "What I received I passed on to you as of first importance. That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures." "I receive this," and we're going find out, and we've already learned, "from Heaven, from God, from Jesus himself," the apostle Paul would say, "and I passed it on to you."

I. Paul and the False Brothers: Steadfast Preserving of the Gospel (Verses 1-5)

God has raised this man up, apostle Paul, he raised him up to protect the recipe of the Gospel from adulteration, from being poisoned, from being changed. So let's try to understand our context. We're just kind of, to some degree, parachuting right into the midst of a flow, an argument, really a testimony that Paul has given for a point concerning him in the Gospel. Let's understand our context here in Galatians 2:1-10. Soon after the apostle Paul, who was a traveling, church-planting, evangelist and apostle had moved through modern-day Turkey, Asia Minor, Galatia. He planted some churches there through the simple preaching of the Word and through discipleship. He then left the area and other teachers came along and began contradicting or adding to the Gospel message that Paul preached, preaching a different gospel other than the one that he had preached. They were Jews. They were Jewish people who claimed to believe in Jesus, who loved (so they said), Jesus, who loved the work of Christ and the cross (so they said), but added to it the idea that the gentiles had to be circumcised. And they required Gentiles to obey the law of Moses, and said that if they weren't circumcised and if they weren't obedient to the law of Moses, they could not be saved.

These teachers are commonly called Judaizers because they were really trying to make gentiles into Jews. They were establishing this new doctrine, by in some very significant ways, discrediting the apostle Paul. They weren't slamming him, but to some degree, it seems that they were calling him a second-hander, kind of a second generation guy who came along after the fact and who got his message, like a Johnny-come-lately, got his message from the Jerusalem leaders, apostles of Jerusalem, but got it wrong. He kind of apprenticed under them for a while, hung with them for a while, but now he's out and about and he's off, he's getting it wrong and that we Judaizers, we've got it right. We've got the real gospel and you've got to be circumcised and you've got to obey the Law of Moses. Yes, Jesus is wonderful, he's great, but in addition to that, you need the law of Moses.

And so this is a very serious attack on the Gospel. It's an attack on Paul but it's also an attack on the Gospel and so Paul in Galatians 1 and 2 is seeking to defend both his apostleship and his Gospel message. They go together, the man and his message go together. And so from the very beginning, if you look at Galatians 1:1, he says, "Paul an apostle." That means “sent one.” "Paul an apostle sent not from men nor by man but by Jesus Christ and by God the Father who raised him from the dead." So right away he's establishing, "My apostleship was not from human origin. It wasn't from man, it was from God, it was from Jesus." And then he adds, "Also his message was from heaven as well." Same thing. Look at verse 11 and 12, Galatians 1:11-12 he says, "I want you to know, brothers, that the Gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it. Rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ."

And so he spends the rest of Galatians 1 basically proving his independence from the Church of Jerusalem. He's independent. He's independent from the Jerusalem apostles. He's every bit as authoritative as they are. His calling originates like theirs did from Jesus. He's no second-hander. He's no Johnny-come-lately. And his desire in all this is not to stoke his ego so people will think well of him, it's but so that they will understand his mission and his message are from God and he needs to be listened to. He can't be dismissed. God has opened up a conduit of blessing to the churches through Paul, and if you shut that down you're going be missing significant messages that God has to say through me, he's saying that.

II. Paul and the Jerusalem Leaders:  Independence, Yet Unity (Verses 2, 6-10)

And you've already heard the Gospel from me [Paul] and you're going start questioning, that's the biggest problem of all. You will be receiving a gospel that's no gospel at all. But as the same time as he's seeking to distance himself and show some independence from the Jerusalem apostles he also wants to show unity with them. This is a challenge here. He's saying, "We are together and we are one in this," so that the gospel spreads from Jerusalem through Judea and Samaria on a unified, solid basis. It's built firm on a foundation that's not moving, there are no cracks in that foundation. As it says in Ephesians 2 that God's household, 2:19 and following, God's household is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. And in him, the whole building, the church is joined together and rises to become a Holy Temple in the Lord and in him, you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his spirit.”

Yeah, but if there's cracks in the foundation, if there's a rift between Paul and the Jerusalem apostles that's very, very significant. That's a problem. So that's what Paul is trying to do in Galatians 2:1-10.  He is a bit walking a tightrope here, across the Niagara Falls or something like that, with danger all around, and he needs to show independence but also unity at the same time, and that's what he's trying to do here. So the issue here are some false brothers, he said, "that rose up to challenge the doctrine." So who were these false brothers and how did they attack the Gospel? Look at verse 4. It said, "This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves." Now this may seem extremely harsh: They are not true Christians. They are not real brothers in Christ, they are false brothers. In our tolerance-loving age, we need to get a sense of Paul's commitment to the truth here, we really do.

And Paul is willing to speak the truth here, he's willing to tell the truth and it really makes sense. Look back at Galatians 1:6-9. There he says, "I'm astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to [What does he call it?] A different gospel which is really no gospel at all. [You see that?] Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ. [But, verse 8] Even if we or an angel from Heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preach to you, let him be eternally condemned. As we have already said, so now I say again, if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than the one you received, let him be eternally condemned!"

Now here's the formula. False gospels produce false brothers. It makes sense, doesn't it? You just see the consistency. He said, "It's a false Gospel, they're the ones propagating it, they must be false brothers." If you're not getting the right Gospel, then you're not a genuine believer in Christ. That's the issue, that's what's at stake here. Now these false brothers however are different than the Jews who are mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 2 who chased Paul from pillar to post, who persecuted him everywhere. They're different. They're Jews, yes, but they're not going say they hate Jesus and think of him as a deceiver of the people. They said they love Jesus. They said they follow Jesus. That they, I don't know what they said, appreciated Jesus' ministry. I don't know, how do you put it? Saying it's not enough but it's still pretty good, but they said they were in favor, or they love the work of Christ.

They're false brothers because they outwardly embraced Jesus as the Messiah but inwardly their goal was to transform the gentiles into Jews, that's what they were trying to do. So Paul accuses them there of infiltrating their ranks, coming in and spying out the freedom they have in Jesus, and they want to make them slaves. That's what he's saying, the freedom is from the freedom of the oppression of the law of Moses, of thinking “I've got to meticulously keep every jot and tittle or I'm going to go to Hell, I'm gonna be condemned.” It's blessings and curses and that's a burden, it's crushing. Freedom from the law's ability to condemn us and send us to Hell. Oh, what freedom is that!

And there were other freedoms too. Ceremonial laws that had served their purpose, their time was done and circumcision was part of that, the dietary regulations were part of that. They didn't need to be circumcised any more, the time of that was over. Once Jesus was identified to the world as a Jew born under the law, the time for that barrier, that dividing wall of hostility between Jew and gentiles was gone. And there was no longer any need for markers of how the Jews were different than gentiles, that time has finished. Now God's working one new man out of the two, Christian. The only thing that matters is not circumcision, it's not un-circumcision, what matters is a new creation, faith in Jesus. He is doing a new work here and you're free now. You're free, free from condemnation, free from the law's regulations that separated you from one another. Perfectly free because God sent his son, Amen? Oh, you just need to revel in that freedom.

How sweet is it to be free from condemnation? How sweet is it to know you're forgiven? And so these false brothers have come to come make them slaves again, spy out their freedom, subterfuge, claiming to be something they weren't. Messengers of Satan really, ultimately, endangering the Gospel itself. And they were teaching a compulsion, there was a compulsion here. Not just, "Gentiles, you might want to think about getting circumcised. If I could just give you some advice, circumcision might help you." They're not saying that, are they? No, what are they saying? Look at verse three, "Yet not even Titus who was with me was compelled to be circumcised." There's the compulsion, right? Look down to verse 14, it's not in our text today but just go ahead and look. You're allowed to do that by the way, so just jump ahead. Verse 14 it says, "But when I saw that they were deviating from the truth of the Gospel I told Cephas, [Peter] in front of everyone, if you, who are a Jew, live like a gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel gentiles to live like Jews?" Again, compulsion. Okay, what's the compulsion? Well, it's really spelled out for us in Acts 15:1 and 5, all right? Acts 15:1 and 5 tells us the compulsion.

Acts 15, “some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers ‘unless you are circumcised according to the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.’” That's pretty compelling, isn't it? That's compelling. If you don't receive this religious ritual, you're going to Hell. Wow. And then again Acts 15:5, "Some of the believers came from the party of the Pharisees and stood up and said, 'It is necessary to circumcise them and command them to keep the law of Moses.'" Necessary for what? Well, we already covered that, for salvation and then secondarily, healthy membership in the church. If you're going to be a right member, a member in good standing of this church, oh, gentiles you must become Jews. That's what's going on.

So the backdrop of Galatians 2:1-10 is laid out for us plainly in Acts 15, leading to what happened in Acts 15, the Jerusalem Council. And so the Jerusalem Council happened when the Jerusalem leaders, the Apostles in Jerusalem, met together with Paul and Barnabas, and I'm sure some others, to decide this issue, to decide this circumcision question. So I think the Jerusalem Council is behind all of this, so we can address this passage now from the beginning. Look at verse 1 and 2, "14 years later, [after my first very brief visit to Jerusalem], 14 years later I went back to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the Gospel that I preach among the gentiles." So he was led by God. Paul wasn't summoned by his overlords, the Jerusalem apostles, you see that? He wasn't. Why did he go to Jerusalem? God told him to go.

You see that? "I was led by a revelation." Paul frequently, as an apostle, was led in ways we wouldn't be led. Like remember the vision of the man from Macedonia? Come over and help us, and so he knew that it was time to go over to Europe, heading toward Europe, so he would be frequently guided by visions and revelations and so this was one of them. "Paul, I want you to go to Jerusalem." So he is again distancing himself from the Jerusalem apostles, "They didn't command me to go, I'm not their errand boy. I went because God told me to go. I went in response to a revelation." And so they met together in the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. Why did he go? God told him to go. He wanted Paul to defend the Gospel message that he was preaching among the gentiles. He went to defend the Gospel and to explain it. He brought Barnabas along with him to testify to the truth of his assertions because every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. So he brought Barnabas, too, Barnabas was there on their missionary journey and he could explain it, and he also brought Titus. Now that's interesting. Titus was, at that point, no significant leader in the life of the church, he was just, we could say, a run-of-the-mill gentile convert. But very strategic for Paul to bring him, very strategic.

Okay, you think, you Judaizers think gentiles, in abstraction, gentiles need to be circumcised in order to go to Heaven and if they're not circumcised they're going to Hell? Tell Titus, tell him. Tell him to his face. I think they were willing to do it. I get the sense there was a struggle there but there's a sense of an object lesson. This is a real man. These are real people that we're dealing with. They're filled with joy that their sins are forgiven through faith in Jesus and now you're bringing them back under the shadow of the law. This is a real individual. Also, going back to my recipe analogy or prototype or something like that, you kinda have, "Let's figure out with Titus 'cause we're about to be replicating this to the ends of the Earth. Let's figure out with this one individual 'cause we're gonna be doing this again and again for centuries." They wouldn't have known that but we know now. Are we doing this? Is this the recipe, Christ plus circumcision is salvation? Let's figure it out now. So, Titus was there as well.

Now, he's concerned about the unity of the church. He says, "I went in response to a revelation and set before them the Gospel that I preach among the gentiles but [I did this privately.] I did this privately to those who seem to be leaders for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain." Now, I don't know exactly, strategically why they met alone with Peter, James, and John, but they did, they met alone and they talked about doctrine. They worked it through privately and it was just the wisdom of God to do it that way. But he was afraid, he says, that he had run or was running his race in vain. Now what is he talking about that? Well, his race is his ministry. As he goes from city to city, from town to town, from place to place preaching the Gospel, persecuted, standing up for the Gospel, standing up for the doctrine, that's his race. Acts 20 in verse 24, he says there to the Ephesian elders, he says, "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me, the task of testifying to the Gospel of God's grace." So that's his race. He's running that race. That's his external journey. He's running it. But he was afraid that he had run or had run his race in vain.

Now, he used this language a lot. He's afraid sometimes with the Thessalonians that because of persecution he had labored in vain there. And it has to do with having your work undone as though Paul had somehow built a sandcastle in Galatia or a bunch of sandcastles in these churches in Galatia and now the incoming tide was going to wash it all away, there'd be nothing left. If they could discredit Paul, if Paul's Gospel could be discredited, it's all undone. It's gone. All those gentiles would go back to worshipping whatever gods and goddesses they worshipped before he came and the whole thing would be in vain. So this is a key moment in redemptive history, guys, do you see that? We're trying to get the Gospel recipe right. It's just beginning to be spread to the gentiles and I would guess the absolute overwhelming majority of you folks are gentiles.

You're interested. This is your moment. Paul said, "I did it for you so that the truth of the Gospel might remain with you and me." So this is long before you were born, Paul was fighting for you. Praise God for that, amen. He was your champion, he was fighting for you and God raised him up. And I think it's right for you on Thanksgiving, which is coming up soon, thank God for people who died long before you were born who gave you gifts by protecting the Gospel and preaching it clearly and accurately. And so he fought for you and so he presents this Gospel, it says to those who seem to be important." I love that. They seem to be of reputation. We'll get to all that.

Peter, James, and John who were reputed to be pillars and they gave to Paul the right hand of fellowship, and what was the outcome? They agreed he was preaching the right Gospel and not even Titus was compelled to be circumcised. This is a key moment and Paul gives you a sense, a glimpse of the fight here. This wasn't a sweet little discussion. "Hey, what do you think?" "I don't know. What do you think?" Circumcision, yes, no. 51% we're in, alright. It wasn't that at all. There were convictions and passions on the part of the Judaizers, they were convinced, they were pointing chapter and verse, they were going to Genesis 17, they were going to other places and they were showing circumcision as a requirement. They're like, "What you do with that?" But notice the fight. It says here, "That these false brothers who'd infiltrated the ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus." Look at verse 5, "We did not give in to them for a moment. We stood firm." This is like, I hate to lower it to sports, but this is like a goal line stand here. We're not going to yield for a moment or we lose, I can't yield.

And so I don't sense it was pleasant, do you? Do you sense this is a pleasant conversation? He's like, "False brothers, you guys are false, you're not even Christians. You don't even seem to understand grace, you don't understand what Jesus did. No, Titus will not be circumcised, over my dead body," that kind of thing. I don't know if all that got said but things like that. We didn't yield for a moment. Why, Paul, why are you fighting? So that the truth of the Gospel, oh Galatians, might remain with you. I wanted you to have the true Gospel, that's why I didn't yield. That recipe, that's poison. Christ plus law equals salvation, that's false. That's worse than cyanide being added to Tylenol. It deals with eternal souls. No, that gospel is not true. And so he fought for the Gospel, he fought against the false teachers and he did what Jude 3 says we must do. "Dear friends, [this is Jude 3] although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation that we share, I felt I had to write and urge you, [listen] to contend, to fight for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints."

Do you hear those words? We're going to  fight for this thing, we're going to fight for the Gospel because it was once for all entrusted to the saints. Don't change it, don't add to it, it's poison. Don't take away from it, whatever you take is essential to it. Everything is perfect, just protect it, it was entrusted to you. And so Paul does that. Now the second aspect of what he's trying to do here is to show his relationship to the Jerusalem apostles and I've already touched on it but he wants to show independence and yet unity with them. He's walking this challenging tightrope, okay? But fundamentally, what Paul's saying is that God, Jesus, called me on the Damascus road to my ministry. It had nothing to do with these men, nothing. They didn't give me my apostleship and they didn't give me my message and they didn't add anything to my message. Neither. He doesn't say this, but neither did they take anything away from it. My message didn't come from those men and my authority didn't come from them. So he uses language that seems to be disrespectful but he's not meaning it. He says, "Those reputed to be pillars," and then he even goes beyond that, saying, "Hey, look, whatever they were doesn't matter to me. Makes no difference to me what James, Peter, and John were."

That sounds a little disrespectful, doesn't it? It's like them saying, "Well, it doesn't matter to me what you are Paul, frankly." But that's not what he's doing, it's not like he doesn't have good fellowship. He actually said, "We did have good fellowship, they extended to me the right hand of fellowship. I do respect them, I do honor them, but I didn't get anything from them. They didn't change my message. They didn't give me my apostleship, I got it from Jesus absolutely. So on the one hand, I am independent from these men, the Jerusalem leaders, in my calling as an apostle and my Gospel message, but on the other hand, guess what? We're preaching the same gospel, and guess what? The same God called us to our work and isn't that encouraging? Isn't that awesome to see how God can raise up different laborers to do different works but we're all preaching the same Gospel and we're accountable to the same God?"

Now that's what he's saying here. So he gives us in verse 1, “14 years later,” he's saying. "Look, they weren't teaching me anything, I didn't learn anything from them for 14 years, I wasn't even there, and I sure didn't get them on closed circuit TV or on the Web, alright? They weren't given anything to me, it was directly from God. And they seem to be leaders," he's not trying to be disrespectful. "Whatever... " verse 6, "Whatever they were makes no difference to me, God doesn't judge by external appearance." What is he doing there? He's saying, "I'm not accountable to them. I'm not going to stand before them on judgment day," that's what he's saying. Paul had an intense sense of personal accountability to God for his ministry, personal accountability.

And so he says in Galatians 1:10, "I am not seeking the approval of men. That's not what I'm in it for. I'm not trying to please men because if I were doing that I would no longer be a servant of Christ." And so he says in Acts 26:19 in his testimony to King Agrippa, he said, "So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from Heaven." That's how he sees it. “Jesus appeared to me from heaven. He told me to do something, I didn't disobey him. He told me to do this, it wasn't Peter, James, and John who told me to do this.” And why is that? Why does he have that sense of accountability? 2 Corinthians 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive what is due him for the things done in the body, whether good or bad."

You are, I am, we're all going to be standing before Jesus someday. And so therefore he says in 1 Corinthians 4:1-4, "So then men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful to the one who gave it." Listen to this, 1 Corinthians 4:3, "I care very little if I'm judged by you or by any human court." Now again, that may seem disrespectful, doesn't it? But it isn't. What he's saying is, I'm not thinking about you in reference to my accountability, in reference to my stewardship. I'm thinking about the one who gave it to me. I care very little if I'm judged by you or by any human court. Can I just pause and say, wouldn't you love to get to that place? What kind of an evangelist would that make you? How bold would you be in standing for Christ if you really lived like that? I care very little if I'm judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I don't even judge myself, my conscience is clear but that doesn't make me innocent, it is the Lord who judges me.

So that's what he's saying here, he's independent and yet, praise God, praise God, united, united. They determined they had the same recipe. Christ plus nothing, sovereign grace, justification by faith alone, apart from works of the law. We're preaching the same Gospel, amen. And it's going to go to the ends of the Earth, we're going to replicate this thing again and again. It's going to make for the Lord a multitude of believers from every tribe, and language, and people, and nation. We have seen this Gospel crank out people, rescuing them from Hell and bringing them to Heaven.

This Gospel recipe works. It is the power of God for salvation, and praise God they got it right. But it wasn't an accident that they got it right, amen? God sovereignly ordained that they would get it right, but he just used Paul to do it, and Peter and John. And so they gave them the right hand of fellowship and said, "We're preaching the same Gospel." And beyond that he could see, it's like, "I do respect Peter. God raised Peter up and God was at work in Peter's ministry just like in mine." He's not disrespecting Peter. He knows the story, I'm sure he knows it, how in Caesarea Philippi Jesus said, "What do you think about the son of man? Who is he? Some say this, some say... What about you? Who do you say that I am?" "You are the Christ, you are the son of the living God." Peter said that. Do you remember what Jesus said to Peter? "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man but by my Father in Heaven." He had the same revelation of Jesus by the Father. Isn't that awesome?

God was at work in Peter's life. And Jesus then said to Peter, "You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it." How could Paul say, "I follow Jesus but I don't care about Peter." He didn't say that at all. He says the same God is at work in Peter's ministry to the Jews as he is in my ministry to the gentiles and we have complete unity together.

So where does that leave the Judaizers? On the outside. They're out in the cold, they're false teachers. The Jerusalem apostles and Paul were preaching the exact same message and they gave their right hand of fellowship but they say one more thing, one more thing. Please don't forget the poor as you do this. Look at verse 10. "All they ask was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do."

III. Paul and the Mission:  Pure Doctrine and Compassion for the Poor

And so there's not a lot here, he just mentions it in passing and so I'm not going to belabor it, but wherever the Gospel's needed most there's also poverty there. We see that again and again. Satan impoverishes people at every level and so when people are held in thrall by Satan they tend to be crushed in every way, and so they're not blessed materially, they're poor. You folks know missiologists have looked at where are the unreached people groups and they say most of them are in North Africa, the Middle East, going across over through Iran and heading toward India, China, Indonesia, what they call the 10/40 window. Latitude 10 to 40, that swath, that's where most of the unreached people groups are. Well, guess what? 82% of the world's three billion poorest people live there too. So if you're going to go minister the Gospel, you're going to be staring into the jaws of poverty. And so remember the poor, Paul, as you preach the gospel, remember the poor and be concerned about them.

Okay, so what causes that poverty? Human sin, human sin directly and indirectly. Satan dominates peoples minds and hearts. The earth produces far more food than is needed to feed every one of the seven billion of us. Then why do people starve? Why is there poverty? Well, because of man-made religions, and cold-hearted governments, and vicious gangs, vigilante gangs that are trying to take over countries where there's anarchy, and wild-eyed insurgents, and revolutionaries, and greedy industrialists, and selfish tribal chiefs, and lazy fathers, and drug-addicted mothers, and cycles of social injustice, and all of that, and 100 other sins add up to poverty, add up to poverty. And wherever the Gospel goes, and people repent and genuinely start walking by the spirit, things change radically. So if you're going to go with the Gospel, you're going to go and minister to the poor and needy.

IV. Application

So what application can we take from this? I want to give you three main headings. Delighting in the Gospel, defending the Gospel, and extending the Gospel, those three.

Let's start with delighting in the Gospel. This is glorious. It is a joy to preach this gospel. Isn't it marvelous? To proclaim in Jesus the forgiveness of sins to all of you is a great privilege and joy. Do you know that saving love of Christ? Maybe you were invited today by a friend. I hope we're inviting people to church. I can promise you, dear church members, you invite people, they'll hear the Gospel every week, I promise you. I'm making a pledge before you, every week, at some point, I will clearly explain how lost people can be saved. So if you know you're lost, you know you're on the outside, this is for you. I just want to explain it to you, you can't save yourself by works. There's nothing you can do, no present obedience can pay for past disobedience to God's laws, it doesn't work that way. Instead what you need to do is humble yourself before Jesus and say, "You came, you're the Son of God, you died on the cross in my place, I trust in you, save me." Call on the name of the Lord and he will save you.

Delight in that. Embrace it by faith. Now if you've done that, you embraced in that years ago, now I'm just asking you to be happy about it. I'm asking you to show your joy everywhere you go. Even in the midst of great sorrow still always rejoicing. Delight in this Gospel. Delight in how much it glorifies God. It's so God-centered, isn't it? Not by works but by God. That's God-honoring, God-glorifying. Delight how it humbles you. You were saved contrary to your works, not by them. Delight in how it meets all of your needs. It secures for you a place in Heaven. It gives you something to look forward to that cannot be taken from me, moth and rust cannot destroy, thieves cannot break in and steal, it's waiting for you and nothing can take it from you. All of your best days are in the future, rejoice in that and be happy. Delight that the Father is not angry with you at all. He is reconciled to you. Delight in that. Your sins are forgiven. Delight in the freedom you have in Christ, freedom from the law in its power to condemn but then freedom to keep the law in its power to instruct you what a good life is. Delight in your freedom.

Secondly, defending the Gospel. This Gospel, this recipe that God crafted or concocted before the foundation of the world is perfect. Let me say it again. The only thing that can be added to it is poison, the only things that can be taken from it are essential to its nature. We accept it as perfect just as it is, just as it is. So therefore, assume that there will be an attack on the Gospel in every generation. Satan relentlessly attacks this message and we must defend it. God raised up Paul to defend it. He has raised up us. It is entrusted once for all to the saints. It is to us to protect, to defend this Gospel message. We must contend for this faith. So let's pray, shall we, that FBC will continue to be faithful in the Gospel, don't assume it. Don't assume that 20 years from now in this building the Gospel will still be preached. We need to defend it, so pray that we would continue.

Don't begrudge, let me say this gently but clearly, don't begrudge the strong doctrinal flavor of our church's ministry. Don't begrudge it, rejoice in it. If the church has some failings in fellowship or in friendliness or in outreach or other things, let's fix those according to God's word but let's not give up on precision and care about doctrine. Delight in it. It's good that this church is careful about doctrine, it's a delight. The answer isn't that we become less doctrinally pure, that's not the right answer. And so let me speak to you elders. The elders are specifically called on to be watch guards in this area. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you. Guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in you. Protect it. And church, pray for the elders to do it. I don't know what direction Satan is going to come at in reference to this Gospel but let's pray that we would be protecting it.

And then thirdly, extending the Gospel. We have this perfect recipe but it needs to be out and about. We need to see it making Christians, amen. Let's get out and trade with it like the talents, like the five talents. Let's take it to the ends of the Earth. Let's go and share this. Let's say, assume that you're going to be surrounded, for the most part, at the workplace and whatever with unbelievers because that's probably generally true. And just start praying from it. God give me a chance to invite someone to church. Give me a chance to go deeper. Maybe I'm riding in a car with a coworker, maybe I'm taking a trip with them, we're going on a business trip or something, maybe it's just the two of us after hours in the office. Give me a chance to share the Gospel, I want to talk about it.

So let's extend it. And then concerning ministry to the poor, Paul was zealous, he said, "I was eager to do it." Ask God to give you an eagerness to care for the poor and needy. We so easily excuse ourselves from that and say, "Oh, it's because of this or that," and we don't get involved. Educate yourself on poverty worldwide and locally, right here. Let's find out where poverty is right around this church. Now, we need to always give top priority to the ministry of the soul. The Cross Conference that I'm going to be speaking at, at the end of the year, this is their slogan, something like this, "Christians are concerned about all forms of suffering but especially eternal suffering." So that puts it very well. Let's give a top priority to the Gospel but as we minister, we're going to care for the poor and needy.

And then finally, please consider, I'm urging you to consider coming to the City Outreach Conference on November 23rd. Matthew Hodges is putting this together, it's going to be fantastic. Dr. Carl Ellis is coming, he is an outstanding thinker and speaker. And the point of the conference is really for us more than anything else, that we would know how better to minister right around here. Did I get that right, brother? Is that about right? Anything else you want to say? Is that alright? But please talk to Matthew. Sacrifice some time that Friday, Saturday, and be part of that. Let me close in prayer.

Father, we thank you for the joy of the Gospel. Thank you for the way you raised up Paul, really, as a hero to defend the freedom we gentiles have from the law, the crushing burden of the law. And I thank you for this time we've had to study together, in Jesus' name, amen.

 

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