Seven Cities From Tarsus
More on Paulís Journeys
Outline Version

Jackson Snyder

October 16, 1996

 

0.from Tarsus - lost, without Christ

 

Galatians 1:11-24 (NRSV) {1} For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; {12} for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. {13} You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. {14} I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors.

 

1.to Damascus - revelation and commandment

 

{15} But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased {16} to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles

 

Paul had a personal revelation of Christ as per Acts 9.

 

2.to Arabia - testing decision and struggle

 

{16b} I did not confer with any human being, {17} nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia,

 

Not unlike Jesus, who had his "Arabia" as per Luke 4

 

3.to Damascus - restoration and assurance

 

{17b} and afterwards I returned to Damascus.

 

There he made his decision known to Ananias

 

4.to Jerusalem - discipleship and self-examination

 

{18} Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; {19} but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord's brother. {20} In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!

†††††††††††

{22} and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; {23} they only heard it said, "The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy." {24} And they glorified God because of me.

 

5.to Cilicia (Tarsus) - home mission

 

{21} Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia,

 

Jesus also went home to Nazareth to proclaim his mission and was there violently discouraged.

 

Once upon a time the devil decided to sell his weapons - so he held a "flee market" for demons.He spread his wares on a table and labeled each with a price. There lay hatred, malice, envy, despair, sickness, lust -- all his well-known weapons.But off to one side lay a little wooden club.It was old and worn, but priced far higher than the rest.

Beelzebub asked the devil, "why the high price for a worn-out club?"The devil replied, "Why, this is the little bat I call "discouragement."It's expensive because it is so much easier to use than the others.You see, nobody knows "discouragement" belongs to me, so I use it first to beat the gumption out of Christians till he bleeds a little.Then I crawl in the wound and use any weapon that suits me best."

 

A discouraging word at home has caused the ruin of many would-be apostles of Christ.

 

How many would-bes stopped because nobody much said "Go"!

 

Author John Powell relates a true story:

My friend was in the Bahamas.A large, restless crowd gathered there toward the end of a pier.The man walked down the pier to investigate all the noise and commotion.

†† He discovered a young man making last-minute preparations for a solo journey around the world in a homemade boat.Everyone on the pier was pessimistic.They were trying to tell the sailor all the things that could go wrong."The sun will broil you!""You won't have enough food." "That boat won't stand the waves in a storm." "It's never been done before." "You'll never make it."

†† When my friend heard all these discouraging words, he felt an irresistible desire to offer some encouragement.As the little boat drifted away towards the horizon, my friend went to the end of the pier, waving both arms wildly.He kept shouting: "Bon Voyage!You're really something!We're with you. We're proud of you!"

 

If you will not go on the mission yourself, at least offer the cold cup of encouragement and support to those who do.

 

6.on outreach mission to Galatia

 

A result of his mission to Galatia - revelation:

 

3:{1} You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified!

 

Another result - apostasy:

 

2:{4} But because of false believers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us-- {5} we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you.

 

Another result - persecution:

 

6:{17} From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body.

 

The most violent persecution of Christians in history is taking place today around the world perpetrated by non-Christian fundamentalists.But the vilest persecution in this country is perpetrated on Christians by other Christians.Paul received both forms.

 

 

7.to Jerusalem and beyond - the ultimate mission

 

2:1-5 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. {2} I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain.

 

He didn't do so well with human relations this time.For, by this time, he was no longer "junior."He was now a full-fledged Apostle. He

"opposed Cephas to his face" (2:11).

James wrote against Paul's doctrine of faith.

Peter wrote that Paul was hard to understand.

Nevertheless, Paul was so sure of his calling that he persevered on behalf of the Gentiles he'd converted "back home" to the point where his doctrine of salvation by grace though faith was accepted.

 

You and I haven't yet reached our Jerusalem.Perhaps you've gone far on your apostolic journey.Perhaps you've just begun.But look back now and see from whence you've come.

†† But now the journey lies ahead for you, your loved ones, this church.What will it bring?I want to leave you with a story that I hope will be an encouragement as Jesus brings you closer and closer to the high calling in these last days.

A little girl was taking a cross-country trip on the Amtrak.In the course of the day her train crossed a number of rivers.The water seen in advance always awakened doubts and fears in the child.It was so dangerous.She didn't understand how it could safely be crossed.

But as they drew near the river, a bridge appeared, and furnished the way over. Several times the same thing happened, and finally she leaned back, and with a long breath of relief and confidence, declared:

 

"Somebody has put in bridges for us all the way!"

 

Friend, such are sturdy bridges, for God has built them for us all the way.

 

NOTES

 

First preached October 16, 1996 pm.Illustrations from Parsons Bible Illustrator.

A famous explorer in South America was once driven back and forced to abandon his journey by an almost invisible foe.He was equipped to meet leopards and serpents and crocodiles.They proved to be no threat, but he had failed to reckon with the little fellers -- the billions of "chiggers" that infested the area.Someone has composed the following ditty about these tiny invaders:

 

†† Here's to the chigger, the bug that's no bigger

††††† Than the end of a very small pin;

†† But the itch that he raises simply amazes,

††††† And that's where the rub comes in!