Friday, August 31, 2007

WILLINGNESS VERSUS ABILITY

It has been a while since the conversation that I am referencing to took place but here is a link to the entire post and thread from Peter's site that is the ember for this post of mine. I had attempted an answer to a question that I was asked and my answer was not the answer they were looking for at the moment. Being told that my answer was a non-answer kind of bothered me for the briefest of moments because I am not unwilling to voice my opinion/thoughts on any subject. You can either attend my church for about a month and listen to my preaching or you can write my members to affirm what I thus state but that is beyond the scope of this post. I will attempt in this post to address said issue and my own answer and should discussion or interaction from those of you reading take place, I will once again be happy to let you have a swipe at my iron.

When addressing a question posted, "why are some willing and some not willing?", I responded with John 5:40. Well, to say the least, my answer was not well received for some did not see what I saw clearly and still clearly see. Therefore, the following will be my answer as to why some are willing to come to Jesus and why some are not but the answer I will be giving is based solely upon this one reference in John 5:40 and the entire context surrounding it.

Jesus in this passage has been giving a defense of his authority and power to heal and not only to heal but to heal on the sabbath and then tell said person to take up his bed and walk which was not a violation of God's Sabbath but was a violation of the religious leaders 600 + man made additions for the sabbath. That being the case, it cannot be said that Jesus broke the Law but he did ignore the law of men at this juncture. In Jesus' defense of his authority and power, he plainly states WHY the religious leaders would not receive him.

John 5:44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

Did you catch the answer to WHY they were not willing? Jesus said that it is because they loved the honor they had before men and gave men rather than the honor from God they so desperately needed. The religious leaders would have to give up their own preeminence in order to give preeminence to God. In other words, they would have to DECREASE so that Jesus might INCREASE and they WOULD NOT because they loved the honor of man rather than the honor of God.(By the way, I am using italics for emphasis rather than simply bold to convey the idea that I am not shouting but vocally emphasizing my points.)

Now here is the catch. For those to whom I was responding, even Jesus' answer, would have to be considered a non-answer. Jesus did not say that they could not come to him because they were not chosen. Jesus did not say that they could not come to him because he had not regenerated them. Jesus did not say that they could not come to him rather he stated plainly that they would not come to him. And the reason for their "would not" he stated was that they loved the honor of men MORE THAN the honor of God. If it is more than that, is Jesus guilty of giving only a half answer here then? Well brother Luke, Jesus was not asked the question we asked you? Granted, not in the particular words asked of me, but none-the-less, Jesus' answer is not only appropriate but it addresses directly why some men, in this case the religious leaders, would not come to him. The religious leaders, because of their own pride, were unwilling to bend their hearts to Jesus and is it any wonder. He points out in this same passage that even that which they claimed to believe and know, the writings of Moses, they did not believe! For had they believed Moses, they would have received Jesus. Paul's words in the second epistle to the Thessalonians addresses this issue as well. Chapter 2:11-12 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. Paul's words and word order make it plainly clear why some did not receive Jesus and will not yet to come.

Sometimes, we miss the forest for all of the trees. We focus on the smallest of pine cones or pine needles and we miss the BIG picture. Jesus addressed this issue in John 5 as well. The religious leaders spent so much time studying the jot and the tittles, for this post that means the adjectives and adverbs, that they missed the SUBJECT and the VERB of the Scriptures.

In verse 42, Jesus stated that they did not have the love of God in them and that the reason this was evident is because they did not receive Jesus who came in the Father's name. THEN he tells them WHY. He says that they would receive someone who came in his own name and in doing so, breeches the concept that they love the honor of men and not the honor that comes from God only. Self honor...pride...that old sin from the beginning that Satan himself was guilty of and used to deceive Eve as well. The day that you eat of this fruit, he told Eve, you will be like gods, you will be wise, you can receive honor rather than give it! No, man is not guilty because he CANNOT come to God but he is guilty because he WILL NOT come to God. Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.(John 9:41)

We cannot pass the blame to anyone or anything else. The soul that sins, it shall die.(Ezekiel 18:4b)

WHY not? Because they WOULD not.

The God of peace be with you all...

7 comments:

Grosey's Messages said...

Yep, Luke a very agreeable comment.
I reread that thread over at Peter's.. and it sort of went all over the place. I don't think the issue was that people didn't agree with your comment.. its that their fevered minds were widely ranging over the field of play addressing various thoughts that came to them. I found the thread discombobulating, so withdrew from it (or attempted to graciously).
I agree with your comment.
Men are condemned for their own sin. They will not come to Christ because they choose not to, because all are motivated by pride etc.

And that is a great text to preach an evangelistic sermon from. You are a bright biblical and intelligent preacher. And that is what God has called you to and you are fulfilling that purpose. Stick at it bro.
Good thoughts,
Steve

Luke said...

Grosey,
I am humbled by your kind words. Thank you my brother. IF I EVER get to Australia, I am definitely coming to see you.

I usually avoid all threads that get fevered. I have no real desire to call anybody names and am searching for the truth when I do foray into a thread. Thanks be to God for the blessing you are to me.

selahV said...

Luke: thanks for this post. Your thoughts agree with my thoughts on why men do not come to Jesus. I always answer with one word. Pride. And after reading your wonderful post, I am validated in that thought. They love their own thinking and own course of action in their lives much more than a Savior who allows them the choice of their own course.

All that we are is due to Jesus. For apart from Him we can do nothing. Yet we keep wanting the credit, don't we? Jesus says, "fine--have it your way. but remember, your way is a way of condemnation--My way is THE Way of redemption." GREAT post Luke.
selahV
BTW...I told ya that you God had blessed you with an extra measure of intelligence.

Grosey's Messages said...

G'day Luke.. I was reading through today in John and was struck by the words in chapter 12..
Here is an interesting take on the miracles of the Lord Jesus in John's Gospel. It appears they have a salvation connotation, as signs to lead people to believe. But because they do not believe, it does not take away their significance as real signs pointing people to the power of the Saviour.
John 12

Joh 12:37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him,
Joh 12:38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: "Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"
Joh 12:39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
Joh 12:40 "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them."
Joh 12:41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.

The signs would be converting signs, but
1. Man's heart is hard. They would not believe.. John 5:40 And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
2. God leaves men in their sins as He chooses. 12:39 "they could not believe"


I would say it is a good example of the mixture of human responsibility and God's Sovereignty.
Steve

Luke said...

Steve,
I agree absolutely that they could lead some to believe. Your statement lets me know that I have not been clear in my question then. While the miracles can and should lead to belief for salvation, I do not necessarily believe that the miracles in and of themselves are a picture of salvation. For instance, the man who had four friends who brought him to Jesus to be healed. I am speaking of the one's who tore through the roof and lowered him down. Now, if that is a picture of salvation, it can open up a can of worms for those who insist that all who are chosen to salvation will be saved and my point, if these men had not brought the man to Jesus, he would not have been healed, thus we see other men, not necessarily the sick man himself, but the works of the other men who were responsible for the man's "salvation/healing".

Or consider the man that Jesus put mud on his eyes. The man was told to go and wash his eyes. It seems to indicate that if the man "had not" washed, he would have remained blind, YET it was necessary that the man himself, go and wash. Thus, if it is a pic of salvation, it would also seem to indicate human effort involved in such rather than by faith alone.

I sure hope I am making myself clearer with these illustrations. Please know that I believe all that was written about Jesus is indeed enough to point to belief in Jesus for salvation THOUGH I do not believe every miracle he did was a direct pic of salvation.

Grosey's Messages said...

I think what you are saying is very agreeable.
In fact, It's a basic "law" of hermeneutics.
The allegorical interpretation is not a safe method if interpretation.
The primary meaning of the text is the main meaning.
Our theology formed from the clear texts of scripture should inform our understanding of other texts.

I think you are right on target by being concerned to make the heart of the sermon come explicitly from the text.


Maxims for Interpretation From Bernard Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation
•The Bible is an accommodation of divine truth to the human mind.
•The Bible is a progressive revelation becoming more clear as it nears completion.
•Interpretations must have a sound historical basis.
•The interpreter must discover the meaning of a passage, not attribute one to it.
•The interpreter must give preference to the clearest interpretation of a passage.
•No statement in Scripture should be interpreted as having more than one meaning unless unusually strong reasons warrant it.
•Interpretation is one; application is many.
•Scripture should be interpreted in light of other Scripture.
•Obscure passages must give right of way to clear passages.
•All interpretations must be tested by historical studies, a doctrinal system, and past interpreters.
•The Old Testament must be searched for help in interpreting the New Testament.
•Everything essential in Scripture is clearly revealed.
•All interpretations must be grounded in the original languages.
•Ignorance as to the meaning of some passages must be admitted.
Your interpretation of a passage may well become the truth to your audience, with a direct effect on their understanding of God.

Luke said...

Grosey,
You wrote:"Your interpretation of a passage may well become the truth to your audience, with a direct effect on their understanding of God."

Sobering. VERY Sobering.