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GETTING THROUGH THE DARKNESS.

Having known what it was like to be in darkness for 30 years, I have some appreciation of what it is like to be there and how difficult it can be to get out of it. Because every man and woman is born a sinner, (this is very clear from scripture) we are all in effect born into darkness and need the light of God to bring us out of darkness and into light and truth.

SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT.

It seems that unless you start looking the right way - i.e. towards God and His word you don't have much chance of getting out of it. This is because a man or woman who has not received the Spirit of God cannot know the necessary spiritual facts because these things are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14 tells us that:

"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him ; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

This aspect is emphasised in a related verse which says that we have received the Spirit of God that we might know the things that have been freely given to us. See 1 Cor 2:12.

NEED FOR TRUTH.

So natural man needs some introduction to the truth of God before he will be able to discern the Spirit of God. This could be that which is read by him in the Word of God ( propositional truth, ie a proposition or idea found in the Bible ). Or it could be that told to him by another person ( incarnational truth, ie told to Him through the embodiment of the Spirit of God in another person. Or it could be his observation of the living out of the life of Christ in another person. This is called experiential truth.

So, in other words, most people will need the direct help of the Word of God or another person to explain the gospel to them, or have the example of others living the Christian life to attract them to hearing more or learning by example.

WORK OF HOLY SPIRIT.

However, we also know that God speaks to people directly through his Holy Spirit and they are drawn towards looking at and recognizing this truth in one or more of its forms. Thank God for that, otherwise not many would get out of darkness and into the Kingdom of God!

THE MESSAGE WILL SOUND FOOLISH.

Another obstacle to people accepting the possibility that there is something in the gospel for them, is that the gospel message, the message of the cross is foolishness to them. 1 Cor 1:18 says this. That is, the world's wisdom looks at the gospel message and says it is foolishness. However, the Bible says that God has chosen the foolish things of this world to put to shame the wise of this world. So, in other words, people who do not have any appreciation of these things will not see any relevance in it for themselves. It will all appear to be nonsense.

ACTION TO TAKE.

So a person who does not know or accept the truth that God offers needs to pursue the issue by either reading the Bible, talking to believers about it or taking in by observation the way in which believers live. Or all three ways.

THE BASIS FOR FREEDOM AND JUSTICE.

One of the things that people without the benefit of the Spirit sometimes cannot understand is why the death and resurrection of Christ is enough to give them a new life now and eternal life when they die. Indeed, on the surface it does appear to be foolish and ridiculous.

One simple way that this might be explained is as follows. God the Father taught the Hebrews about the principles involved from about 1450 years before Christ. Although this was before Christ, God taught these principles by other means using non-human examples, fully knowing that when Christ came, a full human demonstration of the principle would occur. The following explanation may help.

The first thing to say is that God is fully just in every way, although man may not be wise enough to see this in the things that God does and says. Because He is just He must punish evil deeds and reward good ones. His ultimate punishment was death and many O.T. people suffered this penalty. However, many other lesser sins occurred in the lives of the Hebrew people and those sins had to be atoned for or paid for.

The way that God taught them to atone or pay for sins was by the shedding of blood, of bulls, goats, lambs and other animals. To teach them this principle, He taught them that sin could only be forgiven by the shedding of blood. Each year the High Priest had the task of offering these blood sacrifices for the sins of the people. When he did so, God said that they were forgiven and their relationship with Him was restored.

When God sent His only Son Jesus to earth He had as His main job (apart from teaching about the Kingdom of God ) to die on the cross as a once and forever blood sacrifice for the sins of all men for all time, past present and future. He was the substitute who paid for our sin. If the unbeliever can realize and accept that the death of Jesus and the spilling of His blood meant forgiveness of sin for all who repent of their sin and who believe in Jesus and what He has done for all people- ie all who repent and believe.

Remember, in God's economy, the penalty for all sin is paid for if one fullfills these conditions. A person may not realize just how this all works, but he does not have to. It is simply having faith to believe that what God says in His word is in fact very true.

So, in summary, the way out of the world's darkness and into God's kingdom now and forevermore is as follows;

1. A person who does not know and accept the truth about God according to the Bible needs to initially accept that there could be some truth in it and be prepared to look at it.

2. To understand and accept the system of sacrifice on which God's of justice is built - ie the death and spilt blood of Jesus pays the penalty for the sin of every person who believes.

3. To accept that every person is born a sinner, because every person born since human life on earth began, has had sin bred into him.

4. To know that believing comes before receiving - i.e. one must believe before one can fully receive what God has to offer through His Spirit.

5. They need to accept that what the Bible say may seem apparently foolish may in fact be true. Human wisdom must be put aside and replaced with the wisdom of God.

6. Natural ( unbelieving man ) must get some measure of God's truth somehow, either directly from the Bible or from explanations or experience of people's lives.

7. The Spirit of God Himself can draw people into the Kingdom, but at some point, some effort or move towards God will normally be necessary ( by reading Bible or talking to Christians ).

8. There is a wonderful freedom and peace to be found by really knowing God.

So, any one who does not know about the gospel of Christ or who wants to look at it must do something about it for themselves. To miss out on it is to miss our on the whole meaning and purpose of life.

Ken Walker