This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. Galatians 2:4-5 (NIV).
If something is as important to us as Jesus, then it’s probably a danger. Yes, I mean that. If we place something on the same level as the savior who personally saved each of us from eternal damnation, then we need to be very cautious about it.
This is especially true about matters of the church. Close communion, immersion as opposed to infant baptism, liturgical vs unstructured worship, the place of Mary and saints in prayer, the presence of Christ in the host and the wine, praise music vs hymn music, excommunication processes, all flavors of millennialism, the rapture, you name it: if these matters are of an equal importance to us as our faith in Jesus itself, then we had better, quickly, check our motivation. Those things can be co-opted by evil.
Take circumcision. In Paul’s mission work, some believers (likely former Jews) had pressed to adopt the doctrine that circumcision was a requirement for someone to be saved. That the new followers of Jesus had to be circumcised to be part of God’s family. Let’s give those folks the benefit of the doubt: perhaps they were only insisting on things they fervently, but good-naturedly, believed to be true for the good of Jesus’ kingdom.
Let’s believe that because, otherwise, they’re evil. Yep. Evil: the same kind of evil as Satan slithering in Eden, as the one who prompted Pharoah to kill the children of Goshen (or Herod the young boys in Judea). If we start putting conditions on Jesus, we take away from Jesus. Even worse, if we start putting conditions on what people must believe in order to be saved by Jesus, we make those conditions into an idol. A greater idol than Christ.
In Paul’s day, Titus was a witness of this. It was a good & Godly thing for the church leaders to boldly proclaim that the only thing required for salvation was belief in Jesus. Then as now, that’s a tough concept for some people to understand. After all, as people, it’s our natural inclination to put more structure around things, to pile-on conditions. But that’s not what Jesus ever said or did. All that was required for someone to be saved by Jesus was for them to believe in Him. Nothing else. Not then and not now, even when good people get it so very wrong.
For further reading: Acts 9:15, Acts 10:34, 1 Corinthians 15:11, 1 Thessalonians 2:4, 1 Timothy 1:11, Revelation 2:23, Galatians 2:6
Lord, help me today to see clearly how faith in You is the only requirement to be saved.
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