MKCC Messages

Galatians - Justified by faith in Christ

June 19, 2023 Milton Keynes Christian Centre
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What do you need to do to be a Christian?  Are there rules to be followed?  Find out in this message.

Pastor Jon Keel (00:00:00) - Attempt to do the whole of chapter two in the next bit of time. Um, if you've got your Bible with you, uh, you may wanna, uh, we're gonna flick between a few places between the passage of Acts nine to 15, and then Galatians two. I'm a dad and my, um, kids gave me a cup of tea and five biscuits this morning. Um, but one thing that I've learned through my parenting journey is there's been moments where my wife and I have had to say, are we on the same page? Anyone relate to that? You know, it might be something like, what do we do about parties on Sundays? Are we on the same page on this? What do we do about giving them phones and screens? Are we on the same page? Do we agree about how we're going to approach our parenting? Do we agree?

Pastor Jon Keel (00:00:54) - And this is, um, the beginning of our passage in Galatians two. This is the context. Um, Paul says this verses one and two, I went up again to Jerusalem this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders. I presented them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. What Paul is doing, he goes to Jerusalem with Titus and Barnabas, and he meets Peter, James and John. And he's basically saying, guys, are we on the same page when it comes to the gospel that I'm preaching to the Gentiles and you are preaching to the Jews? Are we saying the same thing? Do we agree? Because the sense was that among those who had a background of the Jewish faith, there were things starting to creep into the gospel message. And you can't blame them really, because when you've lived your whole life and you've had this upbringing and you've been told you have to keep the laws, you have to do this, this, this, this and this.

Pastor Jon Keel (00:02:01) - And then suddenly you have a revelation of Jesus and you're being told, well, you don't need to do that anymore. And they're trying to figure out what's this newfound faith in the context of growing up in law and regulation and adherence. And the, the, the feeling was that amongst the Jewish believers and even what was being preached, there was additions to the gospel. Paul was preaching a gospel of Jesus. And this is what Pastor Billy said in our first week, Jesus is enough. And Peter and the other apostles were kind of preaching a, a kind of gospel of compromise. And it was Jesus plus Jesus and Jesus plus eating certain foods, Jesus plus observing the law Jesus plus circumcision. Now that sounds well like Jesus take away, but just so we're clear, Paul says, we need to be on the same page. Are we in agreement?

Pastor Jon Keel (00:03:07) - And it seemed that that there were verse three of Galatians two, they supported me and didn't demand that C, my companion Titus be circumcised, though he was a gentile. In other words, we agree the gospel is Jesus, but not everyone agreed. And it's clear that in verse four of Galatians two, there were some who really didn't agree that that was the gospel. Paul refers some false teachers and spies. And he says, they spied on us. They wanted to enslave us and forced us to fit, follow the Jewish regulations. In other words, even though Peter agreed, there were many who said Jesus. Plus, if you're interested, you can read a bit more about this in Acts chapter 15. Many theologians believe that the passage of Acts 15 is the same encounter that we read about in Galatians two. And in Acts 15, we real, we read that Peter and his buddies went to Jerusalem and spoke. Paul and his buddies went to Jerusalem, spoke to Peter, and Peter was presented with a question.

Pastor Jon Keel (00:04:18) - Then some of the believers who belong, this is Acts 15. Some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, the Gentiles must be circumcised. And so Peter and his friends, the elders, they went off and they considered this question. In other words, this was a question of gospel. This was a question of doctrine. Do we agree in Acts 15? They go off and Peter comes back and he addresses the crowd. Just to be clear, he's saying a, why do you try and test God by putting on the necks of the Gentiles a yoke that neither we or our ancestors could bear? And he says this, listen, no, this is Peter proclaiming. He's speaking publicly. We believe. We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus as Christ, that we are saved just as they are. He declares in front of many. This is our faith. Jesus alone. You can read about it. Back to Galatians two, verse seven. They recognize that I, this is Paul had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel, gospel, gospel to the Gentiles. Just as Peter had been to the circumcised for God who was at work in Peter was also at work in me.

Pastor Jon Keel (00:05:46) - I love this bit. James, Peter, and John. Those esteemed as the leaders gave us the right hand of fellowship. I dunno what happened if they were left-handed. But anyway, they agreed that we should go to the Gentiles and they go to the Jews. We're in agreement, the right hand of fellowship. The NLT says, we became coworkers, we agreed we were on one page. And we even came up with a strategy. You go to the Gentiles, you go to the Jews. Let's reach the world for Jesus. There is agreement. The gospel is for due and Gentile, we are saved by grace. And the law does not need to be observed, ever come out of a meeting at work. And you think that everyone is in the same page. We were all in this meeting together. But then people's words, action or inaction makes you wonder, were we ever even in the same room?

Pastor Jon Keel (00:06:47) - Because what we read next, verse 11 of Galatians two, when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned. Wait a minute, we've just gone from a handshake to agreement, to confrontation, to extremes. Peter and Paul, two heavyweights of the gospel go from agreeing to facing each other I've ever seen like in a boxing game. You know the face-to-face. They're literally at each other. John Stott says of this next passage, Galatians 12, this is without doubt one of the most tense and dramatic moments in the New Testament. Here are two leading apostles of Jesus Christ, face-to-face in complete and open conflict. When Paul visited Jerusalem, Peter extended the right hand of fellowship. When Peter visited Antioch, Paul opposed him to his face. Why? Why was Paul so confrontational to Peter? Not because of what he had said, not because of what he'd said he believed, but because of how he acted. Verse 12, for before certain men came from James, Peter used to eat with the gentiles. In other words, he put into practice what he believed. But when they arrived, his buddies, his Jewish buddies, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy. So that by their hypocrisy, even Barnabas was led astray.

Pastor Jon Keel (00:08:35) - Paul confronts him and he calls him a hypocrite. Why? That doesn't sound very e encouraging or edifying does it? You hypocrite. Why did he call it? Paul was so eager that nothing got in the way of the gospel of Jesus, that he was willing to step in and say, that is not right and you're gonna love me for this. I think there's hypocrisy in all of us. Woo. I share this story with some permission. The other day, um, my children were upstairs at home and I'd cook dinner and like I normally do, we have this regular back and forth, which every parent can probably relate to. It goes, can you do this? Yeah. And then nothing happens. And after a while that back and forth becomes a bit wearing, okay? The tipping point on this particular day was that I'd cooked dinner and then called everyone down for dinner dinner's. Ready? Yeah, nothing. Dinner's ready. I can't hear you. Nothing. And eventually with the intensity of a tortoise said, child appears as if nothing has happened, which only aggravates the situation more and more. And I think the attitude, the lack of thanks, the pace

Pastor Jon Keel (00:10:15) - Made me snap and react. I'd been working all day. I'd come home, I'd cook dinner, I'd called you and you couldn't even be bothered to come downstairs. You don't even say thanks. And in fact, when you turn up, when you, you turn up in your own time, all you do is say, what's this?

Pastor Jon Keel (00:10:37) - I think said child had realized that now was probably not the time to argue back. So it was, all right, I'm doing it. And then came this phrase, "Call yourself a pastor.
 Why are you getting so angry?" 

Pastor Jon Keel (00:11:03) - Now, I genuinely thought I could explain why I was upset and angry. I felt it was legitimate. I've made you food. And this wasn't an isolated incident, but actually his phrase did get me, it made me pause it, it brought me out of that upset and anger because what he was, he, oh, I've given it away. Well, what my child was saying in that phrase was, you profess one thing with your mouth and you do another thing

Pastor Jon Keel (00:11:40) - When no one's watching you say this, you do this. What he, they were effectively saying to me, which made me stop, was actually you've been a hypocrite. You see, I think there's hypocrisy in all of us. I'm gonna use examples for me cause I've got loads of them. Like the Tuesday night, I dropped my daughter off at football training and there's a single carriage road and I could see another car coming the other way. So I waited, but of course the car behind me, it was in a rush, couldn't see there was another car. And they start to drive past me. And I do what most drivers do, what you doing? And then I realized it was another parent from the football team. So I had to adjust. So I'm like, what ?

Pastor Jon Keel (00:12:26) - I think there's hypocrisy in all of us. Let me turn it on you. Maybe, maybe you are the healthy lifestyle advocate and you, you say to everyone, exercise, come on, eat. Well, you advocate for nutrition, but then you eat and drink whatever you like. Maybe you are the um, environmentalist who recycles, who says, come on guys, we need to reduce our carbon emissions. And then you get in your gas guzzling car. Maybe you ha see hypocrisy in your workplace where you say to everyone you need a good work life balance. You say that to your team, you need to, you know, make sure you're giving time to home. You need to make sure you rest, but you work all hours and disregard your own advice. Maybe it's on social media and you present a perfect picture of life showcasing the highlights and the successes while concealing the challenges.

Pastor Jon Keel (00:13:18) - Maybe it's an attitude where you frequently judge and criticize others for their actions or choices, but then you go and do exactly the same. I think there is hypocrisy in all of us. You're not gonna want to drive when I'm on the road, but who like me, has come to a roundabout and they, someone's turned and they haven't indicated. And you go nice indication, you get on the, you get on the roundabout. Take your turning and don't indicate there's hypocrisy in all of us. Peter's hypocrisy was that he said, the gospel is for Jew and Gentile. You don't need to observe the law. But then when his Jewish buddies were watching, he withdrew and his actions did not match what he said he believed.

Pastor Jon Keel (00:14:10) - Paul was so keen to point out this because any departure from Jesus, any addition changes the gospel. He says this in verse 16 of Galatians two, we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. He says, we know this. Okay? And he's, he's talking, I like the word we there. We know Peter Paul and we have believed in Christ Jesus so that we may be right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we obeyed the law. He's kind of reiterating something here for no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.

Pastor Jon Keel (00:15:02) - Notice in that couple of verses there, Peter says, we know this. In other words, we've got a knowledge that the gospel is faith alone in Jesus and not law. Then he said, we've believed it. That knowledge has become a belief that faith is in Christ Jesus alone, not in obeying the law. And then comes the hard point. Do we act according to that knowledge and that belief whenever we do Jesus plus we start professing a faith where our actions don't match up. This is challenging, but let me just in the remaining time use Peter and Paul's journeys as an illustration of this. First Peter, he has, if you wanna turn to Acts 10, you can read about it there. He has a revelation of Jesus, even though he is He um, he had spent time with Jesus. He'd followed him, he'd followed him and then gone back.

Pastor Jon Keel (00:16:06) - And then Jesus has brought him back to him. Gee, in Acts 10, he has a revelation. And in Acts 10, Peter sees this vision of a sheet coming down from heaven. And on that sheet is a load of different animals. And he hears this voice saying, kill and eat, but based on his adherence to Jewish law. Peter says verse 14 of Acts 10, surely not Lord, I've never eaten anything unpure or unclean. The voice spoke to him a second time. Do not call anything impure that God has made clean. He has a revelation which brings with it a knowledge. Verse 28, God. Peter says, God has shown me that I should not call anything impure or unclean. Peter has a revelation and he knows that he shouldn't do that. That knowledge becomes a belief. Acts 10 34, Peter spoke to the people. I realize that God doesn't show favoritism.

Pastor Jon Keel (00:17:12) - He accepts every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel announcing the good news of Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. So that knowledge becomes a belief and he proclaims that belief. But then in Galatians two, he doesn't act according to that belief. He professes one thing and does and another. I don't wanna be hard on Peter cuz Jesus says, on this rock, I will build my church. But when it comes to his heritage and his background and his law, it was clearly affecting how he was then living for Jesus. I wonder what our example of Jesus pluses. What do we add to Jesus? What religion, what law, what way do we add that actually maybe is departing us from the gospel? Where in our lives do we profess one thing and know one thing, but act in a different way? Paul, on the other hand, he'd also had a revelation of Jesus. Mark shared it last week and you can read about it in Acts chapter nine. He was a man who went around killing those whose professed faith in Jesus. He was a murderer.

Pastor Jon Keel (00:18:35) - And yet he meets Jesus on the road to Damascus. And in Acts nine, he also comes to a knowledge of Jesus. Suddenly he fell to the ground, the Bible says, um, and heard a voice saying so, so why do you persecute me? And he says, who are you? Lord? I am Jesus. He has a knowledge of who's speaking to him. He has a revelation and a knowledge, but that knowledge then becomes a belief. Verse 18 of Acts nine, immediately something like scales fell off his life and he could see again he got up and was baptized. And then what happens to Paul? His action is in line with what he knows and what he believes. Verse 20 of Acts nine, once he began to preach, all those who heard him were astonished and asked, isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on Jesus' name and now he's preaching Jesus' name. His action changed. His life changed. You see, when we have a revelation of Jesus, when we come to a knowledge of Jesus, when we believe Jesus for ourselves, I believe grace transforms grace changes. Grace does something that we cannot do by adhering to the law, grace does something that we cannot do. By trying our best, grace utterly changes us. Paul was such a good example of this from death to life, from night today, grace completely changes a man.

Pastor Jon Keel (00:20:28) - And so Paul goes on to reiterate the gospel that he preaches. He says, faith in Jesus. And I believe someone in here needs to hear this today is not about adherence to certain regulations of religious laws. Grace says, I'm not right before God because of what I do. I'm right before God because I just say yes to Jesus. And Paul knew this for himself. As the late Tim Keller said, religion makes us proud of what we've done. The gospel makes us proud of what Jesus has done.

Pastor Jon Keel (00:21:10) - Verse 20 of Galatians two, Paul says it like this, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God. And I love this who loved me. I murdered people. I killed people. I wreaked havoc who loved me and gave himself for me. I don't set aside the grace of God for if righteousness could be gained by law, then Christ died for nothing. You see, this is the gospel that just as Jesus loved and gave himself up for Saul, who turned Paul Jesus loves and gave, gave himself up for you. Maybe you are in this place today and you are appall.

Pastor Jon Keel (00:22:15) - You feel God is speaking to you. Maybe you are having a revelation of Jesus today. And it's all a bit weird because something's happening and you know something's happening. But a bit like Paul, you're saying, who are you Lord? Well, Jesus died on the cross for you. He died and rose from the grave to forgive your sin, to reconcile you to God so that you could enjoy the very thing you were created for, to worship him, to be in relationship with the God of the universe. And the question for you today is how do you respond? It is by faith through his grace. He gave this gift through though undeserved freely so that you may find and have life in all its fullness and spend eternity with him. And maybe today you're saying, I want to know. I wanna believe in you. And if you're saying yes to Jesus today, if you're saying, I need you, Jesus, I used to wreak havoc. I used to be a mess. I need you, Jesus. Then we'd love to celebrate with you today. And if you are gonna say yes to Jesus today, that after the service there'd be some people to my left and my right who would love to do a few things to celebrate with you. This is an amazing decision to pray with you and to help you in your early days of faith. Maybe today you are like Paul and you sense God wants to change you and transform you. You've met with His grace.

Pastor Jon Keel (00:23:51) - Maybe today you are resonating with Peter and you have a knowledge and a belief in God. But if you're honest that your lifestyle is preaching a different gospel to that which you believe, maybe you relate to this thing of Jesus plus and you constantly fall back into this thing of I need to do more for God. I need to gain God's approval. I need to gain a God's acceptance by doing. Yes, I get that sometimes I'm hypocritical, but I'm gonna try harder not to be hypocritical. No, maybe you're like Peter today. I believe the response is to recognize that we all have stuff in our lives where we fall short of the glory of God. We're human, we're fallen. I believe our response rather than try harder is to come back to Jesus, to his cross. Where this morning he says to you, he loves you and he gave himself for you. And I believe today Jesus would say to you, come back, don't add more. Come back to Jesus. Come back to faith in Christ alone. I'm right before God, not because of what I do. I'm right before God because I said yes to Jesus. 

Pastor Jon Keel (00:25:29) - And if you're like Peter today, it is only by grace. Whether you're a brand new believer or you've been a Christian for many years, not by works and deeds, only by grace, no additions needed. Can I invite everyone to stand? And wherever you are, Peter or Paul, wherever you as has resonated with you in today's service, from the worship to the word, come to him today. Lord, I thank you for your grace. I thank you that we are a loved people and your love and your grace is available to all. Thank you. It was available to Paul even though he'd done what he did. Thank you. It was available to Peter even though his actions didn't always match up with his words. And I thank you, Jesus, that your love and sacrifice is for me today. So I choose to receive your love and your grace, a fresh offer. The first hand, today I lay down my way. I have been crucified with Christ, and I pick up your way. Lord, would you transform me? Would you send me out by your spirit and in your power to live according to that which I know and I believe

Pastor Jon Keel (00:27:14) - In Jesus' mighty name I pray. Amen. If you'd like to be prayed for today, please do come forward to my right on my left. And the guys here would love to stand with you and pray. Um, don't forget that if you sensed in your heart that connect was for you, then come and speak to Laura and Nicola after the service. Um, for the fathers, you can have a Yorkie bar on the way out. And if you'd like to give today, then there's envelopes on your seat. And you can do so in normal way of filling those in and putting in the baskets as you go. But go in the power of Jesus today. Let the gospel you preach and proclaim with your words and your lives be Jesus alone. God bless you and have a good week.

Parenting and being on the same page
Paul and Peter's confrontation over the gospel message
Hypocrisy in our own lives
Hypocrisy in all of us
Peter's hypocrisy
Paul's transformation
The Gospel Message
Closing Prayer