A young man was appointed president of a bank. Intimidated by his new responsibilities, he nervously sought the advice of his gray-haired predecessor: “Sir, what has been the secret of your success?”
“The secret, young man, is two words: right decisions!” replied the older man.
“But how do you make right decisions?”
“One word: experience.”
“But how do you get experience?”
The old man smiled. “Two words: wrong decisions.”
As we dive into Galatians 2, we see Paul continue to defend his apostleship and to defend the TRUE Gospel. Paul talks about going to see the other apostles and they make a decision. They formalize the Gospel of grace.
What have you done to earn your salvation?
What do you do to maintain your salvation?
I want us to look at Galatians 2:1-10 and we will see Paul being formally accepted by the Jerusalem Apostles.
Paul is Recognized by the Jerusalem Apostles and they formally recognize the Gospel of Grace.
Let’s read Galatians 2:1-10:
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.
- We see in these verses that Paul meets with the Jerusalem Apostles.
- Notice in verse 1 that there has now been a gap of 14 years. In the previous chapter Paul had talked about his background.
- It is hard to tell for sure when this visit was. It could have been in Acts 11, or Acts 15.
- One of my professors from Asbury Theological Seminary favored Acts 15. However, a respected scholar from Dallas Theological Seminary favors Acts 11. We do have a record of Paul’s visits to Jerusalem.
|Paul’s visits to Jerusalem
|1. The visit after he left Damascus (Acts 9:26–30; Gal. 1:18–20)
|2. The famine visit (Acts 11:27–30; Gal. 2:1–10)
|3. The visit to attend the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1–29)
|4. The visit at the end of the second missionary journey (Acts 18:22)
|5. The final visit that resulted in Paul’s Caesarean imprisonment (Acts 21:15–23:35)
- Either way, Paul had a formal meeting in Jerusalem in order to discuss legalism. What we see in this passage is that the leaders of the church rejected works-based salvation in favor of salvation by grace alone.
- Paul goes to Jerusalem because of revelation. This idea of revelation has the idea of “revealing.” Jesus Himself had revealed the Gospel to Paul.
- Paul had a private meeting with the Apostles.
- Notice that Titus is with them. Titus was a Greek and they determined that he did not need to follow the law and be circumcised. This was a big deal because this makes the case for what Paul is talking about.
Titus probably gets the Pauline service award with 20 years as Paul’s co-worker.
Titus was born a Gentile, and when he became a Christian he did not get circumcised. When Titus accompanied Paul on a visit to Jerusalem, some Jewish Christians insisted Paul’s companion be circumcised according to Jewish law. As Paul put it, he “did not yield submission even for a moment,” and Titus remained uncircumcised. Titus thus served as a powerful symbol of justification by grace, not by law.
Titus served with Paul during his extended stay in Ephesus as a “partner and fellow-worker,” and from there Titus tackled his toughest assignment: to combat grave immorality in the Corinthian church and mediate their reconciliation with Paul.
Titus put his pastoral skills to work and reported back to a nervously-waiting Paul that Paul’s severe third Corinthian letter (lost or possibly contained in 2 Corinthians 10-13) had led to their repentance.
Titus was later appointed the first bishop of the troubled church at Crete, where Paul wrote him about the qualities of a good bishop. Eusebius reports that Titus died there in 96 and was buried in the ancient capital, Gortyna. His head was supposedly removed in 823 by Saracens and later enshrined at St. Mark’s Cathedral, Venice.
- Verse 4 gets into deceitful false brethren who tried to make people follow the law. Notice the way Paul describes them: Verses 5-6:
- But it wasbecause 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.
- Notice the wording: “false brethren,” “secretly brought in,” “sneaked in to spy out our liberty,” and “bring us into bondage.”
One source writes:
These “false” Christians were most likely from the party of the Pharisees (Acts 15: 5). These were the strictest religious leaders of Judaism, some of whom had been converted. We don’t know if these were representatives of well-meaning converts or of those trying to pervert Christianity. Most commentators agree that neither Peter nor James had any part in this conspiracy.
- In verse 6 Paul says that God shows no partiality and neither will he to people in high positions.
- In verses 7-10 we realize that all of the pillars of the church recognized the truth of the grace-based Gospel.
- We realize that Peter had a mission to the Jewish people and Paul had a mission to the Gentiles.
- Let’s makes some applications.
- God shows no partiality (verse 6), we will not show partiality based off of social status.
- In verses 4-6, we see that false brethren tried to mess with the message, but Paul and his companions did not give into their message.
- We must not change doctrine by intimidation.
- Paul says the TRUTH of the Gospel stayed with them. We must not mess with the Truth of the Gospel.
- In verses 7-10, we see Paul’s obedience being entrusted with the Gospel to the gentiles. We must be obedient to those God calls us to reach.
- In verses 7-10, we see Peter called to reach the Jewish people while Paul is called to reach the gentiles. We see God’s different purposes for different people. We must recognize God’s different call for different people.
- We must not put obstacles in the way of salvation.
- We must not add obstacles such as a dress code.
- We must not add obstacles such as diets.
- We must not add other obstacles.
- We must not add non-verbal and non-stated obstacles. Sometimes we make it as if people need to be part of certain group:
- White collar?
- Sports fans?
- We must remember the poor.
The 2010 website of the Chicago Bears football team presented a series of videos that followed the team’s rookies from their first arrival at training camp and on through the preseason. One video showed part of coach Lovie Smith’s first orientation talk with the rookie class.
Of course, the biggest thing on each rookie’s mind is whether he will make the team. Rookies know that the team roster begins with 80 players who come to camp. After a few weeks the coaches cut the team down to 65 players. Then before the season actually begins all NFL teams are required to trim down to 53 players. Of the 19 rookies who were invited to the 2010 Bears training camp, the team would likely keep only around 7.
Lovie Smith knew that, and so he addressed the rookies’ concern in his talk to the 2010 class.His challenge to them was, “Make us put you on the team.”
In other words, play so well in practice that the coaches couldn’t imagine cutting you. Make us put you on the team. Take the decision out of the coach’s hands. Let your performance make the decision for us.
Most religions and most people of the world think that God makes the same sort of speech about who will get into heaven. “Do you want to ‘make the team’ and have eternal life? Make me put you on the team. Live such a good life, do so many good deeds, that I could not imagine rejecting you. Take the decision out of my hands.”
The counterintuitive truth is that God works on a completely different basis than football coaches do. People who think they can perform so well that they can make God add them to heaven’s roster because they are so deserving of it will be rejected. This is the idea of salvation by works, and it is the opposite of salvation by grace. God saves us by his grace and his grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ.
Do you know Christ?
God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means being with Jesus forever. (Rev. 22:5)
Ted W. Engstrom and Edward R. Dayton, editors, “Murphey’s Law,” Christian Leadership Letter(February, 1981), p. 1
“Paul and His Times,” Christian History, no. 47.
Tyndale House Publishers. Life Application Study Bible NLT (LASB: Full Size) (Kindle Locations 155982-155985). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.