ILLUSTRATION: Robert Hanssen was born in 1944 in Chicago, IL
On January 12, 1976, Hanssen joined the FBI and was quickly moved to New York and into the counterintelligence department were he was assigned the task of compiling information of soviet intelligence.
But a desire to obtain more money became overwhelming for Hanssen, and in 1979, he approached the Soviet Main Intelligence and offered his services.
Over the next 22 years, he sold and traded information with the Soviet Union that foiled American plans and cost the lives of numerous American agents and double agents.
On 2 separate occasions he was reported on suspicion of espionage, once by his own brother in law who was also an FBI agent, but both times the accusations were dismissed.
Finally, an ex KGB agent was paid $7 million to turn over evidence of a suspected mole in the FBI.
While Hanssen’s name was never mentioned, they recognized his voice and were able to match a set of fingerprints to his.
On February 18, 2001, Hanssen drove to Virginia's Foxstone Park.
He placed a white piece of tape on a park sign, which was a signal to his Russian contacts that there was information at the dead drop site.
He then followed his usual routine, taking a package consisting of a sealed garbage bag of classified material and taping it to the bottom side of a wooden footbridge over a creek.
When FBI agents observed this incriminating act, they rushed in to arrest Hanssen.
Upon his arrest he asked the FBI agents, “What took you so long?”
He was given 15 life sentences for his espionage, and remained in prison until his death earlier this year in 2023.
To this day, Robert Hanssen is recognized as the most damaging and destructive spy in the history of the FBI
And all of the destruction took place from within America’s borders within the FBI.
EXPLANATION: Paul and Barnabas were serving the Lord in Antioch preaching the Gospel.
They were seeing people saved, and seeing the Gospel go forward.
But just like the FBI found with Robert Hanssen, often the most damaging enemies can come from within.
Paul describes what took place in Galatians 2:4
Galatians 2:4 KJV 1900
4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
This event is recorded in detail in Acts 15.
We don’t know how long these “spies” had infiltrated the church at Antioch, it would seem the surveillance by Paul and Barnabas was far better than that of the FBI’s as Galatians 2:5
Galatians 2:5 KJV 1900
5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
We find the message that was being preached by these false brothers… these spies in Acts 15:1
Acts 15:1 KJV 1900
1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
Just as we have seen throughout the study of Galatians so far, the great battle being fought by Paul and Barnabas was that of the adding of works to salvation.
The creating of religion rather than the relationship with Jesus Christ.
It was a battle Paul faced throughout his ministry.
In Acts 20:28-30
Acts 20:28–30 KJV 1900
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Upon their discovery of these false teachers and preachers, Paul and Barnabas recognized they had a problem.
You see at the time of this event that took place, Paul was still fairly new on the scene.
His influence on the church was still fairly small.
Now we know based upon the timeline Paul gave last week of the 3 years in Arabia and Damascus, and now he begin chapter 2 by stating these events were 14 years following that.
So at least 17 years had passed by at this point, when these events took place.
Up until now, Paul has not written any books yet.
In fact, Galatians is recognized as the very first book penned by the apostle Paul.
No one really knew who Paul was… the bulk of his ministry was still in front of him.
APPLICATION: We already stressed this reality last week, but God’s timeline is often far different from our own.
We expect to be further along in life that what we often are.
Yet we know for Paul, he had been preaching for at least 17 years, and still practically no one knew his name.
Still nothing was recorded by Paul that would last.
So much of what God wanted to do in Paul’s life was still in front of him.
Friend, I can promise you, God’s timeline will never line up perfectly with yours… but you can mark it down, God’s timeline is perfect, and yours isn’t.
EXPLANATION: With Paul’s limited influence and reputation, he and Barnabas and a young gentile convert named Titus determined that their best option was to go to someone with more notoriety and influence than themselves.
So they made their trip to Jerusalem
Galatians 2:1–2 KJV 1900
1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. 2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
Those who were “of reputation” were none other than Peter, James, and John.
It doesn’t get much bigger names than Peter, James, and John.
This was Peter who walked on water with Christ.
Peter who stood and preached on the day of Pentecost and 3000 were saved.
This was James, the half brother of Jesus.
He grew up with Christ!
And now he pastored the largest Christian church in the world.
A congregation of upwards of 20,000-30,000
And John, the beloved.
The one who by inspiration of God wrote that he was the disciple that Jesus loved.
That’s how he recognized himself in the book with his name as the title.
These three men and Paul would go on to write at least 21 of the 27 NT books.
Paul says, we went privately to them, lest he had run or would continue running in vain.
Now some have taught that this was the moment that Paul was questioning his message on the Gospel.
Was it the true Gospel that he had preached?
But that wasn’t what Paul was saying.
No, Paul knew his message was true! He had spent the last 17 years preaching it!
What Paul was concerned with was that without the backing of the these three pillars… his message wouldn’t have the impact it should.
I guess we could say it this way… Peter, James, and John were the “final authority” on the Gospel.
APPLICATION: Can I remind you this morning, when you feel your message isn’t having the impact it should, you have a final authority
You and I have a privilege that these first century leaders didn’t have!
Paul and Barnabas… Peter, James, and John didn’t have the Bible as we have it today!
People were relying on the eye witness testimony of these leaders.
They were depending on the message being preached by the apostles.
God gave them the ability to do incredible miracles
Mark 16:17–18 KJV 1900
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
The apostles would preach the message about a Man Who was all powerful God in flesh, who was killed by finite man on a cross, and then rose from the grave three days later so that they could have eternal life.
And then they would ask to go meet him, and the disciples would tell them, “Well, you can’t because he flew up into the sky and is now in heaven.”
And about the time people would walk away and dismiss their message, they would pick up a deadly snake, or drink some cyanid, or heal someone… not for their glory… but to prove that the message they had preached was true.
That gave them them power to be the “final authority”
Friend, we don’t have to handle deadly snakes or drink poison… because we have a Final Authority!
This book contains all the evidence and proofs of the truth!
Written by at least 40 authors, over a period of at least 1600 years covering a history of at least 4000 years, and it all agrees perfectly with each other.
Story after story from different perspectives of different people, uncovered pieces at a time, and yet all in agreement with the things that took place.
It’s a complete impossibility… or it is proof of the most perfect story ever told… that of a perfect Savior!
It is the final authority!
EXPLANATION: But Paul didn’t have this Book, so he wanted the approval of his message from the Pillars of that first century church.
Their approval didn’t make the Gospel true, but their approval did give further proof of the message Paul had preached.
That’s what Paul was saying in v.6-8,
Galatians 2:6–8 KJV 1900
6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: 7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
They could not add anything to the Gospel that Paul had preached.
The message he preached was the same message Peter, James, and John were preaching!
God had just called them to different people and different places.
And when those pillars heard the message from Paul, the gave their stamp of approval!
Over in Acts 15:7-12
Acts 15:7–12 KJV 1900
7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. 12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
Paul’s message and authority had been verified by the final authorities!
In Galatians 2:9-10
Galatians 2:9–10 KJV 1900
9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. 10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
Peter, James, and John did something that would be good for all Christians to do… They encouraged Paul and Barnabas to continue.
APPLICATION: Did you know that people get discouraged?
Did you know preachers get discouraged?
Scarcely do we know the weight someone else is carrying.
When is the last time you came alongside and encouraged someone in the Lord?
I’m thankful for the times when people have reached out to me and encouraged me.
There have been a few times here recently that I have gotten texts from people in this church at just the time I needed it, to let me know they were praying for me.
The devil’s darts are flying and he would like nothing more than to get you and I discouraged and ineffective.
And you don’t know what a simple encouraging word can do for someone.
Proverbs 25:11 KJV 1900
11 A word fitly spoken Is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Paul reminds the Galatian believers of this over in Galatians 6:2
Galatians 6:2 KJV 1900
2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
We have enough people that are good at tearing others down, we could use a few more that will encourage others.
That will extend the right hand of fellowship and encourage to continue on for the Lord!
The Lord knows I’ll take as many of those people in my corner as I can get!
EXPLANATION: Before we wrap up today, I want to look at one final point and I think it is critical that we see this today.
Because if we miss this, then I believe we miss one of the most important part of these verses Paul has recorded.
The question can be asked, “Paul, why are you so passionate about this matter of ensuring the true Gospel is clear?”
“Why are you so passionate about ensuring your message is validated by the final authorities?”
The answer is found in v.5
Galatians 2:5 KJV 1900
5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.


EXPLANATION: Paul was adamant… he wanted the true Gospel to continue with those he had preached to.
He wanted them to have the pure, unadulterated Gospel, without the addition of any of man’s religion, so that they could pass on that Gospel to someone else.
So he said, watch out for those spies trying to corrupt the true Gospel
Watch out for the false teachers trying to teach a false Gospel.
Don’t give place to them for even a moment!
The continuance of the Gospel is far too important
APPLICATION: Friend, if the continuance of the Gospel was dependent on you… would this be the end of the Gospel?
If it was dependent on you would it become corrupted?
Because you don’t know it?
It’s the most important message in existence.
Because you have a distorted view of it?
You think you need to do something to gain God’s favor.
At the moment of your salvation you get all of God’s love, grace, and mercy.
There is nothing you could ever do to ever have any more or any less of it.
If it was dependent on you would it just never be spread?
Who have you talked to recently about the Gospel?
Can you think of anyone you are praying about giving the Gospel to?
The sad reality is, for most Christians, if the continuance of the Gospel were dependent on you, this would be the end.
And I hope that shakes you to your core!
I hope it wakes you up to the reality that you are the Lord’s messenger entrusted with the greatest message ever given!
And it’s your job to take it into this world!
Acts 1:8 KJV 1900
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
You don’t need the approval of some preacher… you have the Final Authority right here!
So take it to this lost and dying world!
Take it to your family!
Teach it to your children!
So they can teach it to their children someday.
Sow the seeds of the Gospel every chance you get!
Don’t waver on the message of the true Gospel… it’s too important!
1 Corinthians 15:58 KJV 1900
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.


Friend, the devil wants to destroy this message of the Gospel
He will try with spies, false teachers, and even discouragement and fear.
But this message matters far too much!
God will accomplish what He desires with His word… the question is, will you be a part of it?
Will you join in the greatest work with Paul… the continuance of the Gospel!
ILLUSTRATION: A few years ago, a guy here in Whitehall put together a family tree for me.
It was interesting as he was able to trace my mother’s side all the way back to the 1400’s.
On my dad’s side, I discovered that a relative of my grandma’s came across on the Mayflower.
It’s interesting to study your families heritage.
APPLICATION: Do you realize all of our families had the truth at some point.
We all came from Adam and Eve… from Noah...
But somewhere down the line, the truth was probably lost.
But then at some point, maybe your parents or grandparents, maybe in your own… the truth was found again!
The more important question is not when it was lost… it’s what will you do with the truth of the Gospel that’s been given to you now?
Have you received it yourself?
If you have, have you been sharing it?
Or will the truth of the Gospel die with you?
Will there be a lineage of family that follows you that doesn’t know the true Gospel because it ended with you?
You have a responsibility this more… “That the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”
May you fulfill your responsibility to spread this glorious Gospel… to see it continue with you!
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