1 Thessalonians 2:2-9
1 Timothy 3:1-10
Sketched V, Day 6
“For I would have you know, brothers,
that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.” Galatians 1:11
Brothers, my Galatian brothers in Jesus. I wish you could feel how deeply those ink marks are etched into my heart. You see them on papyrus, but the truth of them will burn forever inside my soul, engraved by that glorious light that once blinded my physical eyes, that I might see with spiritual eyes. The True Gospel is not, cannot be, from man at all.
“For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it,
but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:12
Just as Peter and James received the truth of Jesus by His personal, fleshly revelation, so did I receive Him. He appeared to me just as He did to them. The mystery of why He chose me is too unfathomable, especially considering my past….
You’ve heard of my past, haven’t you? My former life as I wrapped myself up in Judaism?
You know how I heavily persecuted the Church and all followers of Jesus,
violently working to utterly destroy it. Galatians 1:13-14
I knew Judaism inside and out. I could recite all 600 traditional laws, along with all the Torah laws. I spent my life in this pursuit of knowledge, working it out in everyday life so I could earn my status before God. No one could spot a blemish better or faster than me, for I was a zealous student of the law. It made me who I had become. And I was a loathsome man, Brothers!
But Grace, oh but grace! Given by the One who had set me apart before I was born. He who called me and revealed His Son to me, that I might preach Him among the very ones I’d been persecuting. Galatians 1:15-16
No one would have dreamed it possible I could become a follower of the Way, but Jesus took this worm of a man, the greatest sinner with a black, sin-filled heart, and He remade me. Even so, my fellow brothers and sisters, my legalistic mind needed re-training.
I had always given myself entirely over to being a student; now the role of learner was even more critical.
And so, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years…. Galatians 1:16-17
The mission Jesus gave me ignited my passion in ways that made my former zeal for persecuting followers look bland, tasteless, and empty. Passion grew inside me with every passing day, but the hand of the Lord was pressing down upon me to wait.
Three years, brothers, three years I waited!
Have you ever known you were called to much, but were held back waiting?
Have you felt that fiery agony?
Have you wondered what would come next? Here I was held: waiting.
I left Jerusalem and all the apostles after my conversion because I knew my mind must be renewed. I had much to learn about grace.
I re-read the Torah with brand new eyes, and as I poured over it, preaching and making connections with other believers along the way, the Word came alive!
It became ceaselessly precious and gloriously new with every word.
No, the gospel is not from man, it’s much too powerful!
Yes, the God of my Fathers was redeeming all things while I waited.
Yes, the stirring in my soul was gaining momentum as I submitted to the role of student once again.
The lessons I learned in Arabia will forever be the most precious to me because I was a student of the Lord God Himself, learning His ways and hearing His heart which went far deeper than 600 pitiful laws that could never hope to describe His glory, grace, and love.
… I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.
Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. Galatians 1:18-2:21
I moved from Arabia, awakened to life by an intimate closeness with Christ.
For the first time as a redeemed man, I met Peter, or Cephas, my brother in Jesus and fellow apostle. The fifteen days with him was like an outpouring of the Spirit’s fire!
I felt Peter’s passion as he re-told stories of his time with Jesus. He shared of his own, priceless journey with the Master as he had grown from fisher on the sea to fisher in the world. The more we shared our experiences, the stronger the Spirit burned within us, binding us together in united passion for our Lord and fierce love for the lost and Christ’s Church. Just as time spent with the Lord in the Scriptures had been precious, I was experiencing the beginnings of what it meant to be in community with other brothers and sisters just like yourselves, Galatians! Student, I was still.
Living in community and studying the Scripture together renewed me, challenged me, and took me deeper in my walk with the Savior. This passion for both of these sent me into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, connecting with other followers, studying His Word together, and building genuine community. This was the heart of Christ’s Church!
I had no idea of the extent persecution would become my life, but for now, in the waiting, the Lord was teaching me of His good heart, His redeeming grace, and His boundless love for the church, His Bride.
Fourteen years later, after falling in love in ever-deepening ways with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit through community and Scripture study, I was ready to fully embrace the deep mission God had called me to on that long ago, yet ever fresh, day as I traveled to Damascus. I penned my first letter to the Thessalonians and now I’m writing to you, my Galatian brethren.
If you learn nothing else from me, hear this:
The gospel is much too powerful to be from man, and if you allow Him, the Lord Himself will teach, train, woo, and redeem you, even while you wait, if you give yourself over to community and Scripture study.
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