30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

August 27, 2000

Speaker: Richie Thetford

"The Simplicity That Is In Christ"

Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, located at 407 W. Hwy 131 in Clarksville. I want to thank each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine another truth of God's word. It is my hope and prayer that those of you that are listening today will honestly examine your heart to ensure that you are in fact doing only those things that are pleasing to our almighty God. As we discuss the topic of the hour, "The Simplicity That Is In Christ", I want to encourage you to have your Bible readily available so that you can examine the scriptures to make sure that what I am presenting is in fact God's will for you. Remember, the Bible clearly states that we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). It is my hope that each one of you this morning will have the kind of heart that the Bereans did back in the first century. It was said of them that "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). Also the apostle John warns us that we should "....not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). By looking at the Bible passages, you can see for yourself that what I am teaching this morning can in fact be backed up by book, chapter, and verse in the Bible. This is so vitally important as we strive to do only that which is authorized by God and not what some man may say about a given subject. Now I invite you to please have your Bible, pen and paper ready and let's study together another truth of God.

In the eleventh chapter of second Corinthians and in the third verse, we find this reading, "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." Man is but the creature and God the Creator. Just as the little child is inferior in knowledge to the mother who braved the shadows in the valley of death that he might live, so man and his wisdom is infant-like compared to God. God our Father knew more about man on the day of his birth than man knows about himself yet, and when the lengthening shadows of time cross the horizon of eternity, God will still love and understand man. We were created in the image of God to be his companion and placed in Eden where the early breezes of the morning swayed the blossoms and the flowers. The earth and all that was in it belonged to man, and eternal freedom from toil and pain were within his grasp. There is not a Bible student in the land who does not thrill to the story of that garden home in Eden, and the sweet companionship of God with his choice creation, man. We are given only a glimpse of this glorious state of our forerunners. The third chapter of Genesis tells of the fall of man and how he was cut off from the tree of life.

Let's take a moment to read the first few verses of the third chapter to find exactly what happened to Eve and then Adam, that caused man to sin before God. "Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.' " Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" (Gen 3:1-13).

Man had refused to respect and obey the authority of God, and that sin introduced death, pain, and toil, but more serious still, a severed relationship with God Almighty. As free moral agents at creations dawn, Adam and Eve understood the simple command of God as recorded by Moses in Genesis 2: 16-17, "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." But Eve had fallen easy prey for the earthly schemes of Satan and the majesty of God's law had to be upheld. The simple story of the fall is summarized in a single verse at the close of the third chapter of Genesis, "So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life" (Gen 3:24). This caused the Apostle to the Gentiles to write in the letter to Rome, chapter six verse 23, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." We pause here to observe that if there was ever a banquet party in Hell it must have been on that sad day when, with Satan seemingly victorious, man turns with bowed head from Eden to a world of pain and to an earth of thorns, and thistles.

It is to this sad incident that Paul refers in the text read at the beginning of our lesson this morning. He is admonishing the church at Corinth to profit from the past. How well does he, who at one time had led serious persecution against the early church, know of the deceptive power of Satan. He is contrasting the cunning, crafty, subtle, methods of the forces of Hell to the simple, plain, and straightforward teaching and worship that is in Christ. Let's read once again from him in 2 Corinthians 11:3, "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."

In this day of religious confusion and spreading modernism we need to turn again to the simplicity that Paul here declares is in Christ. The plan of salvation whereby man could be redeemed and brought back to God is simple, straight-forward, and plain. The duties of man are definite and easy to be understood. The forces of Heaven prepared a gospel for the masses and it must follow that the message must be clear to all.

If you will think with me for just a moment, I am sure we can see why there is a simple gospel taught in the New Testament.

First: The purpose of God in the redemption of man would demand it. Paul speaking in the midst of Mars Hill in historic Athens, says as is recorded in Acts 17:30-31 "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." God's purpose in the gospel is to teach fallen man the hopelessness of his state and to bring him to repentance. Let's listen to what the apostle Peter says in 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." If God failed to formulate a gospel easily understood then he failed in his purpose and man would not be benefitted.

Second: The love of God for man would demand it. John 3:16 declared the love of God when John wrote, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." If the man of the common way can not understand the gospel today, then one of two things must be true: God could not give a simple plan of salvation to man, or God would not present man with commandments that could be understood by all. The first would impeach the wisdom of God and the second would destroy his love. The Bible records the love of God for disobedient man from Genesis 3:15 to the writing of Paul. We have a simple gospel today, because the love of God for man demands it.

Third: The life and teaching of Christ declares it. How inadequate are our abilities when we approach a discussion of the simplicity and humility of Him who had no place to lay his head. His is the supreme example of the simple walk and of the humble way. Jesus of Nazareth never attended a college or spent an hour in a university. He wrote but a single sentence in the sand and spoke in the simplest terms to the simplest of men. His lessons were drawn from the shepherd and the sheep of the Galilean hills, and the grain of corn that falls to the ground and dies. Yes, to be compatible with the humility of His life and the plainness of His teaching, it makes sense that we would have a simple plan of salvation.

Fourth: The example of the apostles demonstrate it. A single sermon was all that was necessary to convert 3000 on the Day of Pentecost. A single sermon from the lips of Philip was all that was necessary to convert the Ethiopian eunuch as recorded in Acts 8: 29-40, Please get our your Bible and follow along as I read from Acts 8:29-40 and notice the simplicity of the gospel preached and obeyed. "Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot." So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth." 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. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea." As the chariot wheels rolled, the eunuch heard the story of Christ. He demanded baptism or immersion and was baptized immediately because baptism is always a part of the preaching of Christ. Is it hard to see that the gospel is simple when a single sermon will convince the sinner of the error of his way, tell him of the-great need of his salvation, and cause him to request baptism into Christ that he may be a child of God?

But some may say that the devout Jews on Pentecost, and the Ethiopian eunuch reading the scripture, had a background that enabled them to grasp the truth of the gospel so readily. In the 16th chapter of Acts of the Apostles we find the example of a pagan official who was converted and baptized in the middle of the night as a result of the only sermon that he had ever heard. Paul records this wonderful, exciting event in Acts 16:25-33: "But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here." Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized."How these examples of New Testament conversion cry out against the complicated procedure of man. The gospel is preached, men are convinced, and baptized. The gospel that Peter, Philip, and Paul preached could, by God's power, make Christians the same day they heard and obeyed. The 3000 baptized and added to the church on the day of Pentecost, the eunuch on his journey, and the Philipplan jailor at midnight, show us that the same gospel spoken from the divine pattern is able to 'do just that today--to make believers Christians, or children of God, who are willing to do exactly what these men did, which was to believe, repent, and be baptized.

Let us retrace this morning, step by step, the simple gospel of Christ and heed to the divine pattern as set forth in these examples. As far as man can know, the Philippian jailor was a Grecian who worshiped idols. He held a responsible position in a Grecian city and undoubtedly was a pagan in practice. When the earthquake opened the doors of the prison where Paul and Silas sang praises to God, it loosed the bands of all the prisoners. The jailor was ready to take his own life for by law he was chargeable for all the prisoners committed to his trust, and his own life was the price of their escape. Paul cried out,"Do yourself no harm for we are all here." And he falls down before Paul and Silas crying out, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They gave him the first step of God's plan of salvation by telling him to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. But notice that the matter is not concluded here. Verse 32 reads, "Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house." Notice, his being told to believe on Christ did not exempt him from being taught the word of the Lord and that his being taught the word of the Lord did not exempt him from baptism. Verse 33 says, "And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized." Baptism is for the believer and the believer is to be baptized.

What mystery is there about faith? We believe from childhood to the grave. There is nothing mysterious about believing in Jesus - how simple it really is. He came to us in our nature; a babe in his mother's arms, a boy in the temple, a man in the crucifixion. He made wine at a marriage feast in Cana, wept at the graves of the dead, was hungry, thirsty, joyous, and sad. Clothed with flesh as you and I, he loved to drink from the cool clear wells of the patriarchs and the kind administering hands of Mary and Mary Magdalene. The first step, plain,, simple, easy to be understood and followed, is belief in Christ.

What is more simple than repentance. Peter commanded it to the multitude on Pentecost. They cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" and the first word of Peter's answer is "repent." Notice though again, that repentance did not and could not take the place of baptism. Verse 41 of Acts 2 tells the story, "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them." The believer is to repent and the penitent believer is to be baptized.

Then again, how simple that we should openly confess Jesus Christ. This can be understood by all. Jesus simply said in Matthew 10:32, "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven."

Finally, consider the simple step that puts us into Christ, baptism. When Philip preached Christ to the eunuch he began with Isaiah 53, the scripture the eunuch was reading. The Bible tells us simply that he preached Christ, yet the eunuch while the chariot moved along, said, "Here is water, what hinders me to be baptized?" There is just one answer to his knowledge of baptism. Philip in the preaching of Christ included baptism. The eunuch understood its importance and requested it immediately. The scripture tells us in verse 7 who baptism is for. The eunuch had asked the question, "What hinders me to be baptized?" and Philip told him the only thing that could keep him from obeying God in Baptism--"If you believe with all your heart, you may." The opposite is implied, if you do not believe, you can not. Let us repeat; baptism is for the believer and the believer is baptized. Here is the approved example, "So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:38-39). Listen to the plea of Paul and apply it today: "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" (2 Cor 11:3).

Let every thinking man who fears God in this audience this morning ask himself this question, "Is it not time for us to begin a spiritual crusade to old Jerusalem and to begin to sound again from every high hill the simple gospel of the Son of God?" To answer the greatest question this side of eternity's curtain, "What must I do to be saved?" with the exact words of the apostle. It is time to give to men and women everywhere, not the creeds and dogmas of men, but the simple gospel of Christ, God's power to save, that they may be lifted up from the world of sin, have their garments washed white in the Blood of the Lamb, to be born again of water and of the Spirit and have an abundant entrance into the church and Kingdom here, and an everlasting home in Heaven with God our Father!

This is Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"