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not of men, neither by man

Link to not_of_men.mp3


The book of Galatians opens with : “Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;…”

Paul was an apostle by Jesus Christ.   The Greek word transliterated apostle is apostolos which means “one sent with a message or one sent with a task to do.”   Paul was sent by Jesus Christ with a message: the gospel of grace.  


It is of great importance to note that in the very first sentence of this letter Paul emphasizes that he was not an apostle of men or by men.  He was not sent as a religious representative of some organization with a religious message.   He was not ordained as we would think of it as an apostle by a local church or a church organization.  Paul had been an apostle of and through Jesus Christ for years before he went to visit the supposed church leaders.     

The reason Paul makes this point so directly is that the believers in Galatia were being led astray by religious representatives sent by a religious organization in Jerusalem.
The false teachers were representing men’s religion.  Paul was a representative sent in and by the power of God by Jesus Christ.  

As a young man I became first a licensed preacher and later an ordained minister.   My licensing and ordination was by and through a religious organization.   I have made countless thousands of “house calls” inviting people to one church or another.  Almost all of those visits were not as a representative of Jesus Christ but instead as a sales person selling a church program or seeking to increase the membership of the organization. 

Of course the elders that I respected and the professors at the religious universities I attended all equated the religious organization and hierarchy with God’s plan.  Paul would beg to differ.  I was taught well and learned to build religious organizations and lead others into the bondage of performance based religion. 

Christian religions are very well organized.  There are many denominations with varying doctrines.  They each claim to have the best method to become acceptable to God.   But, according to Paul’s gospel, it is God that has called us and made us acceptable to himself by way of Jesus Christ.

Religion is absorbed in qualifications and levels of achievement.  What degrees do you have?  Do you have valid credentials sanctioned by your denomination?  Have you been duly appointed, licensed and ordained after successfully meeting the scholastic requirements of your hierarchical leadership?  Have you metaphorically received the scepter of the clergy from the blessed leadership?   This kind of inbred accreditation was equally common in the Jewish religion as it is in the Christian religion. These are apostles of men and by men.

What a world apart from the God-called son or daughter of God, with the spirit of Christ in them, manifesting the love of God while they carry out their God-given ministry of reconciliation.  These are apostles, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.  Whose message do you carry?

Paul’s letter to the believers in Galatia (and to us) is not a pleasant hi-how-are-you letter.  It is a “Have-you-gone-mad?” letter.    He asks: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth?”  (Gal 3:1)   This letter to the young believers in the Roman colony of Galatia is the first New Testament document written.   It is significant that the first written revelation from God to the early church comes out aggressively against religion.  Yes that is right, religion.  Christianity is not a religion.  Christianity is the result of our being ransomed and set free from religion. 

Christianity is Christ in you, living in and through you, carrying out the Christly ministry of reconciliation.  That is our calling, our life, our ministry.  All who have the spirit of Christ are sons or daughters of God.  Each has been graced with the power of Christ, with the authority of Christ, and the liberty of Christ.  Man cannot give that to you.   Only God has the ability and desire to bless us so. 

Religious representatives of human organizations abound. They are credentialed and sent by men to tell you that they can impart the power of God to you if you meet their conditions and follow their rules.  To put it kindly, they are liars.   They seek to ensnare you and entice you into bondage.  Paul said: Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Gal 5:1) 

Neil


Your email is welcome: neilrn@maine.rr.com.

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