‘I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see,” comes from the hymn, Amazing Grace. Indeed, I once was that person -- quite lost and totally blind to the fact that I was lost. I held a bachelor’s degree in the sciences, was heading to law school, and well, I simply knew it all.
Periodically, well-meaning evangelists had approached me trying to present the Gospel. I found their presentations ridiculous, trite, simplistic, beneath me. Having studied comparative religion, I was able to out quote most of those poor, well-meaning-but-deluded “religious nut cases” (as I called them), shooting them down with their own scriptures. There are none so blind as those who will not see.
Paul said it better in 1 Corinthians 2:14: “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness (ridiculous) to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” There it is: A person who has not received the Holy Spirit, can’t understand things of the Spirit. Period. No sense preaching at them; they can’t receive the Gospel, until they receive Christ. Then, the understanding of spiritual things will come. Until then, it will seem as ridiculous to them as it once did to me.
But God knows how to reach the intellectuals, the doubters, the adamant atheists, the “learned fools” -- the Pauls! In Philippians 3:5-6, Paul gives his impressive educational and employment resume. In verses 7-11, he says that none of these things mean anything compared to what he has found in Christ Jesus and the spiritual understanding that has now been opened to him.
The key is the relationship. The good news of the Gospel makes no sense until that relationship is established. I remember the day I decided to see if any of it was real. Still doubting, but sincerely seeking, I said, “OK, Jesus, if you’re real, come into my heart.” And He did. And everything changed. Not all at once, but over time. I think it was Norman Grubb who wrote of a man resisting God, as like a fish caught on a fishing line. If the fish is fighting, the fisherman may give it a lot of line, letting it think it is not caught. But eventually he reels it into the boat. In His time, He reeled me in.
God has a sense of humor -- “He who sits in the heavens laughs…” (Psalms 2:4. He took this adamant Christian-bashing, oh-so-sure-of-myself, non-believing, intellectual, did a work in my heart, and in time, put me in a pulpit preaching the very Word I used to ridicule.
No preacher can bestow spiritual understanding on anyone. Each person has to first establish their own relationship with Christ -- by the act of inviting Him to come into your life. Then He will bestow the Holy Spirit upon you. It is the Holy Spirit who teaches spiritual things and brings spiritual understanding. I encourage all the skeptics and non-believers to put it to the test and sincerely invite Jesus into your heart. See if what I’ve said is true. What could it hurt?
The Rev. Anne Barber is pastor of My Father’s House, 7215 U.S. Highway 301 N., Ellenton. For more information, visit www.myfathershouseinc.com