God’s In The Story
As Pastor Jim and I have been preaching through the Galatians series, “Freedom: Liberated Forever,” I have been reminded yet again how powerful stories are in our lives and ministry. In Galatians 2, Paul used a story to illustrate the truth and power of the gospel message.
In our message last weekend, Paul taught us that he set before the apostles and leaders in Jerusalem the gospel he preached to the Gentiles. What I found interesting was how the apostle Paul in Galatians 2:3 used the life of Titus to verify the truth of the gospel. “Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek.”
At first glance, it appears to be a passing statement, but Paul’s intent was not to give trivial details. Paul was purposeful, so I am convinced that this statement was meant to be an argument. This then begs the question, “How was Titus not being compelled to be circumcised an argument?”
Remember in context, there was a group of individuals (Judaizers) that was trying to discredit Paul as an authoritative messenger and in so doing they distorted the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Galatians 2, Paul went up to Jerusalem to present the gospel he preached and Titus went with him. I believe Titus went with Paul to tell a personal story (e.g. testimony) of what the God had done in his life.
Paul did not explain why Titus went with him and he did not elaborate as to why Titus was not compelled to be circumcised. Paul likely didn’t explain because he knew that whenever he proclaimed the gospel message there was a definite response. To some “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
I believe one of the primary reasons Titus was not compelled to be circumcised was because the gospel changed his life. When Titus received the gospel message, he was transformed. The gospel is more than a historical event (e.g. Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead), it is the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Titus didn’t feel compelled to be circumcised because he recognized it would distort the gospel. Life-change and a right standing wasn’t based upon his performance, but upon God’s grace.
In other words, Titus’ testimony verified to the other apostles and leaders in Jerusalem that Paul’s gospel was true! Paul took Titus with him as a testimony of God’s power. I believe that just as Cornelius’ conversion was a visible testimony of God’s power to the Jewish leaders in Peter’s ministry so Titus’s conversion was a visible testimony of God’s power in Paul’s ministry.
Paul used Titus’ story to verify the truth and power of God. I believe this is a clarion call for us to be intentional about building a culture at Highlands that allows our people to share how God has transformed their lives. Stories are powerful. People remember stories. God’s in the story. Let’s be a church that lets “our light to shine before others so that they will see our good deeds and give glory to God who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) If you want to learn how to share your story in way that is clear and concise, we just started a class at the Kent campus. The class meets on Sunday mornings at 9:30 in room 205.