Saturday, September 18, 2010

The accessable Gosple (DT 30:11-14)

"For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it." (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)
This scripture is best understood when placed in context with the end of the previous chapter where Moses wrote, "But the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever." (Deuteronomy 29:29) When Moses speaks of the law as "not too difficult" he is using a word that is most often translated as "wondrous" or "marvelous". This word describes something that is beyond our comprehension, beyond our ability to know and understand in full. For example, Agur the son of Jakeh wrote, "There are three things which are too wonderful for me." (Proverbs 30:18) and Job confessed, "Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know." (Job 42:3) In both cases the implication is not so much that the information was "too difficult" but rather "too hidden" for them. It was marvelous and wonderful and beyond their understanding and discovery.

In contrast, Moses was saying that the law was accessible; easy to know and understand. There were no hidden meanings, not tricks or gotchas to watch out for, it simply had to be read and obeyed. It is interesting that in the recorded history of Israel you don't see (as a rule) preachers or teachers. They had prophets who called the people back to the law and they had priest who performed the sacrifices for the people according to the law, but you don't see the people congregating regularly to hear some teacher, or man of God, teach them the law. Education in the law was a personal responsibility. Joshuah commanded the people, "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success." (Joshuah 1:8) It was also the parents' responsibility to pass the law onto their children as Moses commanded them, "Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, 'Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.'" (Deuteronomy 4:10) They didn't need teachers because the law was clear, easy to understand, and accessible.

Paul later takes this verse and applies it directly to us as believers under the new covenant.
"For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: 'Do not say in your heart, "Who will ascend into heaven?" (that is, to bring Christ down), or "Who will descend into the abyss?" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).' But what does it say? 'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' — that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." (Romans 10:5-10)
In reflecting back on the words of Moses, Paul is making the same contrast between things that are hidden and things that are revealed. While in previous generations the message of the Gospel had been hidden, Jesus both descended from heaven and was raised form the dead that He might reveal the hidden things to us. "The mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:26-27)

The Gospel is simple, there are no hidden meanings, no hidden or obscured truths, it is simple and straight forward so that anyone who desires to know and obey it may hear and understand. We don't need to travel the world looking for the man of God to teach it to us. We don't need priests of other appointed clergy to teach it to us, it is plain enough for everyone to understand and obey. This is why John could confidently assert, "As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him." (1 John 2:27)

This is not to say that there is no place for teachers in the Body of Christ, but we are not dependent on them to understand, apply, and obey the simple truths of the Gospel. We don't need someone's "special revelation" to know and understand God. Paul echoed this when he wrote, "For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end." (2 Corinthians 1:13) The Gospel Paul delivered to the churches was simple and clear, nothing hidden or obscured, and it was accessible even to the simple.

Lets stop trying to make the Gospel difficult or complicated. Lets stop believing that we must seek out the "man of God" to teach us. Lets stop placing greater emphasis on "deep revelation" rather than on the simple truth of the Gospel. Let us return to simplicity.

David Robison

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