Obedience, part 4 (The Miracle of Hearing)
A quick recap on both the Greek and Hebrew words for obedience. Both languages use the same root word for hearing in the words we translate as obedience. In the Greek, there are two words used: hupo and akouo. Hupo is translated as under, by, and of. Akouo is to hear, listen. The definitions given to this compound word are: to listen, attend to, but is translated as obedient or obey. I hope you will see a lot more to it by time we get done today.
John told the believers: I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 1 John 2:21
In a similar way, I want you to hear Paul telling his hearers about the truth that they already knew.
You’re saying that they already knew it? Had Paul spoken or written to them at an earlier time?
No, I’m not suggesting that they had read or heard the contents of this letter somewhere else, but that the reality behind everything Paul wrote to them had already been written on their hearts — which would be the mystery of Christ and him crucified.
Let’s develop this thought a bit for our listeners. Do you think that by having the mystery of Christ written upon their hearts, they would have been able to write a similar document … even before they received Paul’s letter?
No, I don’t. But then … do we believe that true revelation from God — at least the kind that Paul wrote about — that it would enable all of us the ability to write letters of a similar nature … or to instantly understand things in the same way as Paul or John? You see, I suspect that this kind of reasoning captures the essence of religious Christian unbelief.
Wow, that’s quite a statement. How so?
Simple. It approaches the truth of Christ as if it is knowledge-based. My friends, I want you to turn off that serious-Bible-student mentality. You know the one I’m talking about. Yeah, the one that assumes truth is difficult to understand and therefore must be left to those who have devoted their lives to the study of the Bible and/or Biblical doctrine or Systematic Theology.
Now Jim, I know you study. I mean, you’d have to in order to know any of the Greek or Hebrew words and meanings that you’ve brought up in past audios. You’d have to do some digging even to know where a particular Bible verse is found. Right?
Look, I’m not saying that study is worthless, I’m just saying that we’ve got it all backwards. You see, if we approach truth as if it were a matter of intelligence, our study will reflect the false belief that increased information equates to an understanding of truth. I think we can all relate to the underlying doubt found in the intellectual mind that skeptically asks that age-old question: What is truth?
That was the same question Pontius Pilate asked Jesus after he made the statement:
You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice. John 18:37
Many Christians are still asking that question, aren’t they?
I hear that question being asked all the time. And you know what? Most of the time, the question is hidden behind other words.
That would make sense. After all, how many Christians want to come across as expressing Pilate’s obvious disbelief? The question doesn’t even need a question mark, does it?
No. I think many of us have learned to hide our questions behind a facade of confidence. From my own experience, I can testify that it’s a matter of self-preservation. We really imagine that we can ward off our doubtful questions by learning enough answers. I wonder how many of our listeners realize that this is the very same approach used by the wannabe Law-teachers Paul warned Timothy about:
For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. 1 Timothy 1:6-7
We get too easily intimidated by those who seem to know what they’re talking about … and Timothy was no exception. Why else do you think people try to bowl you over with a multitude of facts? Why else do you think scholars of all types establish themselves by their credentials and qualifications? They want to intimidate you. They want to put you into a defensive position so that you do not dare question them … not without the probability that you’ll come across as an ignorant fool, anyhow. And this same sense of intimidation keeps us from seeing the obvious simplicity of Paul’s presentation of the gospel to the Roman believers.
We can’t stress this point enough, can we?
If we approach Paul’s letter to the Romans with thinking caps rather than with open hearts, we might easily establish a theology of Christianity that only gets hung up on the weight of its doctrinal points.
What do you mean by that?
What I mean is that we can lose sight of the simplicity of Jesus Christ in the midst of all those words about Jesus Christ. We get so caught up in the details that we miss the obvious testimony to the miraculous life of the Spirit. We get underwhelmed by it?
Yeah … because we’re looking for something more grand — at least, according to appearance — we fail to recognize the truth that’s staring us right in the eyes. Let’s consider the flow of the first two chapters of Romans from the viewpoint that Paul was telling them of things they already knew:
Romans 1 He described the world of men they lived in and among by testifying of that which was revealed by God. The Roman believers would have understood both the revelation of God which was by faith, as well as that which had been made evident to all men. This was nothing new.
Romans 2 Those who had been called out of that world through Abraham — that is, the Hebrews — they ended up condemning themselves to the same fate because although they were able to judge others according to the Law, they did the same things as those they condemned.