The Truth Of The Gospel

Posted by on Aug 13, 2006

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

August 13, 2006

Sunday Morning

“The Truth Of The Gospel”

Scripture Text: Galatians 2:1-10

Introduction:

 

A.   Before I go too far with my message this morning, I want to remind you that the very lengthy section of Galatians that we are currently in (1:10-2:21) is actually a defense that Paul gave of himself.

1. Why did Paul deem it necessary to defend himself?

2. He deemed it necessary because of false teachers who had crept into the Galatian churches and had launched a barrage of attacks against him.

3. First of all, they had attacked his motives, accusing him of being a man pleaser, rather than a God pleaser.

4. Paul defended himself against this false accusation in Gal. 1:10.

5. Secondly, the false teachers had attacked Paul’s message, accusing him of preaching a man made gospel.

6. Again, Paul defended himself against this false accusation in Gal. 1:11-12.

7. Finally, the false teachers had attacked Paul’s ministry, accusing him of being a self-appointed apostle.

8. Again, Paul defended himself against this false accusation in Gal. 1:13-24.

 

B.   We now come to Galatians 2, and immediately it becomes obvious that Paul is still defending himself, as well as the gospel that he preached.

1. He does so by relating to his readers the details of a meeting that took place between himself and the leaders of the church in Jerusalem.

2. Notice again Vrs. 1-2 of our text, “Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also….And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.”

3. While we cannot say for sure, it is most likely that this meeting is the same meeting mentioned in Acts 15:1-4.

4. Turn there with me and let’s read those verses, “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved….When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question….And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren….And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.”

 

C.   This morning, I want us to focus our attention on this meeting that Paul had with the leaders of the Jerusalem church. The first thing I want us to notice is…

 

I.       The Purpose Of The Meeting.

 

A.   In other words, why did Paul go up to Jerusalem and meet with the church leaders, and what purpose did he hope to accomplish?

 

B.   Let me tell you, first of all, what his purpose was not!

 

1. His purpose was not to seek the approval of the other apostles for his ministry.

2. Now it is true, that during the course of their meeting, he did receive their approval (we will talk more about that later), however, that was not the purpose of the meeting.

3. How do I know this?

4. I know this because Paul did not need their approval.

5. You see, as we learned two weeks ago, Paul’s authority to preach did not come from the other apostles.

6. As an apostle himself, Paul’s authority came directly from God.

7. Listen again to what Paul wrote in Gal. 1:15-16, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,…To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen;”

8. We should remind ourselves that the meeting that took place between Paul and the church leaders in Jerusalem took place at least seventeen years after Paul started preaching the gospel.

9. For seventeen years Paul had preached the gospel of grace without the approval of the other apostles, why would he need (or even desire) their approval now?

10.   And so, the purpose of the meeting was not to seek the approval of the other apostles.

 

C.   May I also say that the purpose of this meeting was not to validate the message that Paul preached.

1. Some believe that Paul went up to Jerusalem to make sure that the gospel he was preaching was the true gospel.

2. This is ridiculous!

3. Why do I say this is ridiculous?

4. Because Paul already knew that the message he preached was the true gospel.

5. There was absolutely no doubt in his mind that he was preaching the true gospel!

6. Do you know why?

 

7. Because he had the best teacher one could have, the Lord Himself!

8. Listen again to what Paul wrote in Gal. 1:11-12, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man….For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

9. And so, the purpose of the meeting was not to validate the message that Paul preached.

10.  As far as Paul was concerned, it had already been validated by the Lord Himself. (Amen?)

 

D.   What then was the purpose of this meeting?

1. The purpose was to confront the false teachers, also known as Judaizers, who were apparently based in Jerusalem, but who were going around to the churches that were made up primarily of Gentile believers, and telling them that they needed to be circumcised, as well as conform to other demands of the Old Testament law.

2. Notice again what Paul wrote in Vrs. 4 of our text, “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:”

3. These Judaizers wanted to place the demands of the law of Moses upon Gentile believers, in other words, bring them into bondage.

4. According to Acts 15:1, these Judaizers had actually gone to Paul’s sending church, the church at Antioch, and tried to sell their goods there.

5. Of course, Paul and Barnabas withstood their efforts, debating them on the issue, however, it was still causing problems in these Gentile churches.

6. The church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to confront these false teachers, and at the same time, settle the question of Gentiles being circumcised once and for all!

 

E.   This is why they took Titus with them.

1. Titus, of course, was a Greek (Gentile believer).

2. While Titus was a true believer in Christ, he had never been circumcised.

3. I believe Paul and Barnabas took Titus with them to illustrate what God could do in the life of a Gentile who put his faith in Christ. (Kind of like “show and tell.”)

 

F.    Before I move on to my next point, notice again what Paul wrote concerning the false teachers who tried to sell their goods to the church at Antioch.

1. In Vrs. 5, we read, “To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”

2. In other words, Paul said, “We didn’t give in to them, not even for an hour, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved.”

3. When those false teachers began teaching that circumcision was necessary, Paul and Barnabas immediately challenged them!

4. You know, when it comes to false teachers in a church, we must do as Paul and Barnabas did, we must challenge them immediately, not giving them the opportunity to spread their lies.

5. But someone says, “Shouldn’t we at least give them a hearing? After all, there might be a little truth mixed in with their false teaching.”

6. No, we shouldn’t even give them a hearing.

7. Listen to what John wrote in 2 John 1:10-11, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:…For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

8. As we saw two weeks ago, Paul was even more adamant than John.

9. Listen again to what he wrote in Gal. 1:9, “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

10.   Don’t give him a hearing, but let him be accursed!!!

11.   Someone says, “That’s pretty strong language.”

12.   Yes it is, but false teachers pose a pretty strong threat to the truth of the gospel and to the churches that propagate that gospel.

G.   And so, that was the purpose of this meeting. Now let’s notice, for just a moment,…

 

II.      The Proceedings Of The Meeting.

 

A.   In other words, what exactly happened at this meeting.

 

B.   One of the things that happened in this meeting with the Jerusalem church leaders is that Paul preached the gospel to them.

1. Notice again the first part of Vrs. 2 of our text, “And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles.”

2. In other words, Paul related to them the gospel that he had received from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the gospel of grace, the gospel that declares salvation by grace through faith alone, without any human works whatsoever.

3. Now let me point out something here very important.

4. Some believe that Paul related to the other apostles the gospel that he had been preaching to the Gentiles in order to make sure that he was preaching was the true (right) gospel.

5. However, as I have already pointed out this morning, Paul was not seeking the validation of his message.

6. He already knew that he was preaching the true gospel, because he had received it from Jesus Christ Himself.

7. It is much more likely that Paul wanted to be sure that the other apostles were preaching the true gospel.

8. And so, Paul preached the gospel to them.

 

C.   But that’s not all that happened at this meeting.

1. Not only did Paul preach the gospel to the Jerusalem church leaders, he also shared with them how God was blessing his and Barnabas’s ministry to the Gentiles.

2. Listen to Acts 15:4, “And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.”

3. Listen also to Acts 15:12, “Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.”

4. In other words, Paul & Barnabas told them how…

-Gentiles were getting saved,

-Gentile churches were being established,

-Gentile believers were growing in the Lord.

5. My guess is that this is when they introduced them to Titus.

6. I can almost hear Paul saying, “If you have any doubts, here is a living example of what God is doing among the Gentiles. Brethren, I present to you, Titus.”

7. I would also assume, though we are not told this, that Titus shared his personal testimony with the church leaders.

8. Here was living proof that a man could be saved and having a personal relationship with the God of heaven without being circumcised or conforming to any other Old Testament ritual.

 

D.   Let us not forget the purpose for Paul’s visit to Jerusalem.

1. He went there to confront the false teaching that was coming out of Jerusalem, the false teaching that said the Gentiles must be circumcised (become Jews) in order to be saved!

2. I would say that Paul did an excellent job of presenting his case (making his argument).

 

E.   Now, finally, let us notice…

III.    The Product Of The Meeting.

 

A.   In other words, what results were produced by this meeting?

1. The first thing that happened was that the false teachers were put in their place.

2. During the course of the meeting, even though the false teachers were there making their case, as far as we know, no apostle or church leader sided with them.

3. Instead, they sided with Paul.

4. Turn with me to Acts 15:7-11, and notice what Peter had to say, “And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe….And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;…And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith….Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?…But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.”

5. Not only did Peter side with Paul, but so did James, who was apparently the lead pastor of the Jerusalem church.

6. Notice what he said in Vrs. 13-19, “Men and brethren, hearken unto me:…Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name….And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,…After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:…That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things….Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world….Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God.”

7. In other words, James said, “In my opinion, we should leave our Gentile brethren alone, and not try to impose our Jewish traditions upon them!”

8. And so, the first thing that happened was that the false teachers were put in their place.

 

B.   The second thing that happened is that the apostles and church leaders in Jerusalem gave Paul and Barnabas “the right hands of fellowship,” giving their blessings to their ministry among the Gentiles.

1. Notice again Vrs. 9 of our text, “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”

2. Now let me emphasize again that they didn’t do that for the sake of Paul and Barnabas.

3. Paul and Barnabas did not need their blessings to continue their ministry. (They only needed God’s blessings! Amen?)

4. They were going to continue preaching the gospel to Gentiles and winning them to Christ with or without the blessings of the Jerusalem leaders.

5. James and Peter and John gave Paul and Barnabas their blessings to make a statement to the false teachers. (You might say that it was a slap in the face to those false teachers.)

 

C.   A third thing that happened as a result of this meeting, and I will just mention it briefly, is that the apostles and church leaders in Jerusalem sent a letter to Paul’s home church in Antioch apologizing for the problems caused by the false teachers and encouraging them in the work of the Lord. (Acts 15:23-29)

Conclusion:

 

A.   Now what have we learned about this meeting that Paul had with the apostles and church leaders in Jerusalem?

1. Purpose of the meeting (not to validate his ministry or message, but to confront false teachers).

2. Proceedings of the meeting (Paul preached the gospel to them and shared with them how God was blessing his ministry to the Gentiles.).

3. Product of the meeting (False teachers were put in their place, and the other apostles and church leaders gave Paul and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship.)

 

B.   What lessons should we learn from all of this?

1. First of all, there is only one gospel, the gospel of grace, and it is unchanging. Paul preached the same gospel that the apostles were preaching in Jerusalem. The gospel we preach today is also that same gospel!

2. Secondly, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to preserve the gospel. We must confront those who, like the Judaizers, pervert the true gospel and preach another gospel.

3. Finally, the basis for unity is truth, not tradition. While Paul desired to fellowship with his Jewish brethren in Jerusalem, he would only do so on the basis of truth, not tradition. Thankfully, they were willing to put truth before tradition. We should do the same.

 

C.   Do you know Christ as your personal Savior?

1. Have you put your faith in the gospel, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

2. Are you trusting in what Jesus did for you on the cross and nothing else to get you to heaven?

3. If you are trusting in anything else, you are trusting in a false gospel, and faith in a false gospel won’t get you to heaven!

 

D.   (Prayer & Invitation)