Pentecost 3
June 24, 2001
Galatians 1:11-12
"Believe it!"

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INTRODUCTION:  This gospel of salvation by grace through faith- whose philosophy or theology or teaching is it?  If it is of man? Why is it not just one man's opinion, which may need correction? Should a man base his soul's eternal welfare on a man's teaching about God and the soul?  Paul makes no claim for the acceptance of the gospel because he preaches it. The gospel is a "given" a revelation from God.  This is then God's eternal truth worthy of full acceptance.  The Gospel comes to us…

1.   Not be research - a discovery of the truth – “For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man…” (v. 10) 

Concerning the manner where Paul received the gospel, he received it by revelation from Heaven. He was not led to Christianity, as some suggest, merely by education.  His conversion came by the direct work of the Holy Spirit. In preaching the gospel, the apostle Paul sought to bring persons to the obedience, not of men, but of God. But Paul would not attempt to alter the doctrine of Christ, either to gain their favor, or to avoid their fury.

Some folk today feel that they have the "copyright" on Jesus! They would suggest that Paul had learned his ideas "second-hand" from the apostles who were the true pillars in Jerusalem.  These false teachers felt that they themselves had the inside story! Not so! Our admission into the kingdom comes by the work of the Holy Spirit as He works through Word and Sacrament.  The faith is to be taught – no doubt about it. By the true teacher is the Spirit of truth, namely the Holy Spirit.   The truth of the gospel can come to us in no other way. 

The truth of the gospel cannot come by human research – nor can it be thought out or reasoned through.  It comes…

2.   Not by reason - a list of logical propositions – “For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it…” (v. 11a)

Paul writing to the Corinthians put it this way: “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” [ 1 Corinthians 1:20-25]

The Christian faith is not a mere philosophy.  It’s not merely a life style or a modified behavior. It is a relationship which the Lord Jesus Christ.

ILLUSTRATION:  For 70 years, Soviet schools drilled their students in official state atheism, and few churches could hold services. To be openly religious entailed substantial risk.  The result?  When state repression collapsed, widespread religious participation surfaced and sustained an enormous revival – a religious outburst of such magnitude that it prompted Andrew Greeley, a well known Catholic novelist, priest and sociologist of religion, to write an article proclaiming that “God is Alive and Well and Living in Moscow.”  {Rodney Stark, “American Religion Remains Robust,” Insight, 11 July 1994, 23.}

The point is simple you cannot reason the faith away nor can you reason it into any person. It all comes from the power and the work of the Holy Spirit.

3.  By revelation - a gift from above. – “but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ.” ( v.11b)

It is a revelation that in Jesus Christ all of your sins are forgiven – period!  That’s what you have come here this day to hear. That is what what the faith is all about. Christ by His passion, death, and resurrection has paid the price of your sin.   

ILLUSTRATION:  A Catholic priest, who had become very deaf in his advancing years, had formed the habit of asking those erring members of his church who came to his confessional stall to write their penitences on a slip of paper, instead of speaking them to him.

The practice worked fairly well until one day when the father heard a heavily – breathing man enter the visitor’s side of the confessional and fumble for a few moments as a small, crumpled piece of paper was passed through the curtain into the old cleric’s hand.

The confession read: Two cans of beans, Quarter pound ham. Cans of Coke. Four fish filets. Bread rolls. Large coffee. Soap. Butter. 

The priest studied the note for a puzzled minute or two and then silently passed the slip back.

Suddenly there came an agonized voice from the stall beside him: “Mother of God, I’ve left my sins at the supermarket!” { As told by British journalist Godfrey Talbot, and referenced in Executive Newsletter 9:2 (1994), 6.}

No, our sins are not “left at the supermarket” or any other place where they can be picked up or spread about for all the eyes and ears of the world to see and hear. No your sins and mine were nailed to a cross on a day called Good Friday. And on Easter Sunday we were brought to new heights because Jesus Christ rose from the dead to give us salvation and life. It is this message of salvation and life, given to us by inspiration, which has in fact changed us to be the men and women, boys and girls of faith.

CONCLUSION:  This gospel of salvation comes to us by grace through faith.  The gospel is a "given". It is a revelation sent from God.  This is then God's eternal truth worthy of full acceptance. Cherish this most precious gift. In Jesus’ holy Name. Amen.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +