OK, so I couldn’t resist showing you a picture of my 5-week old nephew! (It actually does have something to do with our passage today, I promise!) This is Gage Cherest Abraham. Adorable, isn’t he? I actually just got home from visiting him, and I miss him already.
Anyways, back to Galatians. Our third set of verses brings us to Paul’s testimony–or at least the first half of it. As a quick reminder, Paul has just finished warning against accepting any other “gospel” (1:6-10).
11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. (1:11-17)
**If you are unfamiliar with Paul’s testimony and want to do some additional study, please see Acts 8-9 and Philippians 3:1-10.**
As you read this brief portion of Scripture, I simply want you to be encouraged that GOD HAS A PURPOSE FOR YOU! He has had one particularly assigned to you since “before you were born.” Everyone who is in Christ Jesus has been “set apart…in order that” _______________ (fill in the blank)!
What is your “in order that” (v. 16)? Have you sought the Lord and asked Him to direct you to His specific purpose for you? Do you really believe that He actually set you apart before you were born for His purposes? Ask Him to help you believe the truth of His Word. The God of all creation is “pleased” (v.15) to use you! Remarkable.
If you have any kind of ugly sin in your past (which by the way, we ALL have), you may be thinking that you messed up too badly for your “in order that” to still happen. Or that somehow you missed your shot. This week, I spoke with a good friend, who is a mature believer, who feels like he destroyed his ministry forever because of a sin (of which he has repented). Friend, I am certainly not discounting earthly consequences, BUT as far as your set apart purpose from the Lord since before you were born, GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER YOUR SIN! I don’t understand it, but I know it–from Scripture (see Romans 8:28).
A background in the Apostle Paul’s life is key at this point in our discussion. Verse 13 says, “how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it” i.e. “I ordered the death of the first Christian martyr–to protect Judaism.” Hatred. Persecution. Murder. We would easily say those are disqualifications for whatever purpose God may have had for Paul…but we would be wrong. God certainly didn’t ordain Paul’s sin, but He was still sovereign over it. Quite literally speaking, you and I are believers in Jesus Christ, because God called this man to preach Him among the Gentiles! Grace. Only grace.
Whether you are 50 years old or 5 weeks old, God set you apart before you were born and called you by His grace and was pleased to reveal His son, Jesus, to you in order that you may fulfill a specific purpose in His Kingdom. Walk humbly in that truth.
God has incredible things planned for my nephew!