Posted by: Brad Beaman | June 7, 2008

The Gospel: Changing Lives, Galatians 1:11-24

The elements of a testimony in Christ can be divided into three sections. First is describes what life was like before coming to Christ. The second part is describing just how it happened at the time of meeting Christ. Then finally is describes what life was like after coming to Christ. When you put these three sections together in one testimony it highlights how someone was radically changed by the gospel.

Paul had a radical change by the gospel. His life was so radically changed that it was beyond what many could believe. Paul who had previously been the most fearsome persecutor of Christians is now preaching the gospel. How did this happen? He met Jesus.

For Paul it was an incredible conversion. Besides what we find in this passage in Galatians 1:11-24 we have a few other scriptures to tell us more. We find more about Paul’s testimony in Acts chapter 9 and Acts chapter 22. Paul’s life is a testimony to what God can do.

Paul continues this section of Galatians chapter one with what he already started. He is not a man pleaser; rather he is a God pleaser. The Judaizers brought a false gospel to the churches. Paul started his missionary work in the region of Galatia. Now those Judaizers who oppose Paul have attacked his character.

The introduction to Paul’s testimony

Galatians 1:11-12
I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

The gospel, the good news in Jesus Christ is not made up by man. What Paul preaches is from God. Man made religions have rules to obtain salvation. There is a system of works to reach God.

In the gospel God reached down by grace and He does it all. The price of salvation has been paid in full by Jesus at cross. We receive salvation as a free gift. No, it was not man made. The gospel Paul preached was revealed to Paul by Jesus Christ.

Paul’s life Before Christ

Galatians 13 – 14
13For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

Before Paul met Christ he had a different name; it was Saul. He was born in the home of a strict Pharisee. Paul was a dedicated Pharisee himself. He was a prodigy and showed himself to be the best in Judaism. He studied under the best Rabi, Gamaliel who was a member of the prestigious Sanhedrin. Paul was a zealous Jew.

Paul hated the gospel of Christ. He hated those who preached it. He hated those whose lives had been changed by it. He did all he could to oppose the name of Jesus. He hated Christianity so much so that he even approved of Stevens death recorded in Acts 7.

He made murderous threats and had Christians imprisoned. He believed that Jesus was an imposter. He saw Christianity as a threat to his Judaism which was his whole life. Paul was obsessed with destroying the Christian faith. He was on his way to Damascus to arrest and persecute Christians when he saw the blinding light on the Damascus road.

When Paul met Christ

Galatians 1:15,16a
But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles

God had different plans for Saul. He was on his way to arrest Christians, but on his way to Damascus, he met Jesus and his grace, the undeserved favor. He saw the brilliant blinding light of the risen Christ. Paul fell to the ground. He heard the voice say, Saul Saul, why do you persecute me?

In persecuting the Christians Paul was actually persecuting Christ. Christ is present in his church. Saul just asked, Who are you? The response, I am Jesus, who you persecute.

The men traveling with Paul were speechless. The men with Paul heard voice, but they did not see anyone. Paul got up and could see nothing. Paul was blind and led by the hand to Damascus.

While all this was happening to Paul the Lord told Ananias to go to Damascus where Paul was and lay his hands on him. But Ananias questions the Lord and said, I have heard reports of this man and he has come here to arrest Christians. But the Lord told Ananias go because this man Saul is my chosen instrument to carry the Gospel to the gentiles.

Ananias went laid his hands on Paul. Immediately scales fell off Paul’s eyes and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was baptized by Ananias right away. He was blind, but not now. Now he sees. He was lost, but now is found.

Paul met Christ and he was changed forever. Not everyone is on the Damascus road when they meet Christ. Not everyone has a dramatic vision, but all become Christians by meeting Christ. All find salvation by trusting Jesus, the Son of God who died for our sins.

In the book of Galatians Paul has been arguing for the uniqueness of the gospel. He states that it is not man made. It is not achieved by good deeds but by meeting Christ. Meeting Jesus comes in trusting Christ by faith alone. Only Jesus gives eternal life.

After meeting Christ

After Paul met Christ on the Damascus road he was never the same again. Everything suddenly changed for him. His preaching of Christ drew furor from the Jews. To save his life Paul snuck out of the city in a basket. He went to Arabia to be with the Lord who called him. Paul was a few days in Damascus before leaving for Arabia.

Galatians 1:17
17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.

It was God’s work and what a work. Later on Paul stayed a year in Antioch discipling that new church. From there he was sent out on three great missionary journeys. He was all the time preaching the gospel and starting new churches. Including the ones he is writing to here in Galatia. This letter to Galatia was an outflow of the changed Paul.

The one who persecuted is now preaching the faith. The one who had such a zeal for legalism is now the champion of grace. He was a hater of Christians and now he preaches the faith. The worst persecutor is now the most persecuted for the sake of Christ. The Gospel changed Paul.

People could not believe Paul’s conversion. Put your trust in Christ. Let the Gospel change your life. Meet Jesus Christ today and be changed forever.


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