Fear Leads To Spiritual Darkness

7 Comments

John 12: 37 – 43

37 Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:

 “Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

 39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

 40 “He has blinded their eyes
and deadened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn–and I would heal them.”

 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The passage in John given above is extremely difficult to understand, especially if we are not familiar with the book of Isaiah and the history of the Jews.  John quotes from two passages in Isaiah, and he was very familiar with the history of his people, and how it was necessary for God to punish, or discipline them for their overt disobedience.

Let us look first at what John is saying in verse 37 and 38.  At this point in John’s Gospel, Jesus had been ministering throughout Galilee and Judea for about 3 1/2 years, teaching about the Kingdom of God, and showing the power of God through the mighty miracles He had been performing.  And yet despite how obvious it was that Jesus had come from God and spoke for God, many of the people, especially the religious leaders were unwilling to put their faith in Him.  Out of jealousy and fear of Roman retaliation, they would rather kill Jesus, than believe in Him.

The quotation from verse 38 comes from the first verse of Isaiah chapter 53, which happens to be one of the clearest Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming Messiah and how this Saviour would be rejected and brutally mistreated and finally killed.  This “Suffering Servant” would die in order to free us from our sin and guilt before God and heal our spiritual wounds.  Just as many Jews would not listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah concerning the Messiah to come, so many Jews would not listen to Jesus, who was the Messiah that had finally come for His people.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This brings us to the next prophecy of Isaiah.  Verse 40 above comes from verse 10 of Isaiah 6, which is considered to be the first vision that Isaiah had from the Lord.  In this vision, the Lord God Almighty, who is all powerful and glorious to behold and completely holy, meaning that there is no sin whatsoever to be found within the nature of God.  And this Holy God called out to Isaiah to prophesy against the nation of Israel which had been very unfaithful and disobedient towards Him, as they had worshipped and trusted in all the false gods of the land.  Instead of being a holy people, they had been a blatantly idolatrous people.

So God could no longer endure such God-less people, and told Isaiah to say in Isaiah 6:9, “You will listen and listen, but never understand.  You will look and look, but never see.”  Then Isaiah went on to say what we have quoted above in John 12:40.  Taken out of context, this verse can almost seem that the spiritual darkness of people is the result of what God has purposefully done to them, as if it is His fault that they are sinners and will be spiritually lost forever.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I want to challenge this thought this way.  All people have been given free will, and so the choice to follow after God or to sin and reject God is really the decision of the individual.  When God pronounces judgment upon a sinner, it is really God declaring the natural outcome that the person had chosen for themselves.

Jesus gave a powerful parable about a farmer who sowed seed on four different kinds of soil.  You can read this parable in Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8.  There are many applications to this parable.  What I need to point out here is that there are four kinds of soil, each one representing a different kind of person.  The hard soil is the person under the control of Satan; the soil with shallow ground is the person who may appear to have faith in God, but under pressure will give up their faith.  The soil among the thorns is the one who believes in God but lets the things of life drag them down; the good soil is the person who has an open heart to receive the truths of God.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This article is being posted on the Internet just a few days after Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  These are the most significant days in a year (after Christmas Day).  People long ago rejected Jesus and killed Him, but three days later He rose from the grave.  Some of the people back then refused to believe in Jesus, while some believed but were afraid to declare this out of fear of what the leaders would do to them.

What about you?  Do you let your fears of what others think hold you back from receiving Jesus into your heart and free you from spiritual darkness and the guilt of sin?  Do you have faith in Jesus, but are still afraid of what others might say or do to you?  Remember this: the power that raised Jesus from the grave is the same power that resides within us who believe in Him.  In Christ, you will always be able to overcome the forces of spiritual darkness.  We are children of the King, and children of Light.  Amen!

enw_gospelofjohn_black2

 

* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please share it and invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

Advertisements

Pioneering New Mission Fields – Pt. 2

Leave a comment

[Editor’s Note: The second article of this series was written by the Area Director of Pioneer Bible Translators who oversees the countries of Asia and the Pacific.  As you will read below, some of the countries which are included within this region are some of the most difficult countries for missionaries to enter and be engaged in activities that are overtly Christian in nature.  Despite this, God not only calls us to reach out to the people groups of these countries, but He is also helping us to find legitimate and creative ways to enter into the countries and work among the people.  Read on and you will understand more.]

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Access Strategies

“I am not sure what I expected to see when I drove through the city on my first trip to East Asia, but it wasn’t a Lexus or Louis Vuitton. Yet I saw those trappings of economic prosperity throughout the city, along with modern malls, department stores, and new high-rises. Amazing changes are taking place here as a result of increasing openness to economic development.

One thing that hasn’t changed after centuries of spiritual oppression is the people’s need for the Gospel. We know of over 300 languages spoken here; the actual number is probably much higher. Most of the people groups speaking these minority languages are both unreached and unengaged– they do not have a church presence, and no outside agencies are bringing them the Gospel. They are among the most spiritually impoverished peoples on earth.”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

“Pioneer Bible Translators is committed to serving people groups like these. This is a challenging task in East Asia, where the government controls many aspects of domestic life, including the ability to travel freely. Expatriates cannot simply move to a remote area and set up housekeeping. They need a reason to be there. Unfortunately, the most believable reason–that we are there to share the Gospel of Jesus–is the very one we cannot use.

Therefore Pioneer Bible Translators is working diligently to develop creative access strategies to engage the unreached peoples of East Asia. These strategies require an entrepreneurial spirit coupled with the ability to analyze needs and opportunities in the community and facilitate business ventures that give us legitimate reasons to establish our presence there. Ethno-tourism, eco-tourism, coffee brokerages, and small-scale manufacturing are among the promising possibilities.”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

“However, for reaching some language communities, creative access strategies such as these will not be enough. Some areas are simply off limits to expatriates. Period. To reach the Bible-less, church-less peoples who lived there, we must find ways to engage them from a distance.

One possibility is to train other East Asians as cross-cultural evangelists and church planters, then send them into those areas. Another involves identifying members of those language groups who live outside their home areas and engaging them in the work of Bible translation.

Yet another possibility is to equip mother-tongue translators to work on-site, bringing them out of their home areas periodically for workshops and training.”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

“Our most important strategy, however, does not require creative access. It involves availing ourselves of the access we already have–access to the very throne of God. If the peoples of East Asia are to be reached, it will be through the prayers of God’s people.

We need to pray fervently and regularly that God will raise up workers to serve here, that He will lead them to find creative strategies that work, that He will grant them favor with government officials, and that He will work through them to bring His Gospel to the unreached.”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦          ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

[Editor’s Note: We truly live in exciting times today.  We are literally seeing the Gospel message of Jesus Christ go to the very ends of the earth.  But as the article written above points out, there are still some nooks, crannies and corners where important people groups are situated that have tremendous barriers still to getting traditional missionaries into those areas.  Please be praying along with us that God will show us the way to get the Light of Jesus to shine in these spiritually dark corners.]

Population in this region: 1.3 billion people

Languages in this region: 334

Languages without Bibles: 287

 PBT Logo

Used by permission from Pioneer Bible Translator’s monthly publications.  If you would like to receive this quarterly magazine, click on the link here for “The Latest Word ” and subscribe to it.