In Galatians 1:11-24, we find the apostle Paul defending his own apostolic authority. We can tell by Paul’s statements in this passage what kinds of questions were being asked. The Judaizers were saying that either he himself made up what he was preaching, or he learned it from someone. They were also calling in to question whether Paul even had the authority to teach as an apostle. They knew that if they could discredit him as an apostle, they could shut his ministry down. If he has no authority, then why listen to him, right?
    In Verse twelve, Paul says "I did not receive it (the Gospel) from any man, nor was I taught it, rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ". 
    Then he goes on to tell about the transformation that took place in his life. Paul, who was once filled with hatred against the Christian church and aggressively persecuted them, had met Christ on the road to Damascus.
And he was transformed. 
    Here is how Paul relates his experience to the Galatians:
"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. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 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. 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." Galatians 1: 15-17
      As I studied this passage, there were three points of truth that made an impact on me.
    The first is that people can be very passionate about an idea or set of beliefs, but that doesn’t make that idea true. When Paul (then Saul) was persecuting the church, he was as passionate about his beliefs as anyone could be, but he was wrong.
1 John 4: 1 says:
    "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world."
    The second truth is also clear from Paul’s writing. Paul was not saved by his own will, or by any human influence. He was saved because God was the active agent. God can and will save whomever he wants, whenever he wants. And here is the difficult part for many of us. I know that I have struggled with having views of certain people that, because of their lifestyle or their personality or attitude seemed "unsaveable". We write them off as if God is powerless to do anything with them. The fact is that when Paul was persecuting the Church, many people would have viewed him in the same way that we might view a Bin Laden or even Hitler. He was that militant against Christians. If Paul was alive today he would be considered a terrorist. And yet God saved him. What does that say about how we view those "unsaveable" people? Is God "mighty to save", or do we just sing that song because its catchy? I’ll let you wrestle with that one.
    And thirdly, I kept coming back to the fact that this book, and every other book in the Bible for that matter, is about truth. Paul is saying to the Galatians "I am giving you the truth, but you are also hearing lies, and you have to decide". This is not something you can avoid or ignore. 
    The same principle holds true for us as we read Paul’s letters. We are presented with his argument that what he writes is GODS WORD, and we have to make a choice. There are those, even today, who like to discredit some of Paul’s writing, saying things like "that’s just his opinion", or "some of what he says is just not culturally relevant now". Here’s the problem. Paul wrote 13, possibly 14 of the books in the New Testament. That is HALF of the entire New Testament. We as well must listen to Paul’s argument that his teaching is the revealed word of God and decide. If What Paul was preaching to the Galatians was not true, then what do we do with the other 12 or 13 books he wrote. It is all truth, or it is all a lie. There is no middle ground.

A little something to think about.


 


Comments

Joel C
08/03/2011 09:14

This was a good sermon. Thanks for sharing this post. I enjoyed rereading what you spoke about on Sunday as a good reminder.

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