"The Titus Test"
These first 14 verses deal with a conflict around salvation. What does it take in order to be saved? What demands can I place upon you about salvation? The positive way to think about this section is to see how much freedom we have in Christ.
The Titus Test
A. I would like you to ponder the following questions:
1. Is baptism the most important part of our salvation process?
2. Is the church in which you choose to attend a determining factor in your salvation?
3. How much do I need to know in order to be baptized? Can a 5 year old know that much? A 13 yr old?
4. Why do say some commands are custom and others are doctrine? For example 4 times we are commanded to greet each other with a holy kiss but we don’t.
B. The list could go on, but some of you are already unsure and uncomfortable where this is going. As individuals and as a congregation we have practical application to the questions stated.
C. But we often use that list and other factors to determine if someone we know is “saved.” They call themselves a Christian, they attend some church often, but they believe differently than we do on what we call “salvation issues.” Where do we go to that list that makes us right and them wrong? Personal feelings and personal interpretations are not the same as absolute doctrine by God about salvation. What test can we use to determine someone else’s salvation?
I. The Importance of Spiritual Freedom
A. Most of here would agree that in repentant faith we call upon Jesus and make him the Lord of our life by accepting his grace and being baptized into him, but not everyone would agree with that teaching.
B. It starts in the first two verses (READ Gal. 2:1-2). Paul had a revelation that he was to go to Jerusalem because of the controversy about how Gentiles should find the same grace and redemption that Jew had through Jesus. The question was simply “Is Paul teaching the right Gospel to the Gentiles?” Does circumcision have spiritual value?
C. Those are not bad questions, especially if you were a Jew and had grown up with teachings about circumcision and being the chosen people from all the nations on earth. The problem is, it really becomes spiritual racism. It is seeing one group as a higher spiritual class of people than other because of a past theology. Titus is the test case here (Vs 3)
D. For Paul the gospel is about freedom, not restriction. It was about an abundant life, not a duty faith. It was the gospel of grace, not a gospel of human perfection. Look at how Paul got worked up (Gal. 2:4-5). Paul went on the offense in Jerusalem. He did so because he would not let the Gentiles become spiritual slaves in the eyes of Christian Jews. Jesus, not Paul, opened that door that salvation would be to all people. There are some battles you have to fight, not for you but for all those who are affected if you don’t.
E. What I want you to understand is that Paul’s desire was not to make this into a public spectacle. I believe the reason why is because Paul loved the church and when unbelievers see believers fighting among themselves, they only grow stronger in their anti-Christians mindset. Paul wasn’t going down that road so he did the best he could to keep this a private matter.
F. Before you decide to make a matter into a larger issue, let me caution you to consider who is listening to your words and watching your actions. If the place has children in it, watch yourself. Growing up, I was aware of church fights. So much so that my friends in Sunday school and that I went to public school with, began to be at odds with each other because our parents were fighting in the church building.
G. Paul wants to remind the Galatian Christians that he was privately fighting for their spiritual freedom. He saw them as valuable and wanted the truth of freedom given by Jesus to applied to everyone.
H. So in what seemed to be a closed assembly, Paul shares what he has been teaching. Listen to what Paul says (Gal. 2:6-10). “The right hand of fellowship.” I love that phrase. Paul says by the time the discussion was over, so was the conflict. We left as brothers with one mind.
II. Freedom In Christ
A. Galatians was written to remind Christians about the freedom we have in Christ. When people or churches, bind where God has not bound, people suffer. The driver behind binding things upon others is control. For those who strongly believe that binding, they want to control the way others are perceived within the spiritual community. Traditions are not bad, they are just traditions. I like traditions. I have lots of them, but I have had to learn what is a tradition and what is absolute command.
B. I love how Paul deals with topic in Romans 14, 15. I want to center in on a few verses (Rom. 14:15-16; 20-21). Here is what I know. My freedom ends if it cause you to throw away your salvation. It doesn’t end if it just upsets you. You might be a cantankerous person. That’s your problem. I am not your punching bag. But if my liberty in Christ is acted upon in such a way as to cause you to stumble in your faith, it is no longer freedom.
C. I will never walk away from standing for truth in salvation. I will not budge one bit on speaking the truth about how a person comes to a saving relationship with Jesus. But in matters that are outside eternal salvation, I will extend great grace for people to disagree and live at peace. Not forcing one person to change to please another, but learning to live at peace and both continuing on together with different opinions.
A. I will fight for the freedom we have in Christ and not bind my views upon anothers salvation. Yes, there is one way to the Father, through Jesus. Yes, Jesus died for my sin and I need to respond in such a way as to gain salvation.
B. When you and I disagree, I want us to be able to extend to each other the right hand of fellowship. Because you are my brother. If we are both willing to let God speak to us through His word, I believe the Spirit will open our eyes that we may see truth. I extent that hand to you today.
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister