Simplicity in Christ
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!
2 Corinthians 11:3-4 (NKJV)
The phrase ‘simplicity in Christ’ puzzled me for many years, because when I surveyed Christendom and the many Christian denominations the core of Christianity seemed anything but simple. The apostle Paul makes two fundamental points in the above verse. First, that there is such a thing as ‘simplicity in Christ’ and secondly that Christians can be enticed away from that simplicity.
The Greek word translated simplicity could also be translated as singleness, sincerity, or bountifulness. Perhaps in this verse Paul intended to convey all these nuances of the Greek. The core of the gospel is about the simplicity that is in Christ; a single-minded devotion and love for Christ; and the bountifulness of God’s grace given in and through faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul states that Christians can be beguiled as the serpent deceived Eve. In the Garden of Eden the serpent misrepresented God’s word and implied another gospel: that God was not bountiful and did not want to share his blessings; that God had placed numerous restrictions on Adam and Eve, when saying, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’? ” (Genesis 3:1).
God did not design salvation to be complicated, but some have made it so by adding their own views and traditions to the word of God. They limit God’s generosity: his grace including salvation, to a system of grace plus works or faith plus works.
It is an unfortunate reality of life that Christians may know the law by heart without knowing or understanding the heart of the law. The Old Testament points to Christ (John 5:39), and Paul reveals the simplicity in Christ, and the core of the gospel, when stating, ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.’ (Ephesians 2:8-9). The following verse (v.10), also clarifies the role of works: ‘For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.’
Simplicity in Christ means that salvation is by grace alone through faith in and of Jesus Christ alone.
Father, we thank you for all that Jesus has done for us and that we are complete in him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Study by Eddie Marsh
About the writer:
Eddie Marsh attends the Sheffield congregation
of Grace Communion International.
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