“Then after 14 years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. I went up according to a revelation and presented to them the gospel I preach among the Gentiles – but privately to those recognised as leaders – so that I might not be running, or have run the race, in vain. But not even Titus who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. This issue arose because of false brothers smuggled in, who came in secretly to spy on the freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, in order to enslave us. But we did not give up and submit to these people for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would be preserved for you.
Now from those recognised as important (what they really were makes no difference to me; God does not show favouritism) – they added nothing to me. On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter was for the circumcised, since the One at work in Peter for an apostleship to the circumcised was also at work in me for the Gentiles. When James, Cephas, and John, recognised as pillars, acknowledged the grace that had been given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to me and Barnabas, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They asked only that we would remember the poor, which I made every effort to do.” – Galatians 2:1-10
If there were two things the apostle Paul was constantly on fire about it was the gospel and missions. His books overflow with rich, gospel, doctrine but at the same time the love of God, through Paul, pours out for the lost. I’ll give one example. Arguably, the book of Romans is his big one, his magnum opus; it is where the gospel is most clearly outlined at great length. In the first 8 chapters, it is straight up, hardcore, gospel doctrine but then in chapter 9 his heart finally bleeds, and what spills out? Take a look. Verse 1:
“I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying; my conscience is testifying to me with the Holy Spirit…”
Translation: what I am about to write is no exaggeration, it is 100% truth confirmed by none other than the Holy Spirit. Verse 2:
“… that I have intense sorrow and continual anguish in my heart. For I could almost wish to be cursed and cut off from the Messiah for the benefit of my brothers, my own flesh and blood.”
There are no words to describe the amazement of this man at this point. I have never, and highly doubt I would ever, flirt with the idea of exchanging my salvation for anybody. With the prospect of an eternal hell, is Paul mad? And yet the Holy Spirit testifies with him that what he’s saying is true. By the way, Paul, of all people, knows that this is impossible, but his heart still yearns with all honesty. There are 2 other people like him in the Bible that come to mind: the first is Moses. In Exodus chapter 32, we find him at wit’s end with the people of Israel. They’ve just committed the ultimate blasphemy against God, creating a false god in the form of a golden calf and worshiping it. It says in verse 30:
“The following day Moses said to the people, ‘You have committed a grave sin. Now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I will be able to atone for your sin.’
So Moses returned to the LORD and said, ‘Oh, these people have committed a grave sin; they have made a god of gold for themselves. Now if You would only forgive their sin. But if not, please erase me from the book You have written.’”
Just like the apostle Paul, what kind of love is this? It is astounding. Well, of course, it’s the love of Jesus Christ, who not only offered up His life for people but was capable of following through with it; He was strong enough to take the wrath of God for His people, atoning for their sin, but unlike these human beings named Moses and Paul, Jesus had the ability to come out victorious, rising from the grave, seated in heaven, where we shall see Him face to face. This is the gospel, the good news, for all who believe.
Study Moses, study Paul, and study Jesus Christ. But why do I say all this? Aren’t we in Galatians? Well, this is a prerequisite of sorts. Everything else I say tonight will be in vain if we don’t get what they got: love for God, His saving gospel, and people.
Which finally brings us to Galatians 2. There are 6 things you need to know from this text if you want to be a good missionary. I say “good” because the fact is if you are a Christian you are a missionary. The only thing that remains is if you live it well like an Abraham or if you live it horribly like Abraham’s nephew, Lot.
We’re going to go through these 6 things but I may as well list them for you now so you get a feel of where we’re heading:
1) Know where the gospel came from.
2) Know what the gospel is.
3) Know what the gospel is not.
4) Know your network.
5) Know your mission.
6) Know the poor.