Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category



 

Scripture repeatedly admonishes believers to live lives worthy of the Gospel.  In other words as we profess faith in the Gospel, our lives are to bear witness to that profession by demonstrating what we believe by how we live or with our behavior.  While this admonition is clear and repeated, the opposition or pressure to contradict it is continuous.  Daily we are faced with challenges to our profession that seek to draw us into disobedience and inconsistency.  No one was more aware of this pressure than the Apostle Peter.  Peter was a man of robust of faith, a leader of men.  The Gospels are filled with descriptions of both his courage and his cowardice.  We are invigorated of his bold profession to stand for Christ no matter the cost.  And we are equally grieved by his failure to do so when the pressure mounted.

In today’s meditation, Paul recounts a time when Peter wavered under the pressure.  And as a result of his wavering he blazed trail for a hypocritical attack on the Gospel.

 

11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

Thus far Paul has been building a case for the validity of his Apostleship and the Gospel he preached by demonstrating the unity he enjoyed with the other Apostles.  Those who were revered because of their past experience in walking with the incarnate Christ during His earthly ministry were in one accord with Paul.  The Gospel he preached was the same Gospel they affirmed to be true.  The powerful effectiveness that marked his ministry was recognized by them as the Sovereign hand of God.  He like the other Apostles only operated in the work of the Gospel because God had graciously placed him there.  So the oneness they enjoyed was evident.

Today’s passage takes a dramatic shift from that unity and brings us to a place of controversy.  The tense controversy takes place in Antioch which was referred to as the center of Gentile Christianity.  It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.  This town of nearly a half million was only 10 percent Jewish, so the habits and cultural practices were dominantly Gentile in their persuasion.  This would be at the heart of the clash between Peter and Paul.

The conflict as Paul describes it was a very public and intense.  In the Greek clause, the description of how Paul approached Peter is presented emphatically.  “I opposed him to the face,” in other words there was no pulling him aside and whispering in his ear.  Peter’s public behavior required a public rebuke.  At this point we are left without an explanation of what Peter was responsible for doing.  We are merely told that he was to be blamed or more literally “he had condemned himself”.

 

13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

 

 

 

The situation was a heated one, and if we are to understand the tension of the moment we must understand the cultural significance of Jewish dining habits.  Jewish law provided a prescription for what was acceptable dining [Leviticus 3:17; 7:26-27; 17:10-14].  Jews were not to eat pork, meat offered to idols, and meat that had not been sufficiently drained of blood.  Historical accounts of saints like Daniel taking a stand against violating the dietary law made Jewish hearts swell with cultural pride.  Such faithfulness to the Torah definitively demonstrated what it meant to be Jewish.  During the Intertestamental period [Maccabean Revolt 164 – 167 BC] Pharisees went as far as forbidding Jews to eat at the same table with Gentiles.  In their old tradition they wrote, “Eat not with them…for their works are unclean.”  Faithfulness to these sentiments still found a place in Peter’s heart up until God spoke to him in a vision [Acts 10].  While praying over his meal, brought a vision to him of sheet of animals that the Mosaic law forbid him to eat.  God then commanded him to eat, in order to prepare him to take the Gospel to a Gentile.  Immediately after his vision, Peter was summoned to a Roman named Cornelius which taught him a vital lesson [Acts 10:34-35; 11:17].

So God had taken Peter to school and freed him of some problematic thinking which would have otherwise hindered the Gospel.  With a renewed outlook on the practical question of fellowshipping with Gentiles, Peter was in Antioch eating pork sandwiches and enjoying table fellowship with Gentiles.  Well enjoyed table fellowship until “James boys” rolled into town.  Some have labeled them as Judaizers, but they were probably Christians who were former Pharisees that remained very traditional in their faith [Acts 15:5].  The first thing these traditionalists noticed coming into town was Peter conducting himself like a pagan!

His failure to uphold the dietary laws disturbed them to no end.  They were offended and they didn’t mind putting the pressure on Peter to make him aware of their displeasure.  What would Peter do?  God had revealed to him that Gentile fellowship would not make him unclean.  But Peter was burdened by the tension of the moment.  To state it more clearly, he was afraid.  He knew how traditional they were and he didn’t want to offend them.  So to avoid offending the traditionalist, Peter started turning down dinner dates with the Gentiles.  All of a sudden he became less and less accessible to them to the point of being aloof.  The Greek word translated “withdrew” is a term used for a military disengagement.  The imperfect tense indicates a continual and gradual withdrawal.  The idea is that Peter made a subtle and sneaky retreat.  Peter’s actions were reminiscent of his cowardly denial of Christ [Matthew 26:69-74].  There he was all over again, weak and inconsistent in his stand for Christ.  His failure is not unlike most Christians who allow fear to enslave so that they fail to obediently represent Christ before the world [Proverbs 29:25; 18:20; 30:5; II Timothy 1:7].

The worst part about his weak example is that it led others into hypocrisy.  Their conviction or theological position had not changed.  They still believed that Gentiles like Jews were by trusting in the solely in the Christ of the cross and the empty tomb.  They just caved in under the pressure of living out their faith.  It was too uncomfortable, so modeled behavior that contradicted their confession.  To add insult to injury, even Barnabas played the role of a hypocrite [fear was at the heart of their hypocrisy; Luke 12:1-4].   

 

14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

As Paul caught wind of their lives which were out of step with the Gospel, he realized the implication of their sinful behavior.  The issue was not doctrinal error.  Peter, Barnabas, and the others that were drawn along had not shifted their doctrinal position.  They were on point with their doctrine, but their living was shoddy.  And their shoddy living was such a contradiction to the truth of the Gospel that it amounted to an attack on the Gospel.  They had placed themselves in the position of enemies of truth.  Despite embracing the pure Gospel of free grace apart from works, Peter had demonstrated a duplicity which suggested that he took a detour off the Gospel path and modeled legalism.

Paul charged him with compelling the Gentiles to embrace the tenets of legalism in to be acceptable.  No doubt Peter could fire back in this very public dispute, “I never at anytime opened my mouth and instructed them to do anything of the sort”.  But to that response Paul would explain to him that his actions spoke much louder than his words.

 

We must hold in mind the ever present need to pray for our spiritual leadership.  The continued admonition to pray for pastors and other spiritual leaders is a very real and vital one.  Those who stand in spiritual leadership have lives that are lived figuratively speaking “out loud”.  They stand in a very visible and pivotal place.  If they give in to fear and hypocrisy the effects will send shockwaves through those who stand within the orbit of their influence.

We must also remember that the fear of man is a snare.  Scripture instructs us to trust whole heartedly in God for He will keep us secure.  Romans 8:31b If God be for us, who can be against us? [Romans 8:31-39].

 

Hypocritical living is more recognizable and shouts a louder message than anything you may say or teach.  Be certain that your living models sound doctrine.  Hold firm and treasure the glorious Gospel of free grace.  Let your heart swell with: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:[Ephesians 2:8]

 

Grace & Peace

 



October 11th there’s a FREE (what a beautiful thing) conference in Columbia MD.

The Theme: The Doctrines of Grace: What Are They and Why Are They Crucial To the Church

Here’s a link to the schedule http://www.midatlanticbiblefellowship.org/site/cpage.asp?cpage_id=140019887&sec_id=140005881

It looks really full day of enriching biblical teaching!!  Let your church family and your whole online family (you know you’ve got one) know about this wonderful conference.

I hope to see you there.

 

 


Media Page

Posted by BMorr
In Miscellaneous
1Jun 08

Check out the new media page.  Keep us in prayer that we’ll be diligent in keeping you guys as updated as possible.  Grace and peace.


Site Overhaul Coming….

Posted by G.R.A.C.E. Preecha
In Miscellaneous
18Apr 08

Wouldn’t you know it ? A good idea made better coming soon.  Not only are we going to overhaul the design of the site, but the missing podcasts from the past two FFF’s should be up shortly as well.  Be on the lookout….


We’re still on for this evening!

Posted by G.R.A.C.E. Preecha
In Miscellaneous
22Feb 08

A few people have been wondering, in light of the weather, if we’re still having tonight’s event.

The answer is YES!!

We’ll see you there in a few hours, Lord willing. Drive safely.