Evangelism without a correct perspective can lead to wrong ways of thinking about those who believe and those who reject the gospel. When one comes to faith in Christ, it is often said that he gave his life to Christ. Those who fail to believe are said to be choosing not to believe. Another way of putting this is to say that people exercise their free will when they hear the gospel, and they can chose either to believe or reject it. It is true that the gospel calls for real individual choice, but the gospel preacher must impart the correct view to those who believe and develop correct insight when people fail to believe. Paul had a perspective on evangelism that is very helpful.
He says in 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
A reality in Paul’s preaching of the gospel was the fact that he knew not everyone would accept his message. There is a question from this passage that can cast light on evangelism: Why do people reject the gospel?
Why do people reject the gospel?
Paul says in verse 3 that if the gospel is veiled; it is only veiled to those who are perishing. This statement brings to mind more questions: Who is veiling the gospel and for what purpose? Can the gospel be veiled? These are answered in verse 4. The god of this world (Satan) is the one veiling the gospel. Yet, the gospel cannot be veiled (in it is the glory of Christ). Therefore, the veiling discussed here is the blinding of the mind of unbelievers. The gospel is powerful and glorious, and the devil does not have the power to veil it. So, his best move is to blind the minds of those who do not believe. Why would he do that? Again in verse 4, his purpose is stated: “…to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” We can conclude that if the unbeliever were to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, he or she would necessarily believe. Consequently, the devil works to keep the mind from seeing.
To answer the question, people reject the gospel because their minds are blinded by Satan in order to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel. Therefore, those rejecting the gospel are not making a choice but are being kept from believing by a force outside of themselves. They are under the power of darkness. When someone says that the gospel makes no sense or is not true or cannot be trusted, etc. they are not speaking of their own. They are speaking from darkened minds that are blinded by the devil. They are not in control and therefore cannot see to believe.
Knowing this about unbelievers, we ought then to proclaim the gospel freely and in boldness, knowing that God will work to accomplish his purpose, even if there are those who reject it.
How then does one go from a blinded mind to a believing heart? Stay tuned for the next post.