Sept 27, 98 Posted, September 27, 1998
(Why do not folks grasp what is being presented from God's word? Why do they leave a sound, Bible teaching church. The following grew out of serious consideration of the above questions and from speaking with many folks.)
Many hundreds of years ago, the Lord told Ezekiel of a problem:
30 Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. 31 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. 32 And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. 33 And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them. (Ezk. 33:30-33.)
The Lord told Ezekiel that the people who quietly and reverently sat before him as God's people professing to love God did not come to hear, learn and do God's word.
The Lord Jesus made the same complaint: Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
They did not sit before him with a willing and ready heart to believe and do what they were hearing. They came to hear; they did not come to do, Ezk. 33:31, 32. The result was that they would leave Ezekiel's presence totally unchanged, and with no desire to change.
Paul warns us of the same danger:
Philp. 3:9-16. 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
People who claimed to be God's people and claimed to love God dearly sat before Ezekiel, and listened to God's word. But they did not hear it with the attitude of If in anything I am not according to the truth, may God reveal it, and give me the grace to change my actions and/or belief. Their hearts were already set on what they wanted, what they wanted to do and what they wanted to believe. Their mind was made up, and they were not going to be confused with anything different. Thus they could not be taught anything. Ezekiel was no more to them than an interesting speaker.
God told Ezekiel that the attitude of this people was not an attitude of learning so they could do. They were unwilling to lay aside previous notions for the word of God.
ADDED to hearing with a ready heart must be study of God's word
The author of the Acts puts it this way:
Ac. 17:10-12. 10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
The people at Berea heard things from the word of God they were not familiar with. They heard those things with a readiness of mind to accept what was being presented. However, before they accepted the teachings, they searched the Scriptures to make sure it was God's leading, and that they were not following the desires of their own hearts nor the desires of the speakers.
One must hear the word of God preached with the willingness to spend the time to examine it in the light of God's word. The hearer must not take the word of the preacher or teacher as the final authority.
Heb. 4:12, For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
However, the word of God only works when it is studied. The Lord has promised to guide the meek into the truth:
Ps. 25:9, The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.
2 Tim. 2:14 - 17. 14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
There is no way to know if the truth from profane and vain babblings unless one is willing to study the word of God.
Pro. 2:3-6. 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
Many folks seem more than willing to have someone else do their studying for them. But they will not stand before God based upon what that teacher said nor even what a church stands for. They will stand before God based upon what God's word says.
A young man came to me several years ago, and told me he had heard some things about what I believed. Rather than try to explain, I told him to go and make a serious study from Scripture about the matter. That he did. And then he saw from where I was coming. Now what he believes about the matter is based upon Scripture, not upon what might have told him.
How many are willing to do what those in Acts 17 did --- they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so?
ADDED to hearing and study must be prayer for direction:
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
ADDED to hearing, study and prayer must be faith and action --- believing and doing what God's word requires. Not believing and doing because the speaker said so, but because God says so.
James 1:19-25 19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
The Lord clearly summed it all up:
John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
Knowing whether or not a doctrine is from God is finally based upon doing those things that are pleasing in his sight.
Ezk. 33:30-33. 30 Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. 31 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. 32 And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. 33 And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.
The people sat before Ezekiel to hear God's word, but they quietly and attentively sat there with no intention of being taught anything that did not confirm what they already believed or wanted to believe.
The people sat before Ezekiel to hear God's word, but they sat there with no intention of changing their life-style.
The people sat before Ezekiel to hear God's word, but they sat there with no intention of checking it out with God's word, nor praying about it, nor doing what was presented.
The people sat before Ezekiel to hear Gods' word, but they sat there with no intention of submitting to what was being said. They were anything but meek. They were happy with what they had, so the speaker was no more to them than a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice.
In fact, they sought out a speaker who had the lovely song and pleasant voice. They sought out an eloquent speaker.
The only way folks will get anything out of a message from God's word is if they listen with a sincere desire to be conformed to the image of his Son.
Romans 8:29, For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
We must listen to God's word; study it; pray for guidance, understanding and wisdom; and then do as revealed by God's word. Only then will we be conformed to the image of his Son --- that is, our lives will be more pleasing to God.
Col. 1:9-11 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
Might notice that the people came with a professed love for God, Mt. 7:21
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