Galatians 1:18 “After three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, remaining with him fifteen days.”
We are first introduced to the apostle Paul in the New Testament book of Acts. We know that he is one of if not the greatest apostle of the Christian faith, responsible for authoring 14 of the 27 books in our New Testament, including the epistle to the Galatians from which our verse for this week is taken.
His teaching style is unlike the other apostles. Paul is very logic-oriented, often posing questions to get us to think through what we believe and why we believe it. For example, in this same epistle to the Galatian church, Paul asks this question: “Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3). In other words, if the Spirit of God brought you into a saving relationship with Him, do you now become perfected in God’s sight though your own works of the flesh? This is Paul in full flight.
So how did Paul, who was once zealous for God as an expert practitioner of the Mosaic law, become not only the author of more than half of the doctrinal teachings of a radical new religious movement, but also a central figure in changing the culture of his world? The answer to this question is in our verse this week.
Very early in Paul’s conversion to Christianity, not only did he surrender his life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, but he then retreated to a 3-year period of study with Christ Himself as His teacher. It was only afterwards that he joined the original apostles to begin the work of the ministry. Here’s his explanation in Galatians 1:15-18: “When it pleased God, who … called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after 3 years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him 15 days.”
Does this 3-year period of teaching time with Jesus sound familiar? This was Paul’s 3 years with the Lord, just as the first apostles had spent 3 years with Christ while He was here on earth. Few of us realize that Paul’s preparation to preach the gospel required a 3-year personal study time with Jesus Christ.
How does this apply to us today? Pastor Randy Frazee, from Westside Family Church, preached at my church this past Sunday to share with the congregation George Barna’s analysis of where American Christianity is today:
7 of 10 Americans claim to be Christians, but only 6% possess a biblical worldview.
What do we mean by “worldview”? It literally means ‘a view of the world’. It is the window by which you view the world and decide, often subconsciously, what is real and important, or unreal and unimportant. Understanding worldview is a bit like trying to see the lens of your own eye. We do not ordinarily see our own worldview, but we see everything else by looking through it. Pastor Frazee continued:
The number of American adults holding a biblical worldview has declined 50% over the past quarter century (since 1995). Regarding the youngest adult generation, the numbers are even more startling.
A mere 2% of those 18-29 years old possess a biblical worldview.
So, we are just one generation away from biblical Christianity going extinct.” What solution was offered to reverse this biblical “free-fall”?
His message: “The solution has to go beyond one hour on Sunday. This might be one of the blessings of COVID-19. We are spending more time at home, with our families. We need to be having focused family time in teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to our children, to develop in them a biblical worldview.”
For our youth, and their parents, to be equipped with a biblical worldview, Pastor Frazee is offering the same solution that was used by the early apostles (including Paul). To be an effective ambassador for Jesus Christ, we must first and foremost study and know Him, which we learn through His Bible. There is no greater weapon against the onslaught of secularized American culture than the truth of God’s Word.
Paul calls the Bible the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17), explaining how it transforms lives: “The word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any 2-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12-13).
Our ministry here at FSE University (our website is at fse.life) has as its header “Equipping Young Adults (and Their Parents) to Defend their Faith.” Parents and their children can develop a biblical worldview by studying the Bible and then be equipped to share their faith by understanding the culture we live in today.
The Evidence of Faith’s Substance – Article #400