Psalm 138; Mark 1:14–16; John 16:5–11 (read online ⧉)
Some of you know just how simple our faith really is. On the other hand, within its simplicity is great complexity. The tension within that “entertains” theologians, and can drive the rest of us a little crazy.
Part of the complexity is not that our faith is truly complex, but that we understand ourselves and our fellow humanity. Humanity seeks to find the “gray” areas. We seek to get away with whatever we can.
Many of the arguments (or strongly-worded discussions and schisms) revolve around what “exactly” the Scriptures say. Often, sadly, some of the biggest struggles are over what the Bible doesn’t say. In the Church of the Nazarene, we say that the 66 Books of the Bible contain all that is necessary to understand salvation (gaining it is something different). Yes, that leaves it open to a lot of discussions. Many of those are good discussions; some of them aren’t so good. Yet, the “faith” remains simple.
Mark says Jesus proclaimed, “repent and believe…” That’s pretty simple.
John, on the other hand, begins to show that it isn’t quite so simple. The Counselor (the Holy Spirit) will come to convict. Of course, only after one is convicted (spiritually, not legally) can one repent. So quickly the simplicity is peeled away.
There is something odd about this. His 11 disciples (we’ll skip Judas Iscariot) would be saved at this point, would they not? Yet, Jesus implies that it is not quite the case; it is, and it isn’t. Or, perhaps, it is more of a “saved to the best of your understanding now” and “better saved later”.
Jesus died for us. There isn’t a question about that. The Holy Spirit convicts. Jesus doesn’t. So, we need the Holy Spirit. Still sort of simple, but we can see how quickly, just with Jesus’ words, that simple is not simplistic, and complexity hides the simpleness.
※ Questions ※
1) How do you know someone has been saved? What do you ask them?
2) Once you know they’re saved, do you talk about the mysteries of God? Why or why not?
3) If you had to choose between the faith being simple or the faith being complex, which would you choose? Why?
4) Do you think simple and complex are the right words? What other words might you use?