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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.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Awaken: "Why Do You Not Understand What I Say?"

"Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God." John 8:43,47 As a follow up to Awaken: You Have Given Me An Open Ear, I am going to address the flip side of the issue - why there are those who have ears but do not hear. I believe that this is an important issue - one of which is either ignored or intentionally suppressed because of the weight of the reality it carries. I would like to simply supply some verses, highlighting some key words and giving a brief commentary. Maybe you will see a connection as Scripture interprets Scripture: "This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: 'You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.' But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear." Matthew 13:13-16 Here Jesus explains to his disciples why he is speaking in parables. Notice the reference repetitively to eyes, ears, and hearts. An awaken sinner to new life in Christ by means of regeneration is truly a new creation in Christ, and by that having eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart to understand. But in that time (and still true today), there were many in whose case this was not so, and their eyes were blind, their ears were deaf, and their heart was hardened. A person who does not yield any fruit is simply the one whom the Spirit of God has not made alive. They cannot hear and do not want to hear. Instead, like the Pharisees after Stephen's sermon, they stop their ears with their hands in open defiance of the truth. In Stephen’s words, they were "uncircumcised in heart and ears" (Acts 7:51). "The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural man here is the unregenerate man who not only does not accept the things of God but cannot accept them. Why can't he? He is unable because he has not the Spirit of God dwelling in him. Salvation cannot be desired and Jesus cannot be treasured apart from the divine drawing and conviction brought upon by the Holy Spirit to transform a natural man to a spiritual man. " . . . but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." John 10:26-27 Probably no other verse makes it so clear. Why do people not hear, respond, and believe in Jesus as their Savior? Jesus' answer: "You are not my sheep." In other words, "you don't belong to me." Notice he did not say, "You are not my sheep because you do not believe in me." This is what free-will theists would have us believe. They would say that a person is not damned until he has had a chance to exercise his free will to choose Christ or not. Yet this does not correlate with Scripture. Rather, Jesus says you are not my sheep first, and that is the reason why you do not believe. That is the reason why you do not hear. Those who are his sheep will hear his voice and they will follow him. Why? Because God has made them willing by the regenerating work of His Holy Spirit and effectual calling. Yes, Jesus knows his sheep. When you might ask? Before the foundation of the world. The ability to hear, to believe, to follow, is all a gracious work of God in which he enables and inclines a sinner to want Jesus as their Savior, Treasure, and King. "They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error." 1 John4: 5-6 In this passage, John shows two complete opposites: those of the world and those of God, those who have the Spirit of truth and those who have the spirit of error, those who listen to the world and those who listen to God. If you are from/of God, you have a listening ear because he has pierced it with his voice. Dear ears cannot hear the voice of truth because they have not been tuned into the frequency of God by the Holy Spirit. (I have a list of other texts that would be beneficial to look at, but for space and time, I think these would suffice to explain my point.) It is obvious that there are those who do not listen and cannot listen to the voice of God and respond to the message and truth about Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, the Israelites refused to listen to the Lord our Father; in the New Testament, the world refused to listen to the Lord Jesus Christ; and in the church today, still there are those who refuse to listen to the Spirit of the Living God. So why is it that there are people who reject Christ and do not understand what He says? The answer according to Jesus is because they do not belong to him. They are not sheep. They are not "of God". And yet we must pray that God would make them willing, that he would perform the miracle of making a listening ear to hear the words written in Scripture and proclaimed by his people. We should be broken-hearted over the callousness and deafness of the world around us, even the church within us, to the precious truths of Christ, yea Christ himself. Truly, the admonition still resonates, "He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches."


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