Sermon #3 Galatians Series
Title: “Our Gospel is of God
Text: Galatians 1:11-24
Subject: The Gospel – Its origin and its application
There were false teachers at Galatia who imposed themselves upon the saints there by pretending that they had their commission from the Apostles. In the same deceitful manner they asserted that Paul was not an apostle. They made much of the fact that he was not one of the original twelve. And they declared that he had never been acknowledged by them, and that he did not properly teach their doctrine. Paul replies to this groundless charge with boldness, declaring that his apostleship was directly from heaven; and that it was, therefore, far more illustrious than that of the other apostles. They had received their office from our Lord during his humiliation. But Paul was called to this office by the exalted Redeemer.
Paul, however, does not content himself with the mere assertion of his apostleship. He goes on to prove what he has said by an appeal to facts, known of his own life. And he makes this appeal with the greatest earnestness, because these facts touch the recognition of the validity of his message in all future ages. It is not unlikely that he foresaw that the fiercest attacks upon Christianity would be made upon the Pauline doctrine. Therefore, he labors to show that what he says, Christ says, since Christ is speaking through him.
“It is not strange,” said Spurgeon, “to hear certain dubious people assert – ‘I do not agree with St. Paul.’ I remember the first time that I heard this expression I looked at the individual with astonishment. I was amazed that such a pigmy should say this of the great apostle. It seemed like a cheese-mite differing from a cherub, or a handful of chaff discussing the verdict of the fire.”
In the passage before us this evening Paul is defending his apostleship, by defending his message. In this defense we see certain definite characteristics of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is one point which Paul is concerned to drive home to us. It is this: Our gospel is not of man. This gospel, which, by the effectual power of the Holy Spirit, completely changes the heart and life of a man in a very brief moment, cannot be of man. Our gospel is of God!
By relating his personal experiences, Paul shows that the gospel originates with God alone, is revealed by God alone, and is applied by God alone.
1. The certification of the message (11-12).
2. The conversion of the man (13-16a).
3. The conversation of the messenger (16b-24).
I. The certification of the message (11-12).
Here Paul continues to show that his gospel was the only message worthy of the name gospel, because his was of Divine origin.
NOTE: The form of expression here used is very strong. Paul goes as far as he cares to go towards an oath, when he says, “I certify you brethren.” He means, “I assure you most certainly. I would have you certain of it. The gospel which is preached of me is not after men.”
NOTE: He is very tender and very tactful. He addresses them as “brethren”. Even now, in spite of their deviation he considers them as members of the same spiritual family, of which he also is a member – The Father’s family (Eph. 3:14).
A. The rise of the gospel (11).
1. Our gospel is not a human invention.
a. Its character is divine.
(1.) It is an immutable gospel. Thus, it cannot be after man.
(2.) It opposes human pride.
(3.) It gives no place for sin.
b. Its content is Divine.
(1.) Our gospel is a message of God’s mercy.
(2.) Our gospel is a message of God’s work (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
c. Its conception is Divine
(1.) The gospel of free and sovereign grace is of God in its origin. It is not the result of human ingenuity or devising.
NOTE: A righteousness wrought by another and made over to us graciously is a mystery man cannot understand. He can only wonder at it, despise it, and reject.
(2.) Our gospel is not agreeable to human opinion or thought (2 Cor. 2:14; Isa. 55:8-9; John 1:5).
2. Our gospel was devised in the eternal mind of God and brought into being by the sovereign will of God.
B. The reception of the gospel (12a).
Someone may say, well preacher, we realize that the gospel is from God in its origin. We only claim that it is of man in its reception. Paul’s reply is no, in no way did it come to me of man.
1. Paul did not receive it from his parents.
2. Paul did not receive it from Gamalial.
3. Paul did not receive it from the other apostles.
NOTE: He learned nothing from them, but they learned from him things that filled them with wonder (Gal. 2:6; 2 Pet. 3:15-16).
4. Paul did not even receive the gospel of his own will (John 1:12-13). How then did Paul receive the gospel?
C. The revelation of the gospel (12b).
There is only one way in which man will receive the gospel of Christ – “By the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
1. Paul received the gospel by the revelation of Christ (Eph. 3:3-8).
2. Paul’s conversion was not the exception, but the rule (1 Tim. 1:16).
3. It is only by the sovereign illuminating work of the Holy Spirit that the dark abyss of any man’s soul enlightened to the gospel in the face of Jesus Christ (Matt. 16:17; John 3:3; 1 Cor. 12:3; Luke 10:21-22).
NOTE: He had heard. He had been taught; but now the Holy Spirit enlightened him.
II. The conversion of the man (13-16a).
Here the apostle relates the history of his conversion. We must keep in mind, however, that it is not Paul’s purpose here to give us a complete autobiography. He relates only those events which support his vindication of his calling and apostleship from heaven. Thus, his record here, and that recorded by Luke in the Book of Acts (which is a history of Christ’s work through the early church) do not contradict one another. They simply bring to light different events in the life of this man of God.
A. The man’s sorrow (13).
1. Paul’s persecutions were extremely violent.
2. He persecuted God’s peculiar treasure – The church.
NOTE: The word church is here used in the universal sense.
3. His persecutions had a most sinister purpose. He desired to destroy the body of Christ.
4. This was a source of continual sorrow to Paul (Rom. 9:1-4).
B. The man’s success (14).
Paul had been a Pharisee of the Pharisees (Phil. 3:4-7).
C. The man’s separation (15-16a).
1. The person – “When it pleased God.”
“It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”
2. The predestination – “That separated me from my mother’s womb.”
a. God’s grace is sovereign (Jer. 1:5; Lk. 1:15; Rom. 9:10-24).
b. God has a people whom he has chosen before the foundation of the world to be his own peculiar objects of love (John 15:16; Eph. 1:3-4, 11; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 1 Pet. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:9).
3. The power – “And called me by his grace.”
a. Whom does God call by his grace? – All his elect (Rom. 8:30), no one else.
b. Is his call always effectual? Yes, always (John 6:37-39; 63-65).
4. The purpose – “To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen.”
III. The messenger’s conversation (16b-24).
A. His teacher was God (16b-22).
B. His testimony was gracious (23-24).
1. Has God made known his will to you?
2. Have you seen his Christ?
3. Have you heard his voice?
4. Are you his witness?
5. Is the gospel you have received of men, or of God?