Volume. XIX, No. 2
Sunday, 11 July 2004

Leading By Example

“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest the Gentiles to live as the Jews?” (Galatians 2: 11 – 14).

The Bible has documented many accounts of great men and women who had lived exemplarily in their own times. Though some of them might have faults of their own, nevertheless, there is much we can learn from them. But of all these great men and women that have been mentioned in the Bible, none had been more exemplary than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

From the word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ has taught us how to live a righteous life not among believers only but amongst unbelievers too. He taught us how to love not only our friends but our enemies as well. He taught us how to feel i.e. how to be sensitive to others’ needs. He taught us how to be compassionate towards the less fortunate ones. He taught us how to share, how to love and how to act and react in different situations and environments. In Him, we have the perfect example of a sinless man who lived and led by example when He was among men over two thousand years ago. If there is anyone we would like to have to be our teacher and mentor, He will be the perfect choice. Our very first and only choice.

As believers in Christ, every one of us in a way strictly speaking is a leader. As a leader, we must lead by example as Matthew 5:16 constantly reminds us to “let our good work so shine among men that when they see us they will glorify our Father who is in heaven.” This teaching is very true especially in a church setting. More so for those in positions of authority. If we agree with the Apostle Paul’s claim that Christ lives in us, then let Christ be reflected in all that we do and say at all times. Not only in church on Sunday, but wherever we may be for we are ambassadors of Christ always.

Believers who are in positions of authority are always under the scrutiny of the congregation: believers as well as guests and visitors alike. The most critical of all I would like to add comes from within the church itself. In layman’s term, those in positions of authority are ‘expected to perform.’ To give of their best. Yes, to give their best for Christ. So, it is of utmost importance that at all times in their actions and speeches they must reflect their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is a tall order. But, that is what is required of them when they have to give their best for Christ. Their actions and speeches must glorify and honour God at all times.

In today’s article in the Lively Hope I would like to share with you an account of Peter’s action taken from the epistle to the Galatians chapter 2 verses 11-14. I sincerely pray that this incident highlighted in this epistle to the Galatians will edify us and teach us to be vigilant always so that we can be exemplary leaders instead of stumbling blocks to non believers as well as to immature believers.

The above incident taken from the epistle to the Galatians chapter 2 verses 11-14 took place in the Gentile city of Antioch in Syria shortly after the Jerusalem Council. At Antioch, the Apostle Peter discovered a community of Jewish and Gentile Christians living together and, in particular, eating together in apparent disregard of Jewish dietary customs. Peter, being impressed with the Jewish/Gentile harmony joined with others in eating with the Gentile brothers.

According to the Apostle Paul, Peter did this for some time. Peter ate with the Gentiles not once but on a regular basis, habitually. After a time, some influential Jews arrived in Antioch from Jerusalem, making it known to Peter that they were representatives of the Apostle James. They were the legalists or at the very least strict Jews. Peter’s practice shocked them. These people brought such pressure on Peter that though Peter was not convinced by their views he nevertheless gradually detached himself from the Gentile fellowship and began to eat with the Jews only. Moreover, his conduct drew others away with him and together they returned to have fellowship with the Jews only.

When the Apostle Paul returned to Antioch he found a church divided and the Gentiles under a lot of pressure either to accept the division or to conform to the legalistic standard of Judaism as a means of avoiding it. What Peter did affected others. Peter was one of the pillar apostles, the companion of the Lord during his earthly ministry. Where was Peter’s doctrinal stance? Peter wavered and caved in. This particular incident demonstrated the inconsistency of Peter and it caused a split in the church.

What can we learn from this unfortunate incident? First of all, Peter’s action is a timely reminder for us to be firm in the theological and practical aspect of Christianity. It is obvious that every Christian must give heed to his/her actions always and the greater the position or responsibility he/she holds, the more important those actions become. How can we preach/teach Christianity when it is not supported by the right actions? The truth of God must prevail at all times. Our commitment to God’s word must be demonstrated in our actions. And when we do act on them, we must ensure that what we do will be profitable for instructions.

Second, any person who is in a position of authority who is guilty of wrong doing, must be opposed or rebuked. Taken from the text read today, it clearly teaches us that it does not matter if the wrong doer is the leader of the church, an elder or a deacon. He must be rebuked! Any known problem that is against the teachings in the Bible must be ‘nipped in the bud.’ This must be applied without respect of persons. Who in our time can be greater than the Apostle Peter?

Third, Peter’s withdrawal of table fellowship with Gentile believers encouraged the ‘error’ that there are two bodies of Christ, Jewish and Gentiles. Peter’s conduct compromised his principle for it implied that there could be a superiority in some Christians based on race and tradition. Of course this is not so as all men are equal before God.

In conclusion, please be reminded that a Christian must practise the gospel consistently, allowing it to regulate all areas of his/her conduct. Let us strive to set good examples always. Be not fearful of man made laws, traditions and practices as Peter did. Let the word of God be etched in our hearts so that we will conduct ourselves at all times to the expectations of His teachings and never be pressured by man made laws especially when doctrinal issues are at stake. Know the Bible well, defend and act on it. Never compromise our stance. Learn from the Apostle Peter. He was a great servant of God, a leader worth emulating.

Dn Tony Law.

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question No. 57: Which is the fourth commandment? The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath-day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day, and hallowed it

Please continue to pray for Sis. Myung Ki, Rev. Peter Clements, Bro. Surish Dharmalingam, Sis Susan Varadi, Sis. Aranka Rejtoe, Sis. Irene Turner and Life Bible School (Kompong-som). “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (I Peter 5:7).

Thank God for granting journey mercies to Dn. Tony and Dns. Sally Law (Adelaide), Dn Harold and Sis. Georgina Watkins (Adelaide), Bro. David and Sis. Giok Yeo and Family (Singapore, Bangkok), Bro. Eujzin Tan, Sis. Amanda Fu (Melbourne) , Sis. Wendy Gong (Alice Springs), and Mr. Shane Teo, Bros Jason Tan, Terry, Sisters Sarah Carpenter, Purdee Yeo, Rowena (Adelaide), Sis. Lisha Zhu (Canberra), Sis. Lauren Ko (HK), and all those who travelled to Boomer Beach and back.

Please pray for journey mercies for Dn. Michael and Sis. Michelle Lee (Melbourne), Dn Harold and Sis. Georgina Watkins (Perth), Bro. David and Sis. Giok Yeo and Family (Adelaide), Sis. Su Sim Toh (Adelaide) and Sis. Sophine Bai and Mr. Jin Weng Lim (Qld).

Thank and Praise God for the wonderful YAF and Teens’ retreat.

Annual Congregational Meeting (ACM) and Session Election at 7 pm in the Stone Mansion this Saturday. All members are expected to attend, and non-members are encouraged to attend and observe proceedings. All Committee/fellowship leaders please submit their reports to Dn. Edwin D’Mello by today.

Looking Ahead: AFG Seminars. 1. Ambition on 24 July 2004 Speaker: Dn. Michael Lee. 2. Success on 31 July 2004 Speaker: Bro. David Yeo. All are welcome.

Looking Ahead: YAF Evangelism Video Night on Friday, 20 August 2004. Please invite friends and all are welcome to come.



© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041