Vol.IV No.X Pg.3
December 1967

We Must Hear The Word

Robert F. Turner

In Matt.13:15 Christ warns of gross hearts, dull ears and closed eyes "lest. 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." Clearly, seeing, hearing, and understanding are essential to conversion. All modern ideas of "experiential religion" or conversion by an "experience" that bypasses seeing, hearing and understanding are not of Christ.

But seeing, hearing and understanding what? The Spirit? 1 Pet. 1:22 says we obey "the truth through the Spirit" -- the object of "obey" being "truth". Those who make some "direct operation" necessary in order to-- have not evaded the fact that "truth" must be obeyed -- hence is the obvious thing that must be seen, heard and understood. We are told, "Christ is truth!" I certainly can't deny that; but the Lord saw fit to say, "Thy word is truth." (Jn. 17:17) There is no obeying Christ apart from obeying the word, the teachings of Christ.

David said, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." And in the New Testament, "being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." (1 Pet. 1:23) This verse follows that which speaks of "obeying the truth through the Spirit"; the later phrase being omitted by most textual authorities (see ARV). The fact is that the word of God is the "sword" or instrument of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17) and it is the Spirit-delivered word that must be understood and obeyed. Most theological doctrines which "play down" the importance of knowing the word, and obeying that; and "play up" the emotions, "experience" and a mystical "knowing the Lord"; do so under the influence of false conceptions concerning the Holy Spirit. Historically, these false "spirit" doctrines began with Total Hereditary Depravity. Believing man is wholly depraved, due to Adams sin, and wholly incapable of doing, speaking or thinking anything "good"; they move to the next logical assumption -- that God must move man by some direct operation. Hence, religious "experience."

But both hereditary depravity and direct spirit operation are contrary to the scriptures on conversion. The simple parable of the sower will show this. (Lu. 8:11-15) Verse 15 proves the sinner can have an "honest and good heart" so that the seed (word) may be planted there. Verse 12 shows that faith is produced by the word -- hence not by direct operation of the Spirit. See also verse 18, "Take heed therefore how ye hear". In Matthew's account of this parable (Matt.13:3-f) it was the unwillingness to see, hear, and understand, that brought forth the Lord's warning, mentioned in the beginning of this article. Thus the free agency of man is affirmed. He can accept and respond to truth if he will. No inherent depravity here.

Peter told Cornelius "words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved" (Acts 11:14). James says, "Of his (God's,) own will begat he us with the word of truth.." (Jas. 1:18)

This Is Why We Stress Bible Teaching!