The Simplicity of the Gospel

The older that I get, and the longer that I try to walk with Jesus, the more that I become increasingly aware of my own shortfalls. There are also times when I get glimpses of the shortfalls that I think I can see in others, including those that I love and sometimes those that I know very little about, or at least I think I do. Jesus really hit the nail on the head when He told us to focus first on ourselves, before we branch out and start to correct others. Learning to judge righteously is an arduous process.

Sometimes I view the things that I am learning, like classes that I have been assigned to. And when we ask God to order our steps, He has a unique way of assigning us to multiple classes, all at the same time. And the inter connectivity of these classes, where we are learning to balance the focus of one class, with another, is where the deeper aspects of learning really start to unfold. 

The difference between knowledge and wisdom is really huge. Knowledge is where you think you know something about a particular class that you are taking. Key words there would be that you think you know. Wisdom is knowing how to actually apply that knowledge that you think you know in accordance with God’s will, in accordance with the holiness and goodness of God, in all of the classes that you are taking, at the same time. And I find, that it is the totality of my shortcomings, in these multiple classes that I have been enrolled in, at the same time, where the magnitude of the complexities involved with all of the subjects, coupled with my own individual tendencies, can be not only eye opening but also overwhelming.

There are many things in God’s Word that we are instructed to do. We are to study and meditate on God’s Word, seek His will for our life, learn of Jesus, defend sound doctrine, forgive the sins of others who have sinned against us, do good to and for others, placing their welfare above our own and many other things, in our day to day activities, while all the while, simultaneously, loving God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind and doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. You can’t just focus on one aspect and forget the others. It is a package requirement, it all has to be moving together at the same time, wrapped in love. There is only one being that I know of that can do that, and that is God.

And just to make it interesting, we have within us, at our very core, the instinctual need to defend, protect, and validate ourselves, which runs contrary to just about everything that God asks us to do. And to make it even more interesting, just when I think that there may be a remote possibility that I will actually complete one of the classes that Jesus has assigned to me, Jesus adds an assignment to that class, that basically seems to put me back to square one. 

No matter what I read in God’s Word, no matter what character that I study, everything continually seems to boil down to one thing. Our Creator is holy, He created us to be in fellowship with Him and we just do not comprehend the difference between God and ourselves, how we need Him to do for us, what we in and of ourselves, cannot ever do, to enter into that fellowship with Him. The truth of the matter is that we are just the way that we are, and God is the way that He is, and He is not going to change, and without His help, we can’t. So God, right from the very beginning, after we had collectively abandoned that which we once had with Him, decided to do it for us, which He did, through Jesus His Son. With the assurance and promise that His Spirit would live within us, upon faith and trust in His Son, to bring to completion, that which He had started in each of us, upon our confession of our sins and our trust in Him.

Yesterday, I was brought face to face with my own short fallings, yet once again. I was in a grocery store, picking up some oranges for my wife and there was a man who had just finished putting some bags of oranges on the stand and he was swinging a box around to basically break it down for disposal. My cart inadvertently bumped into the cardboard box as he was swinging it and I said to him “Sorry”. He responded “Really!”. I said to him again, “I did say I was sorry!”, where upon he took it upon himself to tear a strip off of me for being too close and getting in his way. His attitude was hostile and the thought came to my mind what I would have liked to have said to him. But I didn’t, I just looked him in the eye and said, “You have yourself a great day!” and I walked away. That encounter bothered me, because of my initial reaction and the lingering reactions I had in my heart and mind for a while thereafter. It took a while before my self righteous and defensive thoughts stopped and I started to consider him and what had caused him to react in the manner that he had. That is where I am and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

I am not who I was many years ago but I am far from who God would have me be. I fall short with my wife, our children, family members, acquaintances, and on and on it goes. There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t ask God to overshadow my mind, heart, spirit and the words that come out of this mouth, with His grace because I desperately need Him and I still don’t like what I far too often see in me.

The God that I have come to know is Holy. He is goodness, He is love and fairness and patience that simply boggles my mind. I know this because I see Him in His Son. I am not Jesus, I try, but I fall miserably short far too often. The truth from where I stand, is that He is my Saviour, He has saved me and He is saving me now. I will never be complete, like my Creator is, in me, it is only through Him and that is a gift. That for me is the simplicity of the Gospel, Jesus saves and I need saving, it can’t get much more simple than that. 

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

 

20 comments

  1. As I was reading your post Bruce I was nodding as I recognised these struggles with shortfalls in your life, I rause my and calling out “me too!” Life on this rock is certainly a classroom full of tests and assignments to prepare us for Eternity. I just pray that I have enough passed modules to graduate!
    I really liked your definition in this quote: “Knowledge is where you think you know something about a particular class that you are taking. Key words there would be that you think you know. Wisdom is knowing how to actually apply that knowledge that you think you know in accordance with God’s will,”

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    • Hi Alan, I think the whole point is we are to earnestly endeavour to continue to grow in becoming more like Jesus, in that more of Jesus lives in us than we live in us, and the graduation aspect is already covered in that Jesus took care of the final exam for us. (That which He has begun in us, He has and will bring to completion in and through Himself). If Jesus could say that only God the Father was good (the source of all goodness), then it seems to me to be in step with acknowledging that our righteousness is in Jesus and therefore we are no longer under condemnation, because of our faith in who Jesus is and what He has already done for us. And for lack of better words, I can’t help but think it is our earnest striving and our increasingly becoming aware of, our current need for, and dependency of, our completeness in Jesus, that this earthly walk is all about. Less of me and more of Jesus. And this walk is in preparation for and appreciation of, that reality we will finally completely have in Jesus when we meet Him face to face. Knowing in part does have limitations. Don’t know if this helps but I can’t think of how to word it any differently. Blessings brother.

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  2. “That for me is the simplicity of the Gospel, Jesus saves and I need saving” — Yes! Amen!

    Since the pandemic started, I have only gone out into public a handful of times, on average less than once a month. Today I am going to have medical tests done, which means that I will be around people not of my own household. I’m not sure that I remember how to behave around strangers. Yikes. I’m so grateful that the Lord is with me everywhere I go. I am especially grateful that Jesus saves!

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  3. This reminds me of myself while I was still teaching at the Junior High. I would be so frustrated with myself! (Impatient, angry, lacking the love I had prayed for on the way to school). Then when I retired I became more patient and loving. Or did I? Actually, I just started hanging out at church! I think you see my point. Blessings, Bruce!

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    • Oh I see your point and I do not overlook the many times when following God’s leading makes the whole process one is involved in, go much smoother. It’s the times when there is unexpected conflicts or hostile opposition, where my inner nature still manages to raise its head and let me know it’s still alive and kicking that bothers me. I use the onion as an analogy, God keeps peeling away the layers, it’s just that I had no idea how big the onion was. Blessings!

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      • My point was that I can think I’m a patient person because my patience isn’t being tested. It’s only when someone “pushes our buttons” that we find out whether or not we really have patience. No better place to find this out than a middle school!

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      • Kind of figured that was what you where saying Cindy but it sounds a lot better coming from you rather than me. Anyone can go canoeing on calm waters, it does get a little dicey when the winds and waves pick up and middle school would definitely qualify as windy with waves. Blessings!

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  4. I’m with you Bruce, I sure relate. I’m not sure why I try to make the simple complicated and the complicated dummy down to simple. It’s in my nature to do the opposite. I get tested when I am not looking. I know that when we are growing and walking as close as we know how, God is pleased and I feel his pleasure even when I goof a simple thing as he sighs and says “I’ll help you get it right. It’s never recorded that Jesus made Peter do a bunch of penance things after his denial, but he was asked 3 times “Do you love me more than these?” I think he was pointing at all the fish they hauled in.

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    • Hi Gary, I don’t recall the “more than these” but I do know He knows our hearts and because He walked in our flesh, I know that He knows us and our limitations. I have a tendency to get into what He has asked me to leave to Him. Just leave it alone and trust Me to take care of it, but at times I stupidly just think I can move it along a bit. Not a good idea. And then of course, there are the times when He allows me to see me and that isn’t fun either. That old hymn, “Trust and Obey” gets truer every day, and resting in Him. Gotta do that more. Thank you for touching base with me, I love hearing from you. Blessings brother.

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  5. I don’t know much, but I definitely would choose and wish for more wisdom!

    And it’s a hard thing to restrain the tongue, especially when “Really!” is directed your way. I still immediately think “turn the other cheek”, which I think means twisting the other guy’s head so I can pound both cheeks equally….I get the idea though that Jesus wouldn’t agree with my interpretation. 😉 You handled that well!

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    • True, but it was still there and it took me far too long to even think about the other fellow. If there was a time factor involved, where that fellow was to receive grace from me, he would have been in the hurt locker. It just makes one aware of what yet lives within. Blessings Jeff.

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  6. Can I get a witness, I’m right with you Bruce. James said to count it all joy… As said above it the times of testing… Many failed tests to learn from but glad He took the Final. I plead the Blood! Still Would Like to walk in the Spirt more and the flesh less. Life, on this rock is aligning ones conversation with our position [in Christ, having His righteousness]. I look forward to Glorification, I hate the Old Man. Positional he is dead, buried with Christ. By His power and might we bare His fruit. He must increase, I must decrease!

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