Sunday, June 18, 2017

[Matt's Messages] “So the Truth of the Gospel Might Remain With You”

“So the Truth of the Gospel Might Remain With You”
Galatians: The Truth of the Gospel
June 18, 2017 :: Galatians 2:1-10

Our sermon series is called “The Truth of the Gospel” because that is the very thing that was at stake.

So far, we’ve made it through three messages on chapter 1, and what have we seen?

We’ve seen a group of churches who were in extreme danger of losing the truth of the gospel of grace.

And we’ve seen an apostle who has pulled out his strongest words to try to rescue them from this perilous outcome.

Some bad guys have infiltrated the churches in the region of Galatia and have spread  a false teaching that threatens to undo all of the good work of the gospel that Paul and his team had started when they planted those churches.

And these bad guys have apparently been bad-mouthing Paul himself. They have apparently said that Paul gospel was faulty. That it was derived and distorted. Derived from the apostles in Jerusalem and distorted because he was leaving out some important bits about the Law of Moses.

So Paul has been setting the record straight.

We saw last week that he is insisting that his gospel did not come from men. From other humans or even from himself. Look back at chapter 1 verse 11.

“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” (vv.11-12).

That’s the main point of this section. Last week, Paul told his story. How he used to try to destroy the church and miraculously, now he was preaching the gospel he once tried to destroy. That’s because Jesus Christ met him on the road to Damascus and changed his direction 180 degrees.

He didn’t get his gospel from some mere mortal. He got his gospel straight from Jesus Christ Himself.

So he didn’t need for his gospel to be confirmed by those who were apostles before him. He didn’t go to Jerusalem. In fact, he went out to Arabia for 3 years.

He did visit Jerusalem once. But only for 15 days and he only met with Peter and James during that time.

He is not dependent and his gospel is not dependent on Jerusalem.

That’s what he is trying to show to the Galatians.

Don’t listen to whatever story these troublemakers are telling you. That’s (in today’s words) “fake news.”

Paul says, “My gospel is straight from Jesus and not dependent on the apostles in Jerusalem.”

Now in today’s text (verses 1-10), he is still making the same point.

But now he’s going to tell us about another visit he made to Jerusalem and this time he really did lay out his gospel and have it compared to the gospel being preached by the apostles in Jerusalem (James, Peter, John).

This was not to submit his gospel to a test to see if it was, in fact, true but to avoid any division between the various apostles on the gospel itself. And while they were having this meeting, there arose an important test-case that confirmed Paul’s gospel and confirmed that Paul’s gospel was the exact same gospel of Peter, James, and John.

And that was the exact same gospel that he had preached to the Galatians and the exact same gospel which he wanted them to stick to.

And it’s the exact same gospel that we believe here today.

The title of our message is taken right out of verse 5 and it’s where we get the title for our series, as well. “So That the Truth of the Gospel Might Remain with You.”

That’s the whole point right there.

That’s the whole shooting match.

Did anybody wake up this morning thankful that a guy who lived in the first century named Titus was never circumcised?

I didn’t think so.

But in a few moments, I hope you are very thankful for that very thing.

That a guy named Titus who lived in the first century, a Gentile guy perhaps of Greek ethnicity, was never circumcised to mark his identification with the God of Jews.

I hope that in a few moments you are very thankful for that very thing.

Because it has a bearing on your life today.

In Galatians chapter 2, Paul tells us about the next time he went to Jerusalem.

The first time, he only stayed 15 days, and a long time had passed.

But now, God sent Paul back to Jerusalem to have another talk with the other apostles about the gospel. Chapter 2, verse 1.

“Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain.”

Fourteen years later (probably fourteen years later than his conversion on the Damascus Road), Paul is headed back to Jerusalem for another conference with the other apostles. Who goes with him?

Titus (that’s going to be really important) and Barnabas.

Barnabas was his friend and co-missionary. They churches in Galatia know him as Paul’s partner in the gospel. He was a Jew like Paul.

But this other guy Titus was a Greek, that is to say that he was a Gentile, a non-Jew.

And these guys were summoned to Jerusalem by whom?

By the apostles?

Did Peter and James and the home office call Paul in to give an account?

No. Verse 2 says that he went because God told him to.

“I went in response to a revelation...”

Now, it’s we’re not quite certain how this fits in with the chronology of the book of Acts. Many scholars believe that this is another description of the Jerusalem council that we learned about back in Acts chapter 15. And that’s definitely possible.

But I tend to think with many other scholars that this is another account of Paul’s visit to Jerusalem in Acts chapter 11. I think it fits better with all of the details we know.

It could actually be yet another visit that isn’t in Acts. That’s possible, too.

Regardless of how it fits with Acts, Paul, Barnabas and Titus head to Jerusalem, on orders from God to lay out their gospel of grace to those in Jerusalem to make sure that Paul had not been (v.2), “running or had run [his] race in vain."

That does not mean that Paul was worried about his gospel.

He was worried that the there was going to be a split between the good news preached by Peter and the good news he preached which would have meant a divided church, a divided mission, a split right down the middle of the early church.

A contradictory message being promulgated by two different sides. One right and another wrong, and conflict on every side.

That’s the goal of Satan, right there.

And Paul did not want Satan to win.

So, they have a little talk.

And while they’re meeting, there is a disruption. There is an interruption.

And it threatens to divide them for good.

Here’s what happened. Some people wanted Titus to get circumcised.

Shocking, I know.

It’s hard for us to care because we don’t realize what is at stake.

Do you think that Titus should have gotten circumcised or not?  Or did it not matter?

Circumcision, for those of you who don’t know, is not easy to talk about. It is “the act of removing the foreskin of the male genital” and among the Jewish people it “originated in the special covenant God made with Abraham” in the book of Genesis “whereby every male child, whether freeborn Israelite or household slave, would be circumcise don the eighth day after birth as a sign of participation in the chosen people of God” (Timothy George, “Galatians,” pg. 142-143).

It was incredibly important to the Jews.

Titus was not a Jew. Should Titus get circumcised?

Some said “No.” Some said, “Yes.”

And you could see why they’d say, “Yes,” right?

In the Old Testament, if a man were going to identify with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he should undergo circumcision.

Jesus is the Messiah, promised by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
So if you are going to identify with Him, shouldn’t you go all the way?

Do you see what’s going on?

Paul says, “No way does Titus get circumcised.”

“No way. That would be antithetical to the gospel that I preach.”

This is a big deal.

The gospel Paul preaches is a gospel of grace.

And circumcision added to that gospel becomes a different gospel.

Is circumcision bad? No way.

But added to the finished work of Jesus as a requirement, it becomes bad. Look at verse 3.

“Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. [Titus said, “No way.” And nobody convinced him otherwise.] 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. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.”

That was a very important moment in history!

Some false brothers (Wow. What a category that is! Some false brothers) had infiltrated their ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.

Paul is going to say a lot more about this in chapters 3 and 4.

Freedom in Christ is the theme of Galatians.

And these false brothers were trying to take it away from the church.

They didn’t see it that way. But Paul saw it very clearly.

Here’s the point.

The gospel of grace is Jesus plus nothing.

Faith in Jesus plus nothing that we do. Nothing that we add to it.

The only thing we bring to the table is the sin that needs saving from.

Jesus brings all of the saving work.

And we trust in Him.

But these guys, these false brothers, wanted it to be Jesus (yes) but Jesus PLUS circumcision. Jesus plus the Law. Jesus plus works of the Law.

And that is another gospel!

That’s what it would have meant if they had MADE Titus get circumcised.

If Titus wanted to get circumcised, that’s fine. He can do that.

Timothy, Paul’s other co-worker was half-Greek, half-Jew and he got circumcised to not be a stumbling block to other Jews. But he wanted to.

If Titus was MADE to get circumcised, it would have amounted to another gospel.

Are you glad now that they didn’t back down?

Here’s application point number one of two this morning:

#1. DON’T GIVE IN TO FALSE BROTHERS AND A FALSE GOSPEL.

That’s the whole point of the book of Galatians.

There will be pressure from others to believe a false gospel.

Don’t give in. I love verse 5.

“We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.”

Oh, isn’t that last part interesting?

They didn’t give in back in Jerusalem so that the gospel might remain with the brothers in Galatia!

And that means that it remains with the brothers in Central Pennsylvania.

Because Paul and Titus did not give in for a moment!

Isn’t that interesting.

What we do with the gospel matters to others.

If we give in on the gospel it will affect others around us.

If I give in on the gospel, it will affect the rest of this church.

If you give in on the gospel, it will affect other people, too.

Don’t give in. Not even for a moment.

To false brothers and false gospel.

Do you have a category for false brothers?

People who call themselves Christians but really are not?

These people may have a great following.

They may be popular.

They may be people you love.

They may be people who have good things to say in other areas of life.

But they have the gospel WRONG. And they are preaching it wrong.

And it affects others.

Don’t allow yourself to be duped by them.

False teaching is real, and it must be countered. It must be defended against.

Our freedom is at stake!  Our freedom from our sins! Our freedom from Satan. Our freedom in Christ.

Now, don’t be hasty to call someone a false brother. But don’t pretend that they don’t exist, either.

There is only one true gospel, and it must be defended at any cost.

Even from people who say, “Jesus is the Messiah.”

Because if they say, “Jesus is the Messiah, but you also have to do this. You also have to add to the basis of your justification.” It’s “‘Jesus Christ and the mass, or Jesus Christ and water baptism, or Jesus Christ and good works, or Jesus Christ and a charismatic experience. [No!] Paul’s argument is that nothing, absolutely nothing, can be mingled with Christ as a ground of our acceptance with God. Our hope is built on nothing less–and nothing more–than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” (Timothy George, “Galatians” pg. 153).

Don't give in to false brothers and a false gospel.

Not even for a moment.

That’s my prayer for Emerysn, Grayson, and Brigan.

That they would grow up knowing this gospel and not turning away from it. Not even for a moment.

“So that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.”

So we know what Paul thought. We know what Barnabas thought. We know what Titus thought.

He thought, “Whew. That was a close one.”

But what did Peter think? What did John think? What did James think?  V.6

“As for those who seemed to be important [the recognized leaders in Jerusalem]–whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance–those men added nothing to my message.”

Literally, “they added nothing to me.”

We had the exact same gospel.

Peter, James, and John agreed that Titus should not be circumcised.

They agreed that the gospel was a gospel of grace from first to last.

They agreed that there was no difference between what Paul preached and what they preached.

They had the exact same gospel.

Notice again how Paul is adamant that his gospel does not depend upon them. He just about says that he doesn’t care about them all!

I don’t think he means that he doesn’t care about them as people. Of course he does. And he wants them to agree.

But he doesn’t care what position they have in the eyes other others. If they have the gospel wrong, they are wrong.

He does not need their approval.

I want to live like that.

I have a hard time living like that.  That’s hard for me.

I like to be liked.
I love to be loved.

I want people to approve of me and my ministry.

Paul wants that and respects these men if they share his gospel.

But he definitely does not live for their approval. And he doesn’t just give his because of their position.

What he cares about is the gospel.

And, the good news is that they totally agreed on the good news! V.7

“On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”

The good news is that they totally agreed on the good news.

There would be no division in their fellowship. Only a division of labor.

The Jerusalem apostles could clearly see that Paul was called primarily to the Gentiles (literally, to the uncircumcised).  And they could see that Peter was called primarily to the Jews (to those who were circumcised).

But they could also see that they were going to take the exact same gospel to both groups!

The exact same gospel that Paul had preached to the Galatians.

And the exact same gospel that we preach here at Lanse Free Church.

The exact same gospel Paul is urging the Galatians not to abandon.

The exact same gospel that we should protect and defend and cling to today.

Here’s point number two and our last for today.

#2. WORK IN TANDEM WITH TRUE BROTHERS IN THE TRUE GOSPEL.

What a great example there is here!

These men did the careful work of making sure they believed the exact same things about the essentials of the gospel and then they shook hands on it and divided up the work.

You see how there is no competition here?

There is no, Peter versus Paul.

No Wendy’s versus McDonalds.

No our team versus their team.

One gospel team.

“You go after those guys.

We’ll go after these guys.

And if you need anything, holler.”

Now, it doesn’t always work that way.

In fact, we’re going to see how Peter and Paul actually clashed later next time we’re in Galatians together.

But on this day, they were together.

One gospel team.

That’s one of the things I love about being a part of the EFCA.

Tomorrow, I’m going to hop a plane to Austin and represent you at EFCA One.

It’s ONE because there is ONE gospel that we preach in the EFCA.

The exact same gospel.

We are not divided on the gospel. We are together.

But we divide up the work. Some work in missions. Some work in cities.

We do our gospel work here in Central PA.

But we are together.

We work in tandem with truth brothers in the truth gospel.

And of course that goes way beyond the EFCA, as well.

Anyone who believes and is living in accord with true gospel is a true brother, and we are called to work in tandem (not in competition) with them.

And that includes in our ministries of mercy.

I love how Paul ends by saying that after they were sure they preached the same gospel, they also made sure that they were both committed to ministry to the poor.

The gospel of grace when believed, always issues into good works.

It is not based on good works but it always produces good works.

The gospel of grace creates love for others, especially those who need it the most.

“All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”

Brothers and sisters, let us not give in to false brothers and false gospels, not even for a moment, but where there is the true gospel we have true brothers with whom we form true partnerships to share the exact same gospel with those need it most and serve needy people with the love the true gospel creates in us.

“So that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.”

Messages in this Series

01. To the Churches in Galatia
02. Turning to a Different Gospel
03. Preaching the Faith He Once Tried to Destroy

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