-- the heart of the passage -- v.28
"Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey it"
A rebuke here; Serious warning for those who are hearers only
Tremendous promise for those who both receive and implement God's Word --what an opportunity for us this morning
Context: 11:14-16 Christ had once again revealed His divine power by casting out a demon from a possessed person;
Revelation always demands a response -- you can't be neutral or unaffected
People responded in different ways:
General reaction = amazement -- How could Jesus do this?
1) Some attributed His power and authority to Satan --Christ answers this blasphemous charge in v.17-26.
Conclusion: the final condition of such people is worse than the first (v.26b)
2) Others were more guarded in their skepticism and demanded that He perform another indisputable, divine miracle to autenticate His person and His message Christ responds to this smokescreen for wickedness and unbelief in v.29-36.
No evidence of any real spiritual discernment -- of the type of understanding that leads to obedience
In between in v. 27-28 He teaches that rubbing shoulders with God is nothing compared to the benefit of obeying God's revelation.
there is no magical grace communicated simply by spending time in the presence of Christ or under the teaching of God's Word actually if we are not applying that Word and living it out, our last state is worse than the first
The message of the Bible is really very simple: "Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey it"
If you came looking for something complicated or intricate or brand new, I'm afraid you will be disappointed. But the beauty of God's truth is that the same simple message is both shallow enough for a newborn Christian -- a child -- to wade and deep enough for some of us older elephants (who have been Christians a long time) to drown.
The Bible repeats this simple theme many times in many different pictures because we need to hear it:
1) the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount -- the wise man who builds his house on the rock instead of the sand is "the man who hears the Words of Christ and puts them into practice"
2) the good soil in the parable of the Sower is that which allows the Word of God to take root, to grow, to produce fruit
3) James uses the image of a mirror to represent the Word of God -- The faults exposed by the mirror need to be corrected.
We want the blessing that comes from obedience -- How do we get it?
Big Idea: SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT (the type of understanding that leads to Obedience) DEPENDS NOT ON GREATER REVELATION BUT ON THE RIGHT HEART CONDITION
I. GREATER REVELATION BRINGS GREATER CONDEMNATION (NOT GENUINE SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT) IF YOUR HEART CONDITION IS WRONG (:29-32)
The wicked generation to which Jesus preached made the mistake of assuming that they would naturally embrace the truth if only the amount and quality of the revelation were sufficient -- Please, give me another miraculous sign to make the truth plain
Christ points out that the problem is not with God's Revelation
A. Despite the Attacks of the Ungodly, God's Revelation Cannot be Faulted (:29-30)
1. The problem is one of spiritual wickedness and ungodliness
This is exactly the point at which humanistic solutions to the problems of this world prove to be so futile.
If the problem is not with God's Revelation, why do people keep criticizing it? You hear the complaints all the time:
the Bible is impossible to understand
everyone has his own interpretation, so there is no valid interpret.
it's full of myths and fairy tales -- like the story of Jonah and
the big fish
it's full of historical and scientific errors
What we need to understand is that
2. The Attacks of the Ungodly in Finding Fault with God's Revelation are Mere Smokescreens
despite the clear and glorious revelations of Christ in His Messianic power, the people keep demanding more signs
"sign" = something that accompanies the Word of God or the spokesman of God to prove its validity and reliability
God granted many gracious signs throughout history:
in the OT most signs are grouped around 3 main time periods:
a) Exodus -- deliverance from Egypt and journey to promised land;
b) Elijah and Elisha and their conflict with pagan religion
c) time of Daniel during the exile when the supremacy of Yahweh and the faithfulness of Daniel and His companions were vindicated
(God cries out against the hardness of heart of the Jews who refused to believe in the face of such dramatic testimony: Num.14:11,22; Ps. 78; 95)
time of Christ and the apostles next great period of signs