Summary: To establish that Paul was not the servant of men or of traditions; but the servant of Christ. This lesson deals with the pleasers of men who claim to be the servants of Christ. We will expose some traditions of the fathers in this lesson.
1. The Servants of Men - Pharisees
2. The Servants of Tradition - Patriarchs
3. The Servant of Christ - Paul
1. In our lesson today we are going to be discussing the theme: “Paul, the servant of Christ.” This lesson deals with Paul’s work as the servant of Christ.
2. First, we will consider the servants of men, the Pharisees called also the Judaizers. There were men in the first century who were compelled to oppose the work of Paul. They were men of the Pharisees, known also as the “men from James.” These men sought to thwart Paul’s work among the Gentiles. And when they could not hinder the “obedience of the Gentiles to the faith” they sought to compel them to follow the Law of Moses and the custom of circumcision. They claim, the Gentiles were not fully saved and members of the kingdom of God until they have conformed to the Pharisees’ requirements of faith, grace, circumcision and the Law of Moses. To which Paul violently opposed.
3. Second, we will discuss the servants of traditions, the Patriarchs the Fathers of the Jewish religion. Still yet another group was also against the gospel of Christ, and that was those that held to the traditions of the “fathers.” Paul, like the other Jewish leaders were learned in the “traditions of the father.” These traditions become more important to the Jews than the Law of Moses. It was to these men that Jesus spoke against during His personal ministry. Our Lord declared them to be “hypocrites” who held to the “traditions of men over the commandments of God.” The church must always be on guard against such teachings and teachers.
4. Lastly, we will investigate the servant of Christ, the apostle Paul. He now states that he is the servant of Christ; and not the servant of men. Here he means that his message though abhorred by men, it is the message that God had ordained that he preach. It is the message of grace. The gospel that was preached among the Galatians, believed and obeyed. But now, these babes in Christ had strayed away from the truth as a result of teachers which sought to bring them into the bondage of the flesh. That is, circumcision and the Law of Moses. We might not face a doctrine as this today; but, any message other than the truth of the gospel of Christ, places the believers in jeopardy of “falling from grace.” The servant of Christ proclaims the message of grace without addition or subtraction! This is the message of salvation, hope and eternal life. Let’s consider our first thought – the servants of men, the Pharisees.
BODY OF LESSON
I THE SERVANTS OF MEN - PHARISEES
A. I do not persuade men. Is this Paul’s motive, to serve men or to please God? The man of God cannot seek to “persuade men” to follow a message other than the truth of the gospel. In some situation – men will desire to persuade you to be silent in preaching the truth. You must however stand firm in proclaiming the truth without alteration. This stand will cause you to be out of favor with men pleasers. Notice:
1. First, Peter and John before the council: “But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard,’” Acts 4:19-20.
2. Further, Peter and the apostles: “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men,’” Acts 5:29. The apostles were not “men pleaser” or “persuaders of men.” They held the truth of Christ more highly than the “favor of men.”
3. Next, Gamaliel, a doctor of Law: “Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men... And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God,” Acts 5:34-39. Gamaliel admonished the council not to interfere with these men; if their work is that of men it would come to nothing. If however, it is of God; then they cannot overthrow it and would be guilty of resisting the will of God.
4. Finally, Paul states to the Corinthians: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences,” 2 Corinthians 5:10-11. Also: “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts,” 1 Thessalonians 2:4. He affirms in all these passages that he sought never to be a pleaser or persuader of men – but to be “the servant of Christ.”