Over forty years ago a long haired, scruffy, slightly smelly Jesus freak gave a piece of advice to a long haired Jesus freak wanna-be – me. Not sure whatever happened to that guy but his simple advice has pulled me through some rough times in my walk with the Lord. With deep sincerity, he looked me right in the eyes, “Don’t ever forget what Paul said,’Don’t be removed from the simplicity of the gospel'”.
Years later, when I discovered a wonderful thing called a Concordance I went in search of that Scripture. It is not there. I can only assume it was Paul his Bible study leader or Paul his barber who told him that. In any case, the wisdom of the warning has helped me many times over the years.
In these forty years of following Jesus I have hammered out my soteriology, my eschatology, my ecclesiology. I am still open to learning but I have a fairly good grasp on homiletics, hermeneutics and am just a dissertation away from earning my PhD in Pastoral Ministry. I am grateful for all I have learned but when the unanswerable storms of life come and I feel overwhelmed, disappointed with God, frustrated with His people or ready to give up on myself it isn’t all that information that carries me through. Instead, I think back to those days and that piece of advice given so sincerely, “Don’t be removed from the simplicity of the gospel”.
I think back to when I was a dumb 17 year old who thought Ezra was Esther’s sister, that Moses and Jesus lived at the same time because of the order to kill all the babies and that Dan and Beersheba were a husband and wife duo. I didn’t know what any of those 50 cent theological words meant and didn’t care. All I knew was Jesus loved me and I wanted to serve Him all my life.
Sometimes I wasn’t sure I loved Him. Sometimes I was upset with Him. I didn’t know diddly squat about church history or doctrine. All I knew was He had saved me, He loved me and I wanted to serve Him. When times have gotten rough I fall back to that point of helpless trust and it has held me firm through the roughest storms.
What is “the simplicity of the gospel”? What has sustained me through the most wicked enemy attacks? It is the most profound truth I have discovered in all my study: “Jesus loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so.” You can cling to that. It will carry you through. It is enough.
“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. (Luke 10:21 KJV)
2 Corinthians 11:3 KJV
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.