Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Man Cannot Get Anything Unless...

This last week, my eyes fell on these verses and I felt compelled to write them down in my journal:
Now a slave of the Lord must not be fighting, but be gentle toward all, apt to teach, bearing with evil, with meekness training those who are antagonizing, seeing whether God may be giving them repentance to come into a realization of the truth, and they will be sobering up out of the trap of the Adversary, having been caught alive by him for that one’s will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

What suddenly jumped out at me from those verses was the phrase “seeing whether God may be giving them repentance to come into a realization of the truth”. God is The One to grant the repentance that will then lead into a realization of the truth—it is not of our own selves, not of our own will, and not of our own doing; it comes from God alone.
I was then immediately reminded of some very important words John spoke when he was baptizing and being questioned by his disciples regarding Jews and cleansing:
A man can not get anything if it should not be given him out of heaven.” (John 3:27)
Whether it is life, repentance, belief, understanding, faith, grace, love, wisdom, forgiveness, guidance, peace, etc., “A man can not get anything if it should not be given him out of heaven.
I had read a little something back in January that went like this:
…it is quite possible for us to be verbally acquainted with the Scriptures, while not being perceptively acquainted with the Scriptures. In answering the chief priests and the elders of the people (cf Matt 21:23), Jesus said to them, ‘You are deceived, not being acquainted with the scriptures, nor yet with the power of God’ (Matt. 22:29). More literally, we may render this verse thus: ‘You are deceived [i.e., ‘astray’] not being perceptive1 of the scriptures, nor yet of the power of God.’ If one is not perceptive concerning a certain Scriptural subject, this is because, at least in this regard, such a one does not have eyes to see and ears to hear; and this, in turn is because God has not given that person ‘a heart to realize and eyes to see and ears to hear’ (cp Deut. 29:4; Isa. 29:10; Matt. 13:15). This accords with the still broader consideration that ‘A man can not get anything if it should not be given him out of heaven’ (John 3:27). Thus the only true answer to the questions, ‘Why do many not accept the testimony of Scripture that ‘A man can not get anything if it should not be given him out of heaven?’ is, ‘Because ‘A man can not get anything if it should not be given him out of heaven.’(1. “me eidotes” (“no having-perceived”); from eidon (perceive): “to get knowledge by means of any or all of the senses” (Keyword Concordance, entry “perceive”, pg. 221). (Unsearchable Riches, September 2007, Volume XCVIII, Concordant Publishing Concern)

Most Christians give God all the credit and the thanks for providing and giving the life we have, the food we eat, the shelter/home we have, the family we belong to, the abilities we have, our children, etc., etc. Most Christians acknowledge and profess that it is because of God’s provision and graceful giving that we have whatever we have—that it all comes from God. Well yes, all of those things certainly do come straight from Him. But so do many other things that, for some strange reason, we try to credit to our own selves for having or doing.
We are told in 2 Timothy 2:25 that God is The One who gives someone the repentance so that they may come to the realization of the truth and be able to come out of the trap of the Adversary. It is God’s doing when someone comes to repentance; He is The One granting it.
So if we have life, if we have repentance, if we have belief, if we have understanding, if we have faith, if we have grace, if we have love, wisdom, guidance, forgiveness, peace, or anything else at all, it is because God has given it to us. Not because *we* are so powerful and so awesome as to give it unto our own selves. Only HE is so powerful and awesome and capable of such a thing.
YHWH says, “Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” (Exodus 4:11) While some may understand these words to mean they are referencing matters regarding only our physical bodies; I do not believe that to be so. I believe God means what He says with regards to both physical and spiritual ways. He is certainly capable of making us mute or deaf in the absolute sense of the word; but He can also make us “mute” or “deaf” in a particular situation or with regards to a particular subject (even though we may have full physical use of our ears and mouths).
Many have experienced those moments when God suddenly gave them words to speak that they didn’t even know one moment beforehand they were going to speak. And also experienced moments when one thought that they were certain of something they needed/wanted to speak, but God did not allow or grant the opportunity for it. That is God making us mute and deaf in a spiritual (and physical) sense. What about when we were blind and couldn’t see the truth of God and of Christ? But then, suddenly, one day, we are able to see the truth? And when we were finally able to see, we were clueless as to why we had not seen before, when it had suddenly become so clear? That is all God leaving us blind and giving us sight all in HIS perfect time! The LORD opens the eyes of the blind (Psalm 146:8).

What, then, shall we be declaring? Not that there is injustice with God? May it not be coming to that! For to Moses He is saying, ‘I shall be merciful to whomever I may be merciful, and I shall be pitying whomever I may be pitying.’ Consequently, then, it is not of him who is willing, nor of him who is racing, but of God, the Merciful. For the scriptures is saying to Pharaoh that ‘For this selfsame thing I rouse you up, so that I should be displaying in you My power, and so that My name should be published in the entire earth.’ Consequently, then, to whom He will, He is merciful, yet whom He will, He is hardening. You will be protesting to me, then, ‘Why, then, is He still blaming? For who has withstood His intention?’ O man! Who are you, to be sure, who are answering again to God? That which is molded will not protest to the molder, ‘Why do you make me thus?’ Or has not the potter the right over the clay, out of the same kneading to make one vessel, indeed, for honor, yet one for dishonor? Now if God, wanting to display His indignation and to make His powerful doings known, carries, with much patience, the vessels of indignation, adapted for destruction, it is that He should also be making known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He makes ready before for glory—us, whom He calls also, not only out of the Jews, but out of the nations also. As He is saying in Hosea also: ‘I shall be calling those who are not My people, My people, and she who is not beloved, Beloved. And it shall be, in the place where it was declared to them, Not My people are you, there they shall be called sons of the living God.’” (Romans 9:14-26)

It does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy!
In Luke 4:16-21 it says of Jesus, “And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD." And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The Father sent Christ to us to free us from our captivity, to help us recover our sight, and to free us from oppression! God help us that we may not be as blind as the Israelites were in thinking this meant in merely physical ways. When Israel heard these words, they believed that freedom from Roman oppression was on the way. That was not the case. This proclamation was much more so a spiritual one than a physical one. Yes, Jesus did heal some physical blindness and some physical ailments. But those physical healings were merely paving the way for the ultimate sight and healing that He was offering.
The story told in John 9 is a very good example of this. Jesus gives physical sight to a man who has been blind from birth. The disciples believe the man is blind because of something someone has done, “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he should be born blind?” And Jesus reassures them that it is not any human’s fault that this man was born blind, “Neither this man sinned, nor his parents, but it is that the works of God may be manifested in him.” It was God’s doing that the man was born blind and God’s doing when Jesus Christ gives him the sight back! For receiving his sight, the man experiences pressing questions and accusations from those who had known him as a blind beggar and also from the Pharisees (the religious leaders). As the Pharisees press the man to profess that Jesus had done something wrong and is a sinner, the man replies to them:
"Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see."
So they said to him, "What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?"
He answered them, "I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?"
They reviled him and said, "You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from."
The man answered and said to them, "Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing."
They answered him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?" So they put him out.
Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"
He answered, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?"
Jesus said to him, "You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you."
And he said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshiped Him.
And Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind." Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, "We are not blind too, are we?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, 'We see,' your sin remains. (John 9:25-41)
It goes on to say in John 12:37-40, “But though He (Jesus) had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: "Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?" For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, "He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them."”
We are told in John 12 that God blinds the eyes and hardens the heart and in Romans 9 that God has mercy on whom He desires and that He hardens whom He desires. Why would God do such things? He has unfathomable ways of doing things, that is why. As it goes on to say in Romans 11:
What then? What Israel is seeking for, this she did not encounter, yet the chosen encountered it. Now the rest were calloused, even as it is written, God gives them a spirit of stupor, eyes not to be observing, and ears not to be hearing, till this very day. And David is saying, ‘Let their table become a trap and a mesh, and a snare and a repayment to them: Darkened be their eyes not to be observing, and their backs bow together continually.’ I am saying, then, ‘Do they not trip that they should be falling?’ May it not be coming to that! But in their offense is salvation to the nations, to provoke them to jealousy. Now if their offense is the world’s riches and their discomfiture the nations riches, how much rather that which fills them! … For if their casting away is the conciliation of the world, what will the taking back be if not life from among the dead? … For I am not willing for you to be ignorant of this secret, brethren, lest you may be passing for prudent among yourselves, that callousness, in part on Israel has come, until the complement of the nations may be entering. And thus all Israel shall be saved… For unregretted are the graces and the calling of God. For even as you once were stubborn toward God, yet now were shown mercy at their stubbornness, thus these also are now stubborn to this mercy of yours, that now they also may be shown mercy. For God locks up all together in stubbornness, that he should be merciful to all. O, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How inscrutable are His judgments, and untraceable His ways! For, who knew the mind of the Lord? Or, who became His adviser? Or, who gives to Him first, and it will be repaid him? Seeing that out of Him and through Him and for Him is all: to Him be the glory for the eons! Amen!” (Romans 11:7-36)

God’s hardening of Israel’s heart has been for our benefit!
Can we make ourselves God’s advisers and tell Him what He should do and how to do it? Ha! Not a chance. Can we give to Him first that then He must repay us anything? No way! While He calls us, desires us, and draws us to Himself to be in intimate relationship with Him, and to seek Him and talk to Him and share our hearts with Him (prayer), it is by no means a license for us to become His advisers and tell Him what He should be doing or how to do it. He is The Potter and we are His clay.
Out of Him are *all* things and through Him are *all* things.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and the Perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Through Him God initiates any and all faith we have, and He is The One that will carry that faith unto completion in a perfect way. And let us not be “ignorant that the kindness of God is leading you to repentance…” (Romans 2:4)
Let us be confidently assured that all comes out of God and through Christ, for “A man can not get anything if it should not be given him out of heaven.

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