The Unity of the Gospel

The Unity of the Gospel

Scripture: Philippians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, Galatians 2:11-13
Date: 10/15/2011  Lesson: 3
Paul's conflict with Peter over reverting to ceremonial Jewish customs shows how important the apostle believed in the importance of unity in both the gospel presentation and the church.

The Replacement Gods by Little Light Studios

The Replacement Gods by Little Light Studios
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Good morning and a very Happy Sabbath to each and every one of you this morning who are tuning in, whether you are listening on the radio, watching live on our website at saccentral.org, or the various television networks, we are excited that you are tuning in and joining with us for another Sabbath school study coming from the Sacramento central seventh day adventist church in California, on the west coast of the United States of America, we welcome you. We are going to start, as we usually do, with two hymn requests that have come in from our worldwide Sabbath school family. The first one, o brother, be faithful. Turn in your hymnals #602. This is from Moses and sokula in australia, ralph and birdie in bahamas, ameidi in belize, erno in florida, bright and patrice in ghana, molly in Iowa, leah in ireland, bakari in Missouri, dominique and carla in New York, franklin in panama, vikki, veronica, and stephen in trinidad and tobago, and maila in zambia.

#602 - First, second, and fourth stanzas. O brother, be faithful. O brother, be faithful. It won't be long. Do you believe that? Absolutely.

If you have a favorite song that you would like to sing with us on an upcoming Sabbath, it's so simple. Just go to our website, click on the 'contact us' link - oh yes, our website is saccentral.org - click on the 'contact us' link and send in your favorite hymn request and we will sing that with you on an upcoming Sabbath. Our next song - #448 o, when shall I see Jesus. This is from william in australia, cleonice in brazil, pascal and martine in France, dale in Iowa, lisandra in jamaica, angela and walter in New York, reuel in Oregon, walter in trinidad and tobago, and Joseph in Washington. We will sing all three stanzas.

#448 - And I want you to sing this paying close attention to the words. And I want you to sing this with happiness, okay? Father in Heaven, we are looking forward to that morning when you will sound that trumpet and the sky will be filled with those that are ready to see you. Those that have been laid to rest will come out of the graves and will meet you in the air. Oh father, may we each be ready for that day so that when we do hear your trumpet we won't flee to the mountains and ask them to fall on us, but we will be able to look at you, and say, 'this is our God we have waited for him and he has saved us.' Father, may we each be ready. Please be with us as we open up Your Word and we study together this morning.

Thank you so much for bringing Pastor Doug back from the other side of the world and I just pray that you will bless him this morning. In Jesus' Name, amen. Pastor Doug is back - he's back from his whirlwind travel to the other side of the planet and he is bringing us our Sabbath school lesson this morning. Good morning. Thank you debbie and jessica, our musicians, and I really enjoyed our pianist on that last song, that was very enthusiastic.

Happy Sabbath. Good to see everybody and, as debbie mentioned - some of you may not have even noticed I was missing - but I have been gone for about three weeks and have been over in - where was i? I was in the united arab emirates and in indonesia, doing some brief harvest evangelistic meetings. They've been doing a lot of pre-work and I came to sort of do some meetings and bring people together - a little revival work and, in fact, I thought that maybe what I'd do is share a few pictures with you here at Sabbath school, of just where I've been and what I've been doing and tell you a few stories. You know, I don't want to presume upon the kindness of the networks that air our Sabbath school study for free, but a lot of Sabbath school has to do with mission work and this really was a - something of a mission project and so I'll share with you some of both what the culture and the places are like as well as some of the ministry that happened there, and I hope it doesn't look like I've - you know, for me, one of my ideas of torture is when somebody corners me and shows me all the pictures of their vacation. So I just don't want to do that to you, but I'll try to keep it quick and interesting.

First, I went to - I was in the united arab emirates and there are several states there you might say. You've all heard of dubai and abu dhabi and this is one of the richest cities and countries in the world - it probably is the richest. That or saudi arabia. Picture, if you will for a moment, all the oil that we swallow as a nation on a daily basis. It requires a tunnel - a pipe that is enormous - to carry that oil.

Now, while you picture that oil just pouring into the united states, picture another pipe running the other direction with money in it. I found out where the end of the rainbow is. Where that money is flowing out - it's this part of the world. And among the places I saw - just to illustrate that point, this is the most expensive hotel in the world and it's located in dubai. They've actually done some development around it since then.

Some of you have seen these man-made islands they have. You can see them on Google earth - one looks like a palm tree. They made a series of islands that look like the planet and this hotel is what they call a seven-star hotel. I'm just going to show you the inside of it a little bit. Why don't we go ahead to the next picture.

This is a fountain in the lobby and there's music - the fountains are coordinated with music and it's just - you've got to be there. You can't really appreciate it through a picture it's just - it's spectacular. One of the things that our guide told us was - oh by the way, you can't go there normally and just tour it. One of our members works there and he arranged for me and a couple of our leaders there to go and just take a tour. Otherwise, you can't even get over the island.

There's security stopping everyone going onto that little island. He said the most common question he gets is 'is the gold real?' And he said, 'yes, all the gold is either gold-leaf paint on the walls,' and he said, 'anything shiny like gold is 24-carat gold.' And so what you're looking at is gold frames around the pictures and gold frames - next picture - around the elevators. They took us up and showed us one of the rooms. That was our guide there in the white gown. And you walk in and they hand you a remote control that opens the curtains - a remote control for everything.

They've got a complete office. The bathroom had every possible - go back to the bathroom here for a second - those are all gold fittings in there. It just was amazing. Next picture - yeah - and then there's the bed and you can just see the scope. Oh, by the way, this is a two-story room.

This is an average room in the hotel. This is not the expensive rooms. They were $2,000.00 a day - when they're on discount. Next picture. You may know the tallest building in the world is in dubai.

It was called the burge dubai, they've changed it - they went bankrupt in building it so they named it after the King because they borrowed some money to finish it. It's called the burge-kalifa and it is 2700 feet tall. Next picture. It makes me think of that story in the Bible where it says, 'let us make a tower that shall reach unto the heavens. It even looks a little bit like a spiral when you're up there, but it is - now, I've been - I'm from New York city.

I've been to the world trade center several times, the empire state building - this is a tall building. And I'm here at the lookout - this is as high as they allow you to go - and there's still another, oh 800 feet above of building space from where I'm standing now. You look like you're in an airplane. Next picture. And then the second-largest mosque in the world is also in the united arab emirates, and this is in abu dhabi - it's the sheikh zayed mosque - it's just enormous.

They can put 40,000 people in this mosque. Next picture. That carpet there is the largest single carpet in the world. It covers - it's one carpet. It was made altogether ,000 square feet.

It took two years for around carpet knotters, they call them, they tie off the knots. It was all woven as one thing. I think that they put it in there and then built around it. When they finished it they tied over two billion knots in making this one carpet. It is just phenomenal.

Next picture. And also, there's the biggest chandelier in the world, made in germany, with real crystal, is there. You can't tell from this picture, the next picture gives you a little better scope of the size of this. It's 40 feet circumference around it. As you walk around this place it's really something.

And I was there with some of our Christian friends, and, of course, when you walk in the women all have to - they have borrowing burkas - you borrow a burka. You have to put it on. Everybody is barefoot. Many of the men cover their heads, but they said a baseball cap was appropriate so I got by. So that's just some of the culture there and, of course, I was there doing meetings.

Next picture. And I did meetings in all these different towns, dubai, abu dhabi, sharjah, and then another I'll show you in a minute. Our members there are largely - they're not arabs. Now 80% of the people that live in the united arab emirates are not arabs. They are the people who have come - that do all the work for the very wealthy royal families there that really have all the money.

And that's 80% of the population, but Christianity is very carefully monitored because it is an islamic country and this church that I'm in now, which is the first seventh day adventist church in the uae that was built - they still made them build it an hour out of dubai in a compound of churches. It's about, I don't know, like a square mile or a half a square mile, and there they've got all these different denominations. They said, 'we will let you build here.' And so, the members all have to drive this large distance and they don't even have electricity there in this square mile, yet, or running water. So every Sabbath - this was only the second Sabbath they've used that church - and I thought, 'how sad. It's a two million dollar beautiful church.

" They said, 'we can't afford the diesel and hauling in the water to run the generator every week. But when I was there they said they had such a great meeting they said, 'we need to try and meet here every week no matter what it costs." Because it felt so good - all of them getting together. And we had 700 or 800 people, most of them from the Philippines, but from india, africa, southeast asia, and just a lot of dedicated - oh, and I want to send them greetings. They all watch central church and the study hour and they get it on the internet and it was amazing getting off the plane and meeting these people and they said, 'oh yeah.' And they talked about the different lessons. They know the different pastors here.

And it just was really mind boggling - because you're on the other side of the planet - the scope of the Sabbath school studies. Very encouraging. And they had a baptism. That Sabbath was the first baptism in this church. And they baptized, I think, nine that day and we had an appeal for baptism and 21 came forward and among those who came forward was one muslim gentleman.

I think I put a picture of him here but I had to obviously blank out his face because they can get in trouble - they can really get persecuted by their family if you are a muslim and you convert to Christianity in these countries. And so, I want you to pray. There are several folks there that are in that category and it's a real struggle. So the Lord was blessing. That's just a quick overview of scores of meetings that I had while I was there and we'll go to - I think we're going to jakarta real quick.

Indonesia is the most populated muslim country in the world. Now, I want you to look at this picture for just a minute. This is jakarta. Jakarta has 18 million people, million vehicles - cars and motorcycles - and it's got some of the worst traffic in the world. I've been to a lot of cities and seen the traffic - this is right in front of my hotel I took this and the vehicles are all like rocks in a river - they're almost in constant gridlock - and the motorcycles are like the water that runs around the rocks.

And there's a flow of scooters and the tolerances are so close - our car got bumped at least once I know, while we were there, it hit the mirror of another car because they're like sardines - they pass, it just - you can't look out the window when you're in a car, you have to just talk to someone and pray, because you just get too nervous. Lowell knows what I'm talking about, in india it's like that, and manila is a little like that, it's heart-stopping experience one after the other, and you find yourself going, 'oh watch out! Oh!' And I'm, you know, I'm a back-seat driver all the time because I keep thinking we're having these near-death experiences. But, they seem to survive. So, anyway, that was just one thing in itself that really draws you close to the Lord. But part of the reason we were there - we were invited by asi.

Asi asia had meetings and from all over southeast asia - from the Philippines and from malaysia, and singapore and australia, people - seventh day adventists - came together to discuss better ways to win souls. And one of the most exciting things I did on this trip was very quiet, was to - and we had hundreds of people who came to the asi meeting - and I was doing some of the devotionals there, is, I delivered - and I think that's the next picture - I delivered a dvd. I actually delivered about half a dozen, that we just translated, of the cosmic conflict into indonesian. And so, this here is the hope channel speaker, Michael pilar, for indonesia, and that's daewe there - she was a great host and help. They then take those, and they're going to mass produce them, give them to the members, and the members use them to give to their friends.

And, while it is a muslim country, they're not as restrictive about preaching Christianity in indonesia as they are in some of the islamic countries, so that was an interesting - I did a program or two for the hope channel, while we were there in indonesia, and they just translate and they put subtitles up when they do the programs. Next picture. I did another - I was there in jakarta two weeks doing meetings. Some days I preached three times. I don't have time to tell you about it - all of it, but we did one set of meetings in one part of town for the upper class people - it's one of the richest cities in the world - and met a lot of people that came to the Lord.

One doctor said that he's been watching our programs on 3abn for years and he had been a devout catholic and he is now a very active seventh day adventist and started his own church. And then we did another series of meetings in the union office and that was just open to everybody and hundreds attended there. I also did meetings with the pastors - now these last few pictures I'll show you - this was the most exciting - one week ago this is where I was. This is the largest church - Christian church - in indonesia. Not seventh day adventist church.

The largest Christian church in indonesia. It seats 10,000 people. Beautiful new facility. It's a charismatic pastor. He lent it to the seventh day adventists - they've never lent it out to anybody before and people came.

There's 120 adventist churches around jakarta - just the jakarta conference. Like in northern California here, we have 134 churches - just the city of jakarta has 120 - it may even be more than that - 123 churches and, it was a thrill, I have to tell you. They taped that and they're going to be sending the tape. But then we made an appeal and there were many decisions and they had a baptism I think, following the service. Were baptized.

And this week another 50 are being baptized in their local churches. Some wanted to wait and do the baptism at their churches. So, and then, my last day there was the longest day. I drove from jakarta - checked out of my hotel - drove to our university outside of jakarta, the adventist university there. And toured the campus.

I met a lot of friends - brother bob hancock is there right now. I met with him who was on the Amazing Facts/weimar board. And then did some teaching for the ministerial students while I was there. Then drove back to jakarta and flew out at midnight back to dubai because of my tickets from dubai - after hours in the airport - back to - 15 hours to san francisco and then drove home. That was a long day.

So, anyway, very glad to be home and thank you for your prayers. the Lord, I believe, blessed and it was a very productive week and it's great to see the work of God going on around the world. Now, how long did that take me? I've still got time, I think, for our lesson. Thank you for your indulging me, friends, give you a little mission report on where I was and what's going on with the work of God around the world. I want to again greet our friends watching in indonesia and in the uae, and it was wonderful being there.

Going, now this will be my first sampling of the new lesson on Galatians. Today we're on lesson #3 that's dealing with the unity of the Gospel. Galatians is a very interesting book and is often a book that is misunderstood or misapplied. So we're going to talk a little about some of that today. We have a Scripture reading that comes from Philippians chapter 2 verse 2, that I'll invite you to say out loud with me.

Philippians 2, verse 2, and this is in the new king James version. Are you ready? "Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord, and of one mind." He wants his people to be together. the Lord wants us to have a sense of unity, but there's always a little tension between unity and compromise. At what point, in order to attain unity, do you compromise? So we'll get into that in just a minute. You know, I thought that it would be a good idea, since the central focus during this quarter - our goal is to go through the entire book of Galatians - to read it all.

And our lesson today is allocating the verses from Galatians 2, verses 1 through 14. Why don't you just follow me for a moment and I want to just read verses 1 to 10, so then we kind of know what we're digging into. Galatians 2 and I'm going to read verses 1 through 10 to start with here. "Then after 14 years I went up again to Jerusalem with barnabas, and also took Titus with me. And I went up by Revelation, and communicated to them that Gospel that I preach among the gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.

Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the Gospel might continue with you. But from those who seemed to be something - whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man - for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. But on the contrary, when they saw that the Gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the Gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for he who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the gentiles), and when James, cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the gentiles and they to the circumcised. They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.

" All right. Let me see if I can coalesce as well as I can what Paul is talking about. When Paul went to galatia and he was preaching, it was his custom to typically go first to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, the jews, because wherever he went he'd start out with those who had -the shortest distance between two points is a straight line - wherever he went, the jews already had the background of the Gospel, looking for the Messiah, so much history was there among the jews he said, 'if I'm going to preach Christ, start with those who already have the foundation in the things of God through the Jewish history and the old testament, go to them first.' And so, he made it his custom - he would often go to the jews - sometimes they were like the bereans and they'd receive the Word of God with all readiness of mind. And sometimes they would resist and fight and he would say, 'look, it was necessary that we first preach the Gospel to you the jews, but now we turn to the gentiles in this town.' But whatever town he went to he would first go to the jews. He would do that.

He would meet with varying degrees of success from town to town and then he'd start preaching to the gentiles - many of them accepted Christ. But he would not require them to be circumcised and keep the ceremonial laws that had been nailed to the cross. In some communities, that caused great consternation among the Jewish Christians. They said, 'look, you're just going to alienate the jews that we're trying to reach also by not requiring them to keep the laws of Moses.' And Paul said, 'no, we've already had a meeting on this.' We've got a board action. Acts chapter 15.

'That we should not put any additional bondage or burden on the jews from the ceremonial laws. But they're not supposed to eat things strangled, they're not supposed to eat blood, they're to keep themselves from fornication and idolatry.' And they said, 'no, they've got to be circumcised.' And Paul is saying here, 'look, we went over this with James and Peter and they said they would not require that.' Circumcision was something that was really a covenant pointing to Jesus - and that's later in our lesson. And so there was a great debate over this. The main thing he said was that the Jewish believers in Christ needed to show unity and a cohesiveness with the gentile converts. They needed to be one.

They weren't supposed to be meeting in two different groups. What kind of message was that going to send to a town? And so, they were having problems with coming together because you had the very pharisaical Jewish converts who accepted Jesus as the Messiah but they still were very exacting about the ceremonial laws and circumcision, and then you had the converts, who were from maybe the roman or Greek religions - they accepted Jesus and they were going by pretty much what we go by here today, the fundamentals. And so, there was this tension. Paul is dealing with this in Galatians and a lot of things that Paul says about the law in Galatians are misunderstood and they apply them to the Ten Commandments. They're really dealing with the issues of circumcision and the ceremonial feast days and those issues.

So, that's the background. All right. The importance of unity is under our first heading. Now, I've given out some Scriptures for you to help me read. Just do a check - where's the microphone? We've got one here - sometimes one on this side - poncho has one.

Who has John 17:11? Right up front here. Let's bring mike the microphone and while we do that, I'm going to read 1 Corinthians 1 - 1 Corinthians chapter 1, verse 10 - 13. Paul said, "now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," he's invoking the name of Jesus. "That you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of chloe's household, that there are contentions among you.

Now I say this, that each of you says, 'I am of Paul,' or 'I am of apollos,' or 'I am of cephas,' or 'I am of Christ.' Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" He said there were divisions and some were aligning themselves under, 'well, you know, I kind of side with apollos. I heard apollos preach and I'm an apollos Christian.' And others said, 'I'm a Paul Christian.' Someone else said, 'i' a cephas' - or Peter, that's who that was. Cephas and Peter are the same person. 'I'm a Peter Christian.' And Paul said, 'we're not supposed to be divided that way. We're supposed to be followers of Christ, not the apostles.

' And so there was this plea that they should be one. Now, why is this so important? Go ahead, read your verse. John 17, verse 11 - mike. 17 Verse 11. "Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you.

Holy father, keep through your name those whom you have given me that they may be one as we are." So Christ said, in many ways, that there should be a oneness among the believers. Jesus said, 'how far should that oneness go father? That they should be one as you and I are one.' How at one - how united was Jesus in The Father? Now, these are not the words of Paul or Peter, or apollos, but Christ said to his people, 'we should strive for unity.' When was the Holy Spirit poured out? When they finally got it together. They were in one place but they were what? Of one accord. They were all together. And they had not been together even after following Jesus for three years - I think we all know, even as far as the upper room there was contention among them - which of them was the greatest.

And that was an obstacle to the flow of the Holy Spirit. How many would agree that we need the baptism of the Spirit to finish the work of God in the world today? And I'm thankful - it's exciting when I go around the world and you see that we have believers that are of - for the most part - I'm going to find that there's a consistency of what we believe around the world. Sometimes there's a little different emphasis on certain things, but it's wonderful to be of a people where I know that they believe - the fundamentals - as I go from place to place. And that our church has million people. That's exciting.

But, when 90 million new people are born every year, us having a million a year added helps you realize that we have a pretty daunting task that is only going to spread the way it did in the first centuries when we have the experience of the first century. God will pour out his spirit in pentecostal power when we are once again together. We desperately need to have this unity of faith - and notice I said 'unity of faith' - we shouldn't sacrifice truth for the sake of unity, because that's not going to make the way for the Holy Spirit. We need to be united in Christ. And that's what happened to the apostles in the upper room.

They prayed and studied. They studied and prayed. And after those days together doing that, there was a unity. This message - the seventh day adventist church - was born in the context of deep study and prayer and there was a unity that developed in a system of belief that God could baptize with the Spirit. That's how the work is going to finish.

We need that again, amen? John 13:35. Does somebody have that? "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another." What is to be the most effective evangelistic tool? People will know that we are disciples of Christ by our diet? - Diet's important - they'll know that we're disciples of Christ by our dress? -I think we should be modest in our dress - they will know that we are disciples of Christ by our music? - I think we should have reverent and well-done music. What is the thing that Christ said is going to be the greatest, most powerful advertising demonstration? The way we love the world? The way we love each other. Now, I've got an interesting perspective on this. You don't mind if I'm real with you for a few moments, do you? Doing evangelism, you get a kind of an interesting perspective, because you kind of bounce from church to church and you're there for a little bit.

It's not like I come as a guest speaker for one Sabbath, have a potluck, and leave - I've done that too. But when you do evangelism, you stick around for a little bit and you kind of get to feel what's going on in that church. And you're there long enough to find out that there's almost always some kind of fraction in the church, because you eventually will be approached by various sides of whatever this division happens to be. And it can be on - you can take your pick - it could be over decorating committee - it could be over anything. And people try to recruit you to represent their side and to - sometimes they want you to mediate and that's good if you can bring unity, but you just get a perspective that the devil is really working to bring division into the church.

And I think there's so many churches that would explode evangelistically if they could resolve the fragmentation in the church. If they could really have revival where they put aside their differences and pray and experience this unity. 'All men will know you are my disciples by your love.' Now, does the devil read the Bible? If all men are going to know that we're his disciples by our love for one another, then would dissension advertise - let me say that differently - if demonstrating love for one another will bring people to Christ - folks will notice it - then the devil would want the opposite, wouldn't he? He would know that, by there being division, it will drive people away and folks will mock and say, 'oh, I know those folks, they're all at each other's throat. What a bunch of hypocrites.' Isn't that right? So, do you want the devil to get his way or Jesus to get his way? That - you know what I find? When I do marriage counseling, which I don't like to do, but when I do, almost always, one of the biggest problems is pride and selfishness. Somebody can't apologize.

Somebody has to have their way. And it really isn't over the issues. It's over the person's right to be right. And that is also almost always true in the divisions within the church. People are clinging tenaciously to their right to be right.

And if we would humble ourselves before the Lord - the Spirit of prophecy says, 'if we would humble ourselves before the Lord there would be a hundred conversions to the truth where now there is but one.' And so, one of the keys to unity is humility. Being willing to put aside our differences. Peter had to forgive James and John for going to Jesus and saying, 'I want that seat on the right hand and the left hand' - because he wanted it. And James and John had to apologize to Peter and the other apostles. They were all striving for which of them was the greatest.

They had to admit their wrongs. Peter probably had to publicly confess - 'I know you guys forsook Jesus, but I forsook and denied him with cursing.' And there's some confession going on before God poured out the Spirit. That brought unity. Psalm 133 verse 1. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.

" Let me just say something. I just want to go on the record here - I've said this before. It is such a pleasure working with the team we have at Sacramento central. There are very few churches - you know, this month it's been years I've been here. I was traveling to some of these countries I won't mention right now and they said, 'how long have you been at central?' I said, '18 years this month.

' They said, 'we move our pastors every couple of years. After five years we move them whether they like it or not.' It's just, you know, the great advent movement. They just feel like they've got to move everybody. It's a shuffle. I said, 'you mean if a pastor is doing well and his church is growing and he's got a program, he's got a support group, that you're just going to move him? So why would you fix it if it ain't broke?' They had no answers, 'it's just our custom.

' What I wanted to say - you know, we've had our pastoral team here a long time, and it is a pleasure - when we get together for staff meetings - how pleasant it is for brethren to work together in unity. That means we have to be honest with each other. And we're open with each other. And we pray for each other. And we sometimes have to apologize to each other.

But it creates a unity where you can work together. And it's a wonderful thing. And if all our churches and the families could be that way. How pleasant it is to have that unity. The enemy is out there.

We don't need friendly fire in here, right? We need to pray for that unity. Okay, we need to move on now and talk about one of the specific points where there was a lot of contention and you'll see on Monday's section, it had to do with circumcision and false brothers. All right. Somebody go to acts 15 - I think I gave that to somebody - acts 15, verse 1. Mike has that right here.

Poncho, can you bring him a microphone? And someone else, Corinthians 7:19. Who has that one? We'll give it to you next then. So, why don't you go ahead? I think we're set up and ready to go. Read acts 15 and verse 1 for me mike. Acts 15, verse 1.

"And certain men which came down from Judea and taught the brethren and said, 'except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.'" Wow, that's pretty heavy. That's means it was a salvation issue. It was a salvation issue. Matter of fact, I'll read verse 5, same chapter. "But there rose up certain of the sect of the pharisees, which believed" - that means that they believed in Jesus, but they're from the pharisee background - "and they say that it was needful to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

" Now, is there a distinction between the commandments of God and the law of Moses? Is there a distinction between the Ten Commandments and the law of Moses? Go with me to Deuteronomy - I should have put this in my notes but I just remembered it here. Deuteronomy chapter 4, verse 13. "So he declared to you his covenant that he commanded you to perform," that is the ten commandments - concise, complete, whole, Ten Commandments, the covenant. "And he wrote them on two tables of stone." Verse 14, "and" - in addition to, but separate from the ten commandments written on stone - "and the Lord commanded me" - who's writing? Moses. "And the Lord commanded me" - Moses - "at that time to teach you statutes and judgments that you might observe them in the land that you cross over to possess.

" So at a very minimum, you must separate some of the writings of Moses - maybe not all of them - from the Ten Commandments, because Moses made a distinction between the two. And there's another passage in - lowell knows it - in Chronicles, where he talks about the commandments of God and those by the hand of Moses. And so, there are several places where a distinction is made in the Bible. So, they were saying, 'no, you've got to keep all of these things.' First of all, what was the purpose of circumcision? Is circumcision required for salvation? Well, if circumcision is required for salvation, then adam is in trouble, seth is in trouble, Noah's in trouble, Enoch is in trouble, and methuselah. Because it wasn't given until Abraham.

So, it was a covenant and - you don't know how much to say about this because it can be delicate - but circumcision was a covenant that illustrated several things. For one, that God was going to become a human and that through the seed of Abraham - and circumcision was a consecration of the vehicle of the seed of Abraham - do you all see what I'm saying? - That there would be a consecration. It also represented a cutting away of the flesh - not to be controlled by the flesh but to be controlled by the Spirit. That a person, a man, was consecrated to God and that really, when you're baptized you're married to God. It represented a marriage to God.

And that the holy seed would come through Abraham. When Christ came - and was Jesus circumcised? Yes. Matter of fact, when Christ first shed blood was not on the cross. When Christ first shed blood was at his circumcision. Luke 2, verse 21.

"And when eight days were accomplished" - according to the law of Moses. - "For the circumcising of the child, his name was registered" - on the day of the circumcision - "they called his name Jesus as the angel had said." So, when Christ came, who was the main point, at least the spiritual point, of all circumcision, what was the need any longer for circumcision? What was the need any longer for sacrificing lambs? He was the consecrated seed. He was the lamb of God. So, to continue to sacrifice lambs and to continue to require circumcision, didn't make sense. Somebody read 1 Corinthians - I think - is this next? Corinthians 7, verse 19.

I don't know if we've got a camera on you. Are we ready? Go ahead. 1 Corinthians 7:19. "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God." He said what really matters is not circumcision or uncircumcision but the keeping of the commandments, yet some people read the book of Galatians to say, 'we are not under the law. We don't have to keep the Sabbath anymore.

Don't let anyone put you under the bondage of the law.' Have you heard that before? And, in particular, they say that they don't use Galatians to try to fight being faithful in your marriage, the seventh commandment, they don't use Galatians to try to fight 'it's okay now to pray to idols.' I've never heard anyone quote Galatians and say 'it's okay to worship other Gods.' I've never heard anyone go to Galatians and say, 'you can now kill and steal.' But they often turn to Galatians when you say, 'remember the Sabbath day.' Have you heard that done before? They say, 'you're putting these people under a burden of law. We're not under the law, you're being bewitched. It's not the tables anymore." How many times do you find the word Sabbath in Galatians? Zero. How many times do you find the phrase circumcision? Circumcision, or some form of it - meaning also uncircumcision, the word circumcise - is found times just in the book of Galatians. So, what law was the big issue that they're dealing with in Galatians? Let's be biblically honest what the issue is.

Don't try to pull the Sabbath day into Galatians. Paul didn't use it and so, it's unfaithful - I think it's dishonest biblically to use Galatians against the Sabbath commandment when Paul tells us what the issue was. It was circumcision that was being pushed by the Jewish believers on the non-Jewish believers. That was the issue. If the Jewish believers were talking about the law of Moses and circumcision - and he mentioned circumcision 15 times - and they were also telling them to keep the Sabbath day, how come the Sabbath is never mentioned? Because that wasn't the issue.

They were keeping the commandments of God. It was the law of Moses that was the issue. Now, does that make sense? Just - you're going to run into that if you haven't before. And, anyway, I better keep going here because there's more that I've got to say. What is the Spiritual significance of circumcision? Somebody look up Deuteronomy 30, verse 6.

Did we give that to someone? Back here? Deuteronomy 30:6. "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." Thank you. And very well read I might say. So, the idea of circumcision having a spiritual meaning, is that something that is new testament times or did it come from old testament times? One more. Jeremiah 4:4.

"Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskin of your heart you men of judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem." The new covenant is about really having a tender heart - being consecrated in your heart - and that's the covenant that it all pointed to. So, the fleshly symbol of circumcision, while there may be some physiological benefits, and I won't go into all of that, but - unity and diversity. We're in our next section here. Corinthians 12:12. Corinthians 12:12.

I gave that to somebody. Oh, back here. Okay, Michael? We'll have you read that. Matter of fact, I'm going to read Galatians 2:4, because this is what it's dealing with - before we do 1 Corinthians 12 - Galatians 2:4. "But because of those false brothers who are stealing in.

They stole in to spy out our liberty that we have in Jesus, that they are desiring to enslave us." Some false brethren sneaking in. All right, go ahead and read for us 1 Corinthians 12:12. 1 Corinthians 12:12. "For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ." So, while we're all different - and we may have different cultures. And we have different background experience - every one of us has a different experience we're coming from.

Our perspective we've come from. And you have different gifts. And you know what? We probably - some of us sing better than others. Some of us will probably score better than others on our driving test and on our iq test. We're all different.

Regardless of what those differences are, are we all part of the same body of Christ? And we should work together with those differences, whatever they are, to make one body to all love each other. It's also 1 Corinthians 13 - the next chapter where he talks about love. He talks about us all being different, but you go to the next chapter and there you've got that masterpiece on love. And he's talking about loving each other. But sometimes - I thought it was interesting - he said that there are sometimes people that come in and they find out about the freedom we have in Christ - the love we have for each other - and they're trying to find something wrong - where you're not keeping something - so they can expose you.

Romans 6, verses 6 and 7. What are Christians free from? When we think about Galatians it talks about freedom that we have in Christ. Is it freedom to disobey? That's the way it's used by some. Romans 6 verses 6 and 7. "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should no longer serve sin.

For he that is dead is freed from sin." So what are we free from? Not obedience. Free from sin. You know, looking at the clock, there's something else I want to bring in real quick. And there are several verses on that that tell us that really the emphasis that Paul's making is we're free in the Lord, but free from sin. Then you've got this confrontation because in Galatians 2 verses 11 through , Paul noticed that Peter was being a little bit of a hypocrite - that while he was in antioch and he's visiting with the converts - the gentile converts to Christianity, Peter was hobnobbing and eating with them, going to potlucks, rubbing elbows, just being one of them - but then a delegation came from Jerusalem - from James.

James, the brother of Jesus. And they were still kind of practicing not associating too much with the gentiles - lest they be contaminated - and all of a sudden Peter began to behave differently when this delegation came. He thought, 'well you know, they may not understand how well we get along and I don't want to offend them that are still keeping the law of Moses.' And he started to separate and stopped eating with the gentiles - he sat at a different table. And Paul confronted him at that time. This is Galatians 2:11.

"Now when Peter had come to antioch, I withstood him to his face," and this is the junior apostle talking to the senior apostle - " because he was to be blamed;" he was wrong. "For before certain men came from James, he would eat with the gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the jews also played the hypocrite with him," his other friends said, 'oh, they've come from Jerusalem, we'd better stop eating at the table during the potluck, with the gentiles. "But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the Gospel, I said to Peter before them all, 'if you being a jew, live after the manner of the gentiles and not of the jews, then why do you compel gentiles to live as the jews?" Now, should Peter have known better about that behavior? Acts 10:28. Who has that? Acts 10:28.

We gave that to somebody and maybe - I don't see a hand - I'll read it real quick. Remember when Peter had that experience with cornelius? "And he said to them, 'you know how it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a jew to keep company with those of another nation" - gentiles - "but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean." What happened Peter? You kind of backslid into your calling people unclean when they came from Jerusalem. You wanted to make a good impression. Do we ever sometimes play the hypocrite? This is exactly what Peter did, he played the hypocrite. And who pointed him out? Paul.

But you know, Paul was not immune either. Did Paul also play the hypocrite? Paul's last trip to Jerusalem. He got down there around the Jewish leaders and they were just hard core - Christian jews. They're a lot more orthodox about their judaism. And all these people were accusing Paul of giving up the Ten Commandments and the right things that we should be keeping.

And so when Paul got down to Jerusalem they said, 'now Paul, you could really help us out here, you know, if you would shave your head and take a vow and go to the temple and let everybody see that you're devout and you've taken the vow that Moses described for a certain period of time and that you're seeking after God. They'll realize that all these rumors we hear about your throwing out the old testament are not true.' I tried to bring this up to today's terms. Paul said, 'well, if you think that's going to help. Okay." And he compromised. Now, I'm going to read to you from Desire of Ages - no, I'm sorry - Acts of the Apostles, page 404.

"The brethren hoped that Paul, by following the course suggested, he might give a decisive contradiction to the false reports concerning him. They assured him that the decision of the former counsel concerning the gentile converts and the ceremonial law still held good. But, the advice now given was not consistent with that decision. the Spirit of God did not prompt this instruction. It was the fruit of cowardice.

" And you go down to the end of that next paragraph it says, speaking of Paul, "he was not authorized of God to concede as much as they asked. But in deference to them as the leaders, and wanting to bring some unity, he also played a hypocrite from what he was really doing up north with the gentiles." We're all sometimes tempted to put on a good air. I'll give you an example. Pastor Doug's a hypocrite. I study my Bible every day on the computer, but I go out and preach from my notes from my computer, but I always carry my Bible because it looks more spiritual.

And some people just really have a problem - if I were to sit up here with my laptop they would think, 'that doesn't look very spiritual to me.' So I don't want to offend those people and so I bring my Bible. In reality, I do 99% of my study on my computer and I print out the Scriptures I'm going to read, but I want to look spiritual so I bring my Bible. And that's kind of what they were doing down there is they were trying not to offend anybody. Now, there is a time, I think, that you don't want to go out of your way to offend and you can make some compromises in that respect, but don't ever compromise the truth for the sake of unity. We need to stand for the truth, even if it causes division in the church.

We need to be united on the word. We shouldn't be dividing over the word. And so the way to find unity in the church is not just to say, 'let's not talk about doctrine.' You know how many places I've gone to where they've pulled me aside ahead of time and said, 'we're glad you're here pastor doug but don't preach anything divisive, we just want to be united. And that's code for 'don't talk about any of those biblical issues that might require a decisive decision that could cause some division. Well, some of these things are points of salvation and they need to be talked about.

And so, martin luther, even when he started preaching, his first goal was not to divide from the catholic church but to preach the word so that we'd all unite on the word. That was his goal. And eventually he realized, 'well, I've either got to give up preaching the truth of the reformation, or I've got to let there be a division. And the protestant reformation developed out of that principle, so we've got to know where to draw the line between let's be united in the truth but still preach the whole truth. You know what I'm saying? God give us wisdom in knowing how to make those decisions because that is always a very tough call.

We are out of time and I want to remind our friends we have a free offer. It's - well, the offer is actually the study guides online. You can just go to amazingfacts.org and we've got study guides in eleven different languages. We've been around the world, so you can study with us almost anywhere. If you've not been through these studies we invite you to go to amazingfacts.org and get into the Bible study guides. God bless you. We're out of time. We'll study together again next Sabbath.

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