I guess one might ask how could you know if you had the One true gospel? One way is to recognize that the delivery of the message is intended, and in fact does, bring glory to God. Not, in some way, to the one delivering the message. Another way could be to look at how you might have gotten the message in the first place. In that case are the sources trustworthy? …which leads you back to the first question – how do you know if they had the right gospel?
So Paul starts by telling where he got it from – Jesus Christ, himself. This was the beginning years of the church. Firsthand information was still readily available and more than that, the original apostles were right there…they saw it all, walked with Jesus side by side. You could go right back to them…one step from Jesus. This is what Paul has claimed to be…an apostle.
Paul gives his testimony of a changed life. He was a type A over-achiever his whole life…he started out over-achieving in Judaism. He learned everything, sat at the front, raised his hand, made straight A’s, and generally screwed up the curve. Teacher’s pet….the kind of guy you love to hate. After graduation, he went on to become a company man extraordinaire – getting his license to kill – and set out to destroy the uprising of Christians who were the sworn enemies of “the traditions”.
When Jesus knocked him off his high horse, he was humbled. All of a sudden he didn’t know it all. In fact, he didn’t know anything much. He did come to understand later that all of his life – even the whole “you are completely on the wrong track” thing – had a purpose. God had actually called him from before he was born to take the true gospel to the Gentiles. But, like I said, falling off that horse left him wondering what to do next.
This is where Paul has it on most of us. He does not go look it up on the internet or set off to get trained by the known apostles in J-town. Unlike the guy who benefits from counseling and immediately thinks he is ready to be a counselor himself, Paul goes to an obscure area to learn his new trade from the Lord – not men.
He gets his BA (Bachelor of Apostleship) in a 3 year program with Jesus and then goes to visit Peter for a couple of weeks and have dinner with James. Here he received affirmation and confirmation on the message he had learned from the Lord. It’s kinda of like doing your own study and reading the commentaries afterward. Across the miles with minimal interaction, the HS has revealed the same message to everyone.
Next Paul goes out to Syria and Cilicia preaching the true gospel, completely unknown and un- introduced to the churches of Judea. In this situation, Paul was just living out his new faith and being faithful to his calling. His actions and his life became his introduction to the main church in Judea. This was what they heard, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.”
And what was their response? “Wow! Great new preacher – so glad we got him. Isn’t it great when a powerful guy like that comes on board? It’s like getting Brad Pitt to be your ad guy. We’re gonna get a lot of press now. When is he coming to J-town? Can we get tickets?”
Uhhhhh no… They glorified God because of Paul.
It was the one and only, true Gospel… it came from the Lord and brought glory back to Him and Him alone.
God is the author of “The Good News”.
Would my life cause people to give glory to God?
About the World?
Here’s a clue: The true Gospel message makes God famous, not the speaker.