It’s commonly said that Christians are not of this world but are in the world. The world tries its utmost to suppress the knowledge of God and to keep God out of their thinking. The world is in rebellion against God. The world is biased against God.
I do not believe they already know the knowledge of God or the good news. They are spiritually dead and spiritually blind. The Good News is brought to life to the spiritually dead by enlightenment through the work of Holy Spirit. I do not believe the Word of God apart from the working of Holy Spirit can be understood as much more than a history and/or text book. The living Word is revealed in the living, not the dead to the exception of the light being brought by Holy Spirit that leads one from death to life. Jesus after His resurrection opened the minds of His disciples so that they may understand. This understanding was beyond mere academic, but was a spiritual enlightenment (Luke 24:45). Also take note of John 20:22, I believe that more happened (breathed on them and said receive the Holy Spirit and opened their minds)to the disciples in the days between the resurrection and the ascension than the approximately three years before the resurrection. I believe this is true of people today ... there is a work of God that leads up to a time where one is breathed on (receiving Holy Spirit) and having one's mind opened to the Scriptures. We today, like the disciples, need both.
How do we represent Jesus? If the Word of God and Spirit of God is not enough ... none would have hope. Since the Word of God and Holy Spirit is enough we are to desire to be used of Holy Spirit to share the Word of God and watch the Spirit of God work. Yes, God can/will use our lives to draw interest, but in the end of the day I do not believe anyone ever was born again without the Word of God and Spirit of God ... this I believe is true even where the written Word of God is suppressed or not available ... the Spirit of God has liberties to bring to life the Word of God, but it will still be the Word that is used.
It’s probably something I should’ve put into question form due to the different views about it in Christendom. When Psalms 19:1-6 states that the heavens proclaim one continuous, never-ending message that God exists and creation is only one of the revelations about God that God has given to humankind, then why don’t they know God exists?
There is more than one KNOWLEDGE of God used in the bible. I believe this is one of the things that gets confusing when we read the bible and use a word as being the same in ever passage. ie.) “Knowledge” there are 4 different words in the Gr. For knowledge, Strong’s #1922 Epignosis, meaning a full discernment, where #1108 “Gnosis”, means knowing (the act), i.e. (by implication) knowledge: - knowledge, science.
So one can have a knowledge “Gnosis” that there is a God, but chose not to serve Him, Where one has a knowledge “Epignosis” of God, one that has been reading the bible, and the Holy Spirit drawing Him, or He is beginning to believe what He is reading, and has a Divine influence tugging at his heart, called “Grace”, and by “Faith” A Conviction, or Persuasion of the heart. So either one can suppress their knowledge of God.
Bible says that the devils in hell believe and tremble. James 2:19.
Short testimony, please bear with me. Went to hospital to visit a friend’s mother, went to room, none of the relation were there, nurse said all were in the cafeteria, go down and there were 4 at the table, welcomed me to sit down, I told them I could sure use the rest, I said do you know I was up till about 2Am this morning talking to a couple about the Lord, and he still didn’t believe in God? The one lady said, Joe you didn’t come here on your own, God sent you, I’m going up to see mom, and you are going to sit here and talk to this man, “which was her brother,” because he doesn’t believe in God either. I said oh no, what is it that you don’t believe, and he said none of it. (I don’t know where this came from,) but I said are you plugged in to anything? He said no, and I said what’s keeping your heart beating? I said all you have to do is see the trees and life itself, where is it coming from, the man on my right said, you believe now, don’t you? And he said yes I believe I do, we started to praying to receive Christ, tears began to flow right there in the cafeteria, with doctors and nurses watching, but no one said anything about it. But he received Christ right there at that table. So who knows what we can say that will allow the Holy Spirit to begin working on their heart. I never rehearsed what I said either, it just came out that way. Blessings
Thanks for replying, JB, and for sharing your experience with someone who was denying the truth. I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. This time of year, the world is working very hard to keep God out of their thinking, very obviously, too. I see it in the changing of words such as Christmas Day to Gifting Day and the pressure on us to be tolerant of other religions. I don’t see those other religions being asked to change the way they say the names of their holidays, as if Christianity is nothing more than a celebration of culture, family, unity, faith similar to other religions, but, yet we must remove the mention of Christ from it.
Every person can have a knowledge of a god, be it an idol or even the historical of Scripture and yet not have a knowledge of the true God, for they recognize something is missing and the enemy offers many false gods to worship. The knowledge of the true God requires a revealing of Himself to us. God in the Old Testament revealed Himself in different manners. Those to whom He revealed Himself developed a knowledge (a knowing) of God to the extent of the revelation. This is true today. We hear of various workings of Holy Spirit, be it the dreams that are being reported by many Muslim people, or the vision given to a tribe that a pale person carrying a black object would show them the way prior to the missionary arriving. Post resurrection any pre-knowledge given is primarily for the purpose of leading a person to and through the repentance experience that leads to a decision opening one up to a real relationship with God or to reject and walk away.
Thus, to your thought of them suppressing the knowledge of God, or a god or gods I would say they can only suppress the knowledge they possess. Spiritually dead and blind possess no light unless God shines His light their way.
This may be a little off regarding the specific subject, but it is likened to one saying man is good and does wicked things when in reality man is wicked without hope apart from the work of Holy Spirit. Likewise man starts spiritually dead and must have the light of God to open His mind and eyes. Apart from His work no true and lasting knowledge of God exists. Many on that day will say they knew Him and He will say He never knew them. Their knowledge, though religious, was in error and not just lacking, but totally wrong.
I finish with this, most will not agree or like the statement ... a knowledge of God that does not include an experience with God (this experience can take many forms) must come into question. I do not claim to simply have a knowledge of God ... I claim to know God experientially.
Romans 10:17 is often quoted to make the case that people can't come to faith unless they hear the gospel message from someone, from a preacher or evangelist. But verse 18 catches my attention.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."” Romans 10:17-18 ESV
Romans 10:18 is also found in Psalms 19.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” Psalms 19:1-6 ESV
I might be wrong but from the sound of these passages, then there is a revelation of God in creation through which it is possible that people can come to faith in God. However, there is more to being born again than just believing, or having faith, that God exists.
I have felt close to God through nature and often sense God’s presence through nature. I feel the presence of the Spirit in me but also around me, especially when I'm viewing the night sky or walking in the park.
I wonder why all people don't? Maybe it's there, but they purposely suppress this knowledge of God and deny it. I realize there are different views about our spiritual condition before new birth. As I see it, unbelievers are definitely ‘sleeping’ and no one just consciously decides on his or her own to get born again. God initiates the process, drawing people into it, awakening sleepers with the light. God has given humanity a lot of light. We, too, are told that we are lights in this world. Why aren’t more people waking up rather than growing in denial of Christ?
Some scriptures come to mind:
This book was written to the church of Corinth. They were carnal believers. Paul wrote to them to correct their behavior as Christ's ambassadors. I think he did this because it is important how we live to represent Christ. We can get in the way of the message we are speaking if our lives don't match up with our words. However, it is ultimately the Holy Spirit who brings people to salvation, not us.
1 Corinthians Chapter 1:
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a ringing gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and exult in the surrender of my body,a but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no account of wrongs. 6Love takes no pleasure in evil, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be restrained; where there is knowledge, it will be dismissed. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial passes away.
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.[a] 4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. 5 God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
6 So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. 7 For we live by believing and not by seeing. 8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. (I suggest reading this entire chapter, it goes on to talk about being Christ's ambassadors)
The Work of the Holy Spirit:
5“But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. 6Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. 7But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocatea won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. 8And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. 9The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. 10Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. 11Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.
12“There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. 15All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’"
Romans 1:18,19 says this:
18But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.i 19They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God."
There it is... they are willfully suppressing the truth by their wickedness.
1 John 3:8
The Holy Spirit also reveals the truth that God is victorious over satan, and we no longer have to live in his grip. HE also restrains evil. As bad as things are now, they will get much worse. As Believers in the world we partner with HIM to bring unbelieving people to the truth.
We know the Holy Spirit is always ministering and always at work, if it were not true, than none of us would believe. We were all unbelievers at one point.
I sympathize with how hard things are in this unbelieving world. I believe we have to take a stand. I also believe that we can't force anyone to believe. How do we handle this? God does it. We obey HIM. Prayer and obedience.
This denial of Christ is not new. The official rejection of Jesus as Messiah by the Nation of Israel was the beginning of it. Jesus was physically present, HE walked the earth fulfilling all the OT prophecies of HIS coming (which they knew), performing the Messianic miracles, the general miracles and preaching 'The Kingdom of God is at hand' and they still rejected HIM. Not only that, the Pharisees also taught that Jesus performed all of the Messianic and general miracles by the power of demons. Then they lead the entire Nation of Israel to reject their Messiah. The 'people' rejected Jesus because their Leaders told them to. They feared man rather than God. They were not willing to make a decision on their own about who Jesus is. They feared the consequences of the decision, so they didn't make it. They chose their own man-made rules over God's. They also demanded a sign that HE was in fact the Messiah as if all of the proof HE had already given them was not enough. Jesus called them an evil and adulterous generation, and told them the sign of Jonah would be the only sign they would receive from then on. This of course was His resurrection, which they also rejected. There is so much more to say here, but it would be accurate to say that history tends to repeat itself. Anyway... I digress.
The Holy Spirit is indeed at work convicting the world of the sin of rejection of Jesus. Prayer plays a huge part of what we are to do.
I have also heard that the more often a person hears and rejects the gospel, the more hardened their hearts become. I believe that to be true. Terrifying.
It can feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, but it's not. It's on God's shoulders.
1 John 5
"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God."
I hope it doesn't sound heartless to say this because I am grieved in knowing that people reject Jesus and die in their unbelief, but this stands to be true: "Sin carries within itself seeds of it's own destruction" We can interchange the word 'destruction' for 'consequences'. The Nation of Israel will eventually call upon the name of the Lord and Israel as a Nation will be regenerated. Psalm 80:1-19. This will lead to the Second Coming of Messiah. However, I say this because we can't ignore the fact that many Jewish people will die as unbelievers, just as many Gentiles will die as unbelievers, so it is important that we partner with the Holy Spirit in obedience to pray and share the gospel. I think the concern over knowing how to handle things in the world is fear of consequences from the world. Obeying God is what matters. Fear God over Man. I don't mean be afraid of HIM, I'm using the word 'fear' here meaning reverence.... respect. People tend to follow and obey those whom they respect and revere.
God's wrath is against the lost for their sin and, like Pharaoh in the OT, when they continue to choose their sin over God, then, like pharaoh, they risk the hardening of their hearts. This is frightening to see and know, and it should be, IMO. Yet, I don’t think the hardening has to continue or is a permanent judgement. Some seem to find God after a pig pen experience.
We certainly know that God is longsuffering... desiring for all to come to repentance. I agree with your reference to a pig pen experience, sometimes that is what it takes.
I'm also enjoying our discussion, I'm so happy to see more interaction these last couple weeks here on TheNET.
I pray the interactions will continue to pick up and the community vibrancy will increase.