May we declare along with Paul,
“Paul, an apostle–not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead–and all the brothers who are with me.” Galatians 1:1–2
The unaware reader or uninformed onlooker may not realize that Paul is introducing the message of the gospel presented in the epistle of Galatians. What he offers is a simple summary. The summary is not simple in the fact of watered-down theology, but simple in the fact that it is good theology in a concise manner.
We can and must identify with Paul in these marks of a true Christian. These marks do not earn our faith, but evidence a faith that is already abiding.
How can we identify?
Paul, an apostle…
We may not be apostles, but we must be disciples. We must be followers. We must be willing to delve into the calling of the Christian life with joy and no regret. We must be willing to leave it all behind (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58). We must be willing to sacrifice our wants and desires for the sake of Christ, dying to ourselves daily (Luke 9:23). Paul speaks of his identity here, as an apostle. We have an identity as a disciple. Paul does not cease to be Paul, but continues to be Paul as a disciple of Christ. What Paul ceases to be is who he was in his “former life” (Galatians 1:13). Likewise, we cease to be our old selves, and continue in Christ!
Not from men…
What is the source of your identity? Is it your family? Is it your friends? Is it your job or your accomplishments? For so many of us, it is in our own abilities. I am “insert your job here.” I am “insert your sport here.” As Paul introduces his identity, he sets the precedent that his identity as an apostle is not from men. The source of his identity is specifically “not from men.” This means it must be from a higher source. This higher source, is Jesus Christ Himself! Take in Paul’s words, “For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:1–12). When we answer who we are, how often do we say, “I am a disciple of Christ.”
Nor through man…
As Christ is the source of our identity, He is also the provision and sufficiency of our identity. Paul’s identity not only comes from Christ, but through Christ. The identity of Christian (Acts 11:26) may be a title of man, but the identity of saved is an action of Christ. It comes through the cross. It comes as Jesus not only dies and utters “It is finished” (John 19:30) through His final breath, but as He raises from the dead, that we may join in His resurrection. We become partakers of Christ in both His death and resurrection, that the old man may die and the new be raised to life!
But through Jesus Christ and God the Father…
Not only is Christ our identity, but the triune Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:4–14). Identity in man will shift. It will give up. It will want more of what it does not need and less of what it needs. The promotion and raise may be postponed. The trophy may be lost as you play a horrible game. You may plan your dream vacation and end up sick, unable to go.
Yet, identity in God is sufficient as God gives us all of himself. Jesus “gave himself for our sins to deliver us form the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4). Find identify in Christ, and you find eternal life. There is always something to look forward to. There is always a defeat of Satan. The most wonderful vacation cannot compare to the paradise of heaven and the community we will have with Christ!