11For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
12For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
13For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it;
14and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.
15But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased
16to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,
17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.
18Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.
19But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.
20(Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.)
21Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
22I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ;
23but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.”
24And they were glorifying God because of me.
I know this passage is a bit lengthy today but I don’t feel it can be broken up. Prior to this, Paul was telling us that it is not through works that we are saved or righteous, rather through grace that is freely given and received. Today Paul is talking about his qualifications. He gives a brief testimony that provides insight into why they should listen to him. Who is he that he can 1) speak with authority about the Gospel and 2) what experience does he have in these matters?
Since birth, God had been priming Paul for this mission (verse 15). Of course, Paul did not know this until his Damascus experience(http://tiny.cc/pauldamascus). But who else would be better qualified to say that it is not by works that righteousness is achieved? According to Judaic Law, paul was THE authority. He was the best of the best in all schools of doctrine and became a household name in Jewish authority and persecution of the church. I bet nobody imagined he would one day be preaching the very gospel he set out to destroy.
Notice in verse 16 when he details I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood…his point is that he did not look to man for counsel or instruction, rather he spent time meditating and talking with God. It is not by man that he was taught and ordained an apostle, rather by God Himself he was called into his ministry. Keep in mind, this is not an excuse to refrain from fellowship and learning with other believers, but rather that he sought out the truth from the Source.
In today’s society there are books upon books on how to read and interpret God’s messages, the bible, sermons, etc. etc. Why don’t we go to the source and just read the Word of God? Why must we read about it? This is why I started this devotional in the first place. While reading the commentary of others can help us and direct us, it is not from man that we should gather our instruction. Once Paul focused on this truth, God was glorified, for Paul received the Spirit and Christ lived in him, so that he may fulfill God’s purpose for him.
I feel like I have been pummeled by the message of allowing God to use our weaknesses to glorify Himself through us. Paul’s weakness was religion. God flipped that upside down and created a miraculous example of His Grace. Why then do we focus on man-made religion? Why must we look to men for answers when God is waiting for you to ask Him for the truth? Christ did not come to teach religion, he came to teach us the Truth and give us freedom from religion.
Are you religious?