|Volume 22 Number 11 November 2020||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
The apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for stumbling over “the simplicity that is in Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3 NKJV). Chapter after chapter of the epistle of 1 Corinthians shows in how many areas of Christianity those first century brethren stumbled over simplicity. The apostle used the debacle with Eve in the Garden of Eden to illustrate the nature of stumbling over simplicity. The New Testament is longer and more comprehensive than the simple instructions God gave the first pair, but nevertheless, they stumbled over simplicity. After all, how hard could it have been for Adam and Eve (1) to tend or to till the Garden, (2) to keep or to guard it (Genesis 2:15) and (3) to refrain eating from a single tree (Genesis 2:17)? That’s it! What could have been simpler?
There are several notable biblical examples of stumbling over simplicity. One such instance pertained to a Syrian commander named Naaman. He was a leper, and desiring to be healed, Naaman traveled to meet the prophet Elisha. However, the prophet did not respond as Naaman expected.
Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:9-14)
The stumbling over simplicity nearly foiled any hope Naaman had of being healed from his leprosy. Not only Adam and Eve as well as the Corinthian church but everyone to some extent stumbles over simplicity at some time.
One of the most far-reaching occasions of stumbling over simplicity in the world today pertains to evolution versus creation. The theory of evolution fails the foundation principles of science because it cannot be examined in a scientific manner (i.e., observing evidence as well as recreating a result in a controlled environment). Yet, almost every aspect of life has been affected by evolutionary theory (e.g., education, the back of cereal boxes, toys, media). Morality based on the no God evolutionary theory is debased, since thinking that we are merely descendants of a freak cosmic accident makes us creatures without intrinsic value and responsible to no one for our actions.
Conversely, the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to pen the obvious regarding origins.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:18-23; cf., Colossians 1:14-17)
Everything exhibiting design signals a designer. We know with surety that buildings, airplanes, ships and automobiles have discernible design, and therefore, we know without a doubt that designers are responsible for their existence. Further, we know that men and women are the designers of such things. At the same time, we look at this beautiful earth with all of its component parts – including our own bodies – and we realize three very important things. First, mankind is incapable of designing and bringing into existence such things as our planet, trees, animals and people. Second, the earth and everything on it as well as what we view in the night sky evidences intricate design. Third, consequently, there is a Master Designer of the created universe.
Although the existence of God can be discerned from observation of the created universe, specifics regarding God, His promises and what He requires of humans cannot be known from observing the natural universe. Hence, God provided inspired instruction about three religious periods of human history: Patriarchy (commencing with Adam and Eve), Judaism (inaugurated by Moses) and Christianity (brought about by the sacrificial death of God the Son). Everyone now living lives under the scope of the Gospel or the New Testament in Christianity.
We might imagine if we were in the Garden and enjoying a personal relationship with God that we could have refrained from violating three simple instructions. The truth is, however, that everybody commits sin sometimes (Romans 3:10, 23). Fortunately, under the New Testament to which everyone living today is amenable, God provided simple solutions to the sin problem for non-Christians and erring Christians, too.
Jesus Christ Himself summarized the plan of salvation when He said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved…” (Mark 16:16). That’s as simple as 1 + 2 = 3; what could be simpler? Yet, most of the world stumbles over this simplicity regarding the salvation of their souls. How tragic and completely unnecessary!
Happily, God also provided a means by which erring Christians can solve the sin problem in their lives. The apostle John penned by inspiration, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Simple, right? Yet, many wayward children of God stumble over simplicity regarding their own salvation.
Though we humans view various types of sins differently (e.g., immorality, murder, lying), there is a sense in which God views all sins alike (Revelation 21:8). No matter the sin, God will forgive whomever turns from those sins (repents) and obeys the Gospel. That was so with the Corinthians.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
Self-inspection or examining one’s self is an important periodic procedure that each of us, regardless of who we are, needs to undergo. “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5). For what are you guilty of stumbling over simplicity? Christian living? Christian service? Your home? Your job? Congregational peace, work, attendance, giving or leadership? Are you a scofflaw? Stumbling over simplicity is always unnecessary, not beneficial, unwarranted and tragic. Let each of us try harder not to stumble over simplicity!
Why Do We Worship?
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
Man is a worshipful being! No doubt the desire to worship something greater than ourselves was placed within us by an Intelligent Designer. Although the desire to worship is innate, humanity cannot determine proper actions with which to pay homage to our Creator without a Divine Standard. Thus, God’s Word dictates to man what is acceptable in the realm of worship. Jesus emphasized that worship must be “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). However, sometimes people attempt to worship according to their standards rather than God’s Standard (Leviticus 10:1-3). Not only are the actions (Truth) of worship necessary, but the attitude (spirit) must be right as well. When the actions and the attitude are right, worship accomplishes great things!
Worship exalts God! Surely the greatest accomplishment of worship is that it exalts and extols God Almighty! God is more than worthy of any praise and adoration we can give to Him. “For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the people are idols: but the Lord made the heavens. Glory and honour are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place” (1 Chronicles 16:25-27). When Isaiah saw the throne room of God, he heard the seraphim declaring, “…Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3b). John, the revelator, saw and heard a very similar chorus that included the four and twenty elders saying, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). True worship exalts God!
Worship elevates my spirit! Another unique aspect of worshipping our God is that when we offer true worship to Him, we elevate and uplift our own spirits. Joy was the direct result for the Psalmist when he entered to worship. “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1). Paul and Silas understood the elevating nature of worship, and while they were in prison, they “…prayed and sang praises unto God…” (Acts 16:25b). Think for a moment personally; have you ever found yourself distraught and down, but when you worshipped God, your inner most being changed for the better? Worship elevates my spirit!
Worship edifies others! In fact, many of the problems the Corinthian church faced were directly linked to failing to worship properly. The Corinthians were not partaking the Lord’s Supper properly, and the result was “…many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” (1 Corinthians 11:30). The Corinthians were misusing the miraculous, spiritual gifts, and the result was a lack of edification (1 Corinthians 14:26). Clearly, when worship is not given properly, anything but edification is the result. However, the opposite is true as well. When we offer true worship to our God, others are uplifted, built up and edified! Worship edifies others!
While mankind is certainly commanded to worship (Hebrews 10:23-25), worship for the sincere child of God is much more than a command. Worship, to the sincere Christian, is a privilege and an honor – an opportunity like no other! True worship gives me the opportunity to exalt God, elevate my spirit and edify others. “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:3).