Beginning in Galatians 1:11, Paul launches out with an explanation of the source of this wonderful message of salvation by grace alone. If you knew Paul, then you knew there wasn’t a more “religious” man in the world. He 15 supernaturaldescribed himself as a “Pharisee of Pharisees,” a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” “of the tribe of Benjamin,” “blameless under the law,” and “more zealous” than the normal religious person. It wasn’t going to be easy to break through his extreme religious position. He heard the Gospel from people more than once in my opinion and it had no effect. We know he heard Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7, but he still held his coat while he was stoned to death. No man convinced him of the truth. It took a supernatural intervention in Paul’s life, just like it did with Peter, to break through his religious zeal and convince him of the truth. God struck him down on the road to Damascus and blinded him to get his attention.

In Galatians 1:11-13 he explains the source of his message. He says, “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 I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.” I find it interesting that extreme religious zealots often destroy others. They are so threatened by any disagreement that they over react and the history of world-wide religious expression bears witness to this truth. Most of the atrocities in the world today are the outflow of some kind of religious zeal. Overzealous religious people will either destroy others or according to Solomon will destroy themselves. In Ecclesiastes 7:16, the wisest man in the world tells us “Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?” Religious zeal, at its worst, makes murderers of us all. At its best it makes enemies of us all. But God sent Jesus to reconcile us with Himself and then gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

Religious zeal takes supernatural action to break through. That’s what the Lord did for Paul. I would argue it still takes supernatural action by the Holy Spirit to break through the hard hearts of people today with the Gospel message. We’re either hard core set on secular religious zeal of some kind (evolution?), or we’ve been indoctrinated into some kind of religious expression through which the grace of God must break into through some supernatural event. The Holy Spirit, God’s supernatural agent in the world today, is always convicting us of our sin and of our need for a savior. He is at work in the world today to break through hard, zealous hearts, to bring God’s grace to us all through Jesus Christ. God’s grace breaks through hard hearts and replaces stress and strife with God’s peace. Paul is always commending “Grace and Peace” to us because that’s what comes when Christ brings salvation to overzealous people.