A Complete 180
If Paul's news about Jesus is really the true Gospel from God, then it ought to change everything about us.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Before we get started I wanted to update you a little on my life.
I was not here last week, as our twins, Jeremiah & Liviana were born last Saturday night.
They were born very healthy, but Lindsey had to have a c-section and then had a rough day afterwards.
Later the next day…she was in immense pain and they eventually found out that she was having internal bleeding in her abdomen, and they did immediate emergency surgery
It was a pretty scary set-back, but after 8 days in the hospital, we were able to come home last night, and everyone is healthy again.
So…I’m just here this morning as a quick “intermission” in my time off w/ the twins, and then I’m taking the next 5 or 6 days off to finally be at home w/ my family.
So thanks for your prayers. They are deeply appreciated!
Let’s get into the book of Galatians this morning.
We are now in our second week of our “Gift Vs. Reward” series where we are teaching verse-by-verse through the Book of Galatians in the Bible.
Before I get started though, we need to cover some basic geometry.
I’ve mentioned a few times that my mom is a librarian, but my dad is a high school geometry teacher.
This morning, we are going to be talking about doing a 180 in your life, but before we do that I think my father would be incredibly proud of his son for clearing up a common geometric mistake.
(PUT CIRCLE ON SCREEN)
This is a circle. It has 360 degrees in it.
You ever people say the phrase, “Wow, that guy really turned his life 360 degrees around! Wow! He did a complete 360.”
That’s an inaccurate phrase.
See, let’s say the top of this circle is where your life is at.
And let’s say, at present, you’re broke, smoking weed 5 times a day, and living in your mom’s basement.
If you were do a 360 degree turn, you’d be right back in your mom’s basement.
What we really want to see in someone’s life, is a 180 degree turn, that’s a complete life change.
Anyway…I thought that’d be helpful before we started this morning J
Don’t say you didn’t learn anything today J
(Take circle down)
Last week, we began our study of the Book of Galatians.
Galatians is a letter written by the Apostle Paul, in the early years of Christianity, to one of the early churches in Galatia (which is in modern-day South-Central Turkey).
And Paul is writing to them because he has found out that a group of Jewish-Christians, called the Judaizers, have infiltrated their Galatian churches…
and are now telling people that in order to be saved (forgiven), that people need to believe in Jesus AND observe Jewish Laws (like circumcision, eating Kosher foods, following Jewish Holidays, etc.)
Paul’s not happy about this at all…because Jesus has explicitly told him that people are saved by faith ALONE.
Not by being good enough…or accomplishing a certain amount of laws
Salvation/forgiveness/getting eternal life, is much more like a gift….than it is a reward
It’s a gift, not a trophy that you have to earn.
You can’t earn God’s salvation.
You only have the choice of whether you want to open up the gift or not.
THE GOSPEL IS NOT MADE UP
But these false brothers, these Judaizers that have infiltrated the Galatian churches, they are trying to tell these new Christians that they can’t really trust Paul.
We don’t actually explicitly see their arguments laid out in Galatians, but it’s pretty easy to piece them back together by reading Paul’s responses to their objections.
Here’s the crux of the false-case and lies they were trying to build against Paul.
Because remember, they’re trying to get the Galatians to believe their ideas about salvation…not Paul’s.
So it appears that the Judaizers are not only teaching a new “gospel” ( a way to be saved), but they’re trying to discredit Paul
What the Judaizers are doing is trying to trace themselves back to 12 the disciples in Jerusalem (the people who walked around w/ Jesus on earth)
And they’re trying to say that Paul is just some johnny-come-lately to the show.
He wasn’t 1 of the 12 disciples…he wasn’t w/ Jesus on earth…so these Galatians shouldn’t trust Paul’s version of the Gospel (the good news that Jesus died for our sins and all we need to do is repent and believe in him)
They also try and discredit Paul to the Galatians by saying, not only was Paul NOT an original disciple…when Paul actually did hang out in Jerusalem w/ those guys, he must have messed up the story about Jesus
Like the telephone game.
You ever play that as a kid?
I just played it this summer w/ my niece.
You know…you all line up, and you say a phrase like, “I like eating Grilled Cheese for lunch”
And by the time it gets to last person, it’s like, “I like tweeting chilled peas a bunch”
They’re trying to say that Paul probably just messed up the Gospel anyway…
And if Paul really knew the truth, He’d know that in order for God to REALLY accept you and forgive you, you need to believe in Jesus AND do lots of good things like observing the Jewish law.
And for the Galatians…these new Christians…how are they supposed to know this isn’t true?
Remember…it’s not like Paul can text them about this
“Hey bro…it’s not true!”
He can’t call ‘em. Or send an email. Or fax a doctrinal statement of faith.
The Judaizers have the Galatians fully tricked that this is what the Christian leaders back in Jerusalem really want (which isn’t true at all, but 2,000 years ago, Jerusalem felt a long ways away from central Turkey)
So Paul tries to remedy the situation by writing a letter
So let’s take a look at Paul’s rebuttal to the Judaizers.
You can follow along with your Bible, there’s 1 under every chair.
We’ll be on Page 943
Or you can click Live on your Bible App and follow along there as well.
(Galatians 1:11-12) – NIV
11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
In other words, his version of the Gospel (how people get saved) isn’t something he just made up.
He got it straight from Jesus.
He’s going to give more of his story now…to prove that he didn’t make this up…he got it from Jesus
13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.
We’re going to see in a moment here, that it would actually take 3 years before Paul even interacts with the 12 disciples & leaders in Jerusalem.
Verse 17 tells us that he went off into Arabia…to the East into the desert.
And then hung out in Damascus some more.
And it’s in the desert…and off up in Damascus where Paul is learning all about Jesus.
And Jesus is revealing things directly to Paul.
Paul’s Gospel isn’t some game of telephone that he messed up.
He hasn’t even met the original disciples yet!
NOT A SECOND-HAND APOSTLE
And he drives THAT point home to the Galatians by saying, not only is the Gospel (the TRUTH about your salvation) something I got directly from Jesus…if you think I messed it up in a telephone game from what YOU THINK the leaders in Jerusalem believe…that’s not even true, cuz I didn’t even really hang out w/ them
It is important to note that the Judaizers are falsely representing the 12 disciples and leaders in Jerusalem.
We see in Acts, that the leaders in Jerusalem are actually on the exact same page as Paul.
But even so, Paul, because he’s a great debater, proves that he didn’t give the a false Gospel through the telephone game of deterioration either
(Galatians 1:18-22) – NIV
18 Then after three years (explain), I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas(explain), and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. 21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.
In other words, Paul is saying, “Listen, the leaders in Jerusalem agree w/ me and we’re friends (just ask Peter and Jesus’ bro), but even if you think I somehow messed up their version of how a person gets saved, I’m not even technically a disciple of them anyway…because we barely even hung out (I only saw them for 15 days)”
So, therefore, his main point is that he is not some second-hand apostle that must have somehow messed something up.
In fact, Jesus has spoken to him directly, and Paul’s Gospel about Jesus is 100% truth.
And if the Galatians knew the REAL leaders in Jerusalem, like Paul actually does, they would see theirs is the same Gospel too.
Why? Because Paul directly interacted w/ Jesus…as did the 12 disciples.
In fact, I don’t know if you know this or not, but Peter, the leader of the 12 disciples, even affirms Paul’s teachings of Jesus in the Bible!
(2 Peter 3:15-16) – NIV
15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Interestingly enough, even Peter says Paul’s writings are sometimes hard to understand…so don’t fret if you can’t always follow what Paul says J
But Peter even goes as far as calling the writings of Paul SCRIPTURE. As God-breathed truth.
SO they are on the same page…that these people who are infiltrating Galatia and saying you need to believe in Jesus PLUS be a good enough person by obeying Jewish laws…they are flat-out wrong.
Would it be okay if I showed you a map of the first 10 years or so of Paul’s life as a believer? The years before he went out on his first big missionary journey??
(Show Galatians Map – Leave it up to the next verse)
(Note: You can see this on your YouVersion App)
So, Paul meets Jesus on the road to Damascus, then spend 3 years in Arabia/Damascus, then goes to Jerusalem & meets Peter and James.
After that, he starts telling people about Jesus in Syria and Cilicia.
And eventually he’s sent out on his first big journey from Syrian Antioch.
By the way, here’s an interesting question: Why did Paul wait 3 years to go meet Peter and some of the other leaders?
Especially since Jesus himself appeared to Paul??
Well, it probably had something to do w/ Paul’s understanding that he might not get out of Jerusalem alive if he went back there.
One of the cool things about reading the letters of the New Testament, is that most of them have parallel narratives in the Book of Acts.
So, after it had been 3 years and Paul went up to Jerusalem, Acts tells us the story of what happened:
(Acts 9:26-27) – NIV
26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.
So the leaders in Jerusalem (Peter, James, etc.) are afraid that Paul is like some double agent out of a spy movie.
You know, like when evil villain pretends to have had a 180 degree change…and now their on the good side?
But really they’re just doing it to glean information to kill the good people?
That’s seriously what the disciples are afraid of.
They’ve heard about Paul converting to Jesus.
But this was the dude that was giving the “mob-boss nod” to murder all the Christians…
So they’re thinking they better play it safe and avoid the guy.
And this is probably a big reason while it took Paul 3 year’s to even meet w/ them.
IF IT’S FROM JESUS, IT’S NOT A FALSE RELIGION
But there’s something about Paul’s argument that has some serious ramifications for the pluralistic world we live in today.
Paul is essentially making the argument that, “Hey, unlike all the false religions of the world…unlike the Judaizers…I didn’t make this up in dreaming what God might be like and wants us to do.”
“This is a direct revelation I got from Jesus himself, who is God”
This is THE GOSPEL
In other words, Christianity isn’t just another man-made religion, but the truth of God.
And let’s be honest, as much as it just grates our culture to admit it, there can only be one truth and one God.
But so often people say, “Yeah, but isn’t it just a bunch of different religions w/ different names for God, but it’s all the same God!”
But if that were true, God would be the most schizophrenic being any one could ever conjure up.
If God was the same God for all different religions, but people just called him by different names (Allah, Jesus, Buddha, etc.)
That would mean that this same 1 God said through Jesus that Jesus was the only way to Salvation…
But then somehow got confused and 600 years later, told Muhammad when he started Islam that Jesus was actually a little confused and wasn’t God (what?!?_
Buddha never even claimed to be God…but is more of a guide who leads us on a path towards purity.
Or for instance, the Bible, another book inspired by this same God says that Jesus resurrected back into heaven after he died, yet Mormon’s believe in their sacred text, (again, supposedly inspired by God) that Jesus came to America 2,000 years ago to heal the sick and organized 12 disciples for America.
No one (let me repeat this)…NO ONE who has ever truly studied religion comes to the conclusion that this is the same God.
It is 100% irrational to believe in a God that is this schizophrenic
By the way, sometimes people also hold the irrational belief that ALL “Religions” are wrong and have messed it up, but there is still a God out there.
Again, also irrational, because that’s saying that God is SO weak that He couldn’t even reveal himself properly to one person over all of time.
If you want to be a decent thinking person, you only have 2 rational options:
You can say: There is no God. All the religions made it up, and thus that’s why they all contradict each other.
Or secondly, your only other rational answer is that one of them is right. And that is how the true God revealing Himself.
IT OUGHTA CHANGE EVERYTHING ABOUT US
Well, Paul is claiming in Galatians that this good news about Jesus (that he died for your sins, and wants to completely forgive you if you follow Him) is the truth that was given to Him directly from God…THE ONE True God!
And if Paul’s right…..If the Bible is right…and this is the 1 truth, then this oughta change EVERYTHING…and I mean EVERYTHING in our lives.
But how do we know it’s true? If this is the one truth, how do we know? How can we say?
Well, 1, through study. Through examining the Scriptures.
But we can also tell by life change. Though people like Paul….and people we know personally today.
And by the way, it’s not as simple as just saying, “Yeah, but look at this person, they seem so devout, so serious, and they’re a different religion”
But remember…Paul was the most devout person ever when he was out persecuting Christians.
But he has now told us…that there was no life in that. It was his own stuff. It wasn’t about God.
He’s found the truth.
And that truth is demonstrated in his life change.
In fact, Paul writes the following about what people heard about him after he accepted Christ.
(Galatians 1:23-24) – NIV
23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.
See, if this is real, if it’s the truth, it ought to not only be factually correct, but it ought to change your life.
And in life-change, we can also see the evidence.
In the late 1800’s, a man by the name of Charles Bradlaugh, an avowed agnostic once challenged Pastor H. P. Hughes to a debate in London England.
The pastor accepted his challenge w/ the condition the pastor could bring with him 100 men and women who would tell what had happened in their lives since trusting Christ as their Savior.
They would be people who once lived in deep sin, and now have been incredibly changed.
The pastor said that would not only tell of their conversion, but would submit to cross-examinatino by any who doubted their stories.
Furthermore, the pastor invited his opponent to bring 100 non-believers who could tell how THEY were helped by their own LACK of faith.
Well, when the agnostic started to back away…he said he could bring 50 people then.
He kind of hemmed and hawed, and then the pastor offered for him to bring just 20 people who had been dramatically changed by their own LACK of faith.
Well, finally, the appointed day arrived, and tons of people came to watch.
The pastor showed up with 100 people who had been transformed by Jesus, but the avowed agnostic debater….never showed.
Sidenote: True story, they ended up going forward w/ their stories anyway, and many people came to Christ that day!
So, again, you really have two rational options with your life:
Either everybody made these religions up or one of them is true.
And Christianity, has 2,000 years worth of evidence of drastic and amazing life change.
& today, if you personally are a follower of Jesus, and you, 2,000 years later are a believer that Paul’s Gospel is not a false religion, but the very truth of God…
If that’s the case, then the message of Jesus ought to radically change your life. We’re talking 180.
Because by the way, believing in Jesus, and not really changing, is not a rational decision either.
Now, how you come to believe in Jesus, that process can look very different.
It doesn’t have to look just like Paul’s. You might not meet Jesus face to face. J
You might not even have a certain day when you gave your life to Christ (many do…they can point to a day)
But others don’t.
I don’t have a day. It just “happened” over the process of a 7-month period in my life.
“However, even though the process of every conversion is not the same, the result should be.
And the result, that should be the same, is radical change. 180 degree change.
And we really struggle to understand that nowadays.
This is why you hear a lot of people say stuff like, “Oh my testimony isn’t that good. Not much to it”
But that’s really a silly thing to say. Because the RESULT of what Jesus did for you in saving you (eternal life/forgiveness) is the same as anyone!
And that’s what matters. It’s the story of Jesus that matters, not the backstory-drama of our own lives!
So, how we come to him is different, but the results should be the same. He should RADICALLY change our lives. 180 degrees.
And thus, it’s a sad commentary on the church today, that so many of us who claim that we follow this 1 truth (that Paul and others passed on) that Jesus died for us to give us eternal life, look no different than the rest of the world.
Sure we believe in Jesus. He died for ME. Gave ME forgiveness. And that’s great…ho hum…on w/ life just like everyone else.
But think about this: If the length of this room represents eternity (which it can’t because eternity is infinite…but play along with me)…if the length of this room is eternity…your life on earth is about the size of a strand of hair.
In the length of eternity….your life on earth is like a blink…and then heaven or hell…forever.
yet we spend most of our time ignoring God and following our own pursuits.
Reason w/ me for a moment:
What if our government went absolutely bonkers and declared that when everyone hit 50 years old, everyone would be given a math test.
& if you failed, you’d be locked up in prison until you died
But if you passed, you spend the rest of your life vacationing on a beautiful island.
How much would people study for this test?
They’d go crazy!
Or even think of retirement….
People spend their WHOLE LIVES living for retirement.
They go to college, so they can get a better job, so they can get a promotion, so they can make a lot of money, all so they can move to Florida when they’re too old to do anything but play shuffleboard.
And yet, Jesus, died on a cross, stepping in front of our deserved judgment, taking the punishment for us….and if we believe in that….follow Him…after this “BLINK OF AN EYE LIFE” is over, we spend eternity in heaven w/ Him.
“That is a truth that demands everything from you. Your all.
Anything less is a misunderstanding of what Jesus did for you.
And it’s a misunderstanding of what your purpose is here in this “strand of hair” life.
And this is what we see in Paul. A complete 180.
“From an accomplice to the murder of Christians, to be willing to be murdered for being a Christian. From the persecutor to the preacher.
And you don’t have to become some missionary to another country like Paul, but it does mean that, while you’re here, for this short life-time…..that you’re here to reflect and honor God.
And be a representative of His name.
And the very fact that someone came and died for us in our wickedness, so that after this “strand-of-hair life” is quickly over, that we get to live in paradise for forever…that oughta set your heart on fire for God.
It oughta move you. To a 180.
To a reorientation, of everything you are, and everything you do around this God who has given absolutely everything in pursuit …of YOU.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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