Summary: The Gospel has the power to radically change us from the inside out.
The Power of Transformation
Text: Gal. 1:11-24
1. Illustration: I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please (Wilbur Rees, from "When I Relax I Feel Guilty," Tim Hansel).
2. The Oxford Dictionary defines transformation as "a marked change in form, nature, or appearance: 4 the genetic alteration of a cell by introduction of extraneous DNA, especially by a plasmid. The heritable modification of a cell from its normal state to a malignant state."
3. In other words, we are not talking about minimal transformation; we are talking about radical transformation!
4. That is why transformation is so powerful. It has...
a. Power Beyond Comprehension
b. Power Without Limit
c. Power With Purpose
d. Power To Unify
e. Power Of Testimony
5. Let's stand as we read together Gal 1:11-24
Proposition: The Gospel has the power to radically change us from the inside out.
Transition: The Gospel is...
I. Power Beyond Comprehension (11-12).
A. Mere Human Reasoning
1. Paul begins this section of his letter by revealing the source of his preaching.
2. He says, "Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning."
a. I want you to understand is from gnōrizō, a strong Greek verb that means to make known with certainty, to certify.
b. It was often used, as here, to introduce an important and emphatic statement that immediately followed.
c. In vernacular English the phrase could be rendered, "Let me make it perfectly clear." (John MacArthur, MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Galatians, WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 23).
d. There are at least three dimensions to "Paul's" gospel: (1) that salvation is in Jesus Christ alone, in fulfillment of the revelation given through Moses in millennia past;
e. (2) that one becomes accepted by God solely by faith, apart from living in accordance with the law of Moses; and
f. (3) that this acceptance and church participation is open as much to Gentiles as it is to Jews.
g. While the first two have been the focus of theologians since the Reformation, the center of attention in Paul's day was the third.
h. It was Gentile inclusion into justification by faith in Christ apart from the law that was the bone of contention between Paul and the Jerusalem Judaizers.
i. Justification in Christ was acceptable to the Judaizers (after all, they claimed to be Christians).
j. Justification for Gentiles was tolerable as well (Jews had plenty of precedent for conversion to Judaism by Gentiles).
k. But it was justification before God without obedience to the law of Moses that became intolerable.
l. This view threatened the very existence of Judaism and created the social crisis behind the letter (Scot McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary – Galatians: From biblical text...to contemporary life, WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 63).
m. What they couldn't comprehend was how anyone could be acceptable before God without having to do anything themselves.
n. How could amazing grace be free grace?
3. However, Paul makes it clear that he, nor any other person made this up. It came directly from Jesus himself. He says, "I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ."
a. Surely Paul is describing here his Damascus road encounter with the risen Lord, in which experience he was both converted and received his call to evangelize the Gentile world (cf. Acts 9:1-19).
b. Paul's gospel derives, then, from a revelation from Jesus Christ. "Paul's claim… is this. His gospel, which was being called in question by the Judaizers and deserted by the Galatians, was neither an invention (as if his own brain had fabricated it), nor a tradition (as if the church had handed it down to him), but a revelation (for God had made it known to him)."
c. The term revelation describes something made known by God to humans, in this case to Paul, that would otherwise not be known or accessible.
d. Revelation thus stands in glaring contrast to passing on sacred traditions.
e. In fact, we must surely see here a criticism of the Judaizers, whose basis of knowledge was sacred tradition.
f. Paul contends that while their gospel may represent some of the leaders in Jerusalem, his gospel is a direct revelation from Jesus Christ