Welcome back to the Galatians Bible Study Series! In last week’s post, we discussed how even though we as human beings have sinned repeatedly; it’s through God’s grace that we are called sons and daughters of the King through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This week, we will be talking about how we as Christians are to defend the gospel by reading through Paul’s interaction with the Galatians and Peter. In 1 Peter 3:15-16, the Apostle Peter talks about how we as Christians should always be ready to give a defense for our faith in Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 3:15-16 (NKJV)
“15. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16. having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”
What I like about these two verses is that Peter is telling us as Christians that we are to sanctify or “set apart” our hearts for the Lord and in my opinion, it means that whatever occupies our hearts that is not of God should be removed. Also within verse 15, the Apostle Peter is giving us encouragement about being ready to defend our faith in Christ and I feel that in today’s society where we as Christians are too afraid to defend our faith against people because we would be seen as “religious” or “biased”.
However, if we as Christians are to defend our faith in Jesus Christ; that means we will have to step out of our comfort zone and listen to Christ and not the voices that tell us the lies of defeat.
Related Post: Are You Listening to the Voice of Truth?
“… we will have to step out of our comfort zone and listen to Christ and not the voices that tell us the lies of defeat.”
At the start of chapter 2, we the readers see Paul speaking on how he returned to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus which references back to Acts 15:1-2; where Paul was facing a related situation where the Gentile Christians were told by the Jewish Christians that unless they adhered to the Law of Moses they couldn’t be saved.
As Christians, we know this to be false, but maybe today; the idea of adhering to a set of laws in order to be saved comes in a different form (i.e. the multiple denominations of Christianity). We see in verse 2 that Paul says that he went to Jerusalem by revelation. The word Revelation comes from the Greek word apokalupsis meaning “Unveiling” or “Disclosure”.
So, for Paul to say that he went up to Jerusalem by revelation in my opinion; means that the Holy Spirit brought the revelation to Paul. In the same verse, Paul says, “2. … I went up by revelation and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles…”
What I like about this particular verse was that Paul speaks on “that gospel”; which refers to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His redemption for all humanity. Like Paul, we as Christians are called to spread the Gospel to all people thus; we should also be willing to stand unafraid of rejection from friends and family.
Charles Spurgeon says it this way, “The Gospel is like a caged lion. It does not need to be defended, it just needs to be let out of its cage.“
Romans 1:16 says this perfectly when Paul writes to the people of Rome about being unashamed of the Gospel. In Romans 1:16, it says, “16. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also the Greek.”
As Christians, we ought to be willing to defend the Gospel and our faith and as we later see in verse 4, Paul was confronted by false brethren who were actually listening to Paul in order to spy out the liberty Christians have in Christ Jesus in order to bring Paul and those with him into the belief that they had to adhere to the Law of Moses in order to be saved in Jesus Christ.
We see in verse 5 that Paul, Barnabas, and Titus and others did not submit to the brethren or their belief in being saved through the Law of Moses in order to continue to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What I really like about these last 2 verses was that like Paul, we as Christians should never be willing to submit our belief and faith in God in order to appease others, because in the end; all that matters is that we Christians take a stand and give a defense for our belief in Christ Jesus and like Paul; we can know that we have a freedom in Christ that others don’t.
“… we as Christians should never be willing to submit our belief and faith in God in order to appease others, because in the end; all that matters is that we Christians take a stand and give a defense for our belief in Christ Jesus…”
In these next verses 6-9; we see how God doesn’t favor the Jewish Christians over the Gentile Christians and that even though Peter was preaching the Gospel to the Jewish Christians and Paul was preaching to the Gentile Christians; neither Gospel was better than the other. In Galatians 2:6 it says, “6. … God shows personal favoritism to no man – for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me…”
What I liked about this particular verse was that it as Christians today, it should show us that no matter where we are in our walk with Christ, where we live or our profession; God never shows favoritism to one person or another because we are all sons and daughters of Christ.
Likewise, we as Christians should never show favoritism regarding “Oh, God loves me better than this person” or “God favors me because I obey Him” because that is not in line with who God is and we can become like the Pharisees; who believed they were “better” than those around them.
In the Book of James 2:1, the Apostle James writes, “2. My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality” and I feel we as Christians should do the same. This leads me to verses 7-8 of Galatians 2 where Paul speaks of the Gospel of Christ that Peter taught and the one that Paul taught to the Gentile Christians and in it; he says that just like Peter was given the Gospel of Christ; Paul was given the Gospel by the Holy Spirit and each one was given to a specific people.
When I initially read this passage; I was confused but after reading it again; I came to realize that even though Peter and Paul were both commissioned by Christ to spread the Gospel to two different groups of people, they continued to defend the Gospel when faced with opposition.
A.W. Tozer said this, “The weakness of so many MODERN Christians is that they feel too much at HOME in the world.”
I feel that we as Christians today; because we’re commissioned by Christ to go out into the world and make disciples (see Matthew 28:18-20); likewise, we should learn to defend the Gospel of Christ and how it has impacted us; not by arguing or criticizing people, but by defending our faith.
2 Timothy 2:15 speaks on this point the best in my opinion in how we should conduct ourselves when defending our faith in God when Paul writes to his protégé Timothy saying, “15. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Like Timothy, we are to be diligent to keep ourselves humble when we are presenting our defense towards our opposition and not with spite and contempt for the other person; because we have to remember that we were probably like them once. As Christians, we should not be ashamed of speaking the Gospel, but we should continue to read the Bible in order to correctly divide what is false and what is the Truth of God’s Word.
We later see in verse 9 that Peter (Cephas), James and John were like pillars and perceived “the grace that had been given to me…” and this verse brought to my mind a question: What are pillars designed for?” and then I realized something; pillars are designed to support the foundation and structure of a building.
Similarly, as human beings; especially as Christians; with Christ as the foundation of our faith, we are to be the pillars of the church and support the foundation that rests on the faith we have in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“As Christians, we are to become the pillars that support the foundation and as such, we should be willing to defend the foundation that we have in Jesus Christ.”
Within these last 11 verses; we see the crux of how we as Christians are to defend the Gospel. In verses 11-13, we see Peter along with several other Christians go to the city of Antioch and preach to the Gentile Christians, but when he would be around the Jewish Christians; he would withdraw from them. This hypocrisy of Peter was surprising to me because I’ve known Peter to be bold when speaking about the Gospel.
However, we see that Paul confronted Peter about his hypocrisy in regard to him distancing himself from the Jewish Christians. But, we later see in verse 14 that Peter and those with him were not straightforward about the true nature of the Gospel.
What I liked about verse 14 was that it brought to question if we as Christians today are straightforward about the Gospel or are we “sugar-coating” and “minimizing” the truth of the Gospel. This reminds me of two separate scriptures that speak of defending our faith (see 2 Cor 10:5 and Titus 1:9), but I’ll be focusing on Titus 1:9.
In Titus 1:9, Paul is writing to Titus about the role of a church Elder, but what Paul said in verse 9; I feel we all as Christians should remember when we are faced with the opposition about our faith in Jesus Christ. Titus 1:9 says, “9. holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both exhort and convict those who contradict.”
What I like about this passage of Scripture in regard to how we as Christians are to be straightforward in not only defending the Gospel but also sharing the Gospel is that just like the church Elders are to hold fast in the truth of God’s Word; we as Christians are to remain steadfast in the Word of God and its truth so that when we are confronted with false doctrine and are to approach it with a sound mind.
“… we as Christians are to remain steadfast in the Word of God and its truth so that when we are confronted with false doctrine and are to approach it with a sound mind.”
This leads me to verses 15-16 of Galatians where Paul criticizes Peter on his hypocrisy where Paul says in verse 16, “16. knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”
But what does it mean that a man is not justified? The word Justification comes from the Greek word “dikaiosis” meaning “to acquit” or “to declare righteous.” In my opinion, what this means is that a person is not made righteous by their adherence to the Law or the things they do on Earth, but by their faith in Jesus Christ. This for me later translates down to verse 17 where Paul writes that if we were to be justified by Christ and found as sinners; does that make Christ the minister sin?
And Paul goes onto write that no it doesn’t make Christ the minister of sin and in my opinion for verse 18; if we as Christians and as human beings build up the temptations that we once destroyed; we are making ourselves out to be transgressors (disobedient). What I found from this verse is asking myself: What temptations am I building up that I once destroyed in order to be free?
As we later see in verses 19-21, Paul writes how through the Law of Moses he was dead, but that because of it; he was able to live in Christ. In verse 20, a verse that we as Christians love to write it and memorize it, but do we really know what it means to be crucified with Christ?
In my opinion, verse 20 is speaking on how; because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we have placed all of our past, present, and future sins onto Him and in return; He has given us His grace and love of the Father. Like Paul says; “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” and just like Paul; it’s the Christ who should be living inside of us and not the sin and temptations that had us in bondage.
Verse 20 of Galatians 2 says, “20. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
This reminds of a song by Christian artist Jeremy Camp called, “Christ In Me” and in the song; he speaks of how he threw off the chains that became his master and now is empty so that the life that he lives is now for Christ and not the flesh.
What I enjoy about this song is the chorus which really focuses on how we as Christians should have Christ in us and not the things of this present age.
“So come and empty me
So that it’s you I breathe
I want my life to be
Only Christ in me
So I will fix my eyes
‘Cause you’re my source of life
I need the world to see
That it’s Christ in me
That it’s Christ in me”
In the end, though, this whole post for me revolves around living for Christ and our discipleship and how; because we have been called to a higher standard in order to share the Gospel, we as Christians should be willing to defend the faith we have in Christ.
As Christians, living for Christ is more than the “good deeds” we do in our life on Earth; it’s also about making disciples of all nations and bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people with a humble heart and learn to defend the Gospel.
So, In your opinion, What does it mean to defend the gospel?
Why do we as Christians continue to build up what we destroyed if we have been crucified with Christ?
Are we truly defending the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Stay tuned because next week; we will be discussing what it means to be justified by faith in Galatians 3.
“Jeremy Camp – Christ In Me (Lyric Video)”, YouTube, uploaded by JeremyCampMusic, 3 years ago, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgGP3g1rjA8 . Accessed 2 Jun 2018.
Spurgeon, Charles. “The Gospel is like a caged lion. It does not need to be defended, it just needs to be let out of its cage.”, http://www.azquotes.com/quote/867940 . Accessed 1 Jun 2018.
Author Unknown. “James 2:1”, https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/James%202.1-4 . Accessed 2 Jun 2018.
Author Unknown. “Galatians 2:2”, http://bibleencyclopedia.com/kjvslides/galatians/2-2.htm . Accessed 1 Jun 2018.
Author Unknown. “Why Give God Glory”, 2 Mar 2014, https://www.slideshare.net/SammieGSmith/02-february-23-2014-why-give-god-glory-31827601 . Accessed 30 May 2018.
Blankenship, Lynn. “Genesis 1:1”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/7958295/ . modified over 2 years ago, Accessed 30 May 2018.
Danks, Peter. “Circumcision”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/3553618/ . Accessed 2 Jun 2018.
Floyd, Ruby. “GENESIS 22:9-14”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/10366927/ . Accessed 2 Jun 2018.
Henry, Thomas. “John F Kennedy Speech”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/7554999/ . Accessed 2 Jun 2018.
Holt, Leonard. “Joel 2:28”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/10292526/ . Accessed 2 Jun 2018.
Miller, Christine. “Galatians 2”, 17 Aug 2016, http://www.alittleperspective.com/galatians-2-2016/ . Accessed 2 Jun 2018.
Wellman, Jack. “What Are The Responsibilities Of A Church Elder?”, 24 Mar 2016, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2016/03/24/what-are-the-responsibilities-of-a-church-elder/ . Accessed 2 Jun 2018.