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Not Mixed With Faith

Not Mixed With Faith   Thursday, November 23, 2017
By James L. Thornton

Hebrews 4:2 “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.”

Many are the children of opportunity who are not heirs of the kingdom of God; many go into the “house of God” who remain outside the Church of Christ; who hear but do not heed, or who listen but do not ponder and pray, or who pray but do not determine and devote; who at some point or other fall short of the kingdom. It is a sad thing to be “in the way of salvation,” and yet to be unsaved.

Very blessed are the children in which faith comes to full fruit. When the Word of God takes deep root and brings “forth fruit,” its fertility is great indeed; the increase may be “an hundredfold” (Luke 8:8). In the heart itself in which it is sown, it may produce all the graces of the Spirit of God; and in the better life thus called forth there may shine all the excellences which are in Christ Jesus our Lord, and one that is worthy of imitation; and from that life there may flow forth influences for good, of which the number and the nature and the duration only God can tell.

Jesus cried, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:9). He spoke those words in a striking, impressive, emphatic voice. He would say to us: “Your privilege in having access to the gospel is very great, and as is your privilege so also is your responsibility.”

We all love to hear a well tailored sermon, one with time spent in preparation and much prayer. A sermon should have meaning, not dull and uninteresting. There are some things that a congregation is subjected to that pass as a sermon that we will not address just now.

A minister spends all their lives getting ready to preach a sermon. They should put every ounce of energy behind it, every moment of meditation. Every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year of experience is manifested in it. Never be tempted not to do your best. God says we shall all be saved by preaching.

Romans 10:14 “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
17. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:21b “….it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

God has ordained preaching as the means whereby the Gospel should be delivered to all men. Today we have far more singers than preachers, and far more singing than preaching. God does not tell us that music and singing is the means to reach the lost, this should be minimized besides preaching. Now I am not against good spiritual singing, I just feel like singing should not take center stage in the service. Many Church services are mostly singing and very little preaching.

I believe that preaching is God’s way to reach the lost—I must believe it. Do you believe it? How much do you believe it? Do you believe it with just a couple of layer of the mind and doubt with the rest? Even some preachers have lost faith in preaching.

Faith Makes The Gospel Work:

The scripture we chose for our text (Hebrews 4:2) tells us that faith is what makes the Gospel work. This faith must be exercised by both the preacher and those that hear.

1. The Faith Of The Minister:

We want to deal first with the faith of the minister of the Gospel. Every preacher when delivering their sermon should believe with all their heart, mind, and soul that someone is going to respond positively to that message. Every preacher should ask himself, “Do I believe in the message I preach? Do I believe in preaching as God’s way of proclaiming the gospel?

If there is any equivocation, any doubt whatsoever, then he must first deal with the doubt in his own heart. If there are any “termites of unbelief,” not an evil heart of unbelief, but a heart with some unbelief, these “termites” will eat away and destroy your faith. Don’t let any doubt pass through your mind unchallenged. In your deepest thinking, your hardest praying, take that doubt out and wrestle with it. Hew it to pieces. A harbored doubt will take its toll. A doubt is the food of those termites of unbelief.

Every minister should nourish (feed) their faith in the Gospel itself. Every preacher should guard the citadel (a stronghold or fortified place) of his own faith. That citadel is somewhere in your mind and heart. It should be a sanctuary, a place that offers protection from all doubts and unbelief.

The Gospel is a meeting place of God and man. Preaching provides that channel. Remember all that God has done through preaching.

1. God has changed individuals through preaching.
2. God has changed towns and cities through preaching.
3. God has changed countries through preaching.
4. The world is a better place because of the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So preacher, take aim, your strength and power is in your preaching, put your faith and confidence in the Gospel, and believe that God has called you to preach it.

Let the real consequences rest with those who hear it.
Make it plain. 

Make it simple.
Keep to the Gospel and work at it, let nothing deter you from that course.

2. “Not Mixed With Faith In Them That Heard It.”

Mark 4:9 “And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
Luke 8:18 “Take heed therefore how ye hear:”

With these words Jesus placed an awesome responsibility on those who hear the Gospel. In the first scripture (Mark 4:9) Jesus is saying that people need to make an effort to hear the message of salvation. It is necessary to get to the place, the church, or wherever the Gospel is being preached. We must let some things go, if necessary, and go whenever we possibly can to hear the word preached.

This is the responsibility of the people to be in attendance at church or wherever the Gospel is preached.

People use so many flimsy excuses for not being in attendance (Luke 14:18-20), but Jesus says it is your responsibility to hear the Gospel, and how can one hear when he is not in attendance. All of those excuses will come up when one stands in the Judgment and the great Judge ask why you did not respond to the Gospel. You may answer “I didn’t hear it.” Then the Great Judge will respond that it was your responsibility to go hear it.

The next scripture (Luke 8:18) Jesus is saying that it is the responsibility of the hearer of the Gospel to make every effort to understand and obey it. It is very important to pay close attention to the preached word, and be in prayer and ask God, through the Holy Spirit, to help you to understand the Word. God reveals His Word to honest, seeking hearts.

Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the sower, “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart” (Matthew 13:19).

Isaiah’s prophecy is relevant to all people, “For this people's heart is waxed gross (lacking sensitivity or discernment), and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Matthew 13:15).

When one hears and understands the Gospel then faith takes root and grows and springs up unto eternal life.

Let it not be said of us, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2).

Failure And Success In Hearing:

The produce of our spiritual fields does not always answer to our hopes or reward our labors; there is much sowing, but little reaping. How do we account for it?

Three Reason For The Failure.

1. Inattention on the part of the hearer.

The truth is spoken faithfully, but so little heed is given to it that it is no sooner uttered and heard than it has disappeared from view. Sown on the hard wayside, it does not enter into the soil, and is readily borne away.

They who do not know how to listen when God speaks to them, need not be surprised if they are of those who are “ever learning, and never coming to a knowledge of the truth.” “Give earnest heed” as the Word is being spoken.

Hebrews 2:1 “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”

2. Lack of reflection (Mental concentration) (Luke 8:6).

Many listen with delight, and consider themselves the better for their present feeling. But they do not reflect (meditate) on what they have heard; there is nothing to nourish the feeble life — no “moisture,” no “earth,” no thoughtfulness and prayer; and the end is that the emotion that was aroused as the hearer listened withers away. The Psalmist David Said, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2).

3. Does not have the vitality (the strength, the capacity to live, grow, or develop) to stand the tests that come. (Luke 8:7)

There may be earnest attention, and this may be followed by some consideration and even prayer; but the root of conviction does not go down far enough to become wholehearted consecration, and the result is that the “thorns” choke the faith as it is growing.

There are two kinds of thorns which are of a deadly influence in the spiritual field, one is that of worldly cares, and the other that of unspiritual pleasure.

These are not evil things in themselves, but, just as the weeds in the field draw up and into themselves the nourishment which should be given to the useful plant, so do these lower anxieties and gratifications absorb the time, the thought, the energy, which should go to the maintenance of the new spiritual life, and, being unfed and un-sustained, it languishes and perishes.

2. The Conditions Of Success:

What is the good ground? What is the honest and good heart? (Luke 8:8-15) Answer, it is that of:

1. Sincere inquiry.
The hearer goes to learn what the will of God concerning him is — to “inquire in his temple.” The question of his heart is, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Hence he listens eagerly and continuously.

2. Devout meditation.
He ponders, he dwells upon, he prays over, the truth he has been receiving (Psalm 1:2).

3. Intelligent, deliberate dedication.

The man takes all things into his mind that must be taken; he counts the cost; he considers what the service of Christ means, and how much it involves in the way of surrender and of activity, and he solemnly devotes himself to the service, or, as the case may be, to the work of the Lord (Luke 14:28).

Very blessed are the children in which faith comes to full fruit. When the Word of God takes deep root and brings “forth fruit,” its fertility is great indeed; the increase may be “an hundredfold” (Luke 8:8). In the heart itself in which it is sown, it may produce all the graces of the Spirit of God; and in the better life thus called forth there may shine all the excellences which are in Christ Jesus our Lord, and one that is worthy of imitation; and from that life there may flow forth influences for good, of which the number and the nature and the duration only God can tell.

“Take heed therefore how ye hear” (Luke 8:18a).

In this connection recall the four places in which the seed is sown: the wayside, where the seed is trodden down and devoured by the fowls; the rock, or stony places, where the seed springs up, but soon withers through lack of moisture; the thorny ground, where the seed and the thorns grow together, and the thorns choke the seed; and the good ground, where the seed springs up and bears a hundredfold.

These places are identified (Luke 8:12-15) with classes of hearers.

There are the wayside hearers — those in whom there is no mental exercise on that which they hear, whose minds are thoroughfares for all sorts of thought. And what follows? As soon as they hear, the devil comes — some impish fancy or distracting influence, and takes away the word. “I never heard a sermon,” said a man, who for years attended church, “I attended, but, whilst you were speaking, I reviewed the last week’s task and arranged for the next.”

There are the rocky-place hearers — those who hear with interest, with emotion; you can see the response to the word in the animation of the countenance, in the tokens of lively feeling. But the message does not grasp the character, the centre of the life remain unchanged, and thus “in time of temptation they fall away.”

There are the thorny-ground hearers — those who have heard and yielded to the truth, but the busy, care-crowded, or pleasure-seeking world is waiting for them; the seed is not altogether lost, but the mind is choked with alien interests or pursuits. The poet Robert Burns compares himself to a lonely man walking where fragments of marble columns lie on the ground, overgrown by rank, tall weeds.

There are the good-soil hearers — those in whom the earnest longing to know, to do God’s truth, always making preparation for the word; who, having heard, hide the word in the heart, and patiently and habitually submit to it-, and, through the blessing of the Holy Spirit, bring forth fruit abundantly.

To which of these types of hearers does each of us belong?

Oh the responsibility of hearing! Note the distinction, in Luke 8:18, between those who have and those who seem to have, or think they have. What is the warning? Whosoever only thinks that he has, or is content with the appearance of having, is losing his possession. Their life is really moving on other lines than those laid down in the word. The power of reception is diminishing: “Whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have” (Luke 8:18b).

“Take heed therefore how ye hear.” (Luke 8:18a)

It is the manner of hearing that is the main thing — the motive, the desire, the extent to which the heart and the soul are engaged whilst hearing. Persons are apt to blame the preacher, to lay the lack of effect at his door. It may be so; no doubt it often is so. But what of these persons themselves? Let each examine himself. Eloquence, it has been said, is in the audience; and, undoubtedly, the sympathy of the audience has much to do with the power of the utterance.

Christ reminds us that, where there is failure, the hearer at least shares the blame. He reminds us, too, that the life reveals the quality of the hearing. “For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad” (Luke 8:16, 17).

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By, James L. Thornton

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