Summary: Paul shows how certain events before he was saved, when he was saved, and after he was saved all prove his message was received from God and how we can testify to God’s radically changing grace.
This week we celebrated the life of our own: Babi: Maria Polomska. Through the tributes, one theme ran throughout: The life of a woman lived for the glory of God. Her love, and hope were expressed in her confidence and readiness to go home to the Lord. Even through she couldn’t always directly express her faith in the language to those she was with, she expressed confidence in Christ even through difficulties.
The Apostle Paul was accused by the Judiziers of telling the churches of Galatia what they wanted to hear. He was accused of watering down the gospel and a message and that he was proclaiming an unauthorized, second-hand gospel. After defining the true nature of the Gospel in the beginning of Galatians Paul must now defend the fact that his message is not an unauthorized, second-hand gospel, but one directly from Christ and uninfluenced by others.
What do we tell others about ourselves and what God expects? Do we sugar coat our sins and tell people what they want to hear, with an easy-believism message? Or, are we strait with people that we are sinners, saved by Grace? We live in an era that craves authenticity. One of the reasons why people often reject the truth of Christianity, is that Christians often don’t live out what they profess. If we are honest with people about our struggles but point to the ever faithful God, then we are less likely to be a stumbling block to other people coming to faith.
In Galatians 1:13-24, the apostle Paul gives an account of himself, providing insight into how God calls an individual and how we are to respond. It clarifies how we are to view our pre-converted lives, how God changes us and the testimony in understanding and vocalizing this new reality.
From the three periods of his spiritual life- 1) Pre-Conversion (Galatians 1:13–14) , 2) Conversion (Galatians 1:15–16a), and 3) Post-Conversion (Galatians 1:15–16b-24), Paul shows how certain events before he was saved, when he was saved, and after he was saved all prove his message was received from God and how we can testify to God’s radically changing grace.
The Gospel Changes people as seen from:
1) Pre-conversion Proof (Galatians 1:13–14)
Galatians 1:13-14 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 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. (ESV)
Here Paul describes his former standing and activities while be was in Judaism, offering them as a kind of negative proof that his message of grace had no foundation in the beliefs, circumstances, or events of his former life.
• This is very important for us in the proclamation of our testimony. We must make it clear in our testimony of conversion that it was not the wisdom we had, our circumstances or what we did or thought in any way that we came to faith. When we talk about the grace of God, how He showed us the futility of our life without Christ and what He has done and enabled in our lives since that point, our testimony then is less about us, and all about Him. This shows His greatness and glorifies Him.
Paul had been a Jew of the first order. This is how he described his pedigree: Philippians 3:5-6 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. (ESV)
Everything in the apostle’s former manner of life in Judaism had been diametrically opposed to the message of sovereign and saving grace of Jesus Christ he now proclaimed and defended.
• This is the basis for most people’s belief system. In the common ways of presenting the gospel and in most people’s understanding of faith, they think that they just came to understanding and belief. However, according to scripture, in our natural condition, we are dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). Aapart from the sovereign act of God in drawing people unto himself, and enabling repentance and faith, people will not believe (Jn. 6:44).
The first aspect of Paul’s former … life that proved he had no previous grounding for the gospel was that he persecuted the church (Ekklesia )of God violently and tried to destroy it. His preconversion knowledge of the gospel, veiled and distorted as it was, made him realize that this radical way of salvation allowed no place for works righteousness and therefore completely undercut legalistic Judaism. Conversely, legalistic Judaism allowed no place for a gospel of grace and therefore sought to destroy those who believed and taught it. The original language is vivid in describing Paul’s hostility. The phrase that he persecuted is in the imperfect tense and emphasizes a persistent and continual intent to harm. The word destroy was used of soldiers ravaging a city. It is also used here in the imperfect, thereby emphasizing the persistence of Paul’s destructive effort. He was determined to utterly extinguish the church. Apparently he used the title the church of God to stress that this was not just a group belonging to Jesus, so that whoever opposed it, opposed only Jesus. Rather, whoever opposes the church opposes God. (Utley, R. J. (1997). Paul’s First Letters: Galatians and I & II Thessalonians (Vol. Volume 11, p. 12). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.)