The Little Things Matter
I got a question for you to start off with just to kind of get you thinking do you have a favorite Bible character or maybe favorites maybe if you have them I was thinking about this because we're going to be talking about a specific person this morning and as a little boy I think most little boys are probably the same you hear these bible stories for the first time and you start to really like and look up to certain Bible characters like for instance one of my favorites is obviously Samson because he was the strongest person ever so looking at that story and you know I kind of like Samson and as a young boy hearing about how David killed Goliath with just the sling in the stone it's kind of an exciting story and so David becomes kind of a favorite and one of my personal favorites is definitely going to be a lie just me could you imagine the battle that he had on Mark Karr Mount Carmel against the prophets of Bale and he did teach them that's an exciting story in Daniel in the Lion's Den And so there's all these great Bible characters and you read through the stories and you think ah this is this is one of my favorites and sometimes we become a favorite one of these characters becomes our favorites because we can identify with them maybe they have certain personality traits that we kind of pick up on that we can identify with. Being a boy I you know I kind of gravitate towards those I I should ask my daughter you know who's your favorite Bible character I don't know what she would say I don't know if she would say something like You know Mary is one of my favorites because she was the mother of Jesus or I wonder how many little girls hear the story of Esther you know she was the beauty queen and God used her to really help her people but the more per a person spends time reading the Bible is a wonderful thing is we realize that the people in the Bible they're just like you and me and sometimes the Bible records a person's great.
They're great stepping out in face and they're able to conquer certain things and a lot of times the bible actually talks about some of the mistakes that they made and so we can relate to them Well today we're going to do is we're going to read about. And study another very dearly beloved Bible character that I think many of us can relate to and that is Peter All right we're still in the book of Galatians I want to open a glacial chapter two but this next section the the second half of glacial Chapter two is dealing with Peter.
And Peter is one of the I think the best Bible characters that we have I wrote you know I just wish that I could have known him what he was like you know in this life he kind of comes across as one of those highly rambunctious you know fearless person and yet he's completely human because he keeps making some mistakes but some of Peter's things that he's done that he's known for he I think he's experienced some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows of many of the people in the Bible like for instance Peter was the one who was the first one recorded to have claimed that Jesus was the Christ. Peter James and John and all the disciples There were hanging out with Jesus and Jesus says Hey who do people say that I am and so we read about this in Matthew go ahead read this for you. They're answering Jesus and they said well some say John the Baptist other say Alija other say Jeremiah or one of the prophets Jesus said to them but who do you say that I am and of course we have Peter saying you are the Christ the Son of the Living God I mean that that's a that's a goose bump moment just imagine Peter was standing in front of Jesus and he says that to him kind of affirming his faith in this conviction that you are the one that the Old Testament was telling us about so that's Peter that's one of his highs another one and this is another one my favorite stories about Peter remember what happens in the garden of guess somebody when the soldiers came to rest Jesus you know Peter did he took out his sword and he cut the year off of the one of the soldiers and so you know it's kind of a way to go Peter really go another one. Oh one of the highs that he experienced is he was given this vision from God This sheet came out of heaven and it was filled with all these different animals and and God says go ahead kill and eat and so he was given the special vision so they could understand that there's a new truth taking place and so you look at Peter's life and you think Wow Peter was a great Bible character and he God used him to do some amazing things but the Bible also records a lot of the things that Peter did wrong and some of his failings like for instance some of you may you probably know some of these stories but Peter was the one who was on in the boat on the water and Jesus came walking to him at night and who of all the people in the boat who was the one who spoke up it's got to be Peter says Lord if that's you tell me to come come to you on the water and so Jesus has come and so Peter gets up gets out of the boat he starts walking on the water courageous faithful Peter and then he gets distracted he sees the when he sees the rainy season the waves and and he falls into the water and Jesus says oh you of little faith so one moment he has great faith and the next moment his face kind of fails him also another feeling of Peter in we can't really hold this against him but Peter said that he was willing to die with Christ if the soldiers were to take him in fact I'm as they were meeting the night before he was betrayed as passages found him out to be six So then Jesus said to them they're all all the disciples are meeting together. You will all fall away because of me this night for it is written I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered but after I am raised up I will go before you to Galilee and Peter answered him though they all may fall away because of you I will never fall away typical Peter that's something that Peter would say and Jesus said to him Truly I say to you this very night before the rooster crows you Peter will deny me three times and Peter said to him even. If I must die with you I will not deny you and all the disciples said the same and then Why did Peter do you denied Christ three times and so your passage for today we see another failing of Peter Peter is also one of the first ones to kind of grasp this idea that Jesus had fulfilled the law and you no longer need to follow the law and yet it as has the normal person that he is he's living by faith one minute in a circumstance comes up and then he fails because of fear so one of passage for today what we have this Paul is using Peter as an example of why it's so wrong to go back to a Grace plus works mindset so let's read a glacier in Chapter Two beginning in verse eleven. Last week we read verses one through ten today will just pick up and will finish after two so delicious Chapter Two beginning in verse eleven
Paul says but when capice was Peter came to Antioch I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned for before certain men came from James he was eating with the Gentiles but when they came he drew back and separated himself fearing the circumcision party and the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy but even I saw their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel I said a calf a speech for them all if you know a Jew live like a Gentile and not like a Jew How can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews and this is a time in Peter's life that you would think he should have known better I mean Peter has gone through quite a bit before in fact Peter is been through a lot of these things before and these issues should have been resolved for instance you know earlier in the chapter this chapter of chapter two last week we read about how Paul and Barnabas had a secret meeting a private meeting with Peter James and John and they presented to them the gospel that Jesus that the Polish preaching Casey ran in vain in vain and so Paul and Peter therein and Peter is affirming Yes that is that is the truth and he gave them the right hand of fellowship and so Peter knew the truth that the law has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ and later after this event in Acts Chapter fifteen this is what we looked at last week Peter actually confirms exactly what Paul has been talking about how Gentiles are now included and so maybe maybe this interaction between Peter and Paul here helped him confirm that in Acts Chapter fifteen but in Acts Chapter eleven after Peter had gone to Cornelius house and shared the truth with some Gentiles He had to defend himself to the same people that are coming to Antioch I want you to turn over and in your bible State Acts Chapter eleven.
Accept or allow. And so this happened. Some time before this took place in glaciers Chapter two So Peter's already been through this being accused by the circumcision party of associating with the Gentiles acceptor eleven beginning in verse one.
Says now the Apostles in the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the Word of God So when Peter went up to Jerusalem the circumcision party criticized him saying you went to uncircumcised men and ate with them but Peter began to explain it to them in order and so he explained that while he was at Cornelius house the sheep came down from heaven and God said Go kill and eat Peter and to go talk to the Gentiles and so he shared with them the gospel with the Gentiles and this is what happened the good of verse fifteen.
X. eleven fifteen this was as I began to speak the Holy Spirit fell on them the Gentiles just as on us at the beginning and I remembered the word of the Lord how he said John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit if then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ who was I that I could stand in God's way when they heard these things they fell silent and they glorify God saying then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life and so Peter has already had to deal with the circumcision group and so he's already been through this before so why in this moment in Antioch Why did he fail while the passage tells us exactly why he failed Look at verse twelve said for before certain men came from James he was eating with the Gentiles but when they came he drew back and separated himself fearing the circumcision party and I think this is what makes Peter so relatable how many of us in our lives have changed our behavior because we. Feared another person or a group of people and their opinions you know we all want to be accepted we all want to be liked and we give into fear of other people and their opinions of us for their approval you know in this passage there's a couple of tragedies before I get into the Five Points you look at this passage and you think you know this is this is such a small thing what is the big deal about Peter eating with Gentiles and then he he stops doing that and he starts eating with the Jews Well there's a couple things that are very important about this these little things truly do matter this made Peter a hypocrite. And Paul even tells him that he was a hypocrite he was a hypocrite because Peter was saying that he was doing this or maybe in his mind he was convinced that he was doing this because of his faithfulness to the Jewish people but he was doing this because he was afraid of what they were saying going to say about him the second tragedy is that Peter's actions lead other people astray as well his example affected other people you know in reading through Galatians I'm usually pretty much in any time I am preaching a sermon I try to get other sources to really help me how to get a different perspective I'm reading a book called Galatians by Dr Warren will be some you might have heard him before and in this next section he he shares his observation about how there are five Christian doctrines that Peter denied by his actions here and I thought that was really insightful and so I just want to share that with you he did this simple thing he stopped eating with the Gentiles went back to eating with the Jews and we think that's not that big of a deal but he did five things by his actions he denied five very important Christian doctrines so let's look at those right now. The first Christian doctrine that Peter denied by his actions was the unity of the church he denied the unity of the church by withdrawing from these Gentiles look at verse fourteen again.
Paul says to him. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the. Gospel I said to countless before them all if you though a job you live like a Gentile and not a Jew How can you force the Gentiles to live like the Jews so Peter was a Jew but because he put his face in Christ he was a Christian just like every other human being who is going to put their faith in Jesus Christ and because he was a Christian he was a part of the church and in the church there are no racial differences if you're in Galatians just turn over one chapter to chapter three and begin in verse twenty five Paul tells us that now there is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles. Three verse twenty five.
Says but now that faith has come we are no longer a guardian for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith for as many of you were baptized into Christ have put on Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek there is neither slave nor free there is no male in female for you are all one in Christ Jesus and if you are Christ then your Abraham's offspring heirs according to promise you know that Peter Paul says in the book of effusions that Christ came when he destroyed the dividing wall of hostility between the Jews and the Gentiles is destroyed so now there are one and so by Peter eating with the Gentiles and going back in just eating with the Jews it's like he just built back up that will haul that Jesus destroyed that's the problem here the unity of the church you know I think this is something that we need to take to heart as well today here in two thousand and seventeen among God's people a lot of us are not caught up in the whole distinction between Jews and Gentiles that's that's kind of been on the stablish unresolved but how many times in this kind of a personal question how many times have you run across another believer in someone else's place or faith in Jesus Christ because there may be of a different denomination.
USA Well maybe we shouldn't have fellowship with each other you know I think it's car is a tendency that I think all of us are at risk of doing or maybe some different racial differences or economic differences there are some divisions within the Body of Christ when they are they shouldn't be Jesus died so that we would all be one together you know I think it's very natural for you know the phrase birds of a feather flock together and so it's very normal and natural for us to kind of hang around with people that we know and that we think alike but if we are purposely purposefully distinguishing ourselves from one another then we are living contrary to the truth of the gospel which is the unity of all believers and so Peter did that second doctrine that he denied by his actions was the doctrine of Justification by faith alone justification by faith alone was read versus fifteen and sixteen.
Says we ourselves we ourselves are Jews by birth are not Gentiles sinners yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ so we also have believed in Jesus Christ Jesus in order to be justified by face in Christ and not by works of the law because by works of the law no one will be justified justification this were justified is a very important word and if you've probably ever heard the the saying that goes along with the word justification just as if I never sin that's kind of partly for the way for us to understand justification it goes beyond that though if a person is justified their sins have been forgiven but they've also been credited by God with the righteous works of Christ himself and so when God sees us he doesn't see a sinner he sees someone who is sinless and someone who is as righteous as Jesus Christ Another thing about justification I think it's important or stand if this goes beyond someone just being forgiven or parted like for instance let's say you are somebody for one hundred dollars because you need one hundred dollars and they give you one hundred dollars and a week later they say hey I want my hundred dollars back you know you borrowed that hundred dollars you say you know what I don't have it I just I just don't have one hundred dollars please give me time because you know what forget it I forgive you don't worry about the debt your debt has been forgiven right here's the difference that hundred dollars is still out there floating somewhere and it's not like it magically made its way into the lenders pocket they're out one hundred dollars someone who's been forgiven or pardoned their sin or their trespasses still unpunished but justification says this your sins have not just been forgiven they've been paid.
They've been paid by Jesus Christ so you are debt free. Romans five one says Therefore since we have been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ we have peace there's nothing that needs to be paid for because it's already been paid and if Peter is truly if he truly had peace with God in this instance why is he acting based on fear and reverting back to a practice of the law practice that could not save him you know I'm sure you know as we're looking at X. or glacial Chapter two I'm sure as Peter was doing this he probably wasn't thinking through his actions you know how many of us we act before we really think I think that's probably was going on. But that's why I think it's important for us to fellowship with other believers because how many times have you seen another person acting a certain way and maybe they weren't aware of it that's why fellowship with each other is so important so hopefully we can we can graciously hold each other accountable so that's what we really see going on here the search truth of Peter denied by his actions was freedom from the law we are now free from the burden of the law and this is something that they all were learning about this time in church history whatever seventeen and eighteen.
Says but if in our endeavor to be justified in Christ we too were found to be sinners is Christ then a servant of sin certainly not for if I rebuild what I tore down I proved myself to be a transgressor that's kind of an interesting phrase if I rebuild what I tore down I prove myself to be a transgressor So Paul's argument to Peter is going something like this he says Peter you and I we did not find salvation through our works we found it through facing Christ and so now after being saved why are you going back to the law that would mean that Christ alone did not save you and so when someone goes back to legalism you're building up what you tore down this means that you sin by tearing it down in the first place of youth. That thing is actually going to save you you know in a way I kind of feel bad about dumping all of these things on Peter it's easy to look at somebody and say look at all the mistakes that you made but I think this gives us is a great example of of how we need to understand the truth and hopefully live by it you know if anyone today anywhere in the world is preaching Henri's or proclaiming that Grace plus something is necessary for someone to be saved they're not living in the cordons with the truth of the gospel and you know this kind of a personal story in the share with you or a personal experience I grew up in an environment like this my whole life where grace alone saves us and so maybe sometimes I take that for granted I'm not really sure what other churches are teaching and what other groups are teaching but I came across this a while ago this was back when I was living in Michigan and there was a couple pastor friends and I we went to we go to conferences from time to time together and there was one on the east side of the state of Michigan it was a preaching conference put on by a university a Christian university and so one of my pastor friends said hey there's this there's a cheap preaching conference just you know over in the Detroit area it's mid week maybe we should go it's not very expensive let's go let's have fellowship was be encouraged maybe we can get something from this conference and I checked with my board and they said you know go ahead so we went the three of us went in we didn't really know much about this university or this denomination that they were a part of when we went all right I'm not going to tell you the name of the nomination but as we're sitting there and we're listening big kept saying certain phrases and then we did they did they just say that what did they say what do they mean by that and so after a couple the first section sessions we went back and I don't remember where we were maybe a coffee shop and we're looking online the denomination and this church this denomination and this university they believed in something called baptismal regeneration they believe that you you had to be baptized by. By water in order to be saved let me rephrase that they believe that if you were not baptized by water you could not be saved. This is modern day Judy eyes or ears you know they said you have to be circumcised in order to be saved and so this whole idea about Grace plus works is it's alive today and so we thought do they really believe this and so after one of the sessions we asked one of the speakers we said hey can we can we ask you some questions and we started asking questions along this line trying to get them to actually say yes that's what we believe and we're asking questions they're going to hemming and hawing and eventually we just said OK just let's stop just yes or no.
If someone has not been physically baptized in water do you think that they will not go to heaven and they said yeah we believe that they won't go to heaven and it was such a unique experience I'm standing in front of this man and I place my faith in Jesus Christ alone for myself nation and he's basically telling me because I've never been water baptized by water he's saying you will not go to heaven because of something that you didn't do.
Not what Jesus did for me but what I had to do is such a unique experience and I take for granted that this message of grace alone is not preached everywhere and so that's why it's so important for us to understand the truth of this doctrine so the force doctrine that Peter denied with his actions was the gospel itself he denied the Gospel itself through his actions verse one thousand and twenty. Says for through the law I died to the law so that I might live to God I have been crucified with Christ it is I no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me listen the one true gospel is about face in the complete work of Jesus Christ and we say complete work we mean this his death completely paid for. All the sins of mankind and his resurrection completely guarantees the resurrection for anyone who places their faith in him that's the gospel that's the truth of the gospel I want you to stay here in the lay sions but turn over to Romans Chapter six.
We're in chapter six Paul explains the soul in a little bit more detail in this passage omens Chapter six beginning in verse five. We'll just read a couple of these verses here were in chapter six beginning in verse five says.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like kids we know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin for one who has died has been set free from sin and now if we have died with Christ we believe that we will also live with him listen that's the gospel in its great news if it happened to Christ then it will happen to us if it happened in Christ he died in was buried for our sins then it happened to us God says and if he was raised from the dead it's going to happen to us that's the truth of the Gospel and finally the last doctrine that Peter denied by his actions is simply the grace of God He denies the grace of God alone verse twenty one says I do not know if I had the grace of God For if righteousness were through the law then Christ died for no purpose and that one verse right there if it's not underlined in your bible it should be there's a few in there actually that are pretty good but this one verse is so simple yet so powerful it just simply says this if we could be saved by following the law then Jesus didn't need to die. If salvation could come through our good works then Jesus died for absolutely no reason and that boils down to this. Either he did it for us or we have to do it for ourselves.
You know hearing Galatians Unfortunately there's no record of Peter's response to Paul now you know this is another time where I wish that you know the glacier in Chapter two when for a little bit you know a few more verses and we kind of figured out what happened I'm sure something went along the lines of this Peter said you know what Paul is thank you for pointing this out to me you're right I'm not acting in accordance with the Gospel and so maybe I'm sure they're still for they're still friends you know obviously Acts Chapter fifteen at the Jerusalem Council Peter is defending Paul but in preparing for the sermon you know I thought about a few different things you know I you look at this passage and in Peter's mind I'm probably sure he did not over analyze his actions he probably didn't thinking consider what his actions were going to do when he stopped eating with the Gentiles and started eating with the Jews you know he was meat eating and making friends with the Gentiles and then he stopped he withdrew he probably did that more based on habit than anything else sort of like muscle memory you know this is what he did when he was a child he was grown up as entire life taught the law and saying you cannot eat with Gentiles but it's Paul who was the one who saw the significance of what he was doing and so sometimes it takes someone on the outside to kind of watch someone else's behavior and let them know what's really going on that's very true of someone like some if someone's addicted to drugs they say you know I'm not hurting anyone but the people all around them can say you know not only are you hurting yourself you're hurting so many other people around you so that's why it's important for us to fellowship but I think you know after reading this passage you're English and chapter two it's a great opportunity for us to ask ourselves some of these questions like Are we living in accordance with our faith you know in Romans square head Turn to Romans chapter one so last passage. In Romans chapter one you see the Apostle calls passion here in his purpose. Romans chapter one. Paul explains to all of us that he was called a legit will just read Romans Chapter one Verse one. Paul a servant of Christ Jesus called to be an apostle set apart for the gospel of God which he promised before and through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures then just go down to verse five speaking of Jesus he says this phrase through whom we have received grace in apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith so Paul a saying God has commissioned me to preach the gospel of God so that people who have faith will be living in obedience to it there should be obedience to the faith but then this is why well diversified again to whom we have received grace in apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ so God wants us to live in obedience to our faith that's for the sake of his name so people will see the truth and so even the little things in our life they matter all right so now let's take the microscope off Peter let's give him a break right he's been forgiven let's put it on ourselves now OK and let's just kind of ask I want to ask a couple questions in light of this example you know we should we should ask ourselves these questions and it begins I think with the most important one most important question everyone here should ask themselves Is this have I been saved by the grace of God alone.
If you're here today and you can say yeah it's nothing that I've done there's nothing that I have done that I'm going to be able to say to God I'm I can be in heaven because of of these actions it's something that each person here needs to truly answer for themselves have you been saved by the grace of God alone and I hope you can answer that by saying yes second question is are you trying in some way to mix grace and the law.
Maybe the best way to understand what. Law is long means I must do something to please God That's what the law basically boils down to I must do something to please God and I think sometimes in our Christian faith we might say I know that I'm saved I know that I'm saved boy I did something really bad and I need to make it up to God I need to do something to make him pleased with me and so we try to earn God's favor that's legalism whether we do it to ourselves or someone else puts that on us you know there's a lots of things that we see in the Bible that we should do as believers but we should do them because they benefit us and because they lead to maturity we don't have to do them to earn God's favor and along those lines last question I want to ask you is are you living in any part of your faith out of fear.
Or you live in any part of your faith out of fear because you say what I'm going to do these things because I know if I don't do these things then people are going to be upset with me are going to stop doing this or start doing that and we can just kind of go through a whole list of things that we start doing out of fear but the truth is when it comes to God's grace there is nothing you can do to make God love you more. There's nothing and there's nothing you can do to make God love you any less and that is equally true for every human being that has ever lived well up to this point some delay sions as we're reading through Galatians I knew this going in it's Ben the first couple chapters have been corrective meaning he's addressing different problems and if you read nothing but corrective literature it can get kind of heavy are a good thing is when we get to Chapter five it gets a little lighter and Paul is talking about what it means to live by God's grace and we'll get there eventually about what we're going to do for the next several weeks I just want to let you know we're going to take some time away from because we have next who have Christmas Eve and then the week after that we have New Year's the last two Sundays that will have here in this church during. The month of January I'll do some topical sermons especially talking about kind of what we're doing as a church and then our first week will be in the new church on the twenty first and then we have a missions conference right after that so we have so really busy six seven eight weeks but I want to leave everyone with this this last thought especially as regards Chapter two so far it's Christmas time and what we're doing right now is we're focusing on the fact that God became a man to die for our sins and set us free. Is now wonderful God became a man to set us free we are free. But that freedom came at a great cost. An incredible cost and so let's take that freedom seriously and hopefully you and I can live in such a way that we might be able to point other people to this great love and grace of Jesus Christ. Let's close in prayer.
Dear Lord I thank you so much for all of the examples that you show us in Scripture the good ones in the bad ones and Lord I know that what Peter did was was not. Probably not well thought out like some of the things that we do throughout our life but this is a great learning experience is a great opportunity for us to see that even the small things in life that matter and Peter's going back to old habits and going back to following the law made a significant difference and so thank you for giving the Apostle Paul wisdom and insight and even the courage to confront Peter about this Florida we believe in the unity of all believers we believe in salvation by grace alone through faith we believe that we're free from the law and so our conduct in the way that we live should mirror exactly what we believe and so Father we pray for your strength and your wisdom in our lives so that we can truly examine our lives and not just to live carelessly but that we will consider every every. Sation that we have him every action that we take is this helping us to live in accordance with the truth of the Gospel that you've given to us Lord if not I pray that maybe we hope people in our lives that can graciously come along side of us and reveal those things to us so that we can be restored to the right kind of living well then again thank you so much for giving us your Holy Word which gives us all these wonderful and practical examples of how to live a life that is not only pleasing to you but also a good example in testimony to the world around us we pray these things in Christ any minute now May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all human.