Tuesday, January 27, 2009
A REVELATION versus A REASONING
I. A QUESTION OF AUTHORITY-GALATIANS 1;11-12; 2;2-''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 revelation of Jesus Christ.'' ''And I went up by revelation.'' If the CHRISTIAN FAITH IS NOT A REVELATION OF GOD it is merely another religion; possibly the best, but still one of the many, on the human level, subject to man's alterations and altercations. The Judiazers of Paul's day wanted to make the Christian faith a revised version of the Jew's religion, subject to its regulations and requirements. Then it would be THEIR Religion; they could keep it within the realm of their own reasoning. Their successors of our day are doing the same. What the CHRISTIAN FAITH NEEDS is a return to its birthright--an authoritative revelation. Take it, or leave it ALONE.... THE DAMASCUS ROAD EXPERIENCE To discredit Paul's message, these Judiazers must discredit the man. He is not an apostle, they said; he cannot qualify; he has never seen the risen Lord. Paul devotes a chapter and a half to a detailed refutation of this charge. He had seen the Lord, as He revealed Himself on the DAMASCUS ROAD. He had also heard the Lord speaking to him. It was a crisis experience. From being determined to destroy the faith, he became its most ardent and convincing advocate. Paul was no neurotic, easily swayed; he was schooled in all the learning of his day. This right-about-face, traced as it is here in Galatians to its supernatural source, was utterly disconcerting to the enemies of the faith, as indeed it has been ever since. A CHRIST-CENTERED VIEWPOINT From that day forward Paul was a changed man. He had a new outlook upon life. He experienced an utter reversal of values; ''What things were gain to me''--his attainments in the Jewish religion--''those I counted loss for Christ'' [Phil. 3;7, with vv 4-6]. What he formerly prized he now esteems as dung--PHIL. 3;8-9-[TURN]. Paul's repeated ''but'' carries the antithesis of a crisis experience. No trends here; no groping for something better. He knows himself taken out of the column of self-effort [V. 3], and flesh-confidence to the column of God's beneficiaries in the bestowment of His righteousness. It was a clear-cut break with OUR SIDE over to HIS SIDE. Not by a process of reasoning but ''by revelation of Jesus Christ'' Paul acquired a complete system of Christ-centered thinking and living. Through Christ's words from heaven, ''Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me/'' [ACTS 9;4], he saw Christ indwelling His Church, fully identified with HIS PEOPLE, SUFFERING IN ALL THAT THEY SUFFERED. In the silent years that followed, the quiet times spent in ARABIA [GAL. 1;17], this realization of identification matured into the intimate conception of the Church as the body of which Christ is the Head [EPH. 1;22-23; COL. 1;18;etc]. A head and body constitute an organism. It is complete in itself, with its own laws of growth, ''building itself up in love'' [see EPHESIANS 4;12-16]. A GREAT CONCEPTION IS THIS.... NOTHING can be added to a body.... Controlled by its head, it requires no external laws for its regulation. The Christian life is Christ-centered and Christ-controlled. So constituted, it is self-sufficient. Paul will defend its sufficiency against all comers. MAN SEEKS FREEDOM OF THOUGHT The chief enemy of the Gospel is human nature. Man is proud. He is especially proud of his own thinking. HE DOESN'T WANT TO BE TOLD.... He dislikes having a supernatural revelation handed to him; it leaves no room for speculation. He likes to ''discover truth''; then IT'S HIS, Something he can be proud of. Many Who willingly acknowledge that man's MORAL NATURE IS PERVERTED BY SIN--the evidence is incontrovertible--still refuse to realize, that man's MENTAL processes are likewise warped, biased and undependable because of sin. The Corinthians prided themselves on their thinking. Read 1 CORINTHIANS 1-2 for God's estimate of human thinking that set aside divine wisdom, climaxing in a statement of man's utter incapacity for spiritual things; I CORINTHIANS 2;14--''But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of GOD; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned''. Today's average preacher is feeding his mind upon human thoughts; and, naturally,these mold his own thinking and preaching, when the charge is, ''Preach the Word.'' The reason men today, repudiate Paul's theology and turn to the teaching of Jesus is clear. By ridding themselves of a supernatural interpretation of those teachings, climaxing in His death and resurrection-they leave themselves free to give their own interpretation. THEY ARE FREE TO SPECULATE AS TO WHAT JESUS TEACHINGS should MEAN FOR ''THE MODERN MIND.'' What we need today is a renewed fear of God's anathema upon all perversions of the Gospel;only this will bring us back to its unadulterated purity.