“Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the Gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. [This matter arose] because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. Galatians 2:5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the Gospel might remain with you.” (Galatians 2:1–5 NIV)
Do you know that in Buenos Aires where you can find and go and worship in the Diego Armando Maradona Church? One of his founder Alejandro Veron said “I have a rational religion, the Catholic Church, and I have a religion passed on my heart, passion, and that is Diego Maradona!
Do you think that he is crazy?
Do you think that is taking football to a level of the Supernatural?
Do you think he is right?
Well, you would be amazed if I tell you that he is not far off. That he and many others are doing what so many people do and you will be even more surprised to realise that your and my religion is not that different from the Diego Maradona’s Church.
The analysis is straightforward, “My rational, my belief system, my dogmas, my doctrines are found in the traditional understanding of Church. But my heart is not there, and my heart is set in what I worship, my heart is set one someone or something!“
Paul is battling these false spies that came with a different gospel than the one he received as a Revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ. These ultra-religious Christians came to the region of Galatia, and they preached salvation in Jesus but under the burdens of Jewish costumes, traditions, rules and teaching.
The sad danger of religion is that it generally does not reach the heart, and when it does the outcome is not the Gospel of Grace.
Paul, for the very first time in his apostolic life and ministry, was very afraid.
I would like to say three things about this passage
- The Fear
“Galatians 2:1 Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. Galatians 2:2 I went in response to a revelation and set before them the Gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain.” (Galatians 2:1–2 NIV)
Paul is fearful. Paul is one of the most courageous man that the Christian Faith has ever seen! Who’s life, writings and ministry are an example to follow!!!
He is afraid that somehow the Jerusalem Apostles will not back up his defence that the Gospel is only by Grace alone. He feared that he may have run the race in vain and that the fruit of his ministry was not just compromised but lost.
All this because there was a section in the early Church that had difficulty in admitting people like you and me.
Paul went to Jerusalem because of a revelation from heaven; he was on a heavenly assignment. This was not Acts 15 when Paul and Barnabas were able to speak to the Church in Jerusalem.
This revelation from the Spirit of God was so important that Paul needed to seek clarification from the early church leaders that his preaching of the Gospel was one done by Grace alone.
He is in total opposition to religion plus the Gospel, but he is fully convinced to the Gospel of grace and justification by faith alone at the heart of our belief system which leads to a heart-rending worship to God.
So what does Paul do?
2. The Test
Paul brings two important people Barnabas and Titus.
Barnabas was sent from the Jerusalem Church to investigate the conversion of Gentiles, who were becoming followers of Jesus. He went to see how the Church was growing outside its Jewish boundaries.
If you like, Paul brought the very man who was sent from the Mother Church to witness and therefore testified that the move of God’s Spirit was among the non-jews!
But he also brings the evidence, the very reason why the Gospel is by Grace alone. Paul brings Titus, the Greek, a gentile, an unclean!!!
“Galatians 2:3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. Galatians 2:4 [This matter arose] because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.” (Galatians 2:3–4 NIV)
He brought into the Jerusalem church someone who was not circumcised!
Circumcision was the physical mark of the people of God; this is and was so crucial for the Jewish faith. Any Gentile coming to faith in the God of Israel needed to be circumcised!
Paul, needed Titus to give testimony of the Grace of God so to silence the voices of the Jewish Christians who were preaching a cheap grace that leads to Slavery.
You see, this is what religion does! It makes you slave!! Slave to follow the rules, the law, the regulations, and to try hard to fulfil them!
What is the lie? The lie is that Jesus is good but not good enough to save you. The process of salvation means that you have to obey, follow and put into practice the law and for you to do that as a Gentile, you need to learn the law, its principles and statutes.
What does this do to us?
It brings a division between the rational aspect of belief and the heart moving part of worship!
This is why you find that there is a big gap between the mind and the heart!
You can be a man or a woman who may have the right beliefs, but you may have never experience the heartwarming welcoming of the Gospel, and you are not saved.
You can be saved, believed in your heart in faith that Jesus is the Word and you may have experienced the warm welcome of the Father and only to find that this passionate heart call of the Gospel is or have died. You have become a friendly, proper Christian, polite Christian, believing that faith is private! Your heart has been put to sleep, you lack passion, zeal and Holy Spirit voice is silent. You have a gap between the mind and the heart only to be filled with trying hard to be a good Christian.
The truth is that there is nowhere in the Bible that we need to BE good, the Bible speaks about doing good but be Christlike.
Religion is a threat.
What do we need?
3. The Truth
We need the truth!
The truth of the Gospel is capable of setting us free!!!
Listen to Paul:
“We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.” (Galatians 2:5 NIV)
Paul is so determined to stop this and fight this!
Is Paul speaking about being born again? NO
He is saying that the Gospel Truth is what sustains us for life and because it remains in us is capable of lightening up the heart and the passion for Christ.
What is, is the heart of the Gospel message?
You cannot have a personal relationship with the law! You try to please the law.
But you can have a loving relationship with Jesus.
We obey because we love, and we follow Christ because of love and grace flows because of love, we serve Christ because of love. Love has no boundaries, love.
The threat of religion is that it is capable of killing, silencing the love of God in our hearts!!
The Truth of the Gospel is Love!
Only love can fulfil the law! Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbours as you love yourself!
Dario is a husband, father, pastor and passionate pursuer of Jesus and His Kingdom. He is a Pastor, loyal friend, and walks the walk when it comes to being a carrier of God’s presence. He expects things to happen when he prays for people. He loves having fun and eating olives (preferably at the same time).