Galatians 1:15, 16
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,…
I. THE DESTINY. St. Paul feels that from his birth he was set apart for the great apostolic work of his later years.
1. There is a destiny in every life. God has his purpose of calling us into being.
2. This destiny is determined for us, not by us. We do not choose the circumstances in which we are born, nor our own gifts and dispositions. We can with difficulty escape from our surroundings, and we can never escape from ourselves. Whether a man will see the light as a prince in a palace, or as a beggar under a hedge, is entirely beyond his control, and it is equally impossible for him to determine whether he will have the genius of Newton or the inanity of an idiot. Yet how largely do these differences effect a man's necessary future!
3. We may be long unconscious of our destiny. St. Paul never dreamed of his while he sat at the feet of Gamaliel nor while he was harrying the Christians. It is a secret of providence gradually revealed.
4. It is our duty to work out our destiny by voluntary obedience to the will of God revealed in it when once it is revealed to us. To resist it is to kick against the pricks. We can do this, for, though set apart for a work, we may refuse to follow it by our free-will, but at our great cost.
II. THE CALL. In the Acts of the Apostles the external details of the call of St. Paul are described; here he gives us only the internal experience. He only could give this, and this was the really important thing. The flashing light, the arrested journey, the audible voice, the blindness, were all accessories. The one important thing was the inward voice that brought conviction to the heart of the man. Every apostle needed a call from Christ to constitute him such. But every Christian has some Divine call. We have not the miracle to convey the call, and we do not want it. By the manifest claims that present themselves to us, by the discovery of our own powers and opportunities of service, by the promptings of our conscience, Christ calls us to our life's work, To see a work for Christ needing to be done, and to be able to do it, is a providential call to undertake it. It is a disastrous superstition that keeps us back while we wait for a more articulate voice. God's will is manifest in the indication of what is right. To know God's will is to be called to his service.
III. THE MISSION.
1. Its object. The revelation of Christ. St. Paul was to make Christ known. He was not to spread his own religious notions, but only to reveal Christ. He was not to teach a doctrinal Christianity so much as to show Christ himself. This was to be done, not only by his words, but also by his life. He was so to live Christ that men should see Christ in him. Thus Christ was to be revealed in him. Before he could preach Christ in words he must have the revelation of Christ in his own person. If we do not reveal Christ by our lives, all our words will count for little, being belied by our glaringly inconsistent conduct. If we act like Christ, the silent influence of our living will be the most clear and powerful setting forth of Christ.
2. The scope of the mission. St. Paul was to preach Christ among the Gentiles. His own special gospel was the message that God's grace in Christ extended to the whole world. It was not for his own sake nor even for the glory of Christ alone that he was called to his great mission. The highest missions are unselfish and beneficent. We are all called in some way to minister to others. We can do it in no way better than by revealing Christ to them in our actions as well as in our words. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,