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YOU ARE BORN TO SHINE

2 Corithians Chapter 4 verse 6

LETS WORSHIP TOGETHER

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Thursday, July 04 2019

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

Introduction

In our study last week, Apostle Paul gave a detailed account of his journey into salvation – the revelation of the Gospel he preached to the Gentiles, his zealousness when he was in Judaism, how the grace of God found him and made him the carrier of the gospel to the Gentiles, his period of preparation etc. So much to learn from this uniquely humble, yet fiery servant of the Most High God. We will continue in our study of the book of Galatians today as we learn some more life applicable lessons from the account of Apostle Paul during his visit to Jerusalem to meet with the reputable apostles.

 

Galatians 2 vs 1: Then after a period of fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem, [this time] with Barnabas, taking Titus along also.”

This probably refers to the events taking place during the Jerusalem Counsel. See Acts 15:1-2 Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised in accordance with the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Paul and Barnabas disagreed greatly and debated with them, so it was determined that Paul and Barnabas and some of the others from their group would go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders [and confer with them] concerning this issue. 

About Titus - To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace [inner calm and spiritual well-being] from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior (Titus 1:4 AMP)

About Barnabas - Now Joseph, a Levite and native of Cyprus, who was surnamed Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement) (Acts 4:36 AMP)

Galatians 2 vs 2: “I went up [to Jerusalem] because of a [divine] revelation, and I put before them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles. But I did so in private before those of reputation, for fear that I might be running or had run [the course of my ministry] in vain.”

To those who were of reputation – Namely Peter, James, and John. Remember that Paul is defending his apostleship. During this trip to Jerusalem, his stance on circumcision and legalism was at stake. He did not doubt that what he was preaching was true since it was revealed to him directly by God. It seems some of Paul’s attackers were claiming that these three apostles were real apostles, while Paul was not. The next few verses describe their conclusion on the gospel Paul was preaching. He didn’t need their endorsement since he knew what he was preaching was directly from Christ, but their endorsement would act to give “his gospel” more credibility in front of those false teachers and the church at large. The church in Jerusalem was still considered the Mother church by many and the apostles’ opinions who served there might sway some people who weren’t swayed by Paul.

Paul met privately with these three apostles. This was not because he wasn’t sure if the gospel he was preaching was genuine or not. It is clear that it was revealed to him directly by Christ and he was willing to stake everything on it. Instead he wanted to meet privately with these three, probably to make sure they agreed and would support him during the full counsel. During this first meeting he didn’t want everyone there with lots of opportunity for debate and/or disagreement. Instead he preferred to keep the circle small and limited to the leaders who would be deciding the issue (Let’s take a cue from this. Jesus did same. Sometimes, it’s wise to deliberate matters in a smaller gathering than in a bigger one, why?) This was an issue worth fighting for, and yet Paul realized there was a right way and a wrong way to fight for it. See 1 Corinthians 14:40 - Everything should be done decently (appropriately) and in an orderly fashion.

Galatians 2 vs 3: “But [all went well, for] not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled [as some had anticipated] to be circumcised, despite the fact that he was a Greek.”

Paul won a resounding victory. Titus was not compelled to be circumcized! Circumcision was a key issue among the Judaizers. They believed that one could not be saved without being circumcised. However, circumcision is a work. If circumcision was required for salvation, then salvation would at least be partially by good works. We must also realize today that salvation is not by good works. Some people almost equate baptism with salvation. They don’t believe that they are a true Christian until they have been baptized. If that were the case, we would be falling into the same trap of endorsing a type of good works salvation. The results of this teaching would have been devastating because;

  • The importance of God’s grace would have been lowered.
  • We would be more prideful since we rely on ourselves and our own good works.
  • The weight and burden of the law would once again be on our shoulders.
  • The progress of the gospel would have been greatly slowed since every person must become a Jew in order to become a Christian. Many may have rejected the gospel because they were unwilling to be circumcised.

Care must be taken by teachers of the Word to avoid this pitfall of salvation by good works.

Galatians 2 vs 4: “My concern was because of the false brothers [those people masquerading as Christians] who had been secretly smuggled in [to the community of believers]. They had slipped in to spy on the freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us back into bondage [under the Law of Moses].”

The false brethren secretly brought in. Satan is sneaky and devious. He often doesn’t attack head on. Rather he sneaks and spies. His attacks tend to be more subtle. He still sends false teachers into the church. These don’t always identify themselves immediately. Sometimes they observe for a while. They blend in. Then when they think the time is right, they lay the snares. They promote division. Their goal was to enslave them to false teachings and ruin their Christian freedom.

We must always be alert. Satan has not given up. A wounded lion is the most dangerous kind. We must diligently study the Bible so that we can recognize false teaching. Beyond that, we must diligently stand up to and fight against false teaching wherever we see it.

Galatians 2vs5: “But we did not yield to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel would continue to remain with you [in its purity].”

No compromise! For the sake of the gospel, Paul would not budge or compromise one inch. One might question why Paul didn’t just let Titus be circumcised. After all, it is not sinful to be circumcised. The problem is that if he gave in, the false teachers would take it as proof that circumcision was ALWAYS necessary. They would say even Paul required his disciples to be circumcised. Then the true gospel would be in danger of being forever tainted by a works-based foundation.

Application: There are many areas we can and should compromise. We should compromise when our personal preferences or convenience is at stake. For example, I shouldn’t always demand that my family eat what I like or go where I like. But on Biblical issues, where the Bible speaks clearly, we must not compromise. How do we balance Christian unity with no compromising on truth? Notice that Paul refused to compromise on a gospel essential issue. The entire gospel is at stake. We should not compromise on our Biblical convictions, but neither should we promote disunity or gravitate to conflict.

This is a difficult balance to maintain. Many believers go off on one side or the other. Some enjoy arguing. They will latch on to any disagreement with other believers, even on small issues, and argue about it. Their attitude is often prideful, and they will look down on others if they don’t agree with them. Their first solution to many problems is to divide and start their own group/church. Others prefer an ecumenical approach (encourage unity among Christian churches). They can seemingly accept any and every doctrine and position. Doctrinal issues are not very important to them. In turn, they may look down pridefully on those who emphasize doctrine. How can we balance these issues?

We can serve together with believers of other viewpoints if we cooperate in areas we agree about. For example, two believers with different viewpoints about speaking in tongues as one of the evidences of Holy Ghost baptism, can go out and share the gospel together. But it is not advisable to hold an end times seminar together with a believer who doesn’t believe in the rapture. We can still fellowship together and partner for some activities. Don’t compromise, but also be diligent to maintain unity. Ephesians 4:3. John 13:35. 2 Timothy 2:15. Perhaps humility is the most important ingredient for dealing with believers who embrace different doctrines.

Galatians 2vs6: “But from those who were of high reputation (whatever they were—in terms of individual importance—makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality—He is not impressed with the positions that people hold nor does He recognize distinctions such as fame or power)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me [that is, they had nothing to add to my gospel message nor did they impose any new requirements on me]”

Paul mentions their reputation not because he cares about it, but because some would respect and believe what the apostles in Jerusalem said. I would say that the apostles had very good credibility. Today, we should not believe something just because a famous preacher said it. It is not a good argument to say, “I believe…because Pastor Jones Swagalo said…” One huge point of the entire Protestant Reformation is that every person can come to the Bible, read it, understand it, and apply it on their own. God does not show favoritism. It is unhealthy to attach ourselves as followers of people. Paul was not happy with the Corinthian church because they divided into camps based on their favorite preacher. They said, “I am of Apollos” or “I am of Paul.” Neither should we identify ourselves based on which preacher or speaker we like. That would create problems and disunity.

Galatians 2vs7-8: “But on the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised (Gentiles), just as Peter had been [entrusted to proclaim the gospel] to the circumcised (Jews); (for He who worked effectively for Peter and empowered him in his ministry to the Jews also worked effectively for me and empowered me in my ministry to the Gentiles).

What task has God entrusted you with? Do you know what God has called you to do? Have you been faithfully doing it this past week? We should be as clear in our own minds as Paul was in his what our calling is. This big picture goal can help you make decisions on little things. For example, if my calling is to train and equip believers for sharing the gospel and starting groups I would likely decline if the church asked me to become a choir member. We would do well to have a clear vision of how we believe God wants to use us. We must also learn to appreciate and encourage people to know and pursue their call and RESPECT their unique callings, regardless of how insignificant this may be perceived to be.

Galatians 2vs9: “And recognizing the grace [that God had] bestowed on me, James and Cephas (Peter) and John, who were reputed to be pillars [of the Jerusalem church], gave to me and Barnabas the [c]right hand of fellowship, so that we could go to the Gentiles [with their blessing] and they to the circumcised (Jews).”

Remember that Paul’s point in all of this is defending his apostleship and the gospel he has been preaching. Here he notes that the pillars of the Jerusalem church agreed with him and extended to him the “right hand of fellowship.” This “represented a solemn vow of friendship and a mark of apostleship.” Clearly, they affirmed Paul as a true apostle and the gospel he preached as the true gospel. This is also confirmed in Acts 15. 

Conclusion – Galatians 2vs10: “They asked only [one thing], that we remember the poor, the very thing I was also eager to do.”

Remember the poor. The poor are sometimes easy to forget. We get comfortable in our own worlds and don’t always think of those who are in less fortunate positions than we are. When we do think of them, we sometimes even blame them for their misfortune and say trite things like “he should work harder.” You don’t need to look far to realize this is an issue the Bible talks a lot about. Proverbs 19:17, Matthew 5:42, Luke 3:11.

Some parts of this study was culled from https://studyandobey.com/inductive-bible-study

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 12:57 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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