God sets a race to run before every child he receives encourages us to “run with patience the race that is set before us” (He 12:1). The picture of a runner running for the crown is one of the clearest pictures God gives us his purpose. He That race has a crown to win (1 Cor. 9:24-27). There is a definite mark or finish line (Phil 3:14). There are specific unbreakable rules (2 Tim 2:5). Several months before Paul died he said: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7,8).
Paul knew where to run and did. The runner who does not know the mark, will run aimlessly, without heart. He will run toward every bright light that beckons. The Lord does not want anyone to be “tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14). The one who believes in a wrong goal runs heartily, but will arrive at the wrong mark. “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (2 Tim. 2:5). We must see God’s plan as it is. What avail is it for a man to choose what he wants to believe, only to find a few moments after he dies that he missed the mark? He warns us that many will be shocked who not only knew him, but they were absolutely certain that they were serving him (Matt. 7:21-23). Even on judgment day they will still believe they knew him and were serving him. We don’t want that to happen to us.
It is not a question of doubt. It is a matter of faith – faith in God’s word – every word. We need to know the truth – all of the truth. God’s plan can be made to be too hard or too simple. To do so is to miss the mark. Many, like the Pharisees, will miss the mark because tradition is strong. Some have said: “If ‘so-and-so’ has not taught it, it is not so.” Faith in men is the wrong faith. Paul did not use his own words so “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:5). Our faith must be in God – in every word that proceeds out of his mouth. This is not our natural inclination. “No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better” (Luke 5:39).
On judgment day, we will all wish we had heard and understood every word. God has never said that the gospel is simple. The closest we can come to a ‘simple’ gospel is in 2 Corinthians 11:3. The word ‘simplicity’ is literally singleness (not folded), which is ‘sincerity.’ There are first principles in the gospel for babies (Heb. 5:11-14) but there are second principles of the gospel which are not easy to be understood (2 Pe 3:15,16). God hid this wisdom of the gospel from the foundation of the world so that no prophet or anyone else ever imagined what it is (2 Cor. 2:6-11). He tells plainly that he revealed these things in wisdom. God’s wisdom is not simple. Paul preached the gospel in all wisdom (Col 2:28). The gospel makes disciples (Mt 28:19), baptizes those who have been made disciples, and then teaches them all Jesus taught them – the complete truth (John 16:13). This is not simple.