Simplicity in Christ

“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” (2 Corinthians 11:3).  There is great simplicity in Christ and in His gospel.

The way of salvation is simple.  It involves no secret initiations, no mysterious experiences, no showy displays or impressive rituals by a clergy.  It begins by hearing the gospel (John 6:44-45), which was completed in revelation some two thousand years ago, and proceeds with belief in the message (Romans 10:10), repentance – a change of mind (Acts 2:38), confession of the truth of Jesus Christ as Lord (Romans 10:10), and baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).  “It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).  The New Testament plan of salvation is just too simple for those enamored with the wisdom of this world.

The worship of the church is simple.  The New Testament shows that saints in the first century offered up worship to God through prayers (Acts 2:42), through singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:18-19), through teaching and study of the word of God (Acts 2:42), through the eating of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23ff), and through a common collection (1 Corinthians 16:1-4) described by Paul as “a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice” (Philippians 4:18).  To this simple worship men have added mechanical instruments, pleasing to the human ear, clapping, drama, and entertainment.  As a result, man is impressed, and many feel saved but aren’t.  And even straying Christians relegate the simple worship of the church to the dust-heap of “outdated,” while attempting to assign it a somewhat respectable description of “traditional.”  The worship of the church as divinely-prescribed in the New Testament is just too simple for those in love with the wisdom of this world.

The organization of the church is simple.  The New Testament knows nothing of any universal organization of Christians.  Rather, saints organized themselves into independent, autonomous churches or congregations (Philippians 1:1), each ruled by its own plurality of elders (Acts 14:23), answering to no organizational hierarchy, answering only to Christ the Head.  God was pleased and glorified when this pattern was followed. 

But men are often not pleased with the simple, and here’s the point:  The issue comes down to this:  Will we, in holiness with reverence and godly fear, do just what God has directed in His word, in which case He is glorified, or will we add to, take away, or substitute something which originates with man, in which case man is glorified and God is profaned?  “By those who come near Me, I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified” (Leviticus 10:3).

                                 -Larry Jones