Sermon Recap - Galatians 1:11-17
This sermon and blog post based on Galatians 1:11-17 are about the power of God to change people. Let’s dive in…
Revelation of the Gospel (11-12)
Verse 11 is the issue at hand. It is the issue of the entire book. These churches and people are walking away from the true gospel of Jesus Christ to some man-made alternative that is not good news at all.
Verses 11-12 are his main statement, and he’s going to set out to prove his point.
Beginning in verse 13 Paul is going to use his own life story to prove that he preaches the true gospel. There are 5 parts of his life story that he selects to prove his point.
Let’s look at the first two of those 5 parts: his pre-conversion life (13-14) and his conversion (15-16)
A Former Life (13-14)
The first of his 5 proofs that he preaches the true gospel of God is found in verses 13-14. The first part of his life story that Paul uses to prove that he preaches the true gospel is the fact that he himself has been changed by the power of the gospel.
Regardless of what kind of a mess you may think your life is, the offer on the table today is that you can be changed. You can have a “former life”
So the question is, “Who was Paul before he was a preacher of the gospel?”
Paul, the Murder (13)
Verse 13 is not a metaphor – no exaggeration. He literally killed people, murdered people, oppressed people, had men and women arrested and thrown into prison. Again, this isn’t a metaphor; this is actually who he was.
Check out Acts 7:57–8:3; 9:1-2
What Paul is doing in verse 13 is he’s taking something from you whether you know it or not. When he says, “I once was a violent man” he is taking from you your ability to say, “God can’t love me. God can’t save me. I’ve gone too far.”
If you were chatting with Paul he would say, “So you murdered some people? So you threw people in prison for believing in God? So you burned down some churches? – No, you didn’t? See, I did all these things. And God made that life a former life. I’m a former murderer.”
Bottom line is this: you haven’t gone to far for God to reach you and change you.
Paul, the Religious Fanatic (14)
Look what he says about himself in verse 14: not only is he violent and hostile, but on top of that, the motivation for his violence and hostility is his religious discipline.
Paul was a religious terrorist before his conversion!!! We like to think all nice about Paul. There was nothing nice about him. He killed people in the name of God.
Paul says in verse 14, “So zealous was I for the Law of Moses that I broke the Law of Moses to defend and protect the Law of Moses.”
Paul, literally by his testimony, says, “This is my former life. I so loved the Law that I violated the Law. I was a violent and deplorable man.” But he says, “That’s who I used to be; that’s not who I am.”
So how was he changed???
When God Was Pleased (15-17)
God said, “It’s Time.” We need to step back and take a nice, long look at what conversion is biblically.
Biblical Theology of Conversion
We love Paul and his conversion story. We just don’t like Paul’s theology. We like to infuse American democratic principles and ideas into our biblical theology.
Paul will have nothing to do with that. In the kingdom of God there is no voting. In the kingdom of God there is a king and that king has a sovereign will and purpose.
Charles Spurgeon describes his conversion this way…
"I must confess," he says, "that I never would have been saved if I could have helped it. As long as ever I could, I rebelled, and revolted, and struggled against God. When He would have me pray, I would not pray, and when He would have me listen to the sound of the ministry, I would not. And when I heard, and the tear rolled down my cheek, I wiped it away and defied Him to melt my soul. But long before I began with Christ, He began with me."
What does all of this mean for you?
First, If you feel like you’ve gone too far and there’s no hope, you need to hear that your past does nothing more than make you a perfect candidate for a powerful work of God in your life.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified…”
Verse 11 says “such were some of you”, meaning, all of those types of people were in the Corinthian church. And God had changed them
Second, we must never give up the belief that God is able to save even the vilest of people.