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“Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (vs3-5).
The truth of the gospel must continue, because it is only by the gospel that we are saved. We are accursed by nature, coming into the world dead in sins, and we are utterly wicked, even collectively guilty of the murder of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:23; Acts 4:27). Yet, in the gospel, God reveals how He may be just and justify the ungodly, how He saves sinners without compromising His perfect holiness (Rom 1:16-17; Rom 3:21-26).
He gave the Son, the Lord Jesus, to die on behalf of His elect, determining that He’s save sinners whom He’d chosen before the world began (Heb 13:20). He took our sins and suffered in our place, as God punished Him fully for our unrighteousness. Therefore, when He forgives by faith it is justified, because He put away the sins, and He can declare us righteous because of what His Son did for us. Yet, without the gospel, people perish in the bondage of false religion. They are under the curse, under the law, and they can NEVER have peace by their attempts to do good. A man is saved by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, or he stands before God on his own at the Judgment, filled with sin. Paul was willing to fight and stand for the gospel, because personal comfort and popularity don’t matter. One thing matters, and it is the truth of the gospel, and if you believe it, then you care about people enough to tell the truth, no matter the cost.
How do you feel about the gospel? Is it essential in its essence, something to be untouched by man and declared as is? Is it important enough to suffer to proclaim it? If you love sinners, if you know there is no other way, then you are like Paul, willing to stand for the truth of the gospel, not to be seen as bold, but because it is the only life rope the drowning sinner has. Gospel truth is the only hope, and without it, God’s wrath is guaranteed forever. Paul said, “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 for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:16-18).
You won’t be free by trying hard to improve yourself. You’ll be forgiven and empowered by BELIEVING what Christ did for you, and then believing that God will bless you freely because of it. The truth of the gospel is the most important thing in the world, because the soul is the most important thing, and ONLY by the gospel can we be saved!
Secondly, the gospel makes us like God, generous and gracious (Gal 2:6-10). Paul writes, “and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do”. Not only is my relationship with God changed, but He changes my relation to people. I am no longer the selfish self-server, the arrogant wretch, who used people and cared for no one. Now, having all things in Christ, and coming to faith, we live and treat people how He commands, being changed from the inside. Justification by faith ALSO sanctifies, so that the poor sinner who trusts Christ becomes a loving saint who helps poor sinners and God’s people. In Galatians 2, we are taught to give, and the church gives to support pastors and poor saints. Romans 15:26-27 says, “For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things”.
The church’s job isn’t to build schools or houses, it is not to change politics and overthrow the government. Our job is to preach the gospel, and we are to lovingly help those who believe it. In Acts 11:27-30, there was a famine in Jerusalem, so the gospel churches gathered an offering for the saints. We are likewise given instructions on how to support poor widows, but not all widows – only those who’ve proven themselves, living by faith. Paul teaches us, “Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number (for financial support), and not unless she has been the wife of one man, well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work” (1 Tim 5:3-10). Coming to Christ means that you’ve done more than get right with God: you’ve also become a member of God’s family, the church, and we show God’s love by HELPING each other. We do not condemn or ignore each other in a time of need.
You can be sure that faith in Christ ALWAYS leads to love (God’s way) toward people. Looking up to heaven for acceptance will always lead to looking upon your fellow saints with pity, compassion, and willingness to help (1 John 3:16-23). Grace makes us gracious, and as we go about preaching the gospel, we must always remember to preach it by how we treat each other, and this we will do, if we are REALLY His.
Finally, salvation is personal (Gal 2:11-20)! Paul said, “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 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”. It is not something that says, “Christ died for people in general”; it always includes, “for me”, if there is any power. The only way to live for Christ is to know, by faith and personal experience, that you are saved by Christ, that He died for and loves you. The only way to love others is to be sure of His love, receiving it freely, because you don’t have anything else to give (Gal 2:16). Therefore, you lean all your weight upon the Son of God and trust all of your soul’s salvation to Him. This personal experience of “Christ died for ME”, and, “He loves ME”, is the power of holy living and assurance. It is the peace that comes from actually taking God at His word, no matter how I feel, and walking about my life believing the goodness of the invisible God!
If you have God’s peace, then you believe God’s Son, and if you’re depressed and discouraged, if you’re continually burdened and pained by sin… uncomforted… then it is because, no matter what you know about Christ dying for the elect, you don’t believe that He died for you. You may decipher justification by faith in exact terms, but your lack of love and holiness reveals head knowledge, instead of heart faith. This must be personal, my friend. Cast aside EVERY OTHER option, because the law can’t help you, and there is no other way. It is Christ or hell and the wrath of God. Either I’m forgiven, or I’m damned. Either I’m accepted, or I’m unrighteous, God’s wrath is on me, and my prayers and very existence is abominable to Him. It is either be SAVED by Christ or be DAMNED without Him, and because of this, I trust myself to the Son, receive His death and blood, and I live justified. Now, I have peace, and now I can be peaceable towards my brother. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t merely “understand” the gospel, and do not satisfy yourself in another person’s joy. Take the Son for your own, by faith only, and believe that He is yours, and He is!
Heshimu Colar, Pastor of The Gospel Church, faithfully proclaims the saving message of Jesus Christ, continually exalting Him in God's word as the Savior of...