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Thursday, August 29, 2019

2019.08.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 2:11-14

Questions for Littles: Who came to Antioch in Galatians 2:11? What did Paul do to him? Why? What had Peter been doing before certain men came (Galatians 2:12)? What did he do when they came? Why the change? Who else was doing this (Galatians 2:13)? Even whom? Who saw this (Galatians 2:14)? What did he recognize was at stake? What did he do? What did he say? 
Holy boldness in confronting error and humility in receiving confrontation are two great rarities in the church today, but we see them in this brief passage.

One of the things that we need to remember is that in every deviation of practice, there is a theological truth at stake. Often, there is some direct connection to the “truth of the gospel” (Galatians 2:14).

In this case, it was that truth that it is not circumcision or uncircumcision that saves, but Christ Himself—in fact, that circumcision was not even a matter of fundamental morality but of ceremonial holiness, being set apart to God as those who looked to Christ. When Christ came, and replaced that sign with baptism, its spiritual usefulness had ended altogether.

What a horror for Paul, then, when those who had one baptism in common were being divided according to circumcision—as if to declare that what Christ had joined together, circumcision could separate!

But Peter was horrified by something else. He wasn’t recognizing the gospel truth that was at stake. He was giving too much weight to what people might think of him. And so when those whom he feared came up from Jerusalem, he broke off table fellowship with the Gentiles.

Paul withstood Peter to his face. That’s no small thing. But this was not some blustery display just for the sake of sticking it to the man. It was not some anti-authority or anti-celebrity stand. It was a stand for truth. The truth of the gospel.

And Peter received the correction well. Later, he would write affectionately about Paul. Paul himself has happily defended his ministry with confidence that Peter would back up that defense. Why would Peter do so? (1) The truth of the gospel was at stake. (2) The work of the Spirit in his heart.

Often, there is significant truth at stake in differences in the church. May the Lord give boldness to them whose duty it is to show and address this. And may the Lord give humility to them who need to be addressed.
Pray that the Lord would give boldness and humility as needed for current differences in the church!
Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry Before You Come” or TPH539 “Am I a Soldier…?”

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