The Revelation of Jesus Christ; Galatians 1
Galatians 1.13-17 A few Thursdays ago we started a new series of studies at our Thursday evening prayer meeting on the book of Galatians by St Paul. It is early days, so we are still in the first chapter. Last night we looked at verses 13 and following.
For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
What was of special interest to us was the account of how Paul became a Christian. Clearly, beforehand, Paul had been a fanatical follower of Judaism to the point of wanting to obliterate the Church. However, all of this changed when, to Paul’s astonishment, he actually met the one that he was hell bent on denying! You can read about this is Acts 9 but Paul summaries this encounter by saying that he received ‘a revelation of Jesus Christ’ (verse 12). Given his background nothing can explain the change in a man like Paul but the power of Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God that many of us, in much less spectacular ways, can make the same claim having come to know Jesus for ourselves!
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me (verse 15). Clearly Paul is in no doubt about the fact that his salvation (his sins being forgiven and Paul being accounted right in God’s sight) was all a work of God and not ‘man-made’. The one word that sums all of this up is ‘Grace’. To understand grace is nothing other than to understand the whole Bible’s teaching on salvation. The Holy Scriptures are clear, from one end to the other, that getting to Heaven can never be based on what we do- even our good works like going to Church, giving money to charity, receiving sacraments, etc.-but is based 100% based on what Jesus did on the Cross, which was to die to deal with our biggest problem- our sin.
To receive this wonderful gift of God’s forgiveness we are called to turn from our sin and rest wholly on the finished work of Jesus. This is what the Bible calls ‘faith’. Now that is what I call good news 4 you!
You are all very welcome to join us at 7.45 on a Thursday evening above our ‘Good news 4 you’ bookshop on the Octagon.