Galatians 1:11-24

St. Paul’s gospel was not his own, and he did not preach it to please men, but Christ, whose approval was paramount, for it was the gospel of Christ that Paul of which Paul was a minister. And the gospel is still not any man’s gospel, not man’s gospel at all. No man could have thought it up. It is unlike any religious message every proclaimed in human history, or ever to be proclaimed. It turns all spirituality and religious thought on its head. Man does not go to God, and man does not reconcile himself to God or placate his Maker, but rather God and our Maker comes to us, reconciles Himself to us, and placates Himself in the person of His Son, who is the sacrifice for sin, our propitiation. Not only is there nothing for you to do, there is nothing you can do. You are incapable of saving yourself in any degree, even the slightest. You are utterly dependent upon Christ our Savior, and thank the Lord for that, because otherwise doubt inevitably would creep back in and the devil would exploit it to the fullest, as he is wont to do, and adept in so doing.

St. Paul had no plan to convert to Christianity. Christ converted him, and Christ has converted you. St. Paul had every plan to make his way to heaven. But Christ stood in the middle of that work-righteous, self-righteous, unscriptural path—the only path that makes any sense to natural, fallen humanity—and left little doubt that the Way to heaven had already been cleared, trod, and made certain through His own saving work, the message of which Paul (then Saul) had so far worked tirelessly to suppress. Saul was advancing quickly in Judaism, but Judaism had lost its heart when it rejected Christ, and so Christ brought Saul back to the faith of his fathers in Judaism—Christianity—for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had no other hope and promise upon which their faith rested but the Messiah. That is the faith God grants still today through His Word and by His Spirit, faith in the Messiah, the Christ, through which we are saved, not by our works, but by His free gift.

Just as the churches glorified God because of Paul’s conversion, so the church glorifies God for your conversion as we gather in song, prayer, and for the hearing of the Scriptures that works faith. Even more, the angels rejoice and glorify our heavenly Father. What a wonder! And all because we have been recipients of a message not our own, nor any man’s, nor man’s, but God’s, revealed in His grace for our justification and salvation. So take heart. You need not climb to God. He has descended to you. You need not calm His anger at your sin. Christ has taken your sin away, and Christ has borne the wrath that our sins rightly merit. And so, instead of a cup of wrath, which He drank down to the dregs, we now have a cup of forgiveness. We need not endeavor to be reconciled to God. We have been reconciled to him, as his faithful ambassadors make clear in preaching and teaching. Treasure that message. Be confident in it, for it is God’s own word to you. And live in the peace, hope, and sanctification that it supplies.