Summary: Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel: The Authority and Power of the Gospel to Transform a Life
Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel:
The Authority and Power of the Gospel to Transform a Life
In today’s passage we will look at why Paul’s gospel is God’s gospel, the gospels ability to declare us righteous, and how God applies the gospel to us as individuals.
1. Three reasons Paul’s gospel is God’s Gospel (11-24)
Notice the similarity between 1-2 and 11-12. Paul’s is defending his apostleship and his gospel against the Judaizers. He did not get his apostleship or his gospel from the Jerusalem church but directly from God. This makes both his apostleship and his gospel true (and therefore the Judaizer’s gospel is false). If his gospel is of human origin or man made then his claim to be an apostle is void; his apostleship and his gospel rise or fall together. The Judaizers had said that Paul’s gospel was deficient, that he was a people pleaser because he was not requiring circumcision and Sabbath keeping. But Paul’s conclusion was that God does not care whether men were circumcised or ate certain foods (Rom 14:2-6). He gives three reasons why his gospel is God’s gospel.
He received it directly from Jesus himself (12).
Paul did not get his gospel from the other apostles but he got it directly from Jesus himself, just like the other apostles (1 Cor 11:23).
He had very little contact with the apostles (16b- 20)
Secondly, immediately after Paul encountered Christ on the road to Damascus he did not get input or advice from anyone, especially the apostles in Jerusalem. Instead he went to Arabia (Acts 9:25-26). It was not until three years later that he went to Jerusalem and only then for fifteen days meeting with Peter and James (Acts 9:26-29).
He was unknown among the Judean churches (21-22)
Then he went into region north of Judea, Syria and Cilicia, and the churches there did not even know him personally. These three reasons show that his gospel did not come through men but directly from God. Now let’s go back and look at what Paul says about his life. He is a test case for his gospel – its power to convert and to change and transform a life.
2. What the Gospel Does for us (1:13-16)
There are two ways that the human heart pursues righteousness. One way is works righteousness in which religious people use religion in an attempt to gain God’s favor. The other is gift righteousness in which we recognize that Gods is never impressed with us so we trust Christ and receive his righteousness as a gift. Let’s look at the first.
Paul uses himself as an example because his former life in Judaism was well known. He mentions two characteristics about his life –he persecuted the church and he excelled as a good Pharisee. He persecuted the church because he did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. In his mind, Jesus’ crucifixion and death demonstrated that Jesus was rejected and cursed by God. Paul also mentions that he was zealous for the traditions of his ancestors. He had surpassed all his contemporaries in Judaism in zealously adhering to that tradition. Notice he does not say zealous for God or the law or the Old Testament but the ‘traditions of my fathers.’ He is describing life prescribed by the Pharisees and not the law. He is making the point that he was far more knowledgeable and had a much better perspective than these Judaizers who were proclaiming a counterfeit gospel. He was the poster child for works righteousness – trying to impress God. Notice all the I’s Paul uses. But nothing we can do will ever impress God or gain his approval. God is not impressed with you, your morality, or your works. In fact, Scripture tells us that all of our attempts at works righteousness are as filthy rags (Isa 64:6).
Now look at this pivotal word ‘but’ (15). The only explanation for the radical change in his life is ‘but God.’ He is describing a divine interruption, a divine rescue in his life. If anyone knows about works righteousness it was Paul. Yet God was not impressed with Paul and he is not impressed with us and all our attempts at works righteousness. Last week we looked at counterfeit gospels in the church. But there are lots of Lets consider other gospels out there – moralist, family, eco gospel, activist. Yet none of them make us righteous even though we may feel we are better about ourselves. There is only one gospel that makes us righteous, the gospel of grace. When we trust him, we receive gift righteousness. That is how unrighteous people are made righteous. Man was made good and righteous but he sinned making himself unrighteous. But God provides the death of his son to pay for our sin. When we turn from seeking our own righteousness and trust him, we receive the gift of Christ righteousness.