21-Day Challenge: Day 15

Blinded

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

"How I long to gather you in my arms..."

“How I long to gather you in my arms…”

I do not relish writing this Catch. I have been staring at the blank page on my screen for a while now, trying to figure out how to go about this. There is no easy way. I wish the Bible weren’t so clear about heaven and hell so we could maybe explain hell away somehow. But Paul talks about those who are saved and those who are perishing, about vessels made for honor and vessels made for dishonor, and Jesus talks about dividing people into sheep and goats, wheat and tares, and branches that are lifted up, and those that are pruned out and thrown into the fire. Kind of hard to get around all of that.

There’s no way you can make this pretty; but there is a way you can make sure everyone knows there is a way clear through to the Father.  That the arms of Christ — as represented by that famous statue over Rio de Janeiro we saw time and time again during the World Cup — are still open wide to the whole world, and will stay open right up to the end of this age.

And if, when you try, some people don’t get it, there just isn’t much you can do about that except to keep setting forth the truth plainly, because you never know when the veil that is disabling someone from seeing and understanding the truth might come down. The veil here sounds final, but it is not. It is not irrevocable. “When anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” is still true. If it’s true for the children of Israel, it’s true for everyone. That’s all it takes to undo what Satan has done in blinding the minds of some. Turn to the Lord.

The new covenant ministry is unique in that it doesn’t demand results from us. Not everyone will get it, but choosing those who see and those who don’t is out of our hands. It’s not who can set forth the truth in the most compelling way; it’s the fact that the results are in a spiritual realm that is beyond us. This is where the forces of God and the forces of Satan clash over the souls of men and women. This is the mystery.

This is also the power of the Gospel of Welcome. The arms of God are wide open to receive. So open wide your heart to everyone. Set forth the truth plainly. Whatever you do, don’t give up on anybody. Pray. It’s still good news. It will always be good news.

Day 15 Challenge:
Paul is responding to a question, “If this is all true (setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God), why don’t more people come to the truth?”

People are perishing because they do not believe; and they do not believe because they are blinded by the devil. That is what he is saying. The god of this age has brainwashed them. They cannot understand what the good news is saying; they do not believe it.

As before, the veil is the delusion that we are adequate to handle life by ourselves. It is that independent sense of pride that says, “I can handle it by myself; I do not need God.”

The veil that lies over the minds of people is to keep them from seeing their inadequacy up against the law, which is fading into death; their death.

Action items:

  1. Who is responsible for unbelief?
  2. If it is Satan who has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, do we give up on them?
  3. Why then do we not grow discouraged if in our offering no one responds to the plain truth of the gospel?
  4. Do we know who is being saved and who is perishing?
  5. How do we know what to tell people if we don’t know whether they are being saved or they are perishing?
  6. So what hope is there that anybody who has been blinded by the devil will ever believe the good news?

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6 Responses to 21-Day Challenge: Day 15

  1. Cathy says:

    Thanks John, you presented this discussion very well; it is a difficult subject to write about; as you said, it is a mystery at times.

  2. Andrew P. says:

    John, maybe you didn’t like writing today’s Catch (I certainly understand why), but you described the situation very well. We must (of course) never shrink from declaring the WHOLE counsel of God, not just the easy to receive parts.

  3. Markus says:

    I don’t really know why, but I’m not bothered by the question as to who is responsible. All I know is that there are way too many non Christians out there who I like, and that is something that bothers me. I don’t see that as a reason for discouragement though. It is not us, but the Holy Spirit who is doing the whole “salvation thing” after all. We are just his vessels. That is also why I am glad that we do not know who will be saved and who will not. I mean, if God told us that a certain person will absolutely not make it, wouldn’t that have a negative impact on our behaviour and on our thoughts as well? “To love your enemy” would be pretty tough, if God himself told us that somebody is his enemy for all eternity. That is why I believe that we should “just” be willing vessels of the Holy Spirit, because that is likely to trigger questions and thoughts. That is also why I believe that our human curiousity is a mighty ally in this respect and that it can help to lift the veil.

    • Cathy says:

      I really like what you wrote Markus. I read a most excellent book years ago, written by J. I. Packer called “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God” which to me, answered as many of my questions as possible on this most difficult topic. There are just some “mysteries” that we must leave to God and trust He has our best interests at heart and that He loves everyone even though not all will be saved.

  4. Linda from Texas says:

    Hi – so good to read everyone’s comments. Someone kept pestering me almost 45 years ago to go to church. Just to shut her up, I went. I saw people doing strange things like actually bringing their Bibles to church and talking about God. And when the pastor talked to me about the plan of salvation and I prayed and asked Jesus to forgive and save me – that veil was lifted. I was ignorant with a veil over me but someone would not give up on me – my friend and my Lord. We have to be “children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which” we “shine like stars in the universe as” we “hold out the word of life” Phil. 2:15-16.

  5. Most people I know don’t hate God near as much as they hate the package he is presented in. They may not be rejecting God but only yours, mine, somebody’s version of God.
    I don’t believe in a literal hell. My understanding of scripture is that when Christ spoke of hell he was referring to a place in Jerusalem that anyone listening would have recognized.
    I kind of think that the good news that Christ died for our sins loses it’s appeal when it only includes a handful of humanity. I don’t know who the blood of Christ wasn’t good enough for but it’s pretty easy to convert a child if you tell them to accept Jesus or burn in hell forever. By far the largest age group converted are children.
    If hell is your thing John’s take on it is as good as anybody’s.
    If there are people that don’t make it to heaven for some reason I figure that’s between them and God.
    God can explain to them why they weren’t worthy of having the veil lifted.

    1. Who is responsible for unbelief?
    It must be God if only He can lift the veil.
    2. If it is Satan who has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, do we give up on them?
    We have all looked lost to somebody.
    3. Why then do we not grow discouraged if in our offering no one responds to the plain truth of the gospel?
    We are not the salvation or the big picture. Response comes in many levels.
    4. Do we know who is being saved and who is perishing?
    Not a clue
    5. How do we know what to tell people if we don’t know whether they are being saved or they are perishing?
    We just walk with people, share the journey. Share our faith as we walk.
    7. So what hope is there that anybody who has been blinded by the devil will ever believe the good news?
    We give the devil way to much credit. Temptation is man’s own evil thoughts and desires, we don’t need a devil to be screwed up. There is no hope outside of Christ. My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness

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