‘RESIST’ the pressure to ‘CHANGE’ the MESSAGE

Someone once asked me,

“Do you ever feel like giving up?” “Yes,” I said, “sometimes I do feel like giving up because it at times it gets too difficult and to carry on seems impossible.” Then I said, “But then, it’s really not about giving up, but about ‘giving it over to God’.”  It would seem easier to ‘compromise’ over certain things. It would seem easier to ‘conform’ to what conventional wisdom calls reasonable for 21st century ‘Christians’. It would seem easier to ‘change’ like the wind every time some ‘new teaching’ becomes ‘popular’. But then we’d be ‘giving up’ when we should be ‘giving it over to God’, to test it against His revealed Word in the Bible.” [Read Galatians 2: 1-10].

It seems clear that Paul went to Jerusalem with some fear in his heart. Keep in mind that there were those in town who would remember him as the one who had ‘persecuted the church’. After all who was he to challenge the apostles and elders? Maybe they would reject him and send him back to Antioch with a flea in his ear. Paul could have been guided by who the apostles were. He could have been prepared to accept a ‘compromise’ over circumcision if they had said it was OK. He could have been influenced by the confidently presented and persuasive arguments of the false brothers and ‘conform’. He could have given up and accepted ‘change’ because it all seemed too difficult. But he didn’t, thankfully, “As for those who seemed important—whatever they were makes no difference to me…. those men added nothing to my message.”
This may sound like a bit of an arrogant statement for Paul to make, except for the all-important context in which he’s saying it. The Galatians are obviously pretty impressed by the false teachers. It appears they are sure of their ground and have talked up their case persuasively. So persuasively in fact, that in Paul’s opinion, the Galatians appear, as we see in 3:1,

‘bewitched’ by their teaching. Nothing can be added to the message of the gospel, do we see? If someone comes, no matter their standing, no matter their reputation before men and tries to add their own ideas, promote their own agenda, no matter how persuasively they argue their case, they can teach you nothing by their own wisdom. We must learn as a people to ‘RESIST the pressure to ‘CHANGE’ based in men’s wisdom and look only to God’s power at work within us; the God who has saved us by His grace.’

The false teacher’s persuasive words, their reputation with men, their perceived wisdom meant nothing. Only a heart submitted to the Holy Spirit, transparently seeking the mind and purpose of God will be

‘Freed to ‘RESIST the pressure to ‘COMPROMISE, and ‘CONFORM’ and ‘CHANGE’.  The final verses in the reading from Galatians outline the result of ‘RESISTING that pressure’

The church ‘had been given a specific task of preaching the gospel’ [v.7]. It was ‘God who was at work in the ministry” [v.8]. The recognition of those two things by Paul and by ‘those reputed to be pillars’ [v.9] ended with them standing together in ‘fellowship’ under the same ‘grace given to each of them’. It found them ‘not ‘COMPROMISING the Gospel’, not ‘CONFORMING’ to a different gospel, and not ‘CHANGING’ what they believed about the gospel of Christ.’ Instead, it found them agreeing that they each had a task from God to perform to both Jews and Gentiles. That task for the 1
st century Christians was to preach the gospel to those whom God gave them. This was the most significant thing, because ‘the good news is that the good news remains the good news.’ We 21st
century Christians have the same task to preach the gospel to those whom God has given us. In doing that, we must not ‘COMPROMISE the ‘gospel’. We must not ‘CONFORM’ to a different ‘gospel’. ‘We must not ‘CHANGE’ what we believe about this ‘gospel’; because ‘the good news is that the good news remains the good news.’
 
We may have been

‘BORN TO RESIST’ God, but now through Jesus Christ we have been ’REBORN TO EXIST’ to serve God. He was the ‘God who was at work in the ministry’ in Jerusalem, in Galatia, and to the very ends of the earth. He is the same ‘God who is at work in the ministry’ at Islington. That ministry is to ‘preach the gospel of salvation in and through Jesus Christ alone.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

“That Christ died is a simple matter of history; that Christ died for our sins is the Gospel itself” (Alister McGrath. 1997.

“Studies in Doctrine”

, p.19. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing).

Standing for the gospel together,

Pastor Frank.

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