March 1, 2012
Back to Basics
Glorifying God Because of Me
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Paul declared that God had radically and completely changed his life. In the passage we will read today, Paul reviewed his biography, and drew wonderful conclusions about the activity of God in his life. We need to see how God works in our lives every day, so that we can share with others how God has changed us, so that they will glorify God along with us. In our passage today, we will learn that God loves to glorify Himself, and not us, by using His power to change lives.
Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ;
Syria and Cilicia. In Galatians 1:21, Paul told us that when he left Jerusalem, he did not stay in Israel, but went completely out of the country to Syria and Cilicia. In Acts 15:23, the apostles and the brethren who were elders wrote a letter to the brethren in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, who were converts from the Gentiles. Evidently, this area of Syria and Cilicia had many Gentile converts, apparently from the ministry of Paul and others, although people from Syria brought sick people and demoniacs to Jesus after hearing the news about Him (Matthew 4:24). Notice that Jesus used different men to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ all over the world.
Unknown to the Churches of Judea in Christ. In Galatians 1:22, Paul also informed us that he was unknown by sight to the churches in Judea, the area around Jerusalem. As part of his defense of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul drew upon the witness of many churches. Paul argued here that he received the Gospel of Jesus Christ directly from Jesus Himself by direct revelation. Paul bolstered that argument by showing that he was not a well-known figure in the the churches of Judea, as if he attended them and learned the Gospel in the churches in that area, which included Jerusalem. Paul instead argued that he was completely unknown by sight to those churches. No witness could come forward with truthful testimony that Paul received the Gospel of Jesus Christ from anyone in those churches. The separateness of Paul’s revelation shines brightly here.
but only, they kept hearing, ‘He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.’
Kept Hearing. In Galatians 1:23, Paul described the testimony of the churches in Judea. Those churches in Christ kept hearing that Paul had an active and continuing ministry of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but not among them. So, in terms of testimony at trial, Paul wrote that if asked, the churches of Judea knew about Paul, even though they had never seen Paul in person. Furthermore, their testimony would support Paul’s claim that he received the Gospel directly from Christ, because even his once most ardent enemies would testify that Paul was preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he had not learned it from them. In their mind, Paul, the persecutor of the church had become the preacher of Christ Jesus. Paul now preached the faith he once tried to destroy. They knew firsthand about that persecution from Paul, because the Judean churches experienced it firsthand. God did not send Paul to those people he had persecuted in Judea, but instead, sent him to the Gentiles in other lands. His fame in the Gospel of Jesus Christ spread even back to Judea. Christ has this wonderful plan to spread His gospel all over the world. He loves to change lives so profoundly that we gain a new reputation for Christ. Notice too that Paul preached the faith. Salvation always focuses upon faith, not works. God gives us the gift of faith for salvation, not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
And they were glorifying God because of me.’
Glorifying God. In Galatians 1:23-24, we read that the churches in Christ in Judea were glorifying God because of the work of God in Paul preaching the faith he once tried to destroy. God changes our lives to bring glory to Himself. Paul did not recount his conversion and ministry to bring attention to himself, but to exalt God. In Galatians 1:23, Paul used that testimony to show that he was preaching outside of Judea, but saints were glorifying God because of Him. This same model, of God changing our lives and using our lives, should always characterize our lives. If you asked people who knew you before your conversion to Christ to testify about you now, what would they say about you? Perhaps your friends today would not offer glowing testimony to Christ working in you. Why not take this passage to heart, and allow God to begin working powerfully in you, just like He used Paul to glorify Himself? God wants to use your life, right now, today, to glorify Himself. Perhaps even your worst enemies will begin to see you in a new light, as transformed by the power of God in your life.
So we learn more about God glorifying Himself in our lives.
● Jesus sent Paul to Syria and Cilicia to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and He may send you to other lands. Be ready.
● Jesus changed Paul from persecutor to preacher of the faith. Jesus always seeks to change your life, to be more like Him every day.
● God glorifies Himself by changing our lives, so that people can see the activity of God in our lives. Our lives should shine with His glory today, because people are watching and talking as the news spreads.
Application for Today
As I walk through life today, I intend to let God change my life to be more like Jesus. I want people to talk about God’s marvelous activity in my life, so God will get all the glory. Will your people be glorifying God because of your life today?