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November 6, 2021 12:01 am
We often think of preaching as the primary means God uses to awaken people to His truth. Why did God send Isaiah with a message that the Israelites would not hear? Today, R.C. Sproul explains why some people respond to God's Word while others do not.
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There are certain things about the character of God that the unregenerate person simply can't see. Have you ever wondered in the midst of your enjoyment of the beauty of Christ. Why your unbelieving friends seem to be so indifferent toward that which is the most important precious thing in all of your life will I know I've wondered that perhaps you have as well. Why would my friend or family member pass up the free gift of eternal life with the God of the universe.
Welcome to the center. The addition of Renewing Your Mind. We web the today we continue our look at the hard sayings of the prophets.
One of those hard sayings is found in the book of Isaiah, God sends the prophet to preach the people who don't have eyes to see, ears to hear the message and where the people spiritually blind and deaf to begin with nursing school.
As we continue now with our study of the hard sayings I want to go back again to the prophet Isaiah and look at one of the difficult sayings that comes from his writings and I want to turn your attention to the sixth chapter of Isaiah where we have the record of Isaiah's call.
Now you may be thinking no, don't tell me that RC is going to give us another lecture on Isaiah chapter 6 where we have the record of his vision in which he sees the presence of God on his throne, surrounded by the heavenly angels.
The seraphim who are singing the three times holy, holy, holy, holy. We've looked at that had a whole series of lectures on the holiness of God, and certainly Isaiah 6 is one of my favorite passages in all of the Bible. But today I want to focus our attention on the words that come subsequent to this vision. That Isaiah has of the holiness of God we remember. Isaiah's initial response to this vision, where he curses himself saying why always me I'm a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of the people of unclean lips for mine eyes have seen the king, and so on.
And then we remember how the God instructs the angel to go to the altar and bring a live coal from the altar and cleanse Isaiah's mouth and after that God then speaks and says, whom shall we send, and who will go for us and it's at that point that Isaiah volunteers for ministry. This is the occasion of his call to the office of prophet. This is the moment in time when Isaiah is set apart by God consecrated to this sacred task and is anointed spiritually for this mission. When God says phone while I said who will go for us.
Isaiah answers by saying here. My send me now.
The moment that Isaiah volunteers for this mission of representing God as God's spokesman, now God delivers to Isaiah hard saying let's look at that hard saying that God makes. He says to Isaiah, go and tell this people keep on hearing but do not understand. Keep on seeing, but do not perceive makes the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed. What an enormous burden God places upon Isaiah he sends Isaiah to a people who are rebellious who are obstinate and who have no inclination whatsoever to turn themselves to the things of God or to delight in the word of God and so God sends Isaiah not to open their eyes but to shut their eyes not to open their ears, but to close their ears go and make the heart of this people fat. What are we to make of this.
We usually think of the mission of the preacher as a mission designed for spiritual renewal and spiritual awakening.
But here Isaiah is being sent not to awaken people, but to put them into a stupor, but torpid state by which they will not be awakened to the things of God. How strange indeed. Is this well before I comment further on this experience in Isaiah, let me turn quickly and briefly to the New Testament where we hear a similar type of message. Here we connect a hard saying of the prophet. The prophet Isaiah. In this case with a hard saying that comes to us from the lips of Jesus himself. If we go to the 13th chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel. We read at the beginning of this chapter. Jesus parable of the sower. You remember the story of the sower but were not looking at that parable.
As such, but rather at the end of the parable in verse eight of chapter 13, the last concluding portion of this parable of the sower with some of the seed fell upon the good earth and some on stony places, and so on. Verse eight grades, but others fell on good ground and yielded a crop. Some a hundredfold, some 60, some 39 Jesus says he who has ears to hear, let him hear. There's a kind of particular arising here a particular delineation when Jesus said, he who has ears to hear, let them hear you suggest that their luxury don't have ears to hear, and those who do not have ears to hear, our Lord does not invite or command them to hear well that provokes a questionable approach the question with Dawson provokes the question as soon as we hear it and it certainly provoked the question and those who heard Jesus make that statement originally in verse 10 we read this and the disciples came and said to him, why do you speak to them in parables. How would you answer the question why did Jesus speak in parables, what's the normal common assumption that we make in trying to answer the question we say will why does any speaker use illustrations uses illustrations to clarify his message to make it easier for people to understand what he's trying to communicate and the obvious assumption. We have about the stories that Jesus throws alongside his teaching.
That's what a parable is Carl Bolle, which means to hurl or throw something along side Jesus is teaching some truth and he throws in these little stories drawn from human experience. We call parables. We just assume that their purpose is illustrative. That is to make plain difficult notions or ideas, and so when the disciples say why do you speak to them in parables, we would expect Jesus to say I speak in parables, so that you can have an easy way to understand my teaching is not what he sets. Listen to his answer verse 11 of chapter 13 of Matthew. He answered and said to them, because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance, but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand and in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which he says hearing you will hear, and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive for the hearts of this people groaned all their ears are hard of hearing their eyes at the enclosed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them. And now Jesus after finishing this quotation from Isaiah adds, but blessed are your eyes for they see, and you are ears, for they hear for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desire to see what you see and did not see it and to hear what you hear and did not hear she's an amazing teaching from our Lord. He answers the question, why do you teach in parables by saying the parable enlightens, illustrates, illumines, elucidates, clarifies the truth of what I am teaching for those to whom it has been given to understand that is two-mile act, whom God has given ears to hear and eyes to see. I speak to them in parables because it is been given to them to understand these spiritual things. How many times does the Bible say that there are certain spiritual truths that can only be discerned spiritually and it is only through the assistance of the Holy Spirit as the supreme aluminate tour that certain truths are understood. We remember again Peterson Caesarea Philippi confession. When Jesus said to him, who do you say that I am and he said about the Christ the son of the living God and Peterson blessed art thou, Simon bar Jonah flesh and blood hath not revealed this to you, but my father who is in heaven.
That's a hard say is it's tied to the most hard saying of all the saying of the doctrine of election, but God does give to some a special grace by which he changes the disposition of their hearts.
He gives us ears to hear and eyes to behold what naturally we would not see or would not here again we remember Jesus speaking to Nicodemus when he said to Nicodemus unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God that there are certain things about the character of God that the unregenerate person simply can't say he doesn't get it.
And if you ever wondered in the midst of your enjoyment of the beauty and the sweetness of Christ.
Why your unbelieving friends seem to be so indifferent or even hostile toward that which is the most important meaningful precious thing in all of your life. I got a letter from a dear friend John MacArthur that many of you also listen to on the radio and in that letter he told me personally of a lengthy conversation he had with one of the most famous people in the media and American.
I won't mention the man's name.
This man had been critical of Dr. MacArthur for some of the theological stance that he had taken and the man didn't understand, and so he came and met with John and they had a long conversation and what came out of this conversation was this man, after listening to John said I never understood that before. He didn't grasp the fundamental message of the New Testament. But now, in this conversation is I seem to be open to it, and that's an exciting thing and a marvelous thing but the world is filled with people who don't understand it and they don't see it. They don't hear it. They can sit in church on Sunday morning and hear it preached week after week after week and not get it.
I remember once doing evangelism call at the home where there were two young ladies there in the one was openly hostile to Christianity. And I was trying to go through the Scriptures with her and explain the basic essence of the gospel to this woman and she kept interrupting and saying look, I've heard that a thousand times. My uncle was a minister and a civil if you've heard it a thousand times could possibly harm you here just one more time and I asked her permission to finish and she said okay I said let me finish them I get out of your life and I finished and left. Six months later, this woman shows up in a new members class at the Church Road's work and the other minister asked her what led you to want to come and become a member of this church and she told the story of our visit to her home that night. Be honest with you, I'd forgotten about and she told how she was hostile and belligerent and totally close to the hearing of the gospel and she related how I had asked her to let me finish it and I did and then we left and she said as soon as we walked out the door. She went back to her bedroom and burst into tears got on her knees beside her bed alone and embraced Christ as her Savior and she said I thought I had heard it. I never heard it before, never penetrated before this because not because I was more articulate, or more persuasive than her uncle or the other people who had told her these things but that seed had been planted before on stony ground that had been tossed among thorns, but in the meantime, God had done a work in this woman's heart that prepared the soil for the seed to be planted and to bring forth its fruit to germinate into life. She had been given ears here so Jesus is saying here the starts back to Isaiah is that the gospel.
The preaching of the word is a two edge sword.
Nobody can hear the word of God and remain neutral.
Nobody can be indifferent to the truth of God, you either hear it and respond to it willingly, being pleased by the sweetness of it for you stiff arm the word of God and shut it out from your life and what Isaiah is called to do is to deliver the message of God to a nation that had heard his word proclaimed over and over and over again. They had the oracles of God and they despise the truth of God, and God said okay now Isaiah you go out there and you preach but I'm sending you to deaf ears and the blind eyes and the message that you preach will actually have the effect on these people of hardening their hearts. I'm sending you out on a mission of judgment, not a mission of rescue and the coming of Christ provoke the same kind of crisis when he came for those who would not having ears to hear those who were indisposed towards the things of God.
The parables hidden the kingdom of God from because it wasn't there. The kingdom of God was being offered now to Christ's people and the sense in which the same parable that disclosed the mystery of the kingdom of God to those people was at the same time hiding the kingdom from those who were indisposed for that's the crisis of the word of God was Isaiah's response to the same response you what Isaiah hears that the supposed to go on a mission like this. He says Lord, how long hello not to do this. This isn't any fun. God says, until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant.
The houses are without a man, and the land is utterly desolate.
The Lord has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land but yet 1/10 will be in it and will return and be for consuming as a terrapins tree or as an oak whose stump remains when it is cut down so that the holy seed shall be its stump. Do you see the message here that now God is saying. Isaiah I know this is tough. I know that most of the people.
The vast majority the people to whom you declare the things of God will reject the message will fall on deaf ears. But I have reserved for myself 10th tie in here we have the introduction of the Old Testament concept of the remnant, the Holy See that God has preserved for himself and my prayer, my friends, is that you are part of that tense that you are part of that seed and that God will give to you ears to hear and eyes to see that you may be like to the sweetness of the truth of God. No one can be indifferent to the truth of God, you either hear it and respond to it willingly or you stiff arm the word of God and trotted out of your life. The message we've just heard comes from Dr. RC Sproul series the hard sayings of the prophets in five messages.
RC addresses several difficult passages. For example, what did Ezequiel mean by saying that his message of judgment was like honey and sweetness to them. Why did Amos pronounce woe to those in his day, who desired to see the day of the Lord and did Isaiah say that God actually creates evil RC addresses all of those difficult questions in this series and would like to send you the full digital download just requested when you give a donation of any amount to litigator ministries. You can call us with your gift at 800-435-4343 or you can go online to Renewing Your Mind.org.
Not only does RC address those questions. He also shows is the method for finding the answers as you will discover it's all about context delays, the less they were making this offer available. So again request the hard sayings of the prophets are number again is 800-435-4343 in her web address is Renewing Your Mind.org every time we take a look at one of these hard sayings of the Bible, grasping its meaning always boils down to how we interpret the Bible. Every channel of teaching your litigator ministries is designed to help you understand God's word that includes roughness at our 24 hour Internet radio station when you to then you'll hear the biblically faithful teaching and preaching of men like John MacArthur Alastair Beck Steve Lawson and of course Dr. RC Sproul, you can listen for firstname.lastname@example.org or you can download the free ref net app before we go today. Here's Dr. Strohl with a final thought force. We have an expression that we use often in our ordinary language. After we explain something to someone will say to them, do you get it. Sometimes the answer is how to get it.
What we mean was I don't get things we don't understand we don't see it's not clear to us only ask you today, when you hear the preaching of the gospel. Do you get it. Does it get through to you. What is it bounce off you are you impervious to does it bore you make you yawn or make you fall asleep. Can you not wait for the sermon to be over or are you the kind of person who deflates and the word of the Lord can't get enough of it. Want to learn more and more because it gets sweeter and sweeter by the moment. That's what I hope is your experience next Saturday. Dr. Strohl address a question that arises early on in Scripture in Genesis 1. What does the text mean when it says the earth was without form and void. I hope you'll join us next week for Renewing Your Mind