Monday, May 30, 2011

No Human Intervention 人の手に寄らず

Galatians 1:11~24  ガラテヤ人への手紙  第1章11~24節
11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
 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 Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17 nor 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.

 18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter 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 Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 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.

Researchers who studied a string of Pacific Ocean atolls are painting the first detailed picture of pristine coral reefs and how they can be disrupted by people - particularly, they said, by fishing.  "Reefs without people" were healthier than populated reefs, Public Library of Science Biology.  New York Times, 2/2008

Flight can happen without human intervention---to a point. If designed for it, it can be done. Technology is mature enough for such capabilities. As a matter of fact the RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV has fully autonomous mission capabilities. It is the first aircraft certified by the FAA to file its own flight plan in the US. You may see the Global Hawk as the forerunner of autonomous or independent flights. But, there are no passenger carrying aircraft is operational with autonomous capabilities, yet, and I am thankful for that!

What we have here in Galatians is that some people felt—very strongly—the Gospel Paul was teaching as not a real God-sent message at all.  They felt Paul had made it up!

Think back. Who was Paul trying to silence while his name was Saul? The very ones like Stephen (Acts 7) who in his dying lips, spoke of a Gospel of Jesus that had given him such comfort—even up to and including the end of his life.  And Saul killed him and others like him.  He had heard their witness and he clearly rejected it…at that time.

But that same message changed Saul in such a dynamic way that he turned around completely and started teaching and preaching that same Gospel Message he at one time tried to destroy. As we stated last week, Paul preached that there was ONLY ONE WAY and that way was through Faith in Jesus alone.  Can’t do it by works of kindness nor acts of self-promotion. We can’t be good enough. We are fallen creatures and we are in need of a Savior and Jesus is the ONLY one who can make it happen.
#1. The Gospel is not a human invention.
In verse 1, Paul states: …Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead
Here in verse 11, he tells us that the Message is divinely rooted: by revelation (vs. 12). The origin was with Jesus Christ Himself. No one from Jerusalem told him this! He had heard it but he rejected it back then.  Much like us: we see the Gospel’s effect on people we know and we see the change.  We have the information about the Gospel but reject the Truth. Therefore we fail to understand this change in these people’s lives who were TRANSFORMED by God’s Spirit. We tend to explain it away with human reason: “Oh, they were weak…or they were at the end of their wits so, naturally, when you are in that state of affairs, no wonder they turned toward God-ish things!”
Informed fully but denies the Truth.

God turned the light on for Saul—on that road—who was ready to crush these crazy Christian people.  Later, in history, Wesley wrote: Long my imprisoned spirit lay, Fast bound in sin and nature’s night; Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;! That is the testimony of the life changed by Jesus. That is where we all need to return to every once in a while when we get to feel we are better than others. Without the Gospel alive in our hearts, we would be dead…because that what we were.  We were far from Him.

#2. Humans are not inclined to the Truth.
Paul was the most unlikely convert to this new Faith. (vs 13 & 14) Later in Acts 26, when Paul was in front of King Agrippa, he told his story. He was part of a group that was called something like HALAKA.  (I believe I have the right spelling...) THEY followed the Law.  They would take the Law and add to it.  They would give it new meanings. The extra wordings became MORE important than the original text of the Law.   Saul was so set in his beliefs! In short, Paul would have been called a Terrorist in the first degree! He would be part of the plot to smuggling TNT on board the planes to kill Christians. Back then, he would be a terrorist. He would die for his belief.  He was out to kill them all. 

We all were in the stage of Death. There are many degrees of life. There is no degree of death. In a mortuary, all there are dead. Likewise, before Christ came into our lives, we who have trusted Him, were dead too.  Christ made us alive.  None seek after God: no not one! Do you think I was predisposed that I’d be in love with Jesus? No! Only God could reach us. The song goes: There's not a friend like the lowly Jesus,
no, not one, no, not one.
 None else could heal all our soul's diseases,
No, not one, no, not one.
  Chorus 1:
Jesus knows all about our struggles,
He will guide til the day is done;
Oh, there's not a friend like the lowly Jesus,
no, not one, no, not one

#3. Conversion is the work of God.
“But when God…” 15 God took the first step. Set him apart from his mom’s womb.  The attacker becomes the proclaim-er.  As the believers in closed countries today. The one’s in the cells for their faith, most likely were the guards only months before. Christian Faith is contagious, in a sense. One has it and others see his/her life, and that affects that person.  It is a work of God in their lives.
Paul was fighting against God. He was not deserving of God’s Mercy nor was he asking for it.  Jesus asked him: “Why are you fighting Me?”
“Yet Mercy found him and Grace called him.” John Stout.

Any terrorist here today? Any one fighting your parents, your loved one? Fighting the teachers?  It is not a problem. Is there anything too hard for God.  Divine calling! In evangelism…

"We say, we are good people.  We don’t need this sort of thing in our lives. We can do it by ourselves. In fact, there is nothing for us to do! We have it all because God will take me in without this fanatic believer’s system.  Friends, that is another gospel, which is not good. It cuts God out of the picture, a picture which He drew!

#4. God’s Presence matter more than Man’s Program.
16-~ He did not check out with others. Went away into the Desert. Re-read the OT with new eyes! All fell into place. Suffering Servant makes sense.  Griped his soul. Three years—same time Jesus gave to the 12!

18 - after three years met in Jerusalem lasted two week and saw two apostles.  21 No human involvement.  He did not go on the fast track. Not going to the right place, seeing the right people, doing the right course of study at So-in-so University.  No, his was in God’s school.

We need to be careful with our systems of discipleship. We may not need to send people away to hear a certain teacher. (we might…) Martin Lloyd Jones—great preacher—but no formal training! He was called The Prince of all Preachers.  D.L. Moody—a shoemaker…became one of the most respected preachers of his time...and even in our time!  We cannot clone Christianity. It is a matter of God’s Working in the hearts of men and women who are willing to be filled with His Good Pleasure.

Eric Liddle: I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.
 What is your pleasure? Are you following it with the Lord's zeal?

The presence of the Master matters more than the programs of man.

#5. When lives are changed the news gets around.
22-24 They did not know his face. They did know of his faith.

Our society calls us to a form of devotion. Over the last years, I have seen devotional books that go from “Hiding Place” to “Fast Pace”. From “30 min with God” to “Minute devotions”.  The Gospel for Dummies replaces Doctrinal studies. Comic book Sunday school material with little or no Bible content in them replacing in-depth Bible Studies.  We have become the result of a fast moving society with little time for God. We can go deeper. We do have the call for such a thing, but we want the fast way. Instant noodles for church. A ten min devotional instead of Bible teaching.  But these new people knew Paul’s testimony.  They did not know his face yet they heard his Faith. And what they did was grand: they praise God because of him! V24. He once was trying to kill us all—not now, this man who is preaching is telling us that the message he was trying to get ride of is, in fact, the Truth! His life was changed. That kind of life change gets around!

Around the world, who are the secular groups targeting with a different message? In Cuba, the government is targeting the young of their island to teach them Marxism to send them out into the world with this Godless teaching to make a difference in the societies.  The Socialist Party in Great Britain is targeting those who are 15-17. Can you see the change now? No, not yet but in a few years, the voting members of those societies will be the ones who will bring change in their societies.  Where are our young people today? They need to see a life changing difference in you and me so that they will carry this message to a world that is divided and sin-sick and, yes, spiritually dead. AND with a growing passion for God’s Truth!

Unless God moves in our present time, all would be loss once again because the Church was not ready to live a life of transformation before our society. The Church in Japan most speak to the needs—both spiritually and physically and emotional so that the Message of Christ is heard and understood. That people grow closer to the God who had made them. Only then, will the People of the World know that Jesus is alive. When they see our lives change because we now walk with King Jesus, we can then be a blessing.
Much thanks to Alistair Begg for his help with this series.