Using Galatians 1:1-5 as reference, the Apostle Paul gives an example of how the authority of God’s calling on our life should be protected and expressed.
Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:1-5 ESV)
From a position of defending his call, the Apostle Paul gets right down to business and begins defending himself in the epistles salutation. He had a lot of ground to cover, and truth be known, so do men that are called of God into the ministry. A person that does not have the call of God to minster the Gospel, would never understand.
Paul declared to those looking to destroy his witness, that his calling and commission as an Apostle came from God and God alone; “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) (Galatians 1:1). His apostleship was not voted on by other apostles as was the case with Matthias, but his came from his Damascus Road experience, where Jesus personally called Paul, just as he had called Peter, Andrew, James, John and the others. The only difference was Paul’s calling came from the resurrected Christ.
My personal calling into the ministry, was established and commissioned by God and Him alone. It was His prompting that I heard, not the voice of man. He hand was moving on my life and I made the decision to follow Jesus as a minister. My calling was just as true and sure as the Apostle Paul’s.
Just being around the Apostle Paul convinced believers, that the he was God’s man. The change in Paul was the greatest argument for his calling. Everywhere Paul went, there was no question that the man, who previously was charged by the Jewish leaders to bring Jewish converts of Christ to the Temple for trial, was now in the enemies camp, a committed follower of Jesus Christ.
For me, this is a daily focus of my life; that others would see Jesus in me by the works that Jesus does through me. I should show fruit for people to see and by doing so, they will know that I am a man of God.
Even though Paul was slandered, ridiculed and not trusted, he wept, prayed and cared for them as a true shepherd. God gave him the fertile ground of Galatia in which to work, and Paul pastored his flock. All his flock, the good, the bad and the worst, did not keep him from completing the task that God set before him.
As a pastor, it is heartwarming to see through the eyes of Paul, as he shepherds his flock. His example is a tribute to God’s grace. That is my goal as well; to love the hard to love and those that would persecute, say evil things against me or to falsely accuse me. I want to show the same love that Christ did on the cross as He said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That is the heart of Christ, and Paul “got it” from the beginning of his ministry. That is a great comfort to me and great examples of shepherding a flock.
Paul never backed away from giving the Gospel of Christ. The cost of his ministry was summed up in his epistle to the church at Corinth:
But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:21-28 ESV).
Paul’s example of continuing the course that God had placed before him, no matter what the circumstances, is a great example to me as well. While I have not been imprisoned, shipwrecked, stoned, cold, hungry or destitute, it is my desire to proclaim to the world the mighty salvation and work of Christ. To this end, Jesus has called me and to this end I will go.
While this blog has concerned the walk of the Apostle and the Pastor, it is also a great comfort to every believer. God has called us to become a “new man” in Christ. No one can take that away. The creator of the universe, cares so much for you that Yahweh sent His Son to die in your place. For the believer, our task is sure:
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)
Does God have authority over your life today?