February 15, 2012
Back to Basics
Reveal His Son
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My wife and two of my friends have a birthday today. Whenever we have birthdays, we tend to look back at our lives and also ponder our future. In Galatians 1, we have seen Paul talk about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and his personal work as an apostle, serving Jesus as a bond-servant. In this passage today, Paul focused upon God revealing Jesus Christ in the life of Paul. God called Paul to such service from his mother’s womb. Maybe you will start thinking about your birthday in a different light today.
Set Apart from My Mother’s Womb. In Galatians 1:15, we learn about the purposes of God at work in our lives from our mother’s womb. Paul plainly stated that God set Paul apart even before he was born. We should not be amazed at such a statement, because we know that God cares for children in the womb of their mother. Paul emphasized here that God has great plans and purposes for our lives. Because God loves us, he seeks the best use of our lives for Him. Paul said that God “set me apart” (“ὁ ἀφορίσας με”). This action of God reveals God’s predetermined plans for our lives. In Paul’s life, we read about the confrontation Paul had from Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9). Paul tells us that incident did not begin the change in his life, because he later knew that God had set him apart for God’s service from the womb of his mother. Paul did not know about the true purposes of God until later in life when God revealed those purposes to him. We should remember that God has already laid plans for our lives, that we will not know or appreciate, until He reveals them to us, often after they have taken place in our lives.
Called Me through His Grace. In Galatians 1:15, we also read about the grace of God in action, before birth. Our salvation always starts with God calling us to Himself. We respond to God calling us. In this case, we see that God called Paul by “grace” (“χάριτος”). We know from our previous studies that grace means that God gives us a gift we cannot earn or deserve. He gives this gift because He loves us. Therefore, Paul stressed here that God called him before he was born. Using His grace, God calls believers to Himself. At some point in every believer’s life, we hear the voice of Jesus calling to us, and we respond to the call of God, which begins in us a life of service to Christ. We live out the calling of God in our lives, as part of His service, where God has set us apart for His own particular use. Every life has an individual and unique ministry, purposed and planned by God from the womb of our mothers. No believer should ever think for a moment that life has no meaning or purpose. Our entire purpose and meaning rest upon the calling of God in our lives. We may forsake God at times, but His calling and purpose will always remain sure and steady. He seeks to use our spiritual gifts to His glory every day, as part of a unified plan for our lives to serve Him in concert with other believers.
Pleased To Reveal His Son in Me. In Galatians 1:16, Paul continued his thought from the previous verse. The verse division here in our English Bible does not follow the original text well. Please remember that God wrote the autographs of the Bible without division into verses; they were added later and are not inspired. When we follow the original text, the message becomes: “God was well pleased to reveal His Son in me . . . .” Paul meant that God intended all along to reveal Jesus Christ in the life of Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor in chief of the church of Jesus Christ. God loves to change lives by His grace and calling, so that Christ may be revealed in our lives, according to His predetermined purposes. Can you imagine that God planned all along to use your life to reveal Jesus Christ to the people who come into contact with your life? Think about that fact on your next birthday. Consider that fact for the birthday of your offspring. For every mother, God has plans for the offspring of your womb, according to His calling upon the life of every believer. Notice too that Paul understood that God focused upon revelation. God not only reveals Jesus through the Scriptures, but also through our lives. We must be sure that the love of God flows through us and controls us, so that we shine for Jesus every day.
Preach Him. In Galatians 1:16, we see that everyone will reveal Christ, but we will not all be preachers like Paul. Paul received the spiritual gift of apostle. As an apostle, Paul preached Christ all over the Mediterranean world. God called Paul to reveal Christ, and Paul used the spiritual gift of apostleship to do that mission. God reveals Christ in all of our lives, but each of us have different spiritual gifts. Different spiritual gifts result in a variety of ministries and a variety of spiritual effects (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Paul preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and discipled people to grow up in Christ. After receiving the revelation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul did not immediately consult with flesh and blood. Remember that Paul received his understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ directly from Jesus as a special revelation. Paul did not receive it from men, and no man taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12). Paul intended that the Galatians comprehend the direct revelation he received from God, and it did not depend upon any human being, not even the apostles and leaders in Jerusalem or elsewhere. Likewise, our faith does not depend upon the approval of men, but our faith rests solely upon the power of Jesus Christ and Him crucified and risen from the dead (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
Apostles before Me. In Galatians 1:17, Paul spoke about the men who were apostles before him. In this context, Paul meant that he came to know Christ later in time than the apostles in Jerusalem. Paul went from persecuting the church of God to revealing Jesus Christ, but that conversion occurred after the resurrection of Christ and His ascension to heaven. While the other apostles ministered primarily in Jerusalem, we see that they also reached out to Samaria and to the Gentiles ultimately (Acts 8:1 to Acts 15:29). Paul makes the point that he received the Gospel of Jesus Christ directly from Christ, and not from the apostles or any other men. He did not seek the approval of any man, because Paul knew Jesus had revealed the Gospel of Jesus Christ directly to him.
Arabia and Damascus. In Galatians 1:17, Paul stated that he travelled to Arabia and then Damascus. You may recall that Paul met Christ on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:1-9, and then Paul preached Christ in Damascus, amazing the Christians there (Acts 9:19-25). After escaping from persecution in Damascus, Paul then returned to Jerusalem where Barnabas took hold of Paul and introduced Paul to some of the apostles there (Acts 9:27). Because of threats against his life, Paul left his bold preaching for Christ in Jerusalem, and went down to Caesarea and then on to Tarsus (Acts 9:30). Later, we see Paul brought to the revival in Antioch by Barnabas, and from there Paul began his missionary activity with Barnabas (Acts 11:19-30; Acts 13:1 to Acts 14:28). Paul recounted in Galatians that he spent years in Arabia, before going up to Jerusalem. From Galatians, we glean that Paul did not immediately go up to Jerusalem after his first preaching in Damascus, but spent time in Arabia, which term may include the Nabatean region as far as Mount Sinai (Galatians 4:25). Paul pointedly emphasized that his gospel did not come from the apostles in Jerusalem, or from any other secondhand source, but from a direct and special revelation from Christ Himself.
So we learn more about Jesus revealing Himself in our lives.
● Jesus set apart Paul for service to Christ while Paul was in his mother’s womb.
● Jesus revealed Himself in the life of Paul, by using the spiritual gifts imparted to Paul.
● Jesus revealed the Gospel of Jesus Christ directly to Paul, and Paul did not consult with flesh and blood immediately about that revelation directly from Jesus, but went and preached Christ immediately.
Application for Today
As I walk through life today, I will remember that God set me apart for His service, even from my mother’s womb. Jesus seeks to reveal Himself in me today, so that I will shine for Him and reflect His love to people around me by using the spiritual gifts He has bestowed upon me. Will your life reveal Christ today?