The Simplicity of the Gospel :: By Sean Gooding

2 Corinthians 11:1-6, 12-15

“Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 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.

4 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. 5 For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. 6 Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things…

12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

As we approach the Christmas season, the Gospel will be heard by billions of people all around the world. The Nativity Scene will be seen in malls, churches, street corners, postcards, and the like. Some radio stations will be playing both secular and Christian Christmas carols for the next month or so.

I have been surprised by how many doctrines have been attacked of late. Sadly, some of these attacks are coming from what should be trusted sources. This kind of thing is nothing new; the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel have been under attack from the very beginning, and no doctrine has been so attacked as that of the Gospel. In Jude, we are encouraged to ‘earnestly contend for the faith, and in the passage we are going to consider today, Paul tells us to be wary of those that would ‘be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.’

Somebody posted a short video – I am sure it is old – asking about our theology and the thief on the cross; his simple prayer, “Lord remember me when you come into your Kingdom,” was met with, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” No baptism, no Lord’s Supper, no church membership, just a simply trusting act of faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

We are told in Romans 4, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3). He was not circumcised at the time; that came after. But the simple, one-time act of believing God at His word was sufficient to declare him righteous (Romans 5:1, Romans 8:1). Simple faith in Jesus is still the only way.

Paul, in our text, warned the Corinthian church to be weary of those who came in and had better speech than Paul, maybe looked better, and presented themselves better, but their teaching corrupted the simplicity of the Gospel. Take a look at Genesis 3: The woman tells the serpent that they are not allowed to ‘eat of the tree nor touch it’ (Genesis 3:2). But that was not the truth; they were not allowed to eat of the tree as the commandment was given to Adam in Genesis 2: 15-17:

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

By adding man’s rule to God’s rule actually made it easier to sin. Once she had touched the fruit, it was easier to eat it. This is the danger of adding to God’s clear and direct instructions. The Bible is the completed Word of God. In it is all we need to know to serve God faithfully and in holiness. But there are people who tell you they have a new word from God for you. A word that you cannot verify in the Scripture as it is not in the Bible. This is how deceit begins; this is how doctrines get corrupted.

Sadly, churches today are still looking for the chiseled jaw, tall, good-looking, and well-spoken brand for their church. But Jesus, we are told, was not good-looking as far as man was concerned, and it would seem from this passage that Paul did not fit the mold either. If we venture back to 1 Corinthians, we can see that even the seemingly vocal accomplishments of Apollos were enough to cause division. Not division over doctrine, but over style.

But we are called as the Lord’s churches today, as in the days of the church at Corinth, to keep the simplicity of the Gospel. Christ died once and for all. He did all the work. We, like the thief on the cross, come by faith and faith alone in what Jesus has done for us. We have stolen eternal life from a lot of people; we have cheated them of their security in Jesus when we add anything to what Christ has done. In Acts 8:34-38, we find this:

“So, the eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’ Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.”

The man made a simple statement of belief in who Jesus was and is, and that was all that was required. In Acts 16:30-31, the Philippian jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?” And the answer came back in a simple and clear statement from Paul and Silas:

“So, they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Let us all be diligent both as children of God and members of conservative local churches to keep the simplicity of the Gospel; Jesus died to save sinners; He did all the work. Thank the Lord for His kindness and grace.

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding

Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

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