Summary: No one is beyond the reach of His amazing grace!
Title: From Terrorist to Evangelist
Text: Galatians 1.11-24
CT: No one is beyond the reach of His amazing grace!
FAS: Speaking about the power of Christ to redeem sinners and build his church, Russell Moore recently (2015) wrote:
The next Billy Graham might be drunk right now. The next Jonathan Edwards might be the man driving in front of you with the Darwin Fish bumper decal. The next Charles Wesley might currently be a misogynistic, profanity-spewing hip-hop artist. The next Charles Spurgeon might be managing an abortion clinic today. The next Mother Teresa might be a heroin-addicted porn star this week. The next Augustine of Hippo might be a sexually promiscuous cult member right now, just like, come to think of it, the first Augustine of Hippo was.
But the Spirit of God can turn all that around. And seems to delight to do so. The new birth doesn't just transform lives, creating repentance and faith; it also provides new leadership to the church, and fulfills Jesus' promise to gift his church with everything needed for her onward march through space and time.
Russell Moore, "Could the Next Billy Graham Be Drunk Right Now?" Russell Moore blog (10-1-15)
God loves to save bad people. He has saved some really bad folks. There have been many saved by the saving power of Jesus. Probably some of you right in here today. Some of you may think, “My testimony is not that powerful. I never sold drugs. I never really did anything too bad.”
But that is where you go wrong. According to God’s scripture, all of God’s people have been rescued. We have been transferred out of darkness into light and have passed from death to life.
I got to experience a place last week where about 40 ladies were being redeemed at an Addiction Recovery Care center. It is a faith-based place that redeems these ladies. All of them testified to us how the place had brought them back to God. We are working to get a place like that here in the county, Nicholas.
All of us are beggars in need of grace. No matter how dull we may judge our own stories, we all are in need of a savior; we are desperate people in need of a savior.
In our text today the amazing, powerful grace of God is on display. Paul gives us a picture of God’s transforming grace by relating his own story, the story of terrorist –turned-evangelist.
Paul was definitely transformed by his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He was not just tweaked by it. No sir, he was given a complete transformation. We all need that kind of transformation when we commit to Jesus. Only the gospel of Jesus transforms people from the inside out.
Paul is trying to defend his credibility. Some of his critics thought that he made his message up or simply was passing on second hand knowledge, making his message less believable than other apostles. Paul shows us that he did not make up his message. Jesus gave it directly to him.
[Screen 3] 11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. [Screen 4] 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ (Galatians 1.11-12).
What is clear in these verses is that Paul’s message was derived from God’s revelation, not human imagination. Paul met the risen Christ and received his message from Him.
Man did not invent the gospel. It comes from God. It is therefore the standard by which we measure every other set of ideas and every other religion and philosophy.
We could not make the gospel up. If we were given the power to determine how we could gain God’s favor and a place in heaven, we would make up an elaborate system that emphasized human works.
Why? Because that is our default mode of our hearts, works righteousness. The message of grace—that the work is already done—does not sit well with us. WE want control. This supports the reality that people did not make up the gospel of grace; it came from God.
The gospel of grace is like water: people did not invent it, and people cannot live without it. We are spiritually thirsty creatures in need of the living water of the gospel. As believers we need to keep drinking from the well of grace. Many Christians think they should move beyond the gospel—as if there were something more important than the work of Christ.
No, keep drinking more of the grace; keep working the gospel into your heart. You will be able to tell unbelievers that what they desperately need is not good advice or moral improvement, but the good news from God about a new life in Christ.