|Posted by Brian Linebarger on January 6, 2012 at 2:40 PM|
Galatians 1:11-17 (NLT)
11 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. 12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.
13 You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. 14 I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors.
15 But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him 16 to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. 17 Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus.
Continuing on with our study of Paul’s letter to the Church in Galatia, we will this week look at the background of the letter to get a better understanding of it’s full context and scope, and we will start in on the foundations of our Faith that are laid out in this important book.
Of all the Pauline letters, the letter to the Galatians is the most powerful and the one that truly reveals what Paul taught. It is also the only Pauline letter who’s authorship has never been questioned, and it is used to test the other Pauline letters for authenticity.
Galatians forms the basis of Paul’s teachings, and by extension, the true teachings of the Christian Faith. Among its many topics is the recurring theme that by Grace alone we are saved. Galatians was also written with a sense of urgency. We can therefore safely assume that there were serious problems going on in this Church, and Paul felt he needed to address them right away, and since he could not hop on a plane or in a car, traveling there was not practical, so he wrote this letter and sent it by emissary (there were no mailmen or FedEx, UPS etc then either). You immediately get the urgency of this letter because (unlike most others), Paul give’s only a perfunctory greeting (5 verses), and gets right into the “meat” of what he has to say.
Today’s study is going to look at Paul’s explanation of how and why he started his ministry. We will look at what he did following his conversion, and how we, as Christians need to follow Paul’s example in order to realize our full potential in Christ.
There were some in the Galatian Church that questioned Paul’s authority to teach the Gospel. They accused Paul of “sugar coating” the Gospel by teaching “Sola Fide” (salvation through Grace alone). You will find that there are many parallels between what was going on in the Church in Galatia at the time of Paul’s writing, and what is going on in The Church of today.
So, what did Paul do following his conversion? We know that an encounter with Jesus (after His resurrection) changed Paul’s life. The Lord revealed himself to Paul directly. This was such a powerful thing that Paul immediately started preaching the Gospel. He did not first go to the Church leaders to get their approval, he did not seek approval from any human. Instead, he took the knowledge that Jesus revealed to him, and started preaching. He started traveling to distant lands and sharing the Good News with those who were not Jewish. This was the calling that The Lord gave him. You will notice that he says that by Gods Grace, he was chosen before he was even born. So it is with us. We who are Christians have a calling on our lives. This calling was ordained by God while we were still in the womb. Just as Paul did, we often times will do other things, will even run from the call, but sooner or later The Lord will reveal himself to us and say GO. When this happens, we must go. We cant worry about what men say, we cant worry about people saying we need to do this or do that or we need to wait until we “grow” in order to share the Good News. We need to JUST DO IT. When I left the denomination I was born into and moved to the Seattle area, I started attending a “Mega-Church” there. I was eager to continue my ministry, but in a non-denominational setting. I had finally found out what it meant to be free in Christ, and I burned with a passion to share that with the world. I went to a meeting with the Pastor of this Church (it took a month to get an appointment, and then I was only given 15 minutes), but I was eager to get his “blessing” to start ministering in the Church, and to preach the Gospel. Well I found out that I had made a mistake in seeking his approval. Instead of being supportive of me, and encouraging me to continue on, I was told that I needed to take classes at a certain Bible college, to conform to certain rules and guidelines that he and the Church board had come up with etc. I was offered the post of substitute Sunday School teacher. I was told that after 5 years of working in the Sunday school/nursery, he would consider licensing me to preach…. Needless to say, my tenure at that Church soon came to an end, and The Lord lead me to another avenue of ministry. I should have followed Paul’s example, and just started ministering to people without seeking approval from the Church leaders. I have nothing against a Christian education, and I firmly believe that if you are going to teach others, you should study the scriptures and fully understand them. If The Lord leads you to go to a Bible college, then by all means, go, but sitting in a Bible class, learning a denominational take on scripture IS NOT a requirement to preach the Gospel. The only requirement to preach is that you be totally committed to The Lord, and that you have a heart for ministry. The best Bible teacher you will ever know is the Holy Spirit, and if you let Him, He will open your mind to scripture in a way that no human being can.
Paul could be considered a non-conformist. He did not care what the Church leaders in Jerusalem thought of him or the message he preached. He just went and shared the Good News of Jesus, and I urge you all today to do the same. Don’t worry about pleasing a group of humans. Just strive to please God………….
Next week we will continue in Galatians, and will get deep into Sola Fide, and how Paul responded to those in the Galatian Church that were trying to pervert the Gospel of Jesus by making the Christians there conform to the law and to works instead of relying on Grace Alone.
Until next week, may God richly bless you.