Weekly Devotional for the 2009-2010 School Year at Elon
April 5, 2009
Galatians 1:11-24 - Divine Revelation and The Plan
As Paul continues the defense of his apostleship before Galatian Christians who are beginning to doubt him, he now turns to the third criticism against him, that he has learned the gospel second-hand, and therefore is confused. His opponents are saying that, since Paul was not one of the original disciples, and in fact did not ever meet Jesus during His ministry, his take on the gospel cannot be trusted. Since these other teachers are insisting that Gentile Christians also become Jews to REALLY follow Jesus, and Paul, who founded the church, never taught this, the Galatian church caught in the middle is surely perplexed.
Paul’s reply, while lengthy, is actually very simple: I never consulted with the apostles, and they never taught me any of what I preach. Instead, it was a revelation from God. In fact, though Paul writes half the books of the New Testament, he only tells one story about the ministry of Jesus, and this would not have had to have been told to him by the apostles. (Anyone who can tell me what that story is gets special “Bible Scholar” recognition in my next devotional!) Instead, Paul focuses on the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection, revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, quite possibly through his study of the Old Testament scriptures. After all, the resurrection is good news for Jesus, yes, but how does it become good news for anyone who repents and believes in Jesus? Paul is the one who especially comes to understand Jesus as the sacrificial lamb, the human sacrifice that all the Old Testament sacrifices only foreshadow. And so, for the rest of chapter one, Paul talks about how little contact he has had with the original apostles. Why is this a selling point when it comes to defending his own apostleship? It becomes clear in chapter two, but I’ll talk about that more next time.
One particularly poignant moment in the discussion, however, comes in verse 15, when Paul mentions that God had set him apart to be an apostle from the time that he was in the womb of his mother. Pro-life observations aside, what kind of confidence must it give a person to know, not only that he is not here by chance, but in fact, God has had a perfect plan for him from before he was born. It’s like Psalm 139:16, “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days that were ordained for me were written, when as yet there was not one.” Do you believe the same is true for you? The Bible teaches that He has a plan for you too, and that in your service to Him you will find your deepest joy.
I became a minister because I did not want to waste my life chasing after things that did not matter, and then wind up with nothing at the end. Obviously, being a minister is not what God calls everyone to do, any more than He calls everyone to be an apostle. But what is He calling you to do? You will probably have some natural skills in it; the Lord surely never intended for me to be a dancer! But what about you?
Do you believe God has a plan for you? Can you live in the joy of that promise?
Powell Sykes Pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church A Confessing Church in the PC(USA) 1126 W. Webb Avenue Burlington, NC 27217 (336) 227-2787 Church Website: www.wpcburlington.com
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