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Guardrails for the True Gospel Message (Galatians 2:1-10)

Galatians 2:1–10 - 1 Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2 It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain. 3 But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. 5 But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. 6 But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me. 7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised 8 (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), 9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do. 

 

What does today’s passage say?

In today's passage, Paul explains that fourteen years after his conversion he went back to Jerusalem and met privately with the recognized leaders there (vv. 1-2). He wanted to make sure the gospel he had been preaching aligned with the original apostles’ teachings. Some false believers insisted Paul's companion Titus must be circumcised to be saved, but he refused to concede even a little to their demand (vv. 3-5). The Jerusalem leaders affirmed that Paul had been entrusted to preach the true gospel to non-Jews just as Peter did to Jews and that what he was teaching was true (vv. 6-9). They requested only that he continue to remember the poor, which Paul was already eager to do (v. 10).

 

How can I apply Galatians 2:1-10 to my life?

One mark of genuine faith is the desire for assurance that what we believe lines up with God’s truth. The same Holy Spirit who opened our eyes to embrace the gospel continues leading us into greater confidence that we stand firmly rooted in accurate biblical doctrine regarding salvation. Just as Paul submitted his message to the scrutiny of the Jerusalem leaders, we too must seek trusted counsel when questions arise about the foundations of our faith. As the Lord guides us deeper into the liberating message of justification by faith alone through examining His Word under mature teachers, He expects us to steward this revelation with integrity before a lost world. Out of joyful gratitude because we have received the grace of Christ, we must commit to broadcast the hope of the cross throughout our lives without tampering with its demanding implications. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

1.    Stand Firm in the Gospel by Seeking Confirmation From Trusted Leaders (vv. 1-2): After many years of preaching the gospel, Paul took a strategic trip to meet with the Jerusalem leaders in order to confirm he was teaching correct doctrine. Every believer would be prudent to seek trusted counsel when questions arise about foundational teachings of Christianity. Running to questionable sources rather than godly mentors leaves us vulnerable to drifting from Biblical truth. Submitting our understanding of key theological issues to spiritually mature Christians provides accountability and protection against falling for ideas that contradict God's Word. The best way for followers of Christ to avoid dangerous false teaching is to continually evaluate what we believe about salvation against Scripture under the careful guidance of respected church leaders well-grounded in sound doctrine. Just as Paul went to Jerusalem and shared privately what he was teaching, we too can gain confidence in our grasp of the true gospel by inviting mature brothers and sisters in Christ to assess what we have been learning. As iron sharpens iron, their input can correct any flawed conclusions before they take root and stand firm in the liberating message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone (Acts 15:1-35, Galatians 1:6-10, 2 Timothy 3:14-17).


Food for Thought: What areas of your theological belief would benefit from the input of trusted church leaders? What questions do you need to ask?  Who are 2-3 mature Christians you respect that you can approach for guidance to ensure your grasp of the gospel aligns with orthodox doctrine?


2.    Reject False Teaching That Contradicts Grace Through Faith Alone (vv. 3-5): When certain men infiltrated the brothers in Galatia insisting circumcision was necessary for justification, Paul adamantly refused to yield and subject Titus to their demands. All believers must be wary of added requirements to salvation by grace through faith alone no matter how insistently they are promoted. Subtly giving ground to those compelling us to add religious rituals, special knowledge, or rigorous self-effort betrays the sufficiency of the cross. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must guard our hearts against embracing any teaching claiming extra qualifiers for entering God’s family other than trusting in what Jesus accomplished through His sinless life, atoning death and triumphant resurrection. Our spiritual ancestors contended for the faith delivered once for all against the dangerous infusion of human additions. Out of reverence for the Lord who shed His blood to fully pay our sin debt before God, we must not allow our confidence in salvation by faith alone apart from works to be shaken by those peddling false gospels. Test every perspective against Scripture under the counsel of trusted church leaders to identify distortions of the message that we are saved by undeserved favor through simply believing. Just as Paul gave no room for subjection in order to preserve the truth of the gospel, we too must reject ideas minimizing Christ’s finished work. Stand unflinchingly on Scripture’s revelation that redemption cannot be earned but only received (Romans 4:1-5, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5-7).


Food for Thought: What group or influence is causing you to question salvation by grace alone through faith alone? What action must you take? Who can you turn to for biblical guidance to recognize false teaching on how we are made right with God?


3.    Accept Responsibility to Spread the Gospel Without Compromise (vv. 6-10): Recognizing the grace given to Paul, the apostles affirmed his commission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles just as Peter did to the Jews. Every recipient of salvation by faith is entrusted with the sacred duty to steward the message of Christ’s redeeming work. We must not treat lightly the privilege of participating with God in His ongoing mission to save lost souls. Out of overflowing gratitude for the mercy that rescued us from darkness, we must devote ourselves without reservation to spreading the true life-changing wisdom of the cross throughout our sphere of influence. With the eternal destiny of precious lives hanging in the balance, it is unconscionable to adjust key truths just to avoid objections or controversy. We must cling to the biblical gospel and never succumb to pressure to soften the call to radical repentance. As God opens doors for us to plant seeds of hope in desperate hearts, let us speak with boldness while resisting any temptation to water down the liberating truth that we are justified by faith alone apart from works. We have the privilege to be Christ’s ambassadors as He uses us to draw people to be reconciled to Him (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 20:24, 2 Corinthians 5:20-21).


Food for Thought: What fears or concerns tempt you to avoid sharing the true gospel with certain people? How will you overcome them? Who will hold you accountable to speak God’s uncompromised truth in love no matter how uncomfortable the conversations become?


As we walk with Christ, we must continually evaluate our grasp of the gospel against His Word under the discipleship of biblically sound teachers who can confirm or correct our understanding. Rather than resisting accountability, we should welcome trusted brothers and sisters speaking into foundational elements of our faith to sharpen our doctrine. The Lord calls every recipient of His redemptive grace to step forward in obedience to share the hope of Calvary throughout our spheres of influence without additions or subtractions. Our heartfelt passion must be that all people in every nation gain the confidence that they are welcomed into God’s family simply by believing and trusting in what Christ accomplished through His finished work on the cross and victorious resurrection from the dead.


Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray that you would give me discernment to recognize false teaching and the humility to seek trusted counsel when I have questions about foundational gospel truths. I pray that you would guard my heart from adding human religious requirements to salvation by grace through faith alone. Help me reject ideas that diminish confidence in Christ’s finished work. Give me courage to stand unflinchingly on the sufficiency of the cross no matter how insistently others may demand additional steps and rituals to be made right with you. Out of gratitude for your undeserved favor that saved me, I pray that you would give me boldness and wholehearted commitment to spread the message of redemption without trying to improve on its simplicity and completeness. Use my voice to clearly communicate the liberating gospel of justification by faith apart from works.

I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

 

Galatians 2:5 – “But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.”

 

 

With His Blessings,

Pastor Corby

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