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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Awaken: Hope That They Would Hear

This is the third of a series of a post called Awaken: Thoughts on Regeneration and Salvation. As I have written earlier, the Bible presses on us the weight of hearing the voice of the Lord. In the gospels and in the book of Revelation, there is this continual admonition, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Sadly enough, Scripture and history shows us that there have been many who have not heard the voice of the Lord, namely because they are not his sheep. However, the hope that there would be some who would hear is grounded in God's Word, and we should take to heart the certainty and assurance provided for us who preach Christ and him crucified. There will be ears who hear, and there will be hearts to understand and believe, and this is possible not because of spiritual ear-wax cleaners, but by the miracle-working Savior named Jesus. Now let's look at a few verses describing this hope. "Behold, a King will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice. Each will be a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land. Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed, and the ears of those who hear will give attention. The heart of the hasty will understand and know, and the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak distinctively." Isaiah 32:1-4 This is a beautiful promise of the coming kingdom of Christ which was consummated in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And it bears mentioning that Jesus is not a beggar pleading that there would be but a one to listen to him. No, he is King! And those whose hearts understand, whose ears hear, whose eyes see, whose tongue speak are those who the King has brought into his kingdom. As Thomas said, "My Lord and my God", we respond to Jesus with an awakened reality to who he is beginning with his kingship. The kingdom of God is not advanced by easy-believism and evangelistic techniques of watering down and replacing the gospel, but by the divine favor freely disposed by the King to whom he will. And he will draw many to himself, and many will hear and obey and follow and worship. To this we pray and hope, that the grip of this world will be loosed, that the glimmer and pleasures of this world will fade, that the words of Christ will be heard, and that the sinner will turn in repentance and radically say YES to all that Christ is to Him - Savior, Redeemer, Treasure, and King. "Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life." John 5:24 The promise of eternal life is present tense. Those who hear and believe have eternal life now! Judgment has been laid upon Another, and because of his stead, we have the favor and grace of the Father bestowed upon those whom he has placed his affection. Notice also it is "my word", the Word of God that they hear. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). It is not our words which awakens sinners but the Word of God which is quick and active. Again, Scripture says, "Of his own will be brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures" (James 1:18). And further on it says, " . . . receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21b). Peter picks up on this as well. " . . . since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God . . . and this word is the good news that was preached to you" (1 Peter 1:23,25b). Over and over, regeneration, the new birth, saving faith, the quickening of the Holy Spirit all come from a direct relationship to the shared/preached word of God. There is no getting around this. And what concerns me today is that evangelists and preachers today are bypassing the word for funny jokes and psycho-analyzing folks to convince them that they are lost rather than preaching the word of God!!! And then these people are led into a false sense of security praying the prayer and chalking up the statistics to validate a good service, effective preaching, or reputation of the evangelist. No, I am sorry. They are still asleep. They don't need to rededicate or get wet again. They need to be raised from the dead and awakened to new life in Christ. "It is written in the Prophets, 'And they will all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me." John 6:45 The text referenced here is from Isaiah 54:13 where Isaiah writes about the eternal covenant of peace, that is, the new covenant brought upon by the death of Jesus Christ, whose blood (Ephesians 2:13-16). The certainty and guarantee that everyone who has heard and learned from the Father is because of the efficacy of the cross and the sovereignty of the Spirit. It is not that you might come or could come. No, you come period. That willingness is not engineered by us by infused by the life-giving work of God in regeneration. No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We cannot learn from the Father unless it has been granted to us by the Holy Spirit. Yet, all those who have been given ears to hear will learn from the Father and come to the Son. The Trinity is wrapped up in the salvation of sinners. Isn't that a glorious thought?! "The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." John 10:3-5 It is very clear in this passage that there are certain voices which belong to certain shepherds, and certain sheep do not respond to other shepherds who are strangers. Yet when their shepherd calls, they follow, for they know his voice. But how does a sheep know the voice of their shepherd? Because the shepherd has made himself known to them. Unless God makes himself known to us by special revelation, by effectual calling, by monergistically drawing us to himself and calling us by name, would but be strangers to him. Paul reminds us that we were once "separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in this world" (Ephesians 2:12). Yet we have hope, a certain hope in that God calls his own to himself, and they will follow because they recognize his voice. When you preach Jesus in this land and foreign lands, know that there are "other sheep that are not of this fold" that Jesus will bring also, and "they will listen to my voice", says the Shepherd. What an encouragement for an awakening from sleeping sinners! The burning question then remains, "How will they hear?" That question is being asked to all of us, and Paul presses it down this way: "But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news.'" Romans 10:14-15 Therefore, those who have understood the importance of hearing the message are most responsible of carrying it to everyone in the world. And carrying this imperishable seed, there is certain hope that they would hear and believe and be awakened to the glorious life in Christ Jesus. He is calling, and we should be going as those who are sent. O that there be many who hear this good news and believe!!! May the King advance his kingdom through his servants and ambassadors of this word!!!

2 Comments:

Blogger Nathan White said...

Great post Timmy. I am reminded of a passage that I point people to when the issue of hearing/believing comes up:

John 8:45-47

(Jesus talking here)"...but because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear, because you are not of God."

Jesus clearly explains in this passage why these Pharisees do not believe. Why do they not believe? –Jesus asks in V46. Do they not believe because they refuse to believe? No, but rather because they were not of God. It wasn’t because they refused to hear, and it wasn’t because they refused to believe. The refusal to believe was caused by the fact that they were not ‘of God’. How could it be any clearer?

This goes right along with 1 John 5:1
“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.”

Ok, so here we see that people who believe in Jesus, believe so BECAUSE they are born of God. They are NOT born of God because they believe in Jesus, as many will argue. Rather, the verse says that everyone who is born of God believes in Jesus. Being born of God causes the belief in Jesus, not the other way around!

Amazing stuff huh? Can we ‘born’ ourselves? No we cannot.

So..Do we have any pride left at all? None whatsoever. How humbling!!

SDG

8/30/2005 09:15:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Nathan,

Thanks for the additional input! Those verses reverberate the point made in the three previous posts so far in AWAKEN. while it is easy to argue with presuppositions, you cannot argue with texts. And Jesus has mind-shattering logic here that is going overlooked, possibly intentionally ignored because it does not fit one's presuppositions. As you said, one does not hear and believe because they do not belong to God (to see my take on this, see "Why Do You Not Understand What I Say?" post). I have yet to hear a sermon on this text, or much of any of these I have mentioned earlier in these posts. And it seems to make sense that if salvation is so important and being born again is what identifies us as evangelical Christians, then why don't preachers preach on this anymore? I hope it is no because we are preaching the latest best-seller or riding the wave of whatever trend will keep church members coming. I would rather believe it is a matter either of importance or ignorance. Either way, these truths are being withheld from God's people, and we must preach and teach the whole counsel of God's Word.

8/30/2005 09:32:00 PM

 

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