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Pursuing the Simplicity of the Gospel - October 4 2009

Pursuing the Simplicity of the Gospel - October 4 2009

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Published by Rob Wilkerson
Series on The Vision of Church in the Boro
Series on The Vision of Church in the Boro

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Published by: Rob Wilkerson on Mar 04, 2010
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The Vision of Church in the Boro:Pursing the Simplicity of the Gospel
 
Selected Passages from Luke
 
Sunday Morning
 
October 4, 2009
 
Church in the Boro
 
Rob Wilkerson
 
Introduction
 
Sometimes...no...much of the time, it seems that we as human beings have awired knack for making things more complicated than they need to be.When I read the New Testament afresh, especially the gospels, andespecially the gospel of Luke, things tend to become much more simple tome. I love reading the apostle Paul. He's a deep, deep thinker about thethings of Christ. But he's also difficult sometimes. He's a deep fellow. ButLuke seems to be a simple fellow. Luke, you'll remember, was a physicianwho travelled with the apostle Paul during a couple of his missionary journeys. They knew each other very well, evidently. And the point I want tomake here is that for Paul the gospel, while simple, was very deep. But forLuke, the simple gospel was...well...simple. When I want to go deep inChrist, I read Paul. When I want to come up for some fresh air, I ascend theocean of Christ's love for me, come to the surface, get in my seaplane, andascend into the clouds to get the big picture of Jesus Christ and His work forme. That's what Luke allows me to do.
We Tend to Make the Gospel and Evangelism Too Complex 
 I remember about 20 years or so ago, I had just graduated high school and Ihad entered into Evangelism Explosion to learn the method and be a trainer.I had to go through a twelve week course, if I remember correctly. Now, I'ma geek by nature, so I enjoy the detail of things, especially thingstheological. I am one of those who definitely tends to make things morecomplicated than they need to be. And I enjoyed the 12 week class that wasdesigned to teach me how to understand and share the gospel with the lost,then train others to do the same. The problem is, I fear it created a "system"of sorts around the gospel, making it more complex than it really needed tobe. In my estimation, when God saves you, you are immediately ready toevangelize other lost people.
 
The Vision of our Church: Pursuing the Simplicity of the Gospel 
 
October 4, 2009 
 Take the woman at the well in John 4, for example. She sat by the welltalking to Jesus, then left the well a redeemed woman, and immediately wentdown into her hometown and told everybody about Jesus and then led themall back to Him. And how about the 72 disciples Jesus sent out to preach? They had only just been following Jesus for a short time, yet He turns aroundand sends them out to preach the gospel! My favorite is about Saul who,before he changed his name to Paul, got knocked off his horse, was carriedback to Ananias' house, then according to Acts 9:19-20, "stayed with thebelievers in Damascus for a few days. And immediately he began preachingabout Jesus in the synagogues, saying, 'He is indeed the Son of God!'" Paul'sown model became the example the Thessalonian church followed. For aswe read there in chapter 1 of 1 Thessalonians, they "received the messagewith joy from the Holy Spirit," and as a result, they "became an example toall the Christians in Greece," so that "the word of the Lord is ringing out fromyou top eple everywhere, even beyond Greece, for wherever we go, we findpeople telling us about your faith in God" (vv. 6-8).Why did these people go from sinners to evangelists so quickly? In short,because it's all so very simple. As the blind man in John 9 said, "But I knowthis: I was blind, and now I can see!" (v. 25). One moment, they are goingtheir own way, living their own lives, pursuing their own selfish desires. Andin the very next moment they are going Christ's way, living His life, pursuingHis desires. It's that simple. They were lost and then they were found.It's the simplicity of what happened that produces such a simple response towhat happened. The simple reason why these people and many others sincethen have turned immediately from sinner to evangelist is because, simplyput, they were forgiven of their sins. And when they were forgiven, their sinswere washed away, done away with, never to be remembered again, andthey were changed, transformed in an instant, a brand new creature, a newperson. Their minds and hearts, cleansed from sin through forgiveness, wereable to function as they were created to in the first place: to go out and seekpeople to worship God. Forgiveness transformed the operating system of their heart, if you will. They went from an operating system rife with virusesand malicious software that had been hacked and hijacked, to a newinstallation of an upgrade forever more free from all the crapware.At Church in the Boro this is what we are pursuing: the simplicity of thegospel. We believe Jesus kept the message of good news pretty simple. Andwe also believe that because it is simple, the devil and his idiots are workingnight and day to junk it up and make it more complex than it needs to be. You see the devil knows that the more complex he can make the gospel inour finite little brains, the less likely we are to relish it and share it withothers. He knows if he can add all sorts of other theological assumptions,presuppositions, distinctions, and implications to it that he'll accomplish twothings.
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The Vision of our Church: Pursuing the Simplicity of the Gospel 
 
October 4, 2009 
The Two Things the Devil Hopes to Accomplish by Making theGospel Too Complex 
 First, we'll begin to be distracted with all that other stuff instead of the coreof the good news, which is forgiveness of sins. He knows that in focusing onit too much we'll begin to talk about them more rather than tell morepeople. He knows that he can get us sidetracked with things that areimportant to know, but things that we let become more important thantelling others about the simple good news.Second, the devil knows that we will feel like we have to add all that stuff into it the simple gospel when we share it with others. He's so smart! Heknows that when we are sharing all that other stuff with the good news thatit actually turns into confusing news to the one who's listening. And so wefall short of accomplishing our mission: to seek and save the lost. He knowsthat many of us will fail to retain the simplicity of the gospel in our hearts,and that we will fail to retain the simplicity of the gospel in our evangelism toothers. He knows we'll make it convoluted to a lost person who simply needsto hear the simple message of simple forgiveness of sins. This is the course I desire us to chart, the direction I desire us to head, thevision I desire us to pursue. The assumptions, presuppositions, distinctions,and implications are all absolutely important. But they are like any otherkind of knowledge in that they come progressively through a process. Toooften I've tried to add all that other stuff to the simple message of the simplegospel to a simple sinner. All I ended up doing was confusing it, making itmore difficult for a sinner to understand the gospel than for an SUV to drivethrough a keyhole. It was like explaining calculus to a 3rd grader. They'renot ready for it! That's why Paul prayed for the Ephesians that they "might
grow
in your knowledge of God" (1:17). Growth implies process andprogress. It never implies getting a bunch of really important stuff all atonce. He prayed for them, "that you will
begin
to understand the incrediblegreatness of his power for us who believe him" (v. 19). Growth in theknowledge of God has a beginning, which again implies progress andprocess. So the greatness of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ must
begin
with simplicity. And that's just what Paul himself does for the Ephesians inchapter 1 when he writes, "He is so rich kindness that he purchased ourfreedom through the blood of his Son, and our sins are forgiven" (v. 7).So for the remainder of our time this morning I want to turn your attentionback to Luke again, to see the simplicity of the gospel in the forgiveness of sins. And then we'll apply that to our pursuit of a biblical vision for thesimplicity of the gospel. What I want to in this effort is to first give you a sortof survey of Luke's narratives about Jesus when it comes to the simplicity of  Jesus' message. And then I want to apply that simplicity to one particular
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