One of the key indicators of the spiritual state of someone is how they respond to the Word of God. If someone wants to hear, know and act upon the Scriptures then it is an indication that that person is a true believer in Christ who wants to follow the Lord. As for those who are not interested, that is an indication of their lacking of spiritual life towards the Lord. I want to examine this issue in the light of two passages in the Bible:-
Matthew 13:10-17. The Lord has just addressed a large crowd with a parable about the sower, the seed and the soils. A question which is often asked about the parables is, whether they were given to help people in their understanding or to hinder people coming to know more of God. In vv11-17 the Lord gives teaching regarding this issue. This teaching is given in light of how in v10 the disciples come to the Lord and ask Him about His speaking in parables Essentially He will say, in answer to their question, that those who want to come and ask about his teaching in parables will receive an explanation and will receive the blessing of having their understanding enhanced. Whereas, those who don’t ask the questions will be prevented from grasping the teaching and will instead go backward in their understanding .
Let us consider this process in further detail:
- When a true seeker of God hears a parable with its intriguing images they say “I want to know more about what is involved here.” As a result they go and ask questions to find out the meaning. This is exactly what the disciples do in v10.
- When an unbeliever hears the same thing, they say “I can’t be bothered about all of that. I don’t understand it and I am not interested.” As a result they do not gain an understanding. In fact their situation is worse because they think that the things of Christ are just too difficult to understand.
This is the background to the Lord’s response to the disciples question. Accordingly, He says the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom has been given to you, but not to them? (v11). We ask: to whom are the secrets given? We go back to v10 and we get our answer: it is to those who come to Him and ask questions about what He is saying (see v12a). As for the unbeliever they simply don’t come and ask. They either ignore the teaching as being of no consequence or dismiss it as all being confusing nonsense (see vv12b-13). Our Lord then goes on to further establish this division. He speaks of the unbelievers who are not interested in the Word in vv14-15. And of the believers who want the Word in vv16-17.
These reflections upon the attitude of people to the Word are most pertinent to ourselves. When we hear the Word and it seems difficult to understand, how do we respond? When people say that they can’t be bothered to seek out its meaning and that it is all irrelevant nonsense they are showing up their own ignorance and unbelief. However, the true believer does seek out the meaning. They do want to know. So when you hear things from God’s Word that you do not understand how do you respond? Do you ask questions of others? Do you look for help in commentaries?
Isaiah 29:11-12. In the opening part of Isaiah 29:1-4 the Lord has set Himself to bring judgement upon Ariel, which is another name for Jerusalem. In vv9-14 He gives something of the reasoning as to why this is happening. There are two reasons why judgement is falling. Namely, they do not want the Word and their worship is empty. It is upon their attitude to the Word that we will focus upon here.
In vv11-12 we have a very similar scenario to that which is described in respect of parables. Here we find a people who can’t be bothered to break the seal of the scroll wherein God’s Word is found. As JA Motyer says of them: “the one will not exert himself to break the seal and read, nor does the other urge him to do so.” If the second group really wanted to hear surely they would encourage the first group to open it and read it. But no, both are equally indifferent. Moreover, we can ponder upon how if they really wanted to know the Word they would set themselves to learn to read.
How sad it is to see people who have the Word presented to them, but cannot be bothered to look into it. We live among people who are just like that. The Word of the living God is available in their language, but they will not open it. However, sadly, this attitude can be true in church. The Word of God is read and preached, but it just passes people by and they cannot be bothered to delve into its contents.
These two passages lead us to consider the whole issue of our interest in God’s Word. Many think they are clever when they reject God’s Word as being confusing and of no relevance. Sadly though, it is in fact themselves who are being judged through their attitude.
Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of April 2016