I participate in a Bible reading program with two other folks at my church in which we read one to two chapters a day and exchange emails that reflect our comments on the reading. We will complete reading and commenting on the New Testament by the end of 2021.
I base the below three takeaways from reading Galatians 2 through this very beneficial reading program. But, of course, additional takeaways exist.
Never Give an Inch to Wrong Doctrine!
First, never give an inch to the wrong doctrine, especially concerning soteriology. Galatians 2:5 (HCSB) reads:
5 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.
The HCSB translates the Greek verb eikō as “we did … give up.” It means, “to give in to a superior power or force—‘to give in to, to surrender, to yield.’” See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 494). New York: United Bible Societies. The HCSB translates the Greek noun hypotagē and “and submit,” and it means, “to submit to the orders or directives of someone—‘to obey, to submit to, obedience, submission.’” See Louw et al., supra at Vol. 1, p. 467. By using this combination of this verb and noun, Paul demonstrated the intensity of his resistance to wrong doctrine.
Here, the wrong doctrine was “the truth of the gospel.” In other words, the saving gospel of Jesus Christ included salvation by grace through faith and not by works.
Through his strenuous resistance to error, the saving gospel of Jesus Christ “would be preserved for you.” The HCSB translates the Greek verb diamenō as “would be preserved.” It means, “continue in an activity or state—‘to continue, to remain in, to keep on.’” See Louw et al., supra at 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 655.
Paul intended to convey to his 1st Century audience that in the face of wrong doctrine, one must not in any way, shape, or form ever surrender, and thereby submit to biblical error not to maintain the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a fundamental precept that the saving gospel of Jesus Christ does not change! Paul’s message of never giving in to wrong doctrine transcends into the 21st Century.
Have the Guts to Stand up to Biblical Error!
Second, Galatians 2:11–14 (HCSB) reads:
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned. 12 For he regularly ate with the Gentiles before certain men came from James. However, when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he feared those from the circumcision party. 13 Then the rest of the Jews joined his hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were deviating from the truth of the gospel, I told Cephas in front of everyone, “If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Paul stood up to Peter’s hypocrisy. The HCSB translates the Greek verb anthistēmi as “I opposed him,” and it means, “to oppose someone, involving not only a psychological attitude but also a corresponding behavior—‘to oppose, to be hostile toward, to show hostility.’” See Louw et al., supra at Vol. 1, p. 491). Paul’s opposition was to Peter’s face, and demonstrates the intensity with which Paul opposed biblical error!
The underlying reason for Paul’s strong opposition was Peter et al. “were deviating from the truth of the gospel.” The HCSB translates the adverb-verb combination ou orthopodeō as “they were deviating.” The adverb ou means “not” and modifies orthopodeō, which means, “to live a life of moral correctness—‘to live right, to live as one ought to.” See Louw et al., supra at 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 507. The Logos 9 sense is to behave in the right manner, such as to walk straight or erect.
A believer must have the courage (or guts) to stand up against biblical error. Fear cannot be a motivation to shirk from opposing biblical error. According to verse 12b (HCSB), it appears that Peter was fearful of the Judaizers:
However, when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he feared those from the circumcision party.
Paul intended to convey to his audience that a believer must not fear but face up to and strongly oppose those who preach biblical error. Paul’s message of not fearing, but standing up to those who advance biblical error transcends into the 21st Century.
God Saves Through Faith and Not Works!
Third, Galatians 2:15–16 (HCSB) reads:
15 We who are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners” 16 know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. And we have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified.
God saves people by faith through grace and not by works. Works are insufficient to save. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible (TCRB) is a valuable study tool. Reference No. 3904 identifies additional relevant Scripture. A couple of these passages are below.
Per 2 Timothy 1:9 (HCSB), Paul made it clear that works do not save, but salvation is available only through grace:
9 He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
By what he wrote in Titus 3:4–5 (HCSB), Paul again taught that works do not save:
4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us — not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Works did not save in the 1st Century, and works do not save in the 21st Century. The saving gospel of Jesus Christ does not, and never will, change.
The first two takeaways show me that the 21st Century American church, in general, is too nice. The church puts up with the wrong teaching and damning doctrine because it does not want to make anyone mad.
The third takeaway reinforces the fundamental doctrine that works do not save. Therefore, any church that teaches salvation is by works, even in the least, advances heresy.
If You are Not Sure You Are Saved
Wouldn’t it be great if you could hook yourself up to a “salvation meter” that would you for certain your eternal destiny? During my about 39 years of practicing patent law, I never ran across such a meter. And while no such “for certain” meter exists, I believe my new book The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth is an effective vehicle for people to conduct a personal examination of their standing with God.
Against an explanation of the relevant biblical foundation using analytical skills I developed through my law practice, as well as through formal biblical training seminars, The Salvation Meter presents over thirty “tests of salvation” comprising detailed written interrogatories coupled with a unique Personal Salvation Assessment (PSA) to help a person self-diagnose their overall spiritual condition. Although the PSA is not a “for certain” diagnosis, it provides a person with a sense of where they are headed for eternity so they can take appropriate action.
By using The Salvation Meter, self-deceived unbelievers can come to appreciate their lost condition. They can then accept God’s gift of salvation and rejoice in the abundant life filled with new meaning and purpose now and for eternity.
By using The Salvation Meter, Christians who lack assurance of their salvation can gain full assurance. Then they can throw away their “spiritual wobble board” and live the victorious life of a confident believer reaping the wonderful blessings of knowing they are God’s children.
You can find out more about The Salvation Meter, as well as see the great cover design by my Pastor, Josh Mangrum of Fairview Community Church (Fairview, Tennessee), by going to any one of the bookseller websites listed at the end of this email.
Christian Publisher Xulon Press: Author Steve Belsheim – Christian Publisher Xulon Press
Amazon: The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth: Belsheim, Steve, Mangrum, Josh: 9781662828638: Amazon.com: Books
Barnes & Noble: The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth by Steve Belsheim | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)
Target: The Salvation Meter – By Steve Belsheim (paperback) : Target
Cokesbury: The Salvation Meter – Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tes | Cokesbury
The website for The Salvation Meter Book
Please note that I have launched a website The Salvation Meter – Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth by which I will continuously update the substantive content of The Salvation Meter with more extensive exegetical material, updated discussion, teaching aids, and the like.
If You Know You are Not a Christian
If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, unless God intervenes, your eternal destination is hell. But, your destiny can change.
Today can be the day of your salvation. Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved and a more concise description at my (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/10/20/there-is-hope-even-when-there-seems-to-be-no-hope-2/ ).
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