Are you Gospel hardened?
The Jews have God’s Word yet in their obstinacy they refuse God’s righteousness because
they have already established their own and do not need Christ’s. They are Gospel hardened, the message is too commonplace to heed any more. Hardened people think that they have heard it all before and are consequently not interested. Not so with people groups who have never heard the Gospel before, they flock to its liberating message and take advantage of His forgiveness because they realize the truth that they are lost and need God’s saving grace. A person can know the truth without realizing it, and consequently not submit to it because they are too close to the situation to appropriate its applications personally see vs 2, 3. “Having the form of godliness but denying its power.”
Judaism is not just their religion it is also their culture just as is Islam and others. In Europe, where the Gospel changed the world during the reformation period, those same countries have become Gospel hardened to the point that they are now some of the least truly “Christian” countries in the world. America is well along that path as well. When Christianity becomes just another “culture”, the Bible’s message and the life changing power of the Gospel is lost to the rituals and habits of the accepted “Christian” way of life. They erroneously equate being American with being Christian and many will go to hell without realizing that costly mistake.
Faith comes by hearing the Word
Rom 10:1-21 Use this link for the NIV or use your favorite version but highlight verses 2, 2, 4, 6, 8-13, 17, 20, 21
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who desires that All men be saved. I offer salvation to all humanity, and I save any of those who hear my voice and call upon my name. I would like it that none would be lost, but I know better to think that every person who hears my message will respond positively. I have placed within man the sense of right and wrong. Every culture of the world has standards but no one can uphold even those standards perfectly. The key is to admit your failure and come to me for forgiveness and salvation. Don’t let your pride keep you away.
I AM the God who wants you to experience my righteousness. You humans have a tainted sense of justice and righteousness because of your fallen nature. Thus you try to establish your own justice according to your own standard or that of your culture. However, my standard is revealed in the commandments to which no one can comply. But now I want to give my righteousness as a gift to anyone who desires to have that relationship with me. I don’t desire formulas and systems of ritual. I want to be a father to you. I want to be like a husband to you regarding the fellowship of our spirits. I want to put my divine nature in you to live through you to my standard not yours. This will take humility and faith on your part to let my spirit work in yours. Stop resisting me.
I AM the God who orchestrated the salvation of man. Just as obedience to the Law was impossible for the Children of Israel (as well as all men) to do, so too, salvation and Christianity are both humanly impossible to “do” right by your own power to my standard. Thus I am the one who must accomplish them in your stead. You cannot earn salvation, so I fulfilled the sacrifices by paying with my life. So too, you cannot “do” Christianity either. I must do it in you and for you by my spirit and by your faith. Remember, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit…” Just as salvation required an attitude of failure on your part so that you can have an attitude of dependence upon me; so too, you can do nothing in your own flesh as Christians. Only with my Divine nature and the power of my Spirit placed in you, with your mind set on my spirit, can you do all things I command by faith alone.
What is Faith? And what it is not?
Faith is not something that you drum up. It is received from God. Faith is not blind. It is something that is dependent upon revelation from God in his word. Faith is not an emotion. It is the result of our intellectual responding to and acknowledging the truth of God’s Word. It may not be scientific, but faith is not mystical. Faith does not stop with simple head knowledge. Faith responds to the point of ownership of the truth. You cannot own up to something that you don’t understand, so genuine faith is the application of God’s truth to your life and your will allowing God to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. In essence faith is not resisting the Spirit of God in your life. We are told in Rom 6 to ”recon” or “consider”, (not mind over matter but accepting something as truth even though it is not physically seeable) to be true to the point it affects your life and confidence. We recon on gravity being true thus we do not jump off of cliffs (without the aid of parachutes). God’s Word reveals God’s character, faithfulness and will to us to respond to by faith. Thus my definition of faith is “dependence upon the faithfulness of God to keep his word to us and acting on what he tells us”, just like Abraham in Hebrews 11:11, even if it is physically impossible. God is the God who has enacted through history on the behalf of men doing the impossible for them. Even his name “I AM” reflects his supernatural nature and ability.
The Church is God’s representatives on Earth for now
Israel turned the responsibility of sharing God’s blessing to the nations into an exclusive club to the point where it was not lawful for a Jew to even allow a Gentile in their home. In their elite snobbery, they looked down on Gentiles as dogs. The Jews were to be the ones to take the message of God’s forgiveness to the world. No wonder the Jews got upset when God circumvented their numerous traditions of self righteousness and instituted a means of free salvation by faith for both Jew and Gentile alike. (Don’t you hate it when someone comes up with a better way of doing things than you? It pricks our pride. We can either suck it up and get on board, or be obstinate and be replaced. See Acts 4:34-39) The Jews stuck to their old way and were replaced for the time being as the ones to take the gospel of salvation to the world. The Jews went from being God’s intended missionaries to becoming a mission field for the Gentiles to reach. Europe, which was the cradle of the reformation has become one such mission field due to its higher religiosity as well, and if things don’t change in America, (who is presently a great missionary sender), it too will become one that is on the receiving end of foreign missions.
Who so ever will – you have been given the choice and accountability
“Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” That includes you. God is holding his hands out to you personally in this age of grace to the Gentiles. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Will you be obstinate in the zeal of your subjective knowledge (of science, philosophies, or other religions) like the Jews were obstinate to their law and heritage in vs 3, or submit to the free gift of God’s righteousness offered to you by God’s wisdom as revealed in His Bible (revealed truth)? The choice is yours alone. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12. “I AM the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me”. Jn 14:6
How do you become Gospel hardened?
Read Rom 1:18-32 to see how people who know God can take those slippery steps to depravity. The point being that when we stop appreciating what God has done for us anymore (see verse 21), we start to refuse the spirit’s work in our hearts and minds and our thoughts become those of mere men (Lk 7:36-50; Col 3:1-4; Mk 5:19). When Christ’s work becomes common place to us, we lose the wonder and excitement of our salvation, thus we neglect our spiritual connection with Christ to the point that the next generation is left in the dark about his transforming power. As an example, after Joshua (from the Old Testament) died, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt.” Judges 2:10-12 apparently Joshua’s generation did not tell their children about the Red Sea crossing or any of the miracles God did for them in the desert or if they did, to no effect because apparently they couldn’t care less. How much do you care for what God has done for you? Don’t resist the Spirit’s calling. Respond to his gift of salvation and faith. Let him save you from eternal doom. Don’t be like the religious Jews clinging to your way of righteousness. Let God give you his.
More to come,