Paul’s Calling and Ministry for Christ
11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.
2 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
I have said many times that the point of the Gospels is to reveal Who Jesus is, He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. And the second point is to reveal the nature of His ministry. He came to be our Suffering Savior. The Apostles were able to accept the first of these ideas. In Matthew 16 Peter’s confession. But right after this, and this is key:
21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance[f] to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
And this is a rather consistent theme:
- The Apostles do not recognize the nature of Christ’s ministry and therefore
- The Apostles do not recognize the nature of THEIR calling and ministry either!
Do you see how they are attached to each other in 16:24-25.
You must die to yourself in order to live according to God’s kingdom. And so, when we are disappointed with what God does in our lives, we are called to submit to His kingdom! Because He is still the king regardless of what our expectations are relative to His work.
John 6 Peter answers correctly. “To whom shall we go?” And in that passage Jesus mentions that God is judge and we will answer regardless of our preconceptions.
John 6 also : 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
So, how to deal with the lack of understanding of Jesus’ ministry?
Acts 2, the coming of the Holy Spirit. Can’t emphasize it too much.
25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
So, the Apostles are in a state of growth.
The Kingdom of God is handed over to people who are to be led and empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry on Jesus’ ministry and kingdom.
And here we are today in exactly the same situation. Do you know what God wants you to be doing on a regular basis to carry out His kingdom?
So, Paul is prepped for ministry. From his conversion to the Acts 13 missionary journey it’s at least 17 years.
The application of this message is to examine the preparation for Paul’s ministry and consider our own lives as ministers. God is prepping us!
Things that God uses in Paul’s life as preparation for his “ministry.”
- Common Life Preparation for Ministry
Verses 13, 14 These things are just resident in people’s lives.
- Cultural education
Classical education of Paul: He was taught the Scriptures and Jewish customs.
Country boy can survive: We are taught how to live in the world by our culture. Le leche league education. Disc golf.
Any difficult life circumstance overcome: is training for ministry. You are not a victim, you are an overcomer.
Acts 14:22 through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
II Cor 1:3-5 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
- Zeal for knowing how to live
Paul’s initiative is a big deal. It is expressed in persecuting Christians, and it is expressed in his drive to get the gospel out. It is a reflection of Jesus’ zeal.
- Conversion and Calling to Ministry
- Called according to God’s grace v.15
Humility is necessary for ministry.
What God has done in and through me is truly of God, not me.
Gratitude is necessary for ministry
Energy to minister to people comes from gratitude to God for His grace in my life.
Service is a privilege. Col 1: 24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
- God will reveal truth to you
I John 2: 18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.
A sermon is a classic opportunity for this. You will not always get it right, but if you are moving forward, God will direct you in truth. Peter is confronted by Paul later in this passage because He is in the wrong. Be humble, be flexible and believe that God will speak to you about your life. But remember as well that God speaks according to His Word.
Paul says that God was pleased to reveal His Son to Him. In Paul’s case, the revelation was initially dramatic. But even after that Paul spent 17 years thinking, studying, listening and teaching. (remember that He is trained as a teacher to begin with)
11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
- You are created for good works
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
In Paul’s context: he was called “that I might preach Him among the Gentiles.”
Realize as well that he is 17 years from conversion to first missionary journey. But Paul ministers where he is first!
III. Preparing for Your Ministry
- Starts between you and God
v.16 I did not immediately consult with anyone. Who did he consult with? Well consider this statement from Acts 9:
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
Gal 1: 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Acts 17: 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
- Growing into ministry
Paul, right after conversion!
Acts 9: For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
Meanwhile, three years later…
26 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. 30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
- Ministry essentials
- Make more and more of Jesus!
2:3 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. Why? Because Jesus is the issue, not circumcision. Jesus plus anything relative to salvation diminishes Jesus. We will see this most clearly next week. Sneak peek forward to 2:21 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
- Don’t become frustrated by opposition or rejection
High school story. Bird booklet “What makes you think I need this? You will be misunderstood, mistrusted, misrepresented etc. It doesn’t matter. The ministry is not about you. Represent Jesus!
- God will use you
6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.
Paul’s conclusion: 11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.[c] 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.