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  1. #1
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    Defending Freedom

    Galations 2:1-2 Paul begins the first tale:

    "Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 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."

    A meeting of minds

    We read in verse 2 that Paul came to Jerusalem by revelation. He wasn't called by headquarters to come and give a report. He wasn't coming to be examined by his superiors. Paul didn't recognize superiors, in fact. Rather, it was the Lord who indicated that he should go. It was time for the exciting work of evangelism and church-planting in the outer areas to be openly connected with the church in Jerusalem.

    Judaism historically had concentrated its authority in Jerusalem. The early church had followed suit, until later events caused the original apostles to travel widely to other locations. When Paul came to the revered city to speak with Peter, James, and John, he acknowledged a tension: he was certain of his apostolic calling, but lacked stature in dealing with the senior figures in Jerusalem. He determined not to rely on the estimation of human observers, but on God who goes beyond what can be seen on the outside (see 2:6).

    As events unfolded, Peter, James, and John extended to Paul, Barnabas, and Titus the right hand of fellowship. Both parties observed that the gospel message was the same in content from both sources, and understood differences in assignment (ministry to Jews and to Gentiles) to be complementary. They genuinely appreciated one another as co-workers and fellow servants of Christ.

    And their agreement went further: all recognized the importance of remembering the poor. Paul noted, "We not only believed the same things, we looked at people the same way, winning converts and caring for the destitute. Peter was called to preach to the Jews, and I was called to preach to the Gentiles, and there was a wonderful sense that God was at work. The good news was available to people whatever their background."

    Finally we should take note of those who opposed the truth. There were people Paul calls spies who were trying to worm their way into discussions among leaders. These were people who were afraid of liberty. They had a predictable religious agenda in which folks were measured by how well they performed. Love that was given freely by God and experienced among Christians was frightening to them. Paul declares, "They were trying to undermine what we preached in order to hold on to what was predictable, and we didn't let them for a minute. Titus did not have to be circumcised. It is of no advantage to have the look, background, standing, or the sensibilities of a Jew. None of that matters to God." The apostles, committed to each other, seeing the same thing, defeated these enemies who wanted to change the truth of Jesus' love.

    When the scene shifts to Antioch, different issues are at stake. This time Peter was the traveler. Verses 11-14:

    When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 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. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

    When I saw 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?"

    The Gospel wins the day

    Remember the important challenge of 1:10: Whom do you want to please, human beings or God himself? Here we observe that distinction in a practical context. Jews observed religious restrictions regarding cooking utensils, what they could eat, and so on. In Antioch Christians were in the habit of sharing meals without making an issues of these dietary laws. They had kosher tables and non-kosher ones. Peter freely ate at the latter until narrow-minded Jewish Christians arrived from Jerusalem (they were associated with James, though he would not have endorsed their antagonism to table fellowship with Gentiles).

    Like modern politicians with diverse constituencies, Peter faced a public-relations problem. Most believers in Jerusalem were traditional in their lifestyle choices. Peter wanted to avoid the "hassle" of questions and whisperings among these immature (narrow-minded) Jewish Christians when he returned to Jerusalem.

    But action taken for the sake of convenience became an assault on love. Others, including Barnabas, changed their behavior so that Gentile believers were made in effect second-class citizens.

    So Paul stood up in the middle of a meal with a public challenge: "This is wrong! Peter, why aren't you over at this table? You know better! Barnabas, what in the world do you think you're doing?" The earlier council described in verse 2 was in private because it was about theology. But here Paul had to make a public stand so that the people who had been publicly hurt would find themselves publicly accepted again. The clear implication of this passage is that Paul won the argument, and Barnabas, Peter, and others apologized--ashamed, perhaps, for the hurt their actions caused.

    Verse 5 sounds a wonderful note: "that the truth of the gospel might remain with you." The truth of the gospel wins regardless. When the apostles agree together and resist spies and enemies, the gospel wins. When leaders fail and give way to expedience, the gospel still wins, because they are corrected by the very message they preach. Paul says in verse 14, "They were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel…. " Whether in good or bad circumstances, what ends up carrying the day is the message of the love and acceptance of Christ.

    We need to fight for freedom. It can be lost. To fight for freedom is to insist that the cross of Christ paid for our sins--plus nothing. To fight for freedom is to insist that the love of God for us is absolute, that becoming a new creature in Christ cannot be tampered with by anybody else's opinion about it. It is not derived from human instrumentality, not mediated by a priest, not enhanced by accomplishments, not earned by disciplined effort.

    If you are a Christian you are a beloved child of God, a servant of the King, the temple of the Holy Spirit. That is true not because anybody says so but because of who Christ is and because you are his.

    excerpt from Freedom Fighters series

    Defending Freedom
    Sing me a Song of Praise and Glory l Facebook

  2. Rev T.S.Perkins, dustclay liked this post
  3. #2
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    Ahhh, don't ya just love it when the truth wins out?
    Religion always wants to direct focus from whats really important and so the good news message must be guarded and kept pure.
    Religion is an ugly tyrant.

  4. Coconut, Rev T.S.Perkins liked this post

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