If baptism isn’t just a symbol of initiation, but an initiation, then Zack was already a Christian.  God’s seal had been impressed indelibly on his soul.  The inky divine thumbprint declared, “Mine.” He was adopted into God’s family, inducted into the knighthood of worship.

Not that anyone would have known.  If he was a knight, he was an errant one, a wanderer in search of adventures, mostly the kind that can be had in women’s beds.  Though he “thought of himself as a Christian,” he lived like any hedonist, taking his beliefs about living, dying, God, good, and evil from the nonbelieving world in which he lived.

One day when he visited a new church, the desert of his heart was strangely moistened.  Looking back on the experience, he said that he had never “heard” the Gospel of grace until that day.  Familiar story?

Yet there is something wrong with it.  Every Sunday in his own church, Zack had sat through lections from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Epistles, and the Four Evangelists.  His eardrums were intact.  His auditory nerves functioned.  He even claims that he paid attention.  So he “heard” in the mechanical sense; the problem was that he did not “hear” in the spiritual sense.  He had not grown the right kind of ears, and that story too is familiar.

What keeps people them from hearing? The obstacles come in three main varieties, but they can be overcome.

Part 2 tomorrow.