Can we know if God still cares? Of course, that question assumes that God did exist in the past. And it assumes that God still exists now. And it assumes that at least at some time in the past – God used to care. That’s a lot of assumptions. Whether you care to make none of them – some of them – or all of them – please read on and see what you think at the end.
I saw a bumper sticker two days ago – it said:
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance
Later in the day, I read this –
Knowledge and Wisdom are two different things,
and we must come to understand the difference…
A little bit later –
Come now, let us reason together.
After that – I really wanted to write about this sequence of statements.
As it turned out – I didn’t have time. I was disappointed – but things happen – and there’s always another day (most of the time, anyway).
Then – yesterday – I read yet another piece that went with the others (at least in my mind) –
A story circulated some years ago about Sherlock Holmes and his loyal friend and student Watson, who were together on a camping trip. After a good meal, they lay down for the night and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend awake.
“Watson,” he said, “look up at the sky and tell me what you see.”
“I see millions and millions of stars,” Watson replied.
“What does that tell you?” Holmes questioned.
Watson pondered the question and then said, “Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically. I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all-powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?”
Holmes was silent for a minute before speaking. “Watson, you idiot!” he said with a measure of restraint. “Someone has stolen our tent!”
Since I read that yesterday – it’s safe to assume that something happened last night as well – since I’m writing tonight and not last night. (Holmes would be proud of that observation.) Again – I was disappointed – but again I have another day. And tonight – it’s being written. And, no surprise – I read something else today that should tie it all together.
On top of all that, it’s now July 2017 – and what you’ve read so far is from December 2010. I’m moving this from one of my other sites to here. As I move things over, I make additions – putting them in text like this to allow you to see what’s new.
But – before I go there – let me explain why the 1st four fit together and what they have to do with this site.
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance
I assume that this bumper sticker most likely was a statement about the high cost of education these days. By the time one gets through college – with both books and tuition – maybe student housing as well – it’s not cheap. But – as the sticker implies – not having an education at all is most likely even more expensive.
I believe the same is true with Christianity. It is “expensive” – in a sense. Jesus wants us to follow Him – as in His response to a question from a rich young man in Matthew –
Mt 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
That was an expensive request in the monetary terms that we normally think of.
But sometimes it’s not money – as when Jesus sent out the 12 disciples –
Mt 10:37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Yes – either way it’s expensive.
The Narrow Door
Lk 13:22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
Lk 13:26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
Lk 13:27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
Lk 13:28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
Not a position anyone would want to be in – since when this door is closed – it’s forever – eternity – a really, really long time.
Now that’s expensive!
So if we think the cost of following Jesus – becoming a Christian – is high – look at the cost of remaining ignorant and not following Him.
Knowledge and wisdom are two different things, and we must come to understand the difference…
I read this in a book called Has Christianity Failed You?, by Ravi Zacharias.
I should say here – just in case someone gets the wrong impression – I am not reading this because I feel that Christianity has failed me. It’s research I’m doing in preparation for a class.
You may have noticed the “…” at the end of the sentence. The complete sentence in the book is actually –
“Knowledge and wisdom are two different things, and we must come to understand the difference between believing something and knowing why it is believed.”
This is a theme that runs throughout what I write here.
As I’m re-reading this in 2017, I wondered how many times the words knowledge and wisdom occurred in the Bible. Using the NIV, knowledge is there 130 times, and wisdom is there an amazing 206 times. Part of the process to get the counts also shows the first occurrence. Maybe not surprisingly, but certainly of interest, is that both words are first used in the Garden of Eden, specifically in regards to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Fortunately, these occurrences also show the point made about them being different.
First – we look at the word “knowledge”. As you may have already guessed, the first occurrence of “knowledge” is –
Ge 2:9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
For much more on knowing evil, as opposed to doing evil – as well as more on what “knowledge” actually entails – see The “knowledge of evil” versus actual “evil”.
Next, let’s look at the word “wisdom”. The first time we read “wisdom” is –
Ge 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
So we see, with knowledge there is the possibility of gaining wisdom. Wisdom from knowledge is not a sure thing – but is a possibility, depending on what we choose to do with that knowledge.
We see a not quite so easy to follow example of that in a conversation between God and Solomon.
Looking at 2 Chronicles, we read of this conversation –
2Ch 1:7 That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
2Ch 1:8 Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. 9 Now, LORD God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
2Ch 1:11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”
2Ch 1:13 Then Solomon went to Jerusalem from the high place at Gibeon, from before the Tent of Meeting. And he reigned over Israel.
You see – both words are there three times. Let’s look at the original Hebrew words to see what the intended meaning of each of them is –
4093 מַדָּע [maddaʿ, maddaʿ /mad·daw/] n m. From 3045; TWOT 848g; GK 4529; Six occurrences; AV translates as “knowledge” four times, “thought” once, and “science” once. 1 knowledge, thought. 1A knowledge. 1B mind, thought, place of knowledge. 1)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
which refers to having facts – information. Also note, there’s nothing here about having the ability to actually do anything with those facts – with that knowledge. Only to possess it.
2451 חָכְמָה [chokmah /khok·maw/] n f. From 2449; TWOT 647a; GK 2683; 149 occurrences; AV translates as “wisdom” 145 times, “wisely” twice, “skilful man” once, and “wits” once. 1 wisdom. 1A skill (in war). 1B wisdom (in administration). 1C shrewdness, wisdom. 1D wisdom, prudence (in religious affairs). 1E wisdom (ethical and religious). 2)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
and now we see the ability to do something with all those facts – skill, shrewdness, prudence.
I could possibly have saved some trouble by going directly to 1 Kings (below), but then I’d have to explain how we went from “knowledge and wisdom” to “discernment” – without anything other than saying “trust me”. And while I’m not the stereotypical used car salesman (or any kind of car salesman) – I do feel a need to show as much of my thought processes as possible. So – here’s the 1 Kings passage of the same conversation between Solomon and God –
1Ki 3:4 The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
1Ki 3:6 Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
1Ki 3:7 “Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
1Ki 3:10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” 15 Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream.
He returned to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the Lord’s covenant and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then he gave a feast for all his court.
The key word here is “discern” as in “discerning” / “discernment” from the passage. In 1 Kings, this one word takes the place of both knowledge and wisdom in the 2 Chronicles account of the same event.
So – let’s take a look at the word in Hebrew –
8085 שָׁמַע, שֶׁמַע [shamaʿ /shaw·mah/] v n m. A primitive root; TWOT 2412, 2412a; GK 9048 and 9049; 1159 occurrences; AV translates as “hear” 785 times, “hearken” 196 times, “obey” 81 times, “publish” 17 times, “understand” nine times, “obedient” eight times, “diligently” eight times, “shew” six times, “sound” three times, “declare” three times, “discern” twice, “noise” twice, “perceive” twice, “tell” twice, “reported” twice, and translated miscellaneously 33 times. 1 to hear, listen to, obey. 1A (Qal). 1A1 to hear (perceive by ear). 1A2 to hear of or concerning. 1A3 to hear (have power to hear). 1A4 to hear with attention or interest, listen to. 1A5 to understand (language). 1A6 to hear (of judicial cases). 1A7 to listen, give heed. 1A7A to consent, agree. 1A7B to grant request. 1A8 to listen to, yield to. 1A9 to obey, be obedient. 1B (Niphal). 1B1 to be heard (of voice or sound). 1B2 to be heard of. 1B3 to be regarded, be obeyed. 1C (Piel) to cause to hear, call to hear, summon. 1D (Hiphil). 1D1 to cause to hear, tell, proclaim, utter a sound. 1D2 to sound aloud (musical term). 1D3 to make proclamation, summon. 1D4 to cause to be heard. 2 sound. Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
Note – I have included the entire definition of the word – whether it be “active” or passive”. The one set of definitions that doesn’t really apply here is the “B” ones – as they are passive and what Solomon is asking for is clearly “active”. He’s not going to just sit by and watch things – he’s going to watch and then use the knowledge and the wisdom that he received from God to have a positive impact on his kingdom. Well – at least that was the plan.
We also see something else in the Hebrew that would have been known by the people at the time – but is likely not realized – at least not specifically stated – in the Hebrew. The “C” and “D” definitions – essentially they come included in the meaning of the word from the context. Especially from the “D” definitions, we get the concept that the things that are being listened to, obeyed, understood – are caused by God. It’s not just a case of a one-time granting of discernment – knowledge and wisdom – from God to Solomon – but an ongoing process. As I said – we could assume that in the English translation – but in Hebrew it is built into the word as it’s used here.
For many of us – we go to school – get an education – and then proceed to use what we’ve learned. There’s also the possibility that we take classes to continue to get more education – learn more – in order to do our jobs. But still – it’s not an ongoing thing – it’s something we do from time to time. And then there’s the jobs where learning is pretty much a day-to-day part of the job, at least if you want to be good at it. That’s the way my job in the IT field was.
What we’re talking about here though, with Solomon and God – was constant – that God and Solomon would both be involved in the discernment process. As I said – it didn’t last. From “All The Men In The Bible, we read –
With reference to the character and reign of Solomon, we cannot but agree with Alexander Whyte that, “The shipwreck of Solomon is surely the most terrible tragedy in all the world. For if ever there was a shining type of Christ in the Old Testament church, it was Solomon … but everyday sensuality made him in the end a castaway.” Taking him all in all, Solomon stands out as a disappointing figure of Hebrew history. Think of the advantages he began with! There were the almost undisputed possession of David’s throne, immense stores of wealth laid up by his father, exceptional divinely imparted mental abilities, the love and high hopes of the people. Solomon’s start like the cloudless dawn of a summer’s morning, might have been beautiful all his life through, but it ended in gloom because he wandered into God-forbidden paths. Thus a life beginning magnificently ended miserably. The man who penned and preached a thousand wise things failed to practice the wisdom he taught.
The process should be the same with us – on-going. Hopefully we don’t get to lay claim to anything close to being “the most terrible tragedy in all the world“
Now – back to the thought of –
“Knowledge and wisdom are two different things, and we must come to understand the difference between believing something and knowing why it is believed.”
I feel it’s important for us to know what we believe – and why. Not to mention the consequences of not believing. Some of us believe for reasons of the heart – nothing logical. Some of us because it can be reasoned out. Some because of fear of not believing.
I don’t think it matters how we get started on the path to believing – as long as we get there – and stay on it. But at some point – as we grow in our faith – we will pass from knowledge to growing wisdom.
Come now, let us reason together.
I came across this later in the day – also from Has Christianity Failed You?
This statement is from God – yes, God. Verses 18 and 19 are one of my favorite passages.
Isa 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
Isa 1:19 If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the best from the land;
Isa 1:20 but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
This is one of many prophecies of the coming Messiah – Jesus.
With neither the knowledge nor the wisdom required to understand the meaning – this sounds crazy.
With the knowledge – it will make some sense – but maybe still sound a bit bizarre.
But with wisdom – it tells us that our sins will be forgiven if we accept Jesus as our Savior and follow Him. It also says that we can either share the best with Him – or be condemned by Him – and it’s totally up to us as to which of those two options we want to take.
The question you may have is why I say it takes knowledge and wisdom to understand that passage from Isaiah – especially if you already believe it.
The thing is – if you already believe it, that means you have the knowledge and the wisdom already.
If you don’t believe it – the obvious answer – coming from a Christian – is that it’s Satan’s fault, blinding you to the truth. And while that may very well be true, it may not be at all obvious – which would make the claim sound outlandish. For instance, we read what Jesus told the Pharisees and the teachers of the law (religious law) – the religious leaders of His time –
Lk 11:37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.
Lk 11:39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
Lk 11:42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
Lk 11:43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.
Lk 11:44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”
Lk 11:45 One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”
Lk 11:46 Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
Lk 11:47 “Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. 48 So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. 49 Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ 50 Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.
Lk 11:52 “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”
Did you catch that last one? The part about you have taken away the key to knowledge. Exactly what we just finished talking about. Without knowledge – we cannot proceed to wisdom, and therefore cannot understand, even if we read the words.
Moving to the New Testament, you may remember that Jesus spoke in parables. Let’s see something about what a parable really is –
Introduction. An understanding of parables is essential if one is to understand the teaching of Jesus, since the parables make up approximately 35 percent of his recorded sayings. At no point are the vitality, relevance, and appropriateness of his teaching so clear as they are in his parables. While the parable form is not unique to Jesus, he was certainly a master at using parables as a way of teaching. The parables are not merely illustrations for Jesus’ preaching; they are the preaching, at least to a great extent. Nor are they simple stories; they have been truly described as both “works of art” and “weapons of warfare.” How one interprets the parables is not as easy a task as one might think. The way one understands the nature of a parable and the essence of Jesus’ message obviously will determine the method and content of interpretation. 3)Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Parable. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1606). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
We see a need to understand and to interpret. In fact, even after reading an interpretation written by someone else, we still need understanding – which comes from knowledge and wisdom – and discernment – which we saw includes a conversation with God, by which we can determine whether or not the interpretation is correct and if so, how it applies to us in our situation today. Therefore, without any trust in God and without a willingness to listen to Him – there is no discernment – and no understanding of the parable.
Now – reasoning it out, which is the whole process we just looked at regarding knowledge, wisdom, discernment – with the wisdom that we gain from pursuing God – that we obtained by choosing to not stay ignorant – we can see which is more expensive – follow Jesus or not.
Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson
Hopefully you all know about these 2 fictional characters. If not – let me just say that Holmes is the ultimate detective – totally logical and able to come to some amazing conclusions. Watson is his sidekick – sometimes rather bumbling – sometimes rather brilliant – but always trying and failing to measure up to Holmes and his ability to draw the right conclusion.
BTW – since it’s one of the more popular pages, I assume many of you have read All dogs go to Heaven – don’t they? I first read about Homes and Watson as a kid – always did like them. It used to be one of the most popular pages. It’s been a long time since it was written, so it doesn’t show up all that high in searches anymore. Maybe I need to republish it as well.
So – in this third quote from the same book – you may be thinking I included this because Watson came to the conclusion that God is all-powerful. And you’d be partly right. If you’ve read other parts of this site – like in the Who Gets The Credit section – you’ve seen what can happen when we get so deep into the details that we don’t even know what we’re seeing.
Yes – Watson had the right answer – but it was buried in with 4 other things – and so the part about God being all-powerful easily gets lost.
Holmes, on the other hand – gets the “right” conclusion – given facts that were left out (namely that there even was a tent in the first place). But – he’s short-sighted – completely focused on the here and now – and misses Watson’s brilliant observation about God.
The fictional Sherlock Holmes likely has no time – or room – for God in his life. But that doesn’t mean he can escape the reality of his friends observation about God. Whether by ignorance or by conscious choice to ignore God – in the end, we can’t.
How to respond like Jesus
And that brings me to the final segment of this article – also from the book Has Christianity Failed You?
He has a section about the temptation of Jesus – how Satan tried to tempt Jesus in a different manner than the way he tempted Eve. Part of the example for Jesus was –
The Temptation of Jesus
Mt 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
The more obvious interpretation – the one that Holmes would likely make – is that Jesus was hungry and turning the stones to bread would have solved the immediate problem.
The not so obvious one – that Watson might have made, but also would have probably missed the point entirely – is a reference to Exodus, when God gave the people bread (manna) to eat every day on the journey. The implication that the book draws is this: just as the people followed Moses when the bread divinely appeared each morning – so the people would also follow Jesus if He was to turn the rocks into bread.
The problem, of course, is that Jesus’ goal wasn’t to get the people to follow Him around for bread. In fact – many did follow Him for the miracles, the healing, and yes – the food. We see an example of that here –
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
Jn 6:1 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Feast was near.
Jn 6:5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip,“Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Jn 6:7 Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Jn 6:8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
Jn 6:10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
Jn 6:12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
Jn 6:14 After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
We can see how popular Jesus was at this time. So popular the people were ready to force Him to be their king – not King, as Jesus intended, but king, as in the worldly sense.
And yet, shortly after this – look what happened –
Many Disciples Desert Jesus
Jn 6:60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
Jn 6:61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”
Jn 6:66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
Jn 6:67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Jn 6:68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Jn 6:70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
It’s not like Jesus didn’t know this was going to happen. At a time when He was very popular and had 5,000 people following Him, he gave them a message of which it was asked – This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it? The reason it was a hard teaching was that it was a message that required a great deal of knowledge and understanding to know what it really meant. As we see, all but the original 12 left Him – and Jesus points out that even one of them is “a devil”.
We see something else in here that I want to point out. Notice in verse 65, where Jesus says – “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”
There are plenty of disagreements as to whether people choose to accept Jesus – or if they are chosen to accept Jesus. I’ve done a series on this topic, with the closing article being on the possibility that both are correct – that some are called (chosen) and others choose. The series is (1) The problem of predestiny, (2) The problem of free will, and (3) The problem of either / or: Free Will vs Predestiny. To the various passages in those articles, we can add one more on this verse. Let’s look at the word “enabled” – to see what the original Greek word meant at the time,
1325 διδῶ, δίδωμι [didomi /did·o·mee/] v. A prolonged form of a primary verb (which is used as an altern. in most of the tenses); TDNT 2:166; TDNTA 166; GK 1442 and 1443; 413 occurrences; AV translates as “give” 365 times, “grant” 10 times, “put” five times, “show” four times, “deliver” twice, “make” twice, and translated miscellaneously 25 times. 1 to give. 2 to give something to someone. 2A of one’s own accord to give one something, to his advantage. 2A1 to bestow a gift. 2B to grant, give to one asking, let have. 2C to supply, furnish, necessary things. 2D to give over, deliver. 2D1 to reach out, extend, present. 2D2 of a writing. 2D3 to give over to one’s care, intrust, commit. 2D3A something to be administered. 2D3B to give or commit to some one something to be religiously observed. 2E to give what is due or obligatory, to pay: wages or reward. 2F to furnish, endue. 3 to give. 3A to cause, profuse, give forth from one’s self. 3A1 to give, hand out lots. 3B to appoint to an office. 3C to cause to come forth, i.e. as the sea, death and Hell are said to give up the dead who have been engulfed or received by them. 3C to give one to someone as his own. 3C1 as an object of his saving care. 3C2 to give one to someone, to follow him as a leader and master. 3C3 to give one to someone to care for his interests. 3C4 to give one to someone to whom he already belonged, to return. 4 to grant or permit one. 4A to commission. Additional Information: For synonyms see entry 1433, doreomai.See entry 5836 for comparison of synonyms. 4)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
Looking at that definition, there’s nothing of the person being called or chosen. This is about giving something, not about choosing someone. It’s more on the side of someone asks for something – and it is given. Or not. Using the example we just saw in John with the disciples that followed Jesus – up to a point – it seems that all had some interest in Jesus. Whether that interest was food, a good show, getting healed – or in truly following Him – that was determined by the “hard teaching”. Then The Father would “enable” the followers – or not – depending on whether they were there for the long haul – the hard teaching.
Yes – there are other areas of the Bible were chosen seems to be the operative word. But not always.
Tying it all together
The paragraph in the book that I read this morning – that ties it all together – is this –
The seduction of the lie that God makes everything comfortable for us is precisely the reason many have been unable to face the tensions they experience in living the Christian life. Further, because the church has not always lived out the truths it claims to believe, doubt has been cast on the unchanging character of God. It is interesting that Jesus does not challenge the assumption of the appeal that many would have been drawn to him if he had promised to provide for their short-term needs. And it is important to note that he placed what was written (and that which Satan was trying to distort) in the larger context of the truth. In short, sound bites are not the story. If we do injustice to what is written, we end up making an unjust conclusion.
So there we have it –
- education (as opposed to ignorance) leading to knowledge
- knowledge – leading to wisdom
- with that wisdom – the ability to reason
- with reason – the ability to see what’s truly important
- and after realizing what’s important the ability to see what Jesus actually says.
We looked at parables earlier, but here’s some more on the topic. There are so many times when Jesus tells parables that He talks about eyes and ears. In Matthew, Jesus explains to the Disciples why He speaks in parables –
Mt 13:10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
Mt 13:11 He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 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. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
Mt 13:14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“ ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
Mt 13:15 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.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
So – someone with childlike faith – faith that The Father would not lie to them – can accept God at face value. He is what He says – Jesus is what He says – and that’s all that’s needed.
However – most of us are past the point of childhood. We have been bombarded with all sorts of useless information – half-truths – outright lies – all sorts of things to try to convince us that God isn’t here and doesn’t care. Or maybe that He doesn’t exist at all.
Once that doubt starts to come in – we need to go through the processes above to return to that state of faith. And the bombarding isn’t going to stop when we return. If Satan has his way – it will get even worse.
So we need to keep going back. Back to God’s Word. All of it. Not just the sound bites – but the whole thing – in context – to understand what it really says. Whether we like what it says or not. Whether we temporarily think the cost is too high or not.
God gave us a mind – and as you have probably heard – a mind is a terrible thing to waste.
God also gave us His Grace. And that’s a terrible thing to waste as well. Without it – we wouldn’t be able to use our mind to “see” and to “hear” what Jesus said.
And speaking of Jesus – He gave His life for us – and that’s also a terrible thing to waste. Jesus died for all of our sins – each and every one of us. And yet, Jesus tells us that only a few will actually take advantage of His gift of salvation –
The Narrow and Wide Gates
Mt 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
If we do injustice to what is written, we end up making an unjust conclusion.
Maybe we don’t like what is written.
Maybe we don’t want to pay the price that is written.
Maybe we don’t even want to take the time to understand what is written.
If that’s the case – we will also probably come to the conclusion that God is either gone or doesn’t care.
But the reality is that it’s simply our version of “god” that never existed and doesn’t care – can’t care.
But – if we do justice to what is written – we will see that God is still here – He does still care – and we’ll see one more thing written – as Jesus says –
To the Church in Sardis
Rev 3:1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
Rev 3:4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
If we have an ear to hear – if we accept and follow Jesus – our names will be in the book of life – we’ll enter through the narrow gate – and we’ll realize that admission is worth way more than what we had to pay – because Jesus paid the price for us. Then we will truly know – in every sense of the word – that God has always been here and has always cared.
References [ + ]
|1, 2, 4.||↑||Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.|
|3.||↑||Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Parable. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1606). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.|