“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” 2 Corinthians 13:5
The bible says that unless the spiritual ears are opened by the Holy Spirit one cannot understand the gospel for 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 judgment 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 18,19And 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, the heart who loves riches, praises of men, position, power, 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.
That is why God gave the law, not to eradicate sin but to control sin until Christ should come. When a person becomes born again he then gets a new heart and has ears to hear what the Spirit of God says through the word, he is now reconciled to God!
God’s breathing into man the breath of life produced man’s spirit. Heart and spirit in scripture are interchangeable.
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. Is different than simply to believe in something. The devils believe and are not given new hearts)in me may come and drink! 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 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 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. Vrs.20 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 spiritual ears, then you will be given understanding by God through revelation of his 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 not born again and made new will hear the word 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.
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, the salvation experience comes only through the power of the Holy Spirit transforming the heart. Intellectual belief is not salvation, rather a new born again heart is what is required in order to inherit eternal life and that occurs only as the Lord wills.
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According to Romans Chapter 4, Abraham believed God and his belief was counted as righteousness.
Let us examine this statement. The word for believe is the Greek word, pisteuō, which
by definition means to give credit, have confidence in, to have conviction and trust in, to acknowledge.
Notice that it does not just mean to acknowledge as true BUT to put one’s trust and confidence in. So then to believe in God, or have faith in God is to have relationship with God.
In other words one is entrusting himself to God for his whole life. This relationship is what constitutes salvation AND accredits to the believer Christ’s righteousness.
Counted is the same word as imputed (logizomai)
which means to to pass to one’s account, determine, purpose, decide.
So what is righteousness? According to the bible, righteousness which in the Greek meansdikaiosynē, approved of by God withintegrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness correctness of thinking feeling, and acting just and virtuous.
“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” Romans 4: 3
“Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Galatians 3:6
“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” James 2:23
Romans 4: 4,5 says that to him who works for his salvation the reward is of debt and not grace. In other words if we work to try and attain God’s righteousness we are in a state of debt. WE OWE. How can we pay? Well, scriptures say that in order to work for our salvation we must keep ALL THE LAW. That means we cannot break even one and scriptures tell us that no one has ever been able to do this except Jesus. The bible says that ALL have sinned and fallen short. There is NONE THAT DOES GOOD!
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3: 23
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” Romans 3:10
The good news is that for those who believe (have relationship) with God through Jesus Christ, they are justified and made righteous by faith through Grace(God’s mercy)
This means that our reward of eternal life is of grace and not of debt. God imputes Christ’s righteousness and does not hold our sins against us they are forgiven and forgotten!
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3:24
“ Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” Romans 4:6-8
“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL.” Hebrews 10:10
THE LAW OF LIFE AND LIBERTY IN JESUS CHRIST
The New Testament has replaced the codified system of Mosaic Law. Differing from the Old, the greater Law of love and freedom is now SHED ABROAD in our new born again hearts (Jeremiah 31.31)
The old Mosaic Law binds us and the new law of Jesus Christ Liberates us. That is why the new law is both perfect and free. True freedom means we now can joyfully by grace imparted to us by the Holy Spirit’s endowment do what is pleasing to God.
The Spirit of LIFE and liberty in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin death. The perfect law of liberty is the law of GOD’S love which has been shed abroad in the hearts of those who are born again of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit of LIFE and liberty is a higher law because the law keeper who is JESUS CHRIST Himself lives in us, through us, upon us, by his Holy Spirit which he sent and poured out on the day of Pentecost which was the Ancient Jewish Celebration of the Law given to Moses on MT. Sinai. In other words God replaced the Mosaic Law with life in the Sprit, that is what the event in the book of Acts was all about!
When we become Christians by receiving the sacrifice of Jesus Christ we are now made free from obligatory rituals and duties and we are also made free from the law of sin and death.
The redemption makes it now possible for us to experience LIFE and LIBERTY and no more bondage that obligation and duty to rules and regulations bring. We receive instead, Love, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit. As we continue to look into this Law of Liberty, our born again spirit will desire the things of God. No more will we desire to live in sin and play in the devil’s playground.
We will not want to continue to live in sin but will instead be transformed day by day, into the perfect man God wants us to be (the fullness of the stature of the measure of Jesus Christ)
But this work will not be completed in its entirely until we have received our new bodies. As long as we live in the sinful body which is corrupt after the flesh we will always be in a battle and that is why we must yield to the spirit who is at work in us. Brethren this sanctification is both immediate as well as on going. When you become born again the seed of God’s living word is planted in your heart and with his grace through his word and the eternal Spirit it will grow and you will become more and more like Jesus!
Jesus says in his word, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you FREE, you will be free indeed” Jn. 8:34-36
Paul says “that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Liberty.” 2 Cor. 3:17
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us FREE. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love” Gal. 5:1,13
As you spend time in prayer and in God’s word and with mature Christians you will grow and be a vessel in which God can move through to bless others.
“He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17)