Joseph Herrin (08-10-2012)
The hearing ear and the seeing eye, Yahweh has made them both.
This teaching on spiritual hearing would not be complete apart from an examination of the following words of Yahshua the Messiah. As He was speaking to His disciples, He stated:
"So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him."
Yahshua is clearly speaking about the subject this series has been addressing. He enjoins the disciples to “take care,” or “be careful” HOW they listen. He follows this admonition by saying “for whoever has, to him more shall be given.” We should ask, “whoever has what?” The subject is the ability to hear, so one obvious meaning is that those who have the ability to hear can increase their hearing if they listen properly. Similarly, Yahshua states, “and whoever does not have (spiritual hearing), even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.”
The verse above from Luke’s gospel comes at the end of a parable explained by Yahshua to His disciples. It is a very important parable to pay heed to as one seeks to understand the subject of spiritual hearing. Let us therefore look at this passage in its entirety. I am going to insert some comments to draw your attention to certain points.
When a large crowd was coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to Him, He spoke by way of a parable: “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great." As He said these things, He would call out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (Is this not a remarkable detail to be inserted here? This is a highly unusual manner of story telling. Can you picture Christ speaking to the multitudes and stopping periodically to cry out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”? Spiritual hearing is certainly on the Lord’s mind.)
His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. And He said, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, (When Yahshua states “To YOU it has been granted...” He is indicating that it is the disciples of Christ who are granted understanding. Disciples are given a hearing ear. Let us therefore remember that the qualifications of discipleship include surrendering all earthly possessions and relationships to Christ. The cost includes taking up YOUR cross and following Yahshua down an afflicted path that is specifically designed for your perfecting as a son or daughter. The few who have counted the cost of discipleship and accept it are the ones who are granted understanding of the mysteries of the kingdom of God.)
but to the rest it is in parables, so that SEEING THEY MAY NOT SEE, AND HEARING THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND. (Is this not the condition of most people in the church today? The majority of Christians are apostate [divorced from truth]. Their ears are opened, but they do not hear. Most Christians today observe parables all around them in their lives, in the news, in the Scriptures, but they fail to perceive the heavenly message contained therein. They do not hear the voice of God speaking to them .)
Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. (Note that a word is something spoken. It enters by the ear, hence Christ is repeatedly stopping to cry out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”) Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, (Christ’s explanation reveals that the substance and understanding of His parable is about spiritual hearing and how it is lost.) so that they will not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. (Yahshua has now described four categories of men and women. Only the last is set forward as a positive example. The vast majority of those hearing Christ’s voice do not profit from having done so. Their spiritual hearing is unfruitful. This is made plain by the usage of agricultural terms and examples. Seeds are sown to bear fruit. Christ speaks to us that we might bear spiritual fruit. Most Christians are not careful to hear Christ’s words in a manner that will result in spiritual fruit. They therefore are in danger of losing that sense of hearing they had been given.)
Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light. So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him."
We can now define what Yahshua intended when He stated “take care HOW you listen.”
Those Beside the Road
The seed (word of Christ) that falls upon those people pictured as soil beside the road doesn’t even begin to make progress in bringing forth fruit. The devil comes and snatches the seed away before it germinates. Roads are highly trafficked areas. The ground beside a road is highly compacted from all the traffic. Due to trampling, there is also little ground cover. The grass has been killed, and other plants as well. This causes whatever seed that falls beside the road to lie exposed on top of the hard soil for an extended period of time where the birds can easily see it. The seed is plucked up before it can bear fruit.
There are many Christians today who dwell right beside the highways of commerce and pleasure in this world. They are constantly exposed to the traffic of this world. They are buffeted by worldly messages through television, magazines, books, radio, movies, the Internet, video games, music, and worldly conversation on the job, at school, or at play. They are rendered insensitive to the voice of God. Their ears are attuned to the range of sounds and speech that emanate from lower, earthly realms. Being carnally minded, spiritual speech cannot penetrate the exterior of their lives.
The Rocky Soil
Christ says of this group of people, “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.” Matthew’s gospel brings out another characteristic of this group.
“The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.”
These are what one might call “fair weather saints.” Among them are multitudes who have embraced the prosperity gospel. These are joyous, and enthusiastic, for they are anticipating that being a Christian will result in material blessing, health, and favor. These ones have not counted the cost of discipleship. Bearing a cross and walking an afflicted path is not what they signed up for. When temptation, affliction, or persecution arise, these ones will fall away.
These ones have not benefitted by hearing the words of Christ. They were not open to hear ALL that Yahshua would speak to them. The preaching of the disciple’s cross is foolishness to them. They want a gospel message that promises smooth sailing and an unobstructed passage. These do not bear the fruit the Father is seeking.
The Thorny Ground
Of this group the Savior declared:
“these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.”
Do not these words describe multitudes of Christians today? Many seem to have begun with sincere gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice. They express a desire to be found pleasing to Him. Yet they never seem to make progress in spiritual things. They are still wrestling with the same besetting sins ten, twenty, or thirty years after they believed. They have made little progress in ruling over sexual desires, in overcoming anger. They are allured by a desire for riches, and the daily grind of paying bills, going to work, raising a family, taking care of a home, etc., etc., have choked out that spiritual progress they could have made. These are like the Corinthian believers whom the apostle Paul chided.
I Corinthians 3:1-3
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?
They are like the Hebrew believers whom Paul also reprimanded.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature...
In these passages Paul is comparing spiritual words to food. There are many saints who cannot seem to get off the bottle (or the breast). They are able to tolerate only milk. They are not exercising themselves unto godliness. They are not taking up their cross, enduring hardship, overcoming temptations, and passing victoriously through trials whereby they might grow strong and increase in knowledge and conformity to Christ.
The Good Soil
“But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”
Note the characteristics of these men and women. They have honest and good hearts. They persevere, holding tightly to that which has been delivered to them. Much could be written about these traits, but suffice it to say that these are ones who are willing to receive ALL that Christ would speak to them. It is spiritually dishonest to pick out from the Bible just those verses that appeal to one’s soul. Many prove that they do not have ‘good’ hearts as they approach the Scriptures with a bias, wanting to hear only that there is blessing, and ease and uninterrupted comfort ahead of them. These unfaithful ones reject, stop their ears and close their eyes, to any Scripture or word from God that would exhort them to lay aside their love of the world and embrace the cross of Christ.
There is a remnant, however, who will respond as Peter when the flesh is offended and the way is difficult. When Yahshua asked His core group of disciples if they wanted to leave like so many others were, Peter stated, “Where else shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.” This is an honest heart. It is a heart that wants to be a partaker of the divine life of Yahweh, and will continue on even when the going is unpleasant.
When Christ said, “Take care HOW you listen,” He was handing His disciples the key to increase their spiritual hearing. If you have been faithful with those things Christ has already spoken to you, He will give you more. The surest way in which to improve your spiritual hearing is to obey promptly that which Christ has spoken to you.
The opposite is also true. The sure road to spiritual deafness is to fail to obey that which Christ has spoken to you. If you have not obeyed His voice when He spoke to you about some matter, why should He continue to speak?
If your heart convicts you that there is something Christ revealed to be His will, but you have shrank back from doing it, or have delayed, letting His words slip away, repent. Repent quickly. Confess your failure to the Lord and set your heart to obedience. As you prove yourself a doer of the word of Christ, your spiritual sense of hearing will improve.
I believe that much of the difficulty among Christians in hearing the voice of God is traceable back to this issue. Suppose Yahweh told you to quit smoking, or to break off a relationship of which He did not approve, or to not go into debt to purchase some item that your soul coveted, but you disobeyed. Now you come to Him day after day asking Him to speak to you, but you have left undone that which He has commanded. Is it not just and right for the Lord to remain silent until you repent and perform that which He required?
We cannot say that we have taken care in how we have listened if Christ has spoken and we have not been moved to obedience by His words. We stand in danger of losing that which we do have. Our sense of hearing can grow dull, and continued disobedience can result in deafness.
Do you want a sharp and keen sense of hearing? Then obey the voice of God quickly when it comes to you. If anything is left undone, recommit yourself to fulfilling the word of God. Those who are faithful in the little given to them will receive more. This principle is true in regard to our spiritual senses.
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