I’ve been thinking recently how the teachings of Jesus can be captured in a few simple ideas that even a child can understand:
“Believe in me”:
Throughout history God has spoken through prophets, angels, scriptures, stone tablets, and even a donkey. But in his final attempt to reach our darkened hearts He sent His Son. “The Word became flesh and lived among us”. He loved us, taught us, and showed us the true face of His Father. God did not reveal himself as a philosophy, a set of commands, a book, or a religion, because none of those means could accomplish the task of “making all things new.” Only Jesus could could accomplish such a thing. And so He presented Himself in evidence and issued a simple invitation: “Believe in me”.
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38
“Seek first the Kingdom”: (Matthew 6:33)
Jesus didn’t come to simply save us from our sins. He came to remake the world; to offer the human race a “do-over”. He is not merely the Savior of my soul or the centerpiece of the church; He is the center of ALL things. “[God] planned to bring all of history to its goal in Christ. Then Christ would be the head of everything in heaven and on earth.” (Ephesians 1:10) We modern believers are still weak on this concept, wanting to reduce the gospel to a personal experience and roadmap to a future in Heaven. But that is not the Kingdom! The Kingdom is that universal dream for a perfect world that every person carries in his heart. Newsflash! God carries that same dream!
Love one another: (John 13:34)
Nothing could be more simple. Jesus said the world would actually recognize us by our love. So they do, right? Not quite. They sometimes recognize us by our judgments, boycotts, and religious pride. Other times they don’t recognize us at all. If we were to actually demonstrate this one thing – loving others supremely – the world would virtually throw open it’s heart to the Gospel!
And finally – after we’ve begun to master these first three commands, we are called to make disciples of others who will make disciple of still others in this rich and living way that puts the world back together again and fills everything with glory.
5 thoughts on “Keeping it simple”
Beautifully written, Don!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Love this! Very beautiful. ❤
LikeLiked by 1 person
Don, you always write so beautifully. But I have to ask, what in all of scripture gives even a hint that the ppl of the world would virtually throw open its heart to the Gospel? Jesus did all of that perfectly. Did they throw open their hearts? Or did they crucify Him? Hmmm let’s see. … yep they crucified Him.
While I agree with everything you wrote about keeping it simple, I think it’s wrong to assume that if it’s done right ppl will flock to it with open arms.
I have a Voice Of The Martyrs calendar. Ppl who have loved Him so much they put themselves in harms way to share the Gospel. Many of them are tortured for loving those ppl sacrificially into the Kingdom. There are those who will continue to torture and those who are won by the sacrifice of others. But all will not throw open their hearts to accept it.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Susie! Please forgive me for not answering your question. It’s a very good one which deserves an answer. And as you can see, I’ve been negligent of this site for many months.
First off, I agree with you that there will always be those who resist the gospel. I think that’s abundantly clear in the scriptures. And while I understand your point about people resisting Jesus himself, I don’t think that alone is a compelling argument to assume that the vast majority of people will always resist the gospel. In your last sentence you say, “But all will not throw open their hearts to accept it.” Again, I agree. (You seem to be putting those words in my mouth).
Being the Son of God, Jesus had a unique ministry. 2 Corinthians 5:18 tells us Jesus did the WORK of reconciling the world to himself, but he gave us the “ministry, (the message), of reconciliation”. There’s a distinction between what he could do, (die on the cross), and what we are given to do (carry the message). In the gospels, for instance, we don’t see Jesus going about holding evangelistic meetings, (so to speak), but rather telling stories about the Kingdom, explaining what it was like, demonstrating it, and finally going to the cross to secure it.
But then in John 14:12 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” The Greek word translated “greater” here refers to both quantity as well as quality. I think this has always been a loaded verse for most of us, but it does have meaning, and whatever it means, I think it’s safe to say that Jesus is encouraging us not to limit what the Father will do in and through us by what we have seen in His own ministry and miracles. Pentecost, for example, with three thousand coming to faith in a single afternoon doesn’t seem to have a counterpart in the ministry of Jesus.
But here’s another promise from the Old Testament:
“… it will come about that in the last days
The mountain of the house of the Lord
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
And many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples;
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war. (Isaiah 2:2-4).
This promise clearly says that people and nations WILL “stream” to the mountain of the Lord, (the place of God’s authority… the Kingdom). I firmly believe this. And I firmly believe that one of the things that holds stands in the way of that world-wide response to the Gospel is that we have preached only half a message, and modeled even less. When we begin to preach the full message Jesus preached, (the Kingdom), under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, (as he did), we will be amazed at what will happen.
Now there’s another verse that I’ll bet is Gino g you trouble: the “broad way” and “the narrow way”. I’ll try to address that soon in another post.
Your friend and brother…. Don
Hey Susie! Excellent observation and question. I believe persecution and martyrdom will be endemic to the church until the Kingdom is fully formed. (How can the world see us loving our enemies if we have no enemies?) But when I say the nations will throw open their hearts I’m not suggesting that every person will come to Jesus, but there IS ample scriptural evidence that there is coming a time when the nations will be welcoming the Kingdom:
Regarding your first observation about Jesus being all these things and still being crucified, that was clearly the case, and I agree with you. But remember several things: Jesus was localized, in and around Judea, and He was not fully revealed and understood until he was resurrected from the dead and the Holy Spirit was given to the church to carry on His ministry. So I don’t think that’s an appropriate analogy. Now that he has been glorified and enthroned as the King of Kings everything has changed.
In Isaiah 60:3 we’re told that when the glory of God rises upon God’s people – (the glory being the invisible character of God; His love, his beauty, his justice, his kindness…. when it becomes visible in God’s people themselves)… then “Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.”
That thought is echoed again in Micah 4:2 “Many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.”
“On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:2)
Also John 17:22-23 “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”
We haven’t seen this kind of loving unity since the early days of the church when indeed the nations were opening their hearts to the good news of the Kingdom. But it’s been centuries since the world has seen a pure form of Christianity that demonstrates true unity and love, not to mention a Kingdom message that offers hope for a redeemed world. Regarding this, “… the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.”
I hope this helps.