(097)Thesis:The truth of the Gospel is that God loved us to the extent of an absolutely sufficient provision for our sins that can only be "believed"; it can not be "improved".
Introduction:When Cephas withdrew and held himself aloof from his Gentile brethren, he was, in essence, requiring them to embrace "Jewishness" as a condition of justification. This is clear from the fact that Paul tied his behavior to a corruption of thetruth of the Gospel and he called this corruption a "compelling of the Gentiles tolive as do the Jews". In effect, he was saying, by his behavior, that one cannot be "justified" by "faith" in the death of Christ, but must "live" in a certain way. Because these issues are difficult, we are going to pursue the question of what "the truth of the Gospel" actually is.
Can a person "refuse" to do what the Word of God commands and be justified before God? For example, can a person refuse to be baptized in water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and still be "justified" by "faith"? In our last study we noted that Peter knew the Gentiles had never been subject to the covenant of circumcision and the covenant of law so that his requirement of them to submit to both of those covenants in order to be justified was illegitimate. But, what if he had insisted that they be baptized in water and held himself aloof from them if they refused? What if his insistence was not that they live according to the Law of Moses, but that they live by the Law of Christ, and held himself aloof from them if they refused? What, actually, isthe truth of the Gospel in the light of these questions?
I. The Truth and The Truths of the Gospel.
A. We are all aware of the fact that the Gospel is not a single "truth".
B. However, we must also come to grips with the fact that all of the various "truths" are derivatives of some core reality, or "truth" and that the derivatives are in harmony with each other.
C. Therefore, what we are looking for is "the" truth that sponsors and organizes all of the other truths.
II. Our Process.
A. We begin with Paul's statement that Cephas was not "walking uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel".
1. The first aspect of his "walk" was his reversion to his former perversion of that truth.
a. His former perversion.
1) For "Jews", the Law was the means of acceptance by God.
2) Thus, the Law was viewed as the overt standard to which there had to be a response of submissive obedience.
3) Additionally, "Jews" viewed the demand of submissive obedience as a requirement that they could meet.
4) And, the conclusion was that God would not forgive anyone who refused to render submissive obedience to the Law.
5) So the former perversion consisted of three basic "beliefs": the Law's most basic requirement was an attitude of "submissiveness"; God would not have made this demand if men were incapable of meeting it; and God refuses to justify anyone who refuses to render submissive obedience.
b. His reversion.
1) By his actions, he was declaring that the Gentiles were still refusing to render "submissive obedience" to God but that hewas rendering that obedience.
2) By his actions, he was falling back into the Jewish arrogance of superiority over all who did not render submissive obedience to God like they did.
2. The second aspect of his "walk" was his hypocrisy.
a. Peter's "walk" was, in effect, a claim that he lived in submissive obedience to God sothat he was acceptable to God.
b. But his "walk" was in direct contradiction to what God had told him to do in Acts10:28.
c. Thus, his "walk" was hypocritical.
3. Therefore, when we look at this first indication of what the truth of the Gospel is, we note that it has primarily to do with something that can address the problem of man's lack of submissive obedience.
B. We continue by taking the next step and asking whether, in fact, "submissive obedience" is the requirement of "justification".
1. Paul actually establishes this as a "truth" of the Gospel in Galatians 2:16 when he says that in order to be justified, a man must turn from "works of law" to "faith in Christ".
2. Additionally, it is simply impossible for a man to be in harmony with God without that man's attitude of submissive obedience.
3. Thirdly, nowhere in the Bible are we taught that the way of harmony between God and man is for God to become the submissively obedient one.
4. Fourthly, Paul declared in Romans 1:5 and 16:26 that the point of the Gospel is to bring men to "obedience".
C. Next in line is this question: what does the Bible teach regarding how a man becomes submissively obedient?
1. First, Paul says that it will not happen by the preaching of the Law (Romans 7:5 and 8 and 1 Corinthians 15:56).
2. Second, Paul says that it can only happen by the elimination of "Law" as a demand/ consequence reality.
3. Third, the entire Bible declares that the root of the problem of the lack of submissive obedience is the deception regarding God's love for man.
a. Genesis 3:5.
b. John 3:16.
c. Romans 5:8.
d. Romans 8:7.
e. 1 John 4:10 and 16.
III. Our Conclusions.
A. The behavior of Cephas was fundamentally a contradiction of the love of God for his Gentile brothers.
B. The love of God is the root of the Gospel.
C. The love of God is unaffected by all of the sins of men but one: refusing to believe in it.
D. The love of God, believed, always leads to the obedience of faith (submissive obedience).
E. Faith in the love of God is not a once-for-all, point-in-time, event; it is, rather, a seed that has a definitive point-in-time beginning by the Gospel of complete severance from all legal consequences through Christ and a progressive development by the Spirit of Courage placed in our hearts.