October 11, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Galatians 2)

Submitted by Kaitlyn L. from Gracepoint Minneapolis Church

Galatians 2:3-5

  • The Judaizers among their midst (whom he calls “false brothers”) had been preaching that Gentile Christians must follow the Laws of Moses, such as circumcision, to be saved. Apostle Paul himself was a Jew, who revered the laws of the Old Testament. He grew up in that culture, with its finely tuned sensibilities.  Most of the Christians of his era were Jews.  Reflect on how easy it would have been for him to give into their requirements, and agree to have his new converts be circumcised and adopt Old Testament regulations.  What would have been the consequences of such a move by Apostle Paul?  What can I learn from Apostle Paul’s refusal to “not yield … even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved…”? 

Apostle Paul was himself a Jew and his background as a strict Pharisee means that it would have been very easy for Paul to identify with the Judaizers and be sympathetic to their cause.  Paul himself used to be a Pharisee of the Pharisees and used to perfectly practice the ritualistic righteousness of the Jewish traditions.  It’s a miracle that he became an apostle to the Gentiles, whose practices would’ve seemed so offensive to his Jewish culture.   Having already brought the gospel to the Gentiles, Paul could’ve been like a Judaizer and wanted to assimilate the Gentiles because of his loyalty and comfort with the Jewish traditions and ritual.  He could’ve said that the laws that the same God had given to the Jews before the coming of Christ, that those laws are superior and holy, and that it would be better for the Gentile Christians to follow the same rules.  This would’ve pleased his own Jewish sensibilities and it would’ve helped him earn brownie points or at least preserve a smooth, harmonious relationship with the Jews in the church, who were his own people.  And even if Paul did not believe that the Gentiles should become circumcised or follow other Jewish traditions, he could’ve rationalized it and said that he had already tried resisting the demands of the Judaizers, but this demand keeps coming up and it’s not such a big deal to insist on nor worth causing a division in the church over this point.

But amazingly, Apostle Paul pushed through all these different kinds of cultural predispositions and possible rationalizations, and he didn’t “yield in submission even for a moment” because the message of the gospel is so crystal-clear to him–that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by grace only through the cross.  This is the precious gospel to him and he’s not going to muddy it up just to please mere humans.  In one sense Paul’s clarity about the gospel and his jealous preservation of it, not allowing any taint or dilution, is so amazing; but on the other hand, it makes sense given that Paul’s already faced death and persecution and all kinds of havoc for the gospel and in order to preach the gospel to the Gentiles–he’s not going to let some fussy Judaizers spoil, pollute, cheapen the gospel that he’s already fought so hard to bring and preserve among the Gentiles.

If Paul had given in on this point, Christianity today would look so different.  It would’ve been just an off-shoot of Judaism.  A lot of people would never give Christianity a fair hearing because it would’ve been laden with so much ritual traditions. It would be hard to be pierced by the simple universal truths of the gospel–the reality of sin, the human condition, how impossible it is to save oneself through works, the amazing grace and forgiveness of God. Instead someone considering the gospel might become wearied by all the rules and rituals and requirements of the law. And the message of the cross might lose a lot of its power because it would be burdened, complicated and perhaps trivialized by the many rituals and practices.

  • Who are the people for whom I need to firmly protect the truth of the gospel?

Paul so jealously guarded the gospel for the people that God had entrusted him to present the pure, undiluted gospel to.  In the same way, I am guarding the precious truths of the gospel for the entire next generation of people who would receive the gospel after me.  This passage really challenges me to be very clear about what the gospel is about.  It’s the message that we are all sinners and that Jesus alone is our salvation through what he’s accomplished on the cross. I need to have this sense of responsibility and obligation to the next generation – starting from the younger ones at our church.  They are not just here by accident, but God’s placed them into our church and it is our (and my personal) responsibility to pass on the pure, undiluted gospel to them.

Galatians 2:7-10

  • Verse 7 implies that, although ultimately the Church is called to reach the whole world, God can entrust certain people with a particular task that is more focused. Who are the people I have been “entrusted with the gospel” to reach? 

God is so “real” in this sense that he entrusts particular groups of people to particular Christians or churches to reach.  For our church as a whole, we have taken the call of “an Acts 2 church in every college town”–and we feel like God’s called us specifically to minister to the college campuses in America and Taiwan.  Our Gracepoint Minneapolis Church has been entrusted with the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus.  I have been entrusted with the international students who are coming out to IUSM.  This does not mean we are going to be exclusive, but that we have an added responsibility toward people in this particular group.  Formerly, I may have felt a kinship to this group of people because I happen to be an immigrant from China. But reflecting on Paul’s sense of entrustment with the Gentiles, I see that that is really secondary. I have a responsibility to them because God has entrusted this group to me to faithfully present the gospel truths to.

  • What steps need to be taken in my life to be faithful to this entrustment?

The most important thing is for me to always be very sharp about what the gospel is. For me to regularly reflect on my own salvation, what Christ has saved me from, the life I had lived and I would’ve been living had Christ not intervened in my life, the calling that I have received and the community of faith that I have inherited because of the cross.  First and foremost this needs to be sharp and clear for me, so that like Apostle Paul, I would never muddy up the gospel into “Christ + something else” but “Christ alone.”

Also, I need to make room in my heart for the people that God’s entrusted me with by praying for them, meeting them regularly and knowing what is going on in their lives.  In addition to praying for specific people, I also need to pray for this group as a whole, so that I would see them not from a humanistic point of view but I would see them as spiritual beings that God desires to reveal himself to.

  • According to this passage, what should be my attitude towards those who are given different kinds of entrustment? 

My attitude towards those with different kinds of entrustment should be to support them and encourage them in their ministry.  Like what the Jerusalem church did – they “gave the right hand of fellowship” to Paul and to his ministry.

Personal Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for your words today and thank you for Paul’s example of this kind of clarity and zeal about guarding the gospel.  This gospel that you have entrusted to me is precious, it alone is your power to save all people.  I thank you that because of the faithful sacrifice of Christians who have gone before me, even including Apostle Paul, that I received, benefitted from and became saved by this gospel.  Please help me to value the gospel above everything else. Often I have my own humanistic and cultural biases. Or I want to do what’s easier/more comfortable for myself.  Help me to see that what I do could really seriously compromise the gospel and the stakes are so high because others who come after me need to hear your gospel and to be saved.  Father, please renew and refresh my clarity of the basic gospel and help me to fall in love with it all over again, and please help me to guard it and to preserve it for those that you will bring into my life.  Thank you for giving our church and giving me this amazing privilege to be your minister and to be carriers of your gospel, and thank you that you’ve prepared specific people groups for us to serve and love and reach.  Please help us to be faithful to the tasks and you’ve given us, and please help us to love and give ourselves to these specific people to bring the gospel to life to them.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Submitted by Andrew I. from Gracepoint Minneapolis Church

Galatians 2:3-5

  • The Judaizers among their midst (whom he calls “false brothers”) had been preaching that Gentile Christians must follow the Laws of Moses, such as circumcision, to be saved. Apostle Paul himself was a Jew, who revered the laws of the Old Testament. He grew up in that culture, with its finely tuned sensibilities.  Most of the Christians of his era were Jews.  Reflect on how easy it would have been for him to give into their requirements, and agree to have his new converts be circumcised and adopt Old Testament regulations.  What would have been the consequences of such a move by Apostle Paul?  What can I learn from Apostle Paul’s refusal to “not yield … even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved…”?  

Apostle Paul could have very easily given in to the “demands” of the Judaizers that required Gentile Christians to follow the Laws of Moses, such as circumcision, to be saved because of the stage of ministry that he is in. Apostle Paul was trying to lay down the initial foundations of the early church and so it would have been in a very vulnerable stage. He often went to the synagogue first when he went to a new city in order to preach the Gospel. And so many of his initial converts would have been Jews, people who would have natural affinity to the kinds of requirements that the Judaizers would have had. And so by resisting this insistence that the Judaizers had that required ALL Christians to follow the Mosiac Law would have been very risky for him. He could have potentially alienated this influential group and as a result, he could have fear that the early church might fall apart without them. And so it would have been very tempting to just “give in” to their demands to ensure the success of his ministry. He might have feared that without the support of those who were “influential,” things might fall apart and his ministry and work would have all been in vain. But if he gave in to the demands of the Judaizers, he would have tainted and ultimately drained the power of the very Gospel message that he was trying to preach. By making these Old Testament regulations a requirement for salvation, he would have introduced a works-based/result-orientated approach towards salvation. In addition, it would have alienated non-Jews and create a high-barrier for them to receive the Gospel. These Old Testament regulations would have been daunting and appear arbitrary and it would have just made it harder for non-Jews to even consider or explore the ideas of the Gospel.

And so when I look at Apostle Paul’s determination to not give in to the Judaizers, I see the importance of preaching the pure Gospel message and not burdening it any way in order to ensure some sort of result or to make certain types of people happy. Apostle Paul stuck to his guns of preaching the Gospel he had been preaching to the Gentiles because if he did not and he changed things, then his work of building up the church would have been “in vain.” It might be costly for him in some way, but he could not dilute or change the message of the Gospel because it would make a waste of everything else he had done. And so similarly, I cannot change the message of the Gospel I am preaching just because it might “cost” something. The message of the Gospel can be painful and unappealing to some people because it means admitting their sinfulness and turning to God for salvation and surrendering your life to His hands. I can see how it can be tempting to “de-emphasize” certain parts of this Gospel message for this reason. But Apostle Paul’s example tells me that if I did this, then all of my ministry is “in vain” because I am no longer preaching the Gospel, but some twisted version that has no real power in a person’s life.

  • Who are the people for whom I need to firmly protect the truth of the gospel?

I need to protect the truth of the Gospel for the non-Christians and churched students that I meet here at the U. As I think about these two different groups of people, the way that I can “firmly protect the truth of the gospel” is very different. For the non-Christians, I need to preach the full simple message of the Gospel so that they can be saved into a relationship with God. I cannot take things out from the Gospel that might be uncomfortable or unappealing, but I just need to be faithful to the Gospel that I have been given and entrusted with and preach it. And with the churched students that I meet, I need to make sure they understand the fundamental message of the Gospel. Many of them have grown up in the church and can have a certain understanding of what it means to be Christian and grown up with certain emphasis of Christian teachings or cultural things. They can be similar to the Judaizers in some ways, thinking that in order to be saved, you need to do or not do certain things or that specific teachings that they have grown up with need to part of the teachings that go along with the Gospel message. And with them, I need to use the Bible and show them what it says about the Gospel.

Galatians 2:7-10

  • Verse 7 implies that, although ultimately the Church is called to reach the whole world, God can entrust certain people with a particular task that is more focused. Who are the people I have been “entrusted with the gospel” to reach?

Right now, God has entrusted me to preach the Gospel message to the students here at the U. My calling to preach the Gospel to the students here at the U is very clear identity that I have. The very reason that I came to Minnesota is so that I can share the Gospel message with the people here. Specifically, in this season of life, I have been called to minister to the freshmen that come to our group. And to this group of guys that God has placed in my life, I need to see that I have been entrusted with them.

  • What steps need to be taken in my life to be faithful to this entrustment?

For me, I think I need to pray more for the people that God has entrusted me to preach the Gospel message to. As a younger minister, I thought that the purpose of praying for others is so that God would work in their lives and that I am petitioning God to do something to change their heart or attitude towards the Gospel so that they would receive it. But as I’ve gotten older, I see that praying for others also is a way for me to be affected by God and see what I can do to minister to them. As I think about people that God has placed in my life, their situation, what they are going through, what their background is, how they are thinking about Christianity, etc. God brings to my mind things that I can do with them that I would have not thought of on my own. Praying for others isn’t just an asking of God to do something in another person’s life so that I don’t have to think about it anymore. Rather, God places upon my own heart things that I can do. A verse that I can share with him, an act of love and care that I can do for them, some advice that I can give them, some article or book I can give them to read, some prompting of a conversational topic to discuss with them, etc. I’ve seen it happen in the past in my years of ministry, but I need to be more active in praying for people, especially as the number of my relationships grow. There is no way that I can “handle” everyone on my own, but I need God’s help and guidance to help me find the creative ways to love people and share the Gospel with them.

  • According to this passage, what should be my attitude towards those who are given different kinds of entrustment?

According to this passage, my attitude towards those who are given different kinds of entrustments is to extend “the right hand of fellowship” with them. I should see them as Apostle Paul saw Peter, James, Cephas, and John. They had been entrusted to minister to the Jews while Apostle Paul was to minister to the Gentiles. And because they were both doing the work of God and sharing the Gospel message, they have fellowship with one another. God calls people to minister the Gospel to different sets of people. Our church initially ministered to the college students at specific campuses, but as we’ve grown we’ve been called to minister to other campuses. And not only other campuses, but also different types of people, from children in the inner-city, to visiting scholars, to college students, to international students, to senior citizens in convalescent homes. Different people with our church have been entrusted to preach the message of the Gospel to different people. And so there is no such thing as a “more important” ministry when it comes to sharing the Gospel with people. We are all working together to build up the church and to save souls and so there should be no barrier in fellowship with them. And the same is true with other Christians that I meet outside of our church. Some of them are called to minister to inner-city youth, others to different ethnic groups on campus, others to certain types of professionals, others to people in different countries, etc. And so my attitude towards anyone who is doing the work of sharing the Gospel with people, regardless of “whom” they are sharing the Gospel with, is to fellowship with them. We are on the same side of trying to preach the Gospel to all people. And I should be glad to have these kinds of co-laborers in Christ. It would be impossible for me to try and do this kind of ministry alone. It would be impossible for our church even to do all of the types of ministry out there. This is why we need the full body of Christ and to have all sorts of Christians ministering to the people God has called them to minister to. And I should be joyful when I see it happen. I think about a missionary couple that ministers to disabled kids in a foreign country and while I don’t have direct personal interaction with them, there is a fellowship and kinship with them because I hear their testimony and see what they are trying to do with the Gospel. I think about Pastor Andy and Amy, and our team in Hsinchu and how the kind of things they are doing, how the church is growing and there is just a common bond in the joy of seeing Taiwanese students being saved. And as I see different campus groups at the U ministering to different types of people, I genuinely pray for their ministry, that they will succeed and flourish.

Personal Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for reminding me of the entrustment that I have with the Gospel message and the people that you have placed in my life that I need to preach it to. I confess and repent about being passive with certain people in the past and ask that You help me to be more faithful in praying for them and seeking Your guidance and wisdom in how to preach the Gospel message to them. I pray that I may maintain the integrity and purity of the Gospel message and not take away or add anything to it in order to make it more appealing to others. Help me to preach the full message of the Gospel to the non-Christians that you’ve placed in my life so that they can confess their sins, surrender their lives to You and receive salvation. Indeed, this is a noble calling that you’ve given me. And despite my own shortcomings, failures, and sins, You still choose to use me as your instrument in this world. Thank You for ennobling me in this way and allowing me to be a part of Your ministry of reconciliation. Help me to continue to be passionate and active, not only with my hands but also with my prayers, as I try to build up Your kingdom and bring people to salvation. In Jesus Name, Amen.


Submitted by Ray W. from Gracepoint Minneapolis Church

Galatians 2:3-5

  • The Judaizers among their midst (whom he calls “false brothers”) had been preaching that Gentile Christians must follow the Laws of Moses, such as circumcision, to be saved. Apostle Paul himself was a Jew, who revered the laws of the Old Testament. He grew up in that culture, with its finely tuned sensibilities.  Most of the Christians of his era were Jews.  Reflect on how easy it would have been for him to give into their requirements, and agree to have his new converts be circumcised and adopt Old Testament regulations.  What would have been the consequences of such a move by Apostle Paul?  What can I learn from Apostle Paul’s refusal to “not yield … even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved…”? 

It would have been “easy” for Paul to give into the false brothers demands.  What they demanded was familiar to Paul and he had personally revered as righteous before, so it wouldn’t have been much trouble for him to adopt it again.  Most of the Christians were Jews that also knew the Old Testament law, so it would not be hard to find consensus to adopt it.  Emotionally, it would be easier to avoid conflict with the majority who may want the old law, rather than to push back and convince them of the singular truth of the gospel.

If Paul had given in to their demands, the essential truths and wonder of the gospel would be compromised. Jesus came and died for sinners because there was nothing we could do in our own power to earn our salvation and righteousness.  It is purely an act of grace by God towards us.  But essentially these false brothers say that what Jesus did was not enough to pay for our sins. We’ll need the cross + works according to the old law to be saved, which is not the gospel anymore.  This would result in slavery and not freedom as Paul said.   For example, even as a Christian, the sinful nature is always at work and I still sin.  Under the works system, I’d always be left wondering how much work would be enough for salvation given my latest sin?  The wonder of the fact that Jesus would die for me even when I was still a sinner would be lost, and I’d be driven to obey God out of fear rather than gratitude and a love relationship with God. In addition, it would have setup an unnecessary barrier for others to receive the gospel by adding requirements that do not exist.

I can learn that I too must not give into a false gospel for a moment.  Though I am active doing ministry, my heart can fall away from the gospel truth.  For me my false gospel is a strong performance mentality.  I grew up thinking I had to compete and earn respect and love from people, and I can corrupt the gospel to view God also in this way.  This means I fail to see that I have a love relationship with God, and I reduce being a Christian into a list of things to do.  I’ll see people as tasks rather than being genuinely interested in them.  I’m going to be filled with self-pity because eventually, due to my sinful nature, I’m going to fail at these “goals” I prop up for myself and try to find some other escapist means to deal with this lack.  Overall, this means I must keep the pure gospel fresh in my mind daily.  I can do it through approaching devotions times, messages, and scripture with an attitude that I need to receive the truth and God wants to personally connect with me through it, not as another thing I need to check off.

  • Who are the people for whom I need to firmly protect the truth of the gospel?

If I don’t protect the truth of the gospel in my personal life, then everyone I interact with will be affected.  It’ll come out in how I treat them in a less loving way, how much I pray for them, and how much room I have in my heart to love them.

Galatians 2:7-10

  • Verse 7 implies that, although ultimately the Church is called to reach the whole world, God can entrust certain people with a particular task that is more focused. Who are the people I have been “entrusted with the gospel” to reach? 

I was atheist that became Christian in my college years and so my passion is with college students.  My life has never been the same since I became a Christian.  Currently, God has entrusted to me college students to minister to at the University of Minnesota.

  • What steps need to be taken in my life to be faithful to this entrustment?

Faithfulness to this entrustment starts with faithfulness to my own relationship with God.  Am I preaching the pure gospel to myself daily?  There are so many things of life that prevent this.   For example, after a long day of work and stress, the gospel can easily end up far in my mind.  I’m just thinking about the work and how I can find relief in the moment.  Or if over time, the excitement of outreaching passes away, and now its left to just my convictions in the gospel to motivate me.  When this happens, I need to take steps to fan into flame the gift of God that I have received.  Small steps like taking a 15 minute prayer walk at work, taking a moment to mentally approach all the bible studies and messages with an expectant heart to be addressed by God, reviewing memory verses, or taking a small step of faith to push against my comfort zone keeps the gospel fresh.  I have found that when I do this, God often takes that and leads me to experience something that refreshes me and draws me closer to Him in a way I didn’t expect.

  • According to this passage, what should be my attitude towards those who are given different kinds of entrustment? 

Paul was accepted as having a different kind of entrustment to the gentiles.  Likewise, I should recognize that God calls people to different kinds of entrustments.  It is an exciting reflection of God’s zealous heart for the lost that he would raise up “special forces” with different entrustments and specialties so that more may be won for Him.  Even within our church here in Minnesota, it’s exciting to see how the uniqueness of our two campus groups, acts2fellowship and the new international undergraduate student ministry group, enable them to reach and better meet the needs of different groups of people.

Personal Prayer:

God, thank you for the example of Apostle Paul and his dedication to the purity of the gospel.  The gospel and who you are truly amazing and wonderful.  Forgive me Lord for all the ways I attempt to corrupt this in my own walk with you.  Please help me to have a deeper and fresher understanding of the gospel, so that I can remain faithful to the entrustment you have given me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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