Community Bible Chapel Podcast
6/23/19 Gospel of Grace – Grace In Our Story – Gal. 1:11-24
I grew up going to church, but it wasn’t a church that proclaimed the Gospel of grace.
-I went through all the rituals, but because of my own lack of interest, never knew what they meant or how they should affect my life.
-Sue and I got married in a church, but we didn’t go to church once during our first five years of marriage.
-I knew about God, but certainly didn’t know him at all, and my life certainly reflected that.
-You would have termed me an agnostic at best as I was hostile to Christianity.
-We moved to Cooperstown and Sue became pregnant.
-That started some discussion of how to raise this child.
-We both wanted some kind of religious training for the child, so we decided to go to church – by God’s grace, it was this church.
-Within a couple months, we heard the Gospel repeatedly and God moved in both our hearts and we trusted in Jesus and our sins were forgiven.
-That was followed by some discipleship and growth.
-How could someone who was hostile to the Gospel become a proclaimer of the Gospel?
-Was it because I was so smart of had such great teachers?
-No, it was God who transformed our lives.
-There was not anything that remained the same, and God changed the very fabric of our lives.
-God created a love for people that was never there before – especially young people.
-If you asked anybody from my highschool – I would have been voted the least likely to ever be a Pastor.
Sociologists say that of any kind of conversion looks like this:-What was important before – some event happens – something else is important.
-In other words – Life is reoriented and what did not matter before is now central.
I invite you to join me in Galatians 1. Page 823, youversion.
-We all have a story, and there are many ways to paint it.-Today we will see how Paul paints his story with the central focus on God’s grace.
-The Apostle Paul gives us a testimony of God’s working in his life and watch for those three pieces.
-The terms he uses are “previous”, “but when”, and “now”.
-Paul is giving his testimony to answer the questions of the legalists who were challenging him.
-Do our trusted Gospel teachers agree with him?
READ GAL. 1:12-24
What mattered before v.13-14
-He begins his testimony by looking back before he met Jesus.
“You have heard of my previous way of life . . .”
-His life was defined by Judaism and it’s legalism.
-As we looked at last week – that means adding something to what
Jesus did to earn or to keep our salvation.
-His pre-conversion days were centered around legalism, where the concept of grace was non-existent.
-This aversion to the gospel of grace lead him to persecute the church with the purpose of destroying it.
-And not just an individual church, but the entire church was in his sights.
-He was on a fast track through the ranks of the Pharisees.
-Being zealous for the traditions of his father’s would have been great if his fathers had followed those traditions for the right reasons.
-Sadly, they were off base and kept the traditions to earn their salvation.
“Grace was a foreign concept to the religion of Saul the Pharisee, despite the fact that grace was as much the basis of the Old Covenant as the New. God’s redemptive work originated from His grace as has never had any other basis.”
-Sadly, the religion of his father’s had long since lost sight of God’s grace and replaced it with their own works to please God and earn their salvation.
-Legalistic righteousness was what mattered to Paul and he lived his life in line with that.
Something happened v. 15-22
-This section is dominated by the work of God in his life.
-The change is highlighted with “but when God . . .”
-What did God do?
-God sovereignly “set him apart from birth.”
-God called him to enter into a relationship with Himself through grace.-God chose the time to reveal His Son, Jesus Christ to him. (Acts 9)
-God gave him a purpose; to “preach to the Gentiles.”
-Now, we could spend the rest of today talking about the ins and outs of
God’s sovereignty in our coming to faith in Jesus.
-Ultimately, he is saying that he was not smart enough to figure it out or that he attained it through great study, but by the power of God to save a lost sinner.
-Yes, we have to come to the humble place of admitting our sin and trusting in God’s provision of His Son Jesus Christ.
-But we also have to agree with God’s Word that it was the Holy Spirit’s work to open our eyes to our need for forgiveness for our sins.
-We might wonder why God chose Paul to preach to the Gentiles since he had such a strong Jewish background.
-And again that is the work of God in his life.
-God doesn’t necessarily pick the person with great skill in leadership or preaching to serve Him?
-Otherwise I wouldn’t be up here.
-Paul was the perfect choice because of the 180 degree shift that took place.
-In some ways, his love for the followers of Jesus became stronger because he persecuted them before his conversion to Christ.
-Because of the “previous” he developed a soft heart toward God and His people.
What matters now v. 23-24
-This last part of a testimony proves the transformation is complete.
-Where Paul was once a persecutor of the church, now is proclaiming the Gospel and building the church all over the world.
-And that is not his own description of it, but a report of what others saw.
-They saw him before and they see him now, and it’s not a gentle shift, but a total transformation.
-And because it was the work of God, they praised God for what He did in the life of Paul.
-Now, as we read this, we can’t lose sight that this is his defense the
Gospel of grace that he is preaching.
-The Jewish legalists were wondering where this Gospel of grace came from and Paul gives a chronology of how he came to it.
-V. 16 says that he didn’t receive it from any person.
-V. 17 – God didn’t have him sit under the teaching of the Jerusalem apostles to train him to proclaim the Gospel of grace to the Gentiles.
-Not that he couldn’t learn from them or didn’t want to, but God had a different mission for him that needed different training.
-God lead him to other places to reveal the Gospel to him.
-Part of that was to give him credibility to the Gentiles he would have the honor to preach to.
-Acts 9 details Paul returning to Damascus to preach the Gospel of grace, to which a great opposition to him arose from the Jewish legalists.
-They planned to kill him but Paul escaped by being lowered over the wall in a basket.
-V. 18 – Then, after 3 years, he returned to Jerusalem.
-Where he met Peter and spent 2 weeks with him.
-He also met with James, Jesus’ brother who was leading the church in Jerusalem.
-V. 20 – He takes an oath that this is all true.
-V. 21 -Then under persecution, he left for Syria and Cilicia.
-V. 22 – States that those churches in Judea personally did not know Paul.
-They knew of his reputation, but Paul had not visited them.
-Now, you might be wondering, PJ, what is the purpose of all this?
Why spend this time on this chronology of Paul?
-It becomes important in the defense of the Gospel that Paul was preaching.
-He didn’t get it from the other Apostles by sitting under their teaching or going to classes.
-Paul is saying that he didn’t receive it from any man, but directly from Jesus.
-And the fact that the Judean believers were praising God is proof that the Gospel of grace that he learned from Jesus was exactly the same Gospel of grace that was taught to them by the Jerusalem Apostles.
-Paul is defending his Gospel as being from the Lord and that it has been fully approved by the other Apostles.
-In 2:9 Paul speaks to Peter, James, and John giving him the “right hand of fellowship”.
-II Peter 3:15-16, Peter acknowledges Paul’s divine authority in recognizing
-So to reject Paul’s teaching is to reject God’s Word.
-The Gospel of grace that Paul taught is God’s Gospel of grace that we all would do well to accept and defend.
Reflections (post a picture of a reflection)
-On a very calm day, we can see a pretty good reflection in the water.
-But toss a rock into the water and the reflection becomes distorted and not exactly like the original.
-Whenever we read the Scriptures, we see reflections in our own lives.
-We read Paul’s story of grace and we see a reflection of our own lives.
-We should be able to see the basic parts
-What we did before – what happened – what we do now.
-But the circumstances might be wildly different.
-Seeing a vision of Jesus is very rare, but that might be your experience.
-Paul received a specific call on his life to preach to the Gentiles.
-That is specific and very wide at the same time.
-Exactly what country or people was God sending him?
-Your call to come to Christ might have come all at once or over time.
-It’s difficult to determine when exactly Peter fully trusted in Jesus
-It seemed to be more of a process.
-And that is the same with God’s call on our lives of service.
-Sometimes God calls very specifically and other times it’s a process of trial and error as we seek after where and how we might serve Him.
Your Story of Grace
-Here are a few take- aways for us to consider from this passage.
-We read about more of the details of Paul’s past in Acts and this guy was dragging people out of their homes and giving approval of their murder.
-You may be here today thinking that God could never forgive you or use you because of the sin in your life or your past.
-But if God can forgive and use Paul, then He can forgive and use you.
-No sin distances us so far from God that we are out of His reach.
-I say all the time – God does not waist experiences.
-I used to sit in Geometry class wondering:
“Why am I having to learn this, I will never use this again.”
-Then I became a carpenter and used it every day.
-We homeschooled our kids and I became the teacher to help them through Geometry.
-That’s just one small example, but God uses our experiences to build into our lives what he has planned for us.
-II Corinthians tells us that God uses our suffering to put us in place to comfort others.
-So those experiences are meant to develop us for ministry to others.
-That should make us excited for whatever experience are going through at the moment.
-Maybe it’s the monotony of changing diapers or working at a factory.
-Maybe it’s feeling lost and having to learn how to trust God.
-Maybe it’s a prayer that God seems to not be answering.
-It could be anything, and we won’t necessarily know how God might use it, but rest assured – God will use it down the line to help you to minister His grace to someone else who is struggling.
Returning Praise for God’s grace
-Sometimes I wonder why God didn’t give me the abilities that others have?
-I want to be a better musician, preacher, or friend.
-I see those abilities in others and aspire to them, but more importantly,
-I praise God for them and how God has gifted them, because it’s God’s work.
-What a joy that becomes – all for His glory!
-I encourage you to write out your story.
-As you do, it’s your encounter with Jesus that is preeminent in the story.
-You do that by removing yourself from the center and make Jesus the center.
-Many angles depending on our audience.
-Paul wrote his testimony differently in other parts of Scripture.
-All true, just had a different perspective and purpose.
-Write it out from the perspective of how God ordained your past to prepare you for future ministry to people.
-Write it out from the perspective of how God has organized the events of your life in your spiritual development.
-Write it out from the perspective of how God impacted your life through specific decisions or people in your life.
-Then take some time to worship God for what He has done in your life – both salvation and how He works every day in your life.