Friday, August 10, 2012
It Takes Faith to Understand Faith
1 Corinthians 1:18-20 (NIV)
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
I just returned from trying to visit someone in a jail. There was a time when I could visit someone because I was his pastor. The person at the desk said that the jail administration had decided that a pastoral visit was the same as any other visit. It meant that I couldn't come in unless I had an appointment and I was on the person's visitation list. This person had not bothered to put me on the list. I had never needed to be on it to see him before.
I do not claim to be more spiritual than any other person that visits. However, a pastoral visit has one purpose. It must seek to redeem the person in jail. I can't say that of any other person's purpose who visits. Others may or may not have this purpose.
I wondered if the jail administration thought that pastoral visits do no good. Why make it harder for pastors to visit if you believe that pastors can help the inmates from returning to jail? Of course, if you believe it makes no difference then the logical decision is to make their visits the same as everyone else's.
If that is the case, then we don't need any spiritual help for those in jail. Heck, we don't need it for the people in church either. If there is nothing other than the person himself who can pull himself out of the awful state he is in, then we should merely state that and tell each person that he will simply have to live with his own guilt forever.
The reason people can't understand faith is that they have no faith in which to understand it. They cannot understand the change that comes into a Holy Spirit filled individual because they have never been filled with the Holy Spirit. They cannot understand belief in the power of God because they have never known the power of God.
It would be like explaining colors to someone who has never seen. How do you tell them of blue sky, green grass, yellow flowers and red blood? What is their reference point to understand? All of our explanations have no point to stand upon while they are launched.
And when I ask someone to believe for their salvation, I am asking them to do something that they have never done before. Think about it: I am asking them to trust in Someone who died nearly 2000 years ago. I am asking them to pledge their allegiance to Him. I am asking them to believe that He is still alive and will come to live within them. That takes faith which they do not yet have.
But they do believe because the Holy Spirit comes to convict and tell them what they could never have known otherwise. They no longer see it as foolishness because they have had their eyes opened. They see and are somewhat surprised by their sight. It is the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to them.
Sometimes I preach to people who do not have a clue what I am saying. I speak of God's deliverance and they always equate it to circumstances. It seems very intellectual to think of an orderly universe which is its own master. Thus, it must follow the rules without interference. They chalk up hearings and God's miraculous provisions as random acts which will happen to someone eventually. They may even point out times when these things did happen naturally. Saying that they were acts of God seems foolish to them.
I walk in a different world from them and know that my responsibility is to bring them to faith. So, I continue to tell them stories of faith, read Bible promises of faith and pray in faith that God will open their eyes.
And when He does, they suddenly understand faith because they have it for themselves.