Summary: Every Christian was once living in darkness with a heart filled with sin and hopelessness. How did the light of the gospel begin to break through?
Iliff and Saltillo United Methodist
March 6, 2005
Fourth Sunday of Lent
"Light Breaking Through Darkness”
INTRODUCTION: Every Christian you have ever met--including yourself--was once living in darkness with a heart filled with sin and hopelessness.
“But God, who is rich in mercy: loved us so much that even though we were spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, gave us back our lives again when he raised Christ from the dead--only by his undeserved favor have we even been saved and lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ--all because of what Christ did.” Ephesians 2:4-5
Today is the fourth Sunday of Lent, and we are again looking ahead to the cross and what Jesus accomplished for us on that cross. When Paul wrote today’s letter to the Corinthians, he could look back to his own life and the time when he was so blind to spiritual things that he thought he was doing God a favor by persecuting the Christians. Then something happened to him. He was stopped in his tracks one day. God dispelled his darkness by illuminating his heart and giving him a knowledge of Christ that he had not learned about in any other way up to that point.
He told them, “I know who has changed my life; and because of that I am not preaching any other gospel but JESUS CHRIST and HIM CRUCIFIED. You can look back on your own life and see how you first began to see the light of the gospel begin to shine into your heart. Maybe it took a long time for it to happen, maybe even years. Or you might have been very young and were receptive almost immediately. You might be sitting here today and still not all that open to the light of the gospel. We wonder why it is that many people still have not made even the first move toward the gospel. Why is the good news hidden or veiled when there is a church on almost every corner? Why do many people not respond?
1. WHY IS THE GOSPEL HIDDEN?--Paul answers this question by saying that “if the gospel be hid from people it is because the god of this world has blinded their minds to spiritual things.” Actually he says the gospel is not really “hidden” because the gospel he preached is an OPEN GOSPEL. Paul wanted to preach it so plain and simple that people could understand it. The idea here was more that it was “veiled” to people. They could see it but it was not CLEAR or EASILY UNDERSTOOD by them. It’s like saying, “Yes, I KNOW , but I DON’T KNOW. It might be that for years you have some kind of understanding about the gospel but it might be wrong. Or it might be just a vague understanding that does not do any good. It might be so unclear that it is not meeting you at your point of need. Think of ways that the gospel may have been veiled to you over the years or that it may STILL be veiled to you where you are just not quite GETTING it. Think of people you know who are still living in spiritual blindness and they have not even started on the journey of faith yet.
STORY: Bill and John needed a break from their high tech computer jobs so they decided to try duck hunting. On the first day they sat in the duck blind all morning. Nothing happened.
Bill said to John, “I just don’t understand it. We’ve been here since dawn. How come we’re not getting any ducks?”
John said, “I keep telling you, I DON’T THINK WE’RE THROWING THE DOG HIGH ENOUGH.”
The ducks were not “hidden” from their view but these city guys didn’t understand much about duck hunting.
Paul said it is not the fault of the gospel we are preaching because we are preaching it as plain as we know how. It’s the “god of this world that has blinded people’s understanding.”
Paul said, “in spite of this, I’m not going to get discouraged because no one is hopeless. I’m not writing anyone off in spite of their lack of understanding or of their resistance to the gospel message. Think about those people in your family who are just not “getting” spiritual truths. Don’t write them off and say, “Oh, they are just not interested. They will never be interested.” Their eyes have been blinded and the truth is veiled from them because Satan has done this to them. Lots of people all around us are in this predicament today. It is not just that people have made a decision not to believe but more because they are not seeing the light of Christ in order to be able to believe.