The Bible's Second Purpose
by Dave Brown
We know that the primary purpose of God's revealing His will to mankind by sending His son to die for us is that He would have all men to be saved. 1 Timothy 2:3-4: "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth." It is this knowledge of the truth that produces faith according to Romans 10:17: "So belief (comes) of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ."
But we have heard not a few men and women proclaim that it was the reading of the bible that made them atheists? Can this be? The bible deals with this subject quite explicitly.
Let us begin with those who saw the miraculous revelations of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost -- read about it in Acts 2. The Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and they spoke in the many languages of the foreigners who were among them all proclaiming the identical word of God. Everyone knew that these fishermen and other laborers had never learned these languages. In addition there were appearances like flames of fire (but not fire) that sat upon the apostles heads who spoke in tongues, and there was a sound like a hurricane but no wind. Now, you would think that this would convince anyone that something unique and supernatural was going on, right? Well, maybe not ...
2 And they were all amazed, and were perplexed, saying one to another, What does this mean?
3 But others mocking said, They are filled with new wine.
You have to give them credit for trying to come up with what they considered to be a plausible explanation. Apparently it was the best that they could do. And, we expect from the passages that we will present below that many of these mockers never did obey the gospel as did the 3000 on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41). Is it possible that God's "free will mandate" for all people will lead some, perhaps many, to come up with reasons to justify their unwillingness to obey? We can think of no other explanation.
Why is it that the very same words -- the IDENTICAL words -- that will cause one sinner to repent and come tearfully to the the Lord on his knees will cause another person to harden his heart and view those words as being stupid and ridiculous? Why? That is the question we are asking. A first clue might be here ...
1 Corinthians 1:21-25
21 For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe.
22 Seeing that Jews ask for signs, and Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumbling block, and unto Gentiles foolishness;
24 but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Does this not say that the gospel of Jesus Christ (i.e., "Christ crucified") was in fact calculated by God to be a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles if they did not have the heart to serve God? (Recognize that Paul is not talking about ALL Jews, he being a Jew himself; and not all Gentiles, he being the apostle to the Gentiles.) The ones negatively impacted were those who were asking for signs and seeking after wisdom, while at the same time refusing to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16-17). But those called recognized the saving power of the gospel.
Before going on let us clarify who those are who are "called" (see 1 Cor 1:24 again above). Does God just arbitrarily pick out those saved and those lost as some predestination doctrines teach? Or does free will make the choice something that is required of each individual? Consider the condition laid down by Jesus in this regard:
44 No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day.
45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, comes unto me.
The responsibility is ours to hear -- a better word for it would be LISTEN. Understand it. Learn it. When we have the will to do that we will be drawn of God and thus called of God. If we have a predisposition to repudiate and mock, then the calling power of God will have no effect upon us. In fact, the word of God will repel us. How can we say this?
5 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Spirit through Isaiah the prophet unto your fathers [quoting from Isaiah 6:9-10],
26 saying, "Go thou unto this people, and say, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in no wise understand; And seeing ye shall see, and shall in no wise perceive:
27 For this people's heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, And their eyes they have closed; Lest, haply they should perceive with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And should turn again, And I should heal them."
Does this not sound like God has established his word with the calculated purpose of preventing those who have no desire to serve Him to also have not a clue as to what it is that He is trying to accomplish for them.
And even more definitively, please read and understand the context of the following:
2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
11 And for this cause God sends them a working of error, that they should believe a lie:
12 that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
We could go on and on -- there are many other supportive passages for this concept. But this one strikes us as being particularly appropriate to the rulers of our day who are coming to naught ...
1 Corinthians 2:6-9
6 We speak wisdom, however, among them that are full grown: yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to naught:
7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, (even) the (wisdom) that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory:
8 which none of the rulers of this world hath known: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory:
9 but as it is written, Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, And (which) entered not into the heart of man, Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him.
We encourage all to read and meditate upon the first two chapters of 1 Corinthians.
What are the conditions of salvation given by Jesus?
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