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The Gospel of Freedom Came From Christ

July 30, 2017 Speaker: Reid Strahan Series: Freedom in Christ - The Book of Galatians

Topic: The Gospel Passage: Galatians 1:11–1:24

I have a fax machine at home and probably once a week I get a fax that says I have won a trip or a cruise, just call this 800 number to get the details. I never get excited about those faxes. I never run to Cindy saying guess what!! We just won a trip! I never call back. Why? Because I don’t trust the source.   And I know there is always a catch. When you hear good news. The source of that news matters!

In some ways the most comforting truth about the message of Jesus Christ, is that is did NOT come any human being!   Paul said, “I want you to know brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preach is not of HUMAN origin!”. It is NOT MAN’S GOSPEL. That is REALLY good to know! If this all came out of Paul’s own ideas, or from anybody’s ideas, it would be worthless! No one can speak with authority about life and salvation but God himself. Unless God speaks to us we are all in the dark.

But HE HAS SPOKEN! The gospel is from God! Verse 12, “I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ”. This is a fantastic claim. The message is GOD’S message.

The word gospel means- good news or glad tidings! It is a message of freedom in Christ. We are free from climbing our way to approval and acceptance WITH God.   We are free from condemnation for our sins, we are free from the power of sin, we are free from the wrath of God. We are free to live for God, WITHOUT laws and rules and regulations.  

We possess a forgiveness so complete that no law can be added to it to make us more forgiven (or more justified) than we already are.   We possess a life so divine and spiritual that it cannot be regulated by law or laws. Christ gave himself FOR our sins. And he lives IN us now by his Spirit. The gospel is completely sufficient to forgive the worst sins, and to transform the worst sinners life.

You can have confidence in the glory and the freedom of this gospel because it did not come from somebody’s wild imagination, BUT IT CAME DIRECTLY FROM GOD…. and from his Son Jesus Christ.

You may actually wonder, “Does Jesus Christ want me to walk in the kind of liberty and freedom that Paul talks about in this book?” Does he really want me to think I am justified, accepted, approved by God, ONLY on the basis on what he accomplished. Absolutely! Jesus Christ HIMSELF revealed this gospel of grace and liberty.

This message of grace and freedom that Paul proclaimed, has the full backing of God and his Son! You can be confident that God accepts you, NOT by what you do, but by what Christ did. You can serve God now FROM acceptance, not FOR acceptance. You can confidently walk away from legalism and law keeping as a way of life. You can live by grace. You can walk by the Spirit not under the law. You can disregard the internal voices that condemn you, that tell you, you’ll never achieve God’s favor, that he will never accept you. Because you don’t EARN those things!! You RECEIVE salvation and acceptance from God - by faith, not by keeping all the laws or even one law.

You can be confident that your good standing with God is secured by Christ. Romans 5:1 Since we have been justified by faith, WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ, (NOT through our good works!) through Jesus Christ we HAVE gained access into this amazing place of grace in which we NOW stand. Not that WE gain it – it is gained THROUGH CHRIST! Not that we WILL gain it someday. We HAVE it now!! You can be confident of all these things because THIS GOSPEL CAME DIRECTLY FROM JESUS HIMSELF! You can stake your life and your eternity on this!!

Acts 9:1-9 is the story of Paul’s encounter with Jesus Christ. He was on the road to Damascus looking for more Christians to arrest and put in jail. Completely unexpectedly, Jesus Christ revealed himself directly to Paul. He gave him the gospel either at that time or during the next three days that he was blind, or possibly during the time he was in Arabia. The point is: What Paul has to say ABOUT Jesus Christ came to him directly FROM Jesus Christ!

This is why we listen to Paul and the other apostles and writers of scripture. It is also why we do NOT trust in thoughts and spiritual teachings that do not line up with the teachings of the apostles. I always think one of the greatest ways to discern whether a teaching is true or not, is simply to ask, “Does this sound anything at all like what Paul and Peter and John wrote? Does is sound like what they were saying to the church? They received their message directly from God. If it doesn’t sound like them, it is probably NOT from God.

Now Paul goes into some detail to prove the divine origin of the message he was given. First: He did not get this gospel from himself: His past life shows it did not come from himself but from an intervention by God himself.

Verse 13 “For you have heard of my previous life in Judaism”. “How intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews my own age, and was very zealous for the traditions of my fathers”.

*His education and zeal for Jewish law and traditions show that he had no inclination towards this gospel of grace. The Jewish religion of Paul’s day was a religion of ritual and laws. And Paul was TOTALLY committed to this religion!

There was no way Paul could even imagine that a person could be right with God as a free gift, to be received by faith.

*His hatred of the church and desire to destroy it shows there was nothing in himself that would ever accept this new faith. He tried to destroy this new message about Christ. He had no sympathy towards it whatsoever.

*His complete change of life and mission and purpose show that only God could do this. It was not only a new message Paul received from God, it was a complete transformation of his life. It was a radical change. He immediately turned his back on everything he had worked for up to this point, his Hebrew culture, and traditions, his achievements, his fame, his status in the Jewish society.

God overruled his fanaticism, his education, his blindness, his hatred of he church. He supernaturally changed the direction of his whole life. It was God, “who was pleased to reveal his Son” in Paul. It was God who called him by his grace! It was God who had this planned before his birth! It was the direct intervention of God that turned around Paul’s beliefs, his purpose in life.

The gospel is not merely information we receive. It is a revelation of Christ in you that makes you a new creature. It had that power in Paul’s life and it has that power in your life!

Second. The gospel was not something Paul, or any man would think up. Paul said the gospel is not man’s gospel. It is not according to man's ideas, man's way of thinking. The “complete sufficiency of Christ for our salvation” is only a thought that could come from heaven. No man could even imagine that a person could be right with God as a free gift, to be received by faith. This was the most counter intuitive idea that ever entered into this world.

Luther said, "Human reason can think only in terms of the Law. It mumbles: "This I have done, this I have not done." But faith looks to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, given into death for the sins of the whole world".

IE Men think the opposite way of grace. They think of works, of merit, of earning God's acceptance and salvation. They think of achieving something and THEN obtaining some kind of status with God. So the very message of the gospel is so surprising, so freely given, so full of grace, so contrary to man’s natural bent, that it validates itself by NOT being according to man’s thinking.

Third: He did not borrow his gospel from the other apostles.  He was not just copying their teaching and adding a few twists of his own.

When Christ revealed himself to Paul, he said, “My immediate response was NOT to consult with any human being”. “I did not go to Jerusalem to visit with those who were apostles before I was”. He never spent time with them to learn it from them. Paul’s revelation of Christ was so complete he did not NEED to go and talk to the other Christian leaders about it. He did not need to go to some kind of school to become an apostle.

Instead he went to Arabia, later to Damascus. Only after 3 years he finally went to Jerusalem and got acquainted with Peter and stayed there 15 days. He only saw one other apostle and that was James. He said, “I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea”. Judea was the epicenter of Christianity, where all the apostles and leaders were. Paul was so distant from them they did not know who he was! They only heard that the man who used to persecute the church was now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.

The point of proving his isolation from them is that he did not get his gospel from them, but directly from God!

Fourth: The gospel that Christ revealed to Paul was confirmed by the other apostles of Jesus Christ. Although he did not copy this message from the other apostles, the other apostles approved his message.

Chapter 2:1 “Then after 14 years I went up again to Jerusalem”. Finally after preaching about Jesus for years he meets the other apostles and “presented to them the gospel that he preached among the Gentiles”.   14 years is a long time! All that time he has been presenting a message that came directly to him from God about Jesus. What will happen???

After he presented to them the gospel he had been preaching, Paul said, “they added nothing to my message”.   They did not change it one bit! There were no holes in his message, nothing was missing, nothing was in error. ALL they asked him to do was to continue to remember the poor.   That’s it! That’s the only thing they could think of that might need to be said. But Paul said, “that was the very thing I was eager to do anyway”.

They did not have to straighten him out about anything….“On the contrary they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised”. The other apostles, James and Peter and John, gave him the “right hand of fellowship”, because they saw the grace of God given to him.

These men spent 3 years living with Jesus Christ, they saw him perform miracle, they performed miracles in his name, they saw him and touched him after his resurrection, they heard his teaching, they saw him ascend from earth into heaven. They are preaching the gospel they received from Jesus Christ. A man who received a direct revelation of Jesus Christ by himself, and has spent NO TIME with them for 14 years comes and tells them what Jesus gave him to preach AND THERE IS AGREEMENT. That is pretty astounding!

When people don’t communicate their beliefs tend to get farther and farther apart. The fact that they are in harmony is a great support that Paul’s revelation of Christ CAME FROM GOD.

And there was one aspect of the gospel that Paul wants the Galatians to know for sure was from God and was in agreement with the Lord’s other apostles. That is that we come to Christ without adding the Jewish law or adding ANYTHING to the work of Christ!   What CHRIST accomplished IS TOTALLY SUFFICIENT, by itself, to make us right with God. It is a stand alone system. It works all by itself.

So in 2:3 he says, “Not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek”. While Paul was in Jerusalem, the issue of whether or not Titus was circumcised, became a point of debate. The battle over this came up, “because some false believers who had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ, and to make us slaves”.

There were those among the Jewish Christians (false brothers) who were adamantly opposed to allowing people to become Christians without adopting the Jewish religion first, especially the ritual of circumcision. Some went so far as to spy out whether Titus was circumcised or not. This is how dark legalism gets! It will stop at no ends to check on you, and impose its laws on you, and condemn you for not following its own religious restrictions.

Paul saw how dangerous this was and said, Verse 5 “We did not give into them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you”. AND the apostles at Jerusalem agreed with Paul, and Titus was not required to be circumcised. The other apostles of Jesus Christ SPECIFICALLY CONFIRMED THEIR AGREEMENT WITH THE MESSAGE OF FREEDOM WE HAVE IN CHRIST.

What does all this matter for us? The primary application is that you have confidence in the gospel!! Three other applications:

One. The source of your ideas matters a lot! It matters if the thoughts you think come from Oprah or Ellen or the culture...OR FROM GOD! OUR culture is screaming at us with its beliefs on salvation and sexuality, and morality and human goodness. You deserve to be happy, forget God, be true to yourself, do what YOU want to do. It grieves me to see so many Christians thinking just like our culture does. They are basing their life more on human ideas than on the revelation of God.   Be tenacious about basing your life on the solid foundation of God’s revelation.

Some base their thoughts on a what a favorite preacher or author or church’s has said about what you need to be really spiritual.   All that you believe about Jesus Christ, about the Christian life, about spiritual growth must be rooted and grounded in revelation. If someone says, “Of course Jesus saves you, but you really need this or that to really have an encounter with God”, you have to discern the error in that.

Two. Recognize the power of the gospel is the solution for your life. If the power of the gospel is sufficient to save and sanctify a sinner such as Paul then it is sufficient to save and sanctify you. Nothing needed to be added to wipe away Paul sins, or his past. Nothing needed to be added to it to release him from a lifestyle of hatred and murder and cruelty to men and women. This gospel is sufficient to make you whole. You don’t need to become a released person, YOU ARE A RELEASED PERSON.

Three: Because the gospel is a divine revelation from a God we are freed from pleasing people or caring excessively about what they think of us. If God has spoken to us, then that is what captivates us. That is what matters! We are impressed by the revelation of God, not by the thoughts and ideas of other people.

When we base our lives on what God has spoken it turns down the volume of other peoples voices.   We are no longer living to please men, but we live to please Christ.

That's why Paul said about the powerful leaders in Jerusalem, "Whatever they were, makes no difference to me". He was confident in what he had heard from God and did not need the leaders of the church to affirm him. We build our lives and our security on what God has revealed to us in this gospel. If God says we are OK because Christ gave himself for our sins, we did not need other people to tell us we are OK. We are not focused on that or enslaved to that.

And we do not submit when people tell us we must add something to our faith in Jesus Christ in order to gain the approval of God. Paul said, “When the false brothers came in to spy out the liberty we have in Christ and to make us slaves, We did not give in to them for a moment”.   You can have that same boldness! Because you are living by the revelation of Jesus Christ not the voices of men.

More in Freedom in Christ - The Book of Galatians

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January 14, 2018

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