Listening without hearing

How many animals did Moses bring on the ark?

It may be easier to pick it up while reading the question, but verbally ask someone the question and the average person will say “two of each kind.” That’s because we hear everything about the question except what’s right in the middle … the heart of the question! It’s a good illustration when it comes to how we can listen without hearing.

And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’” (Matthew 13:10-15 NKJV)

The people had heard it all before: There’s a God in Heaven. He’s the giver of blessings. Repent of your sins. The Lord will make things right in his kingdom. Judgment is coming!

They would listen but they couldn’t (due to their wouldn’t) hear what was being said. The point of Jesus’ lessons would go over their head because their ears had shut down the pathway to their heart.

To avoid making the same mistake, no less than three things must be done: We must be willing to examine God’s word with an open heart. We must be willing to allow God’s word to examine our heart. We must be willing to change when we hear what the word of God says.

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. … Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:1-2, 11-13 NKJV)

#hearing-the-gospel, #obedience-to-the-gospel, #parables

Heart Transplant

Who performed the first heart transplant? Easy question. God did! According to Ezekiel 11:19 says, “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.” Nor was God satisfied with a one-time operation. He continues to put a new heart in those who choose to obey Him. This new heart is a great thing, for it is full of “the fruit of the Spirit [which] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22) God did not demand payment for this transplant. No waiting room, No insurance payments. Indeed, this new heart and the transplant operation was the free gift of God to all who will obey Him, and the operation was performed immediately upon baptism. God has given us a promise: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a new heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
Are you a child of God? Are you using your new heart for Him?

#new-heart, #obedience-to-the-gospel

Baptism Cleansed Naaman, and It Can Cleanse You!

Baptism Cleansed Naaman, and It Can Cleanse You! by David Ray Fanning I

II Kings 5:1-14 contains the story of Naaman, who was the Gentile army commander for the country of Syria. Naaman desired to be healed of a chronic infectious disease known as leprosy (v.1). When Naaman heard that the Jewish prophet Elisha had the ability to cleanse him, he immediately made arrangements to go to Elisha’s house (vv.3-8). He “thought” that when he arrived, Elisha would come out to meet him and heal him by waving his hand over the diseased place. Instead, Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman and told him that in order for him to be healed, he would have to go, wash (literally, immerse or dip himself,) in the river Jordan seven times. Naaman became furious because Elisha’s plan on how to save him from this dreadful disease was not the same as what Naaman had in mind (Proverbs 14:12; Isaiah 55:8; Acts 26:9). Furthermore, Naaman felt that there were rivers better than the Jordan River. After encouragement from his servants, Naaman eventually chose to lay aside his thoughts and feelings and “do according to the saying of the man of God” (v. 14; Matthew 7:21; James 1:22). As a result, he was healed. Naaman would have not been healed if, instead of dipping himself, he sprinkled or poured water over himself. Naaman would have not been cleansed if he had immersed himself only six times.

The New Testament is clear that a non-Christian must be buried in the watery grave of baptism in order for his sins to be cleansed through the blood of Jesus (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; John 3:5; Acts 2:38; 8:12-13, 35-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:13-15, 30-33; 22:16; Romans 6:3-7; I Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:26-27; Ephesians 5:25-27; Colossians 2:11-13; Titus 3:4-5; Hebrews 10:22; I Peter 3:18-21; Revelation 1:5). As a result of Naaman’s strict obedience to God’s specific commands, he was cleansed of his leprosy. This is a great example of a person obeying the commands of God (not his thoughts and feelings), which resulted in receiving God’s promised blessings. To obey God as He specifies is to respect His supreme, exclusive authority or sovereignty (Matthew 28:18; Colossians 3:17; II John 9-11; John 8:31-32).

Though the story of Naaman is clearly not an example of salvation from sins, it is an example of the necessity of obedience (James 2:24-26). In order for a non-Christian to be saved from his sins he must, like Naaman, respect God’s sovereignty by obeying His commands. One of His commands is baptism (Mark 16:16; Acts 10:48). To love Jesus is to obey His commands (John 14:15). Ananias fulfilled the Great Commission when he told Saul of Tarsus in Acts 22:16, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Many who have zeal without knowledge would deny this clear passage and tell you that baptism does not wash away sins (Romans 10:1-3). They would falsely tell you that only believers are baptized. They would tell you that baptism does not literally remit sins through the blood of Jesus; whereas, Acts 2:38 states clearly that the reason why the sinner repents and is baptized is “for” the remission of his sins. Are you willing to be washed of your spiritual disease called sin (Romans 3:23; 6:23)? If so, then why are you waiting? Arise now and be baptized, having your sins washed away through Jesus’ cleansing blood (Revelation 1:5; Ephesians 1:7; Acts 22:16)!

via www.thegospelofChrist.com

#baptism, #christianity, #elisha, #god, #jordan-river, #naaman, #obedience-to-the-gospel, #remission-of-sins

Good Article About “Good People in all Churches?”

Here’s a short article that’s well put when it comes to the topic of distinguishing between “good people” and being saved. It could ruffle some feathers but if it’s used to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)…well, I guess it’d still ruffle some feathers. The article came from the church in Wise, Virginia.

“Good People in all Churches?”

The statement that “there are good people in all churches” is usually made as a defense of the existence of the many different conflicting denominations. Certainly there are good people in all the churches. There are good people OUT of churches. There are good people who are infidels. But the question is not are they good, but are they saved people?

It is good to be good but it is not good enough. One cannot save himself by just being good. He must obey the gospel of Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) to be saved. Cornelius was a good man but he was a lost man! (Acts 10:1-6; 11:14). The good people in human churches are lost people, not because they are not good moral people, but because they have not obeyed the gospel of God. This is why we appeal to good people to leave their human churches and obey the gospel. There is no other hope for these good people. – Earl Fly

Related Article:

#christianity, #denominationalism, #is-being-good-enough-to-make-it-to-heaven, #obedience-to-the-gospel, #religion, #salvation, #sincerity