Sabbath School Lesson Review 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 3
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 3 Friday
Did he want their agreement, or did he want their possible correction, or did he already feel about this gospel of his, “that even if a vice-president of the General Conference should disagree, he is wrong, and I will not believe it.” Why would he take that gospel up and tell it to the brethren? Did he want to win them to the same view point? Were they having troubles at headquarters with the gospel? Do you remember later on they showed how much trouble they were having when they urged him to show he still was a conservative believer and to take that vow, and it cost him his life? So they were not that clear at headquarters. Was he going up to help them? Well, here’s evidence that there was trouble at headquarters. “But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. But because of false brethren [note, ‘brethren’] secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy out our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage. To them we did not yield submission even for a moment, that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.” Now he’s added truth to gospel, and he’s mentioned circumcision. He’s also mentioned the attitude of those who still thought it was necessary to be circumcised, which symbolized a whole different attitude toward God and the good news.
Imagine the state of mind of brethren who felt it so important to find out if Titus really was a true member of the group, they had to appoint a subcommittee to see if Titus was circumcised.
Would you volunteer for that committee? Can you imagine? Ellen White loves to speak of legalists becoming “petty spies”, and this really fits. How would you like to be on a committee of “petty spying” to see if Titus was a saint? But can you imagine the atmosphere at headquarters, when they’re checking out to see if Titus qualifies? What lofty thoughts they were thinking! When you think of all that Paul was thinking about in these marvelous presentations of his, and here’s a little group, working in various and devious ways, to find an answer to this inquiry. Well, “from those who were reputed to be something (what they were makes no difference to me;)” and I said that wrong. I don’t think it came through politely enough. And you know the one who wrote 1 Corinthians 13, which has already been written, would not be rude. I think he was really committed to that. As a matter of fact, that’s part of his good news. You see, if you take an absolute stand on love, you’re never going to mistreat anybody. In fact, you’re going to be very gracious to those who disagree with you. It’s perfectly safe to take a stand on love, and never being rude. You see, things like that are what were not negotiable to Paul. He would never again be rude. So, what tone of voice would be right for this? “From those who were reputed to be something, now what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality.”
We have the same trouble when Jesus said to those pious frauds, “You are of your father the devil.” And that could be very, very harsh. But you know he wouldn’t be. He who was love personified was courtesy personified, and besides, these were his children, and he wept over them when he couldn’t help them. So Ellen White correctly observes, when he said such dreadful things, “there were tears in his voice.” now, what does that sound like? You can’t pretend that! I wish we could say this as Paul did. He was very respectful toward leadership. That’s why he took the vow, wasn’t it? To show he was loyal, and he was a supporter, even though he didn’t agree with them on this matter. Nevertheless, authority did not lie with other individuals; it lay with the truth, and so he is careful to say, it’s his subject right along here, “as far as my gospel is concerned, what they were makes no difference to me.” You see, if a person comes in the highest position in our church, and says that something is so, his position does not make it so. That’s all there is to it.
In fact, when Jesus was here, you remember, on the road to Emmaus, he maintained his disguise until he had led those two questioning disciples to an intelligent confidence, based on unquestionable evidence. He did not want them to agree with him on the authority of his personal testimony, because there were too many people claiming to be Christ, and claiming to have that kind of authority, as the devil does. “I will be like the Most High” he said. We dare not accept something as true because somebody has said so, and it doesn’t matter who he is. And Jesus set an example by not asking people to believe him because of who he was. He led them through the evidence of Scripture. Isn’t that true on the road to Emmaus? So how dare we ever, because of position, pull rank on people theologically? It can get done, but it is not safe.
Now this time he is relating the knowledge of God to the good news and to the cross. They are all about the same subject. Paul is sympathetic with them, for what could be expected of new converts, when some of the leading Christians in Jerusalem were themselves contradicting and compromising the gospel of Christ, as described in Acts 21. Even Peter, after his broadening experience with Cornelius, reverted to some of his narrow views that he used to hold. Paul was moved to correct Peter to his face and in public, recorded in Galatians two. How could Paul feel right about doing that? This is Paul who wrote in first Corinthians 13 that love is never rude. Love never insists on having its own way. This is the Paul who wrote in Romans 14 that he was so respectful of other people’s freedom that when there was disagreement over this and that religious matter, he would say, “Let everyone be fully convinced in his own mind,” and “who are you to criticize one another?”
But when it came to the good news, and those who would suppress it or pervert it, gentle Paul spoke out with almost frightening conviction and power. He even went so far as to suggest that these legalistic agitators were confusing the new saints about the good news of truth and freedom. They were upsetting the new converts by urging them to adopt once again such ceremonial requirements as circumcision and other legalistic details like that. He said, “I wish they would go the whole way and make eunuchs of themselves.” That is Galatians 5:12, if you want to look it up. You know that Paul would have to be deeply moved to say that about those legalistic agitators. In fact, if you have the Jerusalem Bible, you might like to look up Galatians 5:12, where Paul said, “Tell those who are disturbing you and confusing you about the good news of freedom, tell them, ‘I would like to see the knife slip.’” Paul was pretty stirred to talk like that.
Well, what is this good news of which Paul was so sure, and which through the centuries has provoked such opposition and has been so misunderstood? What did Paul consider so serious a contradiction and perversion that he could be moved to speak so strongly to the Galatian believers? Through the years I’ve asked many Christians what they consider to be the essence of the good news. I wish there was time to go around our group tonight and have everyone say, “I believe the good news is this:” Through the years, I think the replies have included almost every part of the Christian faith. But most particularly subjects like the atonement, the second coming, or eternal life. Although, if God is as his enemies have made him out to be, eternal life would be misery, would it not? So whether these doctrines, even the second coming, are good news depends on the kind of person we believe our God to be.
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Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 3 Friday
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