When I wrote this letter to the believers who lived in the Galatian region I was mad! The last time I had seen them they were living in freedom and it showed in everything they thought and did and said. But it didn't appear that way to a certain group of people who thought they knew what it was to do the will of God.
Let me get right to the point: God chose me to bring the message of freedom. I was not sent by men, nor do I represent any establishment of man, nor do I have anything to do with their systems. The one who sent me is Jesus Christ … and God, His Father, who raised Him up from the dead!
I bring the grace of God, and the peace which has been made by Jesus when He died on purpose to deliver us from the hell-hole we once knew … which is the prison the whole world still lives in. The whole set-up is part of God's plan and He is the one who gets the credit for all of it … eventually, we will see what a magnificent plan it is.
You know, I've seen a lot, and it isn't easy to surprise me anymore, but this was ridiculous! I didn't know what else to say … I was shocked at how fast it happened. They were turning away from HIM, the very God who called them into the freedom of Christ!! The ironic part is that they had been deceived into thinking they were actually getting closer to Him. Imagine that!! Yeah, they had been listening to this different message of freedom. But you know what? There is no such thing!! But there were some people who were messing with their minds (yeah, I knew about them). Do you know what they really wanted? They desired to twist and pervert the message of freedom in Christ. Oh, yeah, they called it gospel alright, but it wasn't.
Guess what? I'm disturbed now because I've been watching what's been going on and you're doing the same things they did! You've got so many programs designed to make you better Christians … and you don't even realize there is no such thing. How do you get caught up in this stuff? Do you think there's more truth to it if the preacher has credentials?
You know what? I don't care if it's an angel from God … I don't care if it's me, or one of my buddies who comes and tells you something different … the message of freedom through the work of Christ on the cross, as I originally told it is the only true message. Whoever tells you a different message is to be considered as a carrier of death! I'm going to say it again. Anybody who brings you a message of freedom that is not the same one that was received from me is to be avoided as being the carrier of death!
I know what those guys said, and I know what they are saying now. I know they tell you that I endorse their false message and agree with their additions to the message of freedom. Do you really think I'm like them? Do I sound as if I'm seeking their approval? Or God's? Haha … what a joke! I keep getting kicked out of my own Bible studies! Do you think I'm looking for that pat on the back they love to get? I know what that's like. I haven't forgotten because as you well know it used to be what drove me. Get serious! If I had been looking to be the man-pleaser I used to be I sure wouldn't be hooked up with Christ … because he's not impressed with reputation.
There is something you need to know about this message of freedom that I speak: it didn't come to me in the usual way. When it came to me it by-passed all the conventions of man's wisdom. What I'm telling you is that I didn't get it from another man, I didn't learn it in some school, or read it in a book … I got it directly from Jesus Christ, Himself!! It wasn't learned … it was revealed.
You've heard about the man I used to be and the religion that consumed me; and how I did everything in my power to do away with this Jesus thing and those who belonged to him. I was on my way to the top … way ahead of most … and I was in my prime! I had a passion for the traditions of the religion of my people … my roots meant everything to me. And right in the middle of all of it God stopped me dead in my tracks. I wasn't looking for this, I thought I was doing God's will already! But it turns out that He had already picked me out for this before I was even born. Me! It pleased him to reveal his Son in and through me … the guy who was dead-set against him! He had purposed that I would be the one to take this message of freedom and preach Jesus to those who were not my people.
Let me tell you what I didn't do: from the start, I didn't consult with anybody on this revelation from God. I didn't go to Jerusalem and get together with those who had lived with Jesus to discuss this thing that had happened to me. I went away to the desert and later returned to the place I was going to when he got a hold of me. I didn't go to Jerusalem until three years later to go see Peter … and even then I only stayed with him for 15 days. The only other of the original twelve disciples I saw was James, the brother of Jesus.
Do you know why I am telling you this? And God is my witness that I am not lying when I say this: the message of freedom that I speak did not come from any man, but from God !!
My reputation became quite different than what it used to be. Those who belonged to Jesus in the Judea area didn't even know what I looked like. All they knew was that the guy who had hated them and wanted to kill them was now preaching the faith that he tried to destroy. And on account of me (isn't it ironic?) they were praising God.