Is God Trying To Keep People Out?
Mark 4:10-12 ESV
And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that "they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven."
IS GOD TRYING TO KEEP PEOPLE OUT?
Does God deliberately keep some people out of His kingdom?
From reading this passage it seems as if Jesus is making it difficult for people to understand him in order that they be kept from eternal salvation. How can this be? We read in 2 Pet 3:9 that God wants none to perish. Is this an outright contradiction? While on the surface it may seem that way, it is not in fact, a contradiction. In this passage, the author records Jesus as quoting from Isaiah 6:9,10 and then as the passage continues in Mark, Jesus explains further what is meant by this verse.
Jesus gives the example of the types of soil where the seed (the soil, otherwise understood as the condition of a person’s heart, and the seed is the Word of God) is sewn. Reading further, we are told that it takes time for the Word to penetrate our heart (Mark 4:26-29). While God is working on our heart through His Word, He is also working on our mind. Everyone is called to know (using our intellect and not merely feelings) God, but there are many distractions in this world and it takes a concerted effort to seek the face of God (daily reading of Scripture).
God promises that for those who seek Him with all of their heart, it is those who will find Him (Deut. 4:29; 2Chron. 7:14; Is. 55:6). Yet, not everyone who seeks God fully understands who He truly is. Many seek the favor of God when things are not going well and when conditions in their life begin to improve they have no time either for Him, or His ways. For this type of heart condition that only seeks self, it is best for that person to not understand God’s word, lest he or she be held accountable. Jesus explains that for those who hear and understand, there is also a level of accountability expected (Mark 5:24-25). [I will write more about this in my next blog, “Accountability.”]
Hebrews 6:4-6 warns that for those who hear and understand and then choose to ignore or walk away, it would be better for them not to have understood at all because there is nothing left to save them. God has given us free will in order that we come to Him with a genuine desire. On the scientific side of this desire, is the physiological reality that our thoughts and longings begin to literally shape our brain which in turn, shapes our behavior that lays the foundation for our destiny. If there is a selfish or shallow desire there is a conscious effort to manipulate. This is a trait of dishonesty that works to overcome our God-given conscience. When we allow either rationalization (the frontal lobe), or our emotions (the amygdala) to override the other, our brain synapses become imbalanced. When there is an imbalance, we are no longer dealing with reality. As humans, we are our own worst enemy and can keep ourselves from fully giving in to our Creator, even when we profess to be seeking Him.
For those who do seek in earnest and begin to have God’s face revealed to them, and then turn away, fully aware of the decision that they are making, this is outright rejection of the things of the Creator. This affects the brain, and the thoughts of negativity towards God begin to overrule that individual. The brain actually begins to become seared and the pathways that would normally be open to understanding the God of the Bible become weaker as a distorted view of God becomes stronger. This is the condition referred to as a hardened heart, which makes it very difficult to become open again to the things of God.
God is NOT trying to keep people out of His kingdom, on the contrary, He wants humans to come to the place in their life where they realize that they cannot live without Him. We live in an age where there are many who profess to be Christian because they like the idea of believing that they are forgiven for any sins (“bad” things that they might do) and that they will go to heaven no matter what. This type of individual would be said to be a nominal (in name only) Christian. These individuals (and they represent the majority of those who profess Christianity in the U.S.) are like those in this passage of Scripture. They are not given the secret of the kingdom of God. Their heart and mind are not in a place to receive and commit to the full Gospel and they remain in the dark lest they turn from their ways and end up later rejecting the Word when things become difficult, or when their self-interests cause them to stumble.
God always has our best interest in mind, and we see here an example of his desire to keep us from a hardened heart that could separate us from Him for eternity.