Sun, Mar 04, 2018

Trophies of Grace

Series: Set Free Text: Galatians 1:10-24 Speaker: Mike Osthimer View the sermon notes here: Join us! Service times are: Sun: 08:30 am / 10:30 am Wed: 07:00 pm What We Believe Our weekly sermon podcasts can be found here: iTunes Visit us on Facebook at: or
Series:Set Free
Duration:53 mins 55 secs

Series: Set Free

Text: Galatians 1:10-24  

Title: Trophies of Grace


Here in the book of Galatians we are reading a letter written not to a person or a church but a group of churches that the apostle Paul had started on his first missionary journey and now word has got back to him that these churches who were so eager about the gospel, so excited to hear and receive the truth of the Gospel that Jesus Christ, God’s own son had come to earth pay the ultimate price on Calvary’s Cross and purchase our salvation. Jesus came to set the captives free and to set at liberty those who have been oppressed. The churches of Galatia came to Christ, the only way a person can come to Christ, and that is through faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone. 


But now that was in jeopardy and the apostle Paul is mad. We know the apostle Paul can get mad as we read about his zeal for the law and how he had persecuted the church of Jesus and tried to destroy it. His life was marked then by sinful pride where now is indignation is not misguided and he is filled with a holy pride and is angry at these Judaizers who have come along after Paul has left and are seeking to draw the churches away from salvation and into bondage, into legalism. 


Paul is amazed at how quickly these churches have abandoned the truth for another gospel that he says in fact is no gospel at all. 



10  For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. 


Paul is telling us why he is passionate and zealous… There is no alternative Gospel. Paul says, “If I was seeking to please men do you think I would run with this exclusive message of Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation when even the church is becoming ecumenical seeking to be relevant in the world.    


11  But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 


My gospel isn’t from man or through the traditions of man…no man or group of men have sent me out to preach this message to you. I didn’t go to bible college, I didn’t take any on line courses or read any books by the apostles. My credentials are not from man… 


12  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. 


Not just ‘of’ Jesus Christ but ‘from’ Jesus Christ directly… Jesus revealed Himself to Paul and instructed him. 


In Acts 9… Saul of Tarsus you could say was the Antichrist of the early church… “anti” in “opposition of”, “opposed too”. Saul was killing Christians, he was dragging Christians off to jail. Saul was both feared and fierce in his persecution of the church. 


He heard a voice  Acts 26:12-18 (NKJV) 

12  "While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 

13  at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. 

14  And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' 

15  So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 

16  But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 

17  I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 

18  to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.' 



Saul why persecute Me?, who are you Lord? Paul knew it was divine. “Lord what would you have me to do?”  


Remember, Saul sought to destroy the church. 


Jesus came to His greatest enemy and spoke to Saul personally in the Hebrew language. Calling him by name. Jesus revealed Himself to Saul. 


I am Jesus… 


Saul’s religion has made him the enemy of Jesus. Religion makes us an enemy of the gospel, an enemy of Christ. 


Saul had heard the Gospel from Stephen, they covered their ears because they hated the message but we know it got through as much of Paul’s messages we hear in the book of Acts sounded just like Stephen. Saul was listening. 


The Word of God is powerful… let the lion out of the cage!  God’s Word never returns void to Him. It will always do what He purposes it to do. 


The People who get the maddest at the Gospel, are often times the closest to getting saved. “The dog that barks the loudest is the one who is getting hit with the stick” the old saying goes. 


Saul was the bitterest enemy of Christ. He was murdering christians, creating widows and orphans. 


Paul knew who he was and is why he would say of himself, “I am the chief of sinners”… “No one compares to me…I am the least of the apostles” 


Think about it… Nothing Saul has done has made him a candidate for salvation. 


It’s Not religion that saves us, its relationship, It’s not Moses, but Jesus, its not law, its grace, Its not works, but faith, Salvation is not earned, its received, its not trying, its trusting, its not doing, its done. Again, let me remind you, Jesus words regarding our salvation from the Cross were, It is finished. 


God is going to send Saul into the world… to preach grace… 


Our standing and security is of grace… 


13  For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.


Right away we learn it wasn’t Paul looking for Jesus, it was Jesus looking for Paul. 


There is no gradual salvation...  Saul we read in the book of Acts fell to his knees a wretch, and rose to his feet in salvation. Paul had one of those Chef Emeril Lagasse, BAM experiences. Jesus touched him and went BAM… and Paul was a different man… 


Paul had his life flipped upside down


Proof that “God is better at saving than we are at sinning” 


God has a plan that includes you! 


Paul was a trophy of Gods grace and he knew it 


14  And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 


Paul is saying, I didn’t just read “the Bible for Dummies”. If anyone knows the laws of Moses and circumcision and the 613 laws of Moses its me and as an expert of the law I knew before I came to Christ I knew there is no eternal life in the law. You can’t find everlasting life in keeping the law. 


Exceedingly zealous... Paul tried to be Holy by the law, he tried to do it on his own... Paul added more laws then were required to prove his zeal, that he was better than others trying to please God. He was both a Pharisee and a legalist. 


Almost 450 years before Christ, Jewish religious scholars put together what was known as the Midrash… 


Midrash… was like Commentary, the Bible was their text… There were pictures, analogies, commentary as time went on it was the beginning of the Talmud. 


The Midrash over time expanded into what became known as the Talmud 


The Talmud of the Jewsended up being 535 books collected into 23 volumes


The Talmud was made up of all extra laws and regulations, stuff that wasn’t biblical


Compare that to the Torah, the laws of Moses. You could write the Torah, the first five books of Moses on about 350 Pages so the Talmud was the Torah, the law on steroids… 


Then something interesting happened not long before Jesus was born into the world. Due to the pressures of society and a Greek culture bent on seeking knowledge the priests began to move away from the Midrash to what was known as the Mishnah. 


The Mishnah moved away from biblical text and commentary as it source to oral traditions that were only passed down from the rabbi’s and the priests. This ever changing traditions were designed to stay relevant to the evolving Greek culture. 


The apostle Paul made clear that this region of the Jews was not the religion God handed to Moses. Paul said “The Jews religion”, the law made us dead… it had no life to offer. 


Verse 14: In the traditions of my fathers


There were two rabbinical schools of thought… 

Conservative…Shammai was the rabbi 

Liberal… Rabbi Hillel who had a stand out student by the name of Gamaliel, Gamaliel was the head of religious school in Jerusalem, Gamaliel had a star pupil by the name of Saul who far exceeded his classmates. 


Verse 14: And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation,


Through religiosity Saul became an enemy of the Cross



But this Gospel I preach Paul is saying is from God Himself… 


We must stay true to the Word of God.



15  But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, 


“But”… when it pleased God… 


God is and has always been in control using everything in my life to bring me to to this point. 


Paul is saying, Forget all the previous things I have said…


God called me from mothers womb… before I was born…

Isaac, Samson, Samuel, Jeremiah


Evolution isn’t true we know because Jeremiah was called before he was even born which proves information is separate from time and matter 


All my failures all my successes have brought me to this place… 


Larry Osborne in his book Accidental Pharisee writes, “Both nationally known superstars and anonymous leaders toiling in the trenches struggle with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. But once again, this is nothing new. God has always drawn straight lines with crooked sticks. Abraham was a liar, Moses a murderer, David an adulterer, and Peter a denier. But a strange thing happens with the passage of time. The farther removed we get from the stick, the more likely we are to credit the stick (rather than the divine artist) as the reason for the straight line. And the closer we are to a crooked stick, the harder it is for us to see the straight line being drawn.”


Fast-forward a millennium to someone like John Calvin. Calvin was a prolific writer and a profound theologian. But he also allowed his followers to torture and kill one of his opponents, burning him at the stake for denying the Trinity and strongly opposing infant baptism. No matter how you slice it, that’s hard to defend, justify, or explain away. Yet Calvin remains one of the most quoted and admired theologians of our day. 


Or take a closer look at Martin Luther. His anti-Semitic writings are embarrassing. Yet most Protestants wouldn’t hesitate to trace their roots back to the ninety-five theses he nailed to the Wittenberg door. Without Luther’s courage and his commitment to the authority of Scripture alone, the church might still be selling indulgences. 


Or consider men like John Wesley, A. W. Tozer, or Bob Pierce (the founder of World Vision). All of them had horrendous marriages. They tragically and sinfully neglected their families in the pursuit of ministry. Yet they remain heroes of the faith. The good they accomplished is widely honored, while their failures have long been forgotten. To be clear, all of these men were powerfully used by God. They accomplished great things. But they were also deeply flawed — sinners saved by grace. And the same is true of the current crop of leaders whom God is using today. They are broken. They are sinners. They make mistakes — sometimes big mistakes. Yet God continues to use them in his grace. He’s still drawing straight lines with crooked sticks. Odds are that he’ll continue to do so until Jesus comes back.”



16  to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 


God the Father separated Paul at birth

God the Son separated Paul on the road to Damascus

God the Holy Spirit… Acts 13 the Holy Spirit said, “separate unto Me Paul and Barnabas” 


It pleased God… to unveil Christ. Jesus wasn’t just given for us, He was given to us… 


Ephesians 2, we are His workmanship… We are God’s masterpieces… 



17  nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.


Didn’t need apostle approval to certify his ministry.  


Went to Arabia… out into the a deserted place… 3 1/2 years alone with Jesus in the wilderness. The apostles had 3 1/2 years with Jesus. 


There was nothing to do in Arabia, Paul didn’t go there to preach powerfully but to be pruned painfully 


What we learn from Paul’s life and others is, “Extraordinary destinies unlocked through difficult times in the wilderness” 



David... wilderness





To the degree you need people to affirm you limit Gods ability to use you 


Paul wasn’t picked... Matthias was the people’s choice 


Paul an apostle, God picked me... don’t worry 


People pleasing, I would not be a minister of the gospel.  


Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.” 



The Safest place to be is in Gods will...


People are often wrong... 


What people are not up on they are down on 


1 Corinthians 11, Jesus spoke to Paul… Paul wasn’t in the Upper Room. Jesus taught Paul about communion. 


Paul was a wanted man in Damascus, they let him down over a wall in a basket.  


18  Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. 


Pau went up to Jerusalem to “See” Peter. The word “see” here means to vacation with, to become acquainted with that excludes instruction. Paul spent 15 days hanging out with Peter sightseeing and hanging out. 


Peter and Paul hanging out… Paul, the most intelligent of all the apostles, and Peter, a fisherman who Jesus chose. 


Peter walked with Jesus… 

What was it like… Paul loves Jesus…


You walked on water? For a second.

You were there when Lazaurus came forth, 

You were on the boat when Jesus calmed the Wind and the sea… 

You were there at the Last Supper…can we go to the house where the super took place.  

Garden of Gethseme, police came, I cut off Malchus ear and Jesus picked it up and put it back on

The empty tomb… 

Peter, Where were you when the cock crowed three times. 

Jesus on the sea shore… he restored me…

Go with me to Bethany… I’ll show you where he ascended back into heaven… 


Saul was more angry now at the false religions even more than he was at the church he persecuted. 


19  But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother. 

20  (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.) 


“I do not lie” was a legal term… The Galatian churches would have understood it well.


21  Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 

22  And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. 


Cilicia was the region where Pauls home was Tarsus was located. 


Acts 9… they didn’t believe Paul was saved… 


He had tried to kill them…


23  But they were hearing only, "He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy." 


The greatest enemy to the cause of Christ was saved. This would be like Hitler becoming a Jew. 


Proof God can save anyone at any time! 


24  And they glorified God in me. 


What did they rejoice over regarding Paul? That a Pharisee became a greater legalist or that a  legalist got saved! No one celebrates someone becoming more legalistic but we do celebrate people giving up legalistic religion and finding salvation by grace. 


Paul suffered much in his coming to Jesus. Most likely he disowned by his family…divorced by his wife. Disowned by the world, yet God was glorified in him.  


It will be over 11 years from his conversion to the time he comes to Antioch to minister along side Barnabas. God’s not in a hurry to send you out. First He wants to make sure you are in Him and He is in you! 


Let what you have be a relationship not religion… Not a list of to do’s but a life of appreciation for what has been done. 


We can be religious and miss the relationship…We can come to church and never come to Christ.  


The measure of my life is my relationship with Jesus… not anything I do, nothing I give but simply my relationship with Jesus Christ my Savior.  


Ask yourself these questions today. Am I growing in Christ? Do I know the presence of God in my life?  



Where Paul did his darkest work he went back and shined the light upon it


God has a plan for your life 


Shine in the dark!   



It’s not about religion its about a relationship with Jesus Christ. Its not about a church affiliation, its about a personal relationship with Jesus. 


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