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The Simplicity of the gospel

December 30, 2008


God be thanked for the simplicity of the gospel. The longer I live, the more I bless God that we have not received a classical gospel, nor a mathematical gospel, nor a metaphysical gospel; it is not a gospel confined to scholars and men of genius, but a poor man’s gospel, a ploughman’s gospel; for that is the kind of gospel which we can live upon and die upon. It is to us not the luxury of refinement, but the staple food of life. We want no fine words when the heart is heavy, neither do we need deep problems when we are lying upon the verge of eternity, weak in body and tempted in mind. At such times we magnify the blessed simplicity of the gospel. Jesus in the flesh made manifest becomes our soul’s bread. Jesus bleeding on the cross, a substitute for sinners, is our soul’s drink. This is the gospel for babes, and strong men want no more.

-Charles Spurgeon

   There is a time and place for fine tuning our theological distinctions and differences. I have spent more hours fixated on the nuances of a single theological point than I have on the simplicity of the gospel.  I think many of us have, and in doing so we form divisions and camps and groups. We form sides as if we were enemies instead of brothers. Sometimes it is good to take a step back and refresh our hearts with what unites us, a simple gospel makes the Church, not the finer points that we argue over.

  Imagine if in presenting the gospel to a lost family member or coworker, that you had to present a complex metaphysical explanation on exactly how the death of Jesus was applied to that specific person…I imagine it would sound similar to this:

-Well John, to be saved you must have faith  that Jesus died for the whole world (but world doesn’t always mean everyone)  and that He only applies the benefits of His death to those he has chosen or  elected to be saved by Him (even though, some do not believe there such a thing as the elect). Of which, if you are one of the elect, you were chosen by God before He even created man, before he allowed man to sin (or after he allowed man to sin according to some), plunging the whole human race into rebellion of  total (or partial, depends on who you ask) denial of God and before (or after) he provided a savior to save the  part of His creation we call the elect.  You see, because Jesus is God, his human death is sufficient to pay for the sins of all men in all times, but you do not get to benefit from that bottomless well of forgiveness unless you are one of those he specifically died for and even then you are not covered until the Spirit applies that payment to your account, He does this when He gives you the faith and wisdom you need to understand  all of this.

   The gospel is simple. The greatest theologian of all time preached the gospel on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received – that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures – 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4

It is this simple gospel that unites us all. Arminians, Baptists, Congregationalists and Calvinists. While there is a place to parse the finer distinctions of theology, there is no place to build divisions that separate us from each other.  Who has the gall to declare someone is not saved because they think Jesus died for all men? Who can rightfully declare a group heretical because they believe the mechanics of salvation are more complex than a simple statement that Christ died for <insert group here>?

Those joined by God through the gospel have no place to separate others with a theological scalpel. 

While it may be a complex undertaking to understand exactly how the gospel works the way it does, it is a simple undertaking to hear and believe the gospel. 

Now please excuse me, I have to get back to studying when God decided to make eyelashes and why did He put them on my eyelids.

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