THE SIMPLICITY OF THE GOSPEL
By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your mind should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." (2 Cor. 11:3)
Many years ago in Greece there lived a very intelligent and wise old man called Simonides. One day a group of philosophy students came to this great teacher and philosopher for some help. They wanted to know, ‘Who or What is God’?
After a few minutes meditation the grand old man asked the group of students to return the next day, so he could think on the matter. The following day the students came expecting an answer. They said, "Most noble Simonides tell us Who or What is God"!
He scratched his beard and thought for a moment and said, "This is a very deep subject. I need thirty days to study and think, research and philosophize". In one month's time the students returned only to be told by the scholarly poet, that he needed more time. He still had no answer. They were asked to come back in a year's time.
After 365 days the group of inquisitive, anxious students were ushered in before the great man. "Most noble Simonides", the spokesman began, "We have come to you for some words of wisdom and understanding. Would you tell us Sir, What or Who is God? We are troubled and would like an answer from you."
The great philosopher stroked his beard and scratched his head as he sat in deep thought. Then he rose to his feet and said, "Men of Greece: For 365 days I have pondered and thought. I have meditated and researched. I still have no answer - I do not know and I cannot tell What or Who is God!"
The early Hebrews believed that God was Holiness. The Greeks believed He was Wisdom, the Romans thought He was Power, and the heathen advocate that God is Mystery. The Scientists say God is Energy. He is all these and more. The New Testament tells us what He is: "God is Love!" (1 John 4:8)
God is Holiness and Wisdom. He is Power and Mystery, He is Energy and He is greater than all these. He is Love, and He loves us all! His love is greater than the love of a mother for her child, a husband for his wife - greater than human love. His love is heavenly and pure. It is divine, eternal and past finding out, and it is unconditional! Don't forget it, my friend; God loves us all. Let it sink deep into your heart – God loves you!
THE SIMPLICITY OF THE GOSPEL!
St. Paul was one of the most educated and learned men in Israel and the founder of the Church among the Gentiles. He wrote more than half of the New Testament. He had received so many visions and dreams that he was given a thorn in the flesh, lest he be exalted above measure. (2 Cor.12: 1-9)
He had been caught up to Heaven and witnessed things he was not allowed to speak of publicly, and yet he said: “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but LOSS for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and I count them but dung (garbage), that I may win Christ.” (Phil.3:8)
The great Apostle wrote: “"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your mind should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." (2 Cor. 11:3)
A number of years ago, a West Indian Anglican Bishop condemned Evangelists for presenting the Gospel and "Reading the New Testament in simplistic terms, and third world countries are being victims of this". He singled out Oral Roberts, Max Solbrekken and Billy Graham in his attack.
Here is a strange PARADOX. While St. Paul was concerned about people getting away from the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ, a twentieth century Church Leader is afraid that Evangelists are preaching it in easy-to-understand terms!
The reason large crowds came to hear Jesus Christ preach, was because He was honest, sincere, truthful and had the power to back up His message with signs, wonders and miracles. THERE WAS ONE MORE FACT - HIS MESSAGE WAS SIMPLE AND PLAIN. (John 16:29)
Ever since the beginning of time, some have tried to confuse the issue by complicating it. We all know however, that the simpler the device, the easier to construct and maintain. The simpler the instruction, the easier to understand and follow and the simpler the message, the easier to comprehend.
During the Dark Middle Ages, only certain theologians of the Roman Catholic Church were allowed to read the Bible, while the laity were kept in total ignorance and darkness. The vernacular used in the liturgy was Latin - and the people were told that they were too uneducated to read the Bible for themselves.
Dr. Martin Luther - an Augustian monk - who hadn't seen a Bible until he was more than 20 years of age - got the opportunity to study it. The Word of God changed his life and the gospel message he began to preach changed the world!
And Martin Luther’s co-worker in the Reformation, Dr. Carlstadt, had attended the best Roman Catholic Seminaries and Universities, graduating with a Doctor of Theology degree, without ever reading the Bible! That is the fallacy of Religious Organizations which favour tradition over the Bible and works over the Grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Trying to gain prominence and respect from the people, some clergymen in their arrogance and pride like to "grand stand" by using words, phraseology and terminology which the average person does not understand. The result is that the preacher is left alone in the pulpit with a few half-asleep parishioners, while the rest have stayed at home.
Before entering the full time ministry, I spent about ten years in the business world. A manager of a large supermarket in Prince Rupert, British Columbia once remarked, "Isn't it strange, I can sit here and listen to you for hours as you talk about Jesus and the Bible, and yet the longest hour of my entire week is attending church Sunday morning and trying to stay awake from 11 AM to 12 noon. I understand what you are saying but my Pastor's message goes over my head".
The reason Oral Roberts, Billy Graham and Max Solbrekken are able to draw large crowds and reach the multitudes, is because we preach the simple message of Jesus - His death, resurrection, love, power and present day ability to meet the needs of all who come to Him by faith!
IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED!
The Bible states: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” (Gen.1: 1-3)
HERBERT SPENCER, a recognized scientist and highly acclaimed philosopher and sociologist writes about, five factors as the most general forms into which the manifestation of the Unknowable (God) is redivisible: time, space, matter, energy and force!
He explains that to define the Unknowable or GOD, these five factors must be in place: 1. Time, 2. Space, 3. Matter, 4. Energy, 5. Force. In His great wisdom, Almighty God gives us the ANSWER in the first three verses of His holy, infallible and inspired Word.
HERE IT IS: Time: beginning; Space: heaven; Matter: earth; Energy: Spirit; Force: moved!
The Evolutionary Theory has been proven untenable among genuine scientists for quite some time. The ‘Ape Doctrine’ took a big hit in Israel in 1983: Evolution Theory found wanting at Local Trial!
The Jerusalem Post on April 2, 1983 carried the following report: “Evolution was on trial in Jerusalem last week and found GUILTY of failing to meet the standards of a scientific theory by the First Congress of Inquiries into the Origin of Life and Evolution….But most, after rejecting the theory of evolution on scientific grounds, failed to offer an alternative theory to account for the origin and development of life.
“Instead, they affirmed their belief in Divine Creation…The aims of the Conference were to explain that it is INCORRECT to present the theory of evolution as unchallengeable, and to show much of it as having been refuted. The Education Ministry circularized all schools, principals and supervisors to attend. The Congress was organized by the Ben Gurion University of the Negev sponsored by Israeli’s Minister of Education. It was held on Mount Scopus Campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.”
CHARACTER KNOWN BY BELIEF IN GOD!
Many of the great breakthroughs in Science have been made by Jewish scientists so it is good to see that they have mostly kept their brains free from the devil’s evolutionary lies; that nothing added to nothing, multiplied by nothing and divided by nothing, created everything!
What is Science: Encyclopedia Britannica states: In its ‘broadest sense science is learning and knowledge’. Oxford Dictionary says: “Science is systematic and formulated learning.” Another dictionary says: “Science is knowledge gained and verified.”
In short, science is knowledge that rests on proof. It is demonstrated knowledge! Where do you suppose knowledge comes from? Naturally, all knowledge and wisdom comes to us from our Creator, Almighty God. God is Omniscient, with all Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding!
NAZI GERMANY’S Scientists stated: “Science has demonstrated that the Nazis are the Master Race.” The Soviet Union’s School teachers taught for seventy long years that: “Science has proven that there is no God.” In 1972, Soviet Union’s Prime Minister Leonid Breshnev stated: “We are no longer homo sapiens – modern man. We are homo – sovieticus: A Super Race.”
From 1989 to 1995, I was privileged to minister a lot in the former Soviet Union and since we drove thousands of miles, especially in the Ukraine, we experienced what Communism had done to that country. Hitting the pot holes and smelling public washrooms at a distance, I once remarked, “The Russians sent their space craft to the moon, but they can’t build a toilet.”
Infidel Science in Canada, USA and world -wide teach that the theory of evolution is the only viable, rational approach to the origin of all things! How incredibly incredulous our pin-head evolutionary scientists have become! Infidel science is a revolutionary philosophy better known as ‘Foolosophy!”
No wonder the Bible states: “The fool (idiot, insane person) has said in his heart, there is no God.” (Ps.14:1) The simple truth is that an idiot could say there is no God, because he is an idiot and doesn’t know any better. A person with a normal functioning brain wouldn’t make such a foolish statement!
MALCOLM MUGGRIDGE, former BBC Radio and TV Commentator and world famous journalist, atheist and evolutionist was soundly converted to Jesus Christ and turned the Academic and Journalistic World on its head. Regarding the Evolutionary Theory, he stated:
"I myself am convinced that the theory of evolution, especially the extent to which it's been applied will be one of the GREAT JOKES in the history books in the future. Posterity will marvel that so very flimsy and dubious an hypothesis could be accepted with the incredible credulity that it has. I think I spoke to you before about this age as one of the most credulous in history, and I would include evolution as an example.
“I'm very happy to say that I live near a place called Piltdown. I like to drive there because it gives me a special glow. You probably know that a SKULL was discovered there and no less than 500 doctoral theses were written on the subject and then it was discovered that the SKULL was a PRACTICAL JOKE by a worthy dentist in Hastings who'd hurriedly put a few bones together, not even from the same animal, and buried them and stirred up all this business. So I'm not a great man for bones."
FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD!
The Bible says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). Martin Luther called that verse, ‘A Miniature Bible’. It has been called, ‘The Gospel in a Nutshell’ and ‘The Central Verse of the Bible.” Multitudes have found eternal life through reading the Holy Scriptures and John 3: 16 is the Gospel of Christ packed in a very concise and powerful life-giving statement.
The Devil constantly tries to pervert everything he can and he often does so by infiltrating the theological field and especially the area of Bible Translators. They have subtly done so with this verse through translators who have taken it upon themselves to modernize the text thereby undercutting the strength of God’s Word.
Dr. Henry Morris, a great Bible scholar and Creation scientist stated: “The Greek word for “only begotten” is monogenes, the very form of which clearly denotes “only generated.” As monotheism connotes only one God and monosyllable means a word of only one syllable, so “mongenes” means only one genesis or only one generated…or, more simply, “only begotten.” It does not mean “one” or even “one and only.” It is worth noting that, although Christ is called the Son, or the Son of God, frequently in the New Testament, He is never (in the Greek original) called “the only” son of God.
“The fact is, that to call Him the only Son of God would make the Bible contradict itself, for He is not the only Son of God, and certainly not the “one and only” Son of God. Angels are several times called the sons of God (e.g. Job 38: 7), since they had no fathers, being directly created by God. Likewise Adam was called the son of God (Luke 3; 38), because he was directly created. The same applies even to fallen angels (Gen.6:2), and even to Satan (Job 1:6) because they also were created beings.
“The term is also used in a spiritual sense, of course, for those who have become new creations, in Christ Jesus by faith. (2 Cor. 5; 17; Eph. 2: 10, etc.). In this sense, we also are “sons of God”. (e.g. 1 John 3:20) by special creation? By special creation, not physically, but spiritually.
“But it is never applied in this sense to Christ, for He is not a created son of God (as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other cultists teach), but the Only Begotten Son of God. He never had a beginning, for He was there in the beginning (John 1; 1). In His prayer to the Father in the upper room, He spoke of “the glory I had with Thee before the world was.” (John 17: 5).” See Micah 5: 2, 3; John 1: 18; John 10:30; Col.1: 15)
“Jesus Christ did not become the only Son of God by Hi virgin birth, for He is also the ‘eternally begotten' Son of the Father. He is eternally, in His bosom” “yet always “going forth” to declare the Father – once as the creating Word, occasionally in pre-incarnate theophanies, also through the Holy Spirit conveying the written Word, which had been “eternally settled in heaven” (Psalm 119: 89) down to man through divinely chosen prophets, then ultimately appearing as the incarnate Word to live forever as the God/man.”
GOD’S LOVE IS APODICTIC!
The word apodictic is from the Greek word apodikticos, meaning ‘evident beyond contradictions’. I discovered it many years ago while studying the dictionary. Instantly I thought, that word belongs only to God and the Bible; not to humans! The Majesty, Power, Wisdom, Grace and Righteousness of God are evident beyond contradictions. No-one could dare to contradict God Love; Calvary proved that!
God’s love is so amazing and beyond comprehension and yet so personal, accessible and real. Here are several more Scriptures that reveal the love of Jesus Christ toward us: “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on Him.” (John 3: 17, 36)
Here is a Scripture that has blessed multitudes of people across the world through radio, television and in our large crusades, and has brought healing and deliverance to many: “He that spared not His Son, but DELIVERED Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also, freely give us all things?” (Rom.8: 32)
This reveals the length to which our Heavenly Father went to redeem a lost, sinful and perishing world. He did not spare His own Son but turned Him over to wicked men who blasphemed Him, spit in His face, pulled out His beard, lashed Him with the razor-sharp Roman cat-of-nine tails until His back looked like a plowed field, and pounded spikes through His hands and feet to a cross at Jerusalem’s garbage dump on Golgotha’s Hill.
The hymn writer penned these most appropriate words:
He came to earth the promise to fulfill
A rugged cross He bore up Calvary’s Hill
And for my sins He cried, Father forgive
Born to die, that I might live.
Born to die, a cruel cross to bear
Born to die, that I His love may share
Between two thieves, He bowed His head and cried
Tis finished, I came to die
ALL SINNERS GUILTY BEFORE GOD!
The Bible says: ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ my Lord.” (Rom.3: 23; 6:23). “For when we were yet without strength (hopeless) in due time Christ died for the ungodly. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
“Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom. 5: 6-10)
The greatest message anyone could hear is that Jesus Christ died for their sins so that they could be forgiven, liberated from bondage and servitude to the world, flesh and the Devil, Hallelujah! The Bible states: “But if we walk in the Light as He is in the Light, we have fellowship one with another, and the Blood of Jesus Christ, His Son cleanseth us from all sins.” (1 John 1: 7)
Many years ago during the California Gold Rush, a man lay dying in his little shack. A kind Christian lady came to be with him and was reading the Bible. She read John 3: 16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Suddenly, he quickened and speaking in a weak voice asked: “Is that in the Bible?” She answered, “Yes, it is in the Bible.” He asked: “To whom is He speaking? Is He speaking to me?” The lady responded: “Yes, He is speaking to you.” Again the dying man inquired: “Did He say anything else?” Quickly, she answered: “Yes, He did. He said, ‘To as many as received Him, He gives the power to receive eternal life.’” Quietly, the dying man said, “I receive Him. I am satisfied.”
He had found peace with God and himself! Then, he closed his eyes and was gone. Angels came down and carried his spirit away and brought him safely into the arms of Jesus! What a glorious gospel. What a glorious message of hope and life, we have through the blessed crucified, buried and risen Lord Jesus Christ!
THE BLOOD OF CHRIST OUR ONLY HOPE!
The blood of Christ is mankind’s only hope! For many years, the Christian church has presented the claims of Jesus Christ to be able to save lost souls, heal the sick and liberate the suffering and wounded, granting eternal life on the basis of His shed blood, vicarious death and glorious resurrection from the dead!
St. Paul wrote: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with the wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; BUT UNTO US which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor.1: 17, 18)
“We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but One. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many, and lords many.) BUT TO US (believers) there us BUT ONE GOD, the Father of Whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom are all things, and we by Him.” (1 Cor. 8: 4-6)
“Now it was not written for His sake alone, that it was imputed to him; BUT FOR US ALSO, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences (sins) and raised again for our justification.” (Rom.4: 23-25)
St. Paul didn’t pull any punches. He cleared the decks and told it like it was and still is! He stressed the fact that there are many false prophets worshipping god of no value for they are only ‘make believe gods’, and if the pagan want to believe in them that is their own business and to their folly, however, we are Christians, believers in Jesus Christ our Lord, Saviour, Master and God!
We do not mix pagan faiths with the Pure Gospel of Christ! We do not compromise the Word of God to please anybody. There is only ONE GOD: God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Amen.
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN!
Shortly after President Ronald Reagan was seriously wounded by a deranged gunman, his pastor asked him, “Mr. President, were you ready to die?” He replied: “Oh no, I have so much more work to do!” His pastor continued: “Mr. President, I meant were you ready to meet God?” Ronald Reagan answered: “Oh, Yes!” The pastor probed: “Mr. President, why would you say that?” to which Ronald Reagan replied: “I have a Saviour!"
My question to you, friend is this: “Do you have a Saviour?” The Bible says: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32). He stated: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.” (Luke 19: 10).
St. Paul said: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1 Tim.1:15). Our Lord invites: “Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11: 28); “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6: 37)
JESUS LOVES ME THIS I KNOW!
In Billy Graham: Personal Thoughts of a Public Man, British TV commentator David Frost wrote: “I once asked Billy Graham what his goal was when he took the pulpit. He replied: “First of all, I want the content to be accurate. I want it to be biblical and I want it to be simple. I study to be simple.” I pressed him. “Can’t a message be too simple?”
He answered: “When Dr. Karl Barth, the great Swiss theologian, the greatest theologian of his generation, was visiting America a couple years ago, he was at one of our great seminaries, and a student asked him the question, ‘Dr. Barth, what is the greatest single thought that ever crossed your mind?”
The students thought some tremendous statement was coming forth and they were all on the edge of their seats and he said, ‘Jesus loves me; this I know for the Bible tells me so.’”
No more beautiful words have ever spoken by men or angels than these: “I know God loves me!” Praise God. Say these precious words and believe them and you will see what a change will be affected within your life. May God bless you, in Jesus’ name! Amen.