Freedom from Ignorance

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 1/10/2021

This morning is Week 2 of our Soul Freedom series! For these winter months, we’re studying Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia. And trust me, we have only “just” begun to explore our vast freedom in Christ! Last week was all about our freedom from sin/this evil age. We have been set free from sin. Because of Jesus we can find favor/grace with God. We can enjoy true peace with God, with our fellow man, even within our sin-fractured souls. Jesus ended our heart, mind, soul, and bodily insurrection against God on the cross. The Father has offered us grace and peace, mercy and forgiveness, true purification from sin, through Jesus’ shed blood.

A couple of Week 1 highlights are in order! Galatians 1:3, “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:4, “[Jesus] gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Does my Heavenly Father hate me? How can I know? The Father authorized our rescue mission! In love he sent his One and Only Son! By his set will/purpose he sent Jesus with authority and in power to rescue us!

Ephesians 2:4-7, “God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, 5 made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” We don’t ever “out grow” or “graduate beyond” these truths, we grow/graduate deeper into them!

Now, it’s time to contemplate another profound dimension of our soul freedom: In Christ Jesus, we have been set free from ignorance.

A foundational premise of Christian faith is that we know and possess the “Truth.” And Truth isn’t merely a set of impersonal statements, or propositions, or facts, data, or truths. The Truth is singular, personal, relational, trinitarian, Divine, exclusive. Its not just found “in” Christ Jesus, but “is” Christ Jesus. In John 14:6-7 Jesus didn’t mince words when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

1 John 5:20 says, “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know the true one. We are in the true one — that is, in his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” *We’ve been set free from ignorance. We have the Light, who is Christ Jesus*

Here though is our problem: Our world rejects “Truth” claims, especially “religious” and “exclusive” Truth claims, like saying Jesus is “the only” way, truth, life, and “the only” path to the Father. What I want to do, is prepare us to embrace the extraordinary hill we will have to climb proclaiming the name Jesus.

First, Our Identity Will Be Attacked. In Galatians 1:1, I want you to notice the curious way Paul greets the Galatians. He says, “Paul, an apostle—not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead.” Personal attack has been a tactic since the dawn of humankind. We see this principle at work all around us, not just in religious contexts. If people feel threatened by you (by an idea, a message, a truth) they will attack you in the most personal way possible.

When Jesus began his public ministry people said, “Jesus, who do you think you are? By what authority are you speaking, or doing the things you do?” They said, “Aren’t you just a carpenters son?”, “Aren’t you from Nazareth—can anything good come from Nazareth?”, “Who are you to claim to be God’s Son?”. They accused Jesus of breaking Mosaic Law, of being “out of his mind” (mentally ill, delusional), of being possessed by demons, of being an insurrectionist.

The attack of Paul’s identity went something like this: Paul, who do you think you are? You weren’t one of Jesus’ original “Twelve” disciples! You weren’t even one of his “first” followers! After Judas hung himself, you might remember that in Acts 1 the Eleven disciples sought to replace Judas. In Acts 1:21-22, we find the criteria for being an “Apostle.” The Eleven said, “Therefore, from among the men who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us—beginning from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us—from among these, it is necessary that one become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

Their search for Number Twelve fell to two men—Joseph, called Barsabbas, and also known as Justus (the guy had three names!) and also Matthias. Matthias became number Twelve. So, “Who the heck does this “Apostle” Paul think he is? He’s an imposter!”

If you read any of Paul’s letters, he faced this same line of attack his whole life. He was rarely (if ever) given any benefit of doubt, anywhere he preached. And the same was true of Jesus. Shortly after Jesus announced his identity as the Son of God he was marched by his own townspeople to an edge of a cliff. Paul’s answer was that he wasn’t appointed “by men” (i.e. the Twelve). No, he was appointed “by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Jesus him from the dead.”

Do you know, I hear the same sentiments about Paul today. When I’ve preached Paul’s letters, I’ve heard many people say, “Oh yea, Paul. I don’t care for the Apostle Paul.” Paul isn’t just some random teacher. Christ Jesus Himself, God the Father, saw it fit to appoint/send forth Paul, to be a true “Apostle.” Next week we’re going to dig into the story of his conversation. But if Jesus, is the Apostle Paul were personally attacked, how much more might we find resistance?

In proclaiming Jesus, our Identity will be attacked also consider this second reality: Our Truth Claims Will Be Ridiculed. Let’s jump ahead for a moment in our text. In Galatians 1:11-12 Paul says, “For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human source and I was not taught it, but it came by a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Pay attention to every syllable. Paul says that the gospel we preach, that came through Jesus (that came through the Twelve, that came through Him), is NOT a human invention. It’s NOT of human origin. Paul says, “I did NOT receive it from a human source.” And “I was NOT taught it.” So then, how did Paul come about the gospel? He says, “It came by a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Next week were going to talk about Paul’s conversion in detail—how God revealed Himself on the road to Damascus. But what I want you to see this morning is that “what” Jesus revealed to Paul, “what” Jesus taught Paul, the “content” that Jesus gave Paul, was the full revelation of His own Divine Personhood, and identity as the Son of God, Savior of Men, Resurrected, Ascendant, Reigning King and Lord.

Here is the deal. We will see that Paul already knew the Holy Scriptures, front and back, text and verse. Paul had as much knowledge of the Hebrew Bible as anyone who ever lived. But what Paul lacked wasn’t knowledge, he lacked “understanding.” He knew the Bible but didn’t “understand” the Bible—not until he met and saw the resurrected Christ. He didn’t have the interpretive key!

You might recall how Jesus chastised the Teachers of the Law in John 5:37-41. Everything he said could just have well been said to Paul (before conversion). Jesus said, “The Father who sent me has himself testified about me. You have not heard his voice at any time, and you haven’t seen his form. 38 You don’t have his word residing in you, because you don’t believe the one he sent. 39 You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, and yet they testify about me. 40 But you are not willing a to come to me so that you may have life.”

Its just like the modern scientists. You have all these people who study and marvel at the order of the universe and breathtaking beauty of creation. They study creation but don’t know the creator. They are connoisseurs of art but don’t know and disbelieve the existence of an Artist!

Here is something we must come to terms with when we preach. We don’t come about the Gospel, the Truth of Jesus, by science or scientific principles. We don’t about Jesus by personal experience, by philosophical speculation, by creative innovation. We come to knowledge of Jesus only by REVELATION. We didn’t discover, God revealed. We didn’t investigate and uncover, God made known the mystery. Ephesians 1:7-9, Paul writes, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he richly poured out on us with all wisdom and understanding. He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ.”

You can come to know some truth, through your five senses, augmented by scientific instruments and knowledge. But you can only know the ULTIMATE Truth and “truths” of life/death/creation/eternal life/spiritual realm” because God reveals. We have been and will always be ridiculed by the Epistemological snobs for “believing/trusting” Revelation. Yet Jesus is the only key that fits, and opens the door of understanding to meaning/purpose of life! No other key works.

In proclaiming Jesus, our Identity will be attacked. Our Truth Claims Will Be Ridiculed. Thirdly, Our Message Will Be Muddled. In Galatians 1:6-9 Paul says, “I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him! 9 As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!”

The Gospel Truth doesn’t change according to the times. But in every generation there is this temptation to want to distort the gospel to fit the times. In 2020 we saw the radical left twist the gospel and person of Jesus into their own brand of social activism. But we also saw the radical right twist the gospel and person of Jesus into their own brand of nationalism. How quickly we get enticed, and seduced, and led astray by worldly men and worldly movements. I got as many people angry I didn’t jump on the activist bandwagon as I got not jumping on the nationalistic bandwagon. There will always be forces (external/internal) that seek hijack the gospel to achieve worldly ambitions, dreams, and goals.

Here is what Paul says. Galatians 1:8. If even an angel from heaven comes and preaches a different gospel than what we’ve preached. . . Galatians 1:9. If anyone among you so much as dare preach a gospel contrary to what we find in the New Testament…. “a curse be on him.”

Do you know what the greatest evil is that occurs today? If you listened to the world, you would say, “Intolerance.” We don’t tolerate people who have different beliefs, and views, and opinions, and ideas. Our churches aren’t safe places where people can explore, entertain whatever impulse of the mind or flesh may come. But I’ll tell what Chystosom, a first century Christian said it is. It’s the unwillingness and inability of Christians to clarify and denounce error. The true corruptors of the gospel are the passive accommodaters, who leave error uncontested.

Recently I told a person to their face I thought they were “being deceived” by error. They had a muddled view of Scripture, its authority, and its clear meaning/application. They were so outraged, that I was so mean-spirited, that I would suggest they were deceived. Not only were they were deceived, but they were deceiving others. I thought I was being pretty nice! A curse be on anyone who muddles the Truth of the Gospel, the Word. A CURSE! I’m try to help you right your course… I’m on your side! But no, this person was offended, became divisive.

Maybe we need reacquaint ourselves with the closing words of Scripture in Revelation 22:18-19, Apostle John writes, “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share of the tree of life and the holy city, which are written about in this book.” Many people (and many preachers) take liberty to distort the Word according to the whims/sensibilities of their times. Don’t be amazed, be faithful.

In proclaiming Jesus, our Identity will be attacked. Our Truth Claims Will Be Ridiculed. Thirdly, Our Message Will Be Muddled. Last, Our Integrity Will Be Tested. Galatians 1:10, “For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” I am just like anyone else. I want to be liked, I want to be loved, affirmed, esteemed. But here is the reality friends. If our greatest need is to be loved by the world, we will not be able to faithful servants of Christ. For Christ has set us apart, to call men “out” of darkness into His marvelous light. Not join them.

Scripture Verses

Galatians 1:6-12; Ephesians 1: 7-9; 2:4-7; John 14:6-7; 1 John 5:20, 37-41; Acts 1:21-22; Revelation 22:18-19

Worship Playlist

King of Kings by Hillsong

This I Believe by Hillsong

Christ Be Magnified by Cody Carnes


Study Questions

1. Why would the Galatian Christians or Lakesiders today be susceptible to distorted or contrary gospels?

2. Why is the source of the true gospel important? How do you determine the source?

3. What do you learn about the gospel in 1 Peter 1:10-12 and 2 Peter 1:16-2:3?

4. What does John add to your understanding in 1 John 1:1-4?

5. How does Luke defend the gospel in Luke 1:1-4?

Apply It!