by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 5 Study # 7 January 30, 2011 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(056)Thesis:Direct, divine, "revelation" is at the root of the Gospel.
Introduction:There are many things that make "faith" a serious difficulty with extraordinary consequences. On one hand, the failure to believe leads, biblically, to unmitigated disaster. On another hand, the exercise of legitimate faith leads, biblically, to indescribable glory. And, since both of these claims have to do with how the "future" is going to play out, even believing them is not easy to do, and that is the least of the issues. In terms of the "faith" of people, most are far more interested in the immediate present than they are of the "possibilities" of the future and, beyond the immediate present, most folks are more hung up on the facts of the past than they are on what might be the facts of the future. In the light of these things, this evening we come to the question of the significance of Paul's claim in Galatians 1:16 that as soon as he experienced the revelation of God's Son in him, he did not consult with flesh and blood. What does this mean and what is its significance?
I. What Does It Mean?
A. In light of the thesis of this segment (1:11-12), it has primarily to do with supporting the claim that the Gospel is not of human invention.
B. On the face of it, it has to do with the claim that he did not talk out the doctrinal realities of the Gospel with anyone.
C. But, in light of Paul's experiences, it needs some clarification.
1. There is no way that Paul, as Saul, could have been unaware of the broad outlines of the content of the Gospel.
a. He was the ring-leader of the opposition (9:1).
b. He heard what Stephen had to say in Acts 7.
c. According to his own testimony in Acts 22:3, he was brought up in Jerusalem as a disciple of Gamaliel, a man whose own attitude toward the Gospel was recorded in Acts 5:34-39.
2. However, it is clear that Saul and those of his kind were hung up on a few key issues that, in effect, blinded them to the details (Acts 5:28).
3. It is also a fact that Saul of Tarsus, being the up and coming Pharisee of his generation, was thoroughly conversant with the Old Testament Scriptures, wherein the Gospel is first revealed.
D. Therefore, the meaning of Paul's claim is brought down to this fact: the revelation of the Gospel to Paul had two major facets; a general exposure from multiple sources, and a specific, and comprehensive exposure from Jesus Christ.
1. The claim that he did not confer with flesh and blood means that he did not enter into a drawn-out process of hammering out the details of the message behind the wide, and potent, exposure to which he had been subjected.
a. The issue of "consulting".
1) The word used here is only used twice in the New Testament and both of those uses are in Galatians.
2) The issue in both contexts is the nuts and bolts of the Gospel under some kind of in-depth, give-and-take, discussion of those particulars.
b. The issue of "flesh and blood".
1) By calling human beings, "flesh and blood", Paul falls back upon a general biblical teaching that "flesh and blood" is a designation of incompetency.
a) Matthew 16:17 uses the phrase to indicate its inability to come to legitimate conclusions from evidence given.
b) 1 Corinthians 15:50 disqualifies "flesh and blood" from the Kingdom.
2) The issues involved may simply be benign incompetence, but they may be far more weighted in the direction of antagonism toward God.
2. The claim accepts, and depends upon, the facts that "messages" are easily misconstrued and misunderstood at the "popular" level and possess a myriad of interrelated details that make a consistent presentation of them impossible until the "preacher" gets a legitimate exposure to the core details and the radiating truths that flare out from that core.
3. The claim is not significantly weakened by the dual-source issues of reality.
II. What is its Significance?
A. That Paul is attempting to distance the Gospel from human ingenuity is a given.
B. That Paul is also attempting to put the Gospel into the characteristic of being directly from God is also a given.
1. This is either truth, or it is the most weighted "power-play" that a man can exercise.
2. But, as truth, it only addresses the "beginnings": What is the significance of a directly divine message?
a. Jesus was the incarnation of the Word of God, but His reception by men was universally less than that even given the involvement of divine "revelation" to the heart/mind of a man.
b. The Gospel is a written rendition of that Word of God, but its reception by men is still universally less than what it ought to be.
1) The competing "interpretations" of men are legion.
2) Beyond "meaning", men are notoriously lax in application.
c. Thus, the question arises: What is the actual point of a divine revelation?
1) On one hand, divine revelation has to have a legitimate point.
2) On another hand, divine revelation seems to make no difference to "flesh and blood".
3) The biblical message is that divine revelation must be reinforced by more divine revelation, which, in turn, must be reinforced by even more divine revelation, ad infinitum.
4) However, it is Paul's major argument in this paragraph that his Love/Faith roots have been radically altered by this "revelation upon revelation upon revelation" reality (in other words, this is the only process that actually works with mankind).
5) Therefore, we can draw this conclusion: it is a part of the warp and woof of God's creation that, for Life to result, He must be involved at every level (the deist's view is wrong) and His involvement must be tied to objective, in-history, realities (the mystic's dismissal of the objective is a grave error).
a) The primary level of divine involvement is mental.
b) Every attitude and action of man is rooted in the way he thinks.
c) Every activity of God toward man is designed to alter his thinking about the two issues of Life: What is valuable? and What is true?
C. The significance of Paul's attribution of the Gospel as directly from God and having nothing of man's incompetence within it is, therefore, that God has entered into the play by play of man's existence in every case where the "man" actually begins to live.