Staying In Step
When we fall out of step with the Gospel, we're liable to things like insecurity and seeking approval from others.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
This is always an exciting time of the year for any church…as we get closer and closer to Easter.
Which is really the super bowl of the Christian calendar.
It’s what our faith is all about.
That Jesus died and rose again… for us. In our place.
And our church exists because of that.
As Paul says in Scripture, if we aren’t saved by this resurrection of Jesus…then we are to be pitied more than all men.
And our vision here at Renovation, is to be a people…being changed by God…to change the world.
We believe that being a part of something like this really matters. That church is more than just watching something on Sundays.
That’s why our House Groups are so important to us. And so beloved at our church.
If you’re not in one yet, stop by the hallway and sign up today.
And we believe that if we’re really going to change the world…than we must first be changed by God.
And part of that change process means getting out of your seat and doing something.
“Disciples of Jesus move.”
The twelve disciples didn’t become famous for sitting around a lot.
They move…into Christian communities…(like house groups)
They move…into action to bring others to Christ.
To share their faith w/ others.
Or even just to bring people with to church to hear about God…
They move…into service.
A week from today…we’re having our Starting Line class that we offer multiple times a year.
It’s for all new volunteers to get trained and hear about the vision of our church.
If you’re not serving here yet, this is the time to sign up.
Especially as we see more and more people come here in the next month and after Easter.
We need your help.
And God can use each and every one of you here.
If you feel really stuck on where to serve, talk to one of our experts behind the table in the hallway, or you can even talk to me after the service.
I’d love to help you out.
This morning…we are studying the book of Galatians in the Bible.
And the book of Galatians is about ruthlessly defending the “Gospel.”
If you’ve been out for the last few weeks or you’re visiting for the first time today, the Gospel means “Good news”
And the Gospel in the Bible is that if we confess our sins, and put our trust in Jesus Christ that he died for us, then we will be completely forgiven and given eternal life.
It’s the greatest news….EVER
It’s why we start churches. To let more people know of this incredible news!
And quite honestly, this is why we serve. Because we want to do ANYTHING we can to let others know about this good news.
And ANY way we can be a part of that matters.
Paul is writing this letter to the people in Galatia, which is in modern-day Turkey, because some Jewish Christians have come to town after him, and they started telling people a different Gospel.
Only their news wasn’t as good.
They were saying that you not only have to believe in Jesus to be saved, that you ALSO have to do a lot of good things…
IN fact, good Jewish things…like eat Jewish foods and celebrate jewish holidays, etc.
So, Paul is quite upset about this and he writes a letter to the people in Galatia to refute this.
In the 1st chapter and a half, Paul has been proving to the people in Galatia, that unlike this group of people that came to town after him (they’re called the Judaizers), he got his gospel 1) directly from Jesus and 2) even the leaders in Jerusalem support his Gospel.
And today…he’s going to show that not only do the support it, but 1 time he even had to correct the lead disciple, Peter, concerning the Gospel!
A little Bible history on Peter.
(And by the way, we do a lot of Bible history, maps, and learning here…not just for the sake of learning, but because we believe these things enhance your understanding of God, which enhances your relationship with Him)
Peter was the leader of the 12 disciples, and was a Jew.
All of the disciples were…so was Jesus.
He was the Jewish messiah to the world.
If you read the first 8 chapters of the Book of Acts, (which is the story of the early church), Christianity started out just spreading among the Jews.
But then in Chapter 9, Jesus shows up to Paul, and tells him to take this thing global and to tell all the non-Jews as well.
This is going to take a little bit more convincing though for some of the old-guard like Peter.
But for God, it’s not like it’s too hard for him to convince anyone.
So, in chapter 10 of Acts (and we’ve covered every single verse in the Book of Acts), so you can go to our website and hear a message on this very chapter if you would like)
But in Chapter 10, God gives Peter a dream. And it’s a dream of a large sheet being lowered down from heaven…and on it are a bunch of animals that Jews aren’t supposed to eat.
But in the dream, God tells Peter to eat them. Saying he’s now made them clean
And immediately after Peter wakes up, God tells him to go to this Gentile’s (non-Jews )house named Cornelius. (who in my head looks like Yukon Cornelius)
When he gets to Cornelius’s house, and Cornelius accepts Christ, Peter gets that God was trying to tell him in his dream that the message of Jesus is for ALL people…not just Jews.
And just like that, the gentiles accept the Gospel, and God starts moving in them.
So it’s clear to Peter that you OBVIOUSLY don’t have to obey all these Jewish laws to be saved because these GENTILES just got saved by just believing.
And therefore Peter doesn’t have to obey all these random laws either
Peter then goes back to Jerusalem and tells everyone what happened, and they rejoice, except for a small faction of people who believe that you have to be circumcised first & eat Jewish foods, etc….likely the very same people that would later infiltrate Galatia.
Now, let’s fast-forward a few years.
Last week, after Paul had been a Christian for 14 years, he came to Jerusalem to make sure that his ministry to the Gentiles was on the same page w/ that of the 12 disciples & the leaders in Jerusalem (like Peter)
Turns out, indeed it was, and Peter gives Paul the “right hand of fellowship”
Not too long after that happened, Christians were being persecuted like crazy, and Peter was thrown into prison
An angel helps him escape, and he figures that he better not push it, so he flees Jerusalem
He then goes north into Syria, and goes to Antioch…which is where his buddy Paul’s home church is.
By the way, even though it’s kind of a ghost town now, at that time, Antioch was the 3rd leading city of all of the Roman empire (only behind Rome & Alexandria)
While they are all there, it appears that Peter is living just like his vision from God instructed him to do. Sharing about Jesus with the Gentiles.
Hanging out with them, eating with them, and on and on…which were all things that pious Jews would NEVER do
It looks like everything’s rosy, but something’s about to go very wrong.
We are going to start in Galatians chapter 2, verse 11 today.
If you want to follow along, Page 943
Or on YouVersion
(Galatians 2:11-14) – NIV
11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. 14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
Okay, so what exactly happened here?
Well, like I said…before these zealous Jewish Christians came from Jerusalem, Peter was probably sitting down w/ the Gentiles in Antioch enjoying some “I want my baby baby back…….”
He was probably speaking in their language, drinking their wine, putting his hand on their kid’s shoulders, and sitting in the their homes.
And now, NONE OF THAT.
He completely separated himself from those non-Jewish Christians
See because according to Jewish Laws, Jews can’t eat four-footed animals except sheep, goats, cattle, and a few kinds of deer. They can’t eat shellfish and mollusks, birds of prey, most insects, swarming land creatures (like no fried crocodile, and dead animals (that is animals that are already dead…it’s not saying you had to eat animals while they were actually alive). J
And by the way, these were laws about how the Jews could honor God and be holy in their eating …it wasn’t a Weight Watchers plan.
But God already TOLD Peter that Christians don’t have to do that anymore.
And yet, when these new people come to town…Peter gets nervous. And he changes his ways.
To me, this sounds like the plot to a lot of teenage movies
You know what I’m talking about?
Like, the main high school character starts the movie hanging out w/ his kind of nerdy friends & they all have a good time.
But then, some popular kids notice him, and now he wouldn’t be caught dead doing the things he used to
Or it even sounds like the plot to a lot of kids’ movies.
You know the ones where like the main character spends her summer at her dad’s house (or something)
And that summer she’s finally able to be herself for once w/ her new friends there.
But then, the climax happens when her old friends from back home come to visit, and all of sudden she reverts back and starts being mean to her new friends.
“And it’s funny, because what seems to be some complex passage from ancient history about dietary laws & the gospel, is also a story about how our own insecurities sometimes cause us to do things we never wanted to do.
And this is why the Bible is so powerful today.
It teaches us these deep incredible things about God, but it’s still so relevant for even the little things in our daily lives.
And the fact that Peter’s back to eating Jewish foods, isn’t in and of itself a bad thing.
He’s entitled to live culturally like that if he wants.
Paul even says in 1 Cor 9, that to reach Jews for Christ, he eats and lives like a Jew…to reach Gentiles…like a Gentile.
But the problem is now Peter has alienated himself from the Gentile Christians because he’s EXPECTING THEM to follow Jewish Customs….even though he himself already abandoned them!
Which is why Paul boldly calls him a hypocrite.
Drama in the Bible! J
And Paul publically calls Peter out because Peter’s choices have SERIOUS ramifications
As soon as Peter stopped hanging out with the Gentiles (because that was part of the old school Jewish law TOO…Jews didn’t eat Gentile foods, and they don’t hang out with them either)
And as soon as Peter stopped that…and then Barnabas did too…you essentially have a church split in Antioch.
There are 2 churches now right (cuz these people aren’t hanging out together)
You have the Gentile Christian church and the Jewish Christian Church.
But it’s even more than just a church split. It’s a theological issue.
Because Peter’s actions are essentially communicating to these Gentile Christians that, “Hey, 1 of the original 12 disciples doesn’t think you are worthy enough to hang out with, so if you really want to be a full Christian, and hang out w/ guys like Peter, you better also become a Jew to be accepted in God’s eyes”
“And for our good friend Paul, NOTHING riles him up more than when Peter (whether on purpose or not), tries to add things to how people get saved.
Salvation is simply through faith alone…and NOTHING else!
So he calls out Peter.
And thankfully, we know from history, and the writings of Peter, that apparently Paul’s confrontation worked.
And I guess we’ll never know exactly why Peter feared this group of people that came into Antioch and started saying “good Christians” also obey Jewish Laws (much like the group that came to Galatia…it’s why Paul’s using this situation as an example to the people in Galatia in his letter…..
Maybe these people that came to town were capable of violence, or perhaps Peter felt like he couldn’t well enough explain to people yet why he didn’t observe Jewish laws anymore, or perhaps he felt he was going to lose his prestigious standing as a leader in Jerusalem…
But whatever the reason is…his insecurities lead him to fall out of step with the Gospel…and give into peer pressure.
And remember…insecurity & people-pleasing has always been an issue for Peter
This is the same guy who denied Christ 3 times in the courtyard when Jesus was being arrested because he didn’t want to look foolish or get himself in trouble w/ some random people.
The story itself….of abandoning what you believe about the Gospel…to give into peer pressure because of insecurity…it sounds like a teenage movie, but the reality is…we’re just as susceptible to these forms of peer pressure as adults.
Just look at Peter for goodness sakes.
As much as we’d like to admit it, our insecurity doesn’t fade as much as we’d like it to as we get older.
If it did, Americans wouldn’t be so obsessed with proving to their neighbors that they have the best cars, nicest house, most athletic kids, the most fashionable clothes ,the nicest lawn, your snowblower even has cupholders, and on and on.
It’s like for Americans, high school never ends
But what we fail to realize is that our insecurity, just like Peter, is actually directly related to our understanding, or misunderstanding of the Gospel.
And this is why what I said earlier is so true: The more you study the Bible…study the Gospel…the more it will impact your life.
Because, in the Gospel, our insecurity is transformed into security.
Think about this: As believers, We have no reason to feel insecure.
Because in Jesus you are SECURE for…eternity.
So, when you feel insecure…and that no one seriously knows you…or for that matter loves you…your insecurity can be wiped away by the security of the Gospel.
Because JESUS knows EVERYTHING about you…and he’s CRAZy in love you.
You don’t have to be insecure, because in Him, you’re secure.
When you start to feel insecure…that you’re not good enough. And you start to think:… “I’ll never amount to anything…I’ll never accomplish anything of value w/ my life…..
You can answer that insecurity w/ the security of Christ.
Because even if you should fail…over and over and over and over again…if you should mess up at work at home in the car…even if you’re whole life is pretty much a wreck……
in Christ…that wreck is made whole.
Our sin is washed away.
Our inadequacies become irrelevant because we were never meant to be perfect anyway.
He was perfect for us, and in our imperfection…he died for us.
You don’t have to fear…you don’t have to worry…you don’t have to feel like you’ll never be good enough…or nice enough…or pretty enough…or smart enough.
You know what?????
You probably won’t be.
But it doesn’t matter.
He loves you anyway! And he died for you anyway!
It’s GOOD NEWS!!!
IT’s GOOD NEWS!!
It’s the Gospel!
But here’s the deal: When you forget that….when you fall out of step with the Gospel…
You’re not thinking about it that often…you’re not in the Bible…you’re not coming to church…to house group whatever….
We forget. We forget really quickly.
And we forget that our insecurity is made secure in him, and what happens is we start to try and find approval elsewhere.
Even though God offered you 100% approval.
Isn’t that unreal?!?
He told you…I’ll forgive you 100%, wipe the entire slate clean…and offer you eternal life in heaven.
But again, when we get out of step w/ the Gospel, and we start walking away from God…you know what we do???
In our insecurity…we start seeking that approval elsewhere.
And THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO PETER.
Even he was susceptible.
He knows the truth. God gave him a vision about it for goodness sakes…that the Gospel is a gift for everyone…if they choose to accept it. EVERYONE.
But rather than finding his security in Christ…in his insecurity, he makes a move (that he probably knew he shouldn’t) to get approval from the new people who came to town.
He didn’t want to let them down. He didn’t want to look bad. He craved their approval.
In his insecurity…he makes the wrong move.
And it’s not just that…his wrong move has some pretty negative ramifications for the people around him.
In particular the Gentile Christians.
And it’s so bad that it takes Paul having to call him out publically on it and set him straight.
And sometimes we need that sort of confrontation from other Christians.
And we’ll talk about that topic in house groups this week.
But this is still happening to us all the time today.
Sometimes it’s other Christians pressuring you that you aren’t really approved by God unless you attend this program so many times or read your Bible so many times
Or if you commit this sin or that sin…then….you’ve lost your approval
So, in our insecurity, we buy into the whole thing.
And often when we do, we feel so insecure about it (because we’re turning it back into trying to win God’s approval) that we start judging everyone around us.
Judging is almost always a sign of insecurity. Almost always.
We can also see our insecurity come out when people challenge us about our faith.
Maybe at work…or in your neighborhood…or w/ old friends.
You know when people say, “You don’t really believe that stuff do you?”
“So you really believe the Bible?!?” “You really believe that if people reject Jesus that they go to hell?!?” “You really believe this church stuff?! You’re saying I need to go to church…can’t I just follow God on my own?!”
And so often….when the pressures on….and our friends…whose approval we so desperately crave….question us about our faith…………….we bend the Gospel.
We slightly tweak it.
“Welllllllll……I don’t know if I believe ALL of the Bible…..well, I can’t say I really know about the hell thing”
And in our insecurity and need to find approval elsewhere than just Christ….we, just like Peter, tweak the Gospel.
We temporarily try and trade away the eternal security God offered us to try and experience some fleeting temporary joy in the approval of others.
Foolishly thinking our amendments and updates to the Gospel will bear more fruit than the way God designed it
But they won’t….They won’t.
The greatest fruit is brought about when we make absolutely ZERO changes to the Gospel.
And that is what Paul fights over and over and over for in Galatians.
And your DEEPEST feelings of insecurity…
Will be met when you can wholeheartedly accept that Jesus….is radically in love….with you.
And unlike the rest of the world….even if you mess up…royally….He’ll still be with you.
By your side…in your corner.
Still on your team.
You’re still secure.
Still forgiven. Still loved.
Let’s thank Him.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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