Summary: Pentecost 3(C) - When God calls, who can refuse? Not Saul, nor Paul.
WHO CAN REFUSE GOD’S CALL?
June 25, 2006 - PENTECOST 3 - Galatians 1:11-24
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Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
Today we continue with our study of Galatians with Paul’s concern for the faith of the faithful in Christ. The main message of today’s text is: God’s will is done. No man can refuse nor resist the plans that God has for that person. Today we learn from the example of Paul that even enemies of God can be and are changed into God’s army. Consider what the Psalm writer declares: "My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" (PSALM 139:15,16). Even hidden in the womb, even before birth all the days ordained for man is known by God. Man may plan many things but it is ultimately God who directs the footsteps of everyone. Knowing this --
WHO CAN REFUSE GOD’S CALL?
I. Not Saul,
II. Nor Paul
I. NOT SAUL
A. Remember Paul was not always Paul. Paul had been born with the name Saul.
1. Paul and Saul were real-life opposites in respect to faith, God and life itself.
2. Verse 13 reminds the believers how Saul persecuted God’s church and even tried to destroy it.
B. This bad reputation of Saul was very well known among the believers. Verses 21-23a.
1. It was very hard for the present Paul to distance himself from his past as Saul.
2. Paul explains the intensity of Saul in verse 14. Tradition was important to Saul.
C. The reality was that Saul was blind to God’s grace because of his zeal for church traditions.
1. Saul was so zealous for man’s tradition that he rejected the message of the Messiah.
2. In the midst of resistance he could not refuse God’s call in verses 15,16.
D. Saul was blinded by his own self-interests. We can be quite the same in our own day-to-day living. Our society trains or brainwashes us to feel that we are the most important person on God’s green earth. We like to promote ourselves: either our families or work. All glory to us! This is worldly thinking and not God’s. "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened"(ROMANS 1:21).
E. The things of this world can attract our attention. The things of this world can distract our attention. Satan uses every kind of tool at his disposal to make us like Saul rather than Paul "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God"(2 CORINTHIANS 4:4).
F. In the end who can refuse God’s call? Saul could not. Every believer, like Saul, is saved purely by God’s choice, his divine grace that wants all men to come to repentance. "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved"(EPHESIANS 2:4,5). Believers believe by God’s grace. Unbelievers do not believe by their own choice – rejection. Praise God for his irresistible grace and love and mercy!
TRANSITION: WHO CAN REFUSE GOD’S CALL? Saul could not, II. nor Paul.
II. NOR PAUL
A. Looking back, Paul realized that as Saul he acted in ignorance and unbelief. But this was not excuse.
1. But now, Paul was so dramatically, divinely changed that he only preached God’s message.
2. His preaching was not man’s message. This was a problem in the early church.
B. Paul emphasizes his message was from God, verse 11. Verse 12 re-emphasizes Paul’s claim.
1. Judaizers were trying to mix their message of doing with God’s gospel of done.
2. Paul’s message was God’s message because it came straight from God, verses 16b,17.
C. Paul spent years at God’s feet. Verses 18, 19 show a passing acquaintance with God’s leaders.
1. Verse 20 once again emphasizes that Paul’s words were God’s words and not a lie.
2. For the believers there was great joy because Saul was no longer Saul, but Paul.
3. Verses 23, 24 speak of the glory God was given for Paul’s work among Gentiles.
D. Paul did not refuse God’s call. As Paul he became the greatest missionary of the Christian church.
E. We now arrive at a close examination concerning the meaning and importance of God’s call for his believers. Our example this morning is Saul, now Paul. As an unbeliever Saul could not refuse though he tried. As a believer Paul did not refuse God’s call but dedicated his entire life to serving God by preach-ing the message of salvation to those still sitting in darkness. All this was for our benefit and the benefit of believers everywhere. "But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life"(1 TIMOTHY 1:16). We see how patient and merciful and forgiving our God is.