Years ago I was preaching in Vancouver, Canada. My talk emphasized the simple way the Bible presents the good news about God’s salvation. A university professor was affronted by my message. “If I have to come to God like a child,” he huffed, “I won’t come.”
“Have you always felt this hatred for children?” I asked.
“What do you mean by that?” He was evidently offended by my impertinent question.
“It seems you’re saying you would be pleased if God had designed a system of thinking on the subject that could only be grasped by intellectuals like yourself. Then consign the rest of us to hell, right?”
“I certainly didn’t mean that!” he responded, slightly chastened.
“Well, sir,” I replied, “the God of the Bible is so large-hearted that He designed a way of salvation not only for you, but also for the little children I think you really are fond of — in fact, for an illiterate beggar on a street in Mumbai. Or a thief hanging on a cross. God never met a sinner He doesn’t love, according to the famous John 3:16, and thankfully that includes you and me.”
It’s a misunderstanding that if the gospel is simple it must be overly simplistic. Here we need to make a distinction.
Imagine sitting down to a nice meal. Must you understand the wonders of digestion before you can enjoy it? Before you take a bite, must you answer the question, “Why don’t the enzymes that break down this steak also break down the cells that produce them?”
There’s a great difference between knowing enough to operate a car or knowing enough to design one. If you think the gospel is so simple, explain books like Romans and Hebrews to me. But to enjoy it, that’s as simple as ABC.
The Bible is a masterpiece of literature, the world’s all-time best seller since first printed by Gutenberg in 1455. It still is! Like any great literary work, it has complexities that require careful thought. In fact, the first commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart…and with all your mind.” (Lk 10:27) It’s not a trade-off. No need to commit intellectual suicide. But the basic message is the way I like my doctor to speak—give it to me straight and simple. So here it is.
A. AGREEMENT with God about the problem. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23) We are more sinful than we think, but more loved than we could ever imagine. A relationship with God requires honesty. We know we don’t even meet our own standards, let alone God’s.
B. BELIEF in God’s solution. We can’t fix ourselves; we need a Savior. This is not mere mental ascent; it’s a matter of transferring your trust from what you presently think to accepting God’s answer. “The Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” (Gal 3:22)
C. CONFIDENCE in God’s Word. Here is Christ’s promise: “Assuredly, I say to you, He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (Jn 5:24)
And that’s the gospel truth.
Jabe Nicholson of Starkville is an author and publisher. He loves engaging with people on life’s key issues. Reach him at [email protected] or visit www.uplook.tv,