No matter how many times I look at things, I’m amazed at how far we seem to be from the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
For years I’ve taught a message from 2 Corinthians 11:3 which reads as follows:
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.
Amazing word studies are found within this verse, but the area that always caught my attention was from the word “subtilty” which is the Greek word “panourgia” which is defined as trickery or sophistry.
Sophistry is defined in various ways, but the one that to me best describes how Satan works is “the art of argument without any real goal in sight; debate for the sake of debate.” Satan loves to draw us away from simple truths into incredibly intelligently sounding arguments, that as Paul said, only gender strife and don’t produce faith. We must always be on guard against this.
In one commentary Satan is called “the supreme sophist” which, I think fits him rather well. What is absolute evident, no matter how you look at it, is that he has consistently been at work, confusing and cluttering the minds of God’s people with discussion upon discussion about peripheral truths to keep them away from pertinent truth – truth that determines your destiny and life in the here and now.
I think God’s people are confused enough by the world, without us preachers helping them along their clouded way! It has always been, and will always be, the entrance of God’s word that brings light. It seems some are getting bored with the ageless message of “its the Truth that will set you free,” but nevertheless, it is still THE message of the bible.
An evangelist I know whom I haven’t seen in years (as he remains almost constantly on the mission field in past soviet nations), David Hathaway, said something once that I thought was the most profound truth I’d ever heard. David has tremendous signs and wonders in his ministry; amazing instantaneous miracles which bring many to Christ – He was asked by a Christian interviewer why he thought so many miracles happened in his meetings. David is an older, extremely humble man, and he hesitated a bit, then said, “Well, I think its because I talk about Jesus a lot.”
How utterly simple; how utterly beautiful! Folks we speak to nowadays are so hungry for deep revelations, that often they find one so deep that they fall into it and never get out of it again.
I remember meeting a woman in Spain who everyone said was a prophet, and in speaking with her, she told me God had given her the revelation that she never had to read the Bible again, that He would speak directly to her. I said, “Really!” She wasn’t too happy with my next observations …
Although English seats of learning have fallen a long way from where they used to be (the English education system is now considered the worst in all Europe), they had it right in the beginning. I was with friends the other day discussing this and they shared with me how some seven hundred years ago, the original settings of Cambridge and Oxford were in simple quadrangles (which still exist). One side was the dormitory, the second side was the library, the third side was the chapel, and the fourth side was the eating hall.
For the first year, they weren’t allowed into the library. They slept, they ate and then they went to chapel. For the full first year they had to find out what God’s plan was, before they began to find out what man’s plan was. I wonder how much our school systems would change if we adopted that now? It will never happen in public schools, so thank God for Christian education!
Because our ministry is “known” for its messages on prayer, that’s what we’re asked to speak on most, which is understandable. However I find it a subtle trap that we all fall in, where we find ourselves preaching and teaching topics more than simply preaching Christ. Now I love to teach on prayer, but I’ve found that if I’m able to, like Paul, preach Christ well, and Him crucified and raised from the dead, people WILL pray. If I portray Jesus correctly, people worship. If I offer the Son of Man to people, they want to be generous towards His kingdom. I guess I’m simply trying to say lets be careful that we’re not guilty of the old adage of getting the cart before the horses.
Let’s keep things simple. God’s word to us says that signs and wonders will follow the preaching of the “Gospel.” I hear so many talking about darkness and death. It seems to me that somehow, when you hang around so much Life and Love, you’re just not that freaked out about all the death. I mean, isn’t that what happens from spending time with the Master? Don’t you come away strengthened, encouraged, comforted, and desirous of helping others? You may enter into the prayer closet feeling down or depressed, but I don’t think I’ve ever come out of it the same way, that’s for sure. I may feel extremely contrite for the correction that comes at times, but never rejected or frustrated, because Jesus simply doesn’t send His children away that way.
Now don’t get religious on me, I know we still have to define sin, offer correction and preach the whole counsel of God, but lets major on the major stuff, the goodness of God and His incredible mercy which is brand new every morning.
We must bring people back to the simplicity of the Gospel. Jesus Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. He did His job well, because to the lost, He was love personified. Isn’t it sad that in so many churches, even pastors sometime yawn when you tell them you’re going to speak on God’s love. That frightens me.
To be sure, let’s expound the scriptures well. We must teach the principles of faith, of prayer, of provision, and God’s way of deliverance, but let’s keep the headlines on pertinent truth, not peripheral truth. Amen?
Lets talk about Jesus a lot.