Sunday, December 28, 2008

Of Tractates & Tractors

John 5:15-25 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. (16) And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. (17) But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working." (18) This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (19) So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (20) For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. (21) For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. (22) The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, (23) that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. (24) Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (25) "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

Simply said, God’s Word is our source of life. It is appointed as His voice to His people in the present day. Scripture is the primary expression of the heart of God to mankind- it is both the foundation & final litmus test for all teaching & ministry in the church today.

But it is oftentimes difficult to hear. His thoughts & ways are not our thoughts & ways, so deafness to God’s tractate becomes self-evident in the soul of the natural man. We easily hear the Word with our ears but it hits an impenetrable fortress at the door of our heart. This is why the “decision” for Christ truly cannot lie in the self-determination of man, for our hearts are feloniously fallow & infertile in their fallen state. The soul of the natural man is naturally unreceptive to the seeds of spiritual life strewn along the path.

Luke 8:5-15 "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. (6) And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. (7) And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. (8) And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold." As he said these things, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (9) And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, (10) he said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that 'seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.' (11) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. (12) The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. (13) And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. (14) And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. (15) As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

Now we know from Scripture that all men’s hearts are depraved as God declared in Noah‘s day:

Genesis 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

We may say: “But surely that changed after the flood, for God started over, so to speak, with the righteous Noah.” But God reveals the depth of man’s depravity as He says post-flood:

Genesis 8:20-21 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. (21) And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

God wiped out the worst of mankind, sparing none but these righteous eight; yet the first thing righteous Noah does upon disembarking is build an altar & sacrifice to the Lord. Noah was well aware that he was just spared the judgment of the truly righteous God. He knew he was righteous only in terms of comparison to other, greatly wicked men, not in terms of comparison to God, & thus still worthy of His wrath. Despite this washing away of the most sinful of men, God’s first post-flood thesis on the nature of man’s heart was the very same as His last pre-flood thesis: that man’s heart was fallen & evil.

Romans 3:9-12 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, (10) as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; (11) no one understands; no one seeks for God. (12) All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.

Galatians 3:22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

We must understand, the “honest & good heart” (Luke 8:15) where the seed of Scripture finds root is not the natural state of that heart. For the source of such an anomaly, we should look back to verse 10: “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God”. God’s workers rightly labor at the sowing & watering of the soil, but unless that infertile soil of the soul is made rockless, robust, & rich by the gift of God’s implements, no good thing can ever take solid root. We often think of poverty as a bad thing, but to the farmer, a poverty of thorns is pure joy. Those cares, riches & pleasures of life look good until God’s Spirit rips the roots to reveal the rocky ground that lies below.

The tractates of God, blessed as they are, can find no firm root in the human heart apart from the tractor of God working over the soil of our soul.

1 Corinthians 3:4-7 For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not being merely human? (5) What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. (6) I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. (7) So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.


Even So... said...

Good pictures, word pictures, that is...

Even So... said...

Indeed, we are naturally intractable...