Choking the Word
“Now he who received the seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” (Matt. 13:22). Are you the “he” of this passage? Are you choking the word?
From the parable of the soils, these words strike at the heart of a critical issue today. We tend to emphasize the sowing of seed as we read these words, while neglecting the fact that equal, if not greater, emphasis is placed upon the condition of our hearts. Is your heart prepared to receive the implanted word, which is able to save your soul (Jas. 1:21)?
Is the Gospel "Simple"?
Through the years, I have often described and have heard many others describe the gospel as “simple.” Can such a description be sustained from Scripture? Are there problems inherent and tendencies prevalent with such a description of the gospel?
Writing to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul addresses his concern over their continued faithfulness to Christ. He says, “Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. 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. 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. 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!” (2 Cor. 11:1-4, emphasis mine, jlp).
Does Paul suggest in this context that the gospel is “simple” to understand and practice?
Is Christianity "Easy"?
To hear Christians talk, you would think being a Christian is as “easy” as saying a prayer or being immersed in water; doing a few things and not doing some other things; facing an occasional bump in the road and experiencing an occasional trial or two. Then, when that “easy” is all said and done, away to heaven you go. I have come to deeply appreciate the fact that nothing could be farther from the truth.
This concept of “easy” Christianity is often rooted in a fundamentally flawed understanding of Jesus’ words in “The Great Invitation.” He said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30, NKJV). What did Jesus mean when He said, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light”?
The Journey to Understanding
To those who think that seeking and finding God is easy: think again.
Listening to Paul explain Abraham’s justification demonstrates the complexity of God’s mind. God’s plan of justification by faith in Christ Jesus is so intricate and detailed, that it takes divine intervention—the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—to understand it. If the apostle Paul hadn’t written down his inspired understanding of this mystery for us (cf. Eph. 3:1-7), we couldn’t possibly have riddled out those details by ourselves. Every detail matters—from when God justified Abraham (before Abraham’s circumcision) to how God justified Abraham (faith accredited as righteousness). Over four hundred years between Moses and Abraham, and God purposed every last detail. Nearly two thousand years later, men still wrestle and struggle to grasp knowledge that God has always known. The same principle applies to every other inspired word revealed to us in Scripture.
Instead of building faith, some teachers of God’s word excel at casting doubt. This is not the role of any teacher of God’s word.
Regarding the work of the role of those who would teach in the kingdom, Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:11-16…
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”