Paul would never have made it as an American. In this country, it is expected that one would say something like, “While I don’t believe the gospel you are preaching, you certainly have the right to believe whatever you want.” But that’s not what he said.
He said, “What you’re preaching is not the same thing I preached and you are wrong! Your gospel, which is no gospel at all, will land you in hell!”
That is confidence. It is not self-assurance, but God-assurance.
Do you so strongly believe in what you have received from the Lord that you can stand for it and against all others who might be different or even come against it?
Here we see Paul, who knew the life he had formerly lived (v. 13-14), declare that he had been set apart for God’s service from the time before he was born. Yet, his life was nowhere near a manifestation of one who followed the Lord.
Religious, yes. Sanctified, no.
But, once again, we see Paul’s confidence (God-assurance) in his relationship to the Lord.
Let’s not miss the importance of what Paul is saying here.
We do not know for certain how old Paul was, but we know that he was a young man when Stephen was stoned (Acts 7:58). We also know that after he was saved, it was three years before he went to Jerusalem to meet with Peter and James (Gal. 1:18). So, it is safe to assume that Paul could be considered a young man as old as 30-35. But he was probably in his mid to late 40s when he penned this letter to the Galatians.
Paul was able to look back on his life, on all the things he had done, the life he had lived in opposition to God, and say that he was called by God before he was born.
Doctrinally, I can say the same thing for myself; but the reality of my awareness—my knowledge, if you will—only goes back to the age of six. I know my spiritual journey, my seeking after the things of God, began at that time; but I did not meet the Lord in a saving way until I was 21 years old.
Are you able to look back over your life and trace the beginnings of the Lord’s dealings in your life before you were born again? Not just the number of times you were rescued from some trying or horrible situation, but the times when you were sensing a hunger for the things of God even though you didn’t know what to call it.
Many believers can recount the day of their salvation down to the very moment, and that is good. But few can recall the way God led them all those years until they finally came to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
Can you say that God was leading you? Can you say how He was leading you?
When you do that, the regret, the angst, the guilt over the things you might have done or left undone begin to dissipate under the cleansing flow as you fully realize that everything about you has been redeemed.
Take a moment right now to think back over your life before you were saved, and find at least one spot where you know the Lord was leading you. Begin to thank Him for carrying you through all the other stuff that followed until He brought you into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
NOTE: This the first in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Galatians. I am not the only one who is posting on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter one of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put this link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.
Interesting things happen when I am working in the yard digging in the dirt. I am able to settle my mind, and just talk to the Lord. I ask a lot of questions about things I’m seeing that I don’t understand. And since I understand so little, there are a LOT of questions.
Anyway, as I was moving one of those 80# blocks for the retainer wall–(did you know that 80# did not used to be so heavy?!? I don’t know what they put in those things, but they certainly weigh more than they did 40 years ago!)–I began laughing at how backward we have become in the church.
There is a major move on today to make disciples within the churches. This is a good thing, but not the best thing.
Jesus told us to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.
As the gospel has become more watered down to make it more appealing to more people, we have this interesting situation where pastors are calling their people to become disciples. It seems that we went into all the world and made Christians of all people–but few disciples.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his seminal work “The Cost of Discipleship,” made it clear that being a disciple is much more demanding than the greasy grace to which many have been called. It was so demanding for him in Nazi Germany that he lost his life as a result.
The term “Christian” was first used as a pejorative term, a slam against the disciples who so stood out from the rest of humanity that others mocked them. Their discipleship was so visible that a nickname had to be given.
So, the joke now is: “Where will the Christians first be called disciples?”