The Salvation of All - Part 4
There is a concept in the New Testament which few believers know about, or if they do, don’t care to consider in light of the traditions which have been impressed upon them. Please consider what the Lord Jesus said in the following.
Matthew 11:27 (NASB95)
27 "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.
John 6:44, 65 (NASB95)
44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day… 65 And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father."
Today’s Christianity often speaks of “accepting” the Lord Jesus Christ as our “personal savior” as though we have a choice in the matter. But if I am reading the preceding passages right, this is clearly not the case. What did Jesus say? “NO ONE CAN COME TO ME unless.” “Unless” what? “Unless the Father who sent Me DRAWS (drags; Strong’s) HIM.” Furthermore, “NO ONE knows the Son except the Father; nor does ANYONE KNOW the Father except the Son, and ANYONE TO WHOM THE SON WILLS TO REVEAL HIM.”"
I don’t know about you, but for me, these passages reveal that GOD THROUGH CHRIST IS SOVEREIGN, and that we do not come to Him apart from His own will and purpose. Should we doubt this, consider what Jesus told His disciples when He taught the Parable of the Sower.
Matthew 13:10-11, 13-15 (NASB95)
10 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" 11 Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted… 13 "Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 "In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, 'YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; 15 FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.'
As we see, the Lord’s disciples were puzzled by the fact that Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables (Matt. 13:2-3). When they asked the Lord why, Jesus was quite plain about it, stating, “To you IT HAS BEEN GRANTED,” but “to them IT HAS NOT BEEN GRANTED.” As much as we would like to throw out this portion of scripture, we cannot! And yes, it reveals quite clearly that God through Christ is SOVEREIGN in ALL THINGS, even in the matter of our own salvation! So if this is true, why do we tell the world that they must accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their “personal savior” or they will be condemned to “eternal torment”? What right do we have to usurp the position of our Creator and declare such horrendous judgment on those who fail to accept Him? If He alone “drags” us to Him, how can we accept Him otherwise? Answer? We can’t, and the fact that He must drag us speaks loudly of our own unwillingness in the matter!
Now, let me bring your attention to the following concerning these same religious leaders of Jesus’ day.
Matthew 23:13 (NASB95)
13 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
I don’t think anyone would argue with me that this is a very serious charge against the religious leaders of Jesus’ time. “You shut off the kingdom of heaven from people,” said Jesus, “for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” So, my question would be, “How did they do this?” The answer? By traditions and commandments of men. Consider what Jesus told the Pharisees in the following.
Matthew 15:3, 7-9 (NKJV)
3 He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? … 7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 8 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' "
What did Jesus say? “IN VAIN they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Strong’s defines “in vain” as, “To no purpose.”
Beloved, might verse eight agree with verses 13 through 15 of Matthew 13? I believe they would, after all, to honor Christ with our “mouth” and “lips” is quite easy to do, is it not? That’s simply a matter of saying the right words. Ah, but the “heart” is another matter entirely!
So let’s back up to the Parable of the Sower. What do we read? “YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.”
Ask yourself this. Why would the Lord grant His disciples to “hear” and “see” but not grant the same to the crowds? Did the Lord love those in the crowd less than His disciples? Was the Lord not concerned for their salvation and deliverance as much as He was His own disciples? Why was He giving them such special treatment?
My friends, Christ was not being a respecter of persons when He chose His disciples. Rather, He was fulfilling the will of the Father in the exact manner as He had been directed, knowing fully well that this was just ONE STEP in the OVERALL PLAN AND PURPOSE OF GOD (John 8:29). Is our heavenly Father not omniscient? Is He not omnipotent? If so, would He construct a plan and purpose that would ultimately fail because the majority of the souls on this earth would wind up in “eternal torment” due to the crafty wiles of a fallen angel who appears to wield more power than His own Creator?
Folks, the truth is, most of us simply don’t think these things through, being distracted by our busy lives and, as a result, rely upon our religious leaders to tell us how it’s supposed to be. But is it not possible that many of our so-called religious leaders are doing what the Pharisees did in Jesus’ day? Might they also be shutting off the kingdom of heaven from people due to their traditions and commandments of men? Was the apostle John wrong in stating the following?
1 John 2:26-27 (NKJV)
26 These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. 27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
How about Jesus? Was He wrong in stating the following?
Matthew 23:8-10 (NKJV)
8 But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.
Not once but twice, Jesus said, “One is your Teacher, the Christ.” It’s not me or the Pope or your pastor or anyone else. Christ alone is the teacher, so if we wish to learn from Him, does it not follow that we must be willing to set aside time to do so? Do we really want to commit the keeping of our souls to anyone but Him?
I cannot help but believe that, like the Jews of Jesus’ day, we have become desensitized to the truth, having been inundated and intimidated by so many traditions and commandments of men that we choose to spend our lives pursuing other things and just let the chips fall where they may.
Finally, might the Lord’s lack of concern for the crowds be no lack of concern at all? Might Jesus have known that His impending death on the cross would be sufficient for all, no exceptions? Might the Lord have known that He was setting the stage for a much greater triumph in the ages to come? Might the Lord have known that His death, burial, and resurrection reflected the unconditional love of the Father for His creation, a love so great that it would resound through the ages until even death itself was destroyed? (1st Cor. 15:26) I believe He did, and that, dear friends, gives me great hope!