Summary: The Apostle Paul had decided that contending for the true Gospel was the hill he was willing to die on. It consumed him and it fueled his outrage at false teachers that would lead his spiritual children astray.
Dance Lessons: A Hill to Die On
Chenoa Baptist Church
Pastor Jefferson M. Williams
Here I Stand
In 1521, Martin Luther was summoned to appear before the Diet of Worms. This was a general assembly of the estates of the Holy Roman Empire. Martin’s 95 theses, and his writing after that, had sparked the beginning of what we now know as the Protestant Reformation and the mother church was not happy.
Johann Eck laid out all of Martin Luther’s books and pamphlets on a table and asked if he was the author and if he stood by their contents. Martin confirmed that he was the author but asked for a day to pray before giving his second answer.
The next day the chamber grew quiet as Martin Luther stood and said:
“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen”.
We have an idiom in English that describes Luther’s actions that day - this was his hill to die on. The true Gospel, salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, was so important to Luther that he would be willing to give his life to see it flourish.
Martin had a great example to follow. The Apostle Paul had decided that contending for the true Gospel was the hill he was willing to die on. It consumed him and it fueled his outrage at false teachers that would lead his spiritual children astray.
Chapter One is Done
We’ve finished chapter one. We’ve pushed off from the shore and we are now moving into deeper waters.
Last week, Paul used his extraordinary testimony to show that the Gospel that he preached was not made up but was from God and was powerful to change hearts.
Last week, Paul gave us a quick overview of his salvation story but this week he’s going to zero in on a specific meeting he had in Jerusalem with the apostles.
Remember, that Paul and Barnabas had planted churches in the region of Galatia and now false teachers were coming behind them and questioning Paul’s authority, his apostleship, and accusing him of watering down the message.
They were teaching “Jesus +” theology. Yes you had to put your faith in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins but you also had to be circumcised, follow the dietary laws, and the Mosaic rules. In other words, you had to become a Jew to become a Christian.
Paul was astonished that these baby believers were so quickly deserting the true Gospel. In fact, he goes so far as to say if anyone preached a Gospel other than the one we preached, they need to be sent straight to hell before they can drag anyone else there.
The book of Galatians is a manual for learning to dance to the rhythm of grace, freedom and joy.
Those who dance are thought crazy by those who cannot hear the music.
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Turn with me to Galatians 2.
“Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also.” (Gal 2:1)
Fourteen years after that amazing experience on the dusty road outside of Damascus, he went up to Jerusalem. Remember from last week, that he had made a quick trip to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and briefly met James.
There were probably others with him but he highlights two of his traveling companions - Barnabas and Titus.
Barnabas’s real name was Joseph. Barnabas was a nickname. It means “Son of Encouragement.” He was a Jewish leader from Cyprus, a Levite, who we first meet in Acts 4 when he sold a field and brought the prophets to the apostles to use to help the poor. He was generous and wise.
Last week, we saw that the other apostles were scared of Paul but in Acts 9 we see Barnabas advocating for him and introducing him to the other leaders.
In Acts 11, Barnabas is sent to oversee the churches in Antioch and he went and found Paul and they teamed up to lead the churches for an entire year.
Barnabas accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey through the region of Galatia and was a well-know trusted Jewish leader.
Barnabas’s assessment of Paul’s ministry would be very important to the leaders in Jerusalem.