Summary: This sermon focuses on Paul's testimony as he defends his apostleship. The sermon is an adaption of a sermon by Ray Pritchard "How a Terrorist Became an Evangelist: The Amazing Story of Paul’s Conversion" (www.keepbelieving.com)
A. The story is told of a family from the back woods, who many years ago, made their first visit to the big city.
1. As they checked into a grand hotel, they stood in amazement as they looked at all the new and impressive things they saw.
2. As dad checked them in at the reception desk, the mother and the children stood near the elevators.
3. Now they had never seen an elevator before, and didn’t know what it was used for.
4. As they stood there watching, an old man hobbled towards the elevator and went inside.
5. The door closed, and a minute later, the door opened and out came a stunningly handsome, young man.
6. The mother stared, and without turning her head, patted her daughter’s arm and said, “Quick, go get your dad, this is some kind of miracle transformation machine, and we gotta put your dad in it.”
7. Don’t we wish transformation was that easy?
B. Christianity is supremely a religion of conversion and transformation.
1. Everything we say and everything we believe is built upon one fundamental and revolutionary premise: You don’t have to stay the way you are.
2. Our lives can be radically changed by God.
3. When we allow God to enter our lives, then our lives will never be the same again.
4. Until we allow that to happen, we may be religious and we may be a very good person, but we have not been converted.
C. See, religion is one thing, but conversion and transformation is something else entirely.
1. It is the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that brings conversion and transformation.
2. As the Gospel does its’ job in our lives, then long-held prejudices are overcome, lifetime habits are broken, and deeply ingrained patterns of sin are erased over time.
3. Gospel conversion and transformation guarantees that what we were does not determine what we are, and what we will be.
4. Through the Gospel, we can be changed, we can be different, our lives can move in an entirely new direction.
D. Of all the conversion stories in the Bible, none is greater or more profound than the conversion of the man called Saul of Tarsus, who became the apostle Paul.
1. Raised a Jew, trained as a rabbi, he became a violent persecutor of the early Christian church.
2. He hated Christ and his followers so much that he did his best to eradicate the new religion as if it were some sort of dreaded virus.
3. He was a terrorist who did his evil deeds in the name of the God of the Bible.
4. But then one day he met Jesus and his life was permanently transformed.
5. What happened to him made such an impact on Christianity that the New Testament contains at least four separate accounts of his dramatic conversion – Three of them are in Acts, chapters 9, 22, and 26, and the fourth account is in our text here in Galatians.
E. Last week, we began a new sermon series called “Set Free – A Study of the Book of Galatians.”
1. The reason that Paul wrote this letter to the churches of Galatia, was because some Judaizers had come into that region and were attacking both Paul’s apostleship and Paul’s message.
2. If you were here last week, then you know that the main point Paul focused on in verses 1 – 10 was “don’t mess with the message.”
3. The gospel of Jesus Christ needs no changing.
4. The Judaizers had changed the gospel and in so doing changed it from good news to bad news!
F. So, if last week’s message was “don’t mess with the message,” we might summarize this week’s message as “don’t mess with the messenger.”
1. In essence, the Judaizers claimed that Paul’s message wasn’t true and he himself could not be trusted, because he wasn’t a real apostle like the original 12.
2. That raises an interesting question: How do you prove that you are trustworthy and authentic?
3. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to prove his trustworthiness and authenticity by telling his story, and therefore, letting his story speak for itself.
G. Let’s pick up Paul’s telling of his story at verse 11, 11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal. 1:11-12)
1. These verses emphasize two important truths.
a. First, the gospel was not Paul’s idea; it was God’s idea.
b. Second, because the gospel comes from God, it must be true.
2. Paul is merely the conduit for the truth, and not its source.