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Blind from Birth

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
January 14, 2021 3:00 am

Blind from Birth

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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January 14, 2021 3:00 am

Sometimes we deceive ourselves into thinking an urgent situation isn’t really so bad. This can easily happen when churches relax their teaching standards. On Truth For Life, Alistair Begg explains why maintaining a Gospel focus is imperative.



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The Bible makes it clear that prior to salvation, men and women are spiritually blind. But we can be lulled into thinking that spiritual blindness isn't really as bad as it seems. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg explains why it's so important for you and your church to maintain a gospel focus in a message titled, Blind From Birth. Last time we finished by asking the question, What possible relevance is there to those of us who are dwelling in the twenty-first century to consider the story of somebody who two thousand years ago was a blind beggar and was healed by Jesus?

And the answer that we gave to that was clear and, I hope, understood. We said that this was one of the signs of John's gospel, which John tells us have been recorded as evidence that may be the basis of faith in the Lord Jesus, which may in turn produce life, spiritual life. These things have been recorded, he says, in verse 31 of chapter 20, as signs so that men and women might come to understand who Jesus is and what he's done, and in coming to believe in this Jesus, that they might find life in his name. So here in John chapter 9, we have one of those signs.

I'll let you go and find the others on your own. And this is a sign pointing to the fact that just as surely as he opened this man's eyes physically, so Jesus opens the spiritual sight of men and women. Well, why would Jesus have to open men and women's eyes spiritually?

Answer? Because men and women are spiritually blind. And the Bible tells us in an uncompromising way, and quite frankly, often in a very uncomfortable way, and maybe some of us would want to say this morning in an unpalatable way, that each of us is spiritually blind from birth. John chapter 8, they come and oppose him, and Jesus says, You cannot hear my word. John chapter 9, he says to them, You cannot see my work. Neither can you hear what I'm saying, nor can you see what I'm doing. Now, this, of course, is a quite dramatic statement, is it not?

Let me pause here for a moment and underscore it. And very purposefully so. Unless from the Bible we are made aware of the true nature of our condition, then it may be possible for us to respond to a superficial presentation of the good news which addresses only our felt needs without ever tackling our real predicament. You see, the gospel impacts us by first of all confronting us with the bad news of who and what we are. Until our blind eyes are open to our predicament, until our deaf ears are unstopped to hear this story, then the proclamation of any antidote to the predicament is irrelevant. That's why some, as young people, sit and listen to this story, and they say, Well, somehow or another, my parents are into this, but I don't need this. Do you know why you say that?

Because you're blind. Let me quote to you an Englishman and a Scotsman—first a Scotsman, a contemporary Scotsman—on the nature of what sin does. See, many of us have a view of sin, which is simply, Well, I lost my temper, I stubbed my toe, and I said a bad word, I was jealous of Mrs. So-and-so, whatever it might be. And all of those things are evidence of a predicament that is far more endemic. You see, what the Bible says when it says that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, what it is saying is this, that there is no part of the nature of the essential being of a man or a woman that is unaffected by sin. It affects our emotions, it affects our affections, it affects our wills, it affects our understanding of things. There is no little citadel in our experience to which we may go to find refuge, whereby we say, Well, I know that I'm not very good here, here, here, and here, but of course, this little area of my life is in perfect condition. It affects our understanding.

It affects our intellect so that we can't think straight nor make proper deductions or pursue proper arguments. Oh, you say, Wait a minute, you can't possibly be serious. They've just undocked from the space station. We put people up there. We left somebody from Europe up there. Some poor soul is up there with his two cronies for the next six months. That is not one of my aspirations, I can assure you.

But I'm afraid in an elevator, so what it would be like up there for six months… Anyway, that's by the way. But someone says, Well, we've done these remarkable things. Yes, of course we have. We're able to reason mathematically, but we think flawed about so many things. Our human thought processes, our presuppositions, our assumptions, our human logic are all messed up.

Why? Because they are hostile to God. You see, this is where the only place you're ever going to get this is by reading your Bible. You're never going to come to this by yourself.

You won't be walking along the road one day and come to this. That's why God has given us the Bible. Listen to what it says in Romans chapter 8. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.

That's the predicament. So when the Bible says we are blind, that blindness speaks to the amazing way in which sin has permeated our condition. That's why the idea of appealing to people on the basis of just how badly they've been feeling coming out of a week may appear, on the one hand, to be very sensitive and kindly, and to say what now we're being confronted with. And the Bible may seem to be the very reverse of that.

Why would anybody ever come to Parkside Church and listen to this, that the distortion of sin is such that there is an anti-God bias in our lives? We think crookedly. We think in an ungodly way. When Thomas Watson dealt with this on a Sunday afternoon for his congregation in the seventeenth century in London, this is what he says to them under the heading of man's misery as a result of the fall in Genesis 3. He says, the first misery is that by nature we are under the power of Satan. Before the fall man was free, now a slave. Before a king on the throne, now in fetters. And to whom is man enslaved? To one that hates him. Enslaved to one who hates you. Who is happy to continually feed the distortion of your thinking, to say to you, Oh, I can see everything!

And you can't. He is completely opposed to the possibility of you ever becoming like the individual in the hymn who says, Once I was blind but believed I knew everything. Proud in my ways, yet a fool in my part. Says Watson, he rules the understanding. He blinds men with ignorance and then rules them. As the Philistines first put out Samson's eyes and then bound him, Satan can do what he will with an ignorant man, because he does not see the error of his way. The devil can lead him into any sin.

You may lead a blind man anywhere. Does this affect the way in which we make decisions about the raising of our children? See, the real problems for our children is not, Oh, well, they're not doing so very well, or they are doing exceptionally well, or they graduated magna cum laude, and they're now holding down a significant position, but da-da-da-da-da.

Loved ones, let's just be straight-up honest. What the Bible says is that our children are spiritually blind and deaf and are absolutely unable to rectify their predicament. The friends and neighbors to whom we go and tell the gospel are not people living in some middle territory between belief and unbelief, between sight and blindness. It is not that you can sit on a Sunday and listen to the story of the gospel and say, Well, I know there is a possibility over here and over there, but I live in my own little world over here.

No, you don't. This is the judgment that light has come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light because our deeds are evil. And the wonder of it is that we who walk through life blinded and deaf, showing no interest in God, find ourselves to be on the receiving end of a seeking God—a God who for reasons only in and of himself sets out in the person of his Son to seek out those who are the wandering sheep, the lost and the lone, and so on.

It is not a wonderful story! And the implication, of course, as we think about it as a church, is, Is God going to go, if we might put it reverently, to this extent, to come down into our time-space capsule to redeem us, so that we can all sit and sing songs to one another and be happy about the fact that we're all okay no matter what happens to anybody else? I don't think you think that for a moment. I think some of you, some of us, have been lulled into thinking that what the Bible says it doesn't really mean. That somehow or another, it is gonna work out okay. Somehow or another, it's not really as bad as it seems. Somehow or another, they're not really totally blind, you know.

They're not really deaf. They'll be okay. No, they won't.

No, they won't. He who believes in the Son has life. He who does not believe in the Son does not have life, because the condemnation of God rests upon him. This is no some superficial little story to be played with and plied to the masses in a way that disregards their intellect and doesn't take seriously their sufferings and doesn't enter into their lives. So Jesus walks along the road, heals the man. The disciples say, Who sinned, this man or his parents? Jesus said, That's not the issue. He said, This happened so that the works of God might be declared, so that I might give a sign to all who see, that as surely as this man has been brought to physical sight, so too others will come, like he does at the end of the chapter, to recognize that his real predicament is not whether he can see physically but whether he can understand the voice of this Jesus.

Now, Jesus was absolutely clear concerning these things, and if you read not only 9 but read around it, you will find that that is the case. Let us go, though, to the reaction of the neighbors. Otherwise, you will be just saying, What a waste of a good chapter that was, with him going on forever and ever and ever.

It's like standing up on the tee and fiddling around, shaking the golf club in all directions and never hitting the ball. Let's get to verse 8 quickly. His neighbors said to those who had formerly seen him begging, Formerly seen him begging, Why would he beg anymore? He's changed.

There's no reason to sit down there with that little bag on the same corner underneath that shady tree. No, he's up and about. He's up and about to such a dramatic effect that he's caused confusion and division. Well, who is it? It's him.

I don't think it is. I think it's someone who looks like him. No, I think—no. And eventually the man stands up and says, It's—I'm the man, all right. It's me.

It's me. The matter of his identity, though, is second only to the question of the activity that produced the dramatic change in him, is it not? I'm the man. He says, Well, okay. They said, If you're the man, let's ask the sixty-four thousand-dollar question, How then will your eyes open? And the man's reply is clear and succinct, isn't it, there in verse 11? The man called Jesus made some clay, smeared it on my eyes, and then he said, Go to Siloam and wash.

So off I went and washed, and that's how I got my sight. His response is not marked by theological precision. It's certainly not marked by any kind of analytical, biological explanation, is it? But it doesn't need to be, because the transformation is clear. The proof is in the pudding, if you like, or the proof is in the eating of the pudding—or, actually, that's not a good analogy. Forget that entirely.

The fact of the matter is that he is living proof standing in front of them. Right? Well, how did this happen? I'm telling you how it happened. Smeared on my eyes, washed it, washed it off, I came home seeing.

Now remember and keep reminding yourself of this. This sign is pointing to the wonder of what happens when God opens the eyes of the spiritually blind, when God does what Peter says, calls out of darkness into his marvelous light. And it also produces or should produce the same question. When a person who has lived his life or lived her life in one direction is suddenly found going in another direction, it's almost inevitable that friends, family, and neighbors would say, What happened to you?

Right? And then how did it happen? That's supposed to be the question that our friends and neighbors ask. We're supposed to live in such a way—not a posture, but our lives are supposed to be unfolding in such a way—that people say, What happened to you, and how did it happen? I mean, I know it's a trivial analogy, but, you know, if you have a son whose car looks like a tip—which I don't, this is no personal analogy—but if you have a son whose car looks like… It's very difficult to get your feet actually on the floor because of old McDonald's wrappers and CD boxes and all manner of things all over the place. And all of a sudden, you go out, you're in the driveway, and you happen just to look inside the Carnot's Immaculate. That's a cause for concern.

Because standard pattern, trashed. Beautiful. What do you suspect? A girl? A girl?

Or, if he comes down looking like he came through a hedge, smelling like last week's chicken curry, but comes down later on looking a little better and smelling like his father's cologne? What happened to you? What do you mean what happened to me? Come on. What's her name? Well, how did you know? I mean, did you ever have a son who had to come down and say, I met a girl?

No. We know you did. How did that happen? Now, that's what's happening here. And there is a mystery about it. It's as mysterious, even more mysterious, than the process that led to this man's sight. John chapter 3, go back and read it again for yourself. Nicodemus and Jesus, having this interchange. And Jesus says, unless a man is born anew or born from above or born of the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven. And Nicodemus is intrigued by that. And as the dialogue ensues, Jesus says, perhaps there was a wind picked up at that point and just blew as they were talking with one another, and Jesus seizes on the moment, and he says, the wind blows where it likes.

You can hear the sound of it, but you've no idea where it comes from or where it goes. Nor can you tell how a man is born by the word of the Spirit. How on earth can something like this happen, says Nicodemus? And Jesus says, it is mysterious.

The hymn writer picks it up, doesn't he? I know not how the Spirit moves, convicting men of sin, revealing Jesus through the word, creating faith in him. And this man is unable to speak in clinical terms. He's unable to speak in theological terms at this point. The journey has begun. There's going to be more takes place before the end of the chapter.

But he is at least able to stand up and say, I once was blind, but now I can see. Do you have a story like that? Do you have a volume one, volume two? You definitely have a volume one. We all have volume one. Volume one for this man was Blind Beggarville.

Volume two was cited. You see, our ability to describe the details of the gestation period through which we came, living in a watery sack inside our mother's womb, or our inability to describe the exact process whereby we were born, does not call in question our existence, does it? Some say, Well, then, exactly, how were the nine months of gestation for you? I don't know.

I don't know anything about them. Well, can you give us a detailed expliqué of your arrival into the world? No, I can't do that either.

Oh, I'm sorry, you're probably dead. That would be ridiculous, wouldn't it? And yet you take the average interview for church membership, and if people don't speak down the right line, say the same things in the right way at the right time, then we've got to wonder whether they actually know what they're talking about. We need some theological precision here, you know. We don't want, I just was blind, but now I can see.

Why not? That's the story of the gospel, isn't it? The Lord will take care of all filling in all the other stuff, but at the start, what can you see? I see man as trees walking.

Let me try this again. What do you see now? What's your story? I was blind, now I can see.

What's your story? I was with a man yesterday. I was with a lot of men yesterday, as it turns out, but there was one in particular at one moment when I was speaking to him, and he said to me, you know, my life used to be a complete royal mess. And he says, and what a change has come about! And he says, I can't even fully explain how and what has happened to me, except I am no longer the man I once was.

You know, I always think about this in relationship to the thief on the cross, when he arrives at the portals of heaven. You imagine that interview process? What are you doing here? I don't know. Well, who sent you here? What? No one sent me here.

I'm here. Well, have you been justified by faith? You have peace with God? I don't know. Would you know anything? Yeah? What do you know?

The man on the middle cross said I could come here. That's all he needed to know. And in its essence, that's all any of us need to know. But by our natures, the story is foolishness. We are deaf to its appeal. We are blind to its wonder. Only the God who opened the eyes of this blind man can open our eyes too. Did you ever ask him to open your eyes so that you might see?

Or are you so convinced that you can see that you have no interest? Asking God for eyes to see? That's a request that can lead to a spiritual awakening. You're listening to a message titled Blind from Birth on Truth for Life with Alistair Begg.

Perhaps today you are ready to ask God to open your eyes to the truth of his word, but you're not exactly sure how to do that. If that's the case, we want to invite you to visit truthforlife.org slash thestory. That's where you'll find a helpful video presentation that explains more about God's free gift of salvation. God's saving grace is nothing we can earn on our own. It's a gift freely given to those who believe. Again, visit truthforlife.org slash thestory. In today's message, Alistair reminded us of our need to maintain a gospel focus, but sometimes sharing the good news with friends or neighbors is challenging.

It's something we'd maybe like to do, but we're still hesitant. If that describes you, we want to encourage you to request today's book titled Facing a Task Unfinished. This is a year-long devotional that will help you rely on the Lord for strength to share the gospel with others with more confidence. Facing a Task Unfinished will guide you through a selection of scripture passages, hymns, and prayers that will help you better understand Jesus' deep passion for reaching the lost with the message of salvation. And then in response, you'll develop a greater desire to share as well. Tomorrow is the last day we'll be offering this book, so be sure to request your copy today when you make a generous one-time donation.

Simply tap the image on the mobile app or visit truthforlife.org or you can call us at 888-588-7884. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for joining us. Be sure to listen again tomorrow to continue a series titled A Light in the Darkness. Alistair will challenge us to pay close attention to critical evidence about the claims of Jesus. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-04 12:40:17 / 2024-01-04 12:49:12 / 9

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