Contender Ministries


The Nile River turned to blood.  Plagues of frogs, gnats, flies, and locust hit the land.  People were afflicted with boils, livestock died, and hail made life miserable in Egypt.  Yet Pharaoh did not yield to Moses’ demands, and kept the Israelites in bondage.  What would possess a man to deny the sovereignty of God in the face of overwhelming indications of His power?  The very same affliction that millions suffer from today – a hardened heart.  This condition causes men and women to deny the obvious existence of God and delight in themselves, no matter what proofs are presented to them.

Perhaps you have a friend or family member in the same situation.  Maybe you’ve tried witnessing to a non-believer with the “Pharaoh syndrome.”  No matter what you say, no matter how eloquently you say it, regardless of the scriptural foundation you present, some will not seem to budge from their disbelief. 

We’ve received a couple emails from someone I originally thought to be an orthodox Jew.  He presented a list of questions regarding the messiahship of Jesus, and challenged us to answer them.  I felt quite confident as I answered each of his weak claims, and challenged him to read the messianic prophecies of Isaiah 53.  For three weeks, we got no response, and I felt that we probably would not be hearing back from him.  We recently got a response back from him.  He identified himself not as an orthodox Jew, but as a “righteous gentile,” and a “counter-missionary councilor.”  He went on to basically repeat what he had said in his original email, only this time being much more vulgar and profane, and talking about what a bad Jewish son Jesus had been.  Discounting the concept of a virgin birth, he stated that if Mary truly did conceive without a physical, sexual act, then she was “a genetic freak, who suffered some biological oddity, spontaneously sprouting offspring like some single-celled amoeba”.  He attributes the messianic prophecies in Isaiah 53 as referring to Israel, rather than the coming messiah.  We have exposed the fallacy of that contention in our expose on Christ’s fulfillment of messianic prophecy.  The rest of what this man said is truly not printable, and very indicative of the cold, dark, hardened heart he bears within. 

Sadly, from the time of Pharaoh to present day and beyond, the hearts of many will be hardened against hearing of the love of God, and His free gift of salvation.  The reasons are sundry, but the end results are the same – an unwillingness to acknowledge the supreme sovereignty of God, and to recognize our own sinful state.   Pride is often the cement that hardens the heart of people.  A co-worker saw a poster in my cubicle at work.  On this poster was the text of Philippians 4: 13, “I can do all things though him who gives me strength.”  She asked what it meant, and I replied that as humans we are all weak, base, and powerless, but God gives us the strength to do great things through Him.  She retorted, “Well I must be the exception then, because I’m not weak, and what I do, I do on my own!”  This is an example of the pride that hardens hearts.

The Bible tells us to expect this.  Ephesians 4:18,19 says, “They are darkened in their understanding, and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”   With that said, it’s reasonable to expect that you will encounter people whose hearts are hardened against the Gospel of Christ.  Expecting it though, does make it any less frustrating.  Second Peter 3:9 says that God is patient with us, not wanting any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.  

So what then, are we to do to overcome the hardened hearts we encounter?  What can we do to break down the walls?  The answer is simple – nothing.  We are powerless to soften people’s hearts, or to change them in any way.  That is the work of the Holy Spirit.  Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”  Our job as Christians is to plant and water.  Planting involves sharing with people the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and doing so in love.  Watering involves the same act of sharing the truth, but it goes beyond that.  Watering requires a more extended relationship in which you keep witnessing, but also allow the person to see God through you.  This is SO important, as many skeptics love to talk about hypocrisy among Christians as a reason for their disbelief.  You may never get to see the results of your efforts.  You must accept that the role you play, though important, is only one part of the overall plan.  You are to plant and water, and leave the growing to God. 

I know how frustrating it is to part company with someone, and wonder if they will ever accept Christ as Lord.  We all want to see these people again in heaven.  Whether we do or not is not up to us.  If you never try, the chances of them being saved diminish quickly.  Do all you can do, trusting God to give you the words to use.  Then have faith in the Lord above.  I know I probably will never see the skeptic that emailed us come to the Lord.  All I could do with that man is plant a seed.  I pray that someone in his life will water.  Then I trust the Holy Spirit to change his heart and work a miracle.  The Bible tells us that the prayers of a righteous man availeth much.  We must never forget to pray for the lost.  I once heard a Christian lament of a person with a hardened heart, “Well, I guess all I can do is pray about her.”  “ALL” you can do?  Let me set the record straight:  prayer is not a fallback option of last resort.  Prayer is the most powerful tool God has given us.  We have a direct line of communication with the omnipotent Creator of the universe.  What greater tool can you imagine?

It can be frustrating to deal with someone whose heart has been hardened.  Do not despair!  For eventually, “every knee should bow, In heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,” (Philippians 2:10,11).  Spread the good news of Jesus Christ to the world, be fearless in your faith, and trust God to do a good work through you. 


Contender Ministries