Summary: This is the introductory message on a series in the book of Galatians, the "Magna Charta of Christian Liberty." This message encourages us to listen to and believe in the Lord when he tells us, "I am setting you free!"
Breaking Free! (Galatians 1:1-5)
Tony Campolo tells the story of a town where all the residents are ducks. Every Sunday the ducks waddle out of their houses and waddle down Main Street to their church. They waddle into the sanctuary and squat in their proper pews. The duck choir waddles in and takes its place, and then the duck minister comes forward and opens the duck Bible. He reads to them: “Ducks! God has given you wings! With wings you can fly! With wings you can mount up and soar like eagles. No walls can confine you! No fences can hold you! You have wings. God has given you wings, and you can fly like birds!”
All the ducks shout, “Amen!” And then they all waddle home. (Tony Campolo, Let Me Tell You a Story, Word, 2000)
How many times do we as God’s people -- say “Amen” to such rousing rhetoric and then go home to live such dull and dreary days? We can fly, but we waddle around like we’re tied to the ground. Spiritually, we can soar to great heights, but we continue to wallow in the muddy puddles of this world.
What will it take for us to fly? What will it take for us to soar to the heights for which God has designed us? What will it take for us to really break free from the habits and attitudes that keep us grounded?
That’s the question I want us to explore in the next several weeks as we study what many have called “The Magna Charta of Christian Liberty.” If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to the book of Galatians, Galatians 1, where we have the introduction to this great, spiritual “Magna Charta,” which tells us how to fly free as believers in Christ. Galatians 1, starting at vs.1 (read to vs.2)
Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia:
If we want to fly free, then 1st of all we must LISTEN TO WHAT GOD HAS TO SAY. WE MUST PAY ATTENTION TO GOD’S WORD AS PAUL PRESENTS IT HERE IN THE BOOK OF GALATIANS.
Paul begins this book by identifying himself as the author. But he is no ordinary author. He is an apostle – one who has been sent by God Himself. No man sent Paul to speak to us today. No man authorized Paul to say what He had to say in this book.
I stand before you today, primarily because at one time you asked me to be your preacher. Oh, I have no doubt that God called me to preach, but I am here, behind THIS pulpit on Washington Island, because on February 23, 2005, 34 of YOU voted “yes” to extend to me a call to become your pastor.
Even though I believe with all my heart that GOD led me here to preach His Word, that leading came through human agency. It came through many of YOU. If you would not have called me to preach, I would not be here this morning.
Well, that’s not the way it is with the Apostle Paul. He is sent directly by God, the Father, through God, the Son. There is no human agency involved at all. No man authorized Paul to say what He had to say. No! He gets his authority directly from God Himself.
In Acts 26, Paul describes His experience with the Risen Lord Himself. “About noon,” he says, “as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you” (Acts 26:13-16).
Christ Himself showed Paul the very words to say.
Therefore, we better pay close attention to what Paul has to say. We better listen very carefully to His words, because they are not his words; they are God’s Words.
Stuart Briscoe, author and long-time pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, tells about the time he traveled to Poland during the cold war. He was involved in several weeks of itinerant ministry, and one winter day his sponsors drove him in the dead of night to the middle of nowhere. Briscoe walked into a dilapidated building crammed with one hundred young people.