to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,Galatians 1:16(NASB)
Paul was a chosen apostle of God. However, he was often required to defend His apostolic calling in those early days of the Church, because... in the opinion of many, his credentials did not fit in with their perceived expectations of what an apostle should be. This was especially the case in Galatia where many legalists and Judaisers found it very difficult to accept that a change in God's management had taken place.
Before the Cross, believers lived in the dispensation of the Law. They lived under the Mosaic Law and were required to follow certain God-appointed rules and feast days. Following the Cross, we live in the dispensation of God's grace... and although we have clear criteria on how to live godly lives, we are set free from the bondage of the Law. As Church-age believers we are called to live in spirit and truth - to live by faith and not by sight, as directed by the Word of God and as guided by the indwelling Spirit of God.
An apostle is one that is specifically commissioned, by God, to carry out a definable task... and we discover from Scripture that God's chosen apostles and prophets were the ones He authorised to lay the foundations of the Church in this dispensation of grace - and one important, biblical criteria of apostleship was to have met with the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul was, indeed, called and chosen to be God's apostle. He met and conversed with the risen, ascended, glorified Christ on the road to Damascus. He could legitimately claim, "God set me apart from my mother's womb and He graciously called me to be an apostle."
Paul could certainly claim, "God was pleased to reveal His Son in me - so that I might preach about Him among the Gentiles," but the gospel he taught did not come through men - nor did he consult with flesh and blood. Indeed, many mysteries were revealed to the fledgling Church through Paul, and much of the inerrant Word of God was penned by this man. Nevertheless, he did not fit in with people's perceived expectations of an apostle, and significant hostility against him came from the Christians at Galatia.
Paul was required, therefore, to give an intense defence of his apostolic ministry. And in his letter to the Galatians, he gives at least six arguments to defend his position. The gospel he taught was not according to men or angels, but by divine revelation from God. He did not receive it from anyone other than Jesus. The gospel Paul taught did not come from a teacher or from the other apostles of Christ, nor did he learn it from a book.
He explained, in his defence, that he had been separated from his mothers womb, by God's grace, for a special work - a specific ministry to the Gentiles. Paul considered himself to be the very least in God's kingdom because he had persecuted Christians... and yet he explains that the Lord chose HIM to reveal His Son in so that he might preach the glorious gospel of grace among the Gentiles.
Paul understood that we are not saved by the works of the Law, nor are we redeemed by the blood of bulls and goats. We are not saved by adhering to religious regulation, nor by the keeping of sacred feast days. We are saved by God's grace, when we have faith in the work that Christ has done for us on Calvary.
Paul came to understand that walking in spirit and truth is not something that we can do in our own strength - but something that God does within us as we submit to Him. He wrote, "It is not I that lives, but Christ, Who lives in me." However, there were many legalists and Judaisers in Galatia, just as there are many religionists today, who do everything to undermine the truth that we have received through the apostle Paul - which places us back under bondage to the Law.
Although there are many today who continue to discredit Paul's ministry and his apostolic calling, we would do well to pay attention to his teaching, for he opens our understanding to many Church age mysteries - including that as the Church, we are members of Christ's Body and have the permanently indwelling Spirit Who provides us with godly power to guide us in our earthly walk. Paul understood that without the indwelling Christ we can do nothing, but he also wrote these timeless words of truth: "I can do all things through Christ - Who strengthens me."
Heavenly Father, thank You for the ministry of Paul and the many truths You have revealed to the Church, through his writings. Keep me from legalistic leanings, and I pray that in the power of the Holy Spirit, I may live and work to Your praise and glory. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.
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