The Simplicity of the Gospel
People stumble over the simplest of things. We stub our toes on the bed frame or the coffee table. We trip in the parking lot over a pebble. We sprain our ankles tripping over a small cavity in the back yard. People stumble.
The children of Israel had everything going for them. God had promised Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) a land, a nation and a blessing for every family on the earth. The Israelites were direct descendants of Abraham and beneficiaries of the promise. Isaiah the prophet foretold (Isaiah 40:3) of a messenger who would prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. The messenger turned out to be John the Baptist. "For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight'" (Matthew 3:3). John fulfilled his mission. "The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'' (John 1:29). "And he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God!'" (John 1:36). They had Abraham. They had Isaiah and the other prophets. They had John. They all told the same story of one from God who would do everything they really needed to be done for them. What was the problem?
Paul attributes the problem to a lack of faith (Romans 9:32). They could not get it done due to a lack of faith. Seems like nothing has really changed, doesnt it?
The Gospel is simple. It takes no great intellect to read the story of Jesus, and realize that after His resurrection, He had a message for the entire world that needed to be and would be carried across the lands. "And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned'" (Mark 16:15-16). "And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age'" (Matthew 28:18-20). Friends and brethren, that is not hard to understand. One would have to try real hard to make it difficult to understand. One would have to work diligently to remove preaching from the process. It is there. It cannot be removed. Preach the gospel.... Make disciples.... The message must be communicated by men. "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe" (1 Corinthians 1:21). It may be folly to some, but it is anything but folly to the Savior of the world. Men are to preach the gospel to those who do not know it and to those who need to grow in it (2 Peter 3:18).
Secondly, it is impossible to remove baptism from this commission and from the process of salvation. Making disciples includes baptizing them (v. 19). Once the gospel has been preached, Jesus said that believers and those who are baptized will be saved. Baptism cannot be removed from the salvation process.
Baptism is one of those little pebbles over which people keep stumbling. And when people stumble over baptism, which Jesus commanded, those who stumble are actually falling down face first over Jesus. A five (or six) step process of salvation is too simple. (Number six being the faithful life of a Christian). From preaching to baptism, it all makes sense, if you simply let Jesus and His prophets say what they said.
Most of my audience, if you are still with me to this point, will agree with everything I have written to this point. Let us make some applications.
Christianity is simple.
Authority is simple. "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3:17).
The work of the church is simple. Evangelism, Edification and Internal Benevolence Can anyone please find justification for broadening the work of the church? I have been looking all my Christian life, but it just is not there.
Congregational worship is simple. Singing (not playing) psalms, hymns and spiritual songs is authorized, even commanded. Praying, Teaching and Preaching, Local congregational collection for the work of the local church, and, 1 Corinthians 11:18, when the church comes together as a church they are to observe the Lords Supper, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25, on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). People have been and will continue to violate every hermeneutical principle used in every walk of life to pervert the scriptures to alter that pattern of worship. They want to justify playing of instruments, humming, being silent during singing, and it cannot be done. The simple pattern of prayer done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40) is twisted to make it babbling (they call it tongues), group chants, chain feel good sessions, et. al. The observable command to preach the gospel has seen its simplicity obliterated to expand to the erection and support of human institutions of higher learning. The whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) is not preached in many pulpits today for fear of the people. The local congregational collection on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2) has been abandoned to include yard sales, raffles, collections at every service, and just about anything else imaginable to raise money for projects undertaken by the local church. Christians do not come together as a church for the Lords Supper, but choose to take it on the beach, in their car, in a State Park, in a hunting lodge, in a motel room, whatever suits their convenience. Divinely approved worship is not that hard. Book chapter and verse authority will work every time.
Creation is simple. "God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day" (Genesis 1:5). What is hard about that? Nothing.
Divorce and remarriage is simple. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). Jesus allowed it in one very specific circumstance (Matthew 19:9). That is not hard.
In writing this article, I, in no way, seek to demean anyone who does not understand the gospel. I do, however, desire to expose false teachers who prey on the tender hearts of those who seek the truth by filling those tender hearts with confusion and lies.
Dear reader, please understand that the Lord Jesus who died to save your soul did so out of love. He wants you to be saved. He does not want you to be confused. It is just that simple.