The Sower - Part 3
Two words we need to understand in verse 11 are, “granted and mysteries”.
“To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted” (Matthew 13:11).
Verse 11, can be interpreted as God choosing to grant mercy to some and not to others, and this is perfectly true and correct (Romans 9:18).
God, in His absolute sovereignty, has every right to decide the eternal destination of every living soul. We often think God is unjust in granting salvation to some and excluding others, but this is an incorrect conclusion.
It is important to understand God’s sovereign choice of who will be saved is based on His offer of free grace, and at the same time it’s man’s responsibility to respond to God’s grace (John 3:16). Although God is the initiator and first cause of our salvation (Titus 3:4-7), it is through the call of the gospel, a genuine trust in the message of Jesus which brings salvation (Romans 10:9-15, Isaiah 55:6-11).
The Bible clearly demonstrates that God’s primary attitude of heart towards people is one of love, grace and mercy. God is full of compassion, mercy, and loving-kindness, He is slow to anger and abounding in truth, faithfulness, and perfect in love (Exodus 34:6-7, 1 John 4:7-10).
God is not purposely hiding His message of salvation in Jesus from people; but people turn away from God to follow their own sinful desires, and as a consequence are blinded by their own hardness of heart from hearing and seeing the message of Jesus.
More often than not, people hear what they want to hear to support their desires or bias. Rarely do people actually listen objectively to discover what Jesus has to say, until they come to a crisis and have no choice but to seek God as a desperate last resort. Think of all who are diagnosed with a terminal illness and start seeking God to save them. And surprisingly enough, God is faithful and often answers the genuine call of sinners (Matthew 5:45, Psalm 50:15).
Accusing God of being unfair or unjust in granting salvation to some and not to others, is without reasonable justification based on His character as revealed in Jesus and the Bible. God has not left Himself without witness but has faithfully made Himself known and calls all to repentance and faith in Jesus (1 John 1:5, Mark 1:15, Ezekiel 18:32).
So how do we reconcile the word, “granted” in this context? The essence of the word “grant” is to give permission or grant access. To grant something to someone involves authorized permission; like granting access to a visa to enter a country, or being granted authority to perform a specific action.
God is granting access to His salvation to those who accept Jesus (John 1:11-13). God calls and chooses to save people and He does this through the message of Jesus.
It is a clear biblical teaching that the call of Jesus is to all people everywhere, and that God is personally involved in opening the hearts of people to His call. It is also a clear biblical teaching that all people are spiritually dead in sin and cannot hear the call of God. So unless God actually intervenes by literally enabling people to hear the gospel, then they will remain in darkness and not hear the message of salvation in Jesus.
There will always be a tension in understanding God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility but they are both sides of the same coin. God chooses, calls and saves - and we are accountable for our response to Jesus’ message of salvation.
The main point to understand, is that all people are in a position of condemnation before God. As a just judge who knows all the facts and truth about who we are and what we’ve done, God is under no obligation to show mercy to anyone.
It is an act of unearned grace and mercy that God intervenes in our life with salvation. We must understand that God is granting a salvation which no one deserves. This is the definition of mercy.
Because of our sin and willful rebellion against God, we don’t deserve to be part of God’s perfect creation. No one is perfect and we are just as much a part of the problem as anyone else on the planet. Look at what we have done to His perfect world and how badly we treat each other. We are all defective and tainted with sin, and are a great cause of grief to God and each other
So in understanding the word “granted”, for God to grant us salvation is a gift of unearned grace.
On the one hand, it is a terrifying concept to understand that unless God grants us mercy, we will be eternally lost. On the other hand, it is liberating and comforting to know our Creator has such a deep and caring love for us; that He is intimately concerned to save us from our fallen state, and has willingly paid the highest cost to save us - the sacrifice of His One and Only Son, Jesus.
How many people would sacrifice such a precious possession as their first born son for the salvation of their enemies? We must seriously consider the implications of such a tremendous expression of love, and deeply appreciate God’s actions in Christ (1 John 4:7-10); we must genuinely thank God from the bottom of our hearts. For without God's mercy upon us - we would all be doomed.
Therefore, it is not God’s design to hide the message of the gospel from anyone, but people are hardened and blinded to the message of Jesus because they are determined to follow their own sinful desires and selfish interests to fulfill their own pleasures. Their heart is dulled and not interested in God or what God has to say, and they reject His free gift of salvation.
God does not initially set out to reject people, but first provides a way of salvation (Genesis 4:3-7). People are the ones who reject God and are left with His mercy as the only means of salvation (Romans 3:10-12).
God is not against us, He is for us, but He requires that we make the effort to respond to Him in the most basic and simplest level of faith - just believe in Jesus (Romans 8:31-32). Not hard, not difficult and so simple that a child can understand (John 3:14-15). No one has any excuse not to respond to Jesus.
Although God is continually calling and offering His salvation to people, with great patience waiting for people to repent and respond to Him; in the final analysis, God respects people’s decision to reject Him. To the point of handing them over to their own sinful desires, and eventually withdrawing His offer of salvation altogether (Romans 1:28, 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
If we reject God’s call of free pardon through Jesus, there is no other means of salvation. To reject God and fail to meet His standard of perfection is bad enough, but to reject God’s free offer of mercy, grace and forgiveness - is to be lost forever.
The term, “mystery” means a truth which is hidden and needs to be made known by God (Ephesians 1:9, 6:19, Daniel 2:28). It is truth which is spiritual in nature, and cannot be discovered by reason or investigation alone, but needs to be revealed by God Himself. (John 3:13, 1 Corinthians 2:6-14, Matthew 11:25-30).
God needs to pull back the curtain which covers our perception of reality and open the eyes of our heart to see the unseen spiritual realm, in which the physical world derives it real value and meaning (Ephesians 6:12, 1:17-21, John 6:62-63).
The good news is that God has made Himself known. He has revealed His will through His Word the Bible, with the central focus in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
All who genuinely place their trust in Jesus and commit to His message by faith, have received the Holy Spirit and have their eyes opened to the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and are granted access to God’s grace and the ongoing care of their souls.
Jesus Himself is the mystery of the kingdom of heaven (Colossians 2:2). Jesus is the exact representation of the nature and character of God. Knowing God is not an easy thing, and God has progressively made Himself know to us (1 Corinthians 3:1-2, & 2:6-8). Through the prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament, God kept pointing to a day when He would make Himself known in person (Hebrews 1:1-3), and He has fulfilled His promise in Christ (Genesis 22:18, Galatians 3:16).
Although it is difficult to comprehend, God is Jesus and Jesus is God (John 14:7-11). God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit - three distinct persons but One God. Jesus embodies and fulfils all the characteristics of the invisible God (Exodus 3:14, John 10:30).
God has made Himself known through creation, our moral conscience, and His Word the Bible (Romans 1 & 2). The issue is not that it is impossible to know God, but that people suppress the truth God has revealed, because what God has revealed about Himself is clear and straightforward, and Jesus is the final and ultimate revelation of God.
To reject Jesus is to be left in the dark and blinded to a true saving knowledge and understanding of the one and only true God.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. "If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? "No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life”