January 16 AM FBC Almyra Galatians 1
Galatians 1:1: Paul, an apostle, not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead, and all the brethren who are with me,
I. Personal authority
II. Supremacy of Christ
III. Fellowship of followers
The letter is begun in the normal style of Greek/Roman letters. This is the identification of the author, the sender of the letter.
In this case, the sender is Paul. Where to begin with Paul? Shall we spend the morning visiting his conversion from the persecutor to the persecuted? From the Pharisee to the servant of the Lord? Suffice it to say that Paul was not half-involved in the mission of the Gospel.
His name would have reverberated when it was read, as the letter was intended to be, aloud in church.
Here it was, a letter from Paul. Not a piece of junk mail or another fundraising letter or even just a quaint hello from a friend. Paul.
Who had preached the Gospel the first time the Galatians heard it. Who had been there, been involved, and knew the Galatians.
Yet this letter isn’t from Paul their friend or Paul their old buddy, but rather from Paul an apostle. There were few who were truly entitled to be called that. Surely those who were closest to the Lord Jesus Christ when He walked the earth were, and a few others who had been witnesses to His resurrection, like His brother James.
This was not, however, some title that just anyone was entitled to use. The church at Galatia had seen a few people that claimed to be apostles, and they had come with impressive resumes and persuasive teaching. There was just something about being apostle that brought with it authority and respect, as was due such great men.
The apostles that had come since Paul left had likely come with documentation, testimony from other churches and other apostles, signifying that they had been sent by the greater churches around.
Paul, though, hadn’t come with one of those. So, in the time that had since passed, his teachings had been set a little back, not intentionally perhaps, but time dulls the memory.
And here he is writing, reminding that he’s an apostle.
Well, who made him an apostle?
Was it James? Peter? John? Matthias?
None. Paul claims his authority comes directly from God above: an apostle, not by the actions or agency of man but by Jesus Christ, the Lord, and God the Father.
We don’t have anyone in churches these days that has that kind of authority, but for the early church, these men were there, who had authority simply by name.
This was more than just trustworthiness by name, like many of us have for respectable men and women. After all, we would listen closely to a letter from Billy Graham or a newly found one from Adrian Rogers or Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Trustworthiness and usefulness aren’t really at stake here. What’s at stake is authority. You see, whatever we may think of Billy Graham, he can’t require our church to do something. Likewise the president of the Southern Baptist Convention or the state convention directors.
Paul, though, is writing as one who plans to tell the churches of Galatia what to do.
Why do we not have apostles now as we did then? I’ll give you the basic reason: The churches of Galatia, like those in Philippi, Thessalonica, Rome, and Corinth had apostles because they didn’t have what we do: a complete, inerrant Bible.
The churches then had to evaluate each person that showed up to teach them something, each letter, each sermon had to be considered and authentic. The source mattered, the heritage mattered. Then the churches had to make their best effort to determine whether this apostle spoke God’s truth or not.
Now, we actually have it easier. Remember that letter from Billy Graham? How do we know he’s given us something we ought to do? We compare it to the Bible. At this point, for people with access to the Word of God, there is no need for authoritative apostles to tell us what to do. We have God’s own words to apply.
That’s not to take away from those who have put special effort into preparing, teaching, preaching the Word of God. And certainly not to eliminate our need to properly and thoroughly consider the source. Far from it, rather the times in which we live, with Bibles enough for all of us in church, we ought to more thoroughly compare the lives and behaviors of those who would lead churches to the Word of God.
Moreover, we should thoroughly examine their views of the Word of God. A preacher, TV or live, who speaks as if his or her words are the actual words of God, that person is misleading you. Period, without discussion.
NEVER TRUST A RELIGIOUS LEADER THAT TELLS YOU THEIR WORDS ARE AS GOOD AS, EQUAL TO, OR A REPLACEMENT FOR THE WORDS OF GOD. THAT PREACHER WHICH BELITTLES THE BIBLE IS HEADED DOWN THE PATH TO ERROR, HERESY, AND DESTRUCTION, WHETHER HE’S THERE YET OR NOT. DO NOT GO WITH HIM.
Yet at this point, it’s necessary for Paul to provide his authority, and he stresses that this is not from man, but rather from God. He is not an apostle by choice or by preference, but rather out of the sovereign will of God.
It is to this authority that we turn next. It is not the apostle, nor even The Apostles that are supreme in the church. Even we Baptists get this wrong in business meetings sometimes. It is not that the church in business meeting is in authority.
Rather it is Christ the Lord, that God the Father raised from the dead, who is in charge. It is He who sends apostles, He who spoke Scripture into being, who is in authority over the church.
That’s actually why we have business meetings and committees and many of the other things Baptists are known for: it is believed that in a multitude of the redeemed, the will of God as revealed in Scripture and guided by the Spirit can be learned.
In all things, though, in a church the will of Christ is supreme, and never the will of man. Allowing man to rule in a church is a recipe for disaster.
Now, while it was well said that no one stands alone that stands with God (Oswald Chambers among others said this), but the final thing I want us to notice here is that Paul, though he takes a stand on the authority of God, does not take this stand alone. He writes from not only himself but with the brethren that are with him.
We see other places in Scripture where Paul writes alone, but this is not one of those places.
He does not identify these by name, but some general guesses are Timothy, Silas, Titus, or others.
So this is where Galatians starts.
What, then, should we do about it?
- Seek community of believers: we are less effective when alone, we are less encouraged, and weaker.
- We, as followers of Christ, need each other
- When you take a stand, you do it, whether it must be done alone or not
- It is better to stand together, for a cord of 3 strands is not easily broken
- Likewise, as we stand against the world, we will need each other.
- How can you support struggling Christians?
iii. Prayer (said that twice, didn’t I?)
- Seek confirmable teaching
- Do not focus on teaching that is esoteric
- Do not spend time chasing down the rabbit trails that aren’t part of Scripture
- Do spend your efforts learning the Word of God
- Do ask questions
- Seek the supremacy of Christ
- A church that exalts itself
- A person that exalts themselves
- A nation that exalts itself
- All will not help us.
- We must focus on Christ alone, to the end of all other things.
There should be no question of where we stand—there is no hope in any other than Christ, and there is no place where we can go He is not…