This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. – 1 John 4: 10
As a self-professed Christian, one of the hardest things for me to admit is my inability to live out the things I know I ought to live out. There are so many principles in God’s word that I cognitively understand and could easily explain, but I have such a hard time applying. One of those principles is the simplicity of the gospel, and how the gospel’s simple message of “repent and receive” can transform our lives.
Human beings are complex. God designed us with this amazing ability to reason and logic, and He gave us those abilities with a great purpose in mind. They are gifts we should be grateful for, but these abilities sometimes cause us to take the simplest principles and complicate them to the point where they are not effective in our lives. Unfortunately, I believe that this can happen with the gospel. I know that, at its core, the gospel is a simple message that is meant to bring hope, joy, love, freedom, etc. However, I often treat it like this complicated puzzle to be solved.
The simple message of the gospel has been powerful enough to literally transform the world over the past 2000 years. That message is this: We, as human beings, are instinctively sinful. We cannot measure up to God’s perfect standard of righteousness. But that’s okay! He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us, to cover those sins, so that we can spend eternity in relationship with Him from this moment forward! All we need to do is repent, believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came to die for our sins, and receive that sacrifice. This is the simple message that the apostles proclaimed. This simple message was so powerful and so convicting, that a great majority of them were killed for proclaiming it. It is also so powerful that millions, if not billions, of lives have been radically transformed by it. So why do we complicate it?
I think one of the biggest reasons is that we, as human beings, love to control things. If we can complicate the gospel to the point where we are now in control instead of God, we feel safe. For example, I have often seen people subtly transform this message from “repent and receive” to “repent and achieve”. God says that love is rooted in His affection for us, not our affection for Him. Yet, I, along with so many others, live out the gospel in such a way as if I now have to prove my love for God. Instead of receiving His love for me, and simply allowing that love to mold and transform me into the person He created me to be, I try to prove my love for Him by tirelessly working to transform myself into the person I think I ought to be. The first example of receiving puts God in control. The second example of achieving puts us in control.
This is just one example of complicating God’s simple message of love to a hurting world. There are many many more. We see the ramifications of them every second of every day. Complicating the gospel can lead to confusion, unfruitfulness, and even extreme examples like we see in Iraq where people are being persecuted and killed. Personally, when the gospel becomes too complicated in my life, I become far more judgmental and far less compassionate. It is always the simplicity of the gospel that restores the compassion and love in my heart.
That is all I am hoping to share with anyone reading this today. There is no proposed action, or anything to go achieve. I am just reminding you to simply receive. If the enemy is trying to remind you of all the reasons why you are not worthy to receive God’s love, you can rest assured that God is not interested in them. His son died on a cross over 2000 years ago so that He doesn’t even need to concern Himself with those sins anymore. Just repent and receive His love, and let it change you from the inside out. This amazingly overwhelming gospel of love is so simple, but it also has the power to transform you into everything you were created to be.
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”– John 6:28-29