Summary: This message is a part of an expository series on the Book of Galatians
The Judaizers have been working really hard to lure the Galatian believers back into the world of religious legalism. It seems as though that these opponents of freedom in Christ have decided to adopt a two-fold strategy. With the Galatians being new to the faith and too immature to truly enjoy this new freedom this produced some great insecurities in them. Playing on these insecurities the Judaizers presented the Law of Moses and the traditions of the Jewish elders as the answers to that insecurity. The second part of the strategy was to discredit Paul. They attempted this by saying that he was not really a true apostle and that he was trying to gain the approval of men. So Paul mounts a very forceful campaign to hit the challenges of the Judaizers head-on. We could call this strategy of Paul the “Gospel Factor.” In this strategy Paul simply reminds the Galatian believers of the nature of the Gospel. In doing this Paul does an excellent job of defining the Gospel and showing the profound effect that it has on the lives of individuals and his life in particular. Let’s examine the Gospel factor.
I. The Gospel is Good News revealed by God.
A. Neither Paul nor any other man invented the Gospel that Paul presented to the Galatians.
1. The phrase “something that man made up” is literally “not according to man,” signifying that the true gospel draws neither its origin nor its authority from men.
2. The gospel message did not come to me through human channels—it was not mediated to Paul through any man; and his preaching of the gospel has not been guided by human motives and ambitions.
3. The most likely accusation the Judaizers made against Paul was that he owed his salvation and gospel knowledge to Peter and James and that he had to turn to them for the approval of his teaching.
4. Paul quickly points out that he became a believer well before he ever met any of these leaders.
5. Literally “unknown by face,” Paul had so little contact with Jerusalem and the other apostles that he would not have been recognized if the Christians of that area were to meet him.
6. Following his baptism by Ananias (Acts 9:18) Paul did not seek out Christian leaders to learn the gospel from them. He did not consult “any man.”
7. God’s plans for him called for a period of three years away from any of the leaders of the church, as proof that his message was from heaven.
B. Paul received the gospel in a revelation directly from Jesus Christ.
1. On the Damascus Road, Jesus Christ himself appeared to Paul as the revealing one; what he disclosed was the true nature of the gospel, the content of the message Paul was commissioned to preach.
2. Revelation points to a divine implanting of knowledge in Paul’s mind, not a fallible human effort to memorize and understand a body of facts. God revealed; Paul received.
3. None of the truth of the gospel depended on Paul’s efforts to learn or remember. As with the other apostles, inspired truth was not a human work, but a work of the Spirit.
4. It is God, and not man, who stands behind the gospel Paul, now preaches.
5. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:22-24—NIV)
C. The main message of this revealed Good News.
1. Jesus, who had everything to lose, became a nobody in the world in order that we might become somebody.
2. How could this be invented…It is nowhere near what we would expect. In fact it is not even what we would want of God.
3. However when you consider the overall theme of Galatians, “Christ died to set us free” it makes absolutely perfect sense.
4. This revelation is special. It does not come as a body of facts to be mentally received but as a claim upon our lives to be acknowledged.
5. God has revealed His love and in doing so challenged us to respond.
II. The Gospel is revolutionary Good News.
A. Paul offers, as the best evidence he has concerning the impact of the Gospel, the change in His own life.
1. They may have heard of his early life from Paul’s own lips, but the defection of Gamaliel’s star pupil to Christianity was probably a well known event among Jews everywhere.
2. Paul was a zealous student in his youthful attempt to master the traditions of his fathers.
3. It is interesting that Paul refers to his way of life “in Judaism.” He does not call it a time when he served God under the previous covenant; it is almost as though God had nothing to do with it.