The Call Of God
Book of Galatians 1:13-24
What is the call of God?
The call of God is an invitation given to each of us by God to accept salvation into His Kingdom through the Lord Jesus Christ.
This invitation is given outwardly by the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This invitation is given inwardly by the Holy Spirit, who will lead us to Jesus.
These two things will happen at the same time.
This first call must be answered before God can call us into some part of His ministry.
It is up to each of us to accept or reject the call of God.
The Apostle Paul preached to the Corinthians that “now is the acceptable time” to accept the call of God because now is the time of God’s Grace.
2Co 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
Paul was preaching from the prophecy of the Messiah:
Isa 49:8 Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;
Before Paul became an Apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul, then called Saul, was one of the most religious Jews of his day.
Paul had dedicated his life to the Law as taught by the Pharisees.
And, Paul relentlessly persecuted the Christian Church.
It was Judaizers who had brought a false message to the Churches of Galatia but before Paul became a Christian, he was much more zealous for the Law than these that had come from Jerusalem with this false message.
Paul had been even more sincere in his zeal to stop the “Gospel of Jesus Christ” but Paul had been very wrong and he now knew this.
When Paul met the Lord Jesus Christ on the Damascus Road there was a change in his life.
Salvation brings a change in the believer!
If there is no change then it is hard to see that salvation has taken place.
Before, Paul had used all his energy to destroy the Church, but now after meeting Jesus, Paul used all his energy to build the Church.
So Paul begins, “I know you have heard all these thing from my past”.
*****Gal 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
The Bible does not try to hide anything and we can clearly see the change that Paul went through by comparing Paul’s former life to his life as an Apostle of Jesus Christ.
We can be sure that each of the Apostles went through some drastic changes.
We know some things about Peter, and John, and even a little about Matthew, James and Thomas but the Holy Spirit decided that we needed to know more about the Apostle Paul.
***Paul had been the greatest persecutor of the Church before his conversion besides Satan himself:
Act 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
Act 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
Act 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
Act 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
All those that think that they can persecute the Church without God knowing them personally are in for a real surprise, for they will one day come face to face with our Living God!
No one persecuted the early Church more than Paul.
We also know that God had allowed this persecution so the Church could grow.
The early church had not been obedient to the commands of the Lord!
The Lord had said “go” but the early church had just “stayed” in Jerusalem.
Act 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
God will always take something that is bad and make something good come out of it!
God also showed the Apostle Paul that it is impossible to stamp out the Church.
God will remove His Church individually or all of it at one time at the Rapture but until that time there will be a functioning Church upon this Earth and there is nothing this world can do to stop it though they continuously try!
Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Mat 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
We should all have a testimony after salvation and this was part of Paul’s testimony.
Act 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
1Co 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
***God had used these things to humble Paul for Paul had also been a supreme example of self-righteousness.
Paul had boasted how he had made a great profit not only in finances but also in prestige by being so zealous of his Jewish heritage.
We must love all the Jewish people and they are still God’s chosen nation but Christianity is not an offshoot of Judaism.
Christianity comes by having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!
To be a Christian is to have Jesus as your example.
*****Gal 1:14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
Before Paul became an Apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul’s intent was to use any means he could to advance Judaism. In fact Paul was so intent upon doing this that he did not hesitate to cut down all those who opposed his religion.
Judaism is a religion that still rejects Jesus Christ.
This puts us in mind of the acts of those of Radical Islam who today are using every means at their disposal to cut down and destroy all religions but Islam, especially Judaism and Christianity. They in fact will try to destroy anyone who disagrees with their beliefs or they make tributaries of them.
Like Judaism, Islam is also a religion that rejects the Lord Jesus Christ as do all other religions!
There may always be some things in our past that should remain in our past but here Paul had to make these Galatians see that he knew as much or more about Judaism as anyone that came from Jerusalem.
Remember Paul had studied under Gamaliel who was the authority on Judaism in all of Israel until his death.
Paul was explaining to these Galatians that it took more than any mere man to change his ways and to change his beliefs. It took the “Good News” of Jesus Christ.
Php 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Php 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
We can also see from Paul’s testimony that he had even been more zealous of the traditions of Judaism than the written Word of God.
This is great problem in all religions, people listen to what men teach and ignore what is written down in the books they use in their own religion.
Even Christians depend on the pulpits more than they depend on the written and infallible Word of God!
Now Paul had come to know the truth.
Paul had spent much time in the scriptures and had realized the truth of the Word of God, all the way back to the Book of Genesis.
*****Gal 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
Paul understood Creation by the design of God.
Paul also understood that God had a purpose for his life all along.
Paul realized that just like Jeremiah, God is involved in our lives from the day we are conceived in the womb of our mothers.
Jer 1:4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Jer 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
Paul had persecuted the Church but since the time of Stephen’s death, God had been working on Paul and in a time of God’s “Grace”, God had called on the Paul and made him an Apostle!
It is obvious that God is working in our lives long before He calls us to the work of Jesus Christ.
God had told the Jews all along to quit listening to false preaching and take the time to study the scriptures.
Deu 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
Deu 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Deu 6:8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
In fact God teaches us all to do the same.
2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Paul realized that he was undeserving of any favor of God and he had only been saved by the “Grace of God”!
We cannot be saved by the “Grace of God” until God reveals the work of His Son Jesus within us!
*****Gal 1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
God knows by His infinite wisdom that we cannot make Christ Jesus known to others until we know Him on a personal level ourselves!
2Co 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2Co 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
Paul was called to preach.
Our Pastor, Preacher Sam was called to preach.
BUT, we are all called to witness for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul was told to seek the “Gospel” not from men, but from God Himself!
This does not mean we are not to study the “Gospel” from other men who know the truth of Jesus Christ but it does mean that we are not to proclaim some man-made gospel, we are to proclaim the “Gospel of God”!
1Co 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
The “Gospel of God” is the “Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ”, the “Gospel of Grace”!
Jesus Christ freely gave Himself for us so that we could be saved!
We must realize that God will forgive our past life but God may use some the things we learned in that life to bring glory to His Son.
We must realize that there is nothing in our past life that cannot be forgiven!
We must also realize that when we surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ we must walk away from our old life, there must be a change!
We must realize in order to be a benefit in the work of our Lord Jesus, we must consult with God!
And we cannot consult with God with sin in our lives!
Psa 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
We must get alone with God in prayer and in the Scriptures!
If we cannot begin our new life with God on a personal level, then we will never walk with Him in peace in this life!
*****Gal 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
All those that had made accusations toward Paul had come from Jerusalem so Paul insisted that the “Gospel” he preached was not out of Jerusalem.
Paul was proving to these Galatians that his message came directly from God Himself!
As we follow the next few verses we will see how God would direct the life of His new Apostle in order to show how salvation can change even the vilest of men.
Paul’s conversion was the most dramatic experience he had ever had.
Paul had been full of religion.
Paul had observed all the rituals and traditions of his religion.
Paul had believed that it was these things that made him righteous in the eyes of God.
BUT, all these things had only deceived Paul and everything Paul believed, he found out to be false.
Paul’s religion had not brought peace and satisfaction but only hatred toward all those that did not believe the same as he believed.
Paul had studied the Scriptures from an early age but he had allowed false teaching to pervert the truth of those Scriptures.
Paul did not need to return to Jerusalem to those that had taught him all his life.
Paul did not need to return to Jerusalem to confer with the government on what to do.
Paul did not need to contact the Apostles to get their advice, they would not have trusted him anyway.
Paul needed some time alone with God!
Paul knew about God but Paul did not really know God!
If we get alone with God in sincere prayer and study the Word of God as He says, we can come to know the truth!
1Jn 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
We find that Paul spent three years in a place that only Gentiles dwelled.
Paul spent three years in the Arabian desert at the feet of Jesus, just as the other Apostles had done.
After this time Paul returned to Damascus.
Before Paul was converted he had gone to Damascus to stamp out Christianity, so Paul now went to Damascus to right that wrong.
Paul was seeking forgiveness for what he had done!
One of the hardest things we must do after salvation is to try to make things right to those we have hurt.
Upon receiving the forgiveness of God, we are to forgive all others.
Mat 5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
Mat 5:24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
We know that Paul was not well received but he had at least tried.
Act 9:25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.
Paul had to escape Damascus to save his own life.
AND, next Paul knew he had to return to Jerusalem to face his past.
*****Gal 1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
Paul had been well know in Jerusalem. So, there was no better place for others to see the great change in the life of the Apostle Paul.
Paul had been a Pharisee.
Paul had been an official of the Sanhedrin Court, somewhat like our own Supreme Court.
Paul knew all his old associates would now be his enemies but after all, Paul had a new understanding of the Word of God.
Mat 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Mat 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Paul spent three years with Christ Jesus, despite all the education he already had in the Scriptures just as the other Apostles had done.
There can be no doubt that Paul witnessed for Jesus during this time but Paul also knew he had a ministry that could not begin until some other things came first.
It is foolish for any new convert to believe they can immediately preach the Word of God without spending some time alone with God in the Scriptures.
It seems that three years may be an example of an appropriate time.
Paul also knew that if he were to trusted by the Church, he would need to convince Peter of his conversion.
As far as Paul was concerned, Peter was the head of the Apostles.
If the Apostle Peter accepted Paul then Paul knew he would be accepted by a majority of the Church.
Remember Paul was writing in defence of his apostleship to these Galatians.
Paul was not saying he went to Peter to see if he was preaching the truth.
That had already been settled by the Lord!
Paul said that he spent 15 days with Peter so that was not enough time for Paul to get some new “Gospel” message.
Act 9:26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.
Act 9:27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
Act 9:28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.
It was only after Peter had been convinced that Paul felt he could move in and out of Jerusalem but many in the Church were still wary of Paul and remained afraid of him.
So Paul also met with the Pastor of the Church at Jerusalem.
*****Gal 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.
There are many including the Catholic Church that deny that the Lord Jesus had any brothers by Joseph and His mother Mary but what do they do with this verse?
James was the presiding elder, or the Pastor of the church at Jerusalem.
Gal 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
It is this same James who also wrote the “Epistle of James”.
Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
It is this same James that the Apostle Paul says was also the half-brother of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The half-brothers of the Lord did not believe the Lord while He was alive but when they saw Jesus walk out of that grave, they became believers.
Joh 7:5 For neither did his brethren believe in him.
Act 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
There is also the “Epistle of Jude”. Jude was also a half-brother of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jud 1:1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
And then Paul adds, “these things are the truth as I stand before God”.
*****Gal 1:20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
What Paul is saying to these Galatians was, “that if you hear anything that differs from what I am telling you then that thing would be a lie”!
What have we learned so far?
We need to become witnesses to all our old friends and our own family.
We need to allow unbelievers that knew us before we were saved see that knowing the Lord Jesus Christ will make a noticeable change in our life.
We need to seek help from the Church and the Church leaders before we begin a ministry for the Lord.
And most important we need to get alone with God and spend some time with Him!
1Pe 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
And it is only after these things that Paul went home to witness to his family and his friends from his early life as a child.
After all, the family can be the toughest to win over to the Lord, even Christ Jesus knew this was true.
Mat 13:57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
Mat 13:58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
*****Gal 1:21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
Tarsus is where Paul was born and where his family resided. This would be the area where Paul’s childhood friends were located.
Paul had a desire to share the “Gospel of Jesus Christ” with all those he had ever known.
Tarsus was the capitol of Cilicia but Cilicia was now part of the area called Galatia.
Tarsus was also near the border of Syria and the chief city of Syria at that time was Antioch of Syria.
Later when Barnabas came after Paul, he did not have to go very far.
The roads from Lystra and Iconium ended at Tarsus.
Paul was well acquainted with this region.
Paul had a new outlook on life and he wanted all the world to know!
Paul had a new understanding of those Scriptures he had studied all his life!
Paul finally understood the words of Jesus Christ.
Mat 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Paul had changed so much that he was unrecognizable to the churches that had been established in all Judea.
*****Gal 1:22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:
We must remember the intent of this testimony of Paul was to show these Galatians that he was saved by the “Grace of God” and not by any teaching that had come from the Apostles or from the home church in Jerusalem.
We also know that it was the Church of Antioch of Syria that had approved of Paul’s missionary work and not the Church of Jerusalem.
Paul’s point to these Galatians was that his ministry was recognized by people who had never seen him.
These Galatians had seen Paul, they had heard his message and believed and been saved by God’s Grace, without works but now had been turned around in doubt of the truth by false teachers of a false doctrine.
What was Paul’s reputation in Judea?
*****Gal 1:23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
Gal 1:24 And they glorified God in me.
Here we can see the results of a God centered life after salvation.
There should be a noticeable change after accepting the “Grace of God”!
Those that think they have to do some work in order to pay the debt of those wages of sin, will all their lives seek to pay a debt that they never had the ability to pay to begin with!
The Lord Jesus Christ paid a debt that we could never pay!
1Jn 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
1Jn 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
One of our best witnessing tools is our testimony of a God-centered life which can encourage others to see the truth of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!
People want to see living examples of “Faith”!
It is those who create imaginary works in their own minds trying to please a God, who saves only by His Grace that give Christianity a bad name!
If our testimony is not for God, then it is against God!
If your life is not an example of the life of Jesus, then we need to be working on it!
Joh 13:15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
And Jesus added:
Joh 13:17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
What is the greatest ordinance of the Christian?
To be a servant, surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ!