Offering the Right Hand of Fellowship (Gal 2:6-10)
|Speaker: Rev Dr Quek SY |
Date: 06 Mar 2022
Sermon notes taken by:
Mrs Sara Wong
During the height of the Verbal Plenary Preservation (VPP) issue, Rev Dr Timothy Tow refused to shake the hand of one who had set up a website attacking the VPP doctrine. Rev Tow told him, “I cannot give you my right hand of fellowship because you attack the Word of God.”
Extending the right hand of fellowship goes beyond courtesy among professing believers. It signifies spiritual acceptance and approval. In the midst of Christian apostasy, not all professing believers are genuine believers of the Lord. As Christians, we represent Christ. If we extend our right hand of fellowship (which includes attending Charismatic services) to false believers, we give the signal that we approve of what they are doing. And this must not be the case. We have to be discerning, and do the right thing.
- Approval, not accreditation (Gal 2:6-7): Paul’s apostleship was under attack and his ministry undermined. He defended the legitimacy of his ministry by seeking Peter, James and John’s right hand of fellowship which signified approval of his gospel. Though they started their ministry much earlier than Paul, they recognized that the gospel Paul preached was of Christ. Paul was not seeking to have his apostleship accredited. His apostleship was given by Christ Himself.
- Cooperation, not competition (Gal 2:8): Like Paul’s, Peter’s calling was given by Christ (John 21). The gospel they preached was the same but they are called to different audience. When we extend our right hand of fellowship, we cooperate, not compete. In fact, we will not be jealous of others, but will help them to do better. When we do well, we must not be proud. Our concern is God’s glory and that God’s people be blessed. It is the same Lord who called us, gifted us with spiritual gifts and put us together, not to compete but to cooperate.
- Recognition, not rejection (Gal 2:9-10): Peter, James and John recognized that Paul is as much a servant of God as they were, thus they gave him the right hand of fellowship. If they, who are pillars of the church, do so, the false teachers have no reason not to recognize Paul as the Apostle of Christ. They were all on the same side of Jesus Christ, serving different groups of people but to be concerned with the same things, including taking care of the poor.
We can only extend our right hand of fellowship to true believers of Christ (unbelievers cannot understand spiritual things). When we do so, we will glorify God, not hurt others by betrayal or jealously, and unity will be evidenced in the church, like that which is described in Psalm 133.