Paul’s Gospel Is Heaven’s Revelation
The Lord gave me the privilege of attending Dallas Theological Seminary in its glory days. Dr. Bruce Waltke taught me Old Testament Intro and the Psalms in the Masters program and then guided my course work in my doctorate in Old Testament. Dr. S. Lewis Johnson taught me how to write an exegetical paper while exposing the thoughts of Romans and Revelation, and Dr. Harold Hoehner advised and mentored me not only as a student but as a teacher at Dallas.
God used these gifted human teachers to build into the core of my life the Gospel of Grace from Genesis through Revelation, but as we continue reading the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he didn’t have to appeal to any human teachers to verify his Gospel.
Sure, he had trained with the brilliant first century Rabbi Gamaliel, but the Gospel he proclaimed to the Galatians was not dependent on what he learned in any rabbinic school in Jerusalem. In fact, Paul goes out of his way to prove that his Gospel was not even received from the pillar apostles in Jerusalem. God sovereignly chose to use Paul more than any other writer of the New Testament to make it crystal clear how we could stand justified before God, and we need to open ourselves to the reality that God the Father and God the Son directly revealed what he’s telling us in this book.
“Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to get to know Cephas, and I spent fifteen days with him. During that time, I didn’t see any other apostles, except James, the brother of the Lord. What I’m writing to you is the truth. I swear before God I’m not lying. Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. During this entire period, I was personally unknown to the churches in Judea that are in Christ. All they heard was that the one who used to persecute them was now proclaiming the Gospel, the faith that he formerly tried to destroy. And they glorified God over what God had done in me.” Galatians 1:18-24
Paul started his letter bursting out with “May there be glory to God our father forever and ever! Amen! (Gal. 1:5). And here again he can’t help but focus our attention on how the Judeans glorified God when they heard about the total transformation in Paul’s life. Paul not only keeps us focus on praising God, but he also keeps stressing that we have been called to live “in” the grace of Christ (1:6).
In this section Paul continues to prove his point stated in 1:13 that he received the Gospel by direct divine revelation. When he did visit Jerusalem for a short time, the only thing Peter and James could do was to agree with him. The Gentiles could be declared righteous before God without obeying the Laws of Moses or getting circumcised. All that was necessary was faith in Jesus and his gracious gift.
I’ve mentioned it before but will repeat it. You can summarize the heart of Paul’s Gospel by simply saying, “in Christ.” Everything is the gracious gift of being intimately united with Jesus forever and this union with Jesus is all by faith (1:18).
LORD, help me continue to learn from Paul that everything is totally dependent upon your power and your grace and therefore, you get all the glory. Help me to be like the Judean believers who burst into praise when they heard how you transformed Paul’s life.
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