PRAY & READ: Galatians 2
What does it mean to be Gospel-Centered? The idea behind it is to call the church back to what is Paul stated is “of first importance” in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. That is “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” Gospel-centered living is being able to stay up on the balance beam of the gospel without falling off either side. Some people fall off by abusing God’s grace as a liscense to sin while others like the Galatians were tempted to try and earn God’s favor by following the Jewish Law.
Galatians 2 tells the story of a critical crossroad in the life of the early church. It was a time about fifteen years or so after the gospel had begun spreading throughout the Jewish and Gentile worlds. Then it happened.
The church encountered one of its first big controversies over the question of what it meant to be a Christian. Paul confronted two different kinds of ‘influential’ people impacting the church and the message of the gospel. One from within and one from without.
- The “circumcision party”; which had infiltrated the church and was influencing a false gospel; where adding works of the Law was required for salvation. And…
- The apostle Peter (Cephas) and enterage; who were ‘influential’ church leaders from Jerusalem that preached the true gospel but needed to be confronted because of their hypocrisy. (See vs. 11-13)
What makes Chapter 2 unique is that here Paul not only guards against false gospels but he also confronts ‘influential leaders’ from within the church when he sees a disconnect between what they practice and what they preach.
What can we learn from this encounter between Paul and these influential people?
First, “What is of first importance?” The gospel. This is a real issue in our world today, as the temptation to change the gospel in order to be accepted by others is very strong. Many make the argument that we must change the gospel to fit our culture, to make it more appealing, or the church might not survive, but to do so would be as Paul says in verse 21 to attempt to “nullify the grace of God.”
Second, “Who is of first importance?” Jesus. Lets’ admit it. We live in a celebrity culture and the church is not immune to the effect of celebrity. Just like the early church we look up to those that “appear influential” or have thousands of twitter followers and we rely on them for our authority, often without giving Jesus our first attention. Paul makes it clear in Galatians that he is not afraid to confront influential people when the gospel is on the line. Neither should we be.
Bottom line: Lets keep first things first today and remain gospel-centered. You and I, as ambassadors of Jesus need to keep our identity, our hope, our lives and our everyday conversations centered on Jesus and His gospel. That is of first importance!
- Do I truly understand the gospel myself? Have I fallen off either side of the gospel? (Either trying to earn God’s favor through works or abusing God’s grace in pursuit of sin)
- In what ways am I tempted to twist it or go around the gospel to make it more palatable for me or others?
- What ‘influential person’ or Christian celebrity do I run to for truth before I turn to Jesus and His Word?
- How might I speak the loving, freeing, glorious truth that Jesus died for all in everyday conversation today?
MEMORIZE: Galatians 2:19-20
This week's devotional is written by Michael Strickland. Michael is a City Church Owner and serves as a City Group Leader and in the band. He works in the FSU College of Music as the IT Director.