It’s as Plain as…

by Lester Young

“The gospel – the good news – to the poor” (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18). If you’ve spent any time at all in church, you’ve probably heard that particular phrase at least a dozen times. And, if you spend any time around here (and I hope you do), you’re gonna hear it a whole lot more! Good news to the poor. See?

When we as Christians hear or read the Word of God, we often try to get real “spiritual” with it. Now, don’t misunderstand; the Word itself is spiritual. Jesus said so when He clearly revealed the nature and character of His words, that “they are spirit and life” (John 6:63). But that’s not what I mean; I’m making no reference here to the Word at all. I said that we tend to get all ‘spiritual’ when we read or hear the Word; my indictment is of us. We often try to look for the “deepest” meaning possible, and thereby miss a simple truth that’s staring us right in the face.

Again, please don’t misunderstand. The depths of God’s Word I’m quite sure we’ll never fully comprehend until we get to Heaven (1 Corinthians 13:12). And, the more we study and spend time with Jesus in His Word, the clearer our vision and depth of wisdom and understanding becomes. But even so, His Word still says what it says when you first read it; and it often has a simple, very ‘real’ meaning that can be applied to the natural and physical just as correctly as that ‘deeper’ meaning corresponds to the spiritual realm. It’s easy to overlook that ‘surface truth’ and consequently lose out on a physical manifestation of God’s power in the here and now – because our ‘eternal’ life from Him doesn’t start in the sweet by-and-by; we already have it right now.

Consider the well-known promise, “By His stripes, you [were] are healed” (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24). Do you take those words only figuratively (that is, ‘spiritually’) to mean that “I’ll be perfectly fine and well and whole once I get to the other side, but right now I’ll just have to suffer for Christ and deal with it.”? Or, do you also attach to them a more ‘literal’ meaning for today, one that causes you to start hoping and expecting the pain in your leg or back to go away now while you’re still in this ol’ body here? You know, a really simple, black-and-white, “the-Word-says-I’m-healed-so-I’m-healed” type of meaning. Isn’t it just as true as any other deep, ‘spiritual’ meaning that Scripture may bring?

Okay, then…back to “preaching the gospel to the poor.” People have typically said, “Well, that ‘poor’ means the meek, the downtrodden, the lowly or the humble.” Granted. But, if you were to do a study of that word (in either the Hebrew or Greek languages), you’ll find that it also refers to the ‘lowly in physical circumstances’ – that is, needy, beggarly, paupers. In other words, po folk! And, just what, pray tell, would be good news to po folk, hmm? C’mon, now, that’s an easy one…no more poordom! But, just like our first example, in order to benefit from that freedom here and now, it needs to be taken literally (remember: how you measure it determines how it’s measured to you [Luke 6:38]).

Hey, if God said it, then that’s it…and can you think of a better person to take at His Word?

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4 Comments to “It’s as Plain as…”

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