INTRO: When I first learned to play the guitar, (i) I was influenced by lots of players – Eric Clapton, Gary Moore, and Richie Blackmore. I received my playing style from them. (ii)The players both influenced me and motivated me to play (I wanted very badly to be like them. They were not mere influences to learn from but heroes to imitate). (iii) I also needed some way to know that I was doing the right thing. I would play something and then check with their recordings that I was doing it right. (iv) On the other hand, any guitarist worth his salt must develop a unique style.
What most payers have is a combination of recognizable influences and unique contributions. If one does it well, then one will be a rock star!!
What Paul is going to argue today is that his gospel is neither the result of his influences nor is it his own spin. He received the gospel not from a human origin and he did not try to make it his own.
He will argue (i) that he heard the message from Christ himself, (ii) he was not motivated to become an apostle by the desire to be an apostle but was commanded by God himself,(iii) he needs no check with other apostles to see if he is doing it right, and (iv) the message is not his own and so he is not the star; God is.
#1: The first piece of evidence in support of (i) is that he received the gospel from Jesus Christ (on the Damascus road)
11For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
12For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
#2: The evidence for the divine origin of the gospel is: Paul had no human motivationto embrace the gospel. Rather, his motivation is the call God places on his life.and we know this because Paul was utterly opposed to the gospel. So, what explains Paul’s conversion? The best explanation for Paul’s conversion is the work of God.
13For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism,
how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it;
14and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.
15But when God,
who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb
and called methrough His grace,
was pleased 16to reveal His Son in me
so that I might preach Himamong the Gentiles,
Q: How does Paul describe God’s work of salvation and purpose for his life? Notice: Paul stresses his Judaism but says that his call predates his tradition. Even before his zealous persecution of the church, God had chosen him to be an apostle of the church – to preach the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles (non-Jews). APP: God’s electing grace predates your calling and work.
Q: what was Paul like before his salvation and call? Notice: the zealousness of Paul’s persecution is rooted in his adherence to anti-Messianism (not merely the OT). He was a rising star.
Notice: the motivation for being an apostle to the Gentiles is not human; it is divine – Paul is obeying the Lord; he is not currying any favor to any man.
#3: Evidence for (iii): even once Paul had received the gospel from Christ, he did not consult any human source before proclaiming it. He did not check to see if he was doing it right.
I did notimmediately consult with flesh and blood,
17nor did I go up to Jerusalemto those who were apostles before me;
but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.
18Then three years laterI went up to Jerusalem
to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.
19But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.
20(Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.)
21Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
22I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ;
23but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.”
24And they were glorifying God because of me.
Notice: Paul does not consult anyone. Q: why not? A: Paul does not need any human affirmation. Nor does he require any help with the message. He knows what he must do and he knows exactly what he must say. No help required!
He especially needs no affirmation from the other apostles.
In Acts, we learn that Paul preaches in synagogues in Damascus (Acts 9:20). He tells us here that he also went to Arabia. It is likely that he also preaches in Arabia.
Q: What does his limited time with the apostles tell the reader? A: that he did not get the gospel from them. He is trying to affirm his independence.
Q: Paul is claiming independence. Why? A: he is trying to say that his gospel is not a knock-off from the apostles. Q: what does this tell us about the opponents of Paul? A: They think he picked the gospel up from the other apostles and then used it to gain the audience in Galatia.
His point is: this is no knock-off gospel.
Final Point: It is of divine origin and no glory can be attributed to Paul (they gave glory to God and did not know who Paul was!)
Paul did not make his own gospel custom designed to gain him the maximum glory.
Sometimes a guitar player will come from nowhere with an entirely unique style and immediately becomes a sensation. Every guitarist is talking about him.
Paul is not like this. Everyone heard about the fact that some guy had switched sides and gave him not one whit of glory. Instead they glorified God.
Paul has argued (i) that he heard the message from Christ himself (ii) he was not motivated to become an apostle by any desire to be an apostle but instead was commanded by God himself (iii) he needs no check with other apostles to see if he is doing it right and (iv) the message is not his own and so he is not the star; God is.
(i) The gospel we preach is from God. It is not a human construct.
(ii) Your call is not the result of a wish fulfillment, or an opium for the masses, nor is it the product of an overactive imagination. It is from God. Your call to be one of the Lord’s people is not contingent on any of your experiences. In fact, his election of you predates all your thoughts and experiences!
(iii) The gospel you preach is not accountable to anything beyond the word of God. His gospel does not have to fit the age or the stipulations of any pope.
(iv) Not one of us receives the glory for the gospel – God does. Our testimonies shine no light on us. We are not the rock stars. God is. To him be all the glory!