The One Who Stands Him as An Apostle

 “Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—”

(Galatians 1:1-1)

“Paul, an apostle….” Galatians 1:1


Whenever the Apostle Paul wrote a letter, he consistently and clearly referred to himself as an apostle. He spoke boldly about his apostleship because he had a personal experience to back it up. An apostle is someone who is called and sent by Jesus. Although the apostle Paul had never personally followed Jesus, during his time persecuting Jesus’ followers in Damascus, he heard Jesus’ words directly: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ This was not an angel appearing to him in place of Jesus; instead, Paul asked, “Who are You, Lord?” and then the Lord responded decisively, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Immediately after this encounter, Paul lost his sight. Jesus sent Paul to Ananias, and God appeared to Ananias. Ananias laid hands on Paul, something like scales fell from his eyes, instantly restoring his sight. Following this, Jesus filled him with the Holy Spirit and personally told him, “I will use you specifically as a preacher of the Gospel for Gentile.” Paul received this calling from Jesus, which made him fully convinced that he was the chosen one for this ministry.

Furthermore, among the twelve disciples, one of them failed to grasp God’s will and Jesus’ will, and consequently fell away. The remaining disciples were primarily focused on ministry in Jerusalem, but Paul had already penetrated deep into the Old Testament. As a result, he possessed a profound understanding of the covenant that God had made with Abraham, which declared, “You shall be a blessing, and all nations will be blessed through you.” Moreover, through the teachings of several prophets in the era of the Old Testament, Paul was aware that Gentiles would attain salvation. Therefore, he firmly believed that the message should be spread to all nations and did not hesitate to advance in the preaching of this Gospel.

To that extent, Paul faced considerable opposition and attack from those who questioned, “How can you claim to be an apostle? You can’t be one; You never personally followed Jesus.’ Likewise, people disputed what Paul preached, but he always stood firm. His firm belief did not stem from other’s opinions or his own self-assessment that he was qualified to be an apostle. Instead, it came from assurance that the Lord had called him.

Despite having this strong belief, there might have been moments when he considered seeking recognition as an apostle due to external influences. However, he boldly declared, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please man? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. I only testify to what I received from Christ.”(Galatians 1:10) Therefore, despite facing much opposition and hatred from people, he remained resolute because he had faith that the Lord was always with him.

So, who is this Lord? He clearly knew this without a doubt.

“…not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father from the dead” Galatians 1:1

He became an apostle through Jesus Christ and the God who raised Jesus to life from the dead, becoming our Father. He was fully aware that he was an apostle through that God. Thus, he clearly understood his role as a servant.

So, if someone were to ask us today, “You lead your faith life very faithfully, but who is your god?” what would we say? I have asked this question many times in various places, because there are many gods in the world. When I asked, “Do you believe in god?”, someone might answer, “Yes, I believe!”. However, when I inquired, “What kind of god do you believe in?” the answers were different. When I asked this question in Chinese, some said, “I believe in the kitchen god,” while others mentioned the pigpen god. Some spoke of the god of the well, and others referred to the god of the yard. They even show me the gods they believed in, placing charms in various places like the pigpen and the well. These people had their own unique experiences. There was another individual who had an experience with a god. He had built a new three-story house in a location that had once been a lake but was filled with earth for construction. However, something unusual happened in his dream. In his dreams, entities appeared and pierced his ear with spit. The next day, he found that he could not hear anything. On another occasion, these entities appeared again and struck his legs. Upon waking up, he realized his legs wouldn’t move. Consequently, this individual couldn’t hear or see properly for several months. When I visited him, he kept insisting that there were beings present. People considered him mentally ill, but he had witnessed something real. In his dreams, these beings claimed that many people had drown and become demons. They questioned why he had built his house in their region. In their own way, these individuals were serving their own gods based on their experiences and beliefs.

When someone asks us, “Who is the god that you are serving?”, how do we respond? The God who we serve is our Father. But how can the God be our Father? Who is He? He is the God who raised Jesus to life from the dead. He is the God that I serve, and He has become my Father. He is the One who sent Jesus Christ. This is our unwavering confession. For example, when someone experiences an upset stomach, we use a needle to prick their thumbs. However, those pricking should draw blood at one. Some may repeatedly prick lightly due to a weak resolve, failing to make the blood flow. This can be distressing for the person. We should prick once and draw blood promptly. Similarly, when someone asks, “Who is your god?”, simply stating, “Our God is self-existing,” is not sufficient. Those who believe in Allah might also describe their god as self-existing, as do the Jews. Then how about this? Our God is the One who heals us. However, it cannot penetrate the key point as well.

“…but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead,” (Galatians 1:1)

So, there’s no need for further question: with this one clear and unmistakable confession, we become worthy of salvation without any confusion. What is this confession? It is this: “There is someone who raised Jesus Christ to life from the dead, and that God is our Father. He also sent me as an apostle.” This is the way Paul made his confession, and we do the same. The God we believe in is the One who sent Jesus Christ and raised Him to life from the dead.

Since God cannot be seen, we cannot testify to His existence. However, Jesus introduced us to this God and demonstrated His power by healing the sick and performing various miracles. Some people may be impressed by Jesus and think, “Jesus is really great person. Why don’t you believe in Him?” But there is only one way to testify that Jesus did not perform these works on His own; someone worked in Him. He was put to death. Death means that a person can do nothing more. Therefore, even if Jesus had great and tremendous ability, He faced the state of being unable to do anything more. He bled and died completely. Thus, He could not perform something more. Before His death, Jesus had said, “someone will bring me back to life.” So, if Jesus truly came back to life, it was not by His own power; it was because someone was with Him. This someone is present, and this existing being possesses the incredible power to resurrect Jesus from the dead. This serves as undeniable evidence. Therefore, it is the only way to confirm the reality of that God.

So, nobody expected Jesus to be resurrected, not even His disciples. However, on the third day after His death, when they went to Jesus’ tomb, He was not there. Later, it was confirmed that He had indeed been resurrected. Through His resurrection, people came to realize that the God whom Jesus testified to truly exists. Moreover, this God affirmed that Jesus was right. All aspects became evident. Jesus’ resurrection served as proof for the existence of a living, righteous, almighty God who sent Jesus to the earth. Hence, our faith is rooted in believing in the resurrection of Jesus.

Then, how do we come to know Jesus’ resurrection? We cannot see Him now. However, if He had not been resurrected, He could not have ascended to heaven and sent us the Holy Spirit. We have already received the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus. Therefore, since we have received the Holy Spirit, we are able to drive out demons and heal the sick. How is all of this possible? It is possible because Jesus ascended to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to us. Consequently, the works of the Holy Spirit serve as evidence of Jesus’ resurrection, and His resurrection proves the existence and works of God, who cannot be seen.

“Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man,….” (Galatians 1:1)

As a result, we are called by Him, we have become His children, and the apostle Paul’s boldness came from the fact that he became an apostle through God’s appointment, not by human authority. God has called me. It is this boldness that prevented Paul from being afraid of people. People like King Saul failed because they feared others. When we fear people and compromise something, it can lead us to commit sins. It’s not that the kings of old had inherently bad characters; rather, they became weak before people, taking their words uncritically and trying to make good relationships with them. From a human perspective, there was nothing inherently wrong with this behavior. However, being scared of people before God can be a terrible sin. Therefore, let us pray that we do not fear people and that we may stand before the God who has called us.

God our Father, we pray that You empower us to be those who fear God and not people. Help us to always stand boldly before You as we carry out Your work. We pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on July 25, 2013
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team