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Grace Triumphs Over Legalism
Galatians 2 (Pastor Brian)
Paul Accepted by the Apostles
1 Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 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. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4 [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. 5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you. 6 As for those who seemed to be important–whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance–those men added nothing to my message. 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. 8 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. 9 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. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
Paul Opposes Peter
11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. 14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? 15 “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ 16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. 17 “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Galatians 2:20 is a good memory verse FYI.
In the last study, we looked at the reason why Galatians was written. Paul had founded churches in Galatia, and they had seen miracles, experienced the Holy Spirit, and had great joy, etc.
There are two theories regarding who this letter was addressed to:
- North central Asia minor
- Southern Asia
These were under the Roman jurisdiction.
Most scholars believe the letter was written to the Southern Asians – this seems to fit well with Paul’s criticism of them. They’d received the HS, experienced the power of the gospel, but when Paul and Barnabas left, the Judaizers came in to tell them “Hey, you guys gotta follow the LAW man!”
God had overruled this many times and Paul had shown it. But the Judaizers came in to discredit Paul and say, “Look, Paul ain’t really a Jesus guy. He’s a faker.”
BUT, we are disciples of Jesus, saved by faith and grace, not the LAW (of Moses, not the Law of the Romans). Faith in Christ brings freedom and liberty and grace.
In defending himself as an apostle, Paul talks about a meeting in Jerusalem with Titus and Barnabas – where he was able to tell the gospel he preached. While there, some of the Jews tried to convince Titus to be circumcised to “be REALLY REALLY REALLY saved.” Paul refused with gusto.
The question posed was: Do Gentiles have to follow the Law of Moses in order to truly be saved? The Law began with the covenant. The sons of Moses were circumcised and he handed down the covenant to the people. John the Baptist was circumcised. Jesus was also circumcised on the 8th day according to custom.
But it’s important to understand this in relation with the gospel. Physical circumcision is not required. Remember Cornelius in Acts 10-11, where they were granted repentance and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They didn’t need to be circumcised BEFORE receiving the HS. They responded with faith in their hearts and the HS fell upon them, just like at Pentecost.
Acts 15 – there was a letter sent by the apostles and elders, expounded by Paul in most of his letter to the churches – that said physical circumcision was not necessary. However, in Colossians, Paul talks about how faith in Christ and repentance toward God brings about a dramatic conversion where we are made to be NEW creations – and the OLD man is cut off and thrown out. This is the experience of spiritual circumcision.
Acts – Paul went to Derby and met Timothy (half Jew/ half Greek). Paul wanted to take Timothy on the journey with him – so he circumcised Timothy for the sake of the Jews in the area (because they knew his father was a Greek). He did this for speed, to get into the synagogues and not create a big fuss among the Jews – this was NOT for salvation purposes.
Paul was “under” some of the other church leaders, but Paul attests that they didn’t add anything or correct his gospel. Paul recognized Peter’s apostleship to the Jews, and his own to the Gentiles.
- Peter went to the Jews.
- Paul to the Gentiles – but he always went to the Jews FIRST to preach. When rejected, then he went to the Gentiles – which is what the Lord had appointed him for anyway.
Paul opposed Peter to his face. Why? He was afraid of the Circumcised Cliche of Jewish Christians. Even Barnabas was led astray in this way. They both separated themselves from eating and fellowshiping with the Gentile Christians.
See, the Judaizers were trying to say, “Yo, Paul is LESS than the other apostles – especially Peter.”
But here we can see that Paul is on level standing (perhaps even higher) than Peter.
This falling away from fellowship with the Gentiles came gradually, but others eventually noticed and followed as well. This falling away was troubling for the grace of God. For people are saved by GRACE, not by works.
Acts 15:1 some men came from Judea to Antioch and were teaching – “Yo, if you ain’t circumcised, you ain’t really saved.” So, we can see this trouble.
But still, among the Gentiles there were miracles, and the acts and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
But then the Circumcision Cliche (Pharisees and all) said, “Hey, hey, you gots to be cut to be saved.”
But Paul said, “The Holy Spirit made no distinction between us (Jews) and them (Gentiles). Now, why are you putting a burden (yoke) on them that even we and our fathers couldn’t bear? NO, it is through GRACE we are saved, just as they are.”
James (leader of the Counsel) agreed with Peter (this was during the time of Cornelius) and they set up 5 regulations that Gentile Christians must follow:
- No food sacrificed to idols…..
- No sexual immorality……
However, after Peter had worked hard to convince the others that Gentiles were good to go if they believed, then perhaps Fear of Man issues started to cause him to go back on what he’d originally believed. He surrendered to the idea that “mmm, maybe circumcision is a good thing…?”
How did Peter react to Paul’s confrontation?
He loved him and accepted his criticism. In his letters he even addressed how Paul spoke to him. He clearly regards Paul as a brother, respects Paul’s guidance, and regards Paul’s writings as Scripture.
Paul stood alone when others were led astray, he had to rebuke a respected brother in Christ, but his courage was motivated by faithfulness – to Jesus and to the gospel.
He was courageous.
Peter was humble. He didn’t hold a grudge, and he recognized Paul’s wisdom.
Paul’s rebuke was motivated by love, love for his brother, love for Christ, and love for others (those he taught). “Love one another, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil for evil but with good…so that you may inherit a blessing.”
This all illustrates the power of Christ – how it turns a persecutor (Paul) and the persecuted (Peter) into co-workers. And the gospel can help those in conflict with one another to love and work together.
If Paul had said, (v. 15-end)
If I try to rebuild the Law, then I remake myself a sinner.
Under the Law I died, and I’m no longer under its demands. I may consider that I died on the cross with Christ. The body I live in is not my old life, but the new life of Christ in me.
I refuse to make useless the grace of God by trying to get back under that old Law.
If we could be justified by the Law, then what’s the point of Jesus’ sacrifice?
A life crucified with Christ. (We can’t actually, physically do so) but spiritually we can. All of us, baptized into Christ, have been buried with him in baptism. And as he has been raised, so we are raised into newness of life.
We know that our old self was crucified to sin, our old bodies done away with, so that we are not slaves to sin.
We also know that as Christ was raised from dead, death has no power over him, even so, we are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
- RECOGNIZE: your death with Christ
- RECOGNIZE: your resurrection with Him
And continually recognize this in your life.
In baptism by immersion, you go down under the water (as if being buried in the earth), and are raised again (as if being resurrected).
The Code of Justice in the EU:
Has forced Google to de-activate searches for private citizens who don’t want some things found.
A Spaniard brought this out – he HAD been in debt, but now is not – but he is still found in Google Searches.
Forbes “The EU’s right to be forgotten clashes with the US’s right to know.”
Will this cause another giant type of firewall like China? People, young and immature have done and posted stupid things online that can now NEVER be unposted.
But, interestingly, this “right to be forgotten” is a part of the gospel. Your sins will be forgotten.
Isaiah “I, even I, blot out your sins for my own sake and remember them NO MORE.”
Jeremiah 31:34 “No longer will they teach their neighbor and say ‘Know the Lord’ for they will know me, for I will forgive their sins and remember them NO MORE.”
Amazing that God is omniscient (all-knowing), yet he CHOOSES to forget all our sins when we believe in Christ. In this way, we are justified by faith in Christ.
Derick Prince: “Justified = Just as if I’d… never sinned.”
This is the truth Paul is fighting for.
“The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me.” To go back to the Law would be to go back to WRATH. Now we live under GRACE.