By Dennis C. Abernathy
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve, through, his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted front the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). The New American Standard Version has “the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” The apostle Paul’s fear here was that as the serpent led Eve into sin by his crafty wickedness, so these false teachers were corrupting the, church at Corinth from that simplicity of doctrine and purity of life which they owed to the Christ, who was their espoused husband. In this article we want to focus our attention to the simplicity of the teachings of Christ or on the Gospel.
Now the idea that many of the world have is that we simply cannot understand the Bible. We know this not to be so because Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit, says that we can. “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the spirit” (Eph. 3:2-5). Paul said the mystery was made known unto him and he wrote it down and we can read it, and when we read it we can understand it. We can know just what Paul knew. Isn’t that simple. The problem with most is that they do not take the time to read what Paul wrote, therefore they do not (not cannot) understand the Bible. I further know that the Bible is understandable because Psalms 119:130 says, “The entrance of the words giveth light: it giveth understanding unto the simple.”
Reasons Why the Gospel Must Be Simple
The Gospel must be simple because it is to be preached to every creature. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16:15). “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations . . .” (Matt. 2&:19). Certainly if the gospel is to be preached to every creature it must be simple. If the gospel is not simple, and cannot be understood, then it would do no good to preach it.
Another reason why the gospel must be simple is to believe it. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:16). It plainly says those that “believe not” shall be damned. Would it be right and fair to damn a man for what he cannot understand? Dear reader, the Lord has given us His Word, we are instructed to believe it, and if we do not we will be damned. You may be confident that you can believe (that is, if you want to, and will).
Evidence that Shows the Gospel to be Simple
The evidence we have chosen to use concerns itself with the church and baptism. What is said about the church is simple. The lord himself said…… That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Christ said, “I will build my church.” I ask, whose church is this? Is it Luther’s, Wesley’s, John’s, or any other man’s? You say, “No!” You are absolutely correct. Why do you say “No”? Because Christ said “I will build my church.” It is His! He purchased it with His own blood (Acts 211:28), and it wears His name (Rom. 16:16).
We learn further that there is only one church –which is His body. “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body,- the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). “And he is the head of the body, the church. . . “(Col 1:18).”There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling” (Eph. 4:4). 1 ask you, can you possibly get many out of one? The body is the church and there is one body, therefore, there must of necessity be just one church. That does away with the idea of “the church of your choice” and settles once and for all that it is the church of Christ’s choice.
Next we learn that we are baptized into that one body. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body. . . ” (1 Cor. 12:13). How do we get into the one body? We are baptized into it. Isn’t that simple? The body is the church and we are baptized into the body, therefore, we enter into the church through baptism. Dear reader do you know of another passage in all of God’s Book that tells you another way to enter into the one body? I know of none, but if you do please tell me.
What is said about baptism is simple. We find that it is a burial in water. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4). “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Col. 2:12-13). Isn’t that simple? If it is a burial it cannot be a sprinkling or pouring. What do you do when you bury some one in the ground? What do you do when you bury someone in the watery grave of baptism?
Further we learn that baptism is for believing penitents, not babies. Infant baptism is without scriptural authority. The subject for baptism is to believe. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved . . . ” (Mk. 16:16). The subject for baptism is to repent of his sins. “Then Peter said unto them, repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. . . ” (Acts 2:38). I ask you, can an infant believe? Is he capable of doing that? Can an infant repent of his sins? Does he have any sins to repent off? The answers are very simple and when you answer these questions you will find the proper subjects for baptism and they will not be infants.
Last of all, baptism is to save. “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved'(Mk. 16:16). “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptised, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us. . . ” (1 Pet. 3:21).
The gospel of Christ is simple. One does not have to be a college graduate to understand how to go to heaven. In our preaching of the gospel, let us always remember to keep it simple, and easy to be understood. If we fail in this we have failed altogether because if people cannot understand they cannot obey and if they do not obey they are lost (2 Thess. 1:7-9).
Truth Magazine, XX:24, p. 10-11
June 10, 1976