The Bible Speaks

They could not believe
Dec. 15, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

“But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him…for this cause they could not believe.” John 12:37,39

When I was a youngster I bet my younger brother that I could make 9 of 10 free throw shots. The wager was small (just two days lunch money) but I had been practicing and was confident I could do it. My brother kept saying he didn’t believe I could do it, but the test came and I sank 10 of 10. He wouldn’t pay up, however, claiming I cheated. I knew he didn’t really believe I cheated, but he just didn’t want to believe it. He didn’t WANT me to win the bet.

Believing isn’t always a matter of being convinced by the facts. Jesus had performed sign after sign to prove He was God’s Son, but there were those who simply didn’t want to believe. The facts were incontrovertible, but the hearts were cold and callous. Nothing would convince them, not even Christ’s resurrection, because they didn’t want to believe. “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts” is an adage that comes to mind.

If you read carefully today’s text, you will notice some words that are at first hard to swallow.

Verse 39 says they “could not believe” and vs. 40 quotes a verse from Isaiah the prophet telling us that God actually blinds the eyes and hardens the heart so that they will not come to Him and be converted. I don’t know about you, but that didn’t square well with my theology of salvation. I always thought that God wanted everyone to believe and He would never darken anyone’s mind or heart, yet John and Isaiah say different!

The Bible teaches that the heart is the center of belief and the mind is secondary. Evidence for the gospel of Christ being the true and only way to salvation is so strong that anyone hearing it would have to believe based on that evidence. However, if their heart is unwilling, then their mind will be clouded with doubt and misunderstanding. Those who don’t want to believe, because they don’t want to give up their sin or their own control of their life, will not be able to “see” the truth. I have personally talked with numerous rational and logical people whose reasons for not believing are anything but rational or logical. Convincing arguments are met with more questions and doubts. Yet, some of those same skeptics have come to faith in Christ EVEN WITH THEIR ARGUMENTS UNRESOLVED!! Why is this? It can only be because it is with “the heart man believes…” (Romans 10:10).

The Bible speaks and tells us that evidence alone isn’t enough to bring someone to salvation. Their heart must humbly admit their sinful state and need for a Savior. When you witness to that lost friend or coworker, don’t forget that you should present the evidence but pray hard for the melting of the heart. It is their only hope.

The Rev. Bruce MacInnes is pastor at Turner’s Chapel.