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The Power of the Cross: 173rd Edition, March 21, 2021


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 173rd Edition, March 21, 2021

 

Greetings friends,

 

Welcome, new subscribers! This weekly newsletter shares short gospel teachings and testimonies from Setting Captives Free students. We hope you will find it helpful and encouraging.

 

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Spanish version of newsletter: El Poder de la Cruz: Edición 172

 

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Teaching

 

The Importance of the Gospel: A Message for the Marginalized

Have you ever been separated from, pushed aside, marginalized, or ignored for any reason? Here’s some good news!

This week we are looking at Galatians 2:11-14, and here we will see Paul stab Peter in the front, so to speak. Paul says, “when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned” (Galatians 2:11).

What is going on here? Paul got all up in the face of Peter. Why is he in Peter’s face? The answer is given in vs. 14: “when I saw that they were not acting in line with the gospel…” Paul is all about the gospel; he preaches it, lives it, and wants to display it to everyone. And Peter did too, but in this case, he’s not acting like it. What’s Peter doing that has Paul so riled up?

Well, it turns out, vs. 12 tells us, that Peter used to eat with Gentiles; meaning, he fellowshipped with them, sat with and included them, made them feel welcomed and accepted. 

But then some Jews came along, and Peter feared these Jews and what they would think about him eating with the "unclean," those "Gentile dogs," the "uncircumcised." So Peter withdrew, separated himself from the Gentiles, stopped eating with them. In other words, Peter left the gospel table and went over to eat at the law-keeping table, and he even led Barnabas to do the same thing. And Paul says, "you are not acting in line with the gospel."

Paul is pointing Peter to the cross and saying, "Look, Peter, you were once unclean in sin, but Jesus took your uncleanness on Himself so that you would be clean forever. Look at the cross Peter, Jesus is being shut out of God's presence to welcome you in, and God Himself will eat with you and fellowship with you. The cross shouts, "you are loved, welcomed, accepted, and included."

But Peter is ruining that picture: he's drawing back from those that God is drawing near; he is separating from those whom God has joined to the body of Christ. He is pushing out those whom God has brought in. And so Peter is not acting in line with the gospel, and that has Paul fired up. 

It's like if we were to say, "oh, you used to be a porn addict or immoral? Well, you can join our fellowship, but you need to sit over there by yourselves and be quiet. Oh, you were a drunk, drug user, or divorced and remarried? Well, there's a special table for your kind right over there."

Think of how Peter pulling away from the Gentiles would make them feel: "Oh, maybe God doesn't accept me, maybe I'm still unclean, maybe I really haven't changed. I guess I'll sit over here in the corner by myself." Or worse, "Jesus' blood can save me, but it doesn't make me acceptable. I must do more to be accepted by God and His people." And so, they have no welcome, no fellowship, no shared love, and they become confused. And that is not in line with the gospel.

Think of how Paul was like Christ here. He defended the outcast, interceded on behalf of the sidelined and marginalized; he spoke up for those who were pushed away. In his defense of the Gentiles, Paul illustrated what Jesus does for you today as He ever lives to intercede for you (Hebrews 7:25).

Now, let's consider why Paul told the Galatians this story. It's because the false teachers were teaching the Gentiles to leave the gospel table to join the Law-keeping table, to leave the message of the finished work of Christ, and consider how their efforts could add to their righteousness. And that is not acting in line with the gospel.

Question: In this story, who are you? Are you like the Gentiles? That is, the ones being avoided and rejected, being pushed away? If so, let us know so that we can pray for you this week. Or are you like Peter? You're avoiding people because of their past? Or because of their skin color or their political persuasion? Ask God to change your heart so that you can walk worthy of the gospel. Or are you like Paul, speaking up for those who are outcasts? Are you defending the gospel by defending those who are being pushed away? Praise God for the gospel that lives in and keeps you!

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Setting Captives Free has free, interactive Marco Polo studies that correspond to the teachings in this newsletter. If you’d like to join the discussion, click one of the following links on your smartphone: 

To join one of the men’s groups, click this link: https://onmarcopolo.com/groups/Va6HzPIPDxWU/4-scf-mens-group   

To join the female (only) group, click this link: https://onmarcopolo.com/groups/Zv8WlxPaMZuu/scf-womens-group-1  

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Testimonies

Kary writes, "The biblical principles of the Purity Bootcamp course are essential to growing in faith in Jesus and knowing victory over sin. Putting them into practice and maintaining them in daily living fosters a tender relationship with Jesus and encourages growth in faith and the knowledge of Him and the fruits of His Spirit.

 

Going through this study has been an outstanding experience. It was such a blessing to be lovingly encouraged to re-focus on and magnify the precious privilege of possessing faith in Jesus and the tremendous joy and fulfillment in walking with and knowing Him. God has used a variety of Christians, at different times and ways, to mentor me through my doubts and struggles, and failures by lovingly pointing me to Jesus, over and over, building me up in God's word so I could know Jesus and walk rightly with Him.

 

My spiritual growth is so encouraging and assures me that Setting Captives Free is a faithful ministry for the glory of God. 1 John 5:12 says, "He who has the Son has life," well, Setting Captives Free definitely has the Son. Thank you so much for making this course.  Glory to God! Amen."

Sheila writes, A lot has changed in my life since I started the A United front course! God has used this course to get me back in step with Him.

 

When I said yes to reconciling with my husband, it was not a full yes. It was a yes that was still accompanied by a hard and unforgiving heart. I was full of mistrust and hurt, which led me to plan with my mum against my husband. I was a United front with my mum against my husband.

 

Well, God allowed the plan we had to fall apart, and I lost so much money! However, that was my moment of surrender. I knew from the lessons in this course that God was calling me to surrender, and I did. God melted my hard heart with the gospel so that I fully forgave my husband. The result has been peace and joy unspeakable!! I now love spending time with my husband. Our intimacy has not returned, but I will patiently wait as I continue to love him.

 

Lastly, I had really been praying for God to bless the work of my husband's hands because his lack of work has also been a huge issue for us. Now that we're praying as a United front, we just got a big breakthrough in our business that he's running!! Now that we are a United Front, God is answering our prayers.

 

This course has blessed me so much, and I pray that intimacy would return in my marriage. I will continue to put what I've learned into practice. God has truly proved Himself faithful. I am thankful!

 

I recommend this course; it is Bible-centered and focuses on the power of the cross. I would recommend it to any wife who is trapped by a hard heart like I was."

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Friend, if you find you agree with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. www.settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance. 

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free