The use of the little word “see” has implications far beyond the possession of vision in the physical sense. Of course it is a most important sense like the four other senses of hearing, touch, taste and smell which we value so highly that millions of dollars are donated and spent to replace any deficiencies that occur in our human makeup. Vision is often used in the broader sense of intellectual understanding, or the perception of truths not obvious to a shallow mind. The expression “Seeing is believing” is a common cliché to indicate the necessity for “proof” of a statement before believing it. A parallel would be “I’m from Missouri – show me!” A healthy scepticism is wise, and is not despised unless too cynical and derogatory. A sermon I heard recently contained a good twist on that old cliché which I immediately appropriated for the title above.
The concept of understanding is introduced when we say, “I see,” or “Don’t you see that?” or “I can’t see that point of view.” But do we understand that much of our “seeing” is blurred or blocked by our prejudices or unbelief? For example, if someone has denied the Creation in favour of evolution theories (of which there are many, differing and argumentative), then their authority must contradict the veracity of Holy Scripture, the Word of God. My convictions make it impossible for me to accept any authority other than God’s Word, or a POV that concurs with it. Therefore we can see that an impasse occurs and the conversation is at a standstill if peace and good tempers are to prevail. Logic is questioned when anger bursts the bounds of civility with “Why can’t you see that?” or “You can’t see past the end of your nose!” or “Are you so blind that you can’t see the truth?” etc.
Sadly, even Christians can become impatient when others fail to understand their meaning, or don’t know about something which is commonplace to them. I am prone to assume that everyone else knows all that I know, plus a lot more.
Do you recall Jesus’ words to the disciples in Matthew 13:10? They asked Him why He spoke to the multitudes in parables, and He replied, “Because it is given unto YOU to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, (chosen, predestined?) but to THEM it is not given, for whosoever hath to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance, but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables because they seeing see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which saith “By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand and seeing ye shall see and shall not perceive…but blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears for they hear…”
That passage is strange to our ears, and we can hardly conceive of those who are in verse 15, described as “gross of heart, dull of hearing and with closed eyes lest they be converted and be healed.” What a “harsh” judgment seems to be allotted to these people; unless we search out Isaiah’s condemnation in Chapter 6:9,10, followed by his question “Lord, how long?” and He replies, “…until there be a great forsaking in the land…and the land be utterly desolate.” And we may also refer to Jeremiah’s prophecy regarding the two baskets of figs (Judah) one good (three thousand converted in one day) and one vile, seemingly predestined to fill the evil roles, of Judas Iscariot and the mobs screaming “Crucify Him!” and “Release unto us Barabbas!”
These incredible links scattered throughout the scriptures are the keys to understanding the identity and destiny of seemingly lost tribes and races. Without the understanding supplied by these clues and forewarnings, we are in danger of mistaking the prophecies and the people to whom they refer. This misreading also misinterprets the Holy Scripture, and casts doubts upon its veracity. What are we to believe when we are told that the Royal Throne of David is to endure forever and be occupied by Christ Jesus Himself? If that throne is not still in existence how can we expect those promises and prophecies to be fulfilled? The same principle applies to all God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jacob’s twelve boys, each of whom had a prediction of the future, which has either been fulfilled, or is partially completed. How can anyone pretend or declare himself to be a believer if he cannot know and explain from scripture how, why and where God has acted in history to bring about the actual reality, the verifiable truth of His Word? Could we believe in a god who cannot bring His promises to fruition? The Bible declares the utter reliability and veracity of God’s Holy Word so that there can be no doubt among His people, His believing followers who love His Word and His People of Judah can only prove their identity as Good Figs by their adherence to Christ Jesus, their Kinsman-Redeemer. Surely it is by their Christianity that we know which Nations on earth are living out their identity and destiny as Israelites. They could not do the great WORK of evangelism and shepherding of the baby Christians if they were not empowered by the Holy Spirit through Christ, our Lord.
This brings up the very important WORK of which Paul speaks as nurturing and helping the new Christians grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of Christ. Many of the Jewish converts had known the Law and the Prophets all their lives. They had probably read and heard David’s Psalm 22 containing the words which Jesus’ broken heart cried from the cruel Cross, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” and not realized its great significance. Did they know what was meant by Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus’ persecution and crucifixion in Chapter 53? They were quick enough to take offence at His reading of the passage from Isaiah 61:1,2 in the synagogue describing His work and mission on earth as Messiah, and to demand His death on the Cross! Condemned by their own unbelief!
When we speak the words of our Creed, enunciating our precious FAITH, we must be sure that we speak of God’s Word only and not some deceptive jargon or cultic religiosity. Do we have some vestiges of Roman Catholicism to which we cling? Do we keep a hint of mariolatry tucked away? Do we cherish the words of a “commentator” on the Bible instead of the true and Living Word? Do we believe “Barclay,” or “Calvin” as they interpret God for us? Satan is on constant watch for our weaknesses to snare us for his pit. We have God’s promise that He will guard us against deception and vilification. My own convictions of God’s Truth are deep and strong, unmovable and firm, but I fear for my beloved children and grandchildren. Without those strong foundations that were built for me, they may be swayed by the blandishments of “the world, the flesh and the devil.” We must all take the responsibility to pray night and day for our loved ones to escape that dreaded captivity!
This brings to mind the question of culpability. The phrase “mea culpa” has become a common admission in my life as I am willing to acknowledge and recognize my own shortcomings, faults and failings (I may sometimes cloak them as “foibles,” but they are mine and there is no excuse!).
The emphasis is on believing, on faith, loving and thanking God for His great gifts of Salvation and Protection for all His children. Let us review the Statement of Belief held by many Churches and
Congregations of Christians, as outlined below, we believe:
- The Bible: which is verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit is the authoritative Word of God, and infallible in the original languages.
- The triune Godhead in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- The personality of Satan, called the Devil, and his present control over the powers of darkness and unregenerate mankind.
- The fall and lost estate of man whose total depravity makes necessary the new birth in Jesus Christ.
- The deity of Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, sinless life, death, bodily resurrection, present exaltation at God’s right hand, His personal and imminent return
- The atonement by the substitutionary death and shed blood of Jesus Christ our Kinsman-Redeemer
- The resurrection if the saved into everlasting life and blessedness, and the resurrection of the unsaved unto everlasting punishment.
- The Church is the body of Christ who have repented of their sins and accepted Him as their personal Lord and Saviour, for whom He now makes intercession in Heaven, and Israel the Bride of Christ, for whom He shall come again.
- Christ’s commission to the Church is to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
There are certainly deviations in the beliefs of the various Churches, but the above can represent “The Faith of our Fathers living still” which we should teach and uphold in all we say or do. In the urgency of these last days may God give us the strength and courage to press on toward the mark and gather loved ones with us. Amen.