Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Simple Faith #Jesus Taught! #JesusFollowers

To promote real morality and true piety, we can conceive nothing so well fitted as the simplicity of Jesus - the plain, unequivocal, uninvolved requirement of love to God, tested by love to men and active usefulness in life. 

How utterly simple and plain, how free from all subtlety and dogmatic obscurity, is the teaching of Jesus.

His Sermon on the Mount is indisputable, practical, simple, having no abstruse, remote, or novel concepts. It proclaims no ideas that amaze or confuse, nor does it call for careful consideration on account of its novelty. It is a solemn, searching declaration of the universal religion of humanity. 

In it, he proclaims that God is holy, wise, good; blessed are you if you are pure, meek, hungering for righteousness, and living from the heart pure, useful, holy lives. This is all the doctrine there is in it ; not a word about the nature of the Godhead, the fall of man, the need of the atonement, the deity of Christ, the necessity of baptism and the saving sacrament of the  communion.  

Jesus was no scholar. He spoke the language and the truth and the religion of a simple, deep-thinking representative of universal humanity - true always, everywhere, and for all. There is nothing to add, nothing to take away, nothing to excuse or to explain away in his clear teachings. 

His teachings do not need any changes for the times, or the nation, or the circumstances, to account for them. It is because they give voice to what humanity knows and feels to be deepest and holiest, that they hold the allegiance of the Twenty-first, just as they will for those living of the Thirty-first Century. 

We cannot conceive of anything pertaining to our religious wants or our religious faith that do not already exist in the precepts, spirit, and example of Jesus.

We can very easily make the clear, simple, moral fact precisely what we choose to have it by enough twisted reasoning. And as we consider our consciences, so we are apt to consider our religion. God has pronounced it simple, plain, unmistakable. Jesus has taught and illustrated it in ways a child can understand. But it is so plain that it becomes severe; so simple that it looks cold and hard, like a marble statue.

We often hear the simplicity of Jesus as it reveals itself in the Sermon on the Mount compared disparagingly with the complicated faith of the Nicene Creed. But what can we call “the Christian religion” except that which really adds nothing to the old Jewish and the older natural religion of love to God and love to man, except the example and spirit of Jesus! 

What becomes of the Fall, and the Curse, and the Atonement, and the Sacraments, and the Trinity, and the Deity of Christ, and all the rest of the dogmatic paraphernalia of religion? They become invisible, like candles in the presence of the sun. 

It is the keeping of these great commandments that discloses their richness and fullness. They are simple, few, and concise. But live by them, and you will find that all the bodies of divinity in the world could not contain their lessons, or describe the glorious richness of their contents.

Do not allow yourselves to fall under the dominion of these high-sounding subtleties, these dark dogmas, these involved metaphysical puzzles, which pass for religion and Christianity. They will unsettle your common sense, and fog up your conscience, and finally make you think religion not the plainest thing in the world - a highway, in which the wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err, —but an enigma and a riddle, a sphinx which you must helplessly bow before and adore, though she will answer no question you put to her.

It is not the unknown we can profit by, but the known. It is not the obscure, but the plain, that should have our attention. It takes no learning, no scholarship, no formal logic, no fine-spun reasoning, to know God so far as we need to know Him, as a moral governor and Father of our spirits; to know Jesus as a holy, gentle, and wise master and guide of character; to know our duty well enough to live chastely, truthfully, honestly, with mercy and sympathy.

(Adapted from a sermon by Dr. Henry W. Bellows)

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