Four Facts For Every Life

Bible Book: Galatians  1 : 11-24
Subject: Plan of God; Love of God; Purpose in Life
Introduction

Today I want us to look at some facts that are true in every human life. Years ago there was a television program that was extremely popular. It was a cop show featuring the life of a detective and his partner working in Los Angeles, California. The detective was Joe Friday (actor Jack Webb), who used quick, short, snappy dialect when interviewing witnesses or suspects. When a witness began to give too much detail relating what happened, Friday would say, "Just the facts, maam, just the facts." That line made him famous!

Often it is difficult to discover the facts in human situations, but the Bible records facts - truth - reality! There are four facts that the Bible reveals about every human being and we are going to look at them today. The Bible records all, or at time portions, of Paul's salvation testimony. In Galatians 1:11-24 we discover Paul sharing a portion of his testimony related to his life before Christ, his salvation and his call to serve the Lord - in Paul's case, he was called to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Note with me the scripture:

Galatians 1:11-24 - "But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter,[a] and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. 20 (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.) 21 Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. 23 But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God in me."

Before we delineate the facts, let's understand some interesting things about them.

i. These facts were not shared Doctrinally but Practically

Paul did not write down four facts for every life as if it were a doctrinal or instructional matter, rather he penned these facts as he shared something from his own experience. That is not to say that great doctrines are not involved here. It is just that he did not share them as kind of "pie in the sky" matter, but rather as practical truths for living. That is why I did not call them "four facts about life" but rather "Four Facts For Every Life."

ii. These facts were not shared Exclusively but Universally

These are not facts for some people, these are facts for all people! It is true that Paul was an apostle and, in a formal sense, there were a specific number of apostles. It is also true that Paul was a vocational (or at least a bi-vocational) missionary. Certainly we are not apostles and few of us are called to be vocational ministers; nevertheless, certain principles were shared by Paul in these verses which apply to all people. I mean, these truths even apply to non-Christians. So no one who hears this message will be left out. This message applies to you.

iii. These facts were not shared Intellectually but Spiritually and Emotionally

Paul was writing out of his heart. His own ministry was at stake, but far more than that was involved. He was concerned for the gospel and he was concerned for those to whom he had ministered. Any preacher who is true to God and the people to whom he ministers will be greatly concerned if he sees them being misled or abused spiritually. So Paul wrote this out of his heart as the Spirit of God led him.

iv. These facts were not shared Instructionally but Defensively

Remember that Paul is writing here to defend the gospel by grace alone and to defend his apostleship. Paul's apostleship is important at this point, for those in Galatia who have been trying to persuade the people that works must be mixed with grace for salvation, have told the church that they should not believe what Paul has said since he is not an apostle.

The four statements above indicate the seriousness of the facts to be considered. Things which are shared out of practical experience, of a universal nature (meaning that they apply to all people), with emotional and spiritual fervor from a defensive position, are matters of extreme importance. So we are considering some of the most important material of a personal nature from Paul's ministry. Remember also that the Lord inspired these words, so they are very important.

Now, what are these four very important facts that apply to every person?

I. Fact One - God Has A Plan For Every Life

God has a plan for my life, but not just for my life but for yours and every person born on this earth. I know that sounds a bit overdone, but it is true! God loves you and wants you to live your best life. The only way to do that is to believe that He actually has a scheme, an arrangement, a purpose - a blueprint specifically for your life.

See verses 11-15

A. God's Plan involves a Design before you were Born

Before you took your first breath, God had a plan designed for your life. This plan was not made to thwart your individualism; on the contrary, God knew before you were born that for which you were best suited. So, he devised a plan which benefited you, all those you touch in life and a plan which would bring glory back to Him. This plan was the best of all alternatives for your existence. It is interesting to realize that God loved you so much that He took thought of you and made plans for you long before you were born.

Before you were born, your mother and/or your father made plans for you. My mom and day used ot pull out some things they stored away and show them to me when I was just a boy. They included a baby bed they got for me before I was born. There was a baby blanket one of mother's sisters had made for me. It was a quilt made of shiny blocks of material. Evern after many years it was beautiful. My point is, plans were made by my family before I was born to be sure that I had what I needed.

God, in a far more infinite way, did much more than that for me. He made plans for me so that my life might be meaningful, beautiful and filled with blessings. He has done the same for you, whether you are aware of it or not. He loved you enough to send His Son to be your redeemer long, long ago - and He had you in mind when He did so.

B. God's Plan was to overcomer a Downfall that took place before you were Born

Something terrible happened before you were born. Sin entered this world and it became a corrupt place long before any one of us was in this room took our first breath. Sickness, sorrow and death passed unto all mankind because of an initial sin in one human life. This sin was in your parents and it is in you. Part of this is the fault of Adam, the first man, for when he sinned he brought sin upon all who would follow; however, part of this is your fault and mine. You see, we were born in sin but we also have chosen of your own free will to rebel against God's plan. Whether through ignorance or open rebellion, you have decided at times to do your own thing. That means that you and I are no better than Adam himself.

Paul had done the same thing, for he shares with us that at one point in his life he was persecuting Christians before he turned to Christ in saving faith. This was not God's will for him. He was in a state of rebellion, even if it was ignorant rebellion. Paul had desecrated God's beautiful plan for his life. Yet, even his sin, Adam's sin, and our sin, could not totally destroy God's plan to grant to those who are willing to believe a life of purpose that God has planned.

No matter what you've been through, what has been done to you, or what you have done, God has a plan for you. This is true of every person on earth - and that includes each person listening to me right now!

But, there's more. Let's look at the second fact for every life...

II. Fact Two - God Has A Person For Every Life

It is amazing how people, or even one individual, can make such a wonderful difference in your life. I joined the Army three days after graduating from high school. I worked with a man while in the Army who was the best administrator I've every known. He was amazing and he sought to teach me everything he knew. I didn't realize at the time, but that was part of God's plan for my life. Some years later, when I finally surrendered to God's call upon my life to preach the gospel, I would use everything he taught me as I pastored churches. You see, God had a plan to prepare me for the work He called me to perform.

Much more important than a person to teach me the intricacies of administration, there was a Person required for me to ever discover the real purpose of my life. See verse 16, and not that it was God's plan to reveal His Son in me, just as He did for Paul and for all who receive Him as Lord and Savior.

A. Jesus Revealed To Us

Paul shared that God did not leave him in the dreadful condition of living his life in rebellion to the divine will. There came a day when Jesus was revealed in Paul.

"Happy day, Happy day,

When Jesus washed my sins away."

On the Damascus road Paul met Jesus Christ. It is true that Jesus had died, risen and ascended back to heaven, but still he confronts people with His claim upon their lives. He is alive and He still calls people to Himself on every road and byway of life. It is likely that He is calling someone in this very place today. He is calling someone to trust Him as Savior - to trust Him to forgive your sin and give you a new life - a forever life. He is calling someone today to follow Him in ministry. He is calling someone today to renew your relationship to Him, so that you can live out the full meaning of the life He has given you.

Jesus is the only person who can redeem the desecration we have made of God’s plan for our lives. He is God's person for every life! Jesus is not the Savior of the Bible Belt in the Southeastern United States of America. He is the only hope of the whole world.

God called me to preach when I was just a lad, back in March of 1957. I knew He was calling me and I did not need a telegram from the Celestial Post Office, but I had plans of my own. What plans they were! They led me in so many wrong directions and I sometimes look back and think I hurt everyone I knew when I was in rebellion against God. And I know I must have broken the heart of God; mostly because I was hurting myself and others. That is what you always do when you run from God. You hurt everyone around you, you hurt yourself and you break God's heart!

Finally, at the age of 23, I surrendered to God's purpose for my life. This year I am in my fiftieth year in the ministry. What a difference there is in life when you follow God’s will. I do not mean to say that it is always easy, but there is a peace deep within when you follow His will. There is purpose and meaning to life! I shudder to think of how empty and terrible my life would have been, had I rejected God's plan for me. In fact, I have sat down before many people in my years of ministry and listened to their regrets and watched them wipe away tears of sorrow for a wasted life. You don't have to live that way. You can find God's plan by simply turning over your entire life to Him today.

B. Jesus Received In Us

Jesus makes the difference when he is received into our hearts and lives, and when we determine to follow His will for our daily lives. Paul had Christ in His life. Look at Galatians 2:20: "Christ who lives in me." Christ in one’s life is what makes the difference. It is not just us doing His will for Him, it is Jesus doing His will in and through us!

That was my problem when I was young. I thought I would have to serve God in my strength and I did not want to. "I" never wants to serve God! Spell "sin" and note that "i" is right in the middle of it. "I" wants his own way, but when Jesus takes the throne and "i" steps off, there is peace, power, and purpose in life! Paul found that he could truly serve God after Jesus took up residence in his life. It was not Paul serving God, but Christ living through Paul!

III. Fact Three - God Has A Pattern For Every Life

When a person surrenders to Christ, what happens? Well, you enter into a divine pattern for your life. You start moving in the direction that is absolutely the best possible path for you. I don't mean that it is easy, in fact some of us are called to what appears to be very difficult byways in God's will. But, I assure of this, you will not regret doing what God calls you to do. Everyday is an adventure. Life is filled with meaning and purpose when you are walking with Christ.

See verses 17-22

Think of two things related to God's pattern for our lives...

A. His Pattern includes Changing Us

"What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought,

Since Jesus Came into my heart."

Jesus doesn’t come into our lives to merely get us to heaven, but rather He enters our lives to change us into God’s image of who we are to be. He will not leave you the same. If you are exactly today as you were before you made a decision for Christ, you better go back and check your salvation! If you are unchanged, you are unsaved! He saves us and then shapes us to the person He created us to be. Sure, none of us are perfect, but we are always being led toward the divine pattern He has for us. What a wonderful life it is, living for Jesus day by day.

B. His Pattern includes Commissioning Us

Once He, Jesus, enters our lives, He commissions us to serve Him. Every Christian is a servant of God. Every Christian is a priest unto God. The pattern of my life is to live daily to serve Him. That is true of every Christian, whatever you vocation of walk in life.

I was called by the Lord to be a pastor. He commissioned me for that purpose, but my calling is no less or more important than anyone else who is a Christian. Each of us, in whatever duty He has prescribed, is the same. We are merely servants of God. We may have a different effect upon the world, or be viewed as more important than other Christians, but simply faithfulness is what God calls for. Look at someone like Billy Graham, and note what an amazing ministry he has had through decades of preaching round the world. Yet, the faithful Bible teaching in a local church, who is fulfilling his or her calling faithfully, is just as important in the eyes of God. You are not called to do what someone else does, but only to be faithful where you are, and that is where you will find joy.

Now, let's look at the fourth fact about your life and mine...

IV. Fact Four - God Deserves Praise Through Every Life

Every single person who receives Jesus as Savior, and goes on to serve Him, discovers the joy in praising God. It is not that we praise Him because it is a duty, but we praise Him because it is so natural and it brings so much joy to our lives. To put in plainly, we are mean to praise Him - not for His sake - He can make the rocks praise Him, if you wants to! No, the praise we give brings the joy we need.

Look at verses 23-24

So, why do we praise Him?

A. Because of Who He is (vs. 23)

How can it be that Paul preached the faith he once tried to destroy? He did that because of who Jesus is and what Jesus had done for him. When you read the Bible you discover that much is made of who God is and what He has done for His people! God deserves praise from every person. After all, life is a gift! All people should embrace God's Son and follow His plan for life, but certainly those of us who claim to be His children, the Children of Light, should reflect the light of His glory and give Him due honor.

B. Because of What We do

Jesus said that we should so live that men would see our good works and glorify God who is in Heaven. God deserves praise through our lives so others can see Him in us. Look at how Paul closed this passage. He said that the people praised God and gave Him glory because of Paul's life and ministry. Do you and I so live that men and women praise and glorify God because of our joy in the Lord? Is our service to God causing others to desire to follow us in believing faith?

Conclusion

So, we must be aware of God's Plan, God's Person, God's Pattern and God's Praise! This brings us to our conclusion.

First, is there someone here today who has never yielded to God's Plan by receiving God's Son, Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? If that is the case, you need to come to Him today. Simply turn from you own sin and trust Jesus to forgive and redeem you. I can promise you this, once you make that decision, you will know at that moment that you have found out who you were created to be! He is here and He is ready to save you today. On occasion, we sing...

"The Savior is waiting to enter your heart,

Why don't you let Him come in?"

He is knocking on the door of your heart - trust Him right now and ask Him to save you and grant you the purpose for which you were created.

Second, perhaps there are those present whom God is calling into vocational ministry, as God called Paul on the Damascus Road. Surrender your all to Him today. Follow his will and pattern for your life. Yes, it seems frightening to step not knowing where God may lead you, but as someone who did that back in 1968, let me assure you that it is a life of wonderful adventure and blessing to simply go where God sends you and do what God tells you.

Thirdly, many of us can say that we know Christ, and that we are in His will for our lives; however, it is possible that He is not receiving the glory from us that He should! This may be true to our neglect to honor Him in some public way. This may be true because we are not doing our best in His service. This may be true because we are failing to bring Him honor in our words and deeds at home, in school, at work, etc.

During the invitation today listen for the still, small voice of God in your heart. He is calling you to be saved, to submit to His calling or to grant Him the glory which He is due! Let us not disobey our heavenly vision.