The Gospel is a revolutionary message with surprising results. No one could have imagined the depth of its redemptive power. No one imagined that Jesus could redeem a passionate persecutor of the earliest Christians, and yet he did. Or that non-Jewish pagans would embrace its truth.
Not everyone responded to this news with joy but with suspicion and jealousy. They questioned the man, his Gospel message, and these pagans’ “new freedom.”
Here’s the rub, they began to think the only true way to become children of God is to become like us. So they began to whisper and accuse, who is Paul not to demand that they become like a Jew!
But the Gospel revolted, busting through that twisting of the truth, demonstrating with surprising results that Jesus is enough!
Christian, let’s pray for the revolution; let’s be joyful revolutionaries of the redemptive power of the Gospel in San Antonio!
Re:Verse passage – Galatians 2:1-10 (day five) What do you see and sense first/most in other church members?What draws you to people in the church. Is it their personality?Is it their sense of humor?Is it their likes and dislikes? Is it the presence of Christ? It is something inward our outward about them?
In our Re:Verse text this week, it is worth noting how these believers saw and regarded one another. Paul, Peter, James, and John all sensed and saw the Lord at work in and thru each other. The affection and respect they have for each other is influenced by their “recognition” and regard for the Lord’s presence and activity. Oh to sense and see the Lord’s presence and activity in other believers in the Body of Christ. Makes me want to walk closely with the Lord so that others could see and sense that in me. Makes me want to recognize and affirm the presence of Christ in them.Only the Holy Spirit can help and guide us in those ways. When we can’t or don’t, does that say more about them, or more about me?“Lord, help us see your presence in all your saints as we worship, study, serve, and fellowship together”.
We should never leave our church meetings, having spent time surrounded by beloved, distinctive people of faith, without feeling encouraged! – John Piper
This account of church life isn’t as rose-colored as Acts 2 is it? I’d be willing to bet that everyone in that room had an ego to lay down and personality differences to work through. They had to grapple with big, weighty questions, all while defending the gospel, which was still fairly new to them, from those trying to destroy it.
Life in the church is beautiful, but it is also hard. We’re all working out our salvation together, and that can get messy. In particularly hard moments, we might be tempted to think that it’s easier to go it alone. But there can be no lone wolf in gospel ministry. But what Paul knew, and what we must remember, is that the church is essential. Paul probably had his opinions about this group he met with, but he knew that unity among the body of Christ was the only way forward.
Participating in the gathered church is part of how we keep hold of this freedom the gospel provides us. When we’re called to a life with Christ, we’re called to his church. And when Christ, the good shepherd, is leading his church, we can have every confidence in it. Even when things get messy.
“Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem…”
What happened to Paul in that interval of fourteen years? Scholarship is of several opinions. Timelines are sometimes notoriously thorny in biblical studies. But overall, one can see that a substantial amount of time elapsed between Paul’s cataclysmic life-rearrangement and his full engagement with the church. Why? Because change happens in one’s life at the speed of trust. What appear as instantaneous existential shifts have in fact been long in the making. Moses fearlessly faced Pharoah only after he had spent 40 years in desert exile contemplating his life (which prepared him for the burning bush encounter). Abraham ascended Moriah only after he had known God for the better part of a century. Whether 100 years, 40 years, or 14 years, change takes time in you. That doesn’t bother God.
(for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles) vs. 8
This parenthetical statement is tucked in Paul’s clear statement that he had been clearly called to minister to the Gentiles with a clear recognition that Peter had been called to minister to the Jews. Paul will later write about being all things to all people, and the need to recognize your audience and the context in which you are speaking. Thinking globally, there are many different expressions of worship that occur each week. Some may look so completely different from our own expression that it may seem strange at best, and even wrong to some. Paul is very clear on this point. When we bring our own baggage, rules, traditions (however good they may be) and add them to the gospel…we diminish the gospel. Paul knows his audience, and he knows the gospel. Everything else is subordinate, and much is unnecessary. Think about this the next time you are in a conversation about differences in denominational difference, culture, or tradition. Wrestle over the gospel, not over the guitar.
But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace. Galatians 1:15
Paul is telling us about himself, but he is also giving us insight into our relationship with God:
You are chosen. The Psalmist uses similar language saying, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 119:13). Before the beginning of time, God had a plan for you. He created you unique and perfect. In that perfection, He set you apart for a specific purpose… or purposes.
You are called. God extends to you an invitation to join Him in this work that He has set you apart for. Every person has a calling. For some, it is to come into a relationship with Him, but His calling doesn’t stop at salvation. Being set apart is synonymous with sanctification, and we know that sanctification is the process of our spiritual maturation on this earth. The calling may be different, but it will never stop. He is always calling His chosen ones to join Him in His work.
When the prophet Isaiah heard this calling, He said , “Here I am. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8) The Lord has chosen and called you for a specific purpose today. Will you be able to say, “Send me!”?
…it pleased himto reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. Galatians 1:16
Paul realized in Jesus, that it was never God’s ambition that Gentiles become children of Israel but that they become children of God, resulting in a global multi-ethnic family united in Jesus.
Jesus does not undo or abandon the law but fulfills it (by his life, death, and resurrection) for all those who believe, and that is good news! Furthermore, through Jesus the promises God made to Israel are now available to the whole world, which was his intent all along.
“For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.”
Does God save “good” people, or does He save “bad” people? The answer according to Paul, is YES!!Both!!
I like the words of Tim Keller as he expounds on this truth.
The gospel calls us out of religion as much as it calls us out of irreligion. No one is so good they don’t need the grace of the gospel, nor so bad that they cannot receive the grace of the gospel.
There is hope and salvation available for all of us who will repent and believe. That is Amazing Grace!!
He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.
We most often notice God’s sovereignty when we’re out in creation, considering how he cares for the birds and the flowers, or when some sort of catastrophe is avoided, and we thank him for his protection. Paul shows us here, though, that we come face to face with the sovereignty of God every day when we interact with each other.
Paul had his whole life turned around by the revolutionary power of the gospel of Christ. And when he looks back, he sees that God was with him from the beginning – even in his mother’s womb, even when he was trying to destroy the Christian church – with a calling to bring the gospel to all the world. The power of the gospel in Paul’s life is the sovereignty of God on display.
When the people spoke with awe about the difference they saw in him, they were testifying to the power of God. He can and will use anyone he chooses to accomplish his purposes on the earth. That same sovereignty is revealed in us, too. When the redeemed of the Lord say so, we testify to his sovereign power. And when we think someone is too far gone, Paul reminds us that with God, nothing is impossible.