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How to Hear the Words of God
By David A. DePra
Some people never seem to respond to the gospel. Why? Well, basically, there are two possible reasons. One, God is not yet drawing them to Christ. Two, God has drawn them to Christ, but they are refusing to come to Jesus. You and I may not be able to know which is the case with regards to an individual. But God does know.
Jesus said, "No man can come to Me except the Father who sent Me draw Him." (Jn. 6:44) From this we know that God must initiate our salvation. But Jesus also said, "And you will not come to me, that you might have life." (John 5:40) From this, and other passages, we know that we must, by faith, come to Jesus. These two Truths are not contradictory. They are, in fact, completely compatible.
How? Well, from John 6:44, we see that it is impossible for anyone to "come to Jesus" unless the Father FIRST draw him. But from other passages we also see that once the Father does draw a person to Jesus, that it is still possible for that person to NOT come to Jesus. And of course, it is possible for them to come to Jesus by faith. Thus, we clearly see that God does the "drawing TO Christ." But WE must then "come to Jesus," by faith.
This is seen in another passage from John:
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That you also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:35-40)
An important part of this passage is the phrase, "All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out." This statement might sound as if we have no responsibility at all in our salvation. It might sound as if God decides who gets saved, and that if He picks me, my coming to Jesus is a guaranteed thing.
But if you read the entire passage, you see that this simply isn’t the Truth – not to mention dozens of other passages in the Bible. A look at the Greek helps. In the phrase, "All that the Father gives me shall come to me, and he that comes to me I will no case cast out," we find the word "come" or "comes" twice. But in the Greek, they are not the same word. This brings clarity to the passage. M.R. Vincent says that the word "come," in "All that the Father gives Me shall COME to Me," really means "to arrive at," or "reach." But the word, "comes" in "and him that comes to Me," means simply the process of coming.
Put the two thoughts together and we see that this passage agrees with John 6:44. It could be rendered, "All that the Father gives Me will reach Me – and He that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out." The thought is that if the Father draws a person to Christ, the person is guaranteed to reach the place where they see Christ. They must then choose whether to come to Jesus, or not.
We see that this is the sense of the passage if we just read it. According to Vincent, Jesus says, "All that the Father gives me shall reach me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out." The assurance of Jesus that all who come to Him will NOT be "cast out" would be senseless if Jesus were saying that everyone the Father draws is guaranteed to come to Jesus. No. Jesus is saying that the Father will draw us to Christ, but that we must choose Christ. Those who do, Jesus says, will not be cast out.
Jesus continues: "And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." It is the will of God that everyone He draws to Christ will embrace Christ. But notice how Jesus then clarifies His statements by adding, "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life." God’s "drawing" will cause us to "reach Jesus," that is, to "see the Son." But then we must believe. If we do, we have everlasting life.
Responding to the Truth
Now we can get back to the reason professing Christians do not respond to the Truth. We have seen that the possible reasons are two: God has yet to draw them to Christ – or – they have been drawn, but have refused to come to Jesus. Regardless of the reason, both types of person have one thing in common: No life within them. Neither is born again. They cannot respond to the Truth because they have never surrendered their lives to Christ.
The Pharisees had been given the opportunity to see the Truth, but were resisting it. When Jesus spoke to them, He told them directly why they were not responding to Him:
I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. (John 8:37)
Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do you not understand my speech? Even because you cannot hear my word. (John 8:42-43)
If I say the truth, why do you not believe me? He that is of God hears God's words: you therefore hear them not, because you are not of God. (John 8:46-47)
Jesus did not say that the Pharisees had a brain problem. No. And He did not say they were ignorant. No. Rather, He said to them, "You also have seen me, and believe not." Their problem was that they had not COME to Him. Consequently, they had nothing in them which COULD respond to Christ. No life.
This teaching should provide for us both a comfort and a warning. It is a comfort because it tells us that, "by faith we understand." Many Christians feel hopeless because they think it is the other way around – by our understanding we have faith. No. Jesus says that God will draw us to Christ, and if we will simply surrender to Him, we will then be able to understand and respond to God. It is a growth process, but that ability will be there, for "he that is of God hears the Words of God." The warning is there also, for it leaves us without excuse for NOT being about to hear the words of God. We need only COME TO JESUS.
Jesus said, "Whosoever comes to me, and hears my sayings, and doeth them…." (Luke 6:47) Here we see a process of three phases which result in a Godly life – once God draws a person to Christ. Once God draws us, we then FIRST come to Jesus. That is the surrender of faith which results in salvation. Then we are able to hear – although we must still choose to hear. (Christians can disobey God!) Third, if we do hear, then we are able to obey – although we must make the choice to obey.
Can there be any doubt that we have a free will? God brings the Truth to us. He brings the Light. WE cannot bring that. But the more Light God brings, the more it sets us free to be able to hear Him and obey Him. This spells both freedom and responsibility.
"He that is of God hears God's words: you therefore hear them not, because you are not of God." The way to be able to hear the words of God is to become "OF GOD." Come to Jesus. Become a new creation in Christ Jesus – one in whom there is a place for the Truth.*
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