December 17, 2016

Out of darkness into light

Spiritual blindness is a terrible thing. Those with physical blindness at least know that they cannot see, but the spiritually blind person has no sense of being in the dark.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:3–4)

How can a spiritually blind person receive sight? Chambers says that the lost must call out to God, but how can they do that if they are blind to their need to do that?

As for me, I know what that blindness is like. I also know that God does the work of bringing light into the life of those in the dark. Out of habit and my mother’s example, I read the Bible for seventeen years, but I could not understand it and nothing changed. It was only after a great failure and much guilt that I became hungry for relief, but had no idea what that would look like or where it would come from.

I began to wonder about life after death and started reading a book about reincarnation (a false teaching). When I read a verse of Scripture in that book, Jesus Christ came into my living room and into my life. At once, the darkness was gone and the Light of the world lifted the sorrow and guilt from my heart. Prior to that time, if I heard the gospel, I do not remember it, but that day, I knew what it was.

Chambers says the Gospel creates a sense of need of the Gospel and that we have to hear it to know we need it. He also says we must ask because “God cannot give until a man asks.” If that were true, I would not be here. It is in Him that I live and breathe — He gave me life and spiritual life without any request on my part. He did His work in my heart and mind without me even knowing that I needed it. Redemption did not depend on my asking for it, but on His amazing grace.

Chambers also says people might be interested if we preach our own experiences, but this will not awaken any sense of need. He adds, It is never personal testimony that saves men” using what Jesus said in John 6:63: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”

However, this needs more thought. For one thing, in those days they did not have the New Testament. Nothing Jesus said was as yet recorded, yet people who personally did not hear Him speak were being saved. The disciples repeated His words and gave their own words to tell truth from God and thousands believed.

As God spoke to His holy men and they recorded the truth He gave them, the New Testament was formed and later ratified as the Word of God. While most agree that the canon of Scripture is closed and not to be added to or subtracted from, the Holy Spirit still speaks. Jesus said the Spirit would come and convince people of their sin, their need for righteousness, and of the judgment to come. This is how those in the dark realize they are sinners.

The Holy Spirit also bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). While we need to test the spirits and not go off on some sort of “God told me” tangent, the Bible assures Christians that God will guide us in all of life through the nudges and comfort of the Holy Spirit.

That said, God can also speak through other people in their testimony, a parable, an illustration, and even events both awesome and tragic. He uses His Word to give life, yet Jesus said: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63)

In this verse, “words” is rhema in Greek, not logos. Logos is the revelation of God, the Word of God, whereas rhema is that which God utters for the need of the moment. Both are necessary. Some read Scripture and are never saved. Without the Spirit to speak into the minds that He created, I would never have been convinced of my need for Him. He used rhema to make sense of logos, and through that personalized voice in my heart, I became a Christian.

The Bible says that “He chose me in Him before the foundation of the world, that I should be holy and blameless before Him” (Ephesians 1:4, personalized). It also says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9).

From start to finish, God did it and God still does all of it.

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