Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Not Above Scripture

Galatians 2:11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.

11 Ὅτε δὲ ἦλθεν Κηφᾶς εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν, κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτῷ ἀντέστην, ὅτι κατεγνωσμένος ἦν.

To me, this is one of the more surprising verses in all of Scripture.  Here we see the Apostle Paul publicly call out the Apostle Peter.  This is the same Peter that the Roman Catholic Church calls the first pope.  To be fair, no thoughtful Roman Catholic thinks that the pope is without sin.  However, it is interesting that Paul calls Peter out in a letter that has become part of our canon of Scripture.

What do we make of this?  It shows me that no one and certainly no leader is above Scripture.  We are all accountable to God's truth.  That is the final arbiter of everything.  If one of us goes off and starts preaching a wrong gospel then we should be called on to the carpet for it.  The phrase κατεγνωσμένος ἦν means that he was in a state of condemnation. I don't think that means he lost his salvation, but it does mean that he was doing something terribly wrong.  He was confusing people about the gospel.  He made the Gentiles behave like Jews and they thought that there was something salvific about doing that.  Big mistake.

This also shows me that there are times for rebuke.  It is much more loving to correct someone going astray than it is to let them keep walking down the wrong paths.  Sometimes this is more important than other times.  I don't think that every mistake in doctrine requires a stinging public rebuke, but I do think that there are times when we all need to be called on the carpet.

As someone who may be a leader someday this is a great reminder that I need to remain humble.  I could certainly find myself in error.  I hope never to be wrong about the fundamentals of the gospel, but I don't want to underestimate the sin I can commit.  This reminds me to be on guard against error.  How do I do that?  I stay in the Word.

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