The KISS Principle and The Message of the Christian Faith: Keep it Simple and Let the Holy Spirit Do His Work

Posted: June 14, 2015 in 46-1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 2:1-16 — Have you ever had one of those friends, acquaintances, or co-workers that you feared having to ask a question because you knew that what would take you and I about 5 minutes to explain would take them 30 minutes to explain. These are the people that feel that they must give you ALL the background information on a situation rather than just the facts and the opinion that you need to know. These are the people that you don’t want leading you when it’s about 10 seconds before the bomb blows up and they take 30 seconds to tell the history of the situation. That is kind of the point of Paul’s passage today. When you read through this passage there seems to be two aspects to it and we will look at both, today and tomorrow. Today, we will look at Paul’s statement about how his message was presented to them.

There is an old saying in leadership circles, regardless of whether in the secular world or in the spiritual realm, that says that it is important to remember the KISS principle. KISS being an acronym for “keep it simple, stupid!” When we are trying to teach people new concepts, new procedures, new ways of thinking, you name it, we must break down the new thing into its simplest form. We must break down the overall complex thing into small chewable chunks that people can remember. When teaching a man how to operate a new piece of machinery at work, we do not teach him about all the engineering specifications of the machine as part of his initial training. We simply teach him what he needs to know to be successful in running the machine and not hurting himself in the process. It is the same way with preaching the gospel, particularly to those new in the faith and to people who have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

As we have discussed before Paul was a brilliant scholar. He knew the Scriptures well as he studied under the best biblical scholars and theologians that Israel had to offer. Paul could have overwhelmed his listeners with intellectual arguments. Instead, he shared the simple message of Jesus Christ by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide his words. As pastors and as anyone who shares their faith others, we must keep the message simple. It is the simple things that are the easiest to remember. Why do you think that you remember the lyrics to a song from 30 years ago word for word but yet you cannot remember what any of your textbooks from college or high school said? Simplicity. Popular music is popular because it is simple and easy to remember. We must remember that when we preach people are going to forget 80% of what we said within the first hour after hearing the sermon. Within the first 48 hours, they will have forgotten 95% of exactly what you said. Therefore, that 5% is what we are after. What they will retain must be simple and memorable. That is where we must remove ourselves and let the Holy Spirit guide. The Holy Spirit must guide our words. The Holy Spirit must be the one to captivate and burn that 5% that is retained in the brain. We must allow the Holy Spirit be the guide to us in what we write and what we speak. The same is true for those who are not full-time pastors. Christ followers are ministers in their daily lives and when we witness to others about Jesus, we must allow the Holy Spirit to guide our words. When we make it our job to save people, we will lose them.

Paul is saying basically that he has never saved anyone. What? Paul who is second only to Jesus in the impact that a person has had on our Christian faith through the centuries never saved anyone. That’s right and Paul himself would admit that. It is the Holy Spirit who saves. So, Paul is saying, let us get ourselves out of the way and the Holy Spirit do His work. The simpler the message the more it is remembered. If you try to load people down with all the theology of the Christian faith when they are not already a believer, you are going to lose them. When you do that, you are interjecting yourself into the fray. When we purposely try to show how much we know about our faith, we make the message complicated when it is not. There is plenty of time to teach a person the beauty and symmetry of the theology of the Christian faith. Those things come with maturity in the faith. As we mature in Christ, we hunger to know more about why we believe what we believe. It is natural through the leading of the Holy Spirit as a person matures in the faith. Do they need to know that on the day of salvation? Paul and anyone else would say that if you boil the entire Bible down to one thing to remember it would be found in John 3:16. For God so loved the world that gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. It’s that simple.

So, is Paul saying that we should not prepare as pastors or prepare as witnesses and that we do not have to do anything? Paul is not denying the importance of study and preparation both as preachers and witnesses. Effective preaching and effective witnessing comes from preparation. We must study and understand Scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in its presentation. If we do not understand Scripture, we can mislead people even if the message is made simple. We can misrepresent the message of John 3:16, the simple message, if we do not know the story of which we are witnessing. In such situations, say as pastors, if we do not know Scripture and in our zeal to engage culture and get them in our doors, we may do a makeover on the Ten Commandments and make them into the Ten Suggestions. In our desire for simplicity and attractiveness, we cannot subvert the Bible. As daily witnesses, we must understand the story so that we can place it in the context of that person’s life to whom we are witnessing without abandoning the immutable truths of the Bible. When we do anything other than be witnesses to the simple, unchanging truth of the Bible as God’s Word, we get in the way of the Holy Spirit. We must know and trust the Word as is, place it in the context of a person’s life issues, and then watch the Holy Spirit do His work.

The message that we get from Paul today is this. The message is simple. Let us not overcomplicate it. All of the theology comes with maturity in Christ. What people really need to know is that God has a redemptive plan for all mankind, for us individually, through the person and work of Jesus Christ. The simpler the message the better. We must know and understand Scripture, sure. For it is in knowing Scripture well comes the ability to make it simple to others. For it is in knowing Scripture that we know that we do not save people but rather the Holy Spirit. For it is in knowing Scripture, that we learn humility before God and allow the Holy Spirit to guide our thinking, our actions, and our message to the world in its simplest, most understandable forms. The message is really as simple as the childhood vacation bible school song, “Jesus loves me! This, I know! For the Bible tells me so!”



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