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.
Recently, Liberal leader Stéphane Dion — sat down with Michael Coren for a one-hour interview on his TV program, The Michael Coren Show. Within the first 10 minutes of the discussion he made several mentions of God. Coren noted: “These weren’t passing phrases or clumsy slang but obvious, absolute references to the entity so fashionably unfashionable in left-wing circles these days. You could have knocked me down with a Gospel tract!”
Dion said that: “He was, for example, anxious to “reconcile people with God’s environment” and was committed to the planet “given to us by God.” Which is somewhat surprising. The deity is not a popular debating point for Liberal leaders. Actually, the Supreme Being is mentioned by ambitious Liberal politicians about as often as Brian Mulroney’s good points. So I was rude enough to ask Mr. Dion if he was doing this — sounding religious — because he had been told that the station on which my show appears each night, CTS, was faith-based. Frankly, I expected him to deny, obfuscate or simply lie. (It says a great deal about the man’s integrity as well as his innocence that) he replied on air with a simple, “This is true.” A pause, then, “I have been told that this is important to the people who watch this show.”
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, by an easy-believism message?
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) Preconversion, 2) Conversion, and 3) Post-conversion, 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.
1) PRECONVERSION 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)
Having set forth his thesis of the nonhuman origin of the gospel in the two preceding verses, Paul now begins a demonstration of its truth in terms of historical proofs derived from his own life and ministry: He is showing that (1) Nothing in Paul’s religious background could account for his acceptance of the gospel (1:13–17). (2) Paul was not commissioned by the Jerusalem church (1:18–20). (3) Those Paul formerly persecuted glorified God because of the change wrought in him (1:21–24) (George, T. (2001, c1994). Vol. 30: Galatians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (113). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
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 considering 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.
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)
His preconversion life was centered totally in law and tradition. Grace was a foreign concept to the religion of Saul the Pharisee, despite the fact that grace was as much the basis of the Old Covenant as the New. God’s redemptive work originated from His grace and has never had any other basis. But most Jews, indoctrinated by the religiously dominant scribes and Pharisees, had long since lost sight of God’s grace and had instead come to trust in their own works and goodness to please God. Accordingly, 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.