Tag Archives: hear

WITHOUT EXCUSE

WITHOUT EXCUSE

“But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: ‘Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world.’

“And again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, ‘I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.’

“And Isaiah boldly says, ‘I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.’

“But concerning Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.'” Romans 10:18-21.

So that’s it! Why did God turn away from His own people and open the door of faith to a people who were not in a covenant relationship with Him? As much as God’s people hated the Gentiles, from a human perspective, they only had themselves to blame for rejecting their Messiah and opening the way for the Gentiles to become part of God’s family of believers.

In their zeal for God, the Jews believed that their way of attaining righteousness through observing the law was the right way. They refused God’s invitation to receive the righteousness of Christ by faith as a gift, and forfeited their place in God’s family. Instead of simply believing the message about Christ, which is the way in which faith comes and grows, they stubbornly persisted in trying to do it their way.

There was no lack of opportunity to hear the message – it was proclaimed all day and all around them, but God’s judgment was on them because they were obstinate and disobedient. God does not arbitrarily condemn anyone without giving him an opportunity to believe in Him at the level at what they can see, hear and understand. Even if they never hear the words about Jesus, creation itself speaks of His power and deity to anyone who will listen.

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress that truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood by what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”  Romans 1:18-20.

However, God is determined to have a family. Since the Jews both refused to obey Him and refused to be His messengers to the Gentiles about Him, He opened the door to the Gentiles anyway, every though they did not purposely seek Him. Such is the love and mercy of God that He offers His free gift of grace to anyone who will receive it. He does not force Himself on those who do not want Him. The message is clear, even in the world around, but if people choose to believe that the universe just happened, or that it was produced by some hypothetical explosion caused by who knows what, then it’s up to them to believe the lies and take the consequences.

Truth can neither be altered nor destroyed. Truth is truth, whatever humans may say. People may decide that the Bible was corrupted or that it is myth or fable or untrue or whatever else they may think about it, but they cannot change the fact that it is the Word of God and that those who believe it are transformed by what they read.

God has mercy and grace for everyone who hears the message and receives Jesus Christ as Messiah and God. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

FAITH COMES BY HEARING

FAITH COMES BY HEARING

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

“But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Romans 10:14-17.

What a gem of a chapter is Romans 10!

Paul, in this one chapter, sweeps away all the complicated arguments and explanations about religion, even the religion of the Jews, and reveals the simplicity of the message about Jesus. It’s all about believing – not just giving intellectual assent to, but entrusting oneself to the truth that Jesus is Lord, and He is the way to the Father.

You don’t have to search for Him. He is right here – wherever you are – as close as your breath and the words of your mouth. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Jew or a Gentile. There is no longer any distinction because the door is wide open for anyone who believes in Him to enter the kingdom of God and receive the gift of righteousness and eternal life.

To receive this gift and the assurance of eternal life takes nothing more that listening to  the message about Jesus and believing the good news that He has done everything to clear the way for us to return to the Father and be reconciled and restored to Him as His sons and daughters.

But, in order to receive the message, people have to hear it; and in order to hear it, someone must preach it; and in order to preach it, someone must be sent; and that means all of us. To His disciples Jesus gave the commission: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” John 20:21.

Who are His disciples? Surely not only those who physically followed Him during the three years of His public ministry? He commissioned them to go and make disciples – followers who would make more disciples, who would make more disciples…right down to today. If you are a follower, the instruction is for you and for me to tell the message so that others can believe and tell the message.

But hearing the message is not enough. How many times did the Israelites hear the message in the Old Testament era? How many times did the Jews hear the message from the lips of Jesus and from the lips of the apostles and the early Christians, yet they still rejected it? Paul prayed for them and grieved over their stubborn unbelief but nothing would persuade the majority of them of the truth that is in the message about Jesus. But while they refuse to believe, there are many millions that have believed and have experienced the truth of the message.

In verse 17 Paul gives us a little gem about faith. What is the origin of faith? It doesn’t just drop out of the sky. Faith must have a foundation, a substance, some truth that generates confidence and gives us something stable to stand on. What is that foundation, that substance upon which we can pin our hope? It’s the message about Jesus. Every time we read or hear something more about Him, our confidence in Him can grow.

Like patience and all the other virtues we long to possess, faith can be cultivated by exposing ourselves to the message. The more we can discover about Jesus, the more we will be able to trust Him, not only with our eternal destiny but with the nitty-gritty of our everyday lives.

There is no one who cannot respond to the message in faith. It takes nothing more than hearing and believing. No ritual, performance, ceremony, offering, sacrifice or even a pastor or counsellor is necessary to facilitate believing. Just believe and Jesus Christ is yours.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Without Excuse

WITHOUT EXCUSE

“But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: ‘Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world.’

“And again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, ‘I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.’

“And Isaiah boldly says, ‘I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.’

“But concerning Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.'” Romans 10:18-21.

So that’s it! Why did God turn away from His own people and open the door of faith to a people who were not in a covenant relationship with Him? As much as they hated the Gentiles, from a human perspective, they only had themselves to blame for rejecting their Messiah and opening the way for the Gentiles to become part of God’s family of believers.

In their zeal for God, the Jews believed that their way of attaining righteousness through observing the law was the right way. They refused God’s invitation to receive the righteousness of Christ by faith as a gift, and forfeited their place in God’s family. Instead of simply believing the message about Christ, which is the way in which faith comes and grows, they stubbornly persisted in trying to do it their way.

There was no lack of opportunity to hear the message – it was proclaimed all day and all around them, but God’s judgment was on them because they were obstinate and disobedient. God does not arbitrarily condemn anyone without giving him an opportunity to believe in Him at the level at what they can see, hear and understand. Even if they never hear the words about Jesus, creation itself speaks of His power and deity to anyone who will listen.

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress that truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood by what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”  Romans 1:18-20.

But God is determined to have a family. Since the Jews both refused to obey Him and refused to be His messengers to the Gentiles about Him, He opened the door to the Gentiles anyway, every though they did not purposely seek Him. Such is the love and mercy of God that He offers His free gift of grace to anyone who will receive it. He does not force Himself on those who do not want Him. The message is clear, even in the world around, but if people choose to believe that the universe just happened, or that it was produced by some hypothetical explosion caused by who knows what, then it’s up to them to believe the lies and take the consequences.

Truth can neither be altered nor destroyed. Truth is truth, whatever humans may say. People may decide that the Bible was corrupted or that it is myth or fable or untrue or whatever else they may think about it, but they cannot change the fact that it is the Word of God and that those who believe it are transformed by what they read.

God has mercy and grace for everyone who hears the message and receives Jesus Christ as Messiah and God. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Selective Deafness!

SELECTIVE DEAFNESS! 

“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.'” John 8:42-43 (NIV).

Now that’s a penetrating question! ‘Why is my language not clear to you?’ There is nothing complicated about the language Jesus used. He was probably speaking Hebrew, and His hearers would have understood His words but there was a reason why they did not understand what He was saying. They were not able to hear what He said.

Their ability to understand was connected to their belief and their choice. They had chosen not to believe that He was speaking the truth and they could therefore not understand what He was saying. They filtered His words through their belief system which was programmed according to a certain expectation — and Jesus did not fit their expectation.

The bottom line was that they did not want to believe Him because it demanded a different way of life. It didn’t suit them because they loved the money and the acclaim they got from their exalted position as religious leaders. If they accepted the truth of what He taught them, they would have to step down from their privileged position and place themselves under His authority, and that was unthinkable!

But there was an even more fundamental problem. “‘You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet, because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me.'” John 8:44, 45(NIV).

Jesus zeroed in on the real reason why they rejected His words. There was no affinity between Him and them because they belonged to a different family. The nature of their source was completely different from His. They were the offspring of the devil because they were acting and speaking just like their father! The fruit reveals the root.

Jesus gave us the clearest thumbnail sketch of the character of Satan. He is a liar, the originator of lies and speaks only the language of lies. Therefore those who imitate him are aligned with him. That does not mean that he gave birth to those who resemble him. That would make it impossible for people to be rescued from slavery to him.

The Apostle Paul, quoting a Greek poet, declared that we are God’s offspring (Acts 17:28); we are God’s children, created in His image with the potential to reflect Him. When the devil lured Eve into disobedience, she was deceived. Adam disobeyed God, gave his allegiance to Satan and dragged the human race into slavery to the devil.

Jesus mounted a rescue from Satan’s dominion by buying us back from the slave market of sin but it demands our choice to walk away from our old master by believing and receiving our new Master, Jesus

Because these religious leaders chose not to accept Jesus’ offer of freedom, they remained under the dominion of their “father”, the devil and therefore could only speak his language — lies.

If we really want to get out of the devil’s clutches and live in the freedom of God’s loving rule, we will have to hate our sin.  As long as we love darkness rather than light because of our evil deeds, we will have the same attitude to Jesus as the scribes and Pharisees had. We will hate Him, reject Him and want to get rid of Him so that we are not accountable to Him.

The lie is that we can do that. We may be able to get away with it in this life, but the day of reckoning is coming when we will have to give an account of what we did with the lives God gave us. No one will escape that day. If we are foolish enough to believe the devil’s lies, we will have to pay the penalty of our foolishness.

Truth is truth. It cannot be tampered with or changed and it will never be destroyed. Jesus said, ‘I am the truth.’ Why not believe Him?

Blind, Deaf And Dead

BLIND, DEAF AND DEAD 

“‘Very truly, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself. And He has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man.

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice will come out — those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.'” John 5:25-29 (NIV).

These are either the words of a lunatic or they are the authoritative words of the Son of God.

John introduced Jesus to his readers as the “Word”. In Hebrew thought this meant God manifest in another form. It was John’s purpose to present Jesus as the Son of God so that all who believe in Him might have life through His name. His claims, therefore, had to be more than the wild aspirations of a maniac. What He said had to be backed up by what He was and what He did.

Let’s look at the claims He was making in His attempt to convince His opponents that He was their Messiah. Jesus was doing more than setting out to prove that He was right and they were wrong. He was in a struggle for their lives and their destiny which hung on their acceptance or rejection of His words.

He had already, early in His ministry, begun to do “signs” to point to the truth of who He was claiming to be. It was His latest sign, healing the paralysed man at the pool of Bethesda that had provoked this altercation with His religious opposition. They accused Him of breaking the Sabbath and calling God His Father, making Himself equal with God.

His response was shocking to them. Not only was He calling God His Father, but now He was also asserting that He was doing the things only God can do because the Father had given Him the authority to do them, for example, to Him was give the power to raise the dead, the authority to judge and equal honour with the Father. He even went as far as to declare that those who heard His word and believed in the Father would step over into the realm of eternal life.

The dead, both those who have already passed on and those who are alive in the natural realm but dead to the dimension of God, will hear His voice and those who respond to Him will cross over into an eternal life in His kingdom and under His authority because He is the Son of Man. Now that’s a loaded statement!

Jewish people, schooled in the Word of God, would immediately recognise that Jesus was referring to the book of Daniel where, in Daniel’s vision in chapter 7, he saw “one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13, 14 (NIV), and Jesus was claiming to be the fulfilment of that prophecy!

It’s no wonder His opponents were incensed by His words. They could not see the truth because they were blinded by their prejudice and their unwillingness to face their own wickedness and open their eyes and hearts to the truth.

They did not understand that Jesus was offering them, His avowed enemies, the opportunity to align themselves with Him and become part of the glorious kingdom He was introducing to His people. They persistently shut their minds to the truth of who He was and forfeited the greatest gift of all — life in union with Jesus in the presence of God in an eternal now and under His benevolent rule.

The same invitation is open to everyone who is willing to see beyond their own prejudice to the reality that Jesus is the Son of God and that His offer of eternal life is genuine because He is the truth and He spoke the truth.