Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: simplicity of the gospel

What is Christian mission?

Do we think of mission as a structured work of the church whereby we elect a committee, choose a location to do mission work and then choose people to go there and be missionaries? What are the missionaries supposed to do when they get there?

The starting point for all Christian outreach is to tell others what God has done for us. Do we need a committee to tell us to do that? I hope not. It is possible for every person who has experienced the forgiveness of sins and freedom from the power of sin to tell others about what they have experienced and are experiencing daily as they walk and talk with God.

Sometimes organisation is needed to share the gospel in places far from home. But people are ill-equipped to be missionaries far from home if they have never been missionaries close to home.

Let’s not make it complicated. This is not an intellectual exercise, it is a matter of sharing from the heart about the most important thing in our life. Let’s encourage one another to freely tell what God has done for us.

Really Simple Theology

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure,
having this seal,
The Lord knoweth them that are his.
And,
Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Here in 2 Timothy 2:19 the Apostle Paul gives the ground rules for discerning whether or not I am a Christian.

The first rule is that salvation is not a one-sided transaction – it is not enough to say that I know God and that from now on I will be a Chriustian. The real question is “Does God know me?” Jesus warned that at the judgment there will be many who claim that they know Him and did many wonderful things in service to Him, yet He will reply “I never knew you.”

God calls, I respond, and if God sees that I have responded with all my heart, no reservations, he adopts me as His child. We will know when this happens. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). “And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (1 John 3:24).

The second rule is that I cannot go on living as I did before. “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:27). “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him” (1 John 2:9-10) .

Theology can quickly become very complex, and sometimes it is merely an intellectual exercise that offers no real help in showing us how to truly live as a Christian. But if I have the Holy Spirit within me and love my neighnour as myself, I will not want to steal, lie, cheat or hurt anyone. Why make it more complicated than that?

It is no secret

I confess that I avoid books that promise to reveal a “secret” about Christian life.  I’m afraid of them — afraid of being deceived — because I don’t read anything in the Bible that speaks of a “secret” to Christian life that is only revealed to an inner circle with special enlightenment.  In New Testament times this was called gnosticism and those who followed this path wandered off in many different paths of enlightenment that really led to darkness and confusion.

“And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein” (Isaiah 35:8).

“At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25).

Someone once said that Christianity has not been tried and found wanting: it has been found difficult and therefore not tried.  Solomon wrote: “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions” (Ecclesiastes 7:29).  In other words we have a tendency to detour from the simplicity of the way that God has planned for us and invent a “secret” way that promises enlightenment and happiness, but avoids the cross.

The cross is central to Christian life.  We must flee evil, especially the evil within us, and the cross is the only way to do that.  “And he [Jesus] said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  This is not a secret, but it means abandoning pride, carnal ambitions, self-righteousness and honour-seeking.  But the result is love, joy, peace and all the other good things promised to those who believe, obey and trust God.

“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it” (1 Peter 3:10-11).

It is no secret what God can do.
What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you.
With arms wide open, He’ll pardon you.
It is no secret what God can do.

© Stuart Hamblin, 1951

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