4 May 2018

Hi, it’s Friday! It’s been a real privilege to be able to dig into the Bible with you this week. As a team, we just want to thank you again for listening. If you’ve been impacted through engaging with the podcasts, why not tell someone about them today?

REFLECTION:

Our reading today, which you can hear at both the start and end of this podcast, is Galatians 1:10-17. As we heard yesterday, Paul is writing this letter to remind the Galatians of the true Gospel message – that we are saved through faith in Christ alone and not through work of laws.

In order to do so, Paul reminds them again of his conversion story – the point when the power of the Gospel was fully revealed to Him. We can read about this in the book of Acts. He writes in verse 12: ‘I did not receive it (the Gospel) from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.’

Paul’s story is a very powerful one. It’s dramatic. It’s extraordinary. There are many reasons why he’d want to continually tell people a story like that. But in this situation, he’s sharing his story again with the Galatians to defend both himself and more importantly the Gospel message. It seems these Jews who had come to town peddling a different Gospel had persuaded the believers in Galatia, and in the process begun to undermine Paul and the message he was bringing.

Paul responds to this by telling the Galatians again his story of how the Gospel was revealed to him by Jesus Christ. He recalls that moment when Jesus spoke into his life on that Damascus road and the Gospel – the good news that salvation came through Jesus – his death and resurrection – was made real to him. In doing so, he was evidencing the fact that the message he brought them was the real Gospel – it had come from God, and not from man.

Paul’s story revealed the truth of the Gospel – that Christ came to save us from our sins. It also revealed the power of the Gospel – Paul’s life was completely transformed from a persecutor of Christians, to someone who gave up everything from his former life, so that he might spend the rest of his days telling everyone about Jesus.

God wrote himself into Paul’s story. He has written himself into each of ours. We may not have as dramatic a conversion moment as Paul’s. We may not be able to nail it down to a specific date and time but there was a point when Jesus revealed himself to each of us. A point when we realised that Jesus was real, that he loved us and that in him we discover life in all its fullness – a plan and a purpose for our lives now, an eternal place in the new kingdom God is building, our future. It may have been at a youth camp, through an Alpha course, through community or through being involved in a project at church. It might have been a recent experience; it might have happened many years ago.

The fact is that we have encountered God. The Gospel was revealed to us. That’s our story… and, although people may doubt it or challenge it, they can’t deny it outright. For many, our testimonies (the story of us coming to know Jesus) are powerful. A personal experience is something people can relate to. The inexpressible somehow expressed in words, emotions and feelings. It causes people to ask questions, it sparks interest; it challenges people’s perceptions of God.

I lead our amazing youth church here and have the privilege of leading a fantastic team of youth leaders. At our last team meeting, we looked at some recent research about young people. When asked the question ‘What might make you think about God?’ many young people stated that it was when they heard others sharing from their own personal experience. The power of the Gospel is often expressed through our story.

We read in 1 Peter that we are to: Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. Paul gave his answer. He told his story to a confused and misguided group of people who were searching for answers. Are we ready to do the same?

We each have a story of where God revealed himself to us personally. Like Paul, we have a story that is worth sharing with someone. A story that God has given us to share. That he longs for us to share. A story though which the power of the Gospel can be made known to others.

PRAYER:

Jesus, we thank you for our stories of where we discovered you and your great love for us. We pray that you would help us to take the opportunities you give us to share our stories with those who don’t know you. As we do so, Jesus, may you speak through us, and may the power and truth of the Gospel be revealed to others. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

READING: Galatians 1:10-17

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

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. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 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. 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.