Sermon: Salvation’s Foundation (Galatians 1:11-17)

Salvation’s Foundation
Galatians 1:11-17

Matthew Wright
Lords Day March, 14 2010

Truth Taught: God’s redemptive work originated from His grace and has never had any other foundation.


I will never forget the look of the great castle. So magnificent in its magnitude, so marvelous in its marvel and mysterious in it mystery.  For it was crafted with care and precision with detail and determination.  It took days to build and a little sneakiness on my moms part to put the pieces together while I slept.

You see I loved to put things together as a child and one of my favorites was a 3D puzzle of a castle.  We built the walls, the mote, the drawbridge, arrow loops, the drum tower, the trebuchet and the wall walks.  It was a sight to have seen. All 1000 pieces.

The small card table set in the middle of my bedroom to display our constructive masterpiece.  My little sister would roll back and forth while sitting on my skateboard watching the construction take place.  The small legs of the card table we no match for the force of my rolling sister.  Days after her completion in one glide of the board the castle toppled over with my sister still seated and castle now in pieces.  The castle was destroyed.  Our craftsmanship was ruined.    What a poor foundation we built upon.

Foundations are essential to all building projects.  Its essential to life and how we live out our lives.  The apostle Paul stakes his life on the foundation of his salvation knowing that to add his own works be to weaken its foundation.  The beauty of salvation is that it does not need our help for we have nothing to add.  Christ work is complete and our salvation is sure. God’s redemptive work originated from his grace and has never had any other foundation.

Let us investigate Gods redemptive work.

God’s redemptive work… (Galatians 1:11-14)

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. (Galatians 1:11-14)

Paul’s own testimony gives us a framework of the wonders of the revelation of Jesus Christ in the gospel.  We see that salvation’s foundation is structured by means of God’s grace alone.  Paul shows us that God is the one who works out our salvation and it brings Him own glory.

Paul’s work in Galatians was being undermined by the Judiazers.  They proclaimed that his message was a second hand message and his apostleship was invalid. They corrupted the thoughts of the Galatian church that God established through Paul with thoughts like… Did Paul meet the qualifications for apostleship? What about his visits to Jerusalem to see the apostles? Maybe they taught Paul the gospel? Maybe the Gospel is for the Jews alone therefore I must become a Jew? Do I need to mix the law with the gospel of grace to make it work?

Chapters 1 and 2 of Galatians is seen as Paul’s apostolic Defense. Paul waste no time in clearing God’s name.  Though Paul was the front man, he was only a servant of Christ. Gal. 1:10 “For am I now seeking approval of man, r 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.”

The word “for” at the beginning of our text carries a stronger meaning found in the word “there.”  This is a helpful rendering of this verse as Paul immediately refers back to his previous two verses.  The word “for” is not an improper interpretation rather the word “there” fits better in this context. Paul is ultimately saying “Do i sound like a people pleaser.”

-But when verse 11 says Paul’s gospel is not “according to man,” it probably also means that his gospel doesn’t square with natural human desires  The implication is that the Judaizers have adjusted the gospel to make it fit better with their own proud inclinations. Galatians 6:12 says, “It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that would compel you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.”

Their version of the gospel was very much “according to man.” It catered to the self-assertive and self-defendant yearnings of their flesh.

Paul goes on to say “But I received it through Jesus Christ”….This statement in verse 12 revels the messenger of Paul’s instructions seen in verse 16 “that I might preach Him among the Gentiles.”

This is the most powerful argument… Paul has not received the Gospel from Men rather it reveled to him by God through Christ.  This statement is a direct attack toward the Judaizers who received there instructions from Jewish tradition, their theology, their moral standards and their ceremonies.  All of these things had roots in the Old Testament but the biblical truths had been so watered down that the Judiaism of the New Testament times was received mostly form man and taught according to mans interpretation.

This prompted Jesus to speak out in Matthew 15:1-6.
“Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,”  6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.”

Jesus makes a clear distinction between the Old Testament commandments and the Pharisees tradition.  You have made void the word of God.

Romans 2:23 says “You who boast in the law dishonors God by breaking the law.” Paul is saying that the Jews who boast in God is nullified by their failure to obey him.

The Galatians knew Paul, even his former life in Judiaism.  They knew how he persecuted the church of God violently and sought to destroy it.  So much zeal Paul had for the traditions of his fathers.  Lets look at the book of Acts for a minuet as see Paul’s former life.  Acts 9:1-2

“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”

What happens next is of most importance.  God’s redemptive hand is made visible.  On his way to Damascus Saul encountered the risen Christ. Paul has been gripped by God’s redemptive work of the gospel. Christ has become his message.  Lets now look at the beginning of the grace of the gospel.

…Originated from His grace… (Galatians 1:15)

15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born,  and who called me by his grace (Galatians 1:15)

The reason Paul describes his pre-conversion life is to show how utterly improbable it is that he could ever have been allured into the ranks of the apostles by any human effort. Lets turn to Acts once again as we see Paul describes his conversion on the Damascus road.  Here Jesus says these words of commission to Paul

-Acts 26:16–18″Rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and to bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles—to whom I send you to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God”

Paul is arguing that to try to explain the change from his former life of  persecution to his now passion for the gospel merely by the work of men is to grasp at a straw. Paul knew that he had seen the risen Christ and had been commissioned to preach; and the only way he could verify that experience for others is to point to its effects.

So what is the origin of grace? Man’s coming to God has and always been on the basis of His Sovereign Will.

Deuteronomy 7:6-8 Speaks of Gods love for Israel based not on their merits rather on his will.   “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand an redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

– King David knew he was chosen and appointed by God’s Sovereign Election according to 1 Chronicles 28:4-5 Yet the Lord God of Israel chose me from all my father’s house to be king over Israel forever. For he chose Judah as leader, and in the house of Judah my father’s house, and among my father’s sons he took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel. 5 And of all my sons (for the Lord has given me many sons) he has chosen Solomon my son to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel.”

-God’s election is based on nothing but His on good Pleasure. Paul Stresses in  Ephesians 1:5-6  that God’s plan is for and according to the purpose of God’s will.  he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

We too are partakers of Gods redemption from captivity from slavery.  Christ has set us free from sin and guilt and gives us power to walk and live in victory. We see form Paul’s former days the transformation of God’s Grace lived out in Paul’s later life.

God sets us apart not because of our leadership skills, our status or lot in life.  His love is not dependant upon age, race, gender not how much money we have or the amount of speeding tickets we have avoided.  Long before we can ever demonstrate the least potential for anything we too were chosen even while we were in our mother’s womb.  Pau’s Jewish readers would have recognized his comparison to his apostolic call that that of Isaiah and Jeremiah who were called and sent to there prophetic work while they were still in there mothers womb.  Even John the Baptist who was called to  be the forerunner of the messiah according to Luke 1.  Our call is that of the same, it is entirely Gods doing.

We were called by means of unmerited love and efficaciously brought already elect to salvation.  God was pleased to reveal his son to us.

-Paul sketches in verse 16 and 17 what he did after his encounter with Christ.

…and has never had any other foundation. (Galatians 1:16-17)

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. (Galatians 1:16-17)

Paul’s encounter of grace was the soul foundation of his salvation which gives complete authority to his message.  What Paul does next is the example we too should follow.  We exercise obedience.

Salvation is ordained by God not lacking anything nor in won’t or need of help.  Especially our help.  My flesh tells me that I’m not good enough.

Have you had these thoughts and inclinations of working out your salvation.  I know I have.  Have you believed as I have that I must add to grace things of my own hands.  Thoughts like these.

Death is mine…Romans 6:23”For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

My murderous thoughts tell me that the penalty of sin is death and death is mine.  I’m curst if I go anyone go astray.   Galatians 3:13 “13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—”

For what hope do we have…

Paul’s calling in verse 16 was a pleasure to God and ultimately a joy to us.  Paul was called to preach among the Gentiles.  The Gospel calling is just that.  An invitation to please God who works salvation for His Good.

It is a call to Come to God according to Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

We are told to come to Christ and promised that Christ has come and will come again.  Revelation 22:17“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without a price. We are called to come.

And finally The gospel call promises and calls forth forgiveness and eternal life.  Our sins will be blotted out according to Acts 3:19Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, and we shall be filled with Gods presence according to a page earlier 2:28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

Once Paul was changed God sent him to Arabia and Damascus for three years.  He felt Gods indwelling spirit and knew that salvation was founded on Gods grace as God Reveled his son Jesus Christ to him.  We don’t know exactly hat Paul did there but we know he spent time in prayer and study.  It was through prayer that he would know God intimately and through study he would learn about God as he never learned before.  Paul’s urgent mission we commissioned after he was prepared before the Lord.

Paul’s point in this letter was to affirm that he had received his gospel directly form the Lord and not the other apostles. His salvation rest in the work of Christ as God’s grace was the source for this sound structure. Salvations foundation was perfect not lacking or needing anything.


Paul reminds us once again that our salvation is all of grace.  May we rest daily on the grace of God. May we repent and hold onto the foundation of our salvation. May we apply all of Christ power to our lives and may we never try to add to the gospel. How can we even think of adding to what God has constructed so effectively through Christ.

Maybe your still struggling over the weight of your sin.  Christ invitation to come.  He is Ready to save all who are willing to come to him, repent of their sins and trust in him alone for salvation.

Maybe you have lost sight of saving work of which Paul speaks of May you explore Paul’s testimony again and see the revelation of Jesus Christ in your own life. May you find the wonders of God’s grace shown to us in Christ.

May we all rest assure of our salvation knowing that Christ has perfected it and God’s redemptive work originated from His grace and has never had any other foundation, knowing that we are partakers of Grace. No one can topple us over like a flimsy card table, for our foundation is the immoveable Christ.

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