The Bible says that unless the spiritual ears are opened by the Holy Spirit one cannot understand the gospel. It is God who gives understanding by revelation of the word [bible-logos (written word) becoming rhema (living active word) ]. Unless the Father grants a person ears to hear they will not hear his word because they cannot hear. Let us examine Mark chapter 1 and compare it with other scripture.
Mark 1: 10-10-12 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them
Jesus taught in parables on purpose and many did not understand what he was talking about because it was not given unto them to understand.
Mark 1: 1
And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,
God told Isaiah that he would save some but he would also harden the hearts of others.
And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
When the Lord preaches through his people the word of God it is not always to get them saved. Sometimes it is to bring judgement in their lives. The preaching of God’s word may actually harden the hearts of those who have no ears to hear.
For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. 2 Corinthians 2
Let’s look at the parable of the Sower and examine the hearts of those who had heard Gods word.
Mark 4 : 3,4 , 15
Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.
vrs 15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
Satan comes to take away the word that was preached, the thief steals it. Why? It was sown in a heart that was living in the WAYSIDE– The side or edge of a road, way, path, or highway, fall by the wayside-To fail to continue, to give up, go by the wayside- To be set aside or discarded because of other considerations. So we can see that these hearts did not continue in what they heard because they loved this present world. They were busy, preoccupied with other things. Something like Esau, they preferred world’s affairs to the gospel and so they could not hear.
For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica.
1 John 2; 15-17
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Vrs. 6,7 The word was sown on stony ground. There was not much soil, so the seed was sown on the surface, a surface conversion is not a real conversion. When persecution and trials come these fair weather friends take off. They want all the blessings but not the cross. They get offended when you preach about suffering for Jesus and about being persecuted for his sake.
And some fell on stony ground where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. Vrs. 16,17 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
Then we have the heart of thorns in vrs 7,18,19
And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.vrs 18,19 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
Self explanatory really, these hearts love riches, praises of men, position, power, and worldly ambition. These hearts hear the word but they do not receive it. They are of the world and belong to the world, and that is why you will see no spiritual fruit in these folks.
Finally we have the good soil. What exactly is good soil? In the natural good soil is filled with nutrients and has a good texture. Bad soil is acidy, filled with rocks and weeds and cannot grow the seed which was planted. So in other words the heart must be without impurities to receive the word of God. How can this be if all hearts are desperately wicked as scriptures teach?
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;(HARDENED) they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’
The heart or spirit of man must be made new by God, transformed, born again. Then the soil is able to hear and receive because the heart is a converted heart. God created man as a spirit which lives in a physical body and has a soul; (psyche, mind, brain function) The soul (personality, mind will intellect are all stored in the brain) was the issue of the breath of God entering into the nostrils of the body of dust. But the spirit is the life of God. When Adam fell and the sin nature came upon all men, all men became corrupt (totally depraved) body, soul, and spirit. He in effect became dead in sin, dead to God, a child of the devil, having the devils heart.
The fool hath said in his heart,There is no God. Corrupt (DEPRAVED) are they, and have done abominable iniquity:there is none that doeth good.The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
The reason God gave the law to man was because of the evil unregenerate heart. Not to eradicate sin but to control sin until Christ should come. When a person becomes born again he/she then gets a new heart and now has ears to hear what the Spirit of God says through the word, he is now reconciled to God!
God breaths into man the breath of life which produces man’s spirit. Heart and spirit in scripture are interchangeable. God must give a new heart because of the Adamic fall.
Jehovah God formed man with the dust of the ground. And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.
Breath comes from from the Hebrew word neshamah which, means “spirit”
The spirit [neshamah] of man is the lamp of YHWY.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
John 7:38 Anyone who believes ( pisteuo- to have faith, to trust in.) with the heart(spirit) will be saved. This is different than simply to believe in something with the mind or accepting something as true. The devils believe and are not given new hearts. For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart (spirit) that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that Jesus is your Lord (MASTER)that you are saved.
I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
Vrs.8 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred..
If you have been given by God spiritual ears to hear, then you will be given understanding through revelation of the Holy Spirit concerning the scriptures and the more you have the more you will get. You will always grow and keep on growing but those who have hard unregenerate hearts, who are not born again will hear the word of God and misunderstand it, distort it, flee from it, hate it, reject it and in the end be judged by it.
Unless the Lord by his grace grants repentance, faith, conversion which are all endowments of the Holy Spirit, the heart will remain hard to the word of God.
2 Timothy 2:25
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure(PERHAPS) will GIVE THEM repentance to the acknowledging of the truth
Vrs 23-25 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.
In conclusion, only the Lord can give understanding of the gospel. Unless the heart has been enlightened to the truth of the word of God a person will remain blind and in darkness. It is important to pray that the Holy Spirit draws and enlightens the understanding when ministering to the lost. Unless the Lord changes the heart from the lost condition to the born again experience no one can enter into the kingdom of God according to the Bible.