Authenticity > Accomplishment
The first message in the Galatians series.
(Find the other messages from this series here)
Authenticity > Accomplishment
In 1935 two associations of Free Will Baptist came together to form the National Association of Free Will Baptists. They wrote some important founding documents laying out what they believed, what they stood for, and what they would work together to accomplish. But in the covenant, this one page document that ties all the churches together they said Scripture will be our rule for faith and practice.
In other words, they were saying that these documents they were putting together were good for the partnership they were forming, but that they would not hold a candle to scripture- they would not come near the level of scripture…
When this church was started as a FWB Church, deeply encoded within its DNA was a love for and faith in scripture. We believe that this book is not only a good guide, we believe it holds the truths of life. It has more than good advice, it has the truth which sets us free.
So when we gather, we read it, learn from it, sing songs that reflect it, and attempt to practice everything it calls us to do. Because we value it highly, we try to study it deeply and broadly.
Today we are starting a new series of messages on one of the books within this book. The book of Galatians is actually a letter to a group of churches in southern Asia Minor- what we would refer to today as Turkey. It was a mountainous and somewhat rural area. There were villages and towns dotting the landscape, but there were broad expanses between. Paul went to this area on one of his first missionary journeys to share the message of Jesus with these people. Years later he would write a letter to them- he was unable to return to them at the time and go to all the villages and travel the inclining roads between- so he did the next best thing. He wrote a letter that was to be distributed among the churches…
I’m glad he couldn’t get there and had to write a letter, because it has been preserved for us to benefit from today.
That’s what we will begin studying this morning- we’ll be looking at powerful passages like:
Galatians 2:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
Galatians 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Galatians 6:7, 9-10 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men,
You know the difference between a resume and a rap sheet? A resume is a list you are proud of, a list of your accomplishments and achievements. A rap sheet is list you are not proud of- a list of your misdeeds and foolish choices. We often play up our resume and downplay our rap sheet. We go into detail on our accomplishments and gloss over our mistakes. We say things like, “I made some bad decisions when I was younger” or “I got into some trouble years ago…” but when we list our accomplishments we give all the details. We tell people what number we graduated in our class. We have associations for people graduate with specific grad point averages… etc.
In the very beginning of this book Paul has to defend his title as an apostle. People in Galatia have come behind him and questioned his authenticity. They’ve asked, who is this Paul guy? How do you know that he’s teaching the truth? How do you know he’s legit? So Paul begins his letter letting them know how they can be sure that he’s the real deal. But this resume looks more like a rap sheet.
Look at it with me… Read 1:11-24
I read the story of a woman who really wanted a job, so she had a friend look over her resume and show her where to edit. The friend made notes such as circling all the grammatical mistakes and misspellings and then added in advice such as “I don’t think you want to say this about yourself here” and “Is this an accurate picture of your experience?”
The woman was thankful for her friends help. She took the marked up resume home, made the corrections, printed off the fresh copy and turned it in. When she returned home she was horrified to find the new copy sitting on the counter- she had picked up and turned in the marked up copy. She had turned in the resume that had every mistake circled.
The last thing that you want to do is turn in a resume with all of your mistakes highlighted-
We typically try to highlight our strengths and hide our mistakes, but Paul was upfront about who he was.
There are two key phrases that I want you to notice from the very start-The first is:
22And was unknown by face unto the churches
The other is earlier on:
13For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
Paul had been a different guy in his earlier life, but when he went to these churches, they didn’t know him from that lifestyle. They didn’t recognize him as the guy who had done these terrible things years ago.
I’m sure that sounds great to some of us this morning- if you could separate yourself from the stuff that you did when you were younger, if you could separate yourself from the decisions you made back then, if you could start over with people so that they didn’t connect you with some of the things you did or said back in the day- That would be great…
People often move for this very reason, they want to start fresh where no one knows them for the decisions they made…Some people struggle to go home or return to their high school reunion because they are so different from the person they were back then and they are embarrassed of who they were…
Paul says, I wasted it. Now he’s most likely talking about what he did to the church, but that’s the sentiment that Paul has looking back. It’s not one of nostalgia. He doesn’t look back thinking those were the good old days, he looks back thinking, man I was a mess.
Like all of us, Paul regretted the mistakes he made in the past.
People like to say, “no regrets!” And they’ll say things like, it made me the person I am today.
Paul had regrets and he was thankful for who Christ had made him to be…
So Paul isn’t proud of the person he was, he’s going to churches where people don’t know his past, BUT they give God glory because they hear that he who used to persecute the church now teaches the gospel. How is that? Because Paul told them!
The Book of Acts serves as a companion to all the letter that Paul wrote because it is a running diary of all the work that Paul and companions did. It gives the history of going to these places and establishing these churches.
In Acts 13 and 14 we have the history of Paul and Barnabas’ time in the region of Galatia.
In Acts we read Paul giving his story to new groups of people 4 different times. We know the story because it is also recorded in Acts, but again and again and again and again we are given the long and short of Paul’s story because he told it wherever he went.
He says here in this passage, you know the story of my past. Why? Because he told them when he was with them.
Paul didn’t look at his new calling the church as an opportunity to distance himself from the life he used to live and pretend it never happened, rather he told that story again and again because the story wasn’t about him, it was about Jesus.
People who came behind Paul wanted to know what kind of credentials he had, wanted to know what type of certification he could show- Paul said I’m not that impressive. God is impressive.
“They gloried in me” – God got the glory for Paul’s story.
Paul wasn’t trying to impress anyone. Paul wasn’t trying to get a job. Paul wasn’t on trial and he wasn’t applying for a new position. He was just sharing what God had done in his life. To Paul, rap sheet or resume, it doesn’t matter. Paul is saying, “I’m not on trial and I’m not applying for a position. Jesus has the highest position and he already stood on trial.” Paul’s enemies or haters want to see his credentials and instead he talks about the ways he has messed up. Paul’s critics say, this guy is a mess, and Paul says, tell me about it.
Paul’s detractors point out that he’s far from perfect and Paul says, Amen! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell them. Paul even says, if he’s trying to impress men he’s going about it all wrong…
v.10 or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
So if impressing people wasn’t Paul’s mission, what was? Paul answers that question in verses 15 & 16.
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen;
God who brought me into this world Called me (me!) by his grace (only grace would call me) To reveal his Son to those who don’t know him.
Why did Paul make the long trek up into the mountains of Galatia into towns like Iconium and Lystra? Because his mission was to reveal the son of God- to show them Jesus!
So Paul travels into these villages and he tells the people about Jesus and as they come to faith and their sins are forgiven, they’re baptized and they form gatherings with other believers so that they can encourage one another to grow and learn, then he goes to the next village or town and starts a new gathering of believers who have come to know Christ-
And through this effort there develops this network of churches, this band of believers across the expanses of the mountainous region- people who have come to know Christ and they’re sharing that message with their friends and neighbors… and the network grows, and the message spreads and lives are changes and people are restored and they’re freed from their bondage to sin-
Paul would talk about that explicitly later in the letter…You see, it wasn’t about Paul. It was about sharing the message of Jesus.
Today isn’t about our church. It isn’t about me. It’s about Jesus. The reason that we invite our friends to join us is because we want to introduce you to our friend, Jesus.
3Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, 4Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
Grace and Peace unto you from Jesus who gave himself for our sins.
Grace – getting what I don’t deserve and not getting what I do deserve.
Peace – inner calm though outside the world is chaotic.
“Save us from this present age”
This morning, this week, this month, this summer, this year a lot of stuff hasn’t gone the way I thought.