Pursuing the Simplicity of the Gospel: ConclusionMonday, July 09, 2012
My friend, Arthur Atsma, is a magician. He is simply incredible. I am amazed at all the tricks and slight-of-hand that he does. Usually I am "wowed" with my jaw dropping, wondering how he does it.
One day I was in a workshop he was doing for teenagers. I have two teenagers who were there, so I figured they needed an adult to tag along. Secretly, of course, I had the heart of a teenager and wanted to learn how to do some of the tricks he would teach them how to do.
As we sat through the workshop he explained, point by point, how he performed one of the tricks he did in an earlier session that was open to the public. As he walked us through it one step at a time I got to the end and was simply amazed that the trick was so...well...simple! I felt like a massively complex equation just got solved...and that I could do it too in front of my friends!
This is something of an illustration on what happens to people when they discover how simple the gospel is. Religion makes a relationship with God complex, and this is what most people are familiar with when it comes to thoughts of God and sin. But forgiveness is no magic! Yet when it is explained in all its biblical simplicity, I've seen people - christians and unbelievers alike - respond with stunning amazement that something so huge could be so simple!
And it IS simple! You're a sinner. God searched for you and found you. God forgave you. And God rejoices over recovering you.
So this brings me to two questions in closing then, both of which are about how you keep the gospel simple, both in your own mind and then in how you portray it to others.
First, do you meditate on this everyday? I gave you an outline or structure in the previous post so you'd have something to pray over and think through and rejoice inevery single day of your life. K.I.S.S. was a good acrostic my dad taught me when I was younger: Keep It Simple Son!
We often lose the joy of oursalvation because we lose the simplicity of our salvation. We learn all the segrand and glorious truths about salvation and the doctrines of grace and justification, reconciliation, sanctification, glorification, election, redemption,and all these other "tions". But in spending too much time on these truths the gospel goes from simple to being complex, and our minds wander, thinking about things that are too difficult for us sometimes.
This leads us to get confused, putting pieces together that probably don't go together. And in our attempt to try to solve the theological puzzles of history we lose sight of the simplicity of the very thing we're studying. We were lost but God found us! We were sinners and God forgave us!
Second, if you meditate on this everyday, I guarantee you that you'll experience a more simplistic approach to evangelism in your local church. You'll probably find yourself hanging out with a different kind of sinner...those who know they're sinners, and not those who are self righteous...those who know they're sick, and not those who think they are well.
And when you do find yourself hanging out with prostitutes, notorious sinners, scumbags, and prodigal sons, you will also find yourself communicating to them a simple message: You're lost, God is searching for you and He's found you because I'm here talking to you now, and He's forgiven you, and He's rejoicing that He's recovered you.
I have great respect for Evangelism Explosion, Christian Witness Training, The Way of the Master, the Romans Road and other "plans of salvation." But if you've worked your way through this series then you've seen for yourself how much more simple it really is right here in Luke 15. It's about the forgiveness of sins, plain and simple.
Sure there may be other things you need to discuss to clear the forest, so to speak, and help the sinner see who they really are. But target first those who know they are sinners, not those with whom you've got to argue til you're blue in the face.
Seek and save the lost, and not the self-righteous and you're work of evangelism in your local churches will be much more effective and fruitful.
About the Author: Rob is a entrepreneur in Statesboro, GA, where he envisions and pursues missional-shaped business for the kingdom. He and his wife Sherri have been married for 18 years and together have three sons and a daughter. Rob believes the mission of the gospel is summed up in four simple phrases: know God, obey Jesus, make disciples, and plant churches. This is the pursuit of his life, as well as the point of his blog.