As one talks with people, one notices that they have two ways of reacting to
spiritual issues. Some are open to them, but very often it seems like you are
faced with an impenetrable wall, and the message does not evoke a response. On
the contrary, the attitude of people like this can be similar to the Ephesians
who began shouting
"Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!", or similar to Paul's
fellow citizens who rejected the message he preached. They did not receive it.
- (Acts 19:28, 29) When they heard this, they
were furious and began shouting:
"Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"
29. Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and
Aristarchus, Paul's travelling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man
into the theatre.
- (Acts 22:17,18)
"When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I
fell into a trance
18. and saw the Lord speaking.
he said to me.
immediately, because they will not accept your testimony about me.'
There can be different reasons behind such a negative attitude towards the
spiritual message. If we look the matter only from the spiritual viewpoint, we
can see that the Bible shows the significance of
"the God of this age", like
Paul put it. According to the Second Corinthians, it has blinded the minds of
people so that they cannot understand the meaning of the Gospel and Christ. They
do not receive it, because they cannot see the light of Christ. The enemy has
sowed weeds among the wheat as Jesus said:
Cor 4:3,4) And even if our gospel is veiled, it is
veiled to those who are perishing.
4. 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
13:24,25) Jesus told them another parable:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a man
who sowed good seed in his field.
25. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the
wheat, and went away.
On the other hand, there can be also more mundane reasons for rejection, and one
of them is the media. Each of us has some kinds of prejudices and biases (or if
someone says that he is free from them, he is probably not honest with himself),
and many of these come from the media. When we read or hear writings and
speeches of others, they can make us critical towards spiritual issues and
positive towards sin. The same happens as after the teachings of
Hymenaeus and Philetus:
their speech spread like cancer. Most of our attitudes come into being this way.
- (2 Tim 2:17) Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among
them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
In any case, next we are going to point out some of the most common things why
some reject the message of the Gospel and Christ, and behave in the same way as
the Ephesians as Paul tried to speak to them. These explanations are not
complete and probably will not satisfy everyone but after they are a good
starting point when deliberating eternal issues. And they may be true after all.
LOVE AND LACK OF IT
One reason why people reject the Gospel is their idea of what is love and what
is not. Many may be offended either by the attitudes of some people or by the
fact that someone speaks to them about damnation. They say right away:
"We must not be narrow-minded". These attitudes cause them to act in
the same way as the Ephesians in their time
What is truth?
- (1 Cor 6:9,10) Do you not
know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:
Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes
nor homosexual offenders
10. nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers
will inherit the kingdom of God.
As we start to study the issue and speak about
damnation, it is of utmost importance to think about whether it is true or not.
This issue is not decided by polls or our own inclinations; only the truth is
important. Ultimately, only the fact how reliable the verses above and the
issues Jesus mentioned is important. These words were uttered almost 2,000 years
ago - i.e., long before the present generation - and now we must decide our
attitude towards them; do we consider them reliable or not?
On the other hand, if we consider
the previous verses reliable, is it then loveless to warn of the damnation just
as of weak ice ("Do not go there, you may drown")? Wouldn't it then rather be
selfish and loveless to keep silent about the whole matter, in other words this
changes the situation to the contrary. Therefore, we must look this matter from
the viewpoint of eternity, and it may seem quite different. The situation
immediately changes if the mentions of eternity are true.
Who is loving? If
we continue the same issue of love, we should also note the lives of Jesus and
Paul. Nowadays many boast that they themselves are tolerant and broad-minded,
and judge people who think in other ways as narrow-minded, but the fact is that
none of these people wins Jesus, and Paul for that matter, in love. Is it not
strange that Jesus, who warned most of the damnation and impenitence that leads
there, was also certainly the most loving person. This can be seen in His
teaching (the Sermon on the Mount, etc.) and also in His life, which was
admitted to be good also by may of His opponents. Generally, there is no
confusion of this.
On the other hand, the life of
Paul too is a good example for many. How many of us "tolerant people" of the
present times can say the same as he said in his time? If we are honest, we
cannot certainly do it:
- (2 Cor 12:14,15)
Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to
you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children
should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.
15. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself
as well. If I love you more, will you love me less?
- (2 Cor 2:3,4) I wrote as I did so that when I came
I should not be distressed by those who ought to make me rejoice. I had
confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy.
4. For I wrote to you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with
many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
- (Phil 3:17) Join with others in
following my example, brothers,
take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave
As we spoke about love above, we should also talk about what is progress. Often
those who deem themselves progressive and wise, look at others with an air of
superiority (Luke 18:11: The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself:
'God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or
even like this tax collector.), especially when talking about confidence in
the teachings of the Bible. Therefore, they can also reject the Gospel and the
message about Jesus, because they regard it as old-fashioned. They act like the
Ephesians or Paul's fellow citizens, who did not consider themselves worthy of
- (Acts13:45-47) When the Jews saw
the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against
what Paul was saying.
46. Then Paul and Barnabas answered
them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you
reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to
47. For this is what the Lord has
commanded us: " 'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring
salvation to the ends of the earth.'"
However, a good question again is what is true and what is not.
If eternal life is true, how stupid are we if we do not care of it! Then are we
the stupidest people in the world if we do not wish to be transformed, renewed
and aim at a new eternal life (actually, the whole core of the New Testament is
the eternal kingdom into which we are called by God and which we can receive by
the atonement of Jesus). Therefore, it is worthwhile to deliberate about the
significance of the next verses. Are they true or false?
- (Rev 21:1-8) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the
first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any
2. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
3. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of
God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people,
and God himself will be with them and be their God.
4. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or
mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
5. He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"
Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
6. He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and
the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the
spring of the water of life.
7. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be
8. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually
immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-their place
will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death."
Finally, let's study a description of what progress can
be from moral point of view in a society. Those who support evilness and defend
it naturally think differently. This description is from the 19th
told that the moral situation changed greatly through this revival. The city was
new, economically prosperous and enterprising but full of sin. The population
was especially intelligent and ambitious but as the revival swept through the
city by bringing large crowds of its most remarkable people, men and women, to
conversion, there happened a very miraculous change concerning the order,
peacefulness and morality.
I had a talk with a lawyer many years later. He had been
converted in this revival and was a general prosecutor in criminal cases.
Because of this office the criminal statistics were thoroughly familiar to him.
He said about the time of this revival, "I have examined documents of criminal
law and noticed a surprising fact: while our city has grown three times larger
after the times of the revival, there has not been even a third of the
indictments than there were before. So miraculous an effect did the revival have
on our society."(…)
(...) Both public and personal opposition gradually
abated. In Rochester I did not know anything about it. The salvation had is own
great visitation, the revivals were so powerful and moved so widely, and people
had time to become acquainted both with themselves and the results of them to
such an extent that they feared to oppose them as before. The priests also
understood them better, and the wicked were convinced that they were acts of
God. This idea of them became almost common, so clear was the sane nature of the
conversions, so really transformed, "new creations", were the converts, so
thorough a change occurred both in individuals and in the society, and so
permanent and undeniable were the fruit. (Charles G. Finney: Ihmeellisiä
herätyksiä, p. 245, 246, 249)
SCIENTIFIC APPROACH and
As one talks with people about the Gospel, one notes
that some act like the Ephesians and reject the Gospel because they believe that
everything has been born and evolved by itself. They regard themselves as
scientific and deem, for example, the next words of Jesus false:
13:19) because those will be days of distress unequalled from the beginning,
when God created the world, until now-and never to be equalled again.
But what is scientific and what is faith? Paul says
straight out in Hebrews that "By faith we understand that the universe was
formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was
visible" (Hebr 11:3), in other words he
admitted the impact of faith in understanding matters. He said that only by
faith can we understand how everything was created out of nothing.
However, he who believes in a
random beginning and evolution also relies fully on faith. This is the fact that
cannot be denied. We cannot prove the foundation of the evolution theory, the
big bang and spontaneous generation, in a laboratory: they are based on faith in
the minds of people. Attempts to generate the latter in a laboratory have been
made, but with no success whatsoever. No scientist has been able to get even
near to solving the origin of life, i.e. people believe in it even though
practical observations do not support it. The belief in the matter is only
inside the people. As a matter of fact, the so-called scientific issues are
based on faith like is the spiritual life and faith in the supernatural God. The
question is which of the alternatives we deem more realistic - the belief in the
haphazard origin or creation - because neither of them cannot be properly
In this issue one should use his
common sense because in that way it is possible to proceed at least a little.
So, when you ask an ordinary plain man how possible he considers that a new
universe like the present one with dozens of billions galaxies, hundreds of
billions stars, a sun like the present one, the planets, sea and water, the
rocks, man, the birds, elephants, mosquitoes and so on could be born from, for
example , an ordinary chip of a stone (in the big bang theory it is supposed
that everything came into being from a pin-sized space), what would he say?
How reasonable would he deem the whole issue when holding a chip of stone in his
hand? Is it not likely that his answer would be something to the effect:
- Don't be crazy, that's just an impossible idea! Such cannot be born from a
small stone. How could anyone believe in such foolishness?