Faith and Understanding

Faith and Understanding

Matthew 13:10-17

“Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”

 

            The disciples were confused.  As the crowds began to clamor to Jesus, Jesus began to speak in parables.  When Jesus spoke to the crowds on the mountain by the Sea of Galilee, he spoke clearly and plainly as he laid out his kingdom program.  But now they notice a shift in his message.  He began to speak in parables that were more complicated to understand and interpret.  They could not understand why the change.  In response, Jesus points to an important lesson.  To fully understand the truth of God, one must first embrace his message by faith.  Faith begins with the simple acceptance that the transmission of Christ is accurate, and then it is to respond to his statement in simple obedience.  The more we live by faith, the more we will grow in our faith and knowledge of Christ and his purpose.  Spiritual growth requires a response.  It is not passively emptying our minds and waiting for God to reveal something. Instead, it is a response of the will in which we respond to the revealed word of God as makes it known to us.

In verse 11, Jesus makes it clear that our knowledge of God’s word and the ability to understand his will for our lives is progressively realized.  The more we submit to Christ, the more he reveals himself.  We often think of our salvation as an event.  We accept Christ by faith at the moment of conversation and then think we should know and understand everything.  That is like thinking that if we read Cliff Notes for a book, we can fully understand all that is written in the book.  But faith is a journey of the exploration of both God and his word.  It is daily going back to visit the well to drink deeply of the riches of who he is as he has revealed himself to us through our understanding of his word.  This brings divine sovereignty and human responsibility in careful balance.  

            In verse 11, we see the sovereignty of God at work.  Our faith is ultimately grounded in the sovereign grace of God as he works in our lives.   However, in verse 12, we see our responsibility.  To grow in our faith, we must respond to the truth he gave us.  If we reject the message of God, then it becomes incomprehensibly confusing to us.  Paul points this out in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “for the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  He points out, "God has chosen the fallen things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things that are strong” (verse 27).  The more we reject the truth of God’s word, the more foolish it becomes but the more we embrace and accept the fact of God’s word, the more precise we are in our understanding of his word. The result is that the more we hear God’s truth and choose to reject it, the more we become, and we become less and less aware of our need for God.  The more we accept and respond in faith and obedience to his word, the more we become aware of our need for him.  

            It is not ignorance of God’s word that is the greatest threat; it is the rejection of God’s word.  In our rejection, we become more blind to our need for his transforming work.  Thus, the greatest threat to our spiritual life is indifference.  If you read the bible and find it completely unconfusing, outdated, and incomprehensible,  the problem is not in the clarity of the Bible but in the hardness of our hearts.  The answer involves coming to the scripture with a spirit of obedience and surrender.  The more we accept the message by faith, the more transparent and relevant it becomes. 

 

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