This school year in 4:TWELVE Student Ministries we are working our way through the books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. We have titled this series, In Christ. All of these books will teach some deep lessons about the application of the Gospel in our lives.
We want our parents to be able to track along with our lessons and be able to discuss the topics we are covering with your teens. We will include the follow-up discussion questions that were discussed in small groups so you can hear your teen discuss these questions. Please use this tool as we seek to assist parents in raising their teens in the way of the Lord.
This week we discussed Galatians 1:10 – 24 and focused on The Amazing Transformation of the Gospel at Work in our lives.
Paul: An Amazing Transformation
In these verses, Paul is intent on shutting down some of the attacks that are being sent against him. He addresses them as quickly as possible, but for the second time in this chapter, he feels the need to address them.
Paul did not receive the teaching of the Gospel from any other place but from God (12). He did not receive it from man, so there is no secret agenda to his presentation of the Gospel. He was not taught the Gospel, he received it from God. Paul even emphasizes that his religious education led him to persecute the church. Paul was insistent that he received the Gospel from the Lord on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9).
Paul goes on to let the Galatian believers know that he did not consult with others to develop the Gospel message he was teaching. He showed them there was a 3-year gap from his conversion to his first trip to Jerusalem (18-19). Paul was not advancing some denominational message, it was the Gospel given to Him by God. Paul’s message was consistent with the teaching of other Apostles and the churches in Judea (18-22).
Paul is changed by the Gospel!
Paul was a persecutor of the church. He made it his goal to destroy the church (13). We are told that Paul was ravaging the church (Acts 8:3). He made it his goal to try to snuff out the followers of Christ. Paul did this because he was super spiritual as a Jew.
“Before conversion, Paul was a great religious rule-keeper – and he knew it. He was filled with pride. And yet, despite all this, he was not only saved by Christ, but also called to be a preacher and leader of the faith. His testimony is a powerful witness to the beating heart of Christianity – the Gospel of Grace.” – Tim Keller
So Paul was a deeply religious person. He followed all the rules of his religion. He was devout. He grew up in religion. He lived religion. He was on fire for his religion. The problem is that He was following religion and not pursuing a relationship with God. His religion was leading him against the truth. His passion was seeking to destroy the only way he could be made right with God.
God was working in Paul’s life to prepare him to build the very church he was initially seeking to destroy. Paul was educated in the Old Testament. Paul had a passion and that passion would lead him to be a builder of the church. “God had been working all along to use Paul to establish the very faith he had opposed (Tim Keller).”
God prepared Paul so that in the end it would be God who was being glorified. It became obvious that Paul was not the great one, it was God who was the great one. God changed Paul. Paul did not change Paul. God is the one who was receiving the praise.
“I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ; but only, they kept hearing. ‘He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.’ And they were glorifying God because of me.” (Galatians 1:22-24)
What the Grace of God Does in Our Lives!
In verse 10, Paul points out that the Gospel makes so we are no longer pleasing people, but are seeking to please God. There is an obvious struggle in all of our lives to desire to seek the approval of others. We want other people to like us. We want to be worshipped. So we turn our attention to our own exaltation.
Sin at its very root is seeking to exalt our desires over God. Every time we sin we are saying we know better than God. Every time we sin we are picking our status up to the level of God. And here is a little truth: you make a bad God!
The freedom that comes from our restoration to God is the greatest freedom we can ever have. We are now free to live a life committed to God. We are now free to begin the process of being transformed into the purpose God has for us. Our salvation should trigger our change. Our lives should be in a constant state of becoming more and more like Christ.
“Your works have nothing to do with your salvation, but your salvation should certainly affect your works”
Every time the Gospel changes a life it is the most amazing act of transformation that could ever happen. It does not matter if your testimony is one of the unique situations like the Apostle Paul’s or if it is one of a 6-year-old who is saved from their sin. The Gospel has transformed us. We are being changed.
Notice in Paul’s story he makes God be the hero of the story. In our testimony, we must also make God the hero of the story. It isn’t about how bad we were and how amazing we are. It is always about God providing the way for us to be restored. God is the hero!
“Christianity must be from God, for who else could have thought it up?” – C. S. Lewis
Questions for Discussion
- How does the Gospel free you from pride and guilt?
- What are your thoughts about this quote from Tim Keller when it comes to our testimony? “If we emphasize dramatic, gory, or other details, we may only be sending the message: Look at what an amazing case I am!… We are not sharing our story for ourselves, but to help others understand and find Christ; to point others to the amazing gospel of grace which has changed our lives, and which we know can change theirs, too.”
- How could you use your testimony so others will praise and seek God?