Made New

gen-conference-e1462816575160Third Sunday after Pentecost | June 5, 2016

Galatians 1:11-24 | New Living Translation

Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.

You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors.

But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.

When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus.

Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother. I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie.

After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. And still the churches in Christ that are in Judea didn’t know me personally.All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” And they praised God because of me.

We pick up right where we left off last week – in the letter to the Galatian church.  Paul again here is establishing his authority in what he is about to write.  Again Paul is defending the Gospel or the Good News.  Paul is the only apostle who was not an eyewitness to the events in Jesus’ life.  The other’s were all direct eyewitnesses to the events.  They were authorized to be witnesses by Christ himself – and so was Paul – in that dramatic Damascus Road conversion.  Jesus revealed himself directly to Paul.

Here was one who had once persecuted the new Christian faith and now was boldly proclaiming it – people saw the difference that Jesus made in Paul’s life – most of these were those who had seen a change in their own life.  Paul is establishing his authority to address the problem at the church in Galatia.  His authority is not human – it is divine.  However, that being said – at some point, Paul goes to Jerusalem and meets Peter and James and they get to know each other well.  (I’m wondering if this was to give Paul some sort of ecclesiastical authority.) There were many who were amazed that the change in Paul – they knew Saul and couldn’t believe Paul was the same person – well – really he wasn’t.  Paul was “made new.”

As an aside, our denomination – The Wesleyan Church, begins its quadrennial – that’s every four years – General Conference this weekend.  The conference is being held in Buffalo, NY.  The theme this year – as it was the last time we met is “Made New.” That has been the theme over the last four years and it continues to be the theme.  I like that – the people that we meet and introduce to Jesus, should be made new, by the transforming work of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.

This is the heart of what Paul was getting at.  We are made new by the transforming work of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.  As Wesleyans, we believe that everyone in the church is responsible to carry the Good News to people everywhere.  It is not just the General Superintendent, or District Superintendents, or pastors, or assistant pastors – but everyone.  God pursues us to make us new and God pursues others to make them new and He asks for us to others come to that place.

I encourage you to pray for our General Conference.  Here is a video that has been released.


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