uplifting thoughts and inspiration on faith
1 Then after [an interval] of fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem. [This time I went] with Barnabas, taking Titus along with [me] also.
2 I went because it was specially and divinely revealed to me that I should go, and I put before them the Gospel [declaring to them that] which I preach among the Gentiles. However, [I presented the matter] privately before those of repute, [for I wanted to make certain, by thus at first confining my communication to this private conference] that I was not running or had not run in vain [guarding against being discredited either in what I was planning to do or had already done].
3 But [all went well!] even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled [as some had anticipated] to be circumcised, although he was a Greek.
Circumcision is of extreme importance to the Jewish people.
Genesis 17:10-14 This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your posterity after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a token or sign of the covenant (the promise or pledge) between Me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male throughout your generations, whether born in [your] house or bought with [your] money from any foreigner not of your offspring. He that is born in your house and he that is bought with your money must be circumcised; and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the male who is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.
The Jewish leaders did not frighten or intimidate Titus, a Greek “gentile” and not a Jew, because God intervened and brought a peaceful spirit to the meetings.
5 To them we did not yield submission even for a moment, that the truth of the Gospel might continue to be [preserved] for you [in its purity].
6 Moreover, [no new requirements were made] by those who were reputed to be something—though what was their individual position and whether they really were of importance or not makes no difference to me; God is not impressed with the positions that men hold and He is not partial and recognizes no external distinctions—those [I say] who were of repute imposed no new requirements upon me [had nothing to add to my Gospel, and from them I received no new suggestions].
7 But on the contrary, when they [really] saw that I had been entrusted [to carry] the Gospel to the uncircumcised [Gentiles, just as definitely] as Peter had been entrusted [to proclaim] the Gospel to the circumcised [Jews, they were agreeable];
8 For He Who motivated and fitted Peter and worked effectively through him for the mission to the circumcised, motivated and fitted me and worked through me also for [the mission to] the Gentiles.
9 And when they knew (perceived, recognized, understood, and acknowledged) the grace (God’s unmerited favor and spiritual blessing) that had been bestowed upon me, James and Cephas (Peter) and John, who were reputed to be pillars of the Jerusalem church, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, with the understanding that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised (Jews).
10 They only [made one stipulation], that we were to remember the poor, which very thing I was also eager to do.
11 But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I protested and opposed him to his face [concerning his conduct there], for he was blamable and stood condemned.
12 For up to the time that certain persons came from James, he ate his meals with the Gentile [converts]; but when the men [from Jerusalem] arrived, he withdrew and held himself aloof from the Gentiles and [ate] separately for fear of those of the circumcision [party].
13 And the rest of the Jews along with him also concealed their true convictions and acted insincerely, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy (their example of insincerity and pretense).
14 But as soon as I saw that they were not straightforward and were not living up to the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas (Peter) before everybody present, If you, though born a Jew, can live [as you have been living] like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how do you dare now to urge and practically force the Gentiles to [comply with the ritual of Judaism and] live like Jews?
15 [I went on to say] Although we ourselves (you and I) are Jews by birth and not Gentile (heathen) sinners,
16 Yet we know that a man is justified or reckoned righteous and in right standing with God not by works of the Law, but [only] through faith and [absolute] reliance on and adherence to and trust in Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). [Therefore] even we [ourselves] have believed on Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law [for we cannot be justified by any observance of the ritual of the Law given by Moses], because by keeping legal rituals and by works no human being can ever be justified (declared righteous and put in right standing with God).
If we have it so ingrained in us that the perceived morality of keeping a set of rules helps us to feel and appear more “good” and we lean on this as a crutch and a sign of our righteousness out of self conviction, deception, or even just old habits ingrained in our lives does that mean that Christ has anything to do with it? i.e. do you think that just because you feel more religious when you observe your traditional rules that Jesus somehow also finds you more acceptable? Do you think it is Jesus encouraging you to follow rules, laws, rituals, traditions, or some set of behaviors in order to win His favor?
I just spent all this time telling you about the unbelievably good news of the Gospel of the GRACE of Jesus Christ the Messiah and that we have FREEDOM and are no longer under the LAW.
Now, if I turn right around after passionately trying to make you believe in this freedom and I do anything that would lead you to believe that any part of the LAW is something you should be following, then I become a “sinner”.
If I feel the need to keep ONE LAW then I am obligated to keep all of them. I become a “sinner” or transgressor because I am preaching against the keeping of the LAW and therefore not keeping all of the LAW.
Conversely, I err against the grace of Christ if I think or teach that I must or CAN do anything to merit His undeserved favor, a gift He freely gives.
When someone gives you a gift do you insult them by trying to pay for it? If you pay for it then it is something you purchased and no longer something they give freely as a gift. It is an insult.
If the LAW is right then follow the LAW. And if you do follow the LAW, then you must follow ALL OF THE LAW without fail.
If the Gospel is right then follow Christ and the freedom of the grace of Christ – or, in actuality, be LED by Him through His Spirit living in you and guiding you into all Truth.
20 I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.