Inspiration – Message of cross and its importance

Terry Goerz,
Lutheran Church.

In 1 Corinthians 1: 18 we are told, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.”
Have you ever had someone close to you who is not saved and you have had the opportunity to witness your faith over and over, and encourage them to come to church many times, but they just do not get it? You are anxious for them to see the consequences of not having a saving relationship with Jesus, however they respond with apathy or respond negatively. They may hear all the words you have spoken but it does not seem to make sense to them.
Well, there are a couple of reasons for this.
First, the unsaved are still under the control of Satan and he steals the message of the Gospel from them. Paul wrote, “And even if our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel.” (2 Corinthians 4: 3 & 4)
Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers. We should understand then that it is not just apathy or indifference we are up against when we witness or invite others to church. Satan is actively at work in the life of non-Christians and he really does not want them to get the message. The person you are inviting or witnessing to may not think he is being influenced by Satan, but he is.
Paul wrote, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, (Satan) the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (Ephesians 2: 1 & 2)
So the message of the cross is foolishness to non-Christians because Satan is at work in their lives. They may not think so, but that is the reality.
It should also let us know that we are not just up against the stubbornness of an individual when we are trying to get them to understand what we are saying. We are in a battle with Satan who will do all that he can to rob the person of the message of the cross.
But we have an ally who is much stronger than Satan. It is God who is also at work in the person whom He is calling. While we invite or witness our faith God is also at work in the person being called. It is God who lets unbelievers understand and respond to the call of the Gospel. It is how God calls us. First He lets us understand, and then He works in our hearts to respond to the message or the invite.
So there can be a second reason why a person we witness to just does not get the message that seems so plain to us. For those God is not calling, the message of the cross, the gospel of the Christian faith is foolishness also because God has not opened their minds or hearts.
If God does not open the heart of the unbeliever they cannot understand.
The prophet Daniel was told, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.” (Daniel 12: 9 & 10)
None of the wicked will understand. Unbelievers are spiritually dead, and as such there is nothing in them that will allow them to understand and respond to our witness or invite. God has to let unbelievers understand before they can respond to the gospel or an invite.
You cannot believe what you do not understand.
Well, it is God who lets us understand the message of the Gospel, not our mental faculties. The apostle John wrote, “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding.” (I John 5: 20a)
Paul confirmed this concept when he wrote, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to Him, and He cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
So as I wrote before, we cannot believe what we do not understand.
For those whom God is calling, He is at work in their lives through the Holy Spirit to give them understanding. Jesus lets us know the process is even deeper than just understanding. God first draws us to Him and then enables us.
Jesus told His audience who were having trouble accepting His teachings, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws Him.”( John 6: 44)
Then at the end of His discourse Jesus adds, “He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless the Father has enabled Him.’” (John 6: 65)
Can you see a process here? God draws the unbeliever, then enables them by giving them understanding. If a person does not respond to your witness or invite it may be that God is calling them, but they are still “in process”.
God has some more enabling to do, and you could be a part of that process. So there is another reason someone we are witnessing to may not respond to our witness or invite.
So to summarize, when we are witnessing our faith or inviting someone to church the prospect may not respond because Satan comes and steals the message from their heart, or it may be that God is not calling the prospect and therefore they cannot understand because it is God who lets us understand, or God may be calling the person but the prospect is still in process.
They may respond at a later time. Blessings!

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