A MYSTERYCopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
There is a passage in the New Testament that I have never heard anyone explain, and I am not certain I can explain it either. It goes against our ordinary view of access to salvation.
When I find a passage in the Bible I do not understand, my attitude is "Amen!" Sooner or later God clears it up for me. There simply are no mistakes in the Bible.
Someone explained the issue in this manner: When we are at the base of a mountain we can see a certain amount of territory. As we ascend the mountain we can see more territory. When we are on the peak of the mountain we can see all around us.
Perhaps if more of us accepted this explanation there would be less arguing about doctrine among Christians.
The passage is as follows:
He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."
This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; 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.'" (Matthew 13:11-15)
The same idea is repeated in Mark and Luke, although Mark adds "might turn and be forgiven."
When we begin to pick at some of these mysterious passages it is surprising what emerges.
The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. What are we saying here? Why are the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven given to some and no to others.
In Mark the Apostles were commanded to preach the Gospel to every creature. Are these two passages inconsistent?
I don't think so. Christ's evangelists are to preach the Gospel to every person. But not everyone has the same rank and role in the Kingdom of God. The Apostles, to whom Jesus was explaining the basic parable of the Kingdom, the parable of the sower, were especially chosen. They are to sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Such a rank and role is not given to everyone who is saved into the Kingdom.
To add to the mystery, we have the following:
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44)
Let us say a doctor developed a pill that instantly would cure all forms of cancer with no side effects, a medicine equally effective for all ages. Let us say further that he made no charge for the pill.
But there was a provision. The patient could come and receive the pill except by the doctor's invitation.
What would we conclude, since it is obvious that billions of people would die of cancer before the doctor was able to invite them?
We might guess that the doctor had a purpose that went beyond healing people, mightn't we?
Maybe it will be during the present century that we quit trying to help God out and begin listening to Jesus!
If we conclude that God knows what He is doing with each person, then we can agree that God can determine that some people, such as the Apostles of Christ, are to have special insight into the Kingdom of God because of their role in the coming Kingdom.
This does not mean, however, that other people will never understand the mysteries of the Kingdom. Perhaps it is the role of teachers in the Body of Christ to explain the teachings of Christ.
I have felt for many years that we treat the Gospel of the Kingdom as a come-all; that everyone is on the same footing. Perhaps the fact that some are called to be members of the Church, while others believe in Christ and are baptized but are destined to be members of the "sheep" nations who are the inheritance of the Church and over whom the Church shall rule, is not in accord with the value we place on democratic principles.
For this reason, the fact that God would give to some and not to others the understanding of the Kingdom of God is abhorrent to us. We just are going to have to come to the conclusion that the Kingdom is a kingdom, and God is God and does whatever He wants with whomever He wants, and no one can call Him to account.
God is the eternal Potter. He can do as He wishes with the clay. It is nothing more than the pride and arrogance of human beings that insists that God work in ways we understand and according to our concept of "fairness."
Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This statement certainly goes against our concept of "fairness." But it follows the idea of the parable of the talents.
The person who had earned the most money from the talent he had been given was entrusted further with the one talent that was taken from the wicked, lazy servant.
We Americans have a saying that if you want to get something done, ask a busy person. The individual who has much is given more because he or she will use it to advantage. The person who has little loses what he does have because he did not take care of it in one way or another.
Those who use their Kingdom knowledge well by growing personally and helping others, will be given more. Those who do not use their Kingdom knowledge well, not growing themselves and not helping other to grow, will discover that they cannot remember what they had been taught.
It is sinful to be lazy and careless in this present world.
This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand." I was taught in Bible School that Jesus spoke in parables so people would remember His teaching.
This is not what it says, is it? Jesus said He spoke to the multitudes in parables so the listeners would not see, hear, or understand. In this manner, the people who had little would end up having nothing.
Somewhat different from my Bible teacher, a godly, good-hearted lady.
I suspect there is a universal truth here. We are approaching the preaching of the Gospel with the hope that people will see, hear, and understand. Perhaps this is why so many preachers in America today are preaching in a manner that will please the multitudes. The stern teaching of the Lord about denying ourselves and taking up our cross is not always presented.
We want people to understand us and be pleased with us. American people by and large are not going to understand or be pleased with someone who tells them that they have to deny themselves and accept the irritating factors in their life in order to please Christ.
Jesus did not speak in parables so people would understand Him but so only those who were specially appointed would be enlightened. This hardly is democratic.
Do you suppose there will come a day when the great historic Christian denominations will accept the fact that God actually has a plan for each person? This does not mean that God removes our will. This is the last thing God would do. Rather He knows what He can expect from each one of us, and He arranges our life accordingly.
Somewhere it says that God makes all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
It is my opinion that in the beginning God put His Kingdom together in the way He wants it, assigning each person a role and rank. Then in six days He issued His Word that would work until the Kingdom was exactly the way God foresaw it.
This does not prevent an individual from falling below or rising above his or her assigned role. I think there are people who surprise God by their diligence in seeking His will, and others who disappoint Him by being lazy and careless.
As each individual lives out his or her life, however brief or lengthy, the person is "tagged," one might say. Then, when God puts together His vast Kingdom, each person will be fitted in the place prepared for him or her.
Thus God is sovereign, but no person's right to choose is removed from him or her.
If we believe what I have described in the previous few paragraphs is reasonably close to the truth, then I think our approach to ministry should reflect God's plan. Instead of our Christian work making the assumption that there is no plan, no heavenly design, such that we can arrange our structure however we see fit, or seems possible, perhaps we should spend more time seeking Christ to find out where He is doing and work alongside Him.
Jesus told His disciples that He would build His Church. I think He meant by that that He would build His Church.
For two thousand years, for the most part, people have been planning and building what they believe to be the church of Christ. What has been the result? A multitude of competing groups, each one secure in the knowledge that it is building the true Church of Christ.
The Lord prophesied that when His people were one in Him and in the Father, the world would believe. That is not true today, is it? It may be true that the world is more cynical concerning the Christian churches than ever before in history.
Do you know the reason for the cynicism? People do not see God in the works of Christianity. They see the hand of man. It is not that there are not good people giving their lives for the cause of Christ. There certainly are. But in too many cases they are proceeding as though it is up to them to build the Church and not up to Christ.
Recently there have been accounts of Christian elders from different denominations fighting over land and buildings. Also there are accounts of immorality in the Christian churches.
People are not perfect, we understand that. But in the current Christian operations there is too much of the human showing and not enough of the miracle working power of God.
I have been saying for the last couple of years that a period of moral and physical chaos is approaching our country. Divine judgment is upon America because of the abundance of sin, not only among the unsaved population but also on the part of believers.
We can cite the several problems America is experiencing and assign blame. But the problem is immorality, among other sins. The Spirit of God is telling Christian people to confess their sins, as they are pointed out to them, and to turn away from them with the help of Christ. I am not certain this will prevent the Divine judgment on our nation, but it will enable the individual and those who hear him or her to stand spiritually.
The actions and exhibitions of many of the entertainment "stars" is beyond obscene. I have no doubt God is going to put an end to the current displays of moral filth. Young people growing up in America are engaging in sexual activity at an alarming rate. Homosexual behavior is being winked at, in many instances.
It is time for God to act. I do believe that there is to be a powerful move of the Spirit of God, and have been preaching this for thirty years. But it will during a time of great trouble.
Draw as close to Jesus as you can each day. Pray continually. Be totally obedient to Christ. If you know what God wants you to do, do it promptly. If you wait until tomorrow it may be too late.
It told Jesus one time that I would be glad to share my oil when He appears, with those whose lamp had gone out.
He responded, "You will have just enough for yourself."
When the Bridegroom comes, you will not be able to get yourself ready. You will have to be instantly ready. When you go to meet Him the door will be closed, and the lazy, careless believers will be screaming in their rage and fear, realizing they have been left behind to experience the wrath of God.
Do not wait another day. There is a sense of urgency. When God moves, He moves like a flash of lightning.
But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. (Matthew 25:10)
The door was shut!