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Seeds of the Kingdom

Poisoned Minds

by John Berry

31 January 2016

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The Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.
Acts 14:2, NIV

Our brains are amazingly complex organs. Apparently we have approximately 100,000 miles of blood vessels in our brains. In it there are 100 billion neurons (electrically excitable cells), which process and transmit information through electrical and chemical signals. It uses 25% of the body’s oxygen, 70% of the body’s glucose and 25% of the body’s nutrients, amongst other ‘mind-blowing’ statistics.

However the brain isn’t the mind. But the mind – the thinking bit – seems to be located in the physical brain. It’s possible to damage the mind without any noticeable effect on the brain. However, when the brain’s damaged, there seems to be an effect on the mind.

When Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium, their hearers had their minds affected by the negative words of the disbelieving Jews. There’s no record that these people were mentally ill, or physically damaged. The problem was that their thinking became distorted, as a result of evil that was released against them by their oppressors. (This is a literal way of translating the phrase ‘poisoning their minds’). Rational thought was interrupted by evil activity.

The Bible says that the Gentiles who hadn’t yet believed the Gospel, (although many Gentiles had done so), became poisoned in their minds. As a result they didn’t accept what Paul and Barnabas were saying.

When I was reading this Bible passage I came to see how important it is that our commitment to Jesus is not dependent purely on a logical or rational decision. Although, from the perspective of faith, the Gospel is entirely logical, the believers in Iconium needed something more than logic to convince them of its truth (see Acts 14:1-4).

The poisoning of the mind was blocking the truth. But we read that the Lord confirmed the message with signs and wonders. In other words people had a powerful spiritual engagement with God, as they encountered signs. They came to faith, but not just by intellectual agreement.

In 2 Corinthians 2:4 Paul says that ‘my message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words but a demonstration of the Spirit’s power’. Paul realised how important it is for people to discern the truth spiritually, as well as intellectually.

That’s why Jesus declared that we need to be born of the Spirit – born again, so we can leave the kingdom of this world to become members of the Kingdom of Heaven. So much of this world is mind-driven. But we need to be Spirit-led.

I believe that if we’re going to see many more people believing in Jesus in our time, when there’s so much to poison our minds, we need to pray for God to enable miraculous signs and wonders. This will confirm the message of His grace in the day we live in.

Prayer: Thank You, God, for giving us these wonderful minds with which to think. Thank You for the way that the Gospel makes sense to us when we look in faith. However, we know that many people reject the message of grace, and aren’t convinced by our words alone. Please empower us by Your Spirit, so we’re able to be channels of Your signs and wonders. We want to help people understand that what we say about Jesus is true. Amen.

John Berry entered the Baptist Ministry more than 40 years ago, and joined the Team at Ellel Glyndley Manor in 2007 with his wife Jennie. They have both now retired from the team but remain as part of the Teaching and Associate Ministry Teams at Glyndley. John and Jennie have seven Grandchildren.


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