Christianity 201

November 9, 2015

What Do You Do With an Ex-Blind Man?

Think about being born blind; having no visual reference for anything other than your imagination; and then suddenly you can see!

Think about being born blind; having no visual reference for anything other than your imagination; and then suddenly you can see!

We had some shorter readings on the weekend, but today we jump back in with full force! We’re paying a return visit to Rick Morgan, who blogs in the UK at Digging The Word. Click the title below to read at source.

The Light Of The World In Action

The Light of the World has left us here to be the light of the world while he is gone.

John 9:5-11  “While I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”   6  Then He spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes.  7  He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”).

So the man went and washed and came back seeing!  8  His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?”  9  Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!” But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”

10  They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?”  11  He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!”


God sent light into our world because we desperately needed it, we had the sun for physical sight on this planet but we were still in the dark spiritually. Just like this blind man, we had sunshine all around us but we couldn’t see it, we need Jesus help to give us spiritual light.

This man had no hope of seeing the light, nobody ever healed a man that was born blind, and he didn’t have any reason to believe that his situation was going to change. He lived everyday knowing that he would never see, he would always be a beggar, and he would always be stuck depending on others.

This man never knew the light of the sun so he couldn’t know that the light of the world was on the way. He may have been physically blind but there must have been some amount of spiritual light that gave him the faith to follow Jesus instructions. He didn’t have to obey and go to the pool, what if his faith in Jesus wasn’t any better than the Pharisees?

John 9:15-16  The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!”

Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for He is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them.

Now what do you do with Jesus? The religious leaders are really in a bad way. There are too many witnesses to the fact that this man has been blind all of his life but now he can see. The fact that he is healed seems to be undeniable, at first they try and say he isn’t the same man but that opinion was quickly shot down and now they need a new story.

What can we do with Jesus? He isn’t the Messiah, the Messiah wouldn’t break the Sabbath, he wouldn’t tell us Pharisees how bad we are, but how can we deny his power? Maybe we can say that his power is from Satan. As God’s number one creation, man will go to great lengths and create outrageous stories to deny God’s glory. We will explain away what is so easy to accept when you aren’t spiritually blind.

John 9:30-33  “Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where He comes from?  We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but He is ready to hear those who worship Him and do His will.  Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind.  If this man were not from God, He couldn’t have done it.”

Now what do you do with an ex-blind man? Someone that is pointing out the obvious about Jesus. Someone who just received physical sight has more spiritual sight than the religious leaders. They were sure that he was born in sin, a total sinner, how could he think that he is going to teach them anything (John 9:2, 34)

The simple logical reasoning of this guy couldn’t be denied, he broke it down and made it plain, there wasn’t any other explanation for the facts. No pressure from the Pharisees would make him change his mind, not after what he has just experienced, so they verbally attack him and expelled him from the synagogue.

John 9:38  “Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus.

Jesus never left people wondering, he found the man and helped him understand, if they had mustard seed sized faith then he was going to water it and help it increase. There are a lot of different responses to Jesus but this man gets it right and responds in worship, he even does it right there in front of the Pharisees, he doesn’t care what anybody thinks or what the consequences will be. Out of all of the people that were a part of this story there was only one that was worshiping.

Giver Of Light

2 Corinthians 4:4,6  Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

The “giver of darkness” has been defeated by the “giver of light.” God said “Let there be light” and shortly after that Satan brought us back to the dark but that dark has been defeated by the Light of the World.

To those that believe in Jesus it is difficult to imagine standing right there in front of him and not having a clue about who he is. We look back and think how could they be so blind? The giver of light is right there in front of you. We need to remember that if they are blind then it doesn’t matter how much light there is, there isn’t any way to comprehend it, everything about the gospel will be foolishness to them. (1 Corinthians 1:18-19)

John 10:24-27  The people surrounded Him and asked, “How long are You going to keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”  25  Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe Me. The proof is the work I do in My Father’s name.  26  But you don’t believe Me because you are not My sheep.  27  My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.

I was amazed when I did a search on Google for “giver of light.” A lot of the search results had nothing to do with Jesus or the gospel, Satan knows that we want to live in the light so he has developed a lot of counterfeit sources of light.

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.

The Light of the World has left us here on this dark planet with a job to do, since Jesus our Savior has opened our blind eyes for God’s glory, we should work to point others to Him. Now it is our turn to be the giver of light, sure we are small candles compared to the true light of the world but as a community of believers we can shine very bright as we live for him and love like he did.

I need to remember that this world is blind, they live and behave like they do because they can see nothing better. I need to be the light and pray to Jesus that their eyes will be opened so that they will see the glory of God through my life. (Matthew 5:16)

Help me to be a light house for you in this dark world. Amen.

 

March 25, 2012

Where Did All The Demons Go?

After some additional discussion both on and off the blog after the post about curses a few weeks ago, here’s a piece from the blog Arminian Today which appeared under the title So Little Said About Demons These Days.

Even a simply survey reading of the Gospels reveals that Jesus Christ interacted with demonic forces during His earthly ministry.

In Matthew 4:23-25 we read that Jesus’ ministry was marked first by His healings which included “those oppressed by demons” (v. 24 ESV).

In Matthew 8:16 we read that Jesus again headed those oppressed by demons and thus His healings demonstrated that He was the Messiah according to Isaiah 53:4 and Matthew 8:17.

In Matthew 8:28-34 we have Jesus’ first encounter with two demon possessed men.  Here Jesus casts out the demons by allowing them to speak that they wish to be cast into a herd of pigs which He allows and the pigs run off a cliff to their deaths.

In Matthew 9:32-34 Jesus heals a demon possessed man who is unable to speak.

In Matthew 10:8 Jesus tells His disciples to cast out demons.

In Matthew 12:22 Jesus heals a demon possessed man who is blind and mute.

The only insight Jesus gives us to demons is found in Matthew 12:43-45 where He speaks about what a demon spirit does when it is cast out of a person.

In Matthew 15:21-28 Jesus heals a Gentile woman’s demon possessed little girl whose mother comes to Jesus and implores Him to come and heal her.  Jesus heals the little girl without being present physically (v. 28).

In Matthew 17:14-21 Jesus heals a demon possessed boy whom the disciples of Jesus could not heal.  Jesus tells His disciples they could not heal the boy because of their lack of faith (v. 20).

This ends the ministry of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew concerning demons but much more could be read from the other three Gospels about our Lord.  Clearly He had a ministry that included dealing with demons and demon possession.

What is amazing is that we don’t see that much on demons these days.  Some have sought answers to this by saying 1) the stories in the Gospels are not true.  2) Demons were in abundance in the life and times of Christ but not so today.  Demons helped God prove that Jesus was indeed the Messiah of Israel and thus are not needed today to demonstrate His truth since we have the Bible.  3)  Demons do exist but we just don’t talk about them much because we lack faith to deal with them.

My contention is number 3.

I believe in demons.  I have seen only a few times where I thought I was seeing a demon working in a person.  We have all heard the stories such as The Exorcist where the demon causes the person to talk in a different voice and even in foreign languages.  I too have heard those stories though never witnessed them.  I once sat in on a bizarre episode where a girl we knew was struggling with migraine headaches.  Some guy claimed that the headaches were demonic and that a demon was behind the sickness.  He began to have the girl look into his eyes and he said, “I want to speak to the demon in the name of Jesus.”  Supposedly a few demons spoke but I think the girl was making it up.  She continue to struggle with migraines to this day and that has been nearly 20 years.

You see the dilemma that I face is this: I believe in demons but I have seen some strange teachings on demons.  I worked with a lady who claimed that demons were stealing from her cash register.  She honestly believed that if she came up short on her money at our job then a demon had come in, took the money, and was seeking to bring her down.  I watched once as she sought to cast a demon out of her cash register.

Yet I still believe in demons.  Why?  Because of the Bible.  I see in the Gospels and later in the book of Acts the dealings by both the Lord Jesus and the Apostles with demons.  Some believe that with the death of the last Apostle and the cessation of revelatory spiritual gifts, demonic activity likewise has diminished and today we defeat demons not by signs and wonders and healings but with the power of the gospel.  I believe this is a weak argument based on silence and not Scripture.  It is seeking to a build a case from silence of why we in the modern Church do not see demons like they did in Acts.

I am well aware of the stories from Africa and other nations were demons are being interacted with.  I have talked with missionaries to Africa who say that they have seen demonic activity all across Africa but that the Church is confronting those demons with the power of Christ.  I have spoken with brothers from India who tell of temples of Hinduism that are full of demons.  One Indian brother told me that Westerners often get very sick around those temples even if not a Christian because of the level of demonic activity that goes on the inside of those Hindu temples.  I have had Indian brothers tell me about the power of Jesus healing demon possessed people.

So why the lack of demon possession in the United States and the West?  One African brother told me that he believed that demons not show themselves here in the US because of our trust in materialism.  He told me, “Brother, demons are active in the United States but they need not manifest themselves since you trust in riches.  Demons are behind your materialism and they have you trapped.  Why bother exposing themselves when their job is complete.”  This African brother told me that he has demons speak to him in Africa but never in the United States.  He did tell me that he once encountered a demon at a large mall.  He said that the demon possessed man merely walked over to him and growled like a dog at him.

Perhaps this brother is correct.  We trust in our technology here in the West.  You get sick.  You go to the doctor.  We have little trust in the supernatural or in trying to explain events using demons or the spirit world.  Our trust in modern science is such that we seek to explain everything and everything has an explanation.  Demonic activity is not one that you ever hear about.  I have had only one psychiatrist tell me that she often prays for wisdom to discern the demonic (1 Corinthians 12:10).  She said that it is difficult to discern if a demon is behind a person’s behavior or if the person is truly sick.  Either way, she said, she prays for healing and asks Jesus to intervene for His glory.  Wise woman.

To make matters even more difficult, the Epistles speak little to none of demons.  Paul mentions demons in 1 Corinthians 10:21.  Paul mentions Satan in 2 Corinthians 2:11.  He mentions Satan as the god of this world in 2 Corinthians 4:4.  Paul mentions the false god Belial in 2 Corinthians 6:15.  Paul mentions the deception of Satan in 2 Corinthians 11:14.  Paul mentions spiritual forces of evil in Ephesians 6:12.  Paul speaks of the activity of Satan in 2 Thessalonians 2:9.  He mentions deceitful spirits and teaching of demons in 1 Timothy 4:1.  James mentions demons in James 2:19.  Peter mentions spirits in prison in 1 Peter 3:19.  John mentions spirits in 1 John 4:1-3.  Revelation is full of demons and spirits and creatures such as we see in Revelation 9.

Yet that is pretty much it.  Demons rarely appear outside of the Gospels and Acts.  Paul never tells the churches he writes to cast out demons.  Some say that this would have been a given because of the words of Jesus in Mark 16:17.  I believe this another argument from silence.  Yet the same could be said of healing.  Paul never mentions for the church to be praying for healings to take place to draw people to Christ and apart from 1 Corinthians 12, he never speaks of healings.  James mentions healing in James 5:13-16.  So if we believe that the revelatory gifts such as tongues, interpretation of tongues, healings, and exorcisms were for the Apostles, then that is your argument for the lack of demonic activity in the modern Church and in the Epistles.

Either way, we know this: Jesus is victorious over demons.  His victory is seen in the cross and in His resurrection.  His victory is seen in the transformation of lives through the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:17).  His victory is seen in the defeat of Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15).  This victory is now experienced through the gospel.  Jesus is able to deliver us from sin and it’s power (Romans 6:1-23).  The Spirit of God delivers us completely from darkness into the kingdom of God’s Son (Colossians 1:13-14).  God has triumphed over all demons through the cross (Colossians 2:15).  Victory is ours in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37-39).

January 30, 2012

Trouble The Water

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Just two weeks ago I introduced you to the writing of Robert Moon, but I’m enjoying his blog and wanted to share another piece with you.  I chose to title this based on the phrasing I think I remember from the KJV, but it appeared on his blog as The Moving of the Water.

John 5: 6-8 (NKJV) When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”

On the one hand this is a very sad story, a “Winner Take all” proposition. While one man recovered his health, the rest were still laying around the pool waiting for the moving of the water. If Jesus ministered to anyone else it isn’t mentioned.

One might conclude that the people were looking to the water instead of Jesus for help. Notwithstanding the fact that they had not yet heard of Jesus but after he healed the impotent man they should have then changed their focus.

If we are still standing around the same old water hole hoping for help, and getting none, maybe its time to change the way we think, pray and conduct ourselves.

The pool was a place where misery was flourishing where people were speaking out about their problems, and receiving sympathy from one another. We, the church are not living in the age of sympathy but rather the age of grace where we should build each other up rather than to commiserate with the problem.

There are times when we must endure some hard knocks, for we don’t control the forces aligned against us.

1Corinthians 16:13 encourages us to; Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.

There are times when we can pray and encourage one another but sometimes we have to go through the valley all alone because our closest friend can’t help. It is in a time like this when we need to be reinforced by GOD’S word and remember

Joel 3:10 Let the weak say I am strong and, Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Being strong in the LORD is simply walking and talking according to the demands of His Word any thing less than that is sin. Going against GOD’S word saps our spiritual strength and affects our fellowship with GOD.

1 John 1:6-9 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

So there you have it, if you are weak, say I am strong in the Lord, if you sin, confess it to GOD along with repentance.

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

December 29, 2011

What Happened During That Long Walk?

In John 21:25 we’re told that if everything Jesus did was written down, there isn’t a library big enough to contain it.  Okay, I paraphrased that verse a little.  But the point is we’re often given snapshots of the beginning and ending to a story, but left to fill in the middle.  Such is the case in the story today, though I had never considered a “missing middle” until I checked in, as we do on a regular basis, with Jon Swanson at the blog 300 Words a Day.  He called this, Living Between ‘I Will’ and ‘I Have.’

We struggle with goals. We read that telling people your goals is dangerous. It can give you the buzz of affirmation without having to do the hard work. Having goals is fine. But keep them to yourself.

But this isn’t a story about goals. This is about a walk captured in the Bible, but never described.

Jairus had a dying daughter. He went to Jesus. Jesus started coming to his house. Jesus was distracted by a different miracle. And then someone says, “never mind, she’s dead. Leave him alone.”

Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe and she will be healed.” The next thing we read is that Jesus arrives at the house.

Between those sentences, between “she will be healed” and Jesus arriving was a very long walk for Jairus. We aren’t told the distance of the walk. It probably wasn’t more than a few hundred steps. But any of us in the middle of emotional devastation know that the distance in our hearts has little connection to the distance for our feet. Throughout that walk, his daughter was dead.

“Just believe” was all that Jesus told Jarius to do. We often turn that into some kind of measure, and we think that if we believe enough amazing things will happen. If they don’t happen, it’s our fault, because we didn’t believe enough. In this case, believing was simple. It just meant walking with Jesus all the way home.

We don’t know what they talked about, or if they talked. Was Jesus silent? Did he ask Jairus about his daughter’s favorite foods? Did he talk about the 1969 Mets?

No idea. Apparently, it doesn’t matter for us. But Jairus walked home with Jesus, ignoring the apparent certainty of her death.

Not every child is raised. But every promise is kept.

~Jon Swanson