Friday, November 28, 2014

The Magnificent Simplicity


II Cor.11: But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

II Cor.11: But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (NAS)

Do not interpret the word “simplicity” as “easy”. The path which follows Jesus is simple but it is not easy. I like the word “purity” as given in other translations. When we add things or subtract things from the teachings of Jesus we have corrupted the Word and have created a human path rather than a divine one. Jesus Himself exhorted seekers to “count the cost”. It is easy to get all excited about Jesus but it is quite another to follow Him.

After the novelty wears off it is then we might see the depth of your commitment. But we live in a church world where men and women have softened and changed the Word so that they can have a larger ministry. The path laid out by Jesus does not resemble most of the evangelical world at all. You now have entertainment, human idols, secret revelations, and in general pulpiteering designed to satisfy and tickle the ears. Charles Finney once observed how incongruous it was when the sermon was on hell and yet people could file out smiling and shaking hands.

Read that verse again. It is demonic to tamper with the gospel. Men like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen and all the prosperity hucksters have done serious violence to the simple yet profound gospel. And in their wake churches by the tens of thousands preach and live a false gospel. It is difficult to fully live the gospel of Jesus Christ and when the flesh is presented with an easier way it jumps at the chance. The deception has become so widespread and so diabolical that men and women can say that this nation was created as a Christian nation and they say it with a straight face. Again, that kind of thinking makes the gospel impure and dull.

But we are called to share and to live the magnificent simplicity of the everlasting gospel. A hard road to be sure. We will have to deny ourselves the ingratiation offered by the western church and culture, and we must resist the temptation to compare ourselves with others. Our standard is the Word and the teachings of our Master. We have no license to learn the ways of the culture and the fallen kingdom all around us. The simple and hard and illuminated road is our calling which is filled with glory.

You see, what the modern church preaches and lives is a lie and filled with unbelief. It bears the fruit of them who have changed the Word in order to accommodate the flesh. And that often leads to a kind of universalism where anyone who makes any tepid profession is saved and the preacher never confronts church members from the pulpit as it pertains to worthless professions of faith. The bills are too high and the mortgage too demanding to run the risk of chasing givers away. And shallowness and emptiness gives birth to more of the same. While some churches preach some works based gospel most others preach a gospel without any cost and which they promise will prosper you in this life and the life to come.

But in the midst of all the religious noise can you hear the voice of the Spirit? Do you understand that in the midst of apostasy we now are given the individual responsibility of following Jesus? Do not lean on a preacher for in this western ecclesiastical structure he is busy building a kingdom. Do not lean on friends and family because most will not hear the Spirit because they are not listening. Christianity to most is little more than observing a few religious practices and then letting the preacher take care of all the rest.

Oh but the glory of the gospel which is filled with the glory of our Savior! Walk in that gospel presence every day. Incline your ear to His voice. Acknowledge His presence. Pray without ceasing. Rejoice evermore. Do not let your relationship with Christ become stale and worse yet a religious obligation. Stir up the gift that lives within you and endure hardness as a soldier. Humble yourself constantly and exalt Him alone. Let your speech be seasoned with grace. Cultivate a divine love for sinners and especially the true brethren. Consume the Word as if your life depended upon it. Pray with vigor and with a relentlessness and with a passion as if your plane was going down. Seek Him with all of your heart and do not be denied. Fall upon the Rock and let Him crush your flesh and break your being so you can be remade in His likeness once more. And realize that God has provided for us a way to Him that is simple and pure but which will have a high cost as the world counts cost. But now and in the end you will be blessed and showered with a glimpse of Him and the reality of His presence. And that, my friends, is a Pearl of great price!

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