Sunday, March 27, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Now when Peter had come to Antioch [third largest city in the Roman Empire with a half million people] at this time , I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed [this shows us Paul’s Apostolic authority]; for before certain men came from James, he would eat [love/agape feast] with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew (Gk. Hupostello – In the imperfect tense meant gradually) and separated (Gk. Aphorizo – Complete and final separation) himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.
Peter came to Antioch and, at first, he was enjoying
fellowship with his Gentile brothers disregarding the
old taboos. He shared the common meal with his
Gentile brothers. It was all cool and good to eat
together until some strictly Jewish Christians from
Jerusalem came across Peter in Antioch. Then,
Peter “withdrew” in the Greek it meant he
gradually pulled away from eating with the
Gentiles. Also, the word “separated” in the Greek
meant a final separation from eating with Gentile
Peter let them (Jewish believers) get to him and he
FEARED them. Knowing they did NOT approve
of a Jew EVER eating with a Gentile
(even if both are saved – hmm!)
Peer pressure (in the form of FEAR) got the best of
Peter, so to speak, folded under the pressure (fear).
THOUGHT: Do we let the “fear of man” influence us
in how we act or who we hang out with.
Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare.”
Peter knew Gentiles could be saved – Acts 10, and in
Acts 15:9 he stated that God had “…put no
difference between us (Jews) and them (Gentiles).”
So his behavior of no longer eating with Gentiles was
nothing short of being hypocritical.
And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward (lit. walking straight) about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all [public rebuke, not private], "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles [Peter no longer observed Jewish food regulations] and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?
Paul could not allow Peter to do this. It was hypocritical
on Peter’s part, and because of Peter’s role (influence)
in the early church, his hypocritical actions could lead
Although Peter was a leader of the church, he was
acting like a hypocrite. He knew better, yet he was
driven by fear of what others would think.
Paul knew that he had to confront Peter before his
actions damaged the church.
Paul did not wait to correct Peter. It made no
difference to Paul that it was “one of the pillars”
of the church – Peter!
It was wrong, and that was all that mattered to him.
A famous name can never justify an infamous
action to the point that other Jews believers
followed Peter’s (poor) example, and
EVEN Barnabas was influenced. (v. 13)
THOUGHT: Today, we see many high-profile
ministers who are almost considered above
correction. The name of the minister or fame
of a Christian does not make them exempt from
living Christ-like. We need to stand for the
truth regardless of who it is that is promoting error.
With the acceptance of Christians being either
Jewish believers (plus keeping the law and traditions)
and also of Gentile believers being Christian
(but not required to keep the law and Jewish traditions),
resulted in two distinct classes of Christians
(Jew believer more looking down on Gentile believer)
in the church. Not a good thing. This is a real problem
Example: I see Jewish believers (original branch) acting
like they’re one up on Gentile believers (grafted into
the branch). I think it’s great to see Jewish believers,
but that doesn’t make them one up as believers
because they are Jewish. Also, people do this regarding
tongues or no tongues, water baptism sprinkled or
immersed, etc, etc. We will have varying views on
“non-essentials”areas, but we do need to stop making
these distinctions points of division, or acting like one is
a better Christian than another because of his
BOTTOM LINE WE ARE ALL SAVED BY GOD’S
GRACE – NO CREDIT TO YOU!
It could not be right that the Gentiles come to God
by grace and Jews come to him by the law. For Paul
there was only one reality - GRACE.
A church ceases to be Christians if it containsclass (or race) distinctions.
Three practical truths we learn from this passage are:
1. Great leaders can fall - May God help us to test every
message we hear by His Word, and help us from
exalting ANY human leader above measure.
2. God’s grace means no second-class Christians -
May we never distinguish in the body of Christ
those of different social status, race, or anything else.
3. Standing for the Gospel can be lonely – Paul stood
alone here. History shows many great Christian
leaders stood alone.
So, we conclude this week’s lesson
This coming weekend we will cover
Galatians 2:15-21 (conclude chapter 2).
Do invite people to join us at: http://www.biblefood.blogspot.com/
or on FB go to the group: “Galatians Study”
Monday, March 14, 2011
Chapters 1 & 2: Paul tells of his own experience.
Chapters 3 & 4: Doctrinal position of the Gospel of Grace.
Chapters 5 & 6: Application of the Gospel of Grace.
As we go into Galatians 2:1-10 I encourage you to read Acts 15:1-35, as they are sharing the same time period and should add to your understanding of this Galatians study.
We can call Paul a “Freedom Fighter” as he was not going to allow false teaching (Judaizers – A mixture of law and grace for salvation) to come into Galatia. Paul would fight to keep this gospel from being corrupted by legalism.
Defending the Gospel
Verse 1 - Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.
Jerusalem was “like” the headquarters (Bible Belt) of Christianity. Paul was led to speak to the Christian leadership there, but needed to be careful not to say too little and seem to be abandoning his principle beliefs, and not to say too much and seem to be at variance with the leadership there.
God's timing is best – How would you handle it if God kept you some place (or from some place) for 14 years while you’re wanting to go – All in His timing!
Barnabas [name means “son of encouragement] was one of Paul’s closest friends (see Acts 9:26-28).
In Acts 13:1-Acts 14:28, after his return from Arabia to public preaching, who did he look for but his friend Barnabas! We see Barnabas accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey – they were a team!
THOUGHT: Don’t we all need “Barnabas – Encouragers” in our life!
Maybe you also need to be a Barnabas/Encourager to someone else!
Brief thought on Titus: Titus was a Gentile believer. Apparently, he came to Christ through Paul’s ministry. (See Titus 1:4)
Verse 2 - And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.
Paul went by the Spirit's leading to Jerusalem and got together with the Christian spiritual leaders there to clarify the issue of, whether Jew or Gentile, salvation is by Christ alone and that salvation does not require a Gentile believer to be circumcised. Now all believers are on the same page – Salvation comes through the grace of God!
Verse 3 - Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
It’s quite possible Paul took Titus to Jerusalem to show the fruit of an uncircumcised Gentile believer. Since salvation was not by any works, he did NOT need to be circumcised.
Verse 4 - And this occurred because of false brethren [fakes - in this case Judaizers, not Christian at all] secretly brought in [crept in, a gradual infilteration] to spy out [with a critical and hostile intent] our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage,
This is the typical pattern of false brothers.
False Brethren --> Secret Spy --> Take away liberty --> Result: Bondage
We have these in almost all churches today. They may act like a Christian, but inwardly their motive is to infilterate and destroy our gospel-given FREEDOM! Be on the alert for them!
Those who try to add any works (circumcision/law) to salvation are ultimately taking away our liberty/freedom we have in Christ and bringing us into bondage!
THOUGHT: Has the peace and joy in your Christian walk disappeared and been replaced by a peaceless/joyless “have to do” works orientated salvation? Check to make sure you didn’t allow some false teaching into your life. This may be the first time you have recognized it!
Verse 5 - to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
Any wavering here and the gospel of grace would have been hurt or gone.
Basically, he didn’t allow false teaching for even an hour [not for anytime].
THOUGHT: Do we see a works salvation being preached around us? If we do, we shouldn’t put up with it for a second!
Note: We are NOT talking about FRUIT that will follow a true conversion
Verse 6 - But from those who seemed to be something [James, Peter and John] - whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man - for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.
The wording here seems strong, but Paul was not meaning disrespect for Jerusalem church leaders, but taking them off their “superstar”status [still a problem today], clearly stating God doesn’t have any favorites. Paul had the truth (just like them). They were leaders in the Church [Jerusalem] but they didn’t change Paul or his message. The gospel of truth is the same everywhere!
THOUGHT: I see this “superstar” image among many ministers. We need to get past that and respect their gifting from God, but still see them as people just like you and me.
Verse 7 - But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised [Gentiles] had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised [Jews] was to Peter.
All this is indicating a calling to a certain group of people. Peter, by God’s direction, was primarily called to preach Jesus Christ to the Jews; whereas, Paul was called primarily to the Gentiles.
Verse 8 - (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles),
THOUGHT: All people need to hear the same gospel message, but we may feel led/inclined to reach out specifically to a certain group with that message.
Examples: Inner city, drug addicts, bikers, or any other people group you can think of.
Verse 9 - and when James, Cephas, and John [all ministering to the Jews],who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship (Gk. Koinonias – carries with it the idea of partnership, being in this together), that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.
If you get the “left hand of fellowship” that’s not good. The “right hand of fellowship” is good. That meant they were working together (partnering) for the goal of the evangelizing of all people. Thus, the Christian leadership in Jerusalem gave their approval to Paul’s ministering Jesus Christ to the Gentiles without the requirement of circumcision or keeping the Jewish law.
NOTE: I’m sure the enemies' dream was to divide the church, but praise be to God they all agreed on the One Gospel message for all people!
Verse 10 - They desired only that we should remember the poor [specifically in Jerusalem], the very thing which I also was eager to do.
They did ask that Paul remember the poor, meaning more specifically the poor in Jerusalem, which was obviously no problem since that was already in the heart of Paul.
(See Romans 15:25-33; I Cor. 16:1-4 and II Cor. 8:9)
THOUGHT: Are you remembering the poor?
Please let this letter speak to you and free you from any man-made bondages!
Next week we’ll continue with verse 11.
Please pass this on to others – Thank you!
Saturday, March 05, 2011
Matthew 21:13 "And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves."
The greatest reputation of the Lord's House should be the "house of prayer." Churches have reputations as a great singing church, a great preaching church or a great programs church.
But how long has it been since someone referred to a church as a "praying church?"
"Every congregation and all believers everywhere need united agreement in prayer and faith.
"THE FIRST CHURCH WAS A PRAYING CHURCH