Friday, November 11, 2011

IS IT GOD'S WILL THAT MANY REMAIN SPIRITUALLY DEAF AND BLIND?

The subject matter that we want to look at in this study is this:

Is it God’s will that many people remain spiritually deaf and blind?

Is it God’s will that many people remain ignorant of the true Gospel of salvation?

Is it God’s will that many people remain in the sinful state in which they were born?

We want to investigate this question, because most people believe that God loves everybody in the whole world, and that God desires all men to be saved. And for that reason they claim that God offers to all mankind salvation to all who will only believe the Gospel and accept the salvation that is offered to them.

But this requires that mankind would not turn a deaf ear to God’s so-called well meant offer, and that mankind would not be spiritually blind to the good news of the Gospel that is laid out on the pages of the Bible.

That is why the title of this study is, “Is It God’s Will That Many Remain Spiritually Deaf And Blind?”

And for the sake of keeping it simple, and for the sake of remaining focused on this one subject matter, I will restrict myself to just two passages in the Gospel according to Matthew in chapters 12 and 13.

Now you may, in disgust, immediately stop reading, or you may already have your answer fixed in your mind and stop reading on that basis. But we must read the Bible to see what God says about this question. If we prfess to be a servant of the Lord Jesus Chris then we are obligated to believe everything that we read in the Bible, for God says in Proverbs 28:9, “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination”. In that verse “the law” means the whole Word of God, from cover to cover. And so, it is a grievous thing if we do not want to listen to the Word of God, for God’s curse will rest upon us if we do not want to listen to what God has to say.

Matthew 13 is a chapter that is filled with many parables.

These are doctrines of the Kingdom disguised as parables.



Why Parables? (Proverbs 28:9, Matthew 13:10-17)

This thirteenth chapter of Matthew occupies both physically and spiritually a central position in the Gospel of salvation. It is located physically in the center of the Gospel according to Matthew, and it also reflects the center of God’s plan of salvation. Therefore, this is a very important chapter to study, and it is crucial to our understanding of God’s plan of salvation.

Matthew 13:10
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

Matthew 13:11
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

Matthew 13:12
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

Matthew 13:13
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

Matthew 13:14
And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

Matthew 13:15
For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Matthew 13:16
But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

Matthew 13:17
For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.



The Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 13:9, Mathew 13:11)

In the previous verses the Lord Jesus told the multitude the Parable of the Sower, but He did not explain the parable. Then at the end of the parable He said in verse 9, “He who hath ears to hear, let him hear”.

Now, that is a curious way to end this parable. Paraphrased, the Lord is saying, “He who has spiritual ears to hear, let him understand this parable”. Jesus did not explain this parable to the multitude. And the disciples were confused. Like the multitude they did not understand this parable. And so they said, “Lord, why speakest thou unto them in parables?”

Why do You make it impossible for them to hear and understand You?

What was Jesus’ answer?

He said in verse 11, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given”.

First of all, what are “mysteries”?

A mystery is not something mysterious, or spooky, or something that cannot be known. According to Webster’s Dictionary the first meaning of a mystery is, “a religious truth that man can know through revelation alone and cannot fully understand”. A mystery is a divine truth that was hidden in the Word of God, but is now revealed in the Gospel. And thus, a mystery is not something that remains unknown, but it is something that can be known by God revealing to us what that mystery is.

And thus, what are the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven?

These are the doctrines of the way to the Kingdom of Heaven; these are the doctrines of the Gospel of salvation. And the Lord Jesus tells us here in verse 11 that these “mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” will be revealed to the disciples, but they will not be revealed to the multitude.

What an astounding statement!

The Lord tells us here that the band of disciples around Him, the group that He has chosen to follow Him, this group receives special privileges which are not given to the multitude that came together to hear Him. But these are not incidental privileges. These are privileges to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.

These are privileges to know the way to Heaven, to know the way of salvation, to know the Gospel of eternal life in Jesus Christ. And to the multitude these privileges are not given.

What an astounding statement!

We may intuitively want to protest against this kind of teaching, but who are we to object against God’s Word?

“Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” (Romans 9:20)

Instead, we should tremble before the Word of God.

Is it possible that we too may be counted among those whom Jesus chose to be His disciples?

Or are we in the same boat as the unsaved multitude who heard the words of our Lord, but failed to understand the meaning of His words?

Let these words of verse 11 ring in your ears: “But to them it is not given”. The Lord will give to His chosen ones spiritual ears to hear, and spiritual eyes to see the Kingdom of Heaven, but to the multitude out there the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven remain an unsolved mystery. Their spiritual ears and spiritual eyes remain closed. They will hear with their carnal ears the words spoken, and see with their carnal eyes the words spoken by God as recorded in the Bible, but to them these words remain mysterious parables, with many contradictions that they cannot reconcile.

What have yoou been taught about parables?

Perhaps you were taught that Jesus spoke in parables to make spiritual truths easier to understand. That teaching did not come out of the Bible. The Lord Jesus tells us here that the reason He spoke in parables was so that the truth might be hidden to those whom God does not want to save.

The Lord Jesus was instructing His disciples about the sovereignty of God. He is teaching them, and teaching us, about election and predestination. He did not say “Well, these are doctrines that are too difficult for you to understand, since you are still beginners in the faith, and thus we shall postpone these doctrines until later”. Quite the contrary. This was an event in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and He did not hesitate to teach His disciples right away of the doctrines of election and predestination. We must do the same.

And why did He do that?

He did this so that we understand clearly who our God is, and what His character is, and what His attributes are. We must get to know God, for knowing God is equivalent to salvation. That is why in this church we will speak freely about the difficult doctrines as well as the easy ones, without distinction. We do not want to hold back anything, for we are commanded to bring the whole counsel of God.

And so, are parables given to enhance the truth, or to conceal the truth?

Is God using parables to clarify the true Gospel, or to hide the true Gospel?

Clearly, the Lord Jesus said in verse 11 that He spoke in parables to hide the true Gospel from those who are to remain unsaved.

Is it God’s will that many remain spiritually deaf and blind?

From the words of verse 11 it appears that this is really true!

And let it be perfectly clear that no one can hear and understand the true Gospel unless God the Holy Spirit opens our spiritual ears and opens our spiritual eyes. Let us see what the following verses teach us.



Seeing They See Not; and Hearing They Hear Not (Matthew 13:13-14, Isaiah 6:9, Ezekiel 12:2, Mark 4:12, Luke 8:10, John 12:40, Acts 28:26, Romans 11:8, 2 Corinthians 3:14, Isaiah 29:10, Revelation 22:18)

The Lord Jesus said in verses 13-14, “Because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive”.

This is a very favorable verse in the eyes of God. God repeated these words many times over in the Bible. Let us look at nine other places where these words are repeated:

Isaiah 6:9
And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.



Ezekiel 12:2
Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.



Mark 4:12
That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.



Luke 8:10
And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.



John 12:40
He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.



Acts 28:26
Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:



Romans 11:8
(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.



2 Corinthians 3:14
But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.



Isaiah 29:10
For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.

Why would God repeat this truth so many times?

If God repeats this truth in ten places in the Bible, and God backs this up with many other places in the Bible which support these concepts of election and predestination, then we can be sure that God wants this truth to be one of the fundamental truths of the Gospel of salvation. God in His kindness, gives to those of us who believe, an understanding of who He is and what He does.

Who has blinded their spiritual eyes and who has stopped their spiritual ears so that they do not understand?

John 12:40, and Romans 11:8, and Isaiah 29:10 clearly say that God has done it.

Some people want to avoid this answer. They say Satan has done this. But Satan is not found in all these ten places where God says that their ears are stopped and their eyes are blinded. It is true that Satan also takes part in the action, but Satan is not an independent god. Satan can only do those things that God allows him to do, and thus God takes all the responsibility for blinding their eyes and stopping their ears.

It is an integral part of the Gospel message that we worship a God who is absolutely sovereign. It is an integral part of the Gospel message that God gives faith and understanding to those whom He wants to save, but others, whom God does not intend to save, He blinds their spiritual eyes and He hardens their heart so that they do not understand the true Gospel.

Instead they will pick and choose out of the Bible and make themselves another gospel, and another god whom they worship.

This is what a hardened heart does. It is just as much idolatry as the heathen who fall down before wood and stone idols that they have made.

It is utter wickedness not to listen to what God says in the Bible.

It is utter wickedness to create another gospel which closely resembles the true Gospel, but which God has not commanded.

And thus we come to recognize that the many “free-will gospels” that are out there are utter abominations to God and those who follow them are still dead in trespasses and sins and, if they die in this state, they will perish in Hell.

It is then also understandable why so many churches these days are falling away into a charismatic gospel. Those who have been saved by Christ are forever saved, and they will not be enticed by the charismatic gospel, even if it is presented as very close to the true Gospel. But those who are unsaved will fall for it. For many years God has prepared the stage for His wrath on the end time church by allowing preachers of “free-will” gospels to infiltrate churches all over the world, so that the preachers as well as the congregations they gather are not saved. And thus they are open targets for the deception of Satan in the Last Days that God is still bringing divine messages in dreams, and visions, and angel visitations and tongues. It does not trouble them that these are all violations of Revelation 22:18, since they only pick and choose from the Bible. It is a natural tendency for those whose gospel is in error to fall from one error into another that is even worse. And so we see that Matthew 13:13-14 again convey the answer to the question:

Is it God’s will that many remain spiritually deaf and blind?

The answer is absolutely Yes!



Lest They Understand With Their Heart, and Be Healed (Matthew 13:15, Ephesians 2:8, Isaiah 6:10, Acts 28:27, Mark 4:12, Romans 9:18)

Matthew 13:15
For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Now let us not go overboard in thinking that our knowledge and our understanding are a sure sign of our salvation.

That is not so!

We are not saved by our knowledge, and we are not saved by our understanding. We are saved by Christ, and we are saved by grace. And God conveyed this salvation to us through the medium of faith. God gave us that faith.

But what is it we believe wherein we have to put our faith?

Now this is where our understanding enters into the picture. We believe what we understand the Gospel to be. And when we listen to the Bible and have understood the words of the true Gospel message, then we know what we must believe. And thus the work of God the Holy Spirit is to soften our heart so that we understand and are willing to believe the Gospel of salvation, through the cross of Christ, and that this salvation comes to us absolutely free. Our willingness to believe has been given to us as a free gift of God. That is why we read in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”.

And so, the meaning of Matthew 13:15 is that the unsaved multitude has been spiritually blinded by God, and their spiritual ears have been made dull of hearing by God, and their hearts have been hardened by God. Now again, these words of Matthew 13:15 have been very favorable in the eyes of God. God repeated these words in several other places in the Bible. Let me read to you three other places:

Isaiah 6:10
Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.



Acts 28:27
For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.



Mark 4:12
That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

This is the condition of the natural man. This is the state how we came into the world as enemies of God. And if God would not have turned our hearts around we would still be like that, sluggish ears, and closed eyes, and a hardened heart, unable to understand the Gospel, for only by the Holy Spirit could we understand the true Gospel.

But what do these four verses say about the actions and intentions of God?

God does not plan to save them. God is not willing to give them an understanding of the Gospel. Therefore God is not willing to save them, because they do not belong to the elect of God. They have not been chosen from before the foundation of the world to be saved, or else God would have saved them. Our God is sovereign. He will save only whom He will, and whom He does not want to save He hardens. God says in Romans 9:18, “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth”.

This is a hard saying, but who are we to reply against God?

In His wisdom God decided to arrange it this way, and since God is infinitely wise we must believe that this is the wisest plan that God in His counsel has chosen. There is no better plan. We must believe what God has said.

And so, what do we conclude from Matthew 13:15?

Is it God’s will that many remain spiritually deaf and blind?

The answer is absolutely Yes!

We have seen this now three times.

First from Matthew 13:11 we have come to the conclusion that, It is God’s will that many remain spiritually deaf and blind.

Secondly, from verses 13 and 14 we have come to this same conclusion.

And thirdly we have come to this same conclusion from verse 15.

All three times we find that God pours His favors on those whom He intends to save by giving us understanding and faith, and God deliberately withholds understanding and faith from those whom He does not want to save. Our God is infinitely righteous in all that He does, and we must believe that it was absolutely necessary that God would take this action, for there is no wiser plan anyone could have designed for this world and the people of this world.

The next logical question then is this:

If there are many who are not chosen unto salvation, and they remain in the sinful body in which they were born, would they be responsible for the sinful life in which they lived, or are they responsible for their sins?

The answer the Bible gives is this:



All Men Sin Voluntarily (Matthew 12:33-37, Ezekiel 12:2)

We need to understand one basic principle of the nature of mankind: Mankind is not a collection of individuals. Mankind is an organism with a federal head, which is Adam. God created Adam very good, and in the image of God. When Adam sinned all man-kind sinned. And thus when we came into the world we have already on our account two things:

1) We were initially created good and in the image of God, and 2) we have already sinned and are accountable for our sins, for every sin is an insult to the image of God.

Since God made us come out of Adam, and since Adam was accountable to God we too are accountable to God for our sins. As we can see, Adam sinned voluntarily, and thus we too sin voluntarily. All men sin voluntarily, and that is why God can hold men accountable for their sins and can send them to Hell for this. And thus, those who are spiritually deaf and blind are still accountable for their sins, for they sin voluntarily.

The Lord Jesus speaks about this depraved nature of man here in Matthew 12:33-37, where we read:

Matthew 12:33
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.

Matthew 12:34
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

Matthew 12:35
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

Matthew 12:36
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

Matthew 12:37
For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

First the Lord Jesus establishes the groundwork: A man is compared to a tree, and thus the heart of a man is known by the fruit the man bears.

Secondly, the Lord addresses the people around Him as a generation of vipers, and He said, “how can ye, being evil, speak good things?”

Since they are evil they can only bear bad fruit. They are not able to speak good things.

But are they accountable for the bad things that they speak?

Thirdly, the Lord Jesus said: Even the smallest sin, like uttering an idle word, shall be held accountable in the Day of Judgment. They are not able to speak good things, and yet they are held accountable for neglecting to speak good things. And thus, coming back to Matthew 13:11-15, the non-elect do not understand the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, they do not understand the parables Jesus told, their spiritual eyes are blinded, their spiritual ears are very slow to hear anything worthwhile, their heart is hardened and unable to understand the wisdom of the Gospel, but yet they are accountable to God for this behavior, for God says in Ezekiel 12:2,

Ezekiel 12:2
Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.

You see the reason why they are not seeing and hearing the Gospel is that they do not want to see or hear what God has said, for they are a rebellious house. It is true that God the Holy Spirit has not enlightened them, but over and above this fact they are by nature in so much rebellion against God that they refuse to hear His words, for there is no fear of God before their eyes.

And is that not what we see all around us?

When we witness for Christ, and present Him to people around us as a sovereign God, the response we get most of the time is ridicule, and scorn, and unfounded, slanderus accusations.

We can point them to the words of Scripture, and even when they have the Bible in their hands and are present in our Bible studies, and even when we show them the Scriptures which clearly state the character of God, and state God’s magnificent plan of salvation through election and reprobation, they will not believe.

And why not?

It is plain rebellion against God and against His Word. No matter what the Word of God says, they have fixed in their minds what they want to believe, and no Bible verse shall sway them one way or another. This is plain rebellion. Therefore, let us now continue in Matthew 13:16, where we read:



Blessed Are Your Eyes, For they see (Mathewt 13:16, Matthew 25:21, Philippians 2:13)

Matthew 13:16
But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

Yes, the Lord Jesus is addressing those of us who have eyes to see and ears to hear. God's people delight in hearing and seeing the words of Scripture, and we delight in knowing that we are still faithful to all the things God said. We admonish each other if we are going astray, and are not entirely straight according to the Bible. We love these corrections, since our fellow believers help us to remain faithful. And we also help each other in Bible study and in interpreting Scriptures. Because God has done a work of grace in our hearts, we patiently listen to God’s Word. We have come to hear and understand the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. To us, by the grace of God, it is given to hear them. Praise the Lord for that, and give Him thanks every day for this great gift.

But now let us also apply what we have heard, and let us have compassion on those who still need to hear the truth, even if they have initially rejected the truth. Let us ask the Lord that He will open many doors to us, so that we can let our light so shine before men that they may come to glorify our Father which is in Heaven. To Him be all the honor and all the glory if He saves someone. Our words of wisdom are of no consequence when someone is saved. It is 100% God’s doing. We are only instruments in His hand. But what a great honor and pleasure it is to serve Him in this capacity.

It brings such joy to work for such a wonderful God. All our words, whether they lead to salvation or to condemnation of the one we are witnessing to, all our words and works are 100% in the plan of God, and we receive the commendation of our Lord, “Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21).

And think of it, this all came as a free gift.

First salvation came as a free gift. But then our desire to serve Him as His ambassador also came as a free gift, for God says in Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”.

Let us praise and thank God for having done such a wonderful work in us, and for making us see and hear the message of the Gospel, and for giving us faith, and for continuing to work in us those things that are pleasing in His sight, and for opening doors to us that were closed before.

Let us remember that the Lord Jesus Christ had to endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell to make all this come to pass.

AMEN.

By Alfred.J. Chompff

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

God bless you Alfred J. Chompff, a preacher not afraid to proclaim the truth!