For this reason they could not believe

by Mike Ratliff

35 So Jesus said to them, “ For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”
These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. 37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke:“ Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 “ HE has blinded their eyes and HE hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.” (John 12:35-40 NASB)

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand. ’
10 “ Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:8-10 NASB)

This is the passage that John quoted in John 12:40, which is in context at the top of this post. Notice v39, “For this reason they could not believe…” This is the NASB rendering. The NA28 Greek text for this part of v39 is, “διὰ τοῦτο οὐκ ἠδύναντο πιστεύειν.” Here is my rendering, “Through this they were not able to believe.” The word translated here as “not” is οὐκ or ouk, which is an absolute negative. Therefore what it is defining is absolutely negated and that verb is ἠδύναντο, which is the 3rd person, imperfect tense, indicative mood, middle voice form of δύναμαι or dunamai, which means “to be able, either intrinsically and absolutely, which the ordinary signification; or, for specific reasons.” The third part of this is the word “believe” which is a translation of the verb πιστεύειν the present tense, infinitive mood, active voice form of πιστεύω or pisteuō, “to have faith.” The way this is structured my brethren it is plainly a work of God that these people were not able “to have faith.”

I know some people in churches I have belonged to in the past who would probably be calling for my excommunication if I had said something like that to them back then, but that is exactly what the Word of God says my brethren. What this tells us is two things. No one comes to faith in Christ unless God allows it and gives them the ability to have faith. I believe the Lord Jesus succinctly said that in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. ” The second thing we learn is that when God’s judgment on the visible church starts it will be just like that which fell upon the Jews. No matter how much Biblical truth we preach and teach, those whose hearts are set upon that which is false, will be judged and God will give them over to what they really love and they will no longer be able to believe the truth. They will believe whatever pleases them, but God’s truth will be seen as too narrow and those who hold to it as divisive. They may include bits and pieces of religiosity from Churchianity in their religion, but they have their own theology, which is separate from historic orthodox Biblically based Christianity. This theology has its roots in human philosophy not in the doctrines of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The EC or Emergent Church or whatever it is called today is really just a post-modern form of Christian liberalism which decimated the visible church during the 19th Century into the 20th Century. This current iteration has many forms to be sure, but syncretism is across the board. If you think about it, if you oppose the narrowness of Orthodox Christianity then you would naturally not be opposed to including Buddhism, Islam, Wicca, mysticism, Word-of-Faith, et cetera under the Big Tent. In fact, that is exactly what they are doing. They are actually teaching that people who practice any religion can be right with God, it doesn’t have to be Christianity. No one has to have faith in Jesus and Him crucified to be saved. No, just be sincere in your beliefs that you have and God will let you in… Yeah, that’s Big Tent Christianity. I suppose it should be obvious to everyone, but has it ever occurred to anyone to look under that tent flap to see if John MacArthur is there? What about someone like James White? What about me? 🙂 No, you see, those of us who are narrowly focused and divisive because we hold to Sola Scriptura and within that, the doctrine of Separation from false teachers, et cetera, we are not welcome there nor do we want to be there. No, we point to the Big Tent and warn our brethren to run away from it because it is the way to Hell. Once a person is captured by it, spiritual blindness sets in and they are no longer able “to have faith.”

Let us rejoice in this though. I am 100% convinced that the Holy Spirit guards those who truly belong to the Lord and He loses none. Those who are in Christ will not go into that darkness to be swallowed up into that blindness.

Soli Deo Gloria!

6 thoughts on “For this reason they could not believe

  1. Mike,
    You forgot the word “circus” between big & tent.
    All inclusive, all lovey dovey, all feel good, all man-made, all showmanship.


  2. But Mike – the preacher at my church claims YHWH gives ALL people the grace they need to ask Jesus into their hearts and be saved. Most don’t because they can resist – somewhat different from that type we see in John 11:43.


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