As a culture, we have an obsession with transformation stories as shown in some popular television reality series: Extreme Makeover (plastic surgery, clothing, hair/makeup), the Biggest Loser - transforming your physical body; Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Trading Spaces - transforming your living space; Kitchen Nightmares, Restaurant:Impossible - transforming businesses.
There is something within us that loves and is inspired to see people’s lives transformed. There is always a beginning state: feeling unattractive, overweight, failing business - then someone or something comes along to help (experts - trainers, surgeons, carpenters, chefs) and then the person or situation is completely different.
We are always amazed and impressed by these transformations. God loves transformation too and life/soul transformation is His specialty!
With that in mind, let's look at the apostle Paul’s testimony of transformation in the book of Galatians.
This letter was written by the apostle Paul to the church in Galatia. Paul had previously visited this church and had taught them the good news that they are saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone.
But after he left, other teachers came in called Judiazers: these were Jewish Christians who started teaching the people they needed to be circumcised and follow the Jewish law in order to be saved. Not only that, they were trying to discredit Paul and his teaching.
This made Paul upset because they were trying to pervert the gospel as well as discredit him. In Galatians 1:11-24, Paul tells the Galatians his testimony to show the authority and credibility of his teaching.
Paul used his testimony for different purposes when sharing with people and emphasized different things. Sometimes Paul emphasized who his teachers were, or explained his exact encounter with Christ (Acts 9).
In Galatians Paul’s testimony was to show that his knowledge about Christ did not come from the church in Jerusalem, but from God Himself. And so he decided to expand upon what happened after receiving Christ. In Gal 1:16-22 He tells us that the did not consult any human being but instead went into Arabia and Damascus. Then after 3 years, briefly visited Jerusalem and got to know the other apostles.
The result: Gal 1:22-24 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.
God is praised because of Paul’s extreme makeover.
What can we learn from Paul’s testimony? 1) What is your testimony? What is your personal experience of God? God is the miracle worker - each of us has a unique testimony. He can and will work to call people to Himself in His time and way. 2) What is the gospel you believe? Is it the true gospel? Bad news: Judgement is coming. Good news - God wants to save us from judgement and has done so through Jesus Christ. Saved by grace! 3) How are you growing in your faith and making it your own? How are you putting yourself in places to experience God? 4) How do you want your life to transform others? How can you be living out God’s purpose in your life? Sharing your testimony with the people in your life can help to bring peace and hope and love to the places you live and work and play.
Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt 5:16)
Gal 1:24 And they praised God because of me.
May God be transforming us all and giving us an extreme makeover for His glory.