The god of this world has deceived everyone (And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world) Rev. 12, 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, John 5:19, 1 Tim. 4:1. No single person can stand before God and declare that they “understand.” Deception is universal. No one has universal knowledge, apprehension, or understanding. Even Spirit-filled Christians live in a world of darkness having only partial healing of their sight, and stumble in their understanding believing many things incorrectly. Spiritual blindness is universal and the best we can hope for is a dim light and good batteries. That is the human condition on planet Earth.
Those stranded in the deep dark woods of this world having some perception of their lostness gather together with like-minded individuals for the sake of safety and companionship; this is a common practice, not necessarily good or bad. We see many such groups called denominations, sects, cults, factions, cliques, and orders. Each of these groups claims some understanding of the darkness in which they live. The initial purpose of most of these individuals is a desire to know the truth concerning this darkness in which we move and have our being. Trying to make sense amid so much confusion is the focus of many lives and families. These groups may focus primarily on the Bible for their answers, yet they all see something different through their particular state of darkness. However, the Bible declares that there is only one right answer, so what are we to do?
“But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Cor. 11:3.
The question is, “What is the simplicity that is in Christ?” In my experience as a Christian over the last fifty years and becoming quite familiar with many “Churches” I have yet to hear a message on the simplicity of becoming a Christian or of following Christ. On the contrary, I have been introduced to the difficulty and complexity of maintaining the Christian experience and Church membership, not to mention education. If you look over the landscape and vastness of Christianity it is difficult to find anything simple. From dress codes to architecture, everything is detailed and complex, and accepted by everyone. But these things are not the worst part. If men have made Church life so complex what about the act and understanding of being saved, of salvation? So, what, pray tell, could Paul have been speaking of to the Corinthians? What is this “simplicity” that is in Christ? Is the Church ignorant of this? Could this be that buried treasure that a person accidentally trips over while traversing their way through Scripture, or a reward, to those who diligently search for the truth?
I am convinced that most Christians read and study their Bibles and have a preconceived idea of what they must find and then force the Bible to produce what they already knew they would discover. Very many Christians are born into and raised in a particular Christian thought and practice. They are born and raised in a “Christian” family and nation (America), they are introduced to others of like mind (Christian), ingest a prescribed diet of Bible study, in the company of others who do the same. Are we surprised that there are so many Muslims in the Middle East or that so many of them hate Christians? No! Hatred is all they have ever known. It is not because they have independently investigated and come to conclusions on their own, it is all they have ever known in their environment. Christianity is no different. We sit in a “Church” and listen to a preacher who tells us what we already know, and we bobble our heads in agreement and rarely, if ever, voice a disagreement. It is only when a “Radical” disturbs the peace that there is ever a question mark that appears.
Well, I am here to disturb the peace because I am a Radical, like others before me, and demand the truth. The deceptions of Satan have not been lax, and he has been busy putting Christians to sleep, even those who are the “watchmen” guarding the wall. The New Testament speaks of a mystery that is revealed in Christ, “Now to Him who is able to strengthen you by my gospel and by the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery concealed for ages past” Rom. 16:25. “His purpose was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom (mystery) of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” Eph. 3:10. “Among the mature, however, we speak a message of wisdom—but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of the mysterious and hidden wisdom of God, which He destined for our glory before time began” 1 Cor. 2:6-7.
There are many mysteries in the Bible hidden within parables, stories, history, and poetry, but I am concerned with just one of those mysteries, the mystery of salvation. In my estimation, the most important mystery, and the one which Satan has so successfully distorted has to do with how a person is redeemed, our salvation.
First, it is important to understand the simplicity of salvation. As Jesus hung on the cross, He was petitioned by one of the thieves to save him, and Christ, in simple words, honored his request by saying that he would, this very day, be with Him in paradise. There are a few things that we should take note of concerning the granting of the request.
- There was the request.
- There was honest contrition and sorrow.
- There was surrender and helplessness, and.
- There was acceptance and thankfulness.
So often Believers are left with the impression, honestly or dishonestly, that there must be something more, something in addition to the list above, and claim that the thief on the cross was a special case. Older Christians lay heavy burdens on new believers that bind them to some sort of “works-based” ethic that must be achieved before the entrance to their heavenly reward. Those “works” can be as simple as signing their name on a Church membership roll. Of course, the whole list is very long, but every Church has a list written or not, voiced or assumed, but always required. This believer has now become a Pharisee, a performance-based member of the heavenly elect. His salvation is based on the acceptable standards of other members of the hierarchy. This is the commonly accepted Church organization of the 21st Century. Being part of an organization is not what Christ had in mind but being a part of an organism is what He wanted.
It is essential that Christians understand the mystery of what Christ accomplished when He stepped down from the Throne and allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross and die. What is the significance of Christ now living inside of you? Col. 1:26-27. How do Christians short-circuit the work done by Christ’s dying on the cross?
Many believers think their salvation is performance-based, like the Pharisees. The Pharisees were anything but simple with all their study, rules, and regulations, a lot like many Churches today, eat not, touch not, wear not, go not, etc.
We come to learn through the commercial Church that we, of our own willpower, can please God and that there is something else we must depend on, something other than Christ. But the truth is, “What we could not do on our own Jesus did for us.”
The significance of Christ living inside the Christian is that you are now NOT obligated to keep the “Law” either of Moses, the state, or local municipalities. The “Handwriting of ordinances” was nailed to the cross and taken out of the way, along with every other subordinate and inferior law written by men. What Christians fail to realize is that they are now “FREE” to “Rest,” and set at “Liberty,” through the “Gift” of Christ. The door to the birdcage is opened and the bird can fly away if he so chooses. The exercising of this new liberty is subject to the bird. He can fly away and then return to safety, or he can fly away and be devoured by a hungry cat, the choice is his. He is free to do as he pleases to either save his life by returning or to suffer loss and the effects of a cruel world. Like the bird, the Christian can now choose based on freedom. The harsh dictates of the Law have now become, for all returning wayward children, the “beneficial admonitions” of their Father, who voluntarily divested Himself of the power to condemn them for non-compliance.
Our Father knows that we cannot keep His strict code, so He, in His great love, formulated a plan to come into the world as a man and to keep the Law perfectly on our behalf and to pay our penalty for failure and attribute that payment to our account. Just like that bird who returned home, freely understanding the safety of its kind master, the wise Christian will likewise become subject, voluntarily, freely, to a loving Father who forgives their shortcomings and failures to comply. But, that Christian, who believes that they must earn their way back into the good graces of the Father will be rejected for not accepting the gift of Grace that was offered. This wayward son who has returned home may voluntarily choose to keep all the laws of his Father, to the best of his ability, but he does it knowing that there is no penalty for failure, only the encouragement to keep trying; he is forgiven with no penalty 70 x 70 times.
This is the mystery and simplicity of salvation that has been hidden from the beginning of time from the great mass of mankind. Only a relatively few have discovered the simple secret that even a child can comprehend, even a desperate and broken thief on a cross.