Most of us don’t realize the battles that have been fought for the gospel to have made its way to us. Tune in to learn about some of the ways Paul fought for us and to be challenged about what we will give to the next generation! GIVE TODAY, text any amount to (859) 459-0316 to get started (or give online @ my.harmonychurch.cc/give .
OPENING ILLUSTRATION: Ever had to fight the same fight twice?-Maybe you beat cancer and then had a recurrence and had to fight it again-or with your kids, you’ve had the same exact argument about cleaning your room a million times-Or you are for the 10th time having the same coaching conversation with your new salesman trying to get him to JUST do his job
Paul gets it, Paul in the book of Galatians is fighting a fight and a battle he’s already won once…
He has been describing to the Galatians who he was – the history they already knew – he had been a persecutor of Christians-He had been zealous about the faith of his fathers – the Jewish faith-and he had understood that Christianity seemed to be a perversion of it
Paul’s story was amazing, he went from being the guy that dragged Christians out of their home, to being the guy who was leading people to become Christians-he had an incredible conversion story – God blinded his eyes and called him-he told him he would suffer for the call God was placing on his life
Paul began preaching to non-Jewish people – the gentiles and as he did, they began to turn to Jesus in droves
Paul begins to do ministry in the church at Antioch-he and Barnabas are sent out on their first missionary journey-and when they return, they find out that there have been people coming from Israel to try and tell the gentile Christians that Jesus was not enough for them
This is the first time Paul has had to fight for Christians whom he has had a part in leading to know Jesus…
Acts 15:1-2 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.
We talked about this last week a little bit.
There were Jewish Christians coming to the non-Jewish Christians, and they were telling them, “You have to become Jewish to follow Jesus”
And that starts with circumcision…
ILLUSTRATION: I’ve had some bad jobs in life – done some things I’d never want to do again… But trust me, if becoming a Christian was dependent upon you getting circumcised, I’d have my work cut out for me… Pun intended!
There is a reason Paul and Barnabas get into a sharp dispute with them
They are putting up unnecessary barriers to becoming a Christian
Paul and Barnabas are offering a completely new way of life and these guys are wanting to drag people into a way of life that doesn’t work…
As a matter of fact, the law was set up to show you how you couldn’t make it work
And so Paul, Barnabas, and Titus make their way to Jerusalem to get advice and a ruling from the leaders in Jerusalem…
Listen to how Paul describes that encounter from Galatians
Galatians 2:1-2 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain.
Paul wants to make sure the race he has run is not in vain
This is not just something he’s saying – Paul had been an ardent fighter for the law of Moses and had left it behind to follow a new way of life in Jesus
He legitimately wants to know if he walked away from everything for nothing…
ILLUSTRATION: Some of you get that, right? I had a friend who when she came to Christ and got baptized immediately had her husband walk out on her — he didn’t want anything to do with Christianity. She was left with 3 kids at home and did not know how she was going to support them…
Some of you get what it’s like to have walked away from everything you’ve known and hope you are not running your race in vain.
BRING IN FOR A LANDING: back to Jerusalem…
Acts 15:4-9 & 12 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. 5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.
Paul argues so successfully and points to the fact that God brought the Spirit upon these people without them obeying all the law – they just needed Jesus.
The apostle James will speak up and the apostles will make the judgment that Christians are not beholden to the Jewish law.
And now…Paul is fighting the exact same fight over again for the Galatian church
People have come in and have deceived them with false ideas-Paul has had to step back into the ring…
I get it, Paul fought for people’s faith, but what does that matter to me…
ILLUSTRATION: years ago when the movie saving Private Ryan came out, I remember sitting in the movie theater watching it. If you’ve never seen it, the first 15 minutes or so they take you to the beaches of Normandy during WWII. I remember about halfway through it realizing I was gripping the seat as hard as I possibly could. As I watched I became overwhelmed because it hit me, my grandpa and granddad both fought in that war. They had put their lives on the line to try and protect the world and provide freedom to people and they had done it when they were my age at that time… I was in college pulling pranks and staying up WAY too late, and they were putting their lives on the line for something bigger…
There are times in your life when you “Grow up” right, usually, it’s not a gradual thing, it’s when you come across a realization…
Can I tell you something, Paul fought for the believers of his day to know Jesus deeply.
Who is going to fight for people to know Jesus in today’s world? Who is going to be the leaders who step up to make the church a beautiful place of grace for those who are looking? Who’s going to take on gathering together believers to pray for the lost? Who’s going to get so deep into God’s word that you are going to step away from your secular job to start preaching God’s word? Who’s going to be next?
It strikes me that so many have gone before us and fought to get the church of Jesus where it is. What are we going to do to Advance the Kingdom for the generations that will follow us?