Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ. We are thankful for another day to worship our God. And it is to this end that God in Christ has saved us. We have been saved to worship. (Jn.4:23) Let us worship Him in Spirit and in truth. His word is truth. (Jn.17:17)
Please take out your Bible to the book of Galatians. Our reading this morning is Galatians 1:11-16. Hear God’s perfect word. Read.
Galatians 1:11. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 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; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. 15 But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,
Let’s pray and ask God the Holy Spirit to help us worship God in His word this morning. (I Jn.2:20-29, Jn.14:17-26) Pray.
You remember we said the other day that Galatians 1:6 all the way to the end of chapter two, Galatians 2:21 represents one single unified theme, the apostle Paul defends the truthfulness of his gospel ministry.
And you remember as well that his defense is against false teachers who taught a false Gospel of salvation by grace plus law or Christ’s merit plus man’s merit to the Galatians. And sadly, they came to believe true-Paul was a liar and the lying teachers were true.
Hence, God the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to write God’s word to them to rescue them from the fire and to bring them back into the fold of gospel truth. How good God is. The Lord will not lose any elect sheep. He keeps us by His word. Oh Beloved, live upon His word.
We learn how wickedly effective the disguised servants of Satan are. (2 Cor.11:13-15) Beloved we are in a spiritual war. (Eph.6:10-18) How we need to be on our guard and to stand firm in Christ. How we need to test everything by Scripture. (Acts 17:10-12) How we need to test every spirit. (I Jn.4:1-5) And we see the essence of what Paul is saying is that “the” great test is the true Gospel. Everyone stands or falls based upon their belief or rejection of the true Gospel. (Mt.22:42, Jn.3:36)
Let me read a few passages that summarize the true Gospel of salvation.
John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (Eph.2:1-9, 2 Cor.5:19-21)
I Corinthians 15:1. Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
V.10. Now you remember the very first aspect of Paul defense is that he laid bare to them his inward motive for preaching the true gospel. You see false teachers are play actors, they hide who and what they really are. The longer I live the more convinced I am that these disguised wolves actually think they are sheep. Oh, the power of self-deception. Outwardly they look one way, but they hide their heart, because it is evil. Not Paul. Paul opens his heart to them.
Paul said, I do not preach Christ crucified, salvation by the blood of the Lamb, justification by faith in Christ apart from any works of the Law because I want to please man. (Prov.29:25) No. Just the opposite. Preaching Christ’s atoning sacrifice for the remission of our sins incurs for Paul the hatred of unregenerate men. Paul says his driving motive is to please God. (Eph.5:8-10)
Oh, Beloved think on that for a moment. Imagine if we were animated and governed by the singular desire to please God. If we truly lived to please God, we could bear the reproach of the Cross with joy, we could do all things, suffer all things, to please God by bearing the name of Christ in the world. (2 Cor.4:1-18) Oh may God give us this holy motive that we might have holy courage. We will be able to live above the fear of man. We will live in a holy independence of man. And a holy dependence upon God alone.
And now we come to our passage, Galatians 1:11-16. Paul continues to defend or to prove that he preaches a true gospel.
We could classify what he is doing variously. We could say that he shows us the origins of his gospel. Where he did not get it. Where he did get it. (James Fergusson) We could say that he defends his gospel ministry in relation to his own conversion to Christ. His life before Christ. His life after Christ. (John Stott) Or we could say that Paul offers a single thesis and then he sets out to prove his thesis. V.11. I did not receive the gospel from man. And then from V.12 he proves this. (William Perkins)
In keeping with my previous sermon title, Paul defends his gospel ministry: holy motives. I will look at this section as, Paul defends his gospel ministry: holy reasons. We will look at five holy reasons that Paul uses to prove that what he says about the gospel of Christ is true.
As you look at this passage, I do want us to notice Paul’s use of the first person personal pronoun, “I”, “me” and “my”. This is intensely personal for Paul. This is not some bit of detached theory for him. He owns this. This is who he is, he personally eats, sleeps and drinks Christ crucified as it were. (Gal.6:14)
My gospel does not originate from man.
The first reason Paul gives to the Galatians is that the gospel that he preached did not originate from the mind of man.
V.11.For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
False gospels come from the mind of man.
Here he is indirectly accusing and condemning the false teachers that have duped the Galatians with a false Gospel. A so-called Gospel of salvation that relies partly on Christ and partly on the merits of the individual for salvation does come from the mind of man. Man loves to keep some of the merit and thus the glory for himself. Of course, the false teachers are also claiming that their false gospel is divine, that it is from God. The Holy Spirit through Paul is refuting this.
I would argue the false gospel comes from the mind of Satan into the mind of man. Satan was the first creature to resist and refute the word of God as the only rule for faith and practice. (Isa.14:12-17, Lk.10:18, Rev.12:4-9) Satan says to man, you do not have to listen to God, you can be your own god. (Gen.3:1-8) God says, your best deeds are filthy rags, your best deeds need forgiveness. (Isa.64:6, WCF 16.5-6) Satan says to man, that is not right. You can merit your salvation by your good works. (Col.2:14-23)
Now the wider application of this is that every other religion and every other so-called gospel is of man ultimately, that fallen man came up with their own god or gods and systems of salvation.
And Paul is saying, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that what he taught about Christ was not first taught to him by man. Paul’s gospel is not manmade.
What fallen man would make up the true Gospel? Man is a fallen sinner deserving God’s wrath. Dead in sins and trespasses. (Rom.3:9-18) And only the God-Man Christ Jesus can atone for our sins by His blood sacrifice. And by believing in Christ we are forgiven. (Rom.6:23) All gift.
No natural man would make this up. You see the unbeliever says that we believe an old wives’ tale. (I Tim.4:7-16, 2 Pt.1:16) God says otherwise. Believe God He is truth. Don’t believe gospel-denying man he is a liar. (Rom.3:4-8)
The true Gospel comes from the mind of God as revealed in the word of God.
Ultimately the true gospel of salvation comes from the mind of the true and the living God as revealed in the Bible alone. (WCF 1.1)
Beloved, what benefit there is to be completely assured that the Bible is the very word of God, that the Gospel is the very truth of God. God cannot lie. He is truth personified. All He has said He will do. (Num.23:29, Isa.55:10-11) All He has promised we will have. Divine truth is the unshakable foundation for this life and for the next. (Jn.3:16, Jas.1:18, I Pt.1:11-25, Jn.17:1-17, Rom.10:1-17, 2 Tim.3:14-17)
My gospel comes directly from the risen Christ.
Now Paul defends His gospel ministry saying that he received it directly from the risen Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
V.12. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Now let that sink in just a bit. Read Acts chapter nine for the account of Paul’s supernatural conversion and supernatural instruction in the gospel.
The wrongness of pitting Jesus against Paul.
Here is something that has contemporary application. It is sometimes said in liberal circles in the professing Christian church, Oh, I love Jesus, but I hate that Paul. Jesus is so loving and kind. And that Paul, well he is a women-hater. Or Jesus preached the good news. But Paul was the founder of dogmatic so-called Christianity.
Here is a quote from a fellow Bart Ehrman.
RESOLVED: Paul and Jesus Advocated Fundamentally Different Religions. For my money, this gets to the very heart of the formation of early Christianity. Did the religion that emerged after Jesus’ death correspond closely to the religion that he himself followed and proclaimed? Or not? (blog: Do Paul and Jesus represent fundamentally different religions?”)
But I am asking if the gospel that Paul preached is essentially the same or different from the message of Jesus. A very good case can be made, of course, that they are fundamentally different. (blog: “Are Paul and Jesus on the same page?”)
The rightness of the harmony of Jesus and Paul.
Beloved verse twelve is clear. God the Holy Spirit says the religion that Paul preached is what Christ taught him. Listen to God’s word. Do not listen to Man that refutes God’s word.
The uniqueness of Paul’s calling.
Now Paul’s conversion is different than our conversion to Christ. Christ called him immediately. Christ commissioned him immediately. Christ Himself instructed Paul.
You see the false teachers teaching their false gospel said, Paul is nothing. Paul is not even one of the twelve apostles. Paul is a Jew that does not even keep the law of God. Why are you listening to Paul?
Beloved, we are listening to Paul because he is telling us what Jesus Himself gave to him. Paul was not first instructed by an apostle. Jesus taught Paul.
Again and again Beloved, we are being told that what we believe about God in Christ, about salvation in Christ is of divine origin.
The testimony that Christ lives.
And please catch what Paul is saying, after Jesus was crucified on a cross – He taught Paul the gospel that He wanted him to preach. (Rev.1:5, 2:8)
Beloved, our religion is not about nice rules to live a nice life by. No. True Christianity is a miracle religion. It is the truth of the God-Man, Immanuel dying for our sins, rising for our justification. We love a risen living and returning Jesus.
Jesus is alive. And He is preparing a place for us, to receive us to Himself. After we die, we will be alive where Christ is, with Christ. This is what the gospel of salvation is about.
The principle that those that teach of Christ must be taught of Christ.
There is something else that Paul shows us. Before you can teach others about Jesus, we need to be taught of Jesus. You can’t teach what you don’t know. Good teachers are first good students. (Titus 1:9, Mal.2:7, Isa.54:13, I Cor.3:7)
Watch out for the teacher that will not first be taught.
My behavior before I was converted testifies that Christ has changed me.
Now Paul will offer the change from his former life as proof of the power of his gospel.
V.13. 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; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. (Mk.7:1-10)
The true minister confesses his sin.
Notice how Paul criticized himself. Saved sinners own their sin. Unsaved sinners do not. (Lk.18:9-14, 15:11-32)
Saved sinners love to do this, not to glamorize their previous sin, but to extol God’s free grace and mercy in Christ. I once was lost and now I see, Amazing grace, that saved a wretch like me – John Newton. (Ps. 32, Ps.51, I Tim.1:13-14)
As an aside, one of the practical benefits of this, is Paul is cutting off the sniping tongues of the false apostles. Oh, did you know that Paul used to do such and so? Oh, he held the coats of the men that murdered Stephen. Oh, are you going to listen to a murderer? We say, sorry false teacher, sorry viper-tongue Paul already told us that about himself and more! (I Cor.6:9-11)
The true people of God are opposed by the enemies of God.
Notice that Paul is making a sharp distinction here. Those that believe the true Gospel are for God. Those who believe the false Gospel are against God. As he says he used to be. And the sad thing here is that they are against God while they think they are for God. And those against the true Gospel are against those for Christ. The is part of the cross we bear, spiritual warfare with unbelievers. Sadly, often we are at war with unbelievers that profess to be Believers.
A former false teacher is fit to reveal false teachers.
Paul said before he knew Christ, he opposed Christians. (Acts 26:5)
Essentially what Paul is saying is that he used to be a false teacher teaching a false gospel. And the kind of false gospel is important too. Paul was a former legalist warning against legalists!
You see beloved sometimes it takes a former false teacher to spot a current false teacher. Every once on television you will see programs showing you how to make your house safe from burglars being taught by a former burglar! 😊
Oh, I love this about the gospel!
I Corinthians 6:9. Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
God saves proud people to give the gospel to proud people. God saves hypocritical formalists to give the gospel to formalists. God saves profligates to give the gospel to profligates. (Rom.3:9-18, I Cor.1:17-31)
Beloved the true Gospel changes people. Those truly converted to Christ think, feel, speak and act differently than they did as unbelievers. Christ makes the tree good. It produces good fruit. We love God. Love Christ. Love His word. Love holiness. Love people. Hate sin. (Mt.7:15-20, Gal.5:18-26, Mt.5:1-16, I Cor.13:1-13)
And Paul was more than just an ordinary hum-drum false teacher. Paul said he had zeal to spare. He labored like a fanatic trying to earn his righteousness by his obedience to the demands of Bible law and by his obedience to the manmade religious laws of the Pharisees. (Phil.3:1-14)
The Law does not save.
Zeal does not save. Sincerity to a lie does not save. Only the truth of Christ saves.
This is like Martin Luther referring to his life as an Augustinian monk.
In a storm, Luther prayed to Saint Ann (the patron saint of miners), save me Saint Ann and I shall be a monk. And he did. After he was converted to Christ, he said,
I was a good monk, and I kept the rules of my order so strictly that I may say that if ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery it was I. All my brothers in the monastery who knew me will bear me out. If I had kept on any longer, I should have killed myself with vigils, prayers, reading, and other work.
Beloved, what changed the misguided zeal of Saul of Tarsus? Jesus Christ.
What changed the misguided zeal of Martin Luther the monk? Jesus the Christ.
Beloved never despair of the worst Christ-hater. Never despair for any that are caught in the lie that their obedience plus Christ’s obedience will save them. With man it is impossible that they be saved. But with God all things are possible. Christ has come to seek and save sinners. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to them that believe. Praise God.
My new life in Christ testifies that God elected me and effectual called me according to His grace.
Now Paul introduces the truth of God’s eternal election to salvation in Christ to being applied in time at the time of His conversion.
V.15. But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased (Rom.9:10-13, Jer.1:5, Jn.1:10-13)
Sadly, I understand that in the church predestination is often the cause of fights between the Arminians and the Calvinists. But the truth of election and predestination is not for fighting over, it is for our assurance of salvation. (see WCF 3.1-8, 5.1-7)
In other words, Paul is saying I have been eternally elected by God for salvation because I believe in the Savior. You see that is how we make our calling or our election certain or sure as the apostle Peter says. (2 Pt.1:10) Elect people believe the true Gospel and live lives worthy of the true Gospel.
Paul acknowledges that God has essentially called him from his mother’s womb. Paul, after he was converted and looking back over his life, he could see how God had him born a Jew, gave him the word and sacraments, gave him religious teachers, used his intellect, used his language gifts, caused him to be born into the Roman Empire and so on, all eventually to advance the cause of Christ. Oh beloved, look at your life like that!
The idea is that Paul is pointing to the sovereign government of God in his life. And also beyond over all things. He is saying, God is responsible for my birth and bringing me to my new birth.
See that Paul gives God all the glory. He reckons all to grace. Legalists hate real grace. Real grace is God gives salvation to hell worthy sinners. Legalists think they are good. They will not hear what the Law really says to them. Sinner! Lawbreaker! The wages of sin is death. Legalists cannot stand that God freely gracious gives salvation to sinners with no merit on their part.
My ministry to the Gentiles was given me by God.
Not only is God free to choose Paul for salvation in Christ, but Paul says, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that God chose him to be a preacher to the Gentiles.
V.16. to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, (Acts 9:15, I Cor.9:1-9, 2 Cor.4:6)
You see, Paul is saying that he has a holy calling or commissioning of God upon him to preach the gospel of Jesus. (Rom.10:15, 2 Tim.2:2, Jn.20:21) The false teachers ran so to speak, they went, they taught, but they had no commission from God. (Jer.23:21-40)
Paul became a new man when he met Jesus Christ. Paul became a son of God and a servant of Christ. Christ saved Paul. Christ put Paul in the gospel ministry. As Christ purchased Paul’s body and soul, in turn Paul gave himself to Christ and the cause of Christ body and soul – in life and to death. (Phil.1:21-30, Phil.2:17, 2 Tim.4:6, 2 Tim.3:3-4) Paul’s new life was to make Christ known by the preaching of His gospel. (Jn.17:26, Mt.9:31, Gal.1:15-16)
- What is a false teacher? What makes him or her false? Most often do false teachers come from inside of the church or outside? What makes a false teacher so dangerous? What is the primary test to determine if a person is a false teacher? What does their existence teach us about the nature of our life in Christ? (Dt.18:20, Ezek.13:9, Jer.14:14, Jer.23:16, Lk.6:26, Mt.24:24, Mt.16:11-12, Gal.1:1-9, 2 Tim.4:3-4, Acts 20:28, 2 Pt.2:1-22, 2 Cor.11:13-15, Eph.6:10-18, Acts 17:10-12, I Jn.4:1-5, Mt.22:42, Jn.3:36)
- What is the true gospel of salvation? What are various truths within the gospel. What is the power of the gospel? What does the gospel do? Is it necessary to believe the true gospel to be saved? Defend your answer with Scripture. (Jn.3:16-36, Eph.2:1-9, 2 Cor.5:19-21, I Cor.15:1-6, Rom.10:1-17, Rom.3:9-23, Rom.6:23, Jn.11:25-26, Lk.13:3, Rom.1:16, I Cor.1:18-24, Col.1:20, Eph.1:7, Rom.5:1-10, Heb.9:14-22, Heb.13:12, Acts 16:30-31)
- Why are people attracted to false gospels? Why do people like to teach them? Why do people like to believe them? What is it about the true gospel that offends people? (Isa.14:12-17, Lk.10:18, Rev.12:4-9, Gen.3:1-8, Isa.64:6, WCF 16.5-6, Col.2:14-23, I Tim.4:7-16, 2 Pt.1:16, Rom.3:4-8, 2 Tim.4:3-4, I Tim.6:1-5, 2 Cor.11:13-15, I Jn.4:1-3, Jn.14:6, 2 Pt.2:1-3, Jer.5:30-31)
- What is conversion? Describe the elements of conversion. (Mt.18:3, 2 Cor.5:14-21, Gal.3:7-29, Ezek.11:19, Ezek.36:26, Jer.31:33, Heb.8:10, Ps.40:3)
- How was the apostle Paul converted to Christ? From whom was he instructed in the gospel of Christ? What do we learn by this? How should this affect us practically? (Gal.1:11-16, Acts 9:1-22, WCF 10.1-2)
- The true gospel comes from the mind of God. What are some practical lessons we learn by this? (WCF 1.1, Num.23:29, Isa.55:10-11, Jn.3:16, Jas.1:18, I Pt.1:11-25, Jn.17:1-17, Rom.10:1-17, 2 Tim.3:14-17)
- Paul confesses his former life of sin as an unbeliever. Paul was a former legalist believer and teacher of a false gospel. What lessons do we learn by this? Why does he use this as proof of the truthfulness of his gospel? (Gal.1:13-14, Mk.7:10, Phil.3:1-14, I Tim.1:12-16, Lk.18:9-14, 15:11-32, Ps. 32, Ps.51, I Tim.1:13-14, I Cor.6:9-11, Acts 26:5)
- Does religious sincerity and or zeal save us? In your answer, interact with this Martin Luther quote. I was a good monk, and I kept the rules of my order so strictly that I may say that if ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery it was I. All my brothers in the monastery who knew me will bear me out. If I had kept on any longer, I should have killed myself with vigils, prayers, reading, and other work.
- What is election? What is predestination? What is effectual calling? How do we make our effectual calling sure? What is vocational calling? What lessons do we learn by this? How does this prove Paul’s gospel? (Gal.1:15-16, Eph.1:11, Phil.1:29, Acts 13:48, Eph.2:1-9, Jn.6:37, 2 Tim.1:9, Lk.10:22, Rom.8:28-30, Rom.11:7, Rom.9:18, Lk.18:7, Jn.10:27-29, Jn.1:10-13, Rev.13:8, Rom.9:10-13, Jer.1:5, Jn.1:10-13, WCF 3.1-8, 5.1-7, 10.1-4, 2 Pt.1:10)