Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Keep It Simple

Ethiopia Innocent Prayers by Steve Evans_flickr.com_3405971322_23eae03cac_CC BY-ND 2.0
For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will experience salvationRomans 10:9 (The Passion)

Auntie Lou's passionate gospel flannel graph story-telling captured my nine-year-old heart. With every new layer she added to the story of Jesus' life, death, resurrection and ascension, my heart raced faster and faster. 

She shared how Jesus sacrificed everything that I might stand blameless before God and experience everlasting life in His presence, if I simply asked Jesus into my heart. It was so simple. I didn't question it. I simply responded, "yes" to Jesus.

Maybe that's why Jesus liked children so much?
Children don't complicate things. They just recognize Jesus and place their trust in him, let him bless them, believe in him without doubt or complicated charades.

And [Jesus] said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)

Children believe the SIMPLE gospel:
"If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved!" (Romans 10:9 NIV).

Simple, right?

Then why do individuals, and churches alike, complicate this simple gospel? Why do some churches require a scripted "sinners prayer" in the witness of another believer for salvation? Or in yet other religious circles, why is our salvation questionable if we do not "get baptized in the Holy Spirit" and speak in tongues? And why do others believe salvation comes only through baptism, confirmation and man-made religious sacraments?

It's exhausting and confusing, isn't it?

So, let's get back to Scripture. What do the gospels (the good news of Jesus) say about salvation?

While I agree Paul instructs a public declaration of our belief in Christ, (Romans 10:9 above), he does not demand a recitation of a prescribed prayer or a Holy Spirit, speaking-in-tongues baptism, water baptism or any other sacrament to constitute or seal our salvation. The original Greek context states "the mouth confesses to salvation." If we declare our belief that Jesus is Lord, aren't we stating we believe Jesus is God's son whom God raised from the dead? And that, according to Paul, is salvation.

Why, then, do we not trust the His Holy Spirit to bring to mind what needs confessing? Why do we make the Way to Jesus so difficult and complicated?
It's complicated.

But, the simple truth is, follow Jesus's words not man's:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

And this is the simple gospel Paul shared in 1 Corinthians 15: 2-4

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you... that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...

God pursues us. Seeks a relationship with us through the nudging of his Holy Spirit. The only way to respond to God, is by confessing our belief in Jesus, God's son; accept his forgiveness for our sins as declared by his death on the cross, and his defeating death by his resurrection from the grave three days later. After that? It's up to the Holy Spirit to lead us through our spiritual journey.

If you're questioning your salvation, spend some time reading all four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and 1 Corinthians 15). Remember the good news (the gospel) and keep it simple.

If you joined us here, today, from {re}fresh, welcome!

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