I received a call this morning from an elderly lady who lives in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape. She and her late husband were founder members of one of the church’s there. They were and she still is at 88 very evangelistic. Her heart beats for the Gospel. Few people escape being told about Jesus when she is around. In fact, I am certain she has put many pastors to shame over the years because of her passion for souls for the Kingdom of Jesus.
I’ll get to her main reason for her calling soon, but first … she told me of how the burden for lost souls has become more intense the older she gets. God has given her such a horrific picture of hell that she wants souls crossing her pathway to avoid it by coming to Jesus Christ.
The main reason for her call was to inform me of the death of a man we both knew. This man and her husband were friends for over fifty years. He tried and she tried to share the Gospel with our common friend, but the heart was so hard. Once they knew I was in Pretoria, they linked their friend and myself up. I tried to share the Gospel, but this man never quite got it or was just not interested. He was a lovable man, friendly with those he chose to associate with, yet at the same time he was a hard man, steeped in unmovable beliefs.
His political persuasion was radical. If it was possible to have a “nationalist” to the power of four, that would be him. He had joined the Freemasons and was staunch in their doctrines. I met him and counselled him over the years because he was always at war with his children and because he said he wanted peace with God. My feelings are that because of his staunch ‘masonic’ association and his radical right wing political persuasion, he tended to put his ‘foot into it’ in just about all conversations, especially with his children. Not having seen him since well before lock down, I cannot say whether he changed, whether God softened his heart, whether he trusted Christ alone for salvation … or whether he died as one who refused the free offer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is so terribly sad when people who are intelligent and educated cannot grasp the simplicity of the Gospel. It’s all either academic or just a fable. Although there are many reasons, two fundamental causes of a hard heart are the two things that captivated this man’s heart preventing real, meaningful faith.
The first was radical politics. Let me say from the outset that there is nothing wrong belonging to and supporting a political party, though if you are Christian, you need to make certain the main thrust of the party is not anti-Christian. I have been so protected over the years because the Federation of Churches I have belonged to does not permit their clergy to belong to a political party, nor were we permitted to preach party politics. Even today at 71, I do not belong to a political party. Radical politics, be it far right or far left, is not only revolutionary, it is a life style and doctrine of beliefs that shapes your character and personality, working out in the way you relate to other people and their beliefs. The concept of superior and inferior amongst ethnicities tends to dominate how people are viewed and placed into categories or boxes. Depending on the box will depend on the acceptance or non-acceptance of the person into friendship.
The second matter is that of a secret society such as the Freemasons. It is unnecessary to explain their beliefs for much is available if you Google it. Their documents are there, and many written from an evangelical Christian position against them will also be found there. In a nutshell, they are decidedly not Christian at all. They are a separate religion … whether they reject it as such or not.
In both these instances, radical politics and secret societies (false religion), the heart grows harder and harder as the years of indoctrination takes place to the point that when the Gospel is preached, it is rejected because the heart is impenetrable. The simplicity of faith in God’s rescue plan for anyone who believes cannot be accepted because in their mind certain people cannot get into God’s heaven … and on the other side, you can only work and work and work your way into heaven. Both of these are false, as Jesus bought the souls of all who believe and trust in Him:
Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
The idea and extensiveness of every tribe, language, people and nation is incomprehensible to them because it runs against the grain of their teaching and beliefs … a hard heart! And then … the idea presented in Ephesians 2:
Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9 not by works, so that no one can boast” is beyond them because they need to work their way into heaven through good deeds … a hard heart.
We all have people like this in our families, friendship circles, amongst our neighbours and work colleagues. At best, such relationships are difficult and often meaningless because where our common ground is Jesus Christ, theirs is not. So how do you treat such people? Firstly, you must understand that they are your neighbour. Jesus, summarizing the Ten Commandments, said:
Lk 10:27 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.
You are to love your neighbour, and your neighbour is every person other than yourself upon this earth! Secondly and thirdly:
Mt 5:44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Even though they might come across as an enemy, they are neighbours to be loved and prayed for. And the way you pray is for their soul, for their soul will live eternally in either heaven or hell.
Dear God, please give me an evangelistic heart. Burden me daily with the need to share Christ with lost souls. Help me to love the lost so much that I pray earnestly for them and their soul’s eternal security. Amen.