Paul’s letter to the GALATIANS (Lesson 2) Pastor Barry Bruce/ The Gathering Church
A story is an account of past events in someone’s life or in the evolution of something. Every person who is living, or who has ever lived, has a story. Some of those stories have become famous in varying degrees. Those have either been written down in books, made into movies or plays, written in the annuls of history, or inspired popular legends, songs or poetry, but most stories have not become famous.; however, every story affects another story which means that every story is vital to the history of the human race. In other words we are all connected through our individual stories. Countries, peoples and races are all connected through stories. The past, the present and the future…connected through our stories.
The study of genealogy (the study and tracing of lines of descent or development.) shows how those stories are connected and even more deeply aligned through bloodlines in DNA studies. The stories (lives) of others in regards to our own has far reaching consequences. Every story, every life is vitally important.
The Apostle Paul’s Story Galatians 1:11-24, 2:1-10 Paul tells his story to the Galatians. He shares with them who he was, what he became because the intervention of Jesus in his life and how his story fused with the story of the other apostles. He tells his story so that his listeners will receive the truth of the gospel that he brings to them. True Respect is earned, and it begins with ones story.
Paul begins with the fact that what he preached was received by him from the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus. He spoke of how he was so religious for the Jewish law that he once persecuted the church and tried to destroy it. In the book of Acts Paul’s Story is told (Acts 9:1-30, 22:1-21), but for the Galatians he adds the detail of going to Arabia directly after his conversion (for a time up to three years) before preaching in Damascus where he escaped a plot to kill him by being lowered over a wall in a basket at night. The reason Paul adds this detail to his story for the Galatians is because the Judaizers were saying that he was not a true apostle (one called out to preach by Christ). Paul was illustrating the fact that Jesus taught him apart from the apostles for three years before he met any of them. Note: each of the apostles had been taught under Jesus for three years.
As Paul continues his story he elaborates that he fact checked the gospel that he was teaching to the gospel that the other apostles (“those esteemed as leaders”) were teaching. He wanted to make sure that he was not “running” in a different direction or preaching the wrong gospel (For this same reason we have the Bible to Fact check our doctrine). His conclusion was that both the Apostles and he were teaching the same gospel and that gospel was about freedom in Christ. The truth of this gospel was preserved even though “false believers” had conspired to confuse new converts by attempting to enslave them to rules and regulations that Christ did not teach. (Note: the name Cephas Means “rock” in Aramaic. The apostle Simon was called Cephas by Jesus because he was to be the rock upon which the Christian church was to be built. In most versions of the New Testament Cephas is translated into Greek Πετρος (Petros) (in English Peter) Therefore Cephas is the Apostle Peter.
Paul determined that He and the apostles that were held in “high esteem” were on the same level and what they were before Christ made no difference (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). They preached the same gospel, loved the same Lord and had discovered freedom from their bondages (John 8:36). The only difference was that they preached to Jews (circumcised) and Paul preached to Gentiles (uncircumcised).
Your Story or His Story? Romans 8:5-6 What is your story? What is written on the pages of your life? Your life is vitally important and your choices will affect others. Not unlike Paul, your story (the good, bad and ugly parts) will make a difference, but what makes your story dynamic, abundant, powerful and victorious is when your story intersects with God’s. No one’s story is more important than another’s in God’s eyes. He values them all equally. The poor one, the rich one, the free one, the slave, the famous one, the obscure one, the black one, the white one, the brown, yellow and red one. His story redeems them all.
The story of Jesus will always change any story that is introduced to it. When Christ is interjected into a life, the whole purpose and direction of that life changes. When Paul encountered Christ on the road to Damascus he was faced with a choice to follow Jesus or to go on ahead blindly without him. We can continue writing our own story without the interaction, direction and wisdom from Jesus, or we can give him the remaining pages of our life and let him fill them. When we write our own story it is a story of the flesh ending in death. When we allow Christ to intervene it becomes a story of the Spirit full of life. His is always a story of never-ending adventure and purpose. His is a story that leaves a powerful legacy for others to follow and leads to eternal life. Nothing is as beautiful as when your story intersects with his.
Keeping The Story Straight Galatians 2:11-21, Romans 8:1-4 Paul was bold, outspoken and extremely confrontive and he opposed Peter (Cephas) to his face because Paul saw him behave hypocritically. Paul was reminding the Galatians that even those held in “high esteem” can fail and need to be corrected.
Peter knew the truth in Christ, but when he was with Judaizers he went through their motions (traditions) of the law. Paul reminded him publicly that it is no longer we who live to labor under the law but Christ who lives in us. When our story meets his story we hand over the pen and Jesus becomes the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2 KJV). Freedom comes in our surrender to him. The finished story of Christ sets us free.