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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 32 - 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:3 - The Believed Lie, and the Hidden Gospel Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




The Believed Lie, And The Hidden Gospel.


"For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie."-2 Thessalonians 2:2.


"If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost."-2 Corinthians 4:3.



     The warnings to the Thessalonians concerning the perils of the last days in this second chapter are very awful. These are appalling words,-'the mystery of iniquity,' 'the working of Satan,' 'lying wonders,' 'deceivablenes of unrighteousness,' 'strong delusion,'[5] 'believing a lie,' 'all damned who believed not the truth.'  They are written specially for our days; and we see, or rather feel, these terrible delusions gathering round us more and more subtly every day, deceiving, if it were possible, the very elect.

     Every lie is evil; but the lie of the last days is the most evil of all. All unbelief is more or less the belief of a lie, but the unbelief of the last days will be the belief of Satan's darkest and subtlest lie-the lie of Antichrist. It is against this that the apostle warns the Thessalonians.

     But apart from the believed lie, there is a hidden gospel; and it is of this that the apostle speaks so solemnly to the Corinthians in connection with his own ministry. A hidden gospel; lost souls; the god of this world; the blinded eyes,-all these are unspeakably terrible.

     There is such a thing as a hidden gospel, and a lost soul.

     A hidden gospel. What does that mean? Not an imperfect gospel; not an obscure or mystified gospel; not a false gospel; not 'another gospel,' as he speaks elsewhere. No, but 'our' gospel-'my gospel' and Timothy's-the gospel of all my fellow-workers. It is Paul's gospel, Christ's gospel. The true gospel is said to be hidden. There is something fearful in these simple words-a hidden gospel! An eclipsed sun, a dried up well,-these are but poor emblems of a hidden gospel. For if it be hidden, then (1) the way to heaven is lost; (2) peace is gone; (3) life is gone; (4) hope is gone; (5) the anchor of the soul is destroyed. Take away or hide the gospel, and what is there for a man to take refuge in? Hide the gospel, and you shut the gates of heaven; you fill earth with gloom; you make life not worth the having, death terrible, and eternity a region of unmitigated despair. Hide the gospel, and you may close the Bible, shut your churches, and say, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'

     But who hides the gospel? (1.) Not God. He has sent it, exhibited it, lighted it up. He does not hide the sun from earth. (2.) Not Christ. He has come a light into the world; and His object is to show Himself not to hide Himself. (3.) Not the Holy Spirit. His office is to glorify Christ, and to unfold the gospel. He certainly draws no veil over the face of Christ, but unveils Him, reveals Him. (4.) Not the good angels. They desire to look into these things themselves, and to see others also searching them. They would not, even if they could, hide the gospel of Christ. (5.) Not ministers. They are set for the preaching, not the hiding of it. They do, indeed, at times obscure it, teach it imperfectly; but it is not of this that the apostle is speaking, but of the hiding of the pure gospel from the eye, so that, though preached, it produces no effect.

     Who, then, hide it? (1.) The sinner himself He shuts his eye; he closes his lattice against the light; he sets the world between him and the gospel. He refuses to receive it; he buries it out of sight; he treats it as the Jews treated Christ. He hates it; turns away from it; prefers other light, and another gospel. (2.) The god of this world. Satan is the great obscurer of the gospel; he tries to keep the Sun of Righteousness in perpetual eclipse, by keeping his world between Him and the sinner. He blinds the minds of them that believe not; he keeps out the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Thus, then, the sinner and Satan combine to hide the gospel; not the sinner without Satan, nor Satan without the sinner, but both co-operating, and both because they hate the gospel and its light, and Him especially who is its Sun.

     This kind of hiding can only occur when the pure gospel is preached. There are other kinds of hiding, with false or defective gospels. But the special awfulness of the present case is, that it occurs in connection with Paul's gospel. It is this that is hidden; and the hiding of it is eternal darkness and ruin. How perilous the position of the hearers of a pure gospel!  Sometimes these congratulate themselves on their privileges, and seem to think themselves all right, because their minister preaches a pure gospel! Ah, that may perhaps be their ruin! It is in such a congregation that Satan works so terribly and so peculiarly, entering into confederacy with the sinner to shut out the light! So he did in the days of the prophets, so that they said, 'Who hath believed our report?' He did so in the days of Christ Himself, so that He said, 'Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight, Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent.' When the light is at its brightest, the deepest darkness is found. Oh sorrowful issue of a preached Christ! Deeper darkness, stronger delusion, more obdurate blindness, more resolute unbelief, and a more woeful eternity!

     Slight not the good news, O man. They may seem to you just now to be nothing; they will soon be all. Take the divine testimony to the great propitiation on the cross. There is salvation in the simple reception of that testimony. Don't get into metaphysical labyrinths or theological puzzles about the nature of faith. The thing to be believed is that with which the sinner has to do. Is it true, or is it not? Your reception of it as a true thing, as the very truth of God, is what God demands of you. Could He ask less? Do you need more? That true thing which he bids you believe contains eternal life.