Galatians 1:10-12 (NIV) says, 10 “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
Paul’s Message Comes from Christ
11 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the Gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. 12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.”
Undoubtedly the Judaizers had accused Paul of compromise, saying that he taught freedom from the Jewish law to the Gentiles in order to be a people pleaser and thus win as many converts as possible. But Paul explained that his purpose was always to please God.
Paul’s use of the word still offers a glimpse into his inner self and his past life as a Pharisee. Paul understood that by living a strict, law-abiding, judgmental, and appearance—focused life of a Pharisee, his goal had really been to please people. Religious and pious people may receive mountains of praise for their supposed character and good works. Christians are rarely accorded such praise. Thus if Paul were trying to please people, he would not be Christ’s servant. As there is no compromise with the truth, there is no compromise for the Christian with “this evil world” (Galatians 1:4). The life of serving Christ does not put people in the limelight, offer great material rewards, or promise worldly security. Thus, if Paul wanted to please people, he could have chosen many other routes or stayed a Jewish Pharisee.
Much of church growth philosophy centers on a “market” approach, discovering what people want and need. For a culture that treats God and the Bible as irrelevant, this approach may be the only way to break through barriers. But we must have our motives clearly understood. If our desire is to please people, our packaging of the gospel may take priority over the content. If our purpose is evangelism, then reaching people through felt needs can be legitimate. We must not forget that our allegiance to Christ comes first. We must never water down his authority in the life of a believer in order to bring him or her into a church.
In verse 1, Paul had introduced himself as appointed by God. As Paul launched into a repudiation of those who would refuse to recognize his authority as an apostle, he began at the beginning. Paul wanted the Galatian believers to be assured that he was an apostle – called separately from the Twelve and received as an equal by the Twelve.
The Good News that Paul preached was the true gospel, not any false gospel, as he had discussed in verses 6-9. The gospel Paul taught was not based on mere human reasoning or logic—that is, it was not a belief or doctrine handed down to him through Jewish tradition.
The Judaizers, refusing to acknowledge Paul as an apostle, most likely claimed that Paul owed his salvation and gospel knowledge to Peter and James in Jerusalem and that he had to turn to them for approval and support of his teaching. But, as Paul would point out, he had become a believer before he ever met these leaders in the Christian church. Nor was Paul taught the Gospel. As a young man, Paul had sat at the feet of Gamaliel, learning by rote and repetition the Hebrew Law and Scriptures. But that was not the Gospel, nor could it give salvation.
Instead, the message Paul preached came by direct revelation from our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We do not know the extent or manner of this revelation. Paul could be referring to his vision of Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6), to the time after Ananias returned Paul’s sight (Acts 9:17-19), to the three years spent in Arabia (Galatians 1:17-18), or to his ongoing contact with Christ in his ministry (Acts 9:19-22; 22:17-18). Paul was probably referring to something more than his Damascus road experience. Paul didn’t say it, but he implied at this point: “How can anyone doubt my authority? How can anyone doubt the divinely revealed truth about Jesus Christ?”
Paul believed that the peace he had received in Christ was not obtainable from any earthly sources. It had been revealed to him. Peace is the subject of many popular self-help books and the theme of many hot-line telephone numbers. But peace is not to be spoon-fed into our lives like cereal, nor is it instantly derived from our disciplines. Peace is revealed. If God does not show us both its meaning and its source, we will not possess it. Consider the verses in today’s reading and ask yourself, “What did Paul’s acceptance of a higher will really mean in relationship to his service to others?” It meant this: Paul could really minister to others once the turmoil from his own heart and life had been removed. Notice his testimony in the verses that immediately follow.
“For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it … But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus” (Galatians 1:13, 15-17). We need to remember that the voice that spoke to Paul on the Damascus road said to him, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14). The implication here seems to be that Paul’s conscience was far from settled with regard to his persecution of Christians. Into his troubled thoughts, God spoke and Paul finally found peace.
Great ideas gain acceptance very slowly in stubborn hearts. Peace comes equally slowly. In fact, peace usually gets a little blood on its tranquility before trowelled hearts come to acceptance. The human hearts is subject to turmoil, but our Lord Jesus Christ enters our hearts to save us, and a calm falls over all our agitation like oil falls on water. Jesus and turmoil cannot coexist for long within any human heart. Where Jesus is, there is peace (Colossians 3:15). Peace is ours when we have accepted a higher will. When Paul accepted the call of God, he began to minister in ways he might never have imagined. He was freed to bring peace to others out of his own peace. When we focus on the will of God in our lives, we find peace, and we find that we can spread that peace to others.
Share these: WORDS And THOUGHTS
Published by Elias A Busuego Jr PhD DTM
Elias A. Busuego, Jr., PhD, DTM is self-described as “proud of the only two women in my life – my wife and my daughter (with her husband and one grandson & one granddaughter). I am also proud of my three sons: John and his family (two sons & 1 daughter); Christopher and his family (with his wife and one grandson & one daughter); and Elias Jr. IV and his family (with his wife and one son & one daughter), who are all serving in the U.S. military.” The author states that he read the Bible back-to-back, and learned the history behind it, but did not understand its deeper spiritual perspective until he experienced of being Born-Again, born in spirit.
Since he was Born-Again on March 17, 1972, he started understanding the Passage and/or Scripture on John 3:3-7 NLT.
These are most of his favorite verses. In John 3:3-7 NLT says, “3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again? "Jesus replied, “I assure you; no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’
In John 3:5 – This statement has perplexed and divided commentators for many centuries. Some traditions have taught that the water denotes physical birth (referring to the “water” of amniotic fluid or even semen) and Spirit to spiritual birth – in which case our Lord Jesus Christ would be saying that a person has to have two births: one physical and the second, spiritual. This view builds upon the preceding context when Nicodemus referred to physical birth. It also points to the parallel our Lord Jesus Christ makes in verse 6. According to this position, our Lord Jesus Christ would have been granting the Pharisee’s point in order to highlight the nature of the second birth as spiritual. Two strengths of this interpretation are that it avoids making the physical act of water baptism a necessity and that it avoids bringing almost a “third birth” idea into the discussion. If water doesn’t refer to natural birth, say its defenders, then our Lord Jesus Christ seems to be saying that a person must be born of their parents, born of water, and born of the Spirit.
Other traditions have taught that the water refers to baptism and the Spirit to spiritual regeneration – thus, our Lord Jesus Christ would have been saying that a person must both be baptized and receive the Spirit in order to enter the Kingdom of God. This view is at times influenced by the belief that the sacrament of baptism is itself a requirement for salvation.
A parallel view makes water refer to baptism but places the emphasis on teaching two steps of baptism; one by water, the other by the Spirit. For support, these views point to the larger context in John where John the Baptist and water baptism are mentioned just preceding the events in Cana and following this encounter with Nicodemus. They also rely on the tendency of previous generations of Christians to equate the mention of water with baptism. But in the first seven chapters of John, water appears in some way (naturally or symbolically) in each chapter. To associate water and baptism too closely makes baptism a higher priority than the Scriptures give it. Here, for instance, if our Lord Jesus Christ was speaking of two completely separate acts, two baptisms, it is odd that the rest of the discussion between our Lord Jesus Christ and Nicodemus never again refers to the subject but revolves entirely around the work of God’s Spirit.
Still other traditions have taught that our Lord Jesus’ reference to water is not physical in either the sense of birth or baptism. The term water is simply another description of the Spirit – or the Spirit’s activity of cleansing and giving life (see John 7:37-39).
In John 3:6 – Humans can produce only more human beings; this answers Nicodemus’s question in verse 4. Only God the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven. At the same time God puts His Spirit into us, we are given a new regenerated human spirit. It is God’s Spirit, not our effort, that makes us children of God (John 1:12). Our Lord Jesus’ description corrects human hopes that we might somehow inherit goodness from parents or earn it by good behavior, church background, or correct associations. At some point we must be able to answer the question: Have I been born of the Spirit?
In John 3:7 – Our Lord Jesus’ statement to Nicodemus that evening has been heralded to all the world ever since. Both Jew and Gentile have heard the divine mandate: You must be born again. Without the new birth, one cannot see or enter into the Kingdom of God. In those words, millions have heard our Lord Jesus Christ speaking directly to their hearts and our hearts. Behind our Lord Jesus’ challenge is His invitation to each of us –” You must be born again; allow me to do that for you.”
Since he was born again on March 17, 1972, he started also understanding his other favorite Passage on Romans 12:2 NLT.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
When Elias offered his entire self to God, a change happened in his relation to the world. As one of Born-Again Christians, he believes we are called to a different lifestyle than what the world offers with its behavior and customs, which are usually selfish and often corrupting (Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:14).
He commented that Born-Again Christians are to live as citizens of a future world. There will be pressure to conform, to continue living according to the script written by the world, but Born-Again Christian believers are forbidden to give in to that pressure.
But refusing to conform to this world’s values must go even deeper than the level of behavior and customs – it must go to the transforming of the way we think.
In Elias testimonies as a Born-Again Christian believer, he emphasized that born-again is an experience and he experienced a complete transformation from the inside out. And the change must begin in the mind, where all thoughts and actions begin. Much of the work is done by God’s Spirit in us, and the tool most frequently used is God’s Word. As we memorize and meditate upon God’s Word, our way of thinking changes. Our minds become first informed, and then conformed to the pattern of God, the pattern for which we were originally designed. When we as Born-Again Christian believers have had our minds transformed and are becoming more like our Lord Jesus Christ, we will know what God wants and we will want to do it for it is good, pleasing to God, and perfect for us.
It is from those gleanings that he was able to write this book.
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