The simplicity of the Gospel
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:33) T here are some things that are just too complicated and difficult to understand.
There are some that have a great understanding of science and biology and have some understanding how the human body functions and can tell one what needs to take place if they are sick, and we are thankful for the doctors and nurses that are able to care for the sick.
Some understand the law and can give counsel when legal issues arise, some uphold the laws in the land and patrol the community to protect and serve as law enforcement.
Although there are some that may understand some things, others may find it too complicated and difficult to understand. Thanks be to God, who has not given us a Law which cannot be understood, but rather, He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and has done so in a way that it can be understood.
Some have stated the Bible is written in such a way that someone with the ability of a seventh-grade student can understand the Bible, and that the average length of the words in the Bible are five letters long. Many people will read the works of Shakespeare or Mark Twain and will marvel over the literary works they have provided, some will study Socrates or Plato and marvel at the depth and insight into philosophy, but when it comes to the Gospel, people will begin to say that it is too difficult to read and understand. God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33), and as He has supplied us with His Word, and warned us that we will be judged from His Word (John 12:48), we can be thankful that God has communicated with man in such a way that we might be able to understand it. The simplicity of the Gospel is seen in its doctrine. Jesus stated that the world will be judged according to the Word (John 12:48). We will not be judged according to things that are too difficult to comprehend, neither will we be judged according to things that cannot be read, studied, and obeyed.
When we stand before the judgment seat of Jesus, we will be judged on the Word that God has so graciously given to us. This Word is more readily available today than ever before, and just as there may be areas in this world that restrict use of the Word, we are still able to have our smart phones (and those smart phones are able to provide the Word of God in one way or another).
Our heavenly Father is not the author of confusion and has given His Word in such a way that we can read and apply what we read. There is no need to have a meeting of the minds to determine what a man must do in order to be saved, we do not need extra writings to supply the commands that are not found within the Bible, and as God has supplied us with His Word, we are able to search the Word, and do what the Bible says, the way the Bible says to do it. God has given us the power unto salvation, which is the Word (Romans 1:16). If we simply study the Word and rightly divide the Word (2 Tim. 2:15), we can be pleasing to God.
The simplicity of the Gospel is also seen it how one obeys the commands found within. Paul wrote to the Romans, expressing gratitude because they were able to obey the form of doctrine which was delivered to them (Rom. 6:17). Those in Thessalonica were reminded that God would take vengeance on those that knew not God and obeyed not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1:8). Since God has delivered His Son for the sacrifice of our sins and has delivered His Word through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16-17), we are obligated to obey the doctrine delivered, taking advantage of the Sacrifice given on our behalf. The Gospel is simple and provides verse after verse to prove how man is to obey God, and yet there are some that argue or try to nullify things that are written, being in danger of Rev. 22:18-19. The Bible instructs us to obey by having faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6), but this faith is not a miraculous or mysterious occurrence. Faith is the concrete evidence that is gained by the study/hearing of God’s Word (Heb. 11:1; Rom. 10:17). Having studied the evidence supplied, we simply believe what is given. Jesus says those that do not believe He is the Christ will die in their sins (John 8:24).
This belief is not like a belief in the Easter bunny or Santa Claus, but this is a belief that is based upon actual, factual evidence supplied in God’s Word, which proclaims Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matt. 16:18).
After believing the evidence supplied, understanding Jesus had to die for us because we have sinned, and the wage of sin is death (Rom.
6:23), the one that desires to be pleasing to God must stop the practice of living in sin. When the Gospel was preached for the first time after Jesus ascended into heaven, as the apostles were proclaiming the Good News, there were some that cried out, wanting to know what to do to be saved, Peter did not tell them there was nothing to do because Jesus has already saved them, but Peter did tell them to “repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:37-38). It is the will of God that all should be saved but the only way this will take place is when one repents of sins (2 Peter 3:9; Acts 17:30).
After we stop the practice of sin, we should be willing to confess Jesus is the Christ.
Those that desire to be saved by Jesus cannot be ashamed or afraid to confess that He is Lord, and those that deny Him as such will be denied by Him in heaven (Matt.
10:32-33). This confession is more than simply saying “I believe Jesus is the Christ” but it is also a confession that is made by daily living, proving ourselves to be a part of the body of Christ.
Those that desire to be cleansed of sins by the blood of Jesus must be willing to have their sins washed away in the waters of baptism (Acts 22:16). Jesus stated he that believes and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:16).
Those that desire to be born again must be born of water and the spirit (John 3), putting Christ on in baptism (Gal. 3:27).
God is not the author of confusion, He has given the simple doctrine found in His Word, it can be obeyed because of its simplicity, and in His Word, we have the simplicity of worship supplied for us. God has not made worship so difficult that it can only be done by certain people, but it is so simple that anyone in any part of the world can do it.
Regardless of where we are in a multi-million-dollar facility or a mud hut with no electricity and running water, we can worship as God has commanded.
God has commanded that we pray (1 Thess. 5:17), and we are able to obey this command in worship.
God has commanded that we sing without the use of mechanical instruments (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). We do not have to depend upon one that is skilled in playing mechanical instruments, but all that are able to “speak to yourselves in psalms and hymns” can do so and be pleasing to God. Many will begin to argue this point, stating “God did not tell us we can’t use mechanical instruments” but be reminded God did not tell Noah not to use any other kinds of wood to build the ark but He did specify by telling him what to use (Genesis 6). God has specified that we are to sing which would exclude playing of mechanical instruments. God has commanded that the Word be preached (2 Tim. 4:2), this was done in the first century when the church came together (Acts 20:7) and is done in worship today. God has commanded that we give as we have prospered (1 Cor. 16:2), and those that desire to be pleasing to God can give with cheerfully as we obey His commands (2 Cor. 9:7).
God has also commanded that we partake of the Lord’s Supper, remembering the death of our Savior, each first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Regardless of what part of the world we may find ourselves in we can find the elements needed to partake of the Lord’s Supper (fruit of the vine and unleavened bread). We may not be able to find sweet tea and fried foods in other parts of the country like we can in the south, but we can find the elements needed to observe the memorial feast of the Lord. Our worship is not something that has to be so extravagant that it takes a multiplicity of people to be able to do it correctly but whether it be two or more that have come together, we can simply worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24).
God is not the author of confusion. He would not have us wandering around without hope, but if we take heed to the doctrine He has supplied, obey His commands, and worship Him correctly we can have a living hope (1 Peter 1:3).
Thanks be to God for the simplicity of the Gospel.
Jeremy Thornton is Minister of Highway 77 Church of Christ in Marion, Arkansas.