Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 216

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Elisha continued...

Faith is another way by which we can entreat God to open our spiritual eyes. God responds to faith, and when we possess faith that He will open our eyes, He does so in the most amazing of ways.

Hebrews 11:13, “These all died in faith not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

Who is this passage speaking of? Are they some negligible figures in church history which we could readily discount? This verse is referring to such titans of the faith as Abraham, Noah, Enoch, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Isaac, and it tells us they saw the promises from afar off, were assured of them, and embraced them by faith.

Because these individuals had spiritual perception, because they saw within the spiritual realm, they died in the faith not having received the promises, yet, nevertheless having seen them afar off.

What we see by faith and through the prism of the spiritual is always more valuable than what we see in the physical, tangible world. In the selfsame aforementioned chapter, the author of Hebrews confirms this reality reminding us of Moses, and how he chose to suffer affliction with the people of God than enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.

The Word tells us Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, because he looked to the reward.

If we take this affirmation to its rightful end, we can’t help but conclude that the reward which God has prepared for the faithful far outshines the treasures of ancient Egypt itself. By faith and through the prism of spiritual sight we know what awaits us beyond this life, and gladly forfeit the pleasures of this passing world for the enduring world to come.

The Bible also tells us that we live by faith and not by sight. You don’t need to have faith in regards to the physical world, and the things you can see with your physical eyes. They are there; you can feel them, touch them, see them, taste them and hear them. One does not need faith that their car exists because they open the door, they sit in the seat, and they turn the key.

The spiritual realm is another matter entirely. Because we cannot see the spiritual with physical eyes, we need faith which enables us to see the spiritual with spiritual eyes.

When we pray in faith for God to open our spiritual eyes, He does so in various ways. Sometimes God will even use suffering to open our eyes to the spiritual realities around us as he did with Job. However God chooses to open our eyes, we must rest in the knowledge that it is the best way for us as individuals.

There are benefits to having spiritual insight which go beyond the ability to see horses and chariots of fire. When our spiritual eyes are open and functioning properly we know we are walking in the will of God, and on the narrow path of righteousness He set out for us.

Sin leads to spiritual blindness. When sin is allowed to remain and reside in one’s heart, our spiritual vision begins to erode and given enough time become nonexistent.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

The absence of spiritual light, or the absence of the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ keeps us from seeing the path God has set before us, as well as He who is waiting for us beyond the finish line, prize in hand.

Whenever we run across those for whom the gospel is veiled, we have a tendency to try and reason out the gospel with them, and attempt to convince them of their need for salvation on an evidentiary and logical plain.

Although sometimes the message gets through, most often, because their minds are blinded by the god of this age, they reject our appeals our invitations and our claims regarding Jesus. One cannot receive the light of the gospel unless their eyes are first opened to the light of the gospel. Before trying to convince someone of the spiritual reality all around them, our time would be far better spent in first bending our knee and praying as Elisha did that their eyes be opened so they might see.

Since what those who are perishing are suffering from is a spiritual matter, their remedy must likewise be of a spiritual nature. We can philosophize and theorize, we can explain and do so with eloquence, but until the spiritual issue isn’t settled, until they are not spiritually ready to receive the light, it is all for naught.

Even the saved run the risk of having their spiritual vision diminished if they do not continually and consistently grow in Christ.

2 Peter 1:5-9, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is short-sighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”

I realize full well this Scripture passage falls under the category of ‘most would rather it didn’t exist,’ but it does, it is there, and since the word of God is not a buffet where we can pick and choose what we like, we must contend with this passage and others like it as well.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.


Barbara said...

There is no growth without love. As your love grows, you faith grows and then your insight can grow. If you just had alot of spiritual knowledge without a strong emotional anchor, it could drive you nuts. It is alot to take in for someone who is dead spiritually.

God reaches out to people through love. He said the way the people of the world would learn of him is from the love that his own people show to each other. They will see that it is good and be drawn to it and want to live like it.

If they don't already have the fear of hell in the heart, they will laugh in your face and get angry if you mention it. I think apologetics is more for edifying the body of Christ, so that they can reason away the logical attacks that the world throws at their faith.

Some people are more cerebral than others and enjoy that sort of thing. Some just want to deal with the tangibles before them, but even acts of charity can demonstrate the kingdom of heaven.

Faith comes from trusting. It is more than just knowledge, it is wilingness to act on the knowledge that makes it come alive. People will often take chances for the sake of love that they wouldn't normally take. Love is the spark which ignites faith.

A love between a mentor and pupil can be very strong. There is an admiration on the part of the pupil and a generous spirit on the part of the teacher.

Anonymous said...

Great post as always, and touches an issue I've prayed about many times: how DO you witness to the resistant? We are commanded to spread the Gospel as best we can. In America, it presents a strange dilemma. So much preaching has gone on for so many years - both genuine and counterfeit - that almost no one in America can say they've never heard it, do not know who Jesus is or claims to be, what the path to salvation is. No one who has a desire to read the Bible has any reason to be without one; if nothing else they can go to a library and read it. There are even free literacy programs for people who can't read, and at most libraries you could listen to it on CD. So it would seem that those who have not already sincerely accepted Christ are those who have already decided they want none of it or are apathetic. I pray for opportunities and Spirit-inspired words to say to whoever the Lord may want me to witness to, but it happens rarely. I am not good at thinking up what to say to a resistant person and when I try, it just seems to make them even more resistant, which is NOT what I hope to accomplish. So, I have tried to obey the command to witness by supporting organizations that smuggle Bibles just as your grandfather did, into nations where this is persecuted, where there are people who desperately WANT the Word of God and greatly appreciate any part of it they can get. But I can't let it go at that, I feel a continual urgency to do more. How, in this glutted and complacent nation? I am not a pastor, no one is going to invite me to speak anywhere. Other than what I already do, pray for the unsaved and for Spirit-led opportunites, what can we do here?