Sunday, May 10, 2015

Launched into ministry - Galatians 1:15-24

"But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord's brother." (Galatians 1:15-19)
Paul is recounting his start in ministry. From Luke's account we read, "and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, 'He is the Son of God.' All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, 'Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?'" (Acts 9:20-21) Here, Paul is not saying that he stood apart from any human need or the need for fellowship and accountability, for we know that, even at his conversion, he received counsel from Ananias, "Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name." (Acts 22:16) We also know that, in Damascus, there was a body of believers of whom Paul was a member, "but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket." (Acts 9:25)

Launching out into ministry without counsel or relationships is a dangerous proposition. However, this is not what Paul is advocating. What Paul is trying to conveyed to the Galatians is that the message be brought to them was the message Christ had given him, not one that has been diluted with the thoughts and ideas of men. The Greek word for "consult" means to "lay before" or to "lay up in addition." Paul is saying that he did not immediately take the message he received from Christ and submit it to others that they might add their additions or corrections to it. Paul did not submit his message to the will, intentions, and corrections of men; he had received it from God and he proceeded to preach it as such; a message from God, not from men. Three years later, when he went up to visit Peter, it was not to submit his message to him (and the other apostles), but to get to know him.

When Paul understood God and what He had called him to do, he simply proceeded to do it. There are several mistakes we can make in regards to our calling in God. First, we presume upon what God wants us to do. This was the case for Moses when he killed the Egyptian thinking, "that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him." (Acts 7:25) Secondly, we confuse our desires with the call of God. Paul writes of those who, "wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions." (1 Timothy 1:7) Thirdly, we simply sit by waiting for someone to recognize us, approve of us, or commission us to what God has called us to do. We are like those whom the landowner found and said, "Why have you been standing here idle all day long?" (Matthew 20:6) To those I would say, "Step out!" Don't worry about what men might say or think. Find someway to use the gifts God has given you and to express the message God has placed in your heart. In many ways this blog has been my attempt to do just that. If I waited for an opportunity in my church to present itself I would be waiting for a long time. However, daily I can take to these pages to do what God has called me to do and to express what He has placed in my heart. Look around and find what you can do and do it! As you do, God will continue to guide you.

David Robison

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