If the mind is closed …

                                                 If the mind is closed,

                                             we can speak to the heart.

                                                                John Ridgway  

     We were created in the image of God with an intellect (mind), a will and emotions.  The function of the mind was to perceive truth as it is related to God, the will would then respond in obedience and the emotions would rejoice in that decision.  In our fallen state of rebellion that we inherited from Adam, the order is typically reversed.  Our emotions govern our will, with the mind (intellect) serving only to justify the faulty decision of the will.  II Corinthians 4:4 tells us that “The God of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”  Ephesians 4:18 relates to us that our “understanding” is darkened.  G. Campbell Morgan characterized this darkened understanding as “Intellectual limitation secondary to spiritual dullness resulting from moral failure.”  The only hope for our failure is found in II Corinthians 4:6 where it states “For God who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness,‘ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”  As followers of Christ, we are sent forth as His salt and His light.  His light penetrates the minds of some with whom we interact but not others.  Our efforts to persuade are met with indifference and noncommittal.  Such apologists as Josh McDowell (Evidence that Demands a Verdict), Lee Strobel (The Case for Faith), and C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity) are met with either skepticism or disinterest.  Various intellectual objections are raised for which no explanation seems satisfactory to their minds.  Their minds are closed to the gospel of Christ.  

     John Ridgway, a Navigator missionary who has served in India and Indonesia, related a story several years ago in which a relative of his had a closed mind to the gospel.  John’s words, and those of others had been fruitless for an extended period of time.  Although his relative’s mind was closed to a consideration of the gospel message, John determined that he could still speak to this man’s heart.  The need of his heart was simply to experience God’s love.  John then began to share some of the portions of the Psalms describing the great love that the Lord had for his relative.  These included Psalm 23, 121 and numerous others.  The message repeated so often in Psalm 107 is that of God’s love reaching us in many different situations, including those related to our blindness and rebellion.  The Psalm starts with the phrase in verse one “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever,” and concludes with verse 43 which states “Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD.”  Four times in the Psalm, after each situation is resolved by the hand of the Lord, whether it be due to hunger and thirst with their lives ebbing away, subjection to bitter labor with no one to help, suffering affliction because of iniquities, or circumstances that brought them to their wits‘ end, the verse is inserted which states “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.”  As months went by, his relatives‘ intellectual resistance began to melt away and disappeared.  God’s love had penetrated his heart and he subsequently became a follower of Christ.

     Over the years I have encountered a number of individuals with a closed mind toward the gospel.  One such man had declined over a period of ten years to even look at the Bible together.  Several years ago I heard that he had been admitted to the hospital for a surgical procedure.  Motivated by John Ridgway’s remarks, I considered speaking to his heart through the Psalms.  I brought him a devotional book with daily readings and gave it to him while he was in the hospital.  I did not see him again for several months, at which time he related that he enjoyed the book so much that he was reading it morning and evening.  Our relationship has now developed to a point where we are discussing the gospel message freely.  The Lord had spoken to his mind through his heart.  In the recent past I have also met with a young man who had several intellectual objections to the Bible and its message.  Some of these he held so strongly that he didn’t even want me to discuss them with him.  Furthermore, he was not convinced of the authority of the Bible nor its relevance to his life.  After a year or more of reading through several of the Gospels together, his objections seemed to vanish.  He has never mentioned them again.  The love of God expressed to him through the person of Christ had spoken to his heart.  He has since openly confessed Christ as his Lord and Savior and looks to the word of God for guidance in his life.

     Hebrews 4:12 relates that the word of God is a “living and active sword.”  If someone is continually exposed to the word, it will do its work in their lives.  Jim Morris used the illustration of a person being confronted by another individual holding a knife and hearing them say “give me your money!”  If the individual confronted were to say “I don’t believe that is a knife,” the one with the knife might then be tempted to prove that it is, indeed, a knife!  In a similar way, the objections to the word not having validity or authority does not prevent the Holy Spirit from doing its work in the lives of others.  

     Although there are a number of authors who speak decisively about many doctrinal and apologetic positions, I have never ceased to rely ultimately upon bringing individuals face to face with Christ in the gospels.  Despite intellectual limitation, spiritual dullness and moral failure, mankind universally suffers from weariness and burdens.  It is only as they consider the person of Christ that they hear Him say “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)  It is here that they ultimately find God’s great love for them expressed in Christ.  “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  (I John 4:10)   

     As you share His love with others, my prayer for you is what Paul prayed for the Thessalonians.  “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.” (II Thessalonians 1:11) 

In Christ, Richard Spann                                           

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