September 4th 2010

Lessons From The Conversion Of Paul

1st of 4 studies
The gospel revealed in us through Christ

 “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”
Galatians 1:11-12 (NIV)

Is it possible to receive the grace of God and later to disregard it? The answer is yes, and Paul is staggered that the Galatian church had turned to “a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all” (1:6-7).

He uses the example of his own conversion to bring the Galatians back to their spiritual senses. He explains that he could never go back to how he once was or to any régime based on “human effort” (3:3) or to anything that would “set aside the grace of God” (2:21).

Those who would discredit the gospel today often say it is just a fabrication devised to comfort the emotionally and intellectually weak. Also, in New Testament times it was regarded sometimes as a “cleverly invented” story (2 Peter 1:16). Paul refutes this notion and explains that the gospel is in no way “something that man made up”.

He goes even further. Believers may think that their faith is the end result of a personal search or something they have learned by themselves or from others. No, says Paul, it is not. It is interesting that he explains he was not taught the gospel. Paul, who grew up in the traditions of the Old Testament, did understand the gospel from those teachings. Even though he was advanced “in Judaism beyond many Jews” and “was extremely zealous for the traditions” of the fathers (Galatians 1:14), this background did not bring him to Christ.

What then made Paul change? The answer, admits Paul, was that the gracious God “was pleased to reveal his Son in me” (1:16). Paul calls this “beginning with the Spirit” (3:2). This is how conversion happens. It is a gracious act of God working through his Spirit within us to reveal who his Son is. It is the Spirit who convicts us about Jesus Christ.

Don’t lose this thought, Paul tells the Galatians, even though others may tell you differently. You are a believer because and only because God has revealed his Son in you. Paul lives for God, he writes, because “Christ lives in me” (2:20).

Gracious God, thank you that through your Spirit you have revealed your Son in me. Help me not to lose sight of who Jesus is and of the gospel of grace. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson 

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