|Series Theme: Meditations in Galatians|
Meditation No. 3
Meditation Title: God's Gospel
Gal 1:11,12 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
Again and again it comes down to authority. There are a lot of arguments that go on in the world and at the end of the day when all has been said, you are left thinking, now who is the most qualified and who can I trust most? For Paul, as he gets down to writing to the churches in Galatia, he knows that he has a difficult task to correct the wrong thinking that has crept in, wrong thinking that has resulted in a sub-standard Gospel being accepted by them. His starting place, therefore, has to be on what grounds can he speak to them and claim that what they have is wrong and what he has is right?
Just before our verses above, he says, Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (v.10) He has already fired his first broadside refuting what they had accepted and, coming straight out with it like that in the early verses of this letter, he somewhat ironically asks them whether he is appearing to please men or not. The fact that he has confronted them so early in this letter promotes the answer in our minds, well obviously not! However, that is not his thinking. His thinking is that as a servant of God first and foremost, pleasing other people is not his objective. When the Gospel comes it upsets some people. It challenges their self reign and so they get self defensive. The Gospel preacher needs to be aware of this and not be put off by such responses. We are called by God not men; that is Paul's answer.
Our verses above them come on top of that. Paul builds his argument. He had started out in verse one by declaring that he was sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father. Then in verse 10 he reminds them that he is first and foremost a servant of God. Now he declares the integrity or credibility of what he has preached. This was not man-made stuff, he declares, this came not from any other person who taught me, but this came directly from God. This is Paul's bold claim, that what he preached came as a direct revelation from Jesus Christ himself, even though Paul had not become a Christian for quite some time after Jesus had risen and ascended.
Paul, you may remember, had had that amazing God-encounter on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). For three days in Damascus he was sightless and fasted until another servant of the Lord came and prayed for him and restored his sight. He's going to explain all this in the verses ahead but he starts out with this declaration that the Gospel that he has preached wasn't a man-made thing; it came from God.
Now this is the crucial thing to remember about the Gospel of Jesus Christ it is all God initiated. God sent His Son Jesus, knowing what the outcome would be. In fact the apostles came to realise that it was something that the Godhead had planned before the formation of the world itself (1 Pet 1:20, Eph 1:4, Rev 13:8). Yes, each of the main apostolic writers knew this incredible truth. This Gospel wasn't something just dreamt up on the spur of the moment, it wasn't a last ditch stand by God, it wasn't a crisis rescue package; it was in fact something that the Godhead knew had to happen, something they planned before they even created the world. They knew that, giving free will to mankind, meant that mankind would be vulnerable to Satan, and that they would give way and so sin would enter the human experience from then on. Yet they also planned to come onto the earth at just the right time, to redeem men and women through the work of the Son on the Cross. A new breed of humanity would come forth as they received this Good News, that God had sent a Saviour to take their sin and reconcile them to Him. All of this was God initiated.
When you think about this, there is no way that any of us could have thought up this, because as Paul himself was to say, this Gospel was to appear as foolishness (1 Cor 1:23) for the Jews would want proof through signs from God and Greeks looked for philosophical wisdom. No, we couldn't have dreamt this up if we tried! How could we ever have imagined that God would come in human form, how could we ever think of Him allowing us to crucify Him, how could we ever imagine that in that act He would take our punishment upon Himself and declare any believer forgiven? No, this Gospel HAD to have its origin in the heart and mind of God because it is just too way-out for us to have thought up.
If this happens to be the first time you have ever read all of this, then realise that it is also God's call to you to respond to it. He didn't just do it all and say, right, that's it, finished! No, he requires our response to it, the response of surrendering our lives to Him, declaring our acceptance of this Gospel, our belief in Jesus, and our desire for Him to forgive us and lead our lives from now on, guiding us to become the men and women He's designed us to be. May it be so!