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Pleasing God!

“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 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: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me.” (Galatians 1:10-24)

Verse 10 says, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”

We are not to seek to please men above pleasing God. Paul said that his goal was not to please men, or give what them what they “wanted” to hear, but what they needed to hear. He preached the unadulterated truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unlike these churches today that feel they need to water down the truth of the gospel in order to get members in to the church and to keep them there. My town is full of preachers like that. The church of Jesus Christ needs fewer hirelings and more men of God in the pulpits, willing to speak truth at whatever the cost.

Verses 11 & 12 say, “ But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Here Paul is clarifying to the Galatians and to us that the gospel he was preaching was from God and not man or tradition. The word “revelation” is from the Greek word:

602 apokalupsis {ap-ok-al’-oop-sis}

And it means:
1) laying bear, making naked
2) a disclosure of truth, instruction
2a) concerning things before unknown
2b) used of events by which things or states or persons hitherto withdrawn from view are made visible to all
3) manifestation, appearance (On-line Bible notes)

I think for our purposes, numbers 2 and 3 fit the best. “A disclosure of truth or instruction” and a “manifestation or appearance”. Jesus revealed Himself to Paul on the road to Damascus in a very awe-inspiring way. But, I don’t think that is what Paul is referring to here in these passages. I think what fits best here is when we go down to verse 17 and the first part of 18 it says, “Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter,...” Paul was away from all the Apostles and other men for three years. I think this is when the Lord Jesus instructing him in the truth revealed this truth he is now proclaiming to him.

Now in verses 13 & 14, they say, “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: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.”

Paul is giving us a brief history lesson of his former life in these two verses. Is Paul glorifying in his past deeds? Is Paul saying something like, “Wasn’t that cool?” Absolutely not! We are not to glorify in what we once were, but we are to glorify in what God is making us. These 2 verses have 2 very important messages to us today.

In verse 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:” Paul is showing that no one is too bad for God’s grace and mercy. And he is one who should know – look at {Acts 7:57-58; 8:1, 3-4; 22:4-5, 19-20; 26:9-11; I Cor. 15:9}

In Verse 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.” Paul is showing the complete opposite of what he showed us in verse 13. That no one is good enough, by what we do, to deserve God’s grace and mercy. And he again is one that should know – listen to his credentials {2 Cor. 11:22; Rom. 11:1; Phil. 3: 4-5, 6 and he ends with 8}

My key verses that I want to focus on are the next two verses. Verses 15 and 16 say, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:”

Looking at the first part of verse 15, we read; “But when it pleased God...”. The word “But” is joining and at the same time contrasting this statement that Paul makes now, with what was said previously. With this one word, Paul is in essence saying, “Yes, that was my past, that was what I did and who I was. And none of it mattered in the sense of bringing me closer to God. Until that point in time when it pleased God to reveal His Son in me.” First thing I want you to notice is God’s sovereignty being portrayed here. “But when it pleased God...to reveal his Son in me...” It is all a work of God. That is why Paul puts the word “but” at the beginning of this sentence. There are 44 references to the phrase “but God” in the scriptures (that I could find in the KJV).

Here are some samples of them:

When Joseph has revealed himself to his brothers, he says this; “So now [it was] not you [that] sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” [Genesis 45:8] (emphasis added)

And when Israel dies and Joseph’s brothers are worried that since their father is dead, Joseph will take revenge on them. Joseph again says; “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; [but] God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as [it is] this day, to save much people alive.” [Genesis 50:20](emphasis added) Even though the “but” is not in the Greek, it is inferred here very strongly. These two verses again point to God’s sovereign plan, no matter what men think they do. And now one in the New Testament. Actually it is one of my favorite verses.

Look at Ephesians chapter 2:

1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us (emphasis added)

Here again, these verses show the total depravity of man and then it shows the Sovereign Grace of God. D. M. Lloyd-Jones says that you can fit the whole of the gospel into these two words, “But God...” If there were no “buts” in the bible, we would have no hope.

Now, getting back to our verse. “But when it pleased God...to reveal his Son in me...” The word pleased means to take pleasure in or delight in. And from the context of the verse we know that it is God’s pleasure and not in anything that we can do. In Ephesians 1:5, Paul says, “ Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,” (emphasis added)

Think about this for a moment. It brought God pleasure to call you into His fold. Is that a wonderful statement or is that a wonderful statement? This is one of those truths that we need to hold on to in our times of struggle.

Now we must ask ourselves, why does it bring God pleasure to reveal His Son in his elect? The middle of verse 15 answers that question. It says, “...who separated me from my mother’s womb...” Here we have a picture of unconditional election. It is God doing the separating. So, since it is God doing the work, He takes pleasure in fulfilling His purpose. Then the last part of verse 15 says, “...and called me by his grace,” Now, here we have a picture of irresistible grace. Why is it irresistible? Verse 16, clarifies that, because it says, “to reveal his Son in me...” Notice it doesn’t just say reveal his Son to me, but “in” me. When God reveals His Son in us, then by that revelation we see His righteousness and our filthiness. We see that great gulf between our sin and His purity. We know that we cannot be right before Him and that we need a Savior. Then, when He calls us, we will not resist; we will gladly and joyously come to Him.

In the middle of verse 16, Paul gives the reason why Jesus was revealed in him. It says, “...that I might preach him among the heathen...” Look at Ephesians chapter 2 verses 8-10 with me.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Here Paul makes it abundantly clear that we are saved by grace through faith and that our salvation is not of any works that we do or can do, because that would give men something in which to boast about. But then in verse 10, Paul clarifies that we are saved to do good works. Then notice that God has ordained from before that we are to walk in those good works. In other words, God has ordained or appointed certain things that we are to do in our lifetime. Just like Paul was ordained to preach grace among the heathen we are all ordained to a specific calling in our lives.

Now from the rest of verse 16 on down to verse 20 is Paul just reiterating that the gospel that he preaches is not of man nor did he learn it from any man. Let’s look at the verses again:

16b ...immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.
20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.

Grace to you all. I will end it there for now.
TA 4-2000