Hearing is Not Enough #10

Saturday, January 14, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough? (NO!)

As numerous people in history heard the Word of God but placed no faith in it, as myriads today hear the Holy Bible yet refuse to trust it, so many souls in the future will hear the Word of God and persist in unbelief.

Hebrews 3:15 speaks of the ages to come: “While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” See Psalm 95:7,8: “For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness.” Psalms recalls Israel’s unbelief during the 40-year wilderness wanderings under Moses. Hebrews looks to the future, when countless Jewish unbelievers support the Antichrist. Having heard substantial information about Jesus being Christ, but not trusting Him as personal Saviour, their callous or unfeeling heart thus inclines toward the Antichrist (thereby leading to their eternal doom)!

As much sound Bible doctrine as we have heard, we should not only have believed it in our head but, more importantly, trusted it in our heart. If we believe in our heart less than what we have learned, the Lord is never (!) to blame for any resultant confusion, heartache, misery, or apostasy.

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe [not simply ‘hear,’ but ‘believe!’](1 Thessalonians 2:13).

And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day(John 12:47,48).

Hearing is Not Enough #9

Friday, January 13, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough?

By the time of Acts chapter 7, Israel’s one-year extension to repent and believe the Gospel of the Kingdom is nearly over (see Luke 13:6-9, noting “this year”  in verse 8 follows Christ’s “three years” of earthly ministry). Stephen recounts Israel’s long history of unbelief—climaxing in Jesus’ rejection and crucifixion. He winds down his sermon with the following: “[51] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. [52] Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One [Christ Jesus]; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: [53] Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”

Israel’s unbelieving leadership responds: When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth” (verse 54). Rather than admitting their sin, they proceeded to physically assault Stephen, yet the worst is to come! “[55] But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, [56] And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. [57] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, [58] And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. [59] And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. [60] And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Yes, they heard the Word of God, but they did not receive it in faith, so it cost God’s preacher Stephen his life.

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Hearing is Not Enough #8

Thursday, January 12, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough?

Read Christ’s Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:3-9, Mark 4:2-9, and Luke 8:4-8. The interpretation or explanation is provided in Matthew 13:18-23, Mark 4:14-20, and Luke 8:11-15. Overall, four classes of people heard the Word of God (here, the Gospel of the Kingdom), but only the last category (a mere one-fourth of the audience!) actually received by faith that sound Bible doctrine. The other three were various types of lost souls—but who all heard the Word! Furthermore, after concluding the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus cautioned Israel not only to “hear” His words but “do” them (Matthew 7:24-26); He closed the Sermon on the Plain likewise (Luke 6:46-49).

A remarkable passage is Acts 24:24-27: “And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.”

Roman Governor Felix heard the Gospel of Grace from the Apostle Paul himself—and literally shuddered when he realized he was a lost, Hell-bound sinner! Alas, Felix procrastinated, delaying to place his faith in what he had just heard about Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for his sins. For two years, he had more “Bible discussions” with Paul, and we can be absolutely certain Paul did all that he could to reach Felix (who, as it turned out, remained lost and kept Paul in chains!!). Like so many billions through the millennia, it was far better had Felix heard nothing from God, than to have heard so much from Him and yet believed none of it!

To reiterate, hearing the Word of God is insufficient….

Hearing is Not Enough #7

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough?

Romans chapter 10 is the Holy Spirit describing lost Israel in the Acts period, whether during Peter’s ministry or Paul’s ministry: “[14] How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? [15] And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! [16] But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? [17] So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. [18] But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.”

In Isaiah 53:1 (quoted in Romans 10:16), seven centuries before Acts, Israel had failed to believe the words of God that were written and preached to her. The Word of God was there, so faith (trust in that Word) should have also been present (but it was not!). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Concerning Paul’s sermon to pagan Greeks in Athens, the Word of God was proclaimed, but there was no faith in the heart of these heathen listeners either! “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter (Acts 17:30-32). These actually ridiculed Divine revelation!

The above souls heard sound Bible doctrine, but it did not benefit them because there was no positive response (faith)….

Hearing is Not Enough #6

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough?

Acts 13:15 says, “And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them….” The Apostle Paul, now summoned, proceeds to speak regarding Jesus’ rejection: “For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet [knew] the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him” (verse 27). Compare that to Acts 15:21: “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” Each and every Saturday Sabbath, the Jewish people would assemble at synagogues throughout the Roman world, to read and hear their Hebrew Bible (our “Old Testament” Books of Genesis through Malachi).

Consider also Luke 4:16-21, Christ’s first sermon recorded in Scripture. He preached in the synagogue of Nazareth, where He grew up. Note how He read Isaiah 61:1,2 aloud to them. Their reaction was utter wonderment (verse 22)—shock in that “Joseph’s son” (not “God’s Son!”) was so competent! When you read Luke 4:23-27, you will observe how He rebukes these Jewish people for their unbelief (and He reminded them of Gentiles who believed in their Hebrew Bible!). Verses 28 and 29, “And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath [not ‘faith!!!!’], And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.” After hearing Bible truth, these “friends and neighbors” tried to murder Jesus!

“I have read the Bible.” “I know the Bible.” “I have studied the Bible.” “I love the Bible.” “I have heard the Bible.” These are noble, commendable answers, but, bearing in mind what we have just witnessed in the above passages, there is something vital that is missing from such responses. Ancient Israel was exposed to the Scriptures every week, for centuries upon centuries, but there was no personal faith to accompany that reading and hearing….

Hearing is Not Enough #5

Monday, January 9, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough?

The Lord has just six months left to live. As He treads Solomon’s Porch—a covered walkway along the eastern side of the Temple in Jerusalem—a crowd of people confronts Him. Observe: “Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you” (John 10:24-26).

For almost three years, they had heard Him preach the Gospel of the Kingdom and had seen Him work miracles to confirm that message. There was ample, clear proof who He was, and if at the end of His ministry they still could not see the truth, it was only because they did not want to see it. Someone who does not want to see cannot be forced to see. Someone who does not wish to hear cannot be made to hear. Someone who does not want to understand cannot be forced to understand.

Describing national Israel during His earthly ministry, Christ quoted Isaiah (6:9,10): “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: 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 13:14,15). He began speaking in parables—“hidden truths”—in order to conceal the plain facts they had heard from Him but had refused to believe all those months prior! Now they would just hear the sound of words, as all understanding would be removed.

Hearing the Word of God without exercising faith only hardens the heart….

Hearing is Not Enough #4

Sunday, January 8, 2023

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39 KJV).

Is hearing the Word of God enough?

Several years ago, two Christian men (one of whom told me this) attended “retreat meetings” that a local “Christian” cult leader was directing. During every class, they asked the cult leader Bible questions in front of the group so as to generate meaningful discussion amongst the “blind sheep.” One night, these two Christian men heard some startling words: the cult leader delivered “the plan of salvation” just like a Bible-believing Christian! When class ended, and all were exiting the room, the cult leader standing at the door greeted the two men, “I hope you are happy now! Do not come back!” He knew his denomination’s theological system was evil and false. Also, he was willing to “pacify” Bible-believing Christians with the truth (give them what they wanted to hear) so as to drive them away from challenging him any further and so as to prevent the Scriptures from convicting him anymore. How disturbing!

Indeed, millions have heard Bible truth, read Bible truth, and know Bible truth, but, they have too much to lose if they actually believe Bible truth. One of the most disconcerting facts of life is how people can sit in church buildings and hear Bible verses read every week for decades, how they can carry and even read the Bible themselves for decades, how they can memorize Bible verses for decades, and still be lost and dead in their trespasses and sins. They have heard the Gospel of Grace for years, and have constantly resisted it because they have not placed their faith in it. When confronted, they will freely confess Bible truth—but only in private and never public.

Each and every passing day, at least 100,000 souls pass from this earthly life and wake up in a literal and eternal Devil’s Hell. They had all been given enough spiritual light to avoid that terrible fate too. Moreover, a great many of them were “Christian church members,” hearing the Scriptures and having access to them for entire lifetimes (20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110 years!). Yet, there was no faith mixed with that hearing….

A Saviour Who Will Save

Monday, January 2, 2023

“…Jesus Christ of Nazareth… Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:10,12 KJV).

Today’s Scripture tells us who alone can save man from the everlasting hellfire he deserves!

A frequent objection made against Christianity is that every religion has “good” members, and to ignore them and limit heaven to a few Christians is unfair. This is a defected notion. How does one arrive at a definite conclusion when there is no one standard to gauge everyone’s “goodness?” They are “good” according to whom, according to what standard? Remember, relative morality actually does not help the sinner—he may be a “better” sinner than another, but he is also a “worse” sinner than yet another, and whether “better” or “worse,” he is still a sinner!

The God of the Bible has a simple method for determining righteousness. Today, He sees two types of people—saints and lost people. While both groups were born in sins (Ephesians 2:1-3), “shapen in iniquity [in the womb]” (Psalm 51:5), and “condemned already” (John 3:18), only the saints have come to realize their lost state. Job asked in Job 9:2, “How should a man be just [righteous, acceptable] with God?” Saints have come to the acknowledgement that they needed God’s righteousness, that they had a massive sin debt that they could never satisfy, that their “righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), that they could never possibly make themselves right before a holy God (He is the standard; Romans 3:23). The lost people, however, do not realize they are lost, for they believe their religious works “score points” with God and make up for their sinful deeds (2 Corinthians 4:3,4). They ignore the finished crosswork of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for their sins (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

Saints have come by faith to Jesus Christ, whose name literally means, “Anointed Saviour” (cf. Psalm 2:2; Matthew 1:21). As the writer of the book of Hebrews said, “[Jesus] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him” (7:25). Literally, no world religion has such a “Saviour” as Jesus Christ!

The Misunderstood Messiah #5

Friday, December 30, 2022

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Once Christ replied with sound doctrine (verses 42-47), Israel’s religious leaders simply resorted to name-calling again (verse 48): “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” A Samaritan was half-Jew/half-Gentile, and “the Jews [had] no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). Notice Jesus was insulted twice more—they called Him a “Samaritan” and “devil possessed.” Throughout the rest of John chapter 8, Israel’s religious leaders continue arguing with Jesus and nearly stone Him to death (verse 59)!

Why did Jesus not simply “zap” these religionists and instantly throw them into hellfire? They belittled and blasphemed Him several times in this one account, and then attempted to murder Him, but rather than Jesus killing them with His spoken word (which would have been justified), He only conversed with them. Why?

Remember, when the Apostles James and John saw how the Samaritans refused to accommodate Jesus, they asked Him if He wanted them to call down fire from heaven and consume those sinners, He replied, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:55,56). This First Coming of Christ was His “meek and lowly” coming: He did not come to judge man’s sins, but to die for them!

Even today, God is still not pouring out His wrath on wicked mankind (2 Corinthians 5:19), creatures who still snicker at Jesus Christ, deceive others in His name, persecute His saints, ignore His Word, and “rub His nose” in their sins. Lost mankind is wasting God’s grace and mercy that He is offering so freely. When His grace is finally exhausted, the undiluted wrath that has accumulated will finally be poured out (His Second Coming). May we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour now so we have our sins forgiven now, lest we face that angry, righteous God in judgment (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)!

For more information, you may also see our archived Bible Q&A: “Did God ‘rape’ Mary?

God’s Perfect Timing

Saturday, December 17, 2022

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4,5 KJV).

As today’s Scripture indicates, the birth of Jesus Christ was no accident—God planned its exact moment from eternity past.

When God placed the first man, Adam, on earth, He purposed that man would “subdue [control] it,” to “have dominion” over it and everything on it (Genesis 1:28). Nevertheless, Adam sinned by joining Satan in his rebellion against God. Because of sin, man was now unable to accomplish on earth what God originally created him to do. God left the human race a promise, however, that there would come a Man, who would do what Adam failed to do. Instead of cooperating with God’s adversary like Adam had, this “seed of the woman” would “bruise [Satan’s] head” (Genesis 3:15).

Traveling up through the Scriptures, we see how God lays the groundwork for that seedline. In Genesis 12:1-3, or 2,000 years after Adam’s sin, we read God’s covenant with Abraham, that through Abraham a nation, Israel, will be born, and salvation and blessing will flow to the Gentiles through Israel. The seed of the woman becomes the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16).

In 2 Samuel 7:12-16, and 1,000 years after Abraham, we read of God’s covenant with King David, that “his seed” will inherit his throne and reign forever. The seed of the woman and of Abraham becomes the seed of David.

About 1,000 years after David, Matthew 1:1 speaks of Christ’s birth, and declares, “…Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” This is exactly what God had promised for thousands of years!

Jesus Christ’s birth was not some haphazard event of nature. God the Father had preplanned the exact moment of the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ (today’s Scripture). Over a period of some 4,000 years, the three members of the Godhead worked to bring about the birth of man’s Redeemer, a plan they had even before man was created! Amazing!