Stand For The Truth

Through the work of the Lord in the lives of the apostles and the early church, the Gospel began to spread not only among the Jews but also among the Gentiles and many there being converted to the faith (Acts 15:3). However some Jewish Christians began teaching that, in order for Gentiles to become Christian, they must first be circumcised and practice Jewish traditions. This issue created some confusion in the early Church.

As Christians, we are free to discuss and even disagree on some issues. But there are truths that are not debatable and we must be willing to stand up and even die for. One such truth is that of the Gospel. It is of first importance and we must be willing to stand up for it.

This is exactly what Paul did in Galatians 2. Paul, along with Titus and Barnabas, was sent by God to Jerusalem, the capital of Christianity at that time, to meet with the church leaders. Paul wanted to make sure that the Gospel he was preaching was the same one being taught by the leaders: ìA man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus…since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justifiedî (Galatians 2:16). In Acts 15, Paul said, ìGod, who knows the heart, testified to the Gentiles, giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us, Jews. He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith… We believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.î Amazing is our God who gave us amazing grace! Everyone can receive salvation from God by placing their faith in Jesus alone, and not by obeying the Law. Good works is the result of genuine salvation. As Paul testified in Galatians 1: ìYou have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. God, who had set me apart even from my motherís womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles.î Paulís life was transformed by the Gospel. He who once persecuted Christians is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy. Praise God! In standing up for the truth of the Gospel, Paul did not fear conflict. Rather, he considered himself accountable to confer with the church leaders the message he was preaching to the Gentiles. Accountability begins among the church leaders. Because there is only one Gospel and it cannot be changed, Paul wanted to make sure that the teachings of the leaders in Jerusalem was consistent with what he was teaching the Gentiles. The pillars of the church, James, Cephas (Peter) and John formally recognized Paul as the preacher to the Gentiles. The Gospel they preached was one and the same. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, resulting in transformed lives.

Today, we must also practice accountability just as the pillars of the early Church did. We are encouraged to be part of a discipleship group where we can be accountable to one another. The D-group observes a covenant to correct each other when needed, and to practice and accept corrections with humility and loving-kindness.

Some people are willing to acquiesce to the majority for the sake of ìharmonyî and conflict-avoidance. But not Paul. When he saw that Peter fell into hypocrisy, Paul opposed him to his face (Galatians 2:11-13). Standing up for the Gospel means we need to care enough and have the courage to correct our brethren should they fall away from the truth. Even though Peter was an ìoriginalî apostle, Paul corrected him. No one is infallible, not even church leaders. If theyíre not careful, they can fall like anyone else because of past weaknesses. When we see our fellow believer making mistakes, we should not be afraid to correct them. We should not take sides in favor of our friends or leaders for the sake of friendship or deference specially if we know that they are already doing wrong.

As a general rule we should correct in private-one-on-one. This avoids gossiping, which is a sin. There are times, however, when we can correct in public with a selected audience to let others learn from the mistake as well. Paul corrected Peter publicly because his sin was done in public and influenced other leaders .The rest of the Jews joined Peter in his hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisyî (Galatians 2:13). Compromising is very dangerous. If a father, for instance, does not live a life of integrity, his children will see and copy his behaviour even if he tells them to do what is right. Thatís because actions speak louder than words. This principle is also true of church leaders and us people are always watching to see if our faith is authentic.

The Bible says we must ìspeak the truth in loveî (Ephesians 4:15). This is the example that Paul set when he rebuked Peter. Paul reminded Peter of the Gospel, and how his behaviour shows compromise and hypocrisy. This is why accountability in D-groups is important. So we can take care and watch out for each other (Galatians 6:1).

Peter’s reaction to Paulís correction is another example to follow. Peter did not think of himself as beyond committing mistakes. He did not react negatively to Paul just because he did not agree with him. In 2 Peter 3:15, Peter called Paul a beloved brother. Just like Peter, we must be humble to receive correction and to change so we can stand up for the truth. When Peter saw the error of his ways, he did not insist nor defend his actions. Instead, he accepted the correction humbly and realigned himself with the Gospel. Let us not be too proud to join a D-group where we can receive correction. We all grow together in the Lord as we learn to be humble by practicing accountability, speaking the truth in love.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth that saves us. As recipients of this grace, we must all stand up for the Good News and share it with integrity, courage and humility. When we received Jesus, our lives became all about Him and no longer about us. Paul said, ìI have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.î Amen!

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