Tuesday in the Thirty-First Week of Ordinary Time

Galatians 1:11-24

No Man’s Gospel

Poor Paul.  The man would go and preach the gospel in some city, as he was commissioned to do by God on that road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19), he would found a church consisting of those who had repented, believed, and were baptized under his preaching, he would stay as long as needed instructing them in the faith, and eventually leave to go begin the process all over again in another city—and then someone, usually Jewish Christians who resented Paul’s Mosaic law-free gospel, but also Gentile Christians with weird ideas, would come behind him and tell that church that Paul was not part of that original band of twelve that was called out by, ministered with, and commissioned by Jesus, and therefore could not be counted as a real apostle.  Please understand this was not a matter of bragging rights; if Paul were not an apostle then his preaching was suspect, which meant that the gospel he preached was suspect.

So Paul has to rehearse his personal itinerary between being literally assaulted by Christ on that road to Damascus, and subsequently saved by faith under the hands of Ananias, and then through a fourteen year ministry among the Gentiles, the purpose all of which is to show two things: 1) That he did not receive his gospel of salvation by grace through faith from anyone, including the twelve in Jerusalem as he had little contact with them during this period, but received it from God alone; and, 2) That that gospel was in complete harmony with the twelve back in Jerusalem who extended to him “the right hand of fellowship.”  Thus, it is the Judaizers who are swerving from the true path of the gospel (see Ronald Fung, NICNT, 51-72).

Now we may assume that Paul did learn matters of our Lord’s earthly life from the original apostles or perhaps even others as is clear from his words in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, as he said in that place, “Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believe.”  But when Paul says, “the gospel,” he means salvation by grace through faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Son of Man, that faith being the gift of the Holy Spirit who convicts and turns the heart to Christ.  This is the gospel that cannot be changed, transformed, or modified to accommodate man’s preferences, be those preferences a desire to earn salvation by law-keeping, or be those preferences a desire to cheapen salvation by law-erasing.  By this, I do not mean to suggest that the gospel is a “middle-road”; it is not.  The gospel is the gospel, “but [men] have sought out many schemes” (Ecclesiastes 7:29).  And let him be accursed who deviates there from; and why would you?

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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