March 5, 2017
Scripture: Galatians 2:1-10
I. We need to fight for salvation in Christ alone.
A. We see the fight for freedom that Paul got into beginning in vs. 1. Fourteen years after Paul had been converted to faith in Christ he went to Jerusalem with two of his fellow missionaries Barnabas and Titus. You can read about that visit of Paul and Barnabas and Titus to Jerusalem in Acts 11. In verse 2 Paul writes that he met with the apostles in Jerusalem to talk about “the Gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles in order to make sure that I was not running or had not run in vain.” He was afraid that if the Jewish apostles in Jerusalem told Paul that he was preaching a different Gospel than the one they were preaching that there would be a division between the Jewish and the Gentile church.
B. In verse 3 we see that Paul won his fight for freedom and for the Gospel. But what kind of Gospel were Paul’s opponents teaching among the Galatian churches? We see their false gospel in Acts 15:1: “But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’” These false teachers wanted to add circumcision and the Jewish Law to the true Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
C. Paul made something of a bold move when he went to Jerusalem to meet the apostles. Who did Paul bring with him? Titus, a Greek, an uncircumcised man. Titus was the perfect test case for Paul’s law-free gospel. Would the apostles accept Titus as a Christian even though he was uncircumcised? It turns out that they did accept Titus as a Christian. Paul says in Galatians 2:5 that he preached the truth of the Gospel. And Jesus told us something about what the truth does for us. John 8:31-32: “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” The truth sets you free. Fight for your freedom by believing the Gospel.
II. We need to fight for a multicultural church.
A. In Galatians 2 we see that Paul and his missionary friends preached the same Gospel as the Jewish apostles did in Jerusalem. They were partners in the Gospel. But there was a difference in focus. Paul and his missionary friends were focused on preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles (vs. 2 and vs. 7). And in vs. 7-8 we see that “Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles).”
B. Paul knew that the Gospel was not just for the Jewish culture; the gospel is for every culture. He knew this because of the last words Jesus spoke to the apostles before he went back to heaven in Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Christianity is multicultural as a matter of principle, which is one reason the Gospel has changed the whole world. The Gospel is for Jews and Gentiles. The church cannot exclude people from salvation on the basis of race, gender, class, age or anything else.
Fight for the freedom that the Gospel has given to you and the church.
The letter to the Galatians
Commentaries on Galatians by Philip Graham Ryken and Douglas Moo