Just Keep it Simple
By Dr. Jeff Meyers of Crossroads Ministries
This sermon isn’t an average easy sermon where, much like last week’s post, you can clearly tell that there wasn’t any mention of Jesus or repentant faith. There is mention of Jesus and His atonement in this sermon however,as I read through it I could tell that it would make a good sermon for a review. Today’s text is based on 2 Corinthians 11: 1-15.
1 I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness, but indeed you do bear with me. 2 For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy. For I promised you in marriage to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve in his craftiness, so your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we didn’t preach, or if you receive a different spirit which you didn’t receive, or a different “good news” which you didn’t accept, you put up with that well enough. 5 For I reckon that I am not at all behind the very best apostles. 6 But though I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not unskilled in knowledge. No, in every way we have been revealed to you in all things.7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached to you God’s Good News free of charge? 8 I robbed other assemblies, taking wages from them that I might serve you. 9 When I was present with you and was in need, I wasn’t a burden on anyone, for the brothers, when they came from Macedonia, supplied the measure of my need. In everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and I will continue to do so. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one will stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows.12 But what I do, that I will continue to do, that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity, that in which they boast, they may be recognized just like us. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as Christ’s apostles. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is no great thing therefore if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.2 Cor. 11: 1-15
This is the Scripture text that Jeff will be preaching about. I will add some quotes from his sermon and make some statements and ask questions as we go and ultimately giving a very brief sermon of my own to correct what he does with this text. Read the text in context and let’s see where Jeff takes us.
If there is one thing that we can all claim to be guilty of this morning, it is this: you and I have an unbelievable gift of taking the simple message that God gives us and so wrap it up in humanity that it’s hardly recognizable anymore. That’s exactly what they did in 2 Corinthians 11.Just Keep it Simple; Dr. Jeff Meyers of Crossroads Ministries
We have an unbelievable gift to take the simple message of God and wrap it up in humanity that it is hardly recognizable? What does this mean? It’s as if saying we are so corrupted by original sin that we don’t believe God’s Word, was too hard for him. Yet, I wouldn’t call Original Sin an “unbelievable gift“. Yet, he is correct, we are guilty. Sin is breaking of God’s holy Law and we are so utterly corrupted that we reject our Creator. Jeff has condemned us with the Law. Even though he tries to cutesie it up by calling our sin an “unbelievable gift“.
What’s being communicated here to this group of carnal, confused and chaotic people is that they have allowed the enemy to creep in, they’ve allowed whom we know as the devil and Satan to get ahold of their lives in a very strategic manner, and they have allowed themselves to remove from the simplicity that God wants to share in their life. Today I want to talk about just keeping it simple when it comes to our faith.Just Keep it Simple; Dr. Jeff Meyers of Crossroads Ministries
They have allowed themselves to be removed from the simplicity that God wants to share in their life? Where does God say that He wants to share simplicity with our life? I think Jeff is getting this from verse 3 yet that is one far stretch. This passage is about correct doctrine and not being led astray into false teaching about a false Christ but to stick with the teaching that Paul delivered to them of Christ and Him crucified. What does avoiding false doctrine have to do with God sharing simplicity with our life? God is not speaking of any type of simplistic life in this passage.
The devil’s best agents are preachers standing in churches, holding Bibles, leading the sheep astray. Because we embrace it. We want it. We desire it. What happens? He’s transformed himself into an angel of light.Just Keep it Simple; Dr. Jeff Meyers of Crossroads Ministries
He’s correct on this one. Yet it’s not just pastors who you can tell are easily twisting the text, it’s also pastors who can’t rightly distinquish between law and Gospel, or who weild the Law in such a way as to be ignorantly dangerous with it. Kind of like how a preacher calls original sin an “unbelievable gift“.
Allow me to give you some very real and very what I believe to be sadJust Keep it Simple; Dr. Jeff Meyers of Crossroads Ministries
illustrations. You say, “Another Jesus? There’s people preaching another Jesus?” Well, we would all state the facts today that born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death, rose victorious three days later. Those are the facts. We get that. The problem is oftentimes we take those facts and we twist and we turn them and we make a Jesus that the Bible never addresses, or if it does, it is in part but not in whole.
Agreed, so, who is this Jesus? If I’m attending church for the first time. You’ve told me I’ve disobeyed God, and failed to let Him share a life of simplicity. You have glossed over the Gospel with very a broad brush. If anything that is objective justification, and that is being very generous with your one sentence on page five of a seven page sermon. You haven’t told us who Jesus is or what He did other than he lived a sinless life and had some sort of sacrificial death. Was he just a good man who pushed a kid out of the way of a stampede only to die in the kids place? Who is this Jesus?
He made a statement, I can hear him say it in my ears right now because I couldn’t believe he said it. Here’s what he said, he said, “If you are not currently actively feeding the poor and the hungry, then you can’t go to heaven.” Now let that just sink in for just a minute. Should you as a believer in Jesus Christ, should you help the poor? Absolutely. Should you feed the hungry? You’d better believe it. Should you clothe the naked? Absolutely. Should you give shelter to the homeless? You got it. But did you know there are millions of people on planet earth right now that are feeding hungry people, clothing naked people, have nothing to do with Jesus and they’re gonna go forever in a place the Bible calls hell? Listen to me clearly: when it says “another Jesus,” the Jesus of the Bible lived a sinless life, gave a substitutionary death and rose from the dead so you could be saved, and it is my hope that out of that experience that you would want to help those that are disenfranchised.Just Keep it Simple; Dr. Jeff Meyers of Crossroads Ministries
Okay. There’s a little to unpack here. His statement contains Biblical truth yet it isn’t as clear as it could be. Taking care of your neighbors physical needs is a fifth commandment issue. To not hurt or harm our neighbors body but to help in every physical need is a short definition of the commandment to not murder. So, if you have ever broken that commandment, if you have ever hated your neighbor, if you have ever failed to help someone in need even your enemy, then you are feeling the conviction of breaking God’s Law.
Jeff mentions that Jesus died a substitutionary death and rose from the dead to save you. Yet, this doesn’t really offer comfort to those who have violated this commandment. Why? First, he doesn’t tell us who Jesus is. He keeps making the same generalized statement but leaves out that Jesus is God in the flesh. If your Jesus isn’t God in the flesh then you have a different Jesus than that of the Bible (1 John 4: 2-3). Jeff hasn’t said anything that a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness wouldn’t agree to, yet they have a different Jesus. This is important, that we have the correct Jesus, and not a form of Arianism, which is condemned as heresy. Secondly, he immediately throws us back onto the Law. Jeff says that his own hope, after having become a Christian, that we would help those disenfranchised.
That’s really a sneek peek as to where this ends up. For Jeff’s congregation and many others, the Gospel is only for the moment of conversion. After you get your “I’m a Christian card“, your life is then to be lived by the Law “post gospel“. When the Gospel is only for unbelievers, when God in the flesh Crucified for your sins, to save you from His wrath, is only for unbelievers, then where does your fruit come from? Where does your daily repentant faith get it’s fuel? It can only be found by more Law and more Law until you are no better than the unbelievers trying to either stay a Christian by your good life until you either despair and lose all hope, or become a proud hypocrite who thinks they haven’t sinned in the last five minutes.
Can I tell you what the Jesus of the Bible is? The Jesus of the Bible is that when we come to a place in our lives not where we have some ecstatic experience but where we fall on our face and confess that we have sinned and cannot do it ourselves and he reaches down and he forgives us and he saves us, according to the Bible the Holy Spirit then dwells within us.Just Keep it Simple; Dr. Jeff Meyers of Crossroads Ministries
Jeff’s view of the Christian faith is one of Semi-Pelagianism. Where the sinner is the one who reaches out to God to start the moment of conversion. He doesn’t seem to have a grasp of Original sin, especially since he calls it an “unbelievable gift“.
One would think that the only unbelievable gift mentioned in a sermon would be God in the flesh Crucified for your sins to save you from His wrath, made believable to you by God the Holy Spirit through the gift of faith given in word and sacrament.
You know, I remember some years ago a friend of mine, he was, shall we say, living a life that most of us would look at from the outside and think it was pretty sordid. His hair kind of looked like what we would imagine John the Baptist’s as looking like. The only difference was he wasn’t eating locusts and honey. He was wearing a whole lot of leather and he loved to ride some motorcycles. I mean, on the outside he had a pretty rough look but there came a point in his life where someone shared the Gospel message with him and he believed, he believed that he was a sinner, he believed that Jesus lived a sinless life, he believed that Jesus paid the price for his sin and rose from the grave, and so several years ago he got down on his knees there in that leather, biker-type look and asked Jesus to save him. A few days later, the church that he attended, the one of which I was not pastoring, can I make that clear, the pastor got up and made this statement. He said, “Oh, we’re all excited about our friend here and as soon as he’s baptized, he’s gonna cut his hair and shave his beard and look like Jesus.” Hm, isn’t that interesting. There’s a lot of people with short hair and clean faces gonna go to hell one day. There’s a lot of folks with long hair and beards gonna go to heaven. You know why? Because last time I checked, there’s nothing in the Bible about facial hair as an entrance into heaven. You know what is? Has the blood of Jesus Christ been applied to our lives?Just Keep it Simple; Dr. Jeff Meyers of Crossroads Ministries
He tells this story of a man who didn’t conform to what some people might call a Christian look. He says that this man asked Jesus to save Him; Synergism. The Bible is clear that due to Original sin, that we do not have free will to choose our conversion. Jeff then states that the entrance to heaven depends on the blood of Jesus… Being applied to our lives. I’m not sure what he means by that statement. We don’t apply anything to our daily life for our assurance of eternal life. We don’t do anything at all for assurance of eternal life.
When you get to the book of Acts 16, this same Apostle Paul is in the inner cell of a jail and there’s a great incredible event, the jailer comes in and he says, “What must I do to be saved?” You’ve read it. The Apostle Paul says, “Speak in tongues, cut your beard off and you’ll go to heaven.” Is that what he says? He says, “Start singing this kind of music and stop singing that kind of music, then you’ll go to heaven.” What does he say to him? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? Boy, we’ve made it complex. You know, the church at Corinth did the same thing and we’re just as guilty today. We want it to be pictured and we want it to be painted in a certain cultural acceptance or a certain means of appropriation. He tells this jailer, “If you’ll just believe on Jesus you will be saved.”Just Keep it Simple; Dr. Jeff Meyers of Crossroads Ministries
This is true, faith in Christ’s atonement for your sins is your salvation from the wrath of God. Yet let’s be clear, because the way this sermon is going, I want to make this crystal clear. Faith is not your own doing, it is not a byproduct of your reason. This would exclude children, the disabled, and those suffering from brain diseases from the kingdom of heaven. Faith, is a gift given by God the Holy Spirit, through the Word. (Eph. 2: 8-9) Turning faith into a work is to have another gospel, or another Jesus.
Now I want you to hear me clearly before our time of response. I do believe that when we are saved and the Holy Spirit dwells within us, that it will give us a supernatural desire to be as the Lord has given so much in his word about our behavior, our mannerisms, our speech, etc. but you and I have fallen into the same trap of the church at Corinth, that if it doesn’t look like this and it doesn’t sound like that and it’s not presented like this and it doesn’t fit our personal preference, then it must not be of God. It’s interesting he said, “Church, I marvel that you have removed yourselves from the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus.” Today if we’ve been caught up in the complexity, if we’ve been caught up in the checking the boxes, the crossing the t’s and the dotting the i’s, may we heed the words of the Lord to return to a simplicity that is in Christ.Just Keep it Simple; Dr. Jeff Meyers of Crossroads Ministries
This is how he ends his sermon. A few things to point out. Todays text was about a false Gospel, he spoke very little about biblical doctrine. He did mention briefly that salvation is based on Christ, but gave us very little depth into who Jesus is and what that salvation is. He spent time telling us about how we can disobey God and how we can be quick to listen to false doctrine that bases salvation on works. Yet, He never mentioned forgiveness for these sins that he discusses in his sermon. He talks about conversion but never talks about the Gospel after the regeneration of the soul.
In the end he leaves us with Law. Not the proper third use, which also follows that the Gospel comforts the conscience and produces fruit in us so that we strive to walk in the new life in accordance with God’s Law.
11] For the Law says indeed that it is God’s will and command that we should walk in a new life, but it does not give the power and ability to begin and do it; but the Holy Ghost, who is given and received, not through the Law, but through the preaching of the Gospel, Gal. 3:14, renews the heart. 12] Thereafter the Holy Ghost employs the Law so as to teach the regenerate from it, and to point out and show them in the Ten Commandments what is the [good and] acceptable will of God, Rom. 12:2, in what good works God hath before ordained that they should walk, Eph. 2:10. He exhorts them thereto, and when they are idle, negligent, and rebellious in this matter because of the flesh, He reproves them on that account through the Law, so that He carries on both offices together: He slays and makes alive; He leads into hell and brings up again. For His office is not only to comfort, but also to reprove, as it is written: When the Holy Ghost is come, He will reprove the world (which includes also the old Adam) of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. 13] But sin is everything that is contrary to God’s Law. 14] And St. Paul says: All Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, etc., and to reprove is the peculiar office of the Law. Therefore, as often as believers stumble, they are reproved by the Holy Spirit from the Law, and by the same Spirit are raised up and comforted again with the preaching of the Holy Gospel.Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord; Third Use of the Law
No one comes to faith except by the Gospel. Having a different “gospel” is dangerous as it leaves many in unbelief. The false apostles taught a works based righteousness and were lovers of living in comfort and luxury, using the title of ‘apostle’ to live off others and take advantage. We have this in our day as well. There are many false Christ’s and false doctrines. Even something as little as Jesus + circumcision is damning. The same is true for those who want to take a gift that God gives, a work that God does to you, and claim that it is your work for Him. People claim baptism is their work or faith is their work. Jeff even mentioned a man in this sermon partaking in decision theology, or making a decision for Christ. The larger problem of this sermon is that it teaches that the Gospel is only good for a one time event, your decision. Your work, your rationalism, is what Jeff is teaching. The false gospel of this sermon was Jesus + decision. Don’t get me wrong he did well enough by at least mentioning Christ and being saved, some sermons don’t even mention that, but only if you choose Jesus, and he never explained any doctrine about who Jesus is. The sins mentioned in the sermon were left with a stamp of “try harder” in the closing. Jeff didn’t do a good job at pronouncing the forgiveness of the sins that he spent seven pages condemning. Jeff actually disobeyed Jesus by not giving you the forgiveness of sins:
46 He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning at JerusalemLuke 24: 46-47
Pure doctrine matters. It mattered then and it still matters now. We all have original sin, and it is the complete opposite of an “unbelievable gift“. It is a disease that effects us all. It has corrupted us to the point that we don’t even love our Creator. We spend our lives mistrusting God and believing false Jesus’ instead of the real Jesus. We love our itching ears scratched and find an idol named “Jesus” far more appealing than the real Jesus.
Jeff was correct that many people who do outward good works still go to hell. This is because good works won’t save you or I from the wrath that we deserve. We have broken God’s law and have ran from Him yet there is good news. The real Gospel is that Jesus, fully God, second person of the Godhead, put on flesh, born of a virgin, to live a perfect life, fulfilling all demands of the Law. The punishment that you and I deserve was delivered to Him. He was whipped and nailed to the tree and left to bleed and die. He took the wrath that He didn’t deserve. He rose three days later. You, who deserves this wrath, are now imputed with His righteousness. You not only get to go free, you have a perfect unblemished record. This perfect righteousness is yours by the gift of faith. Believing in this Gospel, this Promise of God, is what gives you eternal life. It’s all a gift. Your sins are forgiven, you have eternal life in heaven, all as a gift from God. All of this because of God’s everflowing mercy and love toward you. Nothing would seperate you from Him. You sin couldn’t keep Him away, the nails couldn’t hold Him, death couldn’t contain Him, God loves you so much that He died for you. God loves you with such abundant power that death couldn’t hold Him. God loves you. May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. With your sins forgiven, go in peace.