Promoting Understanding

Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what He was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again,  “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  He will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:6-10.

Many times over the years I’ve listened to people complain about how hard it is to understand the Bible.  The question boiled in my mind for a while until I read Paul say,  Spiritual things are spiritually discerned and the carnal mind cannot understand them.

There is no grasp of spiritual realities without the help of the Spirit of Christ.  Too often we think by reason alone we can convince another person of the wisdom of choosing Jesus but it’s impossible.  The only way a person will come to conviction about Jesus is if he or she allows the Holy Spirit to do the work of rewiring their thought processes.  The habits of the heart have to be submitted to the way of Christ or the contract of salvation is null and void.  The other mistake many a Christian makes is attempting to grasp spiritual realities by academic study alone.  Trying to muscle our way into to the kingdom of God just shows how little we understand it.  The kingdom of God is about submission not might; for God is the mighiest being of all yet He made Himself of no account, taking on the job of a servant.  No, our most powerful method of reaching spiritual enlightenment in Christ is to submit to His way in and out of truth.

Jesus knew the men arguing with Him didn’t get it; there was no doubt in His mind all His efforts would be wasted on those who hardened their hearts.  So why would He put energy into a losing cause?

For the sake of you, me, and all those who’s hearts were open to them then as well as down through the last 2000 years.  Not only this but He couldn’t leave even those hardened to the point of deafness without a chance to repent, for such is the heart of love.

Again Jesus gives them the analogy that He is the gate.  It’s hard to know what these men were thinking yet I think I can guess, because my mind fixated on the physical realities rather than on the spiritual truths being spoken.

Like I said in the last blog entry the only way anyone find truth is through Christ.  The true servant enters through Him not going around Him.  Anyone who wants earthly power through Christ for itself, has entered the sheep pen over the wall.  No one who follows Jesus should seek to be secure on earthly terms for our security is not based on the monitary system or the government.  If we gain wealth or status in the world’s eyes as believers, it must be entered into through Jesus.

Anyone who teaches differently is lying to us.  O, it’s a clever deception to be sure, but it is still a lie.  Hebrews 11 outlines the work of those who came before us with some detail.  Several verses stand out to me, but the one which is significant here says They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.  A gospel which ignores this NT truth is a lie.  If we are wealthy, it is for the sake of Christ not for our own amusement or pleasure.  If we receive rewards because of our service, we should rejoice and enjoy them, but serving merely for the sake of reward loses the principle on which Christ established His kingdom.

The Pharisees and other leaders missed the kingdom of God for the sake of temporary power and glory.  They fed themselves off the people of God with extortion and deception.  I believe many of them were deceived as well, telling themselves a lie for so long they began to believe it, either that or they were raised with it and conditioned.  Like in the case of the man born blind, they were so set on their ideas for him they refused light when it shined so bright they could barely stand to look at it.

There are things in all of our lives which could hinder our relationship with Christ.  Sin affects every part of our being in some fashion, which makes it hard to solve the riddle of our souls conclusively.  I struggle with sinful urges someone else would find silly or pointless, yet they struggle with issues I don’t even consider a temptation.

Twice in this latest text Jesus declares hope for those who enter the sheep pen through Him.  First, He tells us those who do so will find salvation, freedom to go in or out and a safe place to feed in order to grow.  Second, He gives a promise from the heart of God (since He is sent by God, we can assume this):  Jesus’ purpose is to give a full life to we who believe.

A full life, however, doesn’t mean a busy one necessarily, rather I think it points to getting satisfaction out of life and feeling we are doing something worthwhile.  So many times I have heard workaholic preachers teach idolness as a form of laziness.  They don’t look at vacations as anything but self-indulgence, even though Jesus took His disciples away from the crowds for a break.  A full life in Jesus’ eyes must mean then all we do has value; that we can work and see eternal worth in those things we attempt.  Only as long as we do so in Christ as our gate, though.  Entering these things through any other form of reasoning subtracts the center of our reason and voids the peace which passes understanding.

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4 Responses to “Promoting Understanding”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    OMG! You have given me a revelation that I had been SO praying about and couldn’t pinpoint! I recently took the women of TLC through a bible study of Luke. One by one they dropped out, even my leadership was unenthusiastic. I kept asking the Lord, “What is it?” A leader must always ask themselves what they are not teaching or doing that is not producing a spark.

    You see, my crowd grows when I hold self-focused bible studies. If it’s how to be a better wife, woman, sister, friend, mother or how to deal with our wounds, I gather a crowd. Not just women from our own congregation but others as well. When I do a bible study for the sake of studying the word, only a handful seem to get pumped week after week. The others make comments like, “It’s too hard.” “Too complicated” “Too much.” “I’m tired.”.

    You clearly reminded me of Paul’s summation of spiritual things are spiritually understood. I’ve got to teach on the Holy Spirit. Without the upper room experience it’s all just words on a page.

  2. jonnysoundsketch2 Says:

    I will say those other subjects are important entry level topics for your study. Yet expecting just a handful of people to stick around during the deep search for God. The others might come around eventually being hungry for the Word of God, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

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