The Real Gospel Pt. 2 – Galatians 2

INTRODUCTION

There is a famous Old Hymn that starts like this:

In Christ alone my hope is found

He is my light, my strength, my song

This Cornerstone, this solid ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My Comforter, my All in All

Here in the love of Christ I stand

It is because of Jesus Christ we can have hope today!

Theologians tell a story to illustrate how Christ’s triumph presently benefits our lives: Imagine a city under siege. The enemy that surrounds they city will not let anyone or anything leave. Supplies are running low, and the citizens are fearful. But in the dark of the night, a spy sneaks through the enemy lines. He has rushed to the city to tell the people that in another place the main enemy force has been defeated; the leaders have already surrendered. The people do not need to be afraid. It is only a matter of time until the besieging troops receive the news and lay down their weapons. Similarly, we may seem now to be surrounded by the forces of evil — disease, injustice, oppression, death. But the enemy has actually been defeated at Calvary. Things are not the way they seem to be. It is only a matter of time until it becomes clear to all that the battle is really over. – Richard J. Mouw, Uncommon Decency, pp. 149-150.

Jesus is the ultimate conqueror. Through faith in Christ WE can experience victory over death, hell and the grave and WE are delivered from the power of sins & Satan. As we rejoin Paul, he shares a common theme throughout Galatians and that is the difference between the Law and Grace. We see much about what the law couldn’t do and then we see that Jesus did what NO ONE ELSE COULD DO!

     Galatians 2:11-21 New Living Translation (NLT) 

11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. 12 When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. 13 As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.14 When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions?

OBSERVATION

     We see in this passage that Antioch was a church in Turkey that became a hub for Christianity in Turkey.  Antioch was the unofficial capital church there.  But Paul arrived and saw that Peter was originally eating with the Gentile believers who were uncircumcised, and then stopped eating with them when friends of James arrived in Antioch.  Then other Jewish believers began to ignore the Greek and Roman believers, and even Barnabas started to follow their lead.  And Paul confronted Peter on the spot and told him he was wrong, and especially wrong because Peter didn’t even live like a Jew himself!

INTERPRETATION

     Now this is the book of Galatians, so Paul was writing to the Galatian Christians about Antioch, a completely different location.  Now back to Peter…Peter finds himself in what he considers a precarious position. He’s setting down eating dinner and fellowshipping with his Jewish “buddies”  Peter is afraid he’ll be seen eating with the “heathen” and excuses himself to go to the restroom. When the time is convenient, Peter slips out the back door so as not to be seen. Some of the other Jews seem to be embarrassed likewise, they perform similar escapes and even Barnabas is caught up in it.  Now Paul is watching all their escapades is infuriated by their hypocritical attitudes.

Paul reminds Peter that even though they had been born Jews, they came to Christ through faith. It was not their works or their righteousness that saved them… IT WAS THE BLOOD OF JESUS! They were saved BY FAITH IN CHRIST!

APPLICATION

[1] Don’t create rules when Christ has called you to freedom There was a lot going on with this situation at the church of Antioch.  There was racism – the Jewish believers were excluding the Roman and Greek believers. There was a false sense of moral superiority — The Jewish believers felt superior because they were God’s chosen people.  There was also hypocrisy – Peter acted one way around one group of people, and a different way around the other group. In response, Paul called Peter out in front of everyone & reminded Peter and the Jews of the freedom they had in Christ.  Our response – we should remind people of the freedom they have in Christ.  One of the most difficult things for the Jews to understand was that they no longer had to do something physical to please God.  In fact, Galatians 3 has some interesting things to say about this:

Galatians 3:23-26 (NLT)23 Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. 25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

    Most of you guys know about protective custody from all the police shows and mafia shows that are out there.  Somebody will snitch on the mob and then the FBI will place them in protective custody.  The law was our protective custody until the time of Jesus, it was never supposed to be a permanent solution. Our permanent solution is Christ’s blood.  Also, Paul described the law as our legal guardian…but once a person is grown they no longer need a legal guardian, do they?  The law was basically a customs office, a place of quarantine, until Jesus came and his blood eternally covered our sins.  Then the Holy Spirit could finally come inside us and make us children of God through our faith in Christ.  Many people take the Christian life and limit it to a list of “do’s and don’ts.”      But that’s not what it’s about.  If you live a life of faith in Christ, he will show you how to walk each day and live each day.  I used to cookie binge late at night when I was stressed, and this was just two years ago when I first became the pastor.  But I know that binging on Chips Ahoy might sound innocent and not harmful, the truth is that over -eating is the sin of gluttony, and  I’m being mastered by my appetite instead of mastered by the love of God, Word of God and Spirit of God.  And while I was reaching for cookies I could’ve been reaching for Galatians, I could’ve been reaching for the Psalms, I could’ve been reaching for Romans! Now I’m not saying sweets are completely wrong but here’s MY POINT: The issue that if you are a person of faith, then what will happen is that you will want to fall more in love with Christ, we don’t want to do ANYTHING that will diminish that sense of the Spirit’s presence in our lives.

TRANSITION

Again, we cannot be people of faith and people of trust, and be people of performance at the same time.  Living a godly lifestyle comes from first discovering God’s love for ourselves.  We can ask him to help our unbelief and make himself known to us so that our faith in him will grow more.  And Paul goes on and elaborates on this lifestyle of faith.

Galatians 2:15-16 (NLT) 15 “You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. 16 Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”

OBSERVATION

Paul recognizes that he writing to a Jewish audience in Galatia, but reminds them that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not obeying the law.  He then says no one ever will be right with God by obeying the law.

INTERPRETATION

     So what Paul is reminding people of is the doctrine of justification.  Justification is the judicial acts of God whereby those who put their faith in Christ are declared righteous in God’s eyes, free from guilt or punishment.  This is talked about a lot in the New Testament, especially in Romans.  You have to understand…this is a POSITIONAL declaration of your innocence before God, not a PERFORMANCE based declaration.  What do I mean? Once you are adopted by God, God won’t un adopt you just because you misbehave.  APPLICATION

[2] You are made right with God because you believe in Christ —

     Dr. Roy Gustafson has the finest illustration of justification I have ever heard. It seems that there was a man in England who put his Rolls-Royce on a boat and went across to the continent to go on a holiday. While he was driving around Europe, something happened to the motor of his car. He telegraphed the Rolls-Royce people back in England and asked, “I’m having trouble with my car; what do you suggest I do?” Well, the Rolls-Royce people flew a mechanic over! The mechanic repaired the car and flew back to England and left the man to continue his holiday. As you can imagine, the fellow was wondering, “How much is this going to cost me?” So when he got back to England, he wrote the people a letter and asked how much he owed them. He received a letter from the office that read: “Dear Sir: There is no record anywhere in our files that anything ever went wrong with a Rolls-Royce.” That is justification.

     But again…back to this idea of adoption.  Now if you are always disrespecting your adoptive Father, or getting into trouble, then you will strain the relationship.  But you won’t get unadopted just because you do something wrong one day, or if you get caught up in sin one day.  BUT! Romans also says that God’s kindness is designed to lead you to repentance, so because you are adopted, and because you have all the benefits of being a child of God, this knowledge is supposed to motivate us to live a life of purity through trusting in the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Okay so….my in-laws for example.  I have Greek in-laws in Phoenix.  It’s almost like God has set my life up for missions work and for preaching because whenever i go to Phoenix my Greek in-laws love the fact that as a preacher I study the Greek language. I am blessed to have a super diverse family.  I have Chinese in-laws in Taiwan, and American in-laws.   Anyways, my Taiwanese in-laws take  care of me and spoil me; I would be a FOOL to mess things up with Chi, right? Why would I do that? My sister and brother in-laws Chin and Bobby bought me a Keurig Coffee maker. My Greek sister in-law Margie gave me this Jared’s bracelet and I wear it everyday.  See I got all of this just BECAUSE I’m married to Chi !!! So for us, once we accept Christ, we get eternal life and the Holy Spirit and many other things automatically! So because of what we ALREADY have, it should motivate us to continue living for Christ to continue to receive his blessings!

     For those who are “in Christ” there is no record of our wrongs because they are under the blood of Jesus!!!  The truth of the gospel still sounds too incredible to many today.  The reason being is because people don’t understand grace.  Friends, stand firm in the truth of the gospel. Your salvation is accomplished. Your salvation is free. Don’t listen to those who say otherwise and would thereby put your faith, even your salvation, in jeopardy.

    Paul was so certain about the truth of the gospel that he was willing to stand firm in it even when life became uncomfortable as a result of it. Will it be easy to stand firm in the truth? No. We will end up in some uncomfortable situations but so what? It’s God’s Word. It’s the truth. It’s worth standing firm in.

TRANSiTION

Now, we keep talking about faith and living through faith and trusting in Christ and his Holy Spirit, but does that mean we can do what we want? Not exactly! In fact, since Christ died for our sins, we in turn must die to sin, and the temptation to sin…

17 But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! 18 Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. 19 For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

OBSERVATION

     So Paul explains the relationship between faith and the law for a Christian.  He says that Christ has not led us into sin, but we are in fact sinners if we try to rebuild the old system of law that Christ has torn down.   So Paul said he died to the law, he stopped trying to meet all its requirements – so that he might live for God.  If Paul, or Peter or any of us could obey all the rules and follow God’s law perfectly, then the cross was pointless.  We just saw earlier that the apostle Peter was still full of flaws, and still sinned and still sometimes allowed the “Peter” in HIM to override the Spirit of God in HIM  This is the same guy who preached in Acts 2, and in one sermon, 3,000 came to Christ!! So again, if we don’t see from this story that it’s about grace and faith, I don’t know what else needs to be said.

INTERPRETATION

     Wow! So much truth was unpacked in these verses! Paul said that if we try to go back to a spiritual checklist after being freed from performance by the Lord Jesus, that in itself is actually sin.  It’s like going back to being a captive after being free….why would anyone voluntarily do that? Who does that? That’s like ISIS saying to a Syrian refugee that they live in his house now, and then that refugee goes right back to that house!  You don’t negotiate with terrorists…Satan is the ultimate terrorist, so we don’t go back to living for Him.  Paul said that he stopped living altogether——the only thing alive in Him was Christ.  Jesus was the center of Paul’s life; his purpose for being and existing.  Only in living crucified lives will we bring glory to the one who was crucified for us.

APPLICATION

[3] A crucified life should be every Christian’s ambition — 

A.W. Tozer says that people who are crucified with Christ have three distinct marks:

1. They are facing only one direction,

2. They can never turn back, and

3. They no longer have plans of their own.

     They are facing only one direction, they can never turn back, and they no longer have plans of their own.  Have we laid down OUR plans and picked up Christ’s plans? All the apostles did it.  And they were normal people like us.  Let’s look at the apostle Paul, and all the apostles.  According to church tradition, they were all martyred for their faith, except for the apostle John.  Paul was beheaded because he was a Roman citizen, but Peter was crucified.  In fact, church tradition tells us that Peter personally requested to be crucified upside down.  In fact in the last chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus predicted Peter’s death by crucifixion.  He was killed in Rome,  where another church tradition tells us that when Peter was trying to leave the city of Rome because of persecution, Christ met him at the gates and asked Peter, “where are you going? Afterwards, Peter turned around and went back to Rome.  You know when you try to live a crucified life, Satan will tell us is that this is too much.  Our friends and co-workers and neighbors will tell us we’re too religious or too extreme.  We are doing too much when we give up everything to center our lives around a guy who lived 2,000 years ago in some far off country, speaking a language that sounds strange to our ears.  However, countless Christians like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr have completely changed the world because they were crucified to their own personal desires and stood up for what Christ stood up for, that is, reconciling people to God, by crucifying their own, often self-serving interests.

So several people have asked me what my thoughts are on the police shootings and racial unrest in America.  And I of course diverted to someone whom I look up to immensely, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.   You know, i believe that if Christians would cry out to God for the police forces, and if the police forces would cry out to God for those that live in the inner cities, and treat people with compassion and with the dignity that comes from all people being made in the image of God, no matter if they live in the inner-city in Chicago, or in Japan, or on Misawa Air Base, then there are so many things that would improve. If people stopped turning everywhere and to everything instead of Christ for solutions, things would change.  Dr. King turned to the Lord for his grief over racial prejudice; the Lord responded and changed the United States Supreme Court’s views on segregation, and then changed the world.  All it takes is one person who is willing to be crucified with Christ.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke

Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/edmundburk377528.html

Galatians 2:20 Matt Chandler Sermon Jam https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzffu-QjzXg

TRANSITION

    See, Doctor King could’ve gotten frustrated, about the injustice of his time, but kept his frustrations private.  He had a good career as a minister, he had a PhD in Divinity from Boston University, so he could’ve been a professor of theology at a seminary someplace.  But yet, he saw the injustice around him and DID SOMETHING!  He took action against racism and arranged boycotts and sit-ins and speeches.  He preached, prayed, cried, and wrote against the sin of racism. It was no longer MLK Jr. who lived, but Christ who lived in him. And the life you and I and the heroes of the faith before us have lived have been lived in the faith of the Son of God who gave himself for us.  So let’s die to the American dream, or the idea of just being comfortable Christians.  You know, we save money, get a good retirement, and sit on the porch eating prunes and drinking Pedialyte! No! Let’s ask Christ to show us what he wants our lives to look like and then change the world!

“Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.” —Martin Luther King Jr.

My point is that even the most faithful of us can’t live or do anything just through self-effort alone.  We can’t do great exploits without understanding that our strength comes from falling upon Christ.  If Dr. King had just been a motivational speaker, instead of a born again believer, he may have given up and truly not recovered and gone back to Ebenezer Baptist and stayed there.   Now of course, there are the rumors of his womanizing and affairs, and I won’t get into that today, but I will just point to the fact that Dr. King was crucified to the idea of just letting the status quo be the status quo! No, he was counter to the cultural, and that’s what we need to be.

[PERSONAL ILLUSTRATION Japanese and Chinese Theology…my desire for missions, teaching them about the Holy Spirit].

So I want to reach Japan and Taiwan for Christ.  Now of course, realistically I would probably need a team of people behind me who are native speakers of both languages and God can make that happen. The Assemblies of God have a huge presence both here and in Taiwan, and the missionaries I work for have already told me that I can walk into any missionary position that I want in my organization, so pretty cool, and I’m praying on it now.  Now…reaching Japan and Taiwan….that means the Japanese language and Mandarin Chinese.  I don’t think God is calling me to learn both languages, but still, the call is to these people….will I choose a comfortable existence or will I go into the wild, so to speak, to those paths that are unknown? Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, where I walk upon the water, wherever you may call me, right?

 Syu iesu ga watashi wo yobareru toki

Umi no ue demo doko ni demo ikasete

Watashi no chikara de aruke nai basyo
Watashi no shinkou wo tsuyomete kudasai

The Romaji (Japanese) that you see above is the bridge to the popular Hillsong track titled “Oceans.”  I want to encourage you to let the Spirit lead you where your trust is without borders…

     NOW! The crucified life for you might not mean going to the mission field, but then again it might.  But let the Spirit guide you.   There is still plenty of work to be done in the U.S. as well. Let us use our time, gifts, talents and resources for the purposes of Christ, a purpose greater than ourselves.

Text Illustration:

Robert Louis Dabney was an outstanding Presbyterian theologian during the mid-19th century. He served as a minister, as a chaplain, as chief of staff to General Stonewall Jackson, and as a seminary professor. He also helped establish a seminary in Austin, Texas.  As he aged, Dabney began to worry about his impending death, and he expressed his fears in a letter to a former student and theologian, C.R. Vaughan. Dabney wondered about his ability to die honorably and to hold on to his Christian faith.

Vaughan replied: “Dear friend, let me advise you now as you often have me. If you were about to cross a deep chasm, and there were a bridge over it, would you stand there looking in at yourself, wondering if you trusted enough in bridges to be able to cross? Or would you not rather go and examine the beams and timbers of the bridge and the quality of its construction, and determine whether the bridge were trustworthy, and then pass over it in confidence? Our faith is in Christ; spend yourself focusing on Him and His sufficiency, rather than on yourself.”

So in order to get the victory over our sins, we stop focusing on our sins and focus on Christ and his sufficiency, and the fact that his grace is sufficient, rather than on ourselves.  See when we focus on our sins, we are still focusing wrong, because we making it all about us.  We don’t need to have a pity-party and keep saying woe is me.  What we need to do is start to place everything Christ has done for us found in the word, and put it in our hearts, through calling on the name of the Lord.  Get those scriptures in our hearts, and what will happen is that God’s Word will change our thinking.  It doesn’t matter what our issue is.  No sin is big enough, no sin is powerful enough, that the blood of Christ cannot cover it.  No sin is so deeply hidden in our souls that the power of God through the Holy Spirit cannot uproot.  Each time sin comes calling, remind yourself that you are already crucified, and that Christ and Christ alone, lives in you.

THE END.

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