Summary: What happens after we are saved? Sometimes we treat salvation like a car wash - God cleans us up and then tells us not to get dirty again. But is that really grace?
I can’t lift very much - I don’t know how much I bench press - and even though I exercise fairly regularly, I don’t consider myself buff. But if I had a human exoskeleton I sure could be! This machine is designed to turn ordinary men into supermen - you wear it around you and is made of incredibly strong steel and assisted with hydraulic joints of incredible strength.
Today we’re going to talk about putting a spiritual exoskeleton - because so often we Christians try to do heavy spiritual lifting on our own - instead of relying on the new life - the new strong life of Jesus in us.
This was Paul’s 2nd of 5 journeys to Jerusalem - this one to give a gift for famine relief (mentioned in 1st and 2nd Corinthians) around AD 44 (14 years after his conversion)
Barnabas - his partner missionary (and the one who believed in Paul from the start) and Titus who was Paul’s right hand man.
Jesus Himself told Paul to go - he is setting up his argument that man didn’t create this gospel to the gentiles, but it was supported by other men who the readers would consider "leaders".
Paul isn’t dissing Peter James and John - but he is dissing the Judaizers for placing too much emphasis on man, instead of the gospel of Jesus.
Paul did it privately because there didn’t need to be a public controversy about this. How many problems could be solved if we went to another and worked things out instead of airing our dirty laundry in front of everyone.
Paul wasn’t worried about being corrected - he was worried that the apostles would disagree with him and agree with the Judaizers thus hurting his years of work with the Gentiles.
If Peter and the boys agreed with the legalistic view of the Judaizers then they would have made Titus, who was a gentile, get circumcised.
(1) As a sign of obedience to him in all matters. (2) As a sign of belonging to the covenant people. Once circumcised, there was no turning back. The man would be identified as a Jew forever. (3) As a symbol of "cutting off" the old life of sin, purifying one’s heart, and dedicating oneself to God. (4) Possibly as a health measure.
There are people today who like nothing more than to come into a church and find fault with everyone who doesn’t act like they do. In the end its just as bad as what the Judaizers tried to do: steal freedom.
If someone loves Jesus and isn’t living in sin - get over it!
The world makes fun of the "Christian" stereotype. It can hamper the gospel and it keeps us from majoring on the majors because we’re so busy fighting with each other!
Paul wasn’t there to get permission, only to check in with brothers and try to be on the same page
One of the big problems with legalism and labelism is the reliance on who somebody is and what they say, rather than relying on who Jesus is and what He says.
Paul is saying: the big boys in Jerusalem could find nothing to add or subtract from the gospel God Himself gave me - so why are you trying to change it now!
In fact, Paul says, these guys recognized my unique ministry to the Gentiles. It doesn’t matter who they are, important or not - but just to show that even by worldly ways - my gospel was supported.
There was a council in Jerusalem a few years after this where the whole thing was settled - but this bit about remembering the poor - that was probably the very mission Paul was on in coming to Jerusalem!
Its okay to divide up ministries - we don’t have to be all things to all people. That’s how you can have different flavors of churches - and you shouldn’t go around trying to make a chocolate church into a vanilla one! Find a vanilla church and join it.
The problem is that we get so sectarian that even small nuances of difference cause whole groups of people to leave one church and form another - and its often a form of legalism that’s behind it.
There is no record of Peter’s visit to Antioch in Acts.
The way Peter acted - we do too! Do you find yourself acting one way with your friends and another at church?
This is not the same as what Paul told the Corinthians (9:20) to become "like a Jew" to win the Jews - this means being culturally aware - but this goes a lot farther than culture when you exclude one set of people based on customs not associated with sin.