Monday, February 23, 2009

Galatians - Week 4 Just Do It !

Galatians 2:1-10

Paul has been preaching, teaching, and planting churches for fourteen years. He didn't wait to be elected, ordained, finish school, have all the details perfectly laid out before him, didn't ask Dionne Warwick and her psychic friends if this was right or confirm with his family. Once Paul met the resurrected, glorious, victorious King Jesus (Acts 9:4) his life was forever changed. He immediately began preaching the gospel and didn't slow down to chat with anyone, he just did it. Paul's calling was to preach to the gentiles (non-Jews) while the apostles in Jerusalem shared the gospel with the Jewish people.

#1 Sometimes we need to "just do it". I am not saying that we should forgo advice or wise counsel. I am not advocating rushing into anything without seeking God's will through prayer, fasting, and scripture reading. What I am saying is that sometimes God speaks so clearly to us as to His will for our lives that we need no further confirmation. Put down the arms of disobedience, roll up your sleeves, and get to work.

Through revelation (Galatians 2:1-2) the Holy Spirit calls Paul to meet with the church leaders to:

1. Build unity. Up to this point the church in Jerusalem had been primarily focused on reaching the Jews....Paul was focused on reaching the Gentiles, each had been doing there own ministry.
2. Allow Paul to share his ministry with the church, up to this point the church in Jerusalem didn't really know what Paul was teaching or preaching.
3. Provide encouragement to each other. These two varying ministries could have been a source of division among the early church but through God's grace this meeting solidified the church and its missional approach to both gentiles and Jews in a general sense.

Paul takes with him Titus and Barnabas, two of his closet friends and partners in the gospel ministry.

Titus is a young, hip, Greek pastor (Titus 1:4-5) who loves Jesus, loves people, and shares the gospel to those in the Greek culture of Crete. Titus was a dependable, trusted friend of Paul who traveled with Paul on several trips (Titus 1:5, Galatians 2:3) and was sent to help straighten out the troubles in Corinth(2 Corinthians 7:6).

Paul also took Barnabas with him to Jerusalem. There are typically two types of people in this world:

1. Those who are always down, something bad has always just happened to them, things could not get any worse, nothing every goes their way. These are the people I lovingly refer to as "dream slayers" you know, you just won 300 million dollars and they quickly point out with a glum face that after taxes it is only a paltry 275 million?

2. Then there are those who people love, are naturally drawn to, those who are full of life, energy, joy, enthusiasm, and are great encouragers. Barnabas is the later. He was a great encourager...his name actually means "Son of Encouragement." His real name was Joseph but because of his great heart and gift of exhortation they nicknamed him Barnabas.

Barnabas was the first to sell his possessions and give the money to the church(Acts4:36-37). When none of the Christians wanted to let Paul into their small group(Acts9:26-27) - can you imagine the scene? Guys, I want to introduce you to Paul....yes that Paul....I know, I know but I think everything is OK...he's cool now." When no one wanted Paul in their small group it was Barnabas who welcomed Paul in, loved him, and encouraged others to welcome Paul and to love Paul and it was Barnabas who convinced them that Paul was a changed man in the Lord Jesus. Without Barnabas and his encouragement and love we might not have most of our New Testament today.

Galatians 2:2-4 So Paul, Titus, and Barnabas go to Jerusalem to visit with the church leaders so that Paul can share with his fellow workers his ministry. Paul subjects himself to the accountability of others to make sure that what he has been preaching is true and correct and is in accordance with scripture. Each of us need both fellowship and accountability with one another as we daily seek to serve Jesus.

Now remember, Paul is writing to the churches in Galatia, how some have infiltrated the ranks and are distorting the gospel and Paul shares with the Galatians that the same thing happened in Jerusalem and goes on to share how he dealt with it there (Galatians 2:2-6). Paul shared his ministry in private with those who were in leadership....."This is what I have been doing over the past fourteen years...this is what I have been preaching..... 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 "that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve." Apparently while Paul and the church leaders were meeting there were some who insisted that in order to receive the gospel, to be saved Gentiles must first convert to Judaism and that meant being circumcised and being bound to the law.

It goes without saying that Titus wasn't too keen on this idea from a Biblical or physical perspective (Galatians 2:3)..."you want to do what with that knife? Paul, is that why you brought me here? I'm going down to the Starbucks for a caramel macchiato while you guys has this one out."

Why was this happening?

Some people are scared and freak out completely when they hear that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. That His death on the cross has paid for all sins of the past, the present, and the future for those who accept, believe, and confess Him as Savior and follow Him as Lord. This means that for those in Jesus there is complete freedom.

Freedom from: Sin - God no longer holds our sins against us - we are forgiven completely and eternally.
The Law - Before Jesus each of us were measured against God's law yet the law has never given life, it only condemns us, shows us how imperfect we are, and how desperate we are in trying to be good.
Death - The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and the reality is that we all deserve death for what we have done (sins of commission), what we have not done that we should have (sins of omission), and what we have thought. Yet God in His great love has given us eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

Religious people don't like the idea of people reading the scriptures for themselves, straying to far from traditions, moving away from the rituals, and forgoing the motions and appearance holiness. Paul states in Galatians 2:4 "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." The goal of religious people isn't to share the gospel, isn't to bring others to an eternal, life changing relationship with Jesus, but to make others think like they do, to validate in their minds that what they are doing is right, and to make others slaves.

Sometimes this opposition comes from well meaning, sincere, Christians who have unsound doctrine, the may have salvation but have never really read the word or studied the word for themselves. Their agendas are tradition based and emotionally charged but still Biblically un-sound.

Here is an example:
Anyone grow up in a small church? Witness a church split? I have seen people come unglued over a change in the bulletin, a change in the order of worship...dare I say in the style of music? I once witnessed a deacon walk out of a church service because someone was playing an acoustic guitar while singing about the power of the blood of Jesus. All of this as if the bulletin, the order of worship, or the style of music were somehow holy?

Galatians 2:5-6 Paul isn't having any of this...."speak to the hand, I know my Bible and this isn't what it says..." He almost seems to say.

#2 You and I must be experts of the word. How in the world are we to keep to a pure gospel? Jesus addresses this very issue in Matthew 13:18-23. Some receive the word and it is quickly taken away. Some receive the word and it lasts for a while and then other things come in and crowd it out, and others receive the word, understand it and their lives bear an abundant life as a result of it (not homes, cars, and bling). You and I must know our Bibles, must read them, pray over them, memorize them so that all the thorns of this world that are trying to come in and crowd out the gospel are cut away by the sword of the word.

Paul wasn't having any of this and Titus certainly wasn't convinced not by their words or by their appearance (Galatians 2:6). God is not impressed with outward appearances in dress or in motions or actions of holiness as He searches the heart and the motives(1 Chronicles 28:9).

Once the leaders hear Paul, see him rightly handle God's word, and see that he is not intimidated by others it is pretty clear that God has called Paul as an apostle, and they recognize Paul's calling and they accept Paul as a fellow apostle and they welcome Paul as an apostle. So Paul shares this with the churches in Galatia to back up his testimony, which many are questioning and attacking.

#3 Don't let ministry get in the way of serving, helping, and loving people. The church sees Paul, they hear his testimony, listen to his theology, and are convinced that the grace of God is upon him and that he has been called by Jesus to preach and plant churches among the gentiles. Through the process they make one request of Paul....don't let your ministry get in the way of helping others(Galatians 2:10). That sounds like a very strange thing for them to say doesn't it? I mean what has Paul been doing now for fourteen years? Preaching, teaching, serving, giving, loving.

I think this is a warning that we would all do well to hear. You see, you and I can get so busy with church, meetings, committees, fellowships, Bible Fellowship, we can become so self-absorbed that we can easily forget that outside these four walls there is a world of people, 6.5 billion who are hurting, suffering, dying. Many without food, clean water, clean clothes, and many without Jesus. Where is your heart for people this morning? When was the last time you stepped up and stepped out of your comfort zone to reach beyond the four church walls into the world to help those in need? Let us pray that we never get so busy with ministry that we forget to help those around us and in our city who need us.

Sometimes God calls us to do His will and our calling is crystal know what He has commanded you to do, salvation, church membership, service, missions, whatever it is would you please put down your arms of disobedience and just do it? You won't have any peace in your heart until you do.

Each of us need to be an expert of the word. In an always connected world it is increasingly easier for the thorns to grow in our hearts and to choke out the good news of the gospel. Examine the scriptures for yourself...what do they say? Many many man people have died so that you and I could have a copy of the Bible in our own language to read for ourselves. Will you read it?

Don't let ministry get in the way of helping people. Our teaching, preaching is in vain if it does not transform our hearts and call us to action in repentance of our sins and in motion to extend the light of Jesus to those in a dark world.

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