Since the beginning, we’ve rejected God’s plan. God made Adam and Eve in His own image, gave them a paradise to live, work and rule over, walked with them in the cool of the day, and He gave them a simple law to follow: be fruitful and multiply, subdue the earth (fill it with the image of God), don’t eat of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It wasn’t a complicated time: obey God, rule over all of creation. And yet, being made in the image of God, Adam and Eve could not follow even that. They were deceived, desiring the fruit of the forbidden tree, tricked in to believing they would become what they already were (like God), and so were cast from paradise, and curses were brought upon them and all of creation for their disobedience.
The simplicity of God’s law has not changed, either. Well, you might say, what about the laws of the Torah? Simply put: the laws went from 10 to 613 pretty quickly, but not because God loves to lay burdens on people. Their stiff, stubborn and rebellious hearts made it impossible (for them) to be in God’s presence without destroying them, and God desired, from the beginning to draw us back to Himself for fellowship with us. The images on and of the Tabernacle and Temples were of Gardens, and the Laws existed so that Israel would be pure and undefiled so they would not be consumed, overwhelmed and destroyed by His presence. And yet, this was not enough. They desired more gods, and so God disciplined them, and harshly. By Jesus’ time, God’s law was not enough, and worship became (by man’s design), about following laws for the sake of Righteousness, instead of letting God BE their righteousness. And so, when God came and dwelled among them, many did not recognize Him because of their laws and complications.
Today, are we really all that different? Why do we reject the simplicity of God’s plans? The Scriptures tell us that we need to focus on the Gospel: that Jesus came and lived as one of us, perfectly, to become the perfect sacrifice and pay the debt of our sin. He did so on the cross with His own life, paying our debt in full by forfeiting His own life. He destroyed the consequences of sin, which is death, by rising on the Third Day, and returned to heaven where He rules at the Right Hand of the Father, and some day He is returning, not as a savior, but a Conqueror, Judge and King. We get in on the “Good News” of the Gospel by following Jesua and being born again. This is simple, and yet we complicate it so much. We have a dress code, we speak of instruments, versus none, we say “Say this prayer, and do these things.” Instead of being a seal of the New Covenant, we make Baptism about what WE can do to be saved, and label the Holy Spirit (the third person of God), as some form of conscience, or some sort of trick we must perform to show Christ in us. We diminish God’s work through Christ by adding to or removing things from the Gospel, and the Gospel is simple. If we’re following Jesus and are born again, we’ll be exactly who the Father designed us to be. Keep it simple: be born again, stick the Scriptures, deny yourself, pick up your cross every day and follow Jesus.
Matthew 16: 24-27
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.