Hearing And Understanding

Thursday, August 07, 2014, 5:55 p.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “Your New Life.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 13:1-23 (NIV).

The Parable

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

Hearing and Seeing

The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

Jesus Christ often spoke in parables (allegories). He said he did this because, even though the people could see physically with their eyes, and could hear with their ears, their spiritual, intuitive, and perceptive eyes and ears were closed to what Jesus had to say to them. They didn’t really listen, which is why they never understood. They could physically hear Jesus’ words, and they could physically see all the miracles he performed, and yet their hearts were calloused (hardened; dull). They didn’t even try to understand. If they had listened, and if they had heard and seen what Jesus was teaching them with spiritual ears and eyes, anxious to know and to understand the will of God, Jesus would have spiritually healed them of their sin, and would have given them new lives in Jesus Christ.

Only those who truly wanted to know and to understand would seek understanding of what the parables meant, which was why he spoke in parables. Jesus said that to those who had been given this knowledge and understanding, more would be given them. I believe the indication here is that it was because they were receptive and had eyes to see and ears to hear what Jesus had to tell them. But, to those who did not have this knowledge and understanding, even what they had would be taken away. Again, I believe the context here dictates that it was because their hearts were hardened, and that they refused to see and to hear, and that is why what they had been given would be taken from them.

So, how does this apply to us today? God has given us his word, the Bible. He has put within the hearts of all people the knowledge of him, for his divine character is seen in what he created (see Ro. 1), so that humans are without excuse. In addition to that, in America, we have churches all over the place, and sermons galore, and the freedom of religion, at least for now. We can also hear the gospel preached on TV, the radio, on the Internet, on podcasts and videos. Christian literature, books and Bibles are available to us just about anywhere that sells books. There are so many avenues available to us here in America to hear and to read the gospel message, and also to hear diversions of the true gospel, as well as the word of God is practically everywhere, and even at our fingertips. Christian-based music abounds, as well. Not many countries throughout the world have been as blessed as we have been with the freedom and availability of access to the Word of God.

And, yet with all of that available to us practically everywhere we go here in America, still many have closed their eyes and their ears to hear what Jesus Christ is saying, and to hear what the apostles taught, and to hear and to receive the truth of the gospel of our salvation from sin. Even many who proclaim Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives close their eyes and their ears to the truths of scripture, and they choose to follow the teachings, philosophies and wicked schemes of humans, instead. Many who call themselves followers of Christ are really followers of humans, and of their own selfish desires and wills, and in place of or above and beyond any desire for the Lord and for his will for their lives. So many have fallen prey to deception because they believe everything they hear and see in the media and from church pulpits, without bothering to check it out to see if it is true or not. And, because of this, they will often close their ears and their eyes to the truth.

Four Heart Responses

“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

The truth is that not everyone who hears the word of God and the gospel of our salvation receives it. As well, not everyone who gives the appearance of having received Christ as Lord and Savior really has come to know him. They may have shown initial excitement and enthusiasm about their decision to receive Christ, but when the reality of it all sinks in as to what this Christian life is truly about, they quickly fall away because their faith was superficial only, and it never truly took root in Jesus Christ. Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord,” will see the kingdom of heaven.

And, then there are those who hear the word, and perhaps even receive it, but it gets choked out by the cares of this life so that it becomes unfruitful. So, if you are relying upon a decision you made at an altar to receive Christ, and you think that is your ticket into heaven, no matter what happens in your life after that, then think again. The good soil is the person who hears the word, understands it, and applies its truths to his or her life. He or she will bear spiritual fruit (outgrowth; results) in keeping with true faith.

Jesus said that if anyone wants to come after him, he must deny his self-life, die daily to sin and to self, and follow him in obedience wherever he takes or sends us. The apostles taught the same message in relation to the gospel of our salvation. When we come to Christ in faith, we are crucified with Christ to the sins which once enslaved us, we are transformed in heart and mind away from sin and to God, and we are given new lives in Christ to be lived out in his righteousness and holiness (See Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24).

The grace of God, in fact, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled and upright lives while we wait for Christ’s return (See Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus Christ died, not just so we would escape hell, and so we would go to heaven when we die, but he died so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See 2 Co. 5:15). This is the truth of the gospel! If we say we have fellowship with Christ, yet we continue to live sinful lifestyles, we are liars, and we do not live by the truth (See 1 Jn. 1-5). The same applies if we say we love God, but we do not do what he says.

So, will you be among those who truly see and hear and who gain understanding? Or will you be among those whose eyes and ears are closed, and whose hearts are hardened to the truth of the gospel of our salvation? Will you be the hard soil lacking understanding, or the rocky soil which has no root, or the thorny soil which chokes out the truth? Or will you be the good soil which hears the word and understands, and which applies its truths to your life so that you produce fruit (outgrowth; results) for God’s kingdom?

Your New Life / An Original Work
Based off the Gospels / May 15, 2014

Go and make disciples of peoples,
Teaching them to obey their Savior.
Do not fear, but go where He sends you.
Tell them all of what you have heard.

The kingdom of God now is upon you.
Come, and follow Jesus, your Lord.
He will make you fishers of man.

If the people Jesus desire,
They must die to sin and to self-life.
If they want to hold on to their lives
They will lose them forevermore.

Surely you heard that coming to Christ
Means a new life in Jesus, your Lord.
Follow Christ wherever He leads.

Love the Lord with all of your heart, and
Love your neighbors as you would yourself.
Preach the gospel to all the nations.
Do not worry what you will say.

Proclaim the freedom for all the captives.
Share the light with all who are blind.
You are ministers of our God.