Friday, May 30, 2008

Know that you know that you know

“I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.”
                                                - Galatians 2:2-5

A false gospel had infiltrated the ranks of the brothers in Galatia just as it had earlier in Antioch. They were preaching a works based gospel which infuriated Paul and Barnabas and so there was “great dissension and debate” between these “false brothers” and Paul and Barnabas. So a contingent, including Paul and Barnabas, was sent to Jerusalem to get to the bottom of the truth.

And even Paul, having received the message of the Gospel not through interaction and debate with other disciples, but through a revelation from God and an enlightening of the scriptures through the Holy Spirit, was brought to doubt that message. He knew better than most the grace that Christ offers. In chapter one he quickly tells the Galatians his own conversion experience. For him it was not a conversion through a message preached by man. He had met Christ and Christ had implanted that message into Paul’s heart. His conversion was a true 180 degree turn. From killing those of the Way to being a man of the Way. And because people knew of this, they were praising God because of it.

What power the spoken word has; to cause doubt in this man.

Verse 2 says that Paul went up to Jerusalem “… in order to make sure I [he] was not running or had not run in vain.”

He goes on in verse 5 to say that he “did not yield in subjection to them even for an hour”. He was never carried away by their false gospel. But he seems to have had an inkling of doubt of the truth of the message that he was proclaiming. And so he was searching out the truth of the matter to ensure that he was representing Christ correctly. That was always his goal; to bring glory to Christ!

So they traveled to Jerusalem for the sake of the other believers that were being carried away and to “make sure that they had not run in vain.” Because if they could be saved by grace, than Christ’s sacrifice would have been for nothing.

They knew the gravity and influence that those in Jerusalem had over the church. And so they wanted confirmation of the truth of the gospel of God’s grace.

He had an unfailing devotion to the truth. It was a heart of love for the lost and an earnest desire to glorify Christ that urged Paul to fight for the truth.

And this truth was not a secondary truth. It was the agent of salvation. There are no gray lines when it comes to the Gospel.

And even as Peter was being hypocritical, Paul stood on truth and never faltered. He confronted him and brought him back to the cross.

The spoken word has power to change. Power to give life and the power to take it. Power unto light and power unto darkness. Power unto heaven and power to lead people towards hell.

The truth of spiritual gifts, gender roles in the body of Christ, eschatology etc.; these are all good things to think about but Paul drew the line at the Gospel.

There is no acceptable debate when it comes to the truth of the gospel of saving grace.

As preachers of God’s word we need to have an unfailing devotion to the truth. And as such we need to know what that truth is and ingrain it into our bones.

By virtue of our position, our words carry more weight. And as such we need to be sure that what we know is truth. We need to know where in the bible our truth comes from. We need to know that we know that we know that what we know is God’s truth.

But not truth for the sake of truth but for the sake of love and for God’s continued glory. Jonathan Edwards writes that truth and action without affection is nothing but legalism and God is not glorified.

When Paul confronted Peter on his hypocrisy he was not trying to correct him for the sake of being right. But he knew that if Peter did not live out his convictions and example the truth in his life then the power of the gospel to save and change lives would have been nullified. The power of not only Peter’s words but his own would have had a reverse effect, pushing people away from Christ and further confusing the gospel.

Deuteronomy tells us that the inheritance of the Levites was God. Well that inheritance is also available to us through Christ.

For those who have been called by God to preach his Word this passage has heavy implications. We are preaching an inheritance. Not necessarily a good life, happiness etc. But joy in the new birth as a child of God. That is our inheritance. Christ.

Preach truth and only truth.

And in this new world paradigm of post-modern thinking that calling and the need for that truth is ever stronger.

I thank you for your gift of grace both in the past and the grace that I look forward to in the future. Please instill in me a hunger for the truth as Paul had. Help me to have a clear mind and a humble heart as I approach your Word. I don’t presume to have a right to speak on your behalf and I thank you for allowing me to do so. Let no heresy ever be found in my words and my actions. Forgive me if there has ever been. I love you God.

In Christ’s name, AMEN.