by Mike Ratliff
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:35-37 ESV)
In the last post, Clip the Wings of Wisdom, we looked at how Human reason, which is worldly wisdom, is useless for anyone to rely on in order to be saved. We saw where our salvation is a work by all three persons in the Holy Trinity. God the Father chose his people before the foundation of the world. He set into motion all of the circumstances that would result in all of them becoming part of the Family of God. The Son, Jesus Christ, became the God-Man. He became flesh and dwelt among us. He lived a perfect, sinless life then was murdered by wicked men, dying a horrible death by crucifixion. While dying on the cross, the Father poured out His wrath upon the Son. This wrath was against the sin of those whom He elected. Jesus became sin on their behalf. He knew no sin, but He became separate from the Father because of their sin. His death paid the price for their sin. Jesus was three days and nights in His tomb, but rose from the dead. His resurrection paved the way for all who believe on Him as Lord and Saviour for their future resurrection.
We also saw where it is the work of the Holy Spirit to call people to believe on Jesus Christ. This calling regenerates the heart and enables the new believer to see Jesus on the Cross, and why it was necessary, for them personally, for Him to die that way. This is Grace. Then through faith they repent and believe. As a result, the Father imputes Christ’s Righteousness to them, justifying them by Faith. He sanctifies them, adopts them and prepares them for their future glorification in Heaven. We learned that the working of the Holy Spirit in our salvation is not something we can perceive, understand, predict, or control. It is totally inconceivable to anyone trying to understand it by Human reason. To them it is all foolishness or at best comes up very short. They insist there must be more. Human reason must find a way to manipulate or control it.
Nothing has changed since the days Jesus walked the Earth. People still think they know what is truth. They believe their wisdom is top notch. Their Human reason tells them that the ultimate form of life is Man. He is the top of the heap. What he doesn’t know, he will eventually learn. What he can’t control, he will eventually learn to control. During Jesus’ day, He was largely rejected by that generation in Judea. Only a few believed. Matthew 11 is primarily a commentary by Jesus on the spiritual blindness of that generation. We will concentrate on the last six verses.
At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” (Matthew 11:25-26 ESV)
In v25 Jesus thanks the Father for hiding the truth from the wise and understanding. This truth throws a huge monkey wrench into the theology of those who say God has opened the gospel up to all people. If that were so, then why did He blind those who professed to be wise and understanding? Here is a parallel passage.
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:10-17 ESV)
Some would say these people blinded themselves, however, that would negate the fact that Jesus thanked the Father for doing it. Jesus is actually giving us an inside look into the process whereby God blinds or hardens certain people. He uses their own idolatry to send them a spirit of stupor to believe a lie instead of the truth. These people have not worshipped the living God as they should, but have created their own version of God whom they can manipulate and control. As a result they are dull of hearing and spiritually blind as the spirit of stupor does his work. What does God do with the truth? He gives it to those who do not profess to be wise. They are humble they believe the truth like little children.
“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27 ESV)
Who knows the Father or the Son whom the Son did not choose to reveal the Father to? No one. Is Man with his Human reason in control of salvation? Absolutely not! Salvation is God’s work of saving His people from His wrath. If it was left up to Human reason to understand and control salvation it would never happen. Until God intervenes into the hearts of His people, they hate God (the real God, they may love their made up God) and have no understanding of spiritual things. At the moment of heart regeneration, everything changes. The Spirit moves as the winds blows. It is uncontrollable by man. Man does not understand it, but the result is a new birth. This new birth of regeneration basically introduces the new believer to God the Father through the God the Son by God the Holy Spirit.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)
In these three verses Jesus turns the call of the gospel to those who are laboring hard under the unreasonable burden of a works theology. The Greek word translated as “heavy laden” means “overburdened by ceremony.” This is a call directly to those who are not the wise or those who are determined to be saved by Human reason. What is the promise to those being called? Jesus will give them rest. He is talking about rest from having to work for their salvation. What are the requirements? They must take His yoke upon them then learn from Him. Taking on Jesus yoke is surrender to the Lordship of Christ. This happens at genuine salvation. Those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are saved because Jesus is their Lord and Saviour. What happens to these believers after this? They find rest for their Souls. Why? Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light. The reason this is true is that our regeneration changes us and we also have the indwelling Holy Spirit in our hearts. Believers can still sin. They can act as if Jesus is not Lord. God uses these sinful things to draw us into repentance, cleansing, and to humble us further.
This is where many Christians part company. Some fall all over themselves about election and forget about the general call of the gospel. Others are all about evangelism, but hate even the thought of election to the point they ignore every part of the Bible that speaks of it. We must forget this silliness. The Bible is very clear about election. It is undeniable that God elects His people and saves them. It is also clear that the gospel must be preached with all fervency. God elects and saves, but Man is responsible to repent and believe. Our regeneration makes salvation possible, but we must not lazily ignore the desperate need to preach the gospel to all. God has chosen to accomplish our salvation through the foolishness of preaching. Therefore, preach ON!
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