Profound and Practical The Prequel
Sermon Summary
This message examines the past life and testimony of Paul the Apostle. By using the brief testimony in chapter one of his letter to the Gallatin Churches, we go back and look  in-depth at Paul’s previous life in Judaism, his persecution of the Christian church and  his meeting Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Paul’s former name was Saul and judging from the activities he was involved in he had a very hard and cold heart towards the gospel message of Jesus. It is important that we understand just how far from God Saul was before coming to Christ! Paul’s story should bring hope to people who feel they’ve gone to far, done too much wrong, and could never be changed. Paul was dramatically changed and received a new mission in life. By God’s grace, he accomplished his mission.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. When people share their testimony of what God has done in their life, does it encourage you or does it make you wonder why God hasn’t done something that cool in your life?
Have you ever shared the testimony of how Christ has worked in your life with an individual or a group? If so, what was that like for you?

2. Paul did some pretty despicable things before he met Jesus. Sometimes people who have done terrible things and feel there is no hope for them, find courage in Paul’s testimony. Others who would not think of doing such horrible things may find it hard to believe God would extend His grace so far and almost feel it’s not fair for a bad person to get such overwhelming help from The Lord! What are your thoughts on the subject?
1 Tim 1:13  Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.
1 Tim 1:14  The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
1 Tim 1:15  Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst.
1 Tim 1:16  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

Do you agree with Pastor Larry that Stephen’s death may have stuck in Saul’s mind and  may have been used by God to prepare him for his meeting on the road to Damascus? Thoughts?
59While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

60Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Did you find any practical application for your personal life from Sunday’s message. If yes,

Sermon Notes

Profound and Practical
The Prequel

 Today we're going to do a prequel.

 A prequel is story or movie containing events that precede those of an existing work.

 We've looked the last three weeks at some profound and practical teachings of Paul the

 Apostle to the churches in Galatia. Today we're going to look at some verses in the very first chapter of Galatians.

We will use the few verses in Paul's letter to the Galatians to springboard back to the beginnings of Paul's ministry.

I don't want you to get confused, so just keep your Bibles open to Galatians 1:11-24.

 All the Scriptures will be on the screen, but remember…

If you lose me, just sit back and listen to Paul's story. It is truly amazing.

 This is the powerful testimony of the man who wrote so much of our New Testament. Paul!

This testimony is very profound and yet has a very practical purpose for us today!

You might wonder what in the world the story of an ancient man named Paul could possibly have to do with you.

 Paul's story has extremely important lessons to teach each person in this room if, and only if we will ...

 let God teach us. Paul's story could become your story today. Here's some of the things I hope you will discover.

 The lengths God will go to reach you!

 The depths God will stoop to reach you!

The distance He will travel to reach you!

The effort He will expend to reach you!

The price He will pay to reach you!

 The time He will spend to reach you!

 The resources He will utilize to reach you!

 The plans He has once you've been reached!!

 Ok. I could go on and on. Let's begin our prequel in
Galatians 1:11-24
Paul wrote...

11I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up.

12I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:11-12

True Story

 Paul wants to make it very clear to his readers, the story of his salvation and change of heart was not something he...

 just made up, but was in fact a reality. It was not just a story he had heard, but was in fact a reality he had experienced!

 The gospel, or good news of what Jesus had done on the Cross for all who would believe was in fact the truth!

 Paul often used the phrase
"Truth of the Gospel." In Ephesians 1:13 he put it this way...

13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having

believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the

praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV)

Paul went on to say the gospel, the good news, was revealed to him by God! We'll see this in a few moments. Suffice to say...

 Paul wanted them to know the gospel was more than a story. It was a reality that could change the hardest of hearts!

 And speak of a hard, cold, and very dark heart. Paul had that!

If you ever thought there was no hope for you, this story is for you! Paul put it this way in our text...  

13For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the

church of God and tried to destroy it.

14I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous

for the traditions of my fathers.
Galatians 1:13-14

 For a more detailed look at Paul's testimony, we go to the book of Acts where Paul is brought before King Agrippa...

 Paul talks about his...

Previous Way of Life

Acts 26:4-5 and 9-11

4“The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and

also in Jerusalem.

5They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our

religion, I lived as a Pharisee.
Acts 26:4-5 (NIV)

Skip down to vs 9 - 11

9“I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

10And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when

they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.

11Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In

my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.
Acts 26:9-11 (NIV)

An example of Paul's previous life

Let me set up this part of Paul's story. I'll have to tell you just a little bit about a man named Stephen and I must

tell you that Paul's name was originally Saul.
Okay, just remember that.

Stephen was one of seven men chosen to serve along side the twelve disciples in the early church.

He was a man full of God's grace and power, full of faith and The Holy Spirit. He was seized by the elders and the ...

teachers of the law. They brought him before the High Priest and accused him of Blasphemy.  

Stephen responded by preaching a sermon to them based on The Old Testament story of Moses.

He pointed out that the people constantly rejected Moses and his message ...

and the people who had arrested him were no different. They had received the law, but had not obeyed it.

He also pointed out the fact they had betrayed and murdered Jesus the Righteous One!

Here was their response...

54When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.

55But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of


56“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

57At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him,

58dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a

young man named Saul.

59While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

60Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

1And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at

Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
Acts 7:54-8:1 (NIV)

Again, that young man named Saul, was Paul the apostle, before he met Jesus. Hard to believe isn't it?

 How could he approve of such a thing and then stand by as a man is stoned to death?

 Could there be any hope for a man that far gone?
Let's see what happens next...
Back to our text: Gal 1:15ff

15But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased

16to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles...
                       Galatians 1:15-16a

 Paul is speaking here of the actual experience he had on the road to Damascus where he met Jesus.

 For this part of the story we go back to Paul's meeting with King Agrippa...

Paul's Testimony to King Agippa

12“On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests.

13About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my


14We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard

for you to kick against the goads.’

15“Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied.

16‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have

seen of me and what I will show you.

17I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them

18to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive

forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
Acts 26:12-18 (NIV)

 What a testimony! What a revelation from God! What a mission to be called to fulfill!

 A New Mission in Life

 Let's look back at our text…
Galatians 1:15-24

15But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased

16to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man,

17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went

immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.
Galatians 1:15-17

Paul was letting them know his call was not from man and was not dependent upon man's approval.

God had a plan for Paul even before he was born. He obviously rejected that plan for a long time and ...

this rejection hurt Paul and it hurt many others. However, God never gave up on Paul and once Paul allowed God to work

 in his life, God began doing some amazing things. Even though Paul's calling did not depend on any man, God was

 still going to use other people in Paul's life to help him grow and get to where he needed to be. Listen…

18Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.

Galatians 11:18

 Can you imagine the amazing conversations they must have had and how Peter shared with Paul ...

 details of the life and ministry of Jesus! And then Paul also met with James...

19I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.

20I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.

21Later I went to Syria and Cilicia.

22I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.
Galatians 1:19-22

 So hear's the deal. Paul could have been a Christian super star with his amazing testimony of change.

 He could have spent most of his time making the Christian circuit in churches already established by the disciples.

 It would have been a lot easier. However, after his meeting with Peter and James, he left and continued his

 ministry to the gentiles, for 14 years! What was Paul's motivation? I think we find the answer in Romans 15:14-21...

15I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again,  

because of the grace God gave me...

16to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the

Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

17Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.

18I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey

God by what I have said and done—

19by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum,

I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.

20It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building

on someone else’s foundation.

21Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will

Romans 15:15-21 (NIV)

Wow! So different than what we find in the modern day church. We spend so much of our time trying to keep...

the saints happy. And I don't mean the New Orleans Saints. Most churches spend most of their time making sure the

church members are happy and satisfied that we forget our mission to reach a lost and dying world.

Many churches are dying because they are so inward focused. Everything they do is based on the needs of the...

insiders rather than the needs of the outsiders! Somehow, Paul saw this and refused to succumb to the temptation ...

to get all comfortable and cozy in the established church. He chose instead to stay focused on the same mission Jesus ...

focused on. And what was that mission?

10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Luke 19:10 (NIV)

Please don't hear me wrong. I'm not against taking care of our own, and meeting the needs of our people when they

arise. However, if in our plans for the future, we are more concerned with the comforts and needs of the saints, rather

than reaching the lost, we will go down the same path as most other churches. The path of decline and irrelevance!

Paul never forgot what it was like to be lost and without Christ! He never forgot the sadness of being an outsider.

 Paul never forgot the misery of having no real hope. Paul was obsessed with helping others find Christ.

He never forgot that the greatest miracle a person can experience is the miracle of spiritual rebirth, so...

Paul shared his testimony every chance he got.

Paul was content to let the folks who were already Christ followers simply marvel at what God was doing in his life!

Here's the way he put it...

23They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now

preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.”

24And they praised God because of me.
Galatians 1:11-24 (NIV)

Pretty cool way of thinking on Paul's part. Let me put it this way for Northshore Church...

I pray we will never be a church of insiders who do not care about the outsiders.

I pray we never become a church that forgets what it's like to be lost and without hope!

I pray we never tire of sharing our testimonies of how Christ met us on whatever road we were on and changed our

direction and our destination!
I pray our mission of ...

Transforming worship, people and the world!

with the life changing message of Christ will always be our mission.

Let's Pray!