2 Corinthians 4:3-4 “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Long before God gave Moses the 10 commandments, he wrote his law on mankind’s hearts. In many ways this understanding of God’s will becomes skewed, but all people have some ability to distinguish right from wrong, even if they choose not to follow it.
You can’t say the same thing about the gospel, the good news about what God has done to save us. The only way people can know that is if someone tells them. Paul once asked the questions, “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” And the answer, of course, is: “They can’t.”
But the veil over the gospel is more than this. It is not mere ignorance. It is an inborn inability to understand. It is a default setting in the human heart to reject God’s offer of free grace. We are preprogrammed by sin to find the extreme measures our Lord took to save us unbelievable. The veil over the gospel is so heavy that even within Christian churches it is difficult to maintain the truths of the gospel. Almost two decades ago a survey of one of the largest Protestant denominations in the world found that one third of its clergy don’t believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus. If the Gospel is so veiled to those who claim the name Christian, little wonder that it is veiled to the rest of the world.
What happened? Paul explains, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…” Don’t misunderstand. “The god of this age,” is not the God of Scripture. This is “god” with a little “g,” a god in name only. This is the chief of the fallen angels, the devil, who holds the majority of this world’s inhabitants under his spell.
He has blinded the minds of unbelievers by creating literally thousands of competing, false religions. Each has its own twist on “We make salvation the old fashioned way. We earn it.” The light of the gospel struggles to shine where faith, forgiveness, and heaven are turned into a “do-it-yourself” project.
He has blinded the minds of unbelievers by creating a class of people who believe themselves so enlightened, so educated, that they don’t need things like faith, forgiveness, or heaven anymore. They follow a sort of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” theology: “So be good for goodness sake.” Any concern for morality is nothing more than a concern for making our lives here as happy as they can be.
The god of this age spreads his blindness like a disease. It is catching. We should not assume that we are immune to the struggle. We need to bathe in the light of the Gospel ourselves, long and often. You know that people who don’t get enough sunlight develop a deficiency in vitamin D. That can lead to many other health problems. People who don’t get enough Gospel light develop a faith deficiency. That can lead to even more serious problems. In some cases, it is spiritually fatal.
In order to let that gospel light shine, it is vital that we understand its substance. Paul has also described that here. It is “…the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
The most important thing about Christ, his true glory, is not found in the power by which he controls the weather, heals diseases, and feeds the thousands. It is the gospel, the story of Jesus’ self-sacrificing love to save us.
Just days before Jesus went to the cross, he told his disciples, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds…Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” And John comments, “He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die” (John 12:23-24, 31-33).
Crucifixion and death don’t look very glorious, but Jesus’ saving work is his true glory. That is the substance of the gospel, the light that needs to shine from the Church’s pulpits and classrooms. Let the people see!