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Friday, August 16, 2013

*Truth Revealed to Babes

The Bible has been the world's bestselling book for many years; billions of people have ready access to God's Word—as close as their own bookshelf or computer. Yet, while the words of God's Book can be read, and frequently are, what it truly means remains a mystery to most people. The sheer number of Christian denominations shouts the fact that even those who profess to follow Christ do not agree on the Bible's message to humanity. Jesus Himself quotes Isaiah, saying, "Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive" (Matthew 13:14; see Isaiah 6:9). The "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" have not been opened to them (Matthew 13:11).

Earlier, He had said something similar in a prayer:
At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight." (Matthew 11:25-26)
Jesus found something praiseworthy in God the Father denying understanding to those who are thought to be "wise and prudent" but revealing His truth to "babes," average people who are yet unlearned. Those who think that they are smart—who believe they already know how the world works—reject the truths of God as "simple," "pie-in-the-sky," "na├»ve," "unscientific," "regressive," etc. In contrast, the unlearned possess an open, unspoiled mind that is willing to listen to what God has to say.

In I Corinthians 1:26-29, Paul says that God has called the foolish and the weak to confound the wise and the mighty. Most church members look at Paul's words as if they are a prophecy—that someday, the wise and mighty will look at the glorified saints and say, "If God could do that with them. . . ." But the apostle is also giving us something to do right now. If we are living by God's Word, what we do every day of our Christian lives are the things that will confound those who are the smart and powerful in this present world. When they rise in the resurrection, they will be ashamed that their pride caused them to reject God's revelation when it was being lived right in front of them so plainly. By this, God will humble them and lead them to conversion.

Notice the paragraph leading up to Paul's conclusion that the foolish would confound the wise:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (I Corinthians 1:18-24)
The truth is so easy to understand, so shockingly simple: Christ crucified. The Creator God died on a tree, giving His blood to cover human sin. It is quite simple—yet confoundingly profound! From that "simple" idea of Christ crucified, countless books have been written. At its root, the idea is simple, something that we can all understand, but the depth of knowledge and understanding that can be derived from it is limitless!

However, to the so-called wise and prudent, who cannot perceive that truth, whose eyes have not been opened, it is just sheer foolishness, even offensive. But we know that the gospel of Christ crucified—which does not leave Him dead on a tree but proclaims Him alive at God's right hand—is the dynamic power and wisdom of God, which leads no less than to salvation and eternal life. The people of Athens were ready to name Paul a fool for the idea of resurrection (Acts 17:32) because, as the wise of this world, that is how they saw the message: "God dies then comes back to life again, and because of that, we can have eternal life too?"

The Greeks, the ones whom intellectuals hold up as emblems of wisdom and philosophy, thought they were wise to scoff at the truth. To their heirs in the world, the message of the Bible and its simple truths do not measure up to their erudition. For example, they find the nature of God as revealed in Scripture to be lacking. God's Word shows that there is God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son. They have a spirit, the essence of their minds, by which they act. How plain! Nevertheless, the "wise" reject this in favor of a convoluted and ultimately illogical Trinity that cannot be found in the pages of the Book.

Paul also mentions that "Jews request a sign"; they want some supernatural occurrence—fire from heaven or a miracle of healing or the like—to confirm the preaching of God's revelation to men. Yet even Christ—God in the flesh—refused to do that. His only sign of His Messiahship would be one He had no control over, to rise from the dead after three days and nights (Matthew 12:40). The Jews would not accept that, wanting to see a miracle. Thus, when the teaching of the truth, unaccompanied by a sign, does not conform to their traditions, they, too, scoff and return to their comfortable rituals. As Psalm 78:41 asserts, Israel limits God. They do not have the capacity to see Him as He is or in His multifaceted works.

Jesus says to His disciples, "But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it" (Matthew 13:16-17). Though speaking specifically to the Twelve, it applies also to us; our eyes and ears have been opened to marvelous things from His Word (Psalm 119:18). As the saying goes, with great privilege comes great responsibility. We have an obligation to respond to what God has revealed to us and with its power carry out its implications to their eternal ends.

Peter tells the church, "the pilgrims of the Dispersion [the scattering]" (I Peter 1:1), ". . . as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (I Peter 2:2). He ends his second epistle with an exhortation to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). Our present duty is to soak up God's amazing revelation and to convert it into a righteous way of living that pleases Him. We must leave babyhood, foolishness, and weakness behind, and become mature, wise, and strong in Christ.