Above All Names – King of Kings

They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

Revelation 17:14

For those of us living in the United States or other countries without a king, some of the significance of this Name is lost on us. But the King of kings is a ruler who is over all others. There is no one who can overthrow Him. He will always emerge victorious, for the battle, and indeed the war, has already been won. When the devil, the world, and even our own sinfulness seems to press so strongly that we can’t continue to stand, we cling to the promise that He is with us, that He is victorious — and because His victory is on our behalf, we are victorious, too! When He was born a helpless baby, He set aside that royal title for our good, and after He rose victorious from the grave and ascended into heaven, He took it up again, never to set it aside. He is our King, and graciously and lovingly provides for every need.

Freedom in Confrontation: In your face and all that (Chasing Freedom 2:3)

I have a wild imagination.

Every time I read our passage of Scripture today I picture the Apostle Paul as a boxer (in full getup) yelling, “In Yo’ Face, Peter!”

I am sorry if I have tainted the Word for you with my imagination. 😉

Remember the backdrop from our previous days of study – false brothers, both Peter and Paul entrusted by God with the Gospel, along with the leaders of the Jerusalem church, Barnabas, Titus, and others. And awesome, huge, growing fellowship, not without their issues.

Let’s read Galatians 2:11-14:

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 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. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

“…I opposed him to his face…”

So, you can see where I’m coming from.

The Greek root word for opposed in the ESV translation of Galatians 2:11, above, is transliterated anthistémi. Translations include: oppose, resist, withstand, or take a stand against.

I am sure that Paul did not take this lightly. Paul’s letters in the New Testament consistently reference his constant prayer, his conviction, yes, but his concern for reasonableness, discernment, and great affection for fellow believers in Christ.

Still, at some point, Paul decided it was time to speak up, it was worth speaking up. Peter was being incongruent in the faith and while this is a big deal for all believers (walking what we talk, and talking what we walk), it is a massive deal for leaders and teachers of the faith, those of us with influence over others.

Peter ate with Gentiles, fellowshipped with Gentiles, reached Gentiles, after a vision given him by God (Acts 10:9-16, Acts 11:2-9) and then, in certain company – namely, pushy, Judaizer company – made a conscious or unconscious decision to separate himself from the Gentiles. Paul accurately called this hypocrisy.

Oh goodness. We have been there. We are all hypocrites. It’s just true. In some way, we have not managed to walk the talk or talk the walk. Let’s just confess that here and now.

But we also have all been called upon by God to help a brother out, to speak up when our fellow brother or sister in Christ has fallen prey to Satan’s temptation of putting on the mask, being different than who God made them to be and who they are in Christ, for a certain select group of people.

It’s never easy.

How do we do confrontation well?


Ask – is this person a believer?

Or am I expecting believer behavior from an unbeliever? The Bible tells us that we can’t expect righteousness from the unrighteous. It’s not judging the unbeliever; it’s actually a measure of grace. If you work with someone that isn’t a believer, why are we surprised that person wants their way, that there may be something underhanded happening, or they are gossiping?

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. Romans 6:17-19

We aren’t better as believers (certainly not!), but we should know better. We have a moral compass known as Christ working in us, when the rest of the world, who doesn’t know Christ, will not have that moral compass. We will confront believers and unbelievers differently with the Truth and Love found in the Word.

Ask – what kind of relationship do I have with this person?

It’s sooooo tempting to point out incongruence and injustice at every turn, whether directly or indirectly. Our internal justice radar goes crazy and we naturally want to see what is right. However, relationship always matters more than right.

Paul had an actual relationship with Peter. They were in similar roles and dealing with similar questions and struggles. They had conversed about said struggles on more than one occasion. Paul didn’t just walk up to a stranger known as Peter at temple and say, “Dude, get it together. You’re excluding people. It’s totally wrong and you should be defrocked.” There was a relationship there long before there was a confrontation.

Ask – is this a blanket of love or boxing gloves?

I’m partial to cheese today, but it feels appropriate with Peter’s history. It’s really just a nemonic device to remember that we should always enter confrontation, speaking up, opposition, disagreements, and difficult discussion with humility. Am I speaking the Truth in Love? That brings real freedom.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:15-16 

This is how God designed confrontation – wrapped in a crazy amount of love. Jesus, Himself, confronted Peter in the Gospels, as well as others, more than once, but it’s only as effective as the love between brothers.

Jesus loves us so much that He died for us. Nothing can separate us from His love. He can say anything and everything to us, because He wraps everything in love, always seeking our freedom from the bondage of whatever is holding us in its grip.

Paul chased freedom for Peter. He loved him enough to speak face-to-face, man-to-man, brother-to-brother. He didn’t send a text or call him out on social media. He loved with honor, care, and genuine concern, even when it was uncomfortable.

Freedom in confrontation – learning together, one day at a time.

Discussion questions:

Have you ever had to confront someone? Was it the right thing to do? What could you have done differently?

How does God bring healing in the midst of and after confrontation?

What things matter enough to confront a friend or family member about?

Freedom from my ideas: You can’t make this stuff up (Chasing Freedom 1:4)

My Dad likes to fake you out.

“Watch out! There’s a spider there.”

“Look out! Don’t fall off the ledge.”

“Whoa, whoa, I’m going to drop this cup…”

It’s rarely true. He’s silly. It’s his way of making you smile, helping you step out of the seriousness of life to laugh for a moment (and to distract me from technology, which he thinks I spend far too much time on. It’s a blog, Dad. They call it a b-l-o-g.) He’s actually really great, most of the time. 😉

Paul wants the Galatians to know that the Word he preached to them was very different, far removed from the other “gospels” they have heard and are currently hearing and submitting to. He’s not playing them. Being silly has its time and place, but Paul wants the Galatians to know that trading in one True Gospel for another is far from funny.

Read Galatians 1:11-12 below or in your Bibles:

11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 

“…the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.”

In essence: I can’t make this stuff up.

This is Truth with a capital T. The Greek here is kata anthrópon or not from humans, whoever those humans might be, no matter how classy or well spoken, no matter your relationship to them – the True Gospel comes from God and God alone.

Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us a little about the way God thinks and why we might make some stuff up to make ourselves feel better:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

But listen, even Isaiah 55 starts with this invitation in verse one:

Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.

We may not understand everything God is doing, but letting Him be in charge of what is Gospel and what isn’t is always to our benefit. God acknowledges that there will be mysteries, and we don’t have to fill in the gaps with explanations and suggestions. He will.

Look to the next verses of Galatians 1:13-24. Paul begins to remind the Galatians of his story, written by God across the span of Paul’s life thus far. This is to remind the Galatians of the authority and authenticity he has in sharing the Gospel from that road to Damascus day onward.

13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.

18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.

21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.

He’s not making this stuff up. This isn’t a fairytale gospel. I think another point that Paul is making, intentionally or unintentionally is this:

We are meant to be livers of the Gospel, not keepers of the Gospel.

This is one way people know we are not making stuff up. Paul identifies to the Galatians that there are people who do a lot of talking about the way they think things should be and then there are people out there walking the walk of faith.
We’ll mess up, we’ll be inauthentic and incongruent at times, but Paul gives his testimony to the Galatians so that they can see that he isn’t just talking, he’s walking. Sometimes, we will be called to do this too.
This world has a million questions about God and the Gospel, just like we do, maybe more so. The Spirit leads and we share the simple Truth of Christ Jesus in His Word and also in His Work in our lives.
Living the Gospel doesn’t save us. Only Jesus saves. But this is God’s way – sending the Gospel, not from humans, but to humans, because He tenderly loves them enough to work in the visible, you and me.
I can’t make this stuff up. 😉
Discussion questions:

What unknowns or questions do you have for God? Some of my unknowns include –

How does the Trinity work exactly? What is the deal with souls when we die and are waiting for Jesus’s return, how does that work? Babies – why would we ever lose them to death, to illness, to anything? What are yours?

When someone presents a different gospel to us, something that doesn’t seem quite right, how can we respond according to 1 Peter 3:15?