Retracing Grace Back to all sermons

Date: May 3, 2015

Speaker: Sean Grossman

Series: Galatians

Scripture: Galatians 1:11–1:24

Tags: Gospel, Jesus, Cross, Christ, Grace, Propitiation, Justification, Faith, Paul, Galatia, Righteousness, Fellowship

Parsons


Galatians 1:11-24 (ESV)
For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!)

Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11-12, ESV

Revelation
The false teachers are making claims against Paul
Paul argues against them by claiming his gospel was not made by man, implying it is not his own
However this is not far enough
Paul also argues that no man gave, or taught, this gospel to him
If no man gave it to him, then where did he receive it?
Paul argues that he received the revelation of Jesus Christ by God alone

For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.
Galatians 1:13-14, ESV

Giving an Account
Paul likely informed them of his earlier life while with them, though if he didn’t the agitators probably did
It may even be used against Paul by them to show how zealous for the law he was
We learn that Paul sought to destroy the faith
One of the reasons for this may be his zealousness for his fathers traditions
This is the same zealousness we saw with the Sanhedrin against Jesus
Like them, Paul likely sees Christianity as a threat to Judaism that must be eradicated

Giving an Account (2)
The traditions were the same which Jesus argued against during his ministry
Paul, like most Jews, attempted to gain righteousness through following these traditions
Paul was educated by the famous Rabbi Gamaliel (see Acts 22:3)
Ironically, this same Rabbi recommended that the Jews should leave the Apostles alone
He argued that if it was of God, then it would last, and if it wasn’t it wouldn’t last (see Acts 5:33-42)
More ironic is what occurs on Pauls journey to Damascus

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
Galatians 1:15-17, ESV

Providence
Paul is likely thinking of Isaiah 49:1, 5 and Jeremiah 1:5 when considering being set apart in the womb
This act of setting apart is one of predestination by God
God eventually called Paul by his grace
Paul recognizes that without grace there can be no calling
This grace also brought the revelation of Jesus to Paul
It is this revelation which Paul preached to the Galatians
God must move before the Gospel can have any effect
God opened the doors so that Paul could fulfill his ministry by preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles

The Gospel Proclaimed and Arabia
Paul does this, he goes and preaches the Gospel of faith in Jesus Christ and His righteousness
Paul, however, did not discuss this revelation with anyone
Instead he went to Arabia and eventually returned to Damascus
There are three views concerning Arabia
The first is that he went to train under others
This goes against Paul’s argument, however, which is that he did not receive the Gospel from any man

Arabia
The second is that Paul went to Arabia to reflect on the revelation
This is possible, since the revelation of Jesus would be something worthy to consider
One commentator also thought that he went to Mt. Sinai to do this (which is in Arabia)
The third is that Paul went to Arabia and preached the Gospel
He had all the information he needed since God is the one who taught it to him
The likeliest scenario is either just the third, or a combination of the second and third

Arabia (2)
These are only speculations
We can’t be sure exactly why Paul went
What we can be sure of is that Paul did not go to Jerusalem to learn the Gospel
The argument is that Paul did not learn the Gospel from the Pillars, nor is he distorting a Gospel previously taught by others
The Gospel he preached is of God, he had no communication with the Apostles when he began his ministry

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!)
Galatians 1:18-20, ESV

Paul and Jerusalem
Paul now accounts his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion
The three years is likely after he was converted on the road to Damascus
Paul went to Jerusalem to visit Cephas (Peter)
He specifies that he stayed with Peter for 15 days
We want to understand Paul did not learn the Gospel from Peter
But we also want to be aware that it is doubtful that they only talked about the weather!
It is likely Paul learned a great deal of Jesus’ ministry and the beginnings of the Church from Peter during this time

James
Paul then specifies that he did not see any other of the apostles except James
There are a few different beliefs as to who James was
It is possible that this is James the brother of John, or James the lesser
Both were one of the 12 disciples
However this does not help us understand why Paul would say, “the Lord’s brother”
The most likely person it is James the son of Mary and Joseph
We know that Jesus specifically visits James after his resurrection (see I Cor 15:7)
We also know that before this James was likely a doubter of Jesus (see Matthew 12:46-49)

James (2)
Eventually, however, James became a pillar for the Jerusalem Church
We see this especially in Acts 15 during the Jerusalem council
James is often called “James the Just” or “the man with camel knees”
The reason for these, especially the latter, was because he would often be found in the temple praying which caused rough callouses on his knees
He would eventually even be martyred within the temple complex
Ultimately, this is all to prove that Paul did not spend a significant time with the apostles before going and proclaiming the Gospel again
Paul then makes a promise before God that what he is saying is true

Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.
Galatians 1:21-24, ESV

Journey
Paul leaves and goes to Syria/Cilicia
The reason for this is that the Jews wanted to kill him (see Acts 9)
Paul stayed in Tarsus until Barnabas came and brought him to Antioch (see Acts 11)
Paul also specifies that he was not known by face, in person, to any of the other Churches in Judea (other than Jerusalem of course)
However, they did know of Paul, and rejoiced to God over his conversion

Main Points
The main point in this section is that Paul did not receive the Gospel from any man, but from God alone
Likewise, the conversion of Paul is one of grace

Final Points
Predestination
There is some who struggle with predestination
Yet the truth is God is a Sovereign and electing God
What we want to consider is Paul himself
He was a prototypical zealous Jew
He wanted to destroy the Church, and was efficient enough that the Judean Christians knew of him and his actions (see above verses)
Was Paul seeking God before his conversion?
One could say he was in his own way, but ultimately he was not seeking salvation in Jesus, which means he was actually going against the will of God (Ironic! Since this is exactly what his teacher Gamaliel warned in Acts 5!)

Final Points
Predestination (2)
Paul was zealous, but zealous over the wrong things
He was seeking righteousness through his works
Paul was like those who confronted Jesus and wanted nothing to do with His teachings
It is not hard for us to consider that it would take an act of God Himself to change Paul
Paul, is really like us
He sought the Law and the traditions to gain righteousness with God
It is only through the grace of God which brings the revelation of Christ to Paul, and it is this same grace which saves us as well (See this chapter, Romans 3, Eph 2, etc.)

Final Points
Predestination (3)
We are like Paul before his conversion
Though we seek righteousness, we are dead in sin and in need of God’s grace
The difference between us and Paul is that we are able to see Paul’s ignorance and depravity, while we are often blind to our own ignorance and depravity
Unless God first seizes us, we will never seize God
It frees us to know that God really does move, that Salvation belongs to Him, it means we are called to be faithful to preach the Gospel and communicate it in a way our culture can understand, knowing that it is God who will do the saving

Final Points
Predestination (4)
It frees us to know that God will be the one who changes hearts
It frees us to know humanity as we are, our origins, and our depravity
It frees us to know that it is not our ability to speak, nor our ability to save others or ourselves, but to know that it is faith given by the grace of God
It is through Paul we see humanity
Like Paul, none seek God as He ought to be sought (Romans 3)
It is because of this we need God to move first, and thankfully He does move first, he does communicate to us, and He does give us life

Final Points
A Communicating God
Paul’s experience was not concocted by his own mind
Instead we find that this revelation comes from God
This is important for our times
Most don’t realize that Christianity answers all the questions which are being asked
Who we are, where did we come from, what went wrong, how is it fixed, where are we going
Not only these, but also what we know, can we know, can we know truth

Final Points
A Communicating God (2)
The answer to all of these is found in the Gospel
Yet we also find that this Gospel is communicated to us by God Himself
It is because of this communication we can know truth
It is because God is not a silent God we can know, be known, and know truth
Everything in our faith rests on the fact that God is there and He has communicated something to us
It reminds us that God is not a distant God, but a personal God, and it is through this communication that He has revealed Himself to us

Final Points
Knowing and Fulfilling Ministry
Paul is given the revelation of Jesus Christ, which allows him to preach to the Gentiles
We can see how Paul fulfilled his ministry where he was called to be, and what he was called to do
The question we might want to ask is, what is my ministry
When we come together to fulfill our ministries we find the Body of Christ (see I Corinthians 12)
All are called to some ministry, but that does not mean that they are always the same
So how do we find our ministry?

Final Points
Knowing and Fulfilling Ministry (2)
A few years ago I visited a congregation in Jersey with Carissa and family
It was…interesting
Carissa often describes it as being like a rock concert, being seated with flashlights etc.
Regardless, I remember the preacher say that if you wanted to find your spiritual gift to go online and take a test
He said he did it, and named three that he had
Teaching/Preaching was not on the list! But I digress

Final Points
Knowing and Fulfilling Ministry (3)
Still the method is interesting, but it is fatally flawed
Anyone can go to these kinds of sites to find out ones spiritual gift
The problem is that…anyone can do it
Whether Atheist, Agnostic, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu
Spiritual gifts are not given to everyone, but to Christians by God for His glory
So, I recommend something else entirely

Final Points
Knowing and Fulfilling Ministry (4)
First…reading your Bible
Second: Pray…pray that God will reveal His will to you through His Word
Third, ask other Christians within this congregation…We are a family and it is our responsibility to encourage others to seek out the will of God in our lives
It is what it means to be a community, to seek help, and to seek to help others

Final Points
[7] The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. [8] Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. [9] Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. [10] As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: [11] whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
-(1 Peter 4:7-11 ESV)

Final Points
Knowing and Fulfilling Ministry (5)
Be strong and courageous where God has called you to be
If you are unsure of your ministry, remember we are all called to share the Gospel
This is the great commission which we are all part of, to teach repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ
Be encouraged to seek the will of God in your life, and to never stop following His will

Final Points
The Gospel
The Gospel is interwoven throughout
When we consider predestination, it is the power of God which saves us through the Gospel
When we consider God communicating, His greatest communication was through His Son Jesus Christ
Finally through our ministries, which can only be if we are first saved in order to fulfill them
Just as it was impossible for Paul to proclaim the Gospel unless it was first revealed to him, so it is with us

Final Points
The Gospel (2)
This Gospel teaches us our origins
How are we personal and diverse?
How do we have a concept of morality?
Because God is a personal God who is a diverse God through the trinity
Because God is a moral and good God we find morality
We are made in this God’s image
We are not zero, we are spectacularly made

Final Points
The Gospel (3)
Though we are spectacularly made, we are fallen
We are not zero, but we are sinful
We may not be “nothing” but we are broken, falling apart, dead in sin
We have all become guilty before a righteous and holy God
None are worthy of His salvation (see Romans esp. 1-3)

Final Points
The Gospel (4)
God did not stay silent forever
Instead He communicated to us by sending Jesus Christ in history, time, space
He sent His Son to die for those who repent of their sins and place their faith in Him
Those who do are saved from the present evil age (Galatians 1:1-5)
Those who were guilty and should receive judgment, instead receive the righteousness of Christ
No longer dead in sin, but alive in Christ (Romans 6:11, I Cor 15:22, Eph 2, Col 2, I Peter 3)

Final Points
The Gospel (5)
There is glory for those who are in Christ Jesus
There is a kingdom
There is everlasting peace with God
There is hope and assurance
There is an eternity with our God