Summary: This is GOd’s message - not man’s
Not a human message
† In Jesus Name †
This purpose of this message, like all sermons, like the letters and books of the Bible – exists for one purpose – to assure you that the grace, mercy and peace of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, is given to all in faith! AMEN!
The simple hymn we just sang, is over 140 years old. For 140 years, these lyrics, originally penned into a novel, have been sung by children with huge smiles on their faces. By elder statesman, often nostalgically wishing for days of yore. By grandparents with their grandkids. Even by college and seminary professors sing it.
Jesus Loves Me, this I know… for the Bible tells me so…
Perhaps it is because it is so simple of a message, it has become so beloved. Perhaps despite its simplicity, for the truth this message tells, is majestic and glorious. It is a message we can rejoice in, for it is personal, and full of the gospel.
It is the gospel message that is the central focus of our reading in Galatians the morning. There is no message more life-changing, yet many humans who would change, or assist others in “changing” their lives, or their behaviors, overlook it as well. The changes it causes, does not make people stronger in their own right, but realize their own weakness. There is no message more powerful, yet overlooked by humans seeking power.
It is the message of life, the message of salvation, the message of healing, the message of Hope. It tells us that the grace and mercy of God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, is ours. It is the message, the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation, for you and I.
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…
The Human Message
As we begin to look at Paul’s message today, we see Paul making a point – that this message, this gospel he proclaimed, was not the message of men. It is the message from God, which revealed to Paul, Jesus Christ.
In this entire letter, including the section we hear today, Paul is dealing with the difference between the divine message of the gospel, and human “gospels”. He would deal with this issue most of his ministry, as people would try and impose man-made laws, rules and standards upon people, and then judge them by them.
Paul was well acquainted with such, for he himself was as close to being a master practitioner of this, as anyone in history. He discusses that a little, in this passage,
13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 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
In other passages, we find Paul indicating that he was trained up by a rabbinical master, and not just anyone, but Gamaliel, whose works today are still the standard for training rabbi’s. He was given a great task, one well suited for a zealous, brilliant mind. Defend the rabbinical law, persecute those who would set it aside, to follow that pesky prophet from Galilee, who was crucified, but who disciples claim returned from the dead.
You see, the religion, this other gospel Paul was trained in, was not about a relationship with God. For over 700 years, since the destruction of the temple, God had not lived among His people, though he sent them prophets a plenty. The religion of Israel moved from one of walking in God’s presence, to trying to prove to God, that the Jewish nation was good enough that He could return. They turned the law of God, into a god itself. For this god of theirs, they invented their own law, one which tried to modify behavior – to make people holy, through fear of being judged by the very Law they interpreted.
Does not the world do the same today? Do they not judge the church based on their expectations of us? That person isn’t a “good” Christian because they don’t do this, or, oh my gosh, they do “that”. That one over there… they aren’t good because it is evident if they were…God would have blessed them, rather than allow them to suffer! We could go on and on about such hypocrisy, but wait, then we would be as bad as them!
The Message Reveals
Something happens to Paul, that allows him to shed the false message of his ancestors traditions. He encounters Jesus, fully revealed to him. I wish that each of us could have the encounter, our own visions on the road to Damascus. In a way we have.